Dementia in the News

As her mother and father edged toward dementia, Nancy D'Auria kept a piece of paper in her wallet listing their medications.

It had the dosages, the time of day each should be taken and a check mark when her folks, who live 10 miles away, assured her the pills had been swallowed.

"I work full time so it was very challenging," said D'Auria, 63, of West Nyack.

Now she has an app for that. With a tap or two on her iPhone, D'Auria can access a "pillbox" program that keeps it all organized for her and other relatives who share in the caregiving and subscribe to the app.

Not long ago, Karl Pillemer had a revelation.

A gerontologist with close to 30 years of experience, Pillemer, who is director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging, realized that his research was "entirely focused on older people as problems."

The NIH Brain Resaerch through Advancing Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology suggests that controlling or preventing risk factors, such as hypertension, earlier in life may limit or delay the brain chnages associated with Alzheimer's disease and other age-related neurological deterioration.

The Food and Drug Administration plans to loosen the rules for approving new treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

Drugs in clinical trial would qualify for approval if people at very early stages of the disease subtly improved their performance on memory or reasoning tests, even before they developed any obvious impairments. Companies would not have to show that the drugs improved daily, real-world functioning.

It wasn't the toll from lugging a heavy tool box to work that finally sent Ray Clark to the gym. It was something more profound. He lost his wife of 67 years. Then he lost his daughter. He was looking for something to fill the empty hours.

"I was getting a little lazy at home, and I decided I'd go down to the exercise club," he recalled.

Previous studies have shown that keeping the mind active, exercising, and social interactions may help delay the onset of dementia in Alzheimer's patients.

Abnormalities in retinal vascular parameters (RVPs) may indicate increased amyloid plaque in the brain and can serve as biomarkers for preclinical Alzheimer's disease (AD), new research suggests.

Findings from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle (AIBL) Flagship Study of Ageing showed that participants with AD had several significantly different RVPs, including narrower veins and a significantly higher arteriole-to-venule ratio (AVR), than their peers without AD.

When it comes to vascular brain injury, the dementia field has been mired in uncertainty. What is it, exactly? How can scientists measure and treat it? How does it realted to Alzheimer's patholology or contribute to cognitive decline? Answers to these old questions are still lacking, but two recent studies published online February 11 and 18 in JAMA Neurology suggest that vascular damage and amyloid plaques occur independently in early stages of AD.

In your mind, does the word "centiloid" conjure up images of a small creature with too many legs? Instead, think centimeter yardstick, or thermometer. A centiloid is a proposed unit of measure on a unified scale for all amyloid-beta imaging tracers used in positron emission tomography (PET). Alzheimer's disease scientists use a handful of ligands in research already, and while the FDA thus far has approved only one - Amyvid - for clinical use, other approvals appear likely. Since each tracer has its own chracteristic signal strength, comparing them remains difficult.

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