Diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease has not changed much in the past 25 years. However, new research may enable earlier diagnosis and treatment according to panelists at one Health Journalism 2018 session.
Alzheimer’s disease places an unacceptable and intolerable toll on people with the condition, their families, and the health system, noted experts in the session, “What reporters need to know about the changing scene of Alzheimer’s research.” Continue reading
The massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill was signed by President Trump on Friday and is now law. Several provisions within the 2,200-plus pages of legislation maintain or increase funding for programs and services that benefit older adults.
The spending bill provides $4.5 million in health promotion for Alzheimer’s disease and $2 million for initiatives to prevent falls among older people, according to a story in McKnight’s Senior Living. Continue reading
Can a precision medicine approach to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias improve outcomes?
That is the theory behind the Dementia Prevention Initiative (DPI). The Florida Atlantic University (FAU) program twists the usual methods used to research and treat AD by employing an “n-of-1” design individualize medicine down to a single patient. Instead of conducting a conventional trial of 100 people who get the same treatment, the program conducts 100 single trials personalized to the individual. The youngest DPI patient is currently 61, and the oldest is 86. Continue reading
Julianne Moore just won a Golden Globe for her vivid portrayal of the title character in “Still Alice.” The movie, which opens Friday, is based on a novel about a college professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. What makes this story so compelling is that it details the devastating toll on both Alice and her family from Alice’s perspective.
While stories about cognitive decline in middle-aged former athletes have made news for some time, the making of this movie points to how the problem is moving into the mainstream and a new willingness to address it. WBUR recently profiled 64-year old journalist Greg O’Brien – who’s been writing about his ongoing battle with the disease since his diagnosis five years ago. Reporter Kim Lemon did a three-part series for WGAL-Susquehanna Valley, Pa., prompted by her husband’s diagnosis. Gary Rotstein describes his journey to craft a multi-year series for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a 57-year old man’s long-term efforts to cope with his diagnosis. Continue reading
Addressing the global epidemic of dementia and improving end-of-life planning and care in the United States are the subjects of two new reports released today by Alzheimer’s Disease International and the Institute of Medicine. Both reports offer insights into the realities of dealing with an aging population and a lack of appropriate services and supports to meet present and future needs.
According to ADI, substantial evidence exists that risk for dementia can be reduced by using the same approaches as those which promote cardiovascular health — eliminating tobacco use, early detection and treatment of hypertension and diabetes. They call for a worldwide campaign to integrate brain health messages into existing public health efforts. Additionally, the report calls for the World Health Organization to include dementia risk in future noncommunicable disease efforts. Continue reading
Last week, I encountered yet another example of why it’s so important to always read the whole study — not just the press release. In this case, it was actually a report, not a study. A press release from Alzheimer’s International with the somewhat misleading headline, “Smoking Increases Risk Of Dementia” arrived in my inbox, citing a new World Health Organization report that put smokers at a 45 percent higher risk for developing the disease than non-smokers.
When I opened the report, I learned that the “news” touted in the press release was actually just a summary of old research. There was nothing new here. Nor was there proof of causation – the cited evidence showed associations.
As I looked more closely at the report, I found an error that appeared to undermine its conclusions and suggest a sloppiness and lack of rigor.