Friday, October 3, 2014
LTC Comment: Have you received the same spam barrage we have? “My
Grandma cured of Alzheimer’s Disease!!!” The real news about Alzheimer’s
after the ***news.***
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LTC BULLET: ALZHEIMER’S CURED!
LTC Bullet: They roll in at a rate of 15 or 20 per day with subject lines
like these: “Alzheimer's Finally Has an Effective Cure”; “The Cure to
Alzheimer's Finally Found;” “Associated Press: Yale Has Alzheimer's
Cure.” Open one of these spam messages and you’ll be invited to visit a
website for details. Not a good idea if you’d rather avoid the effects of
cybernetic dementia on your computer.
All this junk mail got us thinking about the real news regarding
Alzheimer’s. Hardly a week goes by without media stories, often
hyperventilating, about some important new study shedding light on the
disease’s cause, effects and means of prevention or treatment. The one
thing all these reports have in common is that they don’t seem ever to pan
A lot of money is spent on Alzheimer’s research. Probably a lot more
should be expended. But I can’t help but wonder how much of the research
on Alzheimer’s Disease comes from scientists, academics and companies
chasing available funding. Is it the best and most promising research
that gets the funds? Who decides? Based on what criteria? My personal
experience evaluating research proposals in a former government job makes
me very dubious.
Following are some examples of stories about Alzheimer’s that we
highlighted in LTC E-Alerts in the current year. Our clippings
service subscribers received each of these reports in real time. Regular
Center members got them all in our weekly compendium of the news
clippings, the LTC E-Alerts. We provide the clippings and the
E-Alerts as a service to keep members and subscribers at the forefront
of knowledge about everything related to long-term care service delivery
Now here are some of the stories about Alzheimer’s research we highlighted
since the beginning of 2014.
NB: This first item appears to be the story that stirred up all
the spam about a “cure” for Alzheimers.
cures Alzheimer's symptoms in mice, Yale researchers find,” by
Stephanie H. Kim, McKnight's LTC News
Quote: “Results showed that a single dose was
enough to reverse the effects of Alzheimer's — enabling mice to learn and
to recall motor skills, spatial information, signals and object memory.
While many drugs have failed to work in humans, Lombroso is ‘optimistic
that in the next couple of years, we will have identified a whole slew of
STEP inhibitors,’ he told
LTC Comment: Even after so many false starts, hope
Prevention for 30-Somethings With No Symptoms,”
by Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal
Quote: “While Alzheimer's prevention is being widely studied,
prevention programs at large medical centers are rare. Some of the field's
leading experts say there isn't sufficient evidence to support making
recommendations beyond eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising
regularly, advice that everyone should heed. There is no cure or
particularly effective treatment for Alzheimer's.”
LTC Comment: Pushing Alzheimer’s prevention for young people seems
a little dubious given the lack of hard evidence that it helps beyond good
general health practice.
than 50% of dementia patients in nursing homes are given potentially
pointless and dangerous drugs when near death, study finds,” by Tim
Mullaney, McKnight's LTC News
Quote: "Nursing homes administer largely pointless and potentially
harmful drugs to a majority of residents with advanced dementia, according
to findings in
JAMA Internal Medicine. Out of more than 5,400 residents
under consideration, about 54% received a ‘medication with questionable
benefit,’ the investigators determined. Alzheimer's disease drugs such as
donepezil (Aricept) and memantine (Namenda) were the most commonly
administered. There is little evidence that they improve cognitive
functioning for people with advanced stages of dementia, and
potentially put residents at risk for falls or urinary tract
LTC Comment: Wonder why this happens? Follow the money.
ignites lost memories in 'good-news' film,” by Kim Painter, USA
Quote: "Music has an unmatched power to bring back our pasts. But
what if our memories have been lost to Alzheimer's or some other
condition? Can music still work its magic? A new film,
Alive Inside, says yes. The film, opening Friday in New York, features
the work of Dan Cohen, a New York social worker who started taking
personalized iPods to people with dementia in nursing homes several years
ago. Cohen's non-profit Music & Memory got a huge boost in 2012 when an
early clip from the film, featuring a gentleman named Henry, became an
online sensation. It has been viewed more than 10 million times at various
websites, filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett says."
LTC Comment: When an Alzheimer’s clip goes viral on YouTube you
know something big is happening in the culture.
of a senior developing Alzheimer's has dropped 44% over the last three
decades, large U.S. study shows,” by Tim Mullaney, McKnight's LTC
Quote: "Long-term care providers in the United States have been
preparing for a surge in residents as the baby boomer generation ages, and
they already have been providing care for a growing number of people with
Alzheimer's and other dementias. The latest results suggest that estimates
of needed services might be revised downward; however, increasing rates of
obesity and diabetes suggest Alzheimer's cases might again creep up,
LTC Comment: I wonder how this finding corresponds with earlier
reports that Alzheimer's Disease goes vastly under-reported as a cause of
to Detecting Alzheimer's Early Could Be in the Eye; Sense of Smell Also
May Be a Way to Screen,” by Shirley Wang, Wall Street Journal
Quote: "Efforts to detect Alzheimer's earlier and more cheaply are
focusing on signs of the disease in the eye and sense of smell."
LTC Comment: Thankfully, beauty remains in the eye of the
in three Alzheimer's cases preventable, says research,” BBC News
Quote: "One in three cases of Alzheimer's disease worldwide is
preventable, according to research from the University of Cambridge. The
main risk factors for the disease are a lack of exercise, smoking,
depression and poor education, it says."
LTC Comment: I am dubious, but I'm headed to the gym cheerfully
listening to an audio lecture all the same.
Blood test might help identify Alzheimer's earlier,” by Gail Sullivan,
Quote: "A group of British scientists have identified 10 blood
proteins that can predict with 87 percent accuracy whether someone with
early signs of memory loss will develop Alzheimer's disease within a
LTC Comment: So, 13% get false positives or false negatives?
the Brain's Curiosity Helps Delay Alzheimer's,”
by , Bloomberg
Quote: "People genetically prone to Alzheimer’s who went to
college, worked in complex fields and stayed engaged intellectually held
off the disease almost a decade longer than others, a study found.
Lifelong intellectual activities such as playing music or reading kept the
mind fit as people aged and also delayed Alzheimer’s by years for those at
risk of the disease who weren’t college educated or worked at challenging
jobs, the researchers said in the study published today in
LTC Comment: Significant findings in this study.
Test for the Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease,”
Quote: “Known as
the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination, or SAGE, the four-page
test can be completed in about 10 to 15 minutes by patients at home, or
while in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. The test,
downloadable free on the
medical center’s website,
is now used at doctors’ offices nationally.”
LTC Comment: This test could be a helpful resource.
Rule Out Alzheimer's,” by John Gever, MedPageToday
Quote: "Autopsy findings in 74 elderly individuals confirmed
the accuracy of brain scans for beta-amyloid plaques conducted before they
died -- and also showed that the patients' clinical diagnoses were
frequently wrong, a researcher said here."
LTC Comment: Recent coverage of efforts to get Alzheimer’s
diagnosis right were needed and are welcome.
Facebook app to raise awareness of the illness,” BBC
FaceDementia app, by Alzheimer's Research UK, ‘takes over’ personal
Facebook pages, and temporarily erases important memories, mimicking how
dementia affects the brain.”
LTC Comment: I guess there is an app for everything.
Congress Can Fight the Alzheimer's Epidemic: Delaying the disease's onset
by five years would mean billions in health-care savings,” by Kenneth
Davis, Wall Street Journal
Quote: "Most individuals who develop Alzheimer's begin to show
signs of the disease in their 70s. If we were able to slow the progress of
the disease by 50%, most of these individuals wouldn't show symptoms until
their 90s. Such a delay would enhance quality of life for patients and
their families, while leading to substantial savings for Medicare and
Medicaid. . . . All signs indicate that Alzheimer's science will continue
to accelerate rapidly, and drug development policies and incentives must
be realigned to keep up with this knowledge base. If we could introduce a
treatment next year to delay the onset of Alzheimer's by five years,
annual total costs to all payers would fall by $447 billion in 2050."
LTC Comment: Still, it seems that the frequent hopeful news about
Alzheimer’s research always comes to naught.
A New Alzheimer's Test Could Kill Long-Term Care Insurance -- Or Make It
Cheaper,” by Howard Gleckman, Forbes
Quote: "A widely available test to predict Alzheimer's would make
any form of voluntary long-term care insurance impossible. 'It would be a
huge game changer,' one insurance actuary told me."
LTC Comment: Nonsense. As long as the law is changed to
allow--better yet, require--insurance carriers to have access to the same
test results, a reliable test to predict Alzheimer's would increase the
market for private LTC insurance and lower the premiums. Such a test
would impel financially responsible people to purchase insurance before
they take the test. Otherwise they would lose some or all insurability if
test results showed a proclivity toward the disease. If people therefore
purchased LTC insurance earlier in life and if the test excluded more bad
risks (anti-selection), the coverage itself could cost less. On the other
hand, a test for Alzheimer's could devastate publicly financed LTC
programs by preventing people who could have and should have insured
privately from obtaining coverage in the market.
find way to predict Alzheimer's disease: report,” by Joel Landau,
New York Daily News
Quote: “A group of scientists claims it has
developed a revolutionary test that can predict if someone will develop
Alzheimer's disease. The researchers
told CNN they were able to find
the connection through testing lipids levels in the blood. The testing
found the blood test predicted who would get the degenerative brain
disease that kills about half a million people a year with more than 90%
accuracy — even if the patient has not exhibited any symptoms, the doctors
LTC Comment: Underwriting breakthrough?
Vitamin-E Dose Slows Decline in Alzheimer's Patients, Study Finds,” by
Jennifer Corbett Dooren, Wall Street Journal
Quote: "However, the research to be published in this week's
Journal of the American Medical Association, found no impact on memory
and doctors said there was no evidence that vitamin E prevents the
LTC Comment: If it doesn’t help memory this news is less than
and Alzheimer's disease link strengthens in study,” by Melissa Healy,
Los Angeles Times
Quote: "Well before signs of
dementia trigger a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, a person's
cholesterol levels may be a bellwether of amyloid plaque build-up in the
brain, a new study finds. Long considered a reliable predictor of heart
strokes, worrisome cholesterol levels may now raise concerns about
dementia risk as well, prompting more aggressive use of drugs, including
statins, that alter cholesterol levels."
LTC Comment: Eat well to think well.