We don’t call Alzheimer’s disease “the Monster” for nothing. As recent blog posts suggest, Alzheimer’s terrifies many people. For some, any possible advance in research and treatment is grasped like a straw, or a lifeline. For others, Alzheimer’s disease is a daily, grinding burden as they care for a loved one, or sometimes, face it themselves. For still others, dementia causes them to look at life and their own health in a new way.
We think of Alzheimer’s disease as something that causes people to forget, but for the Memory Bridge project, it’s a call to remember and to bring generations closer. They’ve developed interview questions that are used for the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project, a school curriculum, and a highly-recommended documentary.
Robert DeMarco at I Am an Alzheimer’s Caregiver regards the value of exercise so highly in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, he’s signed up his 91-year-old mother to join Gold’s Gym. Doesn’t it pump you up just to hear that?
Jeannot at Life lessons coping with Alzheimer says her son has installed door alarms, but her husband took one off and said “the people” did it. Well, if he can’t remember doing something, obviously somebody else did it. You’ve got to make sense of your life somehow.
Filmmaker Gene Burns in Austin is looking for a film crew (including a director) for his short Alzheimer’s disease film called Ruth’s Locket. Having a storyboard would help him get funding for it. Liz at Alzheimer’s Notes mentioned the film on her blog. Production is scheduled for Summer 2008.
David Perlmutter, the Renegade Neurologist, reports that other doctors have treated several women whose inability to concentrate and to find the right words disappeared when they stopped taking the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor. The maker of the drug insists that it’s tested and safe, while the University of California at San Diego is conducted a large study on the effects of statin drugs. After all, one of the building blocks of the brain is cholesterol…
Mike at Fading from Memory has two parents with Alzheimer’s disease. His mother recently entered a nursing home, while his father has left dozens of phone messages asking about her. His family is considering placing his father in the same home. If they do, they’ll have a few weeks to pay a lump sum of $250,000 for his care. But that’s Australian dollars. It would only be $227,000 US or Canadian dollars, according to XE.com. Well, that’s better, isn’t it?
Most people agree that diet can help prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Whether it’s fish oil or mangosteen, we’re always enthusiastic to try something new (though maybe we have less enthusiasm for the fish oil). According to About Alzheimer’s, researchers at Cornell University have discovered some new foods that may lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. And those foods are… apples, oranges, and bananas. Are you eating 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day, like you’re supposed to? Well then, don’t complain if your memory starts to fail.
Deb at The Yellow Wallpaper talks about how her relationship with her mother has changed since she put her into a nursing home. For many of us, we don’t have deep relationships with our parents anymore, which makes a decision like that much harder – or easier. Deb loves her mother, but her mother is mad at her for putting her there. She says that with her mother, she has “to learn her new language, a language that has no past tenses… Her truth is in the present and has to do with what she is losing right now.”
Experts say that when people are first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, their loved ones recall that their memories were never very good. The Nun Study at the University of Kentucky has also identified factors that can help predict Alzheimer’s disease, such as whether the person could juggle multiple ideas at once when they were young. OurAlzheimer’s.com quotes the Archives of Neurology as reporting that some people with primary progressive aphasia, a rare language disability, report that they have always had trouble with spelling or foreign languages.
Trisha at Every Patient’s Advocate describes the nocebo effect. The placebo effect causes people to feel better because they’re taking prescriptions, even if they are sugar pills. The nocebo effect causes people to feel worse because the doctor told them they would. Trisha says she never believed them when they told her she had cancer, and it turned out she didn’t. The nocebo effect is described in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
If medical costs have to rise, then why does Dr. Benjamin Brewer say that he can provide primary health care for $20 per month per patient? (Actually, he’s doing it for $2 a month, but that’s under a government “health home” program.) He says, “Primary care is cheap.” What makes health insurance so expensive is its coverage of catastrophic events such as hospitalization. My guess is that fewer people would be in the hospital if they had better preventative care.