Archive for July, 2010

Alzheimer’s Disease — Caregiver Resources

I have a booklet, In It Together, written  by Danielle Ripich, Ph.D. It was published by a pharmaceutical company in 2005. Dr. Ripich is the dean of the College of Health Professions of The Medical University of South Carolina. Her FOCUSED program to train caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease received a major award from the American Society on Aging.

I don’t know where you can get a copy of this booklet, but it contained a list of caregiver resources that I wanted to share with you. Some you’re definitely aware of, but others may be new to you.

The Alzheimer’s Association
A national network of chapters dedicated to advancing research and providing education and support for patients and families.
TDD: 1.312.335.8882

Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR)
A service of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) that stives to be a current, comprehensive, unbiased source of information about Alzheimer’s disease.
TDD: 1.301.495.3311

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
A nonprofit organization dedicated to optimal care and support through local member organizations.
1.866.AFA.8484 (1.866.232.8484)

The Alzheimer’s Store
A one-stop source for products for people with Alzheimer’s disease and those caring for them.

Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED)
A nonprofit association that helps caregivers determine whether the person with Alzheimer’s disease should be allowed to drive.

Caregivers World, Inc.
Products to help improve the quality of life for both the caregiver and the care recipient.

Children of Aging Parents
A nonprofit, charitable organization that strives to assist caregivers of the elderly or chronically ill with information, referrals, and support.

Eldercare Locator
A national, toll-free, directory assistance public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging to help people locate services for the aging in every community throughout the United States.

Family Caregiver Alliance
A community-based nonprofit organization that addresses the needs of caregivers through national, state, and local programs providing education, services, research, and advocacy.

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
A nonprofit association providing information and resources to attorneys specializing in legal services to the elderly and disabled. They also provide an elder attorney locator.

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
A nonprofit, professional organization working to ensure high-quality eldercare.

National Institute on Aging (National Institutes of Health)
Alzheimer’s Disease Information
Age-Related Publications

Safe Return
A joint program of the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Center for Missing Persons; a person who has dementia is fitted with a bracelet showing his/her name, the registered caregiver’s name, and the toll-free number for Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return.

United States Social Security Administration
Government agency responsible for retirement payments, Medicare, and disability benefits, as well as other benefits. Information also available in Spanish.
( 7 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday)
TTY number: 1.800.325.0778
(7 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday)

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There’s been a lot of news about Alzheimer’s disease recently because of the annual meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (AAICAD) which met from July 10 to 15, 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The AAICAD is the world’s largest conference of its kind. It brought together almost 4,000 researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Alzheimer’s disease research continues to be under-funded, but this appears to be the most significant disease that the baby boomer generation will face. There were many interesting and significant items to come out of the conference, but I want to mention two of them because they immediately impact us. I mentioned in a previous post that participating in a clinical trial could prove to be very time-consuming, but if this is of interest to you, here is good news for you.

The Alzheimer’s Association announced the launch of Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatchTM, a confidential, free, and interactive tool that provides comprehensive clinical trial information and an individualized trial matching service for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The Internet ( and phone-based (800-272-3900) program provides a first-of-its-kind service in Alzheimer’s by delivering individualized matches to clinical trials for people with Alzheimer’s, their healthcare professionals, caregivers, and healthy volunteers.

Second, we know that diet and exercise can play a role in either slowing down or reducing the risk of dementia. For example, adding turmeric to the diet (click here) might be beneficial.

Evidence from three long-term, large-scale studies (Framingham Study, Cardiovascular Health Study, NHANES III) supports the association of physical activity and certain dietary elements (tea, vitamin D) with possibly maintaining cognitive ability and reducing dementia risk in older adults. Plus, a new study in an animal model of Alzheimer’s reported today at AAICAD 2010 suggests that an antioxidant-rich diet with walnuts may benefit brain function. Research has pointed towards a number of factors that may impact our risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline, the strongest being reducing cardiovascular risk factors. The Alzheimer’s Association and others have repeatedly called for longer-term, larger-scale research studies to clarify the roles that these factors play in the health of the aging brain. These studies from AAICAD 2010 are some of the first reports of this type in Alzheimer’s, and that is encouraging, but it is not yet definitive evidence.

Next year the group will meet in Paris, France from July 16-21. We look forward to more exciting news to come out of the meetings. For more research findings, click here.

ICAD 2011

Here are two evils — Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Which would you choose? Of course, neither. I recently read something that said if you have Alzheimer’s you’re not likely to get cancer and vice versa, if you get cancer, you’re not likely to get Alzheimer’s. So that got me researching — is Alzheimer’s disease protection for cancer?

In December 2009, Neurology published a report by Dr. Catherine M. Roe of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis which stated that understanding the link between Alzheimer’s disease and cancer may lead to possible treatments.

Roe and her team studied 3,020 people aged 65 and older. They were followed for an average of five years to see if they developed dementia and an average of eight years for cancer. Here is how the study started:

  • 164 (5.4%) had Alzheimer’s disease
  • 522 (17.3%) had cancer

Here is what they found:

For people who had Alzheimer’s disease at the outset, the risk of future cancer was reduced by 69 percent compared to those who did not have Alzheimer’s disease when the study started.

For white people who had cancer when the study started, their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by 43 percent compared to people who did not have cancer at the start of the study.

This effect, however, did not apply to minority populations. In fact, the opposite effect was observed in minority populations — those who started out with cancer at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. However, the sample size of minorities starting off with cancer (29 individuals) was too small for the result to be considered significant.

Overall, the results of this study support previous findings that cancer and brain degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease may share common molecular underpinnings. However, Roe noted in an email to Reuters Health, “Since we found no associations between vascular dementia and cancer, we don’t think that cancer is linked to dementia generally.”

Vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, is caused by clogged blood vessels and other conditions affecting the blood supply to the brain. Based on the current study, only the degenerative form of dementia, and not the form caused by lack of blood to the brain, appears to be somehow protective against cancer.

To read the full article, click here.


We already know that in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) there is amyloid plaque that builds up in the brain which causes the AD. Now, scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California report that the same nerve cell-damaging plaque also builds up in the retinas of the eyes. Moreover, it shows up in the retinas earlier than in the brain and this could lead to earlier diagnosis using non-invasive optical imaging.

Amyloid plaque was discovered in the retinas of deceased Alzheimer’s disease patients and further tested on live laboratory mice genetically modified to model the human disease. The research was conducted by a team of scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in collaboration with colleagues from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and the University of Southern California. The results will be presented on July 13, 2010 at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In an earlier study published last year, University of California – Irvine neuroscientists found that retinas in genetically altered mice with Alzheimer’s undergo changes similar to those that occur in the brain — most notably the accumulation of amyloid plaque lesions. In addition, the scientists discovered that when Alzheimer’s disease therapies are tested in such mice, retinal changes that result might predict how the treatments will work in humans better than changes in mouse brain tissue.

Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent world-wide and is tragic for the whole family. The retina is readily accessible and since it is considered part of the central nervous system, it has many similarities with the brain. This discovery is non-invasive and if it proves to be conclusive as well, we can start to prepare for the difficult future much sooner than previously.

You can read about this most recent study at several Web sites. Click here.