Dementia in the News

National Institutes of Health (November 23, 2015): End-of-Life Costs for Dementia Far Greater than for Other Diseases

Publication Date: 
Mon, 11/23/2015

Health care costs can rise dramatically as we age - especially for those who develop long-term conditions like heart disease or dementia. In the United States, most medical costs for people over age 65 are covered by Medicare, a federal health insurance program. But Medicare and other insurers may not cover key expenses, like home care services, medical equipment, and certain nursing home fees. Little has been known about the personal financial toll that end-of-life care can place on people with chronic disorders.

National Institutes of Health (November 18, 2015): NIH Supports New Studies to Find Alzheimer’s Biomarkers in Down Syndrome

Publication Date: 
Wed, 11/18/2015

The National Institutes of Health has launched a new initiative to identify biomarkers and track the progression of Alzheimer’s in people with Down syndrome. Many people with Down syndrome have Alzheimer’s-related brain changes in their 30s that can lead to dementia in their 50s and 60s. Little is known about how the disease progresses in this vulnerable group.

Smithsonian Magazine (December 1, 2015): The Two Brains at the Forefront of the Fight Against Alzheimer's

Publication Date: 
Tue, 12/01/2015

Rudolph E. Tanzi, director of the genetics and aging research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a towering figure in the field of Alzheimer’s research, refuses to play the piano. Yes, he’s an exuberantly dedicated musician who seriously considered a musical career before going into science. He’s played keyboards with the rock band Aerosmith and jammed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” He practices every day at home on his handmade Bösendorfer concert grand.

CNN (November 6, 2015): Alzheimer's is a Young(er) Person's Disease -- So Get to Work

Publication Date: 
Fri, 11/06/2015

While he couldn't possibly have known, Sandy Halperin was likely around 35 years old when his brain began slowly accumulating the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer's disease.

Harvard Medical School Podcast Library (October 27, 2015): The A Word - Trying to Catch Alzheimer's Disease Before Symptoms Appear

Publication Date: 
Tue, 10/27/2015

Reisa Sperling, HMS professor of neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, shares her family's personal connection with Alzheimer's disease and describes ongoing research into early diagnosis and intervention.

And in this episode's abstract, researchers in the lab of George Church use the gene-editing tool CRISPR to inactivate retroviruses in the pig genome with the hope of one day making organs safer for transplant into humans.

Harvard Gazette (November 4, 2015): Neurons Reprogrammed in Animals

Publication Date: 
Wed, 11/04/2015

Building on earlier work in which they disproved neurobiology dogma by “reprogramming” neurons - turning one form of neuron into another - in the brains of living animals, Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers have now shown that the networks of communication among reprogrammed neurons and their neighbors can also be changed, or “rewired.”

MIT News (October 29, 2015): To Locate Objects, Brain Relies on Memory

Publication Date: 
Thu, 10/29/2015

Imagine you are looking for your wallet on a cluttered desk. As you scan the area, you hold in your mind a mental picture of what your wallet looks like.

MIT neuroscientists have now identified a brain region that stores this type of visual representation during a search. The researchers also found that this region sends signals to the parts of the brain that control eye movements, telling individuals where to look next.

Harvard Gazette (October 29, 2015): Lessons of the Brain: The Phineas Gage Story

Publication Date: 
Thu, 10/29/2015

magine the modern-day reaction to a news story about a man surviving a three-foot, 17-inch, 13½-pound iron bar being blown through his skull - taking a chunk of his brain with it.

Then imagine that this happened in 1848, long before modern medicine and neuroscience. That was the case of Phineas Gage.

Whether the Vermont construction foreman, who was laying railroad track and using explosives at the time of the industrial accident, was lucky or unlucky is a judgment that Warren Anatomical Museum curator Dominic Hall puzzles over to this day.

NIH (October 27, 2015): Health Care Costs for Dementia Found Geater than for Any Other Disease

Publication Date: 
Tue, 10/27/2015

In the last five years of life, total health care spending for people with dementia was more than a quarter-million dollars per person, some 57 percent greater than costs associated with death from other diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The new analysis, appearing in the Oct. 27, 2015, online issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, estimates that total health care spending was $287,000 for those with probable dementia and $183,000 for other Medicare beneficiaries in the study.

Boston Globe (October 18, 2015): Efforts Spread to Aid Dementia Sufferers

Publication Date: 
Sun, 10/18/2015

Sheriff Chris Caulk was frightened.

He couldn’t see, at least not well enough to read or orient himself, and his feet ached from the popcorn kernels rattling around inside his socks. The oven mitts on his hands made it hard for him to grasp anything.

Caulk, who patrols in rural Isanti County, Minn., was experiencing something of what it is like to be elderly and suffer from dementia - and he was taken aback by how vulnerable he felt.

“My mind was clear, but my body wouldn’t let me do [things],” Caulk said. “It must be extremely scary.”

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