Family, friends may spot early dementia best

When it comes to the onset of early Alzheimer’s disease, a person’s family and close friends are better able to spot the initial signs of trouble than traditional screening by doctors, new research suggests.

The finding, reported online in the journal Brain, is based on the apparent accuracy of observations gathered from family and friends in response to a carefully designed dementia questionnaire that is available in several languages and is already in use in clinics worldwide.

Called Ascertain Dementia 8 (or AD8), the questionnaire is designed to draw out observations on someone’s judgment, activity levels, learning capacity, forgetfulness, repetitiveness and overall thinking skills.

Answers given by family and friends to the questionnaire, which can be completed in two minutes, appear to correlate accurately with biological indicators of Alzheimer’s disease more often than standard physician testing, the researchers found.

via Family Friends Seem Best at Spotting Early Dementia – MSN Health & Fitness – Alzheimer’s Disease.

Police study wandering of Alzheimer’s, dementia patients for search and rescue

Steven Williams, a San Francisco firefighter who lives in Oakland, Calif., had just finished a 24-hour shift when he returned home and told his mother’s caretaker she could take the rest of the day off.

His 88-year-old mother, Katherine Oppenheimer, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and requires constant supervision. Still, Williams thought he could get away with a 15-minute nap.

He awoke to find that she had wandered out of the home. “It was one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. “I would rather run into a burning building than go through that again.”

This time, Williams’ harrowing moment ended well. He found his mother quickly, a few floors up in the same apartment building where she lives. But like a growing number of families coping with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, he fears a repeat episode.

In 1980, about 2.8 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia. But with longer life expectancies and advanced treatment for other diseases such as cancer, that figure has nearly doubled in 2010, to 5.3 million, according to Elizabeth Edgerly, a chief program officer with the Alzheimer’s Association, a national advocacy group.

In all, 42 percent of people 85 and older will get Alzheimer’s, Edgerly said.To deal with the increasing numbers, police agencies are training officers how to search for wanderers.

“The ability to recognize dementia has improved over the last 20 years,” said Rick Kovar, emergency services manager for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. “The science behind searching for people with Alzheimer’s has become efficient and scientific.”

via Path of dementia less of a mystery – Family – Modbee.com.

World Alzheimer’s Day is September 21

World Alzheimer’s Day — Tuesday, Sep. 21 — is the only day of the year that unites people around the globe in the dementia movement. If you are reading this you are part of the movement! But don’t stop reading yet — take time to process the following numbers.

The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease or a dementia worldwide is 35 million. It is expected to nearly double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050. Nearly 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to be over 16 million by 2050.

Chances are you know someone with this devastating disease that is progressive, fatal and robs a person of their ability to remember and reason. Perhaps you are one of the 200,000 Georgians who lives with this disease, or one of the nearly 11 million Americans providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s. Perhaps you are a woman that has reached age 55, and has a 1-in-6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s in her lifetime.

via Alzheimer’s, dementia sufferers face challenges — and you can help | The Augusta Chronicle.

Flamingos raise money for autism and Alzheimer’s wandering program in Massachusetts

Flamingos will soon be flocking at locations around town as the Plymouth Networking Group and Sunrise Rotary Club of Plymouth team up to raise money to assist families who cannot afford to participate in a new search and rescue program for those at risk of wandering.

Nothing’s more frightening than the thought of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, autism or other condition wandering away, according to local nurse Connie Hinds, a member of both the networking and Rotary clubs.

The groups plan to flock a few select locations to help increase public awareness of the new SafetyNet tracking program soon to be offered locally. Hinds said both groups share an interest in protecting local seniors. They suspect that bright pink flamingos on laws will help bring attention to the search and rescue program.

“We want to increase public awareness of the program and have fun, too,” she said. “Flamingos can’t help but get a lot of attention.”

SafetyNet outfits seniors with a personal locator unit worn on the wrist or ankle. If a loved one goes missing, Hinds said, local law enforcement and public safety agencies trained and certified on search and rescue procedures will use SafetyNet search and rescue receivers to track the radio frequency from the locator.

via Flamingos for fun and funds – Plymouth, MA – Wicked Local Plymouth.

Can dementia be prevented?

In retrospect, Bernice Osborne realizes there were warning signs more than eight years ago.

Her mother, Mary, who was then 64, was having to re-read everything at her hospital job to grasp it. And she got lost one day going for a walk in their Dorchester neighborhood, where she had lived for 40 years.

Now nearly 73, Mary is in the throes of Alzheimer’s, unable to remember her own children, who care for her at home. With four aunts also diagnosed with the disease, Bernice, just 39, worries about her future.

“There are moments,’’ she said, “when you walk into a room and you forget what you were doing and you think, ‘Do I have it?’ ’’

Scientists think Alzheimer’s begins to damage the brain years before memory lapses and other symptoms appear, and they are developing screening tests to detect victims in these silent early stages. A reliable test would not only give people like Bernice an answer, but might enable physicians to prevent or delay the dementia with drugs or other therapies — much the same way patients with high cholesterol readings are treated with statins to stave off heart disease.

via Can dementia be prevented? – The Boston Globe.

Adult night-care service for Alzheimer’s patients who may wander

Nighttime is when some Alzheimer’s patients are most restless, creating an anxious, sleepless time for caregivers who worry about their loved ones wandering.

“It is common for them to get their circadian rhythms off,” said Jean Van Den Beldt, administrator of Byron Center Manor, which plans to begin a new dawn-to-dusk activity program called Twilight Care.

The dementia-care and adult-day services community at 2115 84th St. SW is starting the program, which will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., to keep restless patients in a safe, stimulating environment. The cost is $120 per night.

via New service keeps restless Alzheimer’s patients busy at night | MLive.com.

DVD on fall prevention for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, family caregivers

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America AFA recently released “Preventing Falls: Practical Steps to Reduce Fears and Risks,” the latest DVD in AFA’s “Your Time to Care” series of educational programs for family caregivers, in the hopes of helping caregivers reduce their own risk of falls and prevent their loved ones from falling.

Falls are a very common and life-threatening occurrence and are particularly worrisome for caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder that primarily affects people older than 65. In fact, according to federal government statistics, one out of three individuals over the age of 65 will experience a fall, resulting in 20,000 deaths annually.“What’s really important to know is that a fall is preventable,” said Laura N. Gitlin, Ph.D., one of the experts featured in the DVD and director of the Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

With this in mind, “Preventing Falls” provides insight into why dementia intensifies the incidence of falls and offers practical strategies from experts and family caregivers on how to reduce risk factors, including communication techniques, home modifications and lifestyle changes.

via Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Releases New DVD on Preventing Falls.

Arts 4 Alzheimer’s draws relief for patients and caregivers

Even though the disease robs people of their memories and recognitions, there is also a secondary sufferer of Alzheimer’s. Caregivers provide day-to-day help for loved ones battling the disease, but have to stand by and take on the emotional pain, as well.

Providing relief for people with early-stage memory loss, and their caregivers, is the the Arts 4 Alzheimer’s program developed by Tania Becker, president of the board of the Spruill Center in Atlanta with the help of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Alzheimer’s Association.

via Arts 4 Alzheimer’s Draws Relief For Patients and Caregivers – Tonic.

When boomers get dementia; Caregiving, stress and other costs

The New York Times’ Room for Debate blog looks at dementia, Alzheimer’s and caregiving this week with interesting views from experts on aging and health care. Read on:

But as the United States population ages, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to double from the current 5.3 million in the next few decades. Who will provide the care? What social policies might be needed to help the U.S. deal with growing numbers of older patients?

via When Boomers Get Dementia – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com.

Unified, Utah, offers monitors for those with cognitive conditions at risk of wandering

The Unified Police Department is offering search monitors to people with cognitive conditions linked to wandering, such as Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome and dementia.

The SafetyNet monitor emits a radio signal from a device worn on the ankle or wrist, police wrote in a news statement Monday. If the wearer is reported missing, officers can use the signal to find the person.

There is a $99 enrollment fee and a monthly fee of $30.

For more information, call 877-434-6384.

via Monitors offered for those with cognitive conditions – Salt Lake Tribune.