Dementia in the News

The health needs of tens of millions of aging baby boomers threaten to overwhelm the nation's hospitals and caregivers within a decade or two, but the geriatric tidal wave does not appear to have been fully recognized at the National Institutes of Health.

With a nudge from the new health care law and pressure from Medicare, hospitals, doctors and nurses are struggling to prepare for explosive growth in the numbers of high-risk elderly patients.

More than 40 percent of adult patients in acute care hospital beds are 65 or older. Severly million Americans will have turned 65 by 2030. They include the 85-and-older cohort, the nation's fastest-growing age group.

Dr. Daniel Skovronsky sat a small round table in his corner office, laptop open, waiting for an email meesage. His right leg jiggled nervously.

A few minutes later, the message arrived - results that showed his tiny start-up company might have overcome one of the biggest obstacles in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. It had found a dye and a brain scan that, he said, can show the hallmark plaque building up in the brains of people with the disease.

No one who knows Justin Kaplan would ever have expected this. A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian with a razor intellect, Mr. Kaplan, 84, became profoundly delirious while hospitalized for pneumonia last year. For hours in the hospital, he said, he imagine despotic aliens, and he struck a nurse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter.

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.

In 1999, Tom DeBaggio was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. He was 57. Soon after the diagnosis, he began talking with NPR about his illness. He wanted to document his decline, to break through what he called the "shame and silence" of Alzheimer's.

NPR's Noah Adams started the visits with Tom, his wife Joyce and his son Francesco at DeBaggio's Herb Farm and Nursery in Chantilly, Va.

A study of brain scans has confirmed the role of several genes linked with Alzheimer's disease, and turned up two others that are worth exploring, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

A team at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston used magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scans to study changes in brain structures -- such as the size of the hippocampus and amygdala -- in 700 healthy volunteers and Alzheimer's patients.

They used computer programs to sort through the genetic sequences of the 700 volunteers to see which gene mutations are most linked with these changes.

There is not enough evidence to say that improving your lifestyle can protect you against Alzheimer's disease, a new review finds.

A group put together by the U.S. National Institutes of Health looked at 165 studies to see if lifestyle, diet, medical factors or medications, socioeconomic status, behavioral factors, environmental factors and genetics might help prevent the mind-robbing condition.

Older veterans who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and other age-related dementias as veterans without PTSD, a study shows.

The study is among the first to link combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder to dementia later in life, but it is not clear if having PTSD increases the risk for late-life dementias or if recurring PTSD is an early symptom of dementia in older veterans, Deborah Barnes, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, tells WebMD.

The anguish of Alzheimer's in a sprawling extended family in Columbia may be hardest on those still lucid enough to know they have it, or those who know they could.

Blanca Nelly Betancur's family is rife with people dangerously close to the age when dementia begins, including Ms. Betancur, 41, and her 11 siblings.

Two sisters already have symptoms of the disease inherited from their mother. They deny it. But her oldest brother, William, 48, knows he is unraveling.

Syndicate content