Dementia in the News

New York Times (August 4, 2010): Finding Skeptics on Alzheimer's Push, Advocates Make Case

Publication Date: 
Wed, 08/04/2010

Will Alzheimer's disease, a terrible degenerative brain disease with no treatments and no clear guidelines for diagnosis before its end stages, become like heart disease? Will there be early markers of risk, analogous to high cholesterol levels, that will predict who is likely to get it? And will there be drugs that actually prevent it?

Harvard Magazine (July 1, 2010): Forum: On Caregiving

Publication Date: 
Thu, 07/01/2010

In 1966, as a visiting medical student at a London teaching hospital, I interviewed a husband and wife, in their early twenties, who had recently experienced a truly calamitous health catastrophe. On their wedding night, in their first experience of sexual intercourse, a malformed blood vessel in the husband's brain burst, leaving him with a disabling paralysis of the right side of his body. Stunned and guilt-ridden, the couple clutched hands and cried silently as they shared their suffering with me.

Harvard Gazette (August 2, 2010): Insights on Healthy Aging

Publication Date: 
Mon, 08/02/2010

Harvard researchers have uncovered a mechanism through which caloric restriction and exercise delay some of the debilitating effects of aging by rejuvenating the connections between nerves and the muscles that they control.

The research, conducted in the labs of Joshua Sanes and Jeff Lichtman, both members of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard and professors of molecular and cellular biology, begins to explain prior findings that exercise and restricted-calorie diets help to starve off the mental and physical degeneration of aging.

New York Times (August 2, 2010): Feeding Dementia Patients with Dignity

Publication Date: 
Mon, 08/02/2010

First Alzheimer's disease stole Rosemary DeFelice’s speech, mobility and independence. Then, at 75, she lost the ability to eat.

She would chew away at her food, coughing and sputtering and spitting up but swallowing very little, said her daughter, Cyndy Viveiros. And like many relatives caring for patients with advanced dementia, Ms. Viveiros had to decide whether or not to have a gastric feeding tube inserted.

USA Today (August 2, 2010): Heart Impacts Brain: Cardiac Index May Be Dementia Indicator

Publication Date: 
Mon, 08/02/2010

Cardiac index - the measure of how well the heart is pumping blood to the brain and the rest of the body - may be a future indicator of a person's risk for developing dementia.

A study in this week's Circulation suggests cardiac index is linked to brain size, even in people without heart disease, a known risk factor for dementia.

99.9 FM WBUR Radio Boston (July 27, 2010): Diagnosing Alzheimer's Earlier

Publication Date: 
Tue, 07/27/2010

Imagine a test that could tell you if you would develop Alzheimer's disease well before you experience memory loss or other symptoms. With no cure and limited treatment available, would you take it?

More than five million Americans suffer from the disease. It's the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Scientific American (July 27, 2010): More Education Delays Dementia Signs, But Not Damage

Publication Date: 
Tue, 07/27/2010

Education has been linked to dementia risk for dementia for decades, but researchers behind a new study opened up the brains of hundreds of people who had died with the disease to try to find out why this correlation exists.

The scientists found that the number of years a person had spent in school early in life did not change the amount of damage to the brain from dementia.

New York Times (July 23, 2010): When Pneumonia Follows Dementia

Publication Date: 
Fri, 07/23/2010

The 323 residents living in Boston-area nursing homes had entered the final stages of dementia.

“They couldn’t recognize family members,” said the geriatrician and researcher Dr. Jane Givens. “They spoke fewer than six words. They were bed-bound.”

They couldn’t take sips of water without assistance; they’d become incontinent. Their average age was 86. And they’d developed pneumonia.

New York Times (July 21, 2010): Old Age in America, By the Numbers

Publication Date: 
Wed, 07/21/2010

The population of older Americans is growing faster than ever and living longer than ever, but not as long as in much of Europe and elsewhere in the developed world, according to “Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being,” a report compiled by 15 federal agencies.

The full report, with tables detailing senior demographics, economics, health status, health risks and health care, is available at It contains a number of surprises, and raises a number of questions, for those interested in how Americans are aging.

The Economist (June 17, 2010): No End to Dementia

Publication Date: 
Thu, 06/17/2010

Drug companies are notoriously secretive. The clock starts running on a patent when it is filed, so the longer something can be kept under wraps before that happens, the better for the bottom line. You know something is up, then, when a group of these firms announce they are banding together to share the results of abandoned drug trials. And on June 11th, several big companies did just that. They publicised the profiles of 4,000 patients from 11 trials so that they could learn from each other's failures. An act of selflessness, perhaps, but also one of desperation.

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