Dementia in the News

Renee Packel used to have a typical suburban life. Her husband, Arthur, was a lawyer and also sold insurance. They lived in a town house just outside Philadelphia, and Mrs. Packel took care of their home and family.

One day, it all came crashing down. The homeowners’ association called asking for their fees. To Mrs. Packel’s surprise, her husband had simply stopped paying them. Then she learned he had stopped writing checks to his creditors, too.

OUR government is ignoring what is likely to become the single greatest threat to the health of Americans: Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that is 100 percent incurable and 100 percent fatal. It attacks rich and poor, white-collar and blue, and women and men, without regard to party. A degenerative disease, it steadily robs its victims of memory, judgment and dignity, leaves them unable to care for themselves and destroys their brain and their identity — often depleting their caregivers and families both emotionally and financially.

Heavy smoking in middle age may more than double the risk of Alzheimer's disease later in life, according to a large population-based study.

The prospective cohort study of more than 21,000 people found that those who smoked more than two packs a day developed dementia of any kind twice as often as nonsmokers, Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues reported.

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health announced today that the National Institutes of Health’s Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) - the largest public-private partnership in Alzheimer’s disease research – has been renewed for an additional five years.

Esther Tuttle is nearing the end of the 10th decade of a remarkably productive and adventurous life. If all continues to go as well as it has to date, next July 1 she will join the rapidly growing clan of centenarians, whose numbers in the United States have increased to 96,548 in 2009 from 38,300 in 1990, according to the Census Bureau.

One of the nation's highest-profile women is taking on one of the nation's highest-profile health problems that have affected her father and more than five million other Americans.

One morning last spring, about 200 senior citizens descended on the Coolidge Corner Theatre for a special program of classic old movies.

It was the first in a four-part series - the second one is today - called "Meet Me at the Coolidge...and make memories," designed to remind the audience of the good old days of cinema. Attendees got big welcomes and free popcorn and soda. They watched clips from "Oklahoma", "Casablanca," and "The Wizard of Oz", and saw legendary stars like Judy Garland, Katherine Hepburn, and Humphrey Bogart.

Right now, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, a number that is only expected to increase in the years ahead. I know the pain that Alzheimer's disease can cause - for those diagnosed with it, and for their families and caregivers - which is why my Administration is committed to finding a cure.

Under the microscope, the tan image with brown splotches resembles a burned map, its edges singed and riddled with dark squiggles that shouldn't be there. This is a piece of brain from a 45-year-old man:  Former National Football League linebacker John Grimsley, who suited up for the Houston Oilers for nine years and absorbed at least 11 concussions during professional and college play.

Bringing together two esteemed institutions known for groundbreaking Alzheimer's research, Cure Alzheimer's Fund has awarded the University of Pittsburgh a $300,00 grant and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard (MGH) a $100,000 grant to fund an innovative joint research project on Alzheimer's disease, which currently affects 5.3 billion Americans and their families.

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