Alzheimer’s from A to Z

Today marks the end of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, which brings to light the progressive and fatal brain disease named for German doctor Alois Alzheimer.

The disorder affects 5.3 million Americans. It was brought to the forefront by the psychiatrist in 1906, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in care, support and research for the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and progresses with time, the organization says. It destroys brain cells, results in memory loss, and changes thinking and behavior, according to the group’s Web site. Alzheimer’s accounts for 50 percent to 70 percent of dementia cases.

The disease affects more than those it afflicts. The direct and indirect health care bills are staggering, with costs to Medicare, Medicaid and businesses of those suffering with Alzheimer’s and other dementias reaching more than $148 billion annually.

There is no cure for the disease, and according to the association’s Facts and Figures publication, Alzheimer’s patients with one or more added serious medical conditions — from diabetes to coronary heart disease — drive up Medicare and Medicaid costs. Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes and Alzheimer’s or the other related dementias had 64 percent more hospital stays than those with just diabetes. The average costs were $20,655 compared with $12,979, respectively.

Medicare beneficiaries with coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s or other dementias had 42 percent more hospital stays than those with just coronary heart disease. The average costs were $20,780 versus $14,640, respectively.

The report says that every 70 seconds someone in the U.S. develops the disease. That’s one reason why the association’s mission is to eliminate the disease through the advancement of research and to provide and enhance care and support for those with the disease.

For information see or contact the Alzheimer’s Association 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900.

Via Alzheimer’s from A to Z

Mall Program Helps Autistic Children Visit Santa Claus

Until last year, Debbie Lashbaugh’s grandson couldn’t visit Santa.

The mall was just too much for him.

“You cannot take him to Walmart, you cannot take him to the mall, because he melts down,” Lashbaugh said of her grandson Chase, 5, who is autistic.

“He cries and has a fit. … Most autistic children have sensory disorder. To go somewhere where there is bright lights and loud noise is too much stimulation.”

Then last year, a mall near Chase’s home in Dayton, Ohio, offered a special time for autistic children to visit Santa.

“All the other stores were closed,” Lashbaugh said. “The music was just barely audible, just barely. They did not have all the overhead lights on. It was a very serene environment.”

This year, Country Club Mall in LaVale is offering a similar program. “Sensitive Santa” is scheduled for 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 6 — before the mall opens to the public.

The event is only open to families of children with autism. For more information, call Lashbaugh at (301) 707-0139.

Via Progam Helps Autistic Children Visit Santa Claus

After fire, boy with autism on road to recovery and rebuilding

One year ago Jonathan Reyes wrote a letter to give his parents on Thanksgiving, telling them “I’m thankful for my house which is blue and keeps me safe.”

Today, as his mother, Jan Reyes, shows the letter she is in tears. “When he brought it home we cried a lot, of all things for a 7-year-old to be grateful for!” She cried because weeks before Jonathan’s letter came home, that blue house and their entire neighborhood were destroyed by a massive wildfire. She cried because as difficult as losing a home would be for any child, it’s a different kind of stress for Jonathan. He is autistic.

Children with autism thrive on familiarity and routine and his life had been turned upside down.

Via After Fire, Boy with Autism on Road to Recovery and Rebuilding

One Million Alzheimer’s Patients Will Reside in California and Florida

Some 5.3 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease with the number projected growing to as many as 16 million in the coming years.

California and Florida will have the largest population of Alzheimer’s patients with over 500,000 in each state according to a report issued today by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, an industry trade group.  By 2025, six other states will have over 200,000 individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s the most common form of dementia.

“In 2011 the first baby boomers start turning 65 and by 2029 all boomers will be at least 65 years old,” states Jesse Slome, AALTCI’s executive director.  “Unless medical breakthroughs identify ways to prevent or treat the disease, the Alzheimer’s Association projects a 50 percent increase in the number of people afflicted in the years ahead.”

The cost of Alzheimer’s is currently estimated at nearly $200 billion for related medical and long-term care.  Dementia and Alzheimer’s is the leading reason individuals receive benefits from the 8.25 million long-term care insurance policies currently in force.

Based on population data compiled from U.S. Census reports and studies by the Alzheimer’s Association, California and Florida are expected to have the largest number of residents with Alzheimer’s in 2025.  Six states will see the number of Alzheimer’s cases double in the next 15 years and Texas, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are each expected to have as many as 499,000 cases.

“Americans are living longer lives and that significantly increases the likelihood of being inflicted by Alzheimer’s,” Slome explains.  Death rates for most major diseases have declined according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Death rates for heart disease have declined 8.6 percent from 2000-2005 and 14.4 percent for stroke.  Alzheimer’s disease death rates continue to trend upward, increasing 45 percent during that period.

The 10 states projected to have the largest percentage change in Alzheimer’s cases by 2025 (compared with 2000) are: Utah (127%), Alaska (126%), Colorado (124%), Wyoming (114%), Idaho (100%), Nevada  (100%), Texas (74%), Arizona (67%), Florida (64%) and North Carolina (62%).

Via One Million Alzheimer’s Patients Will Reside in California and Florida

Alzheimer’s Group to Provide Info on Disease

The Alzheimer’s Association will be providing information on Alzheimer’s disease for The Des Moines Register’s Health pages, starting in December, to raise awareness of the disease, share information for caregivers and provide opportunities to join the fight against Alzheimer’s.

The articles will seek to increase awareness about the disease itself as well as prevention through a healthy lifestyle. Alzheimer’s disease is the seventh leading cause of death and 5.3 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s. Every 70 seconds someone new is diagnosed. In Iowa 65,000 people have the disease. More than 92,000 Iowans are caregivers of someone with dementia.

While these statistics are staggering, they fail to describe the impact of Alzheimer’s for the person with the disease and their caregiver. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative brain disease that results in changes in memory, thinking and behavior.

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process. It is a highly emotional disease, for those who have it as well as their caregivers, family and friends. Though we understand how Alzheimer’s affects people, there is still no cure.

Via Alzheimer’s Group to Provide Info on Disease

For Student With Autism, Having Service Animal in School Is ‘Lifesaver’

Kaleb Drew, a first-grader with autism with severe speech and developmental delays in central Illinois, recently received some good news from a county judge: His best friend, Chewey, a 70-pound yellow Labrador retriever, who has been his constant companion in school since August, would be allowed to continue to accompany him to school every day.

Chewey is an autism service dog trained by Autism Service Dogs of America, an organization outside of Portland, Ore., that prepares dogs to live with children who have autism. The dogs are trained to increase the child’s mobility and socialization and to provide a calming influence that allows the child to make greater academic progress in school.

For Kaleb, Chewey is his lifeline and his guardian angel, says his mom, Nichelle. After receiving the dog last spring, Kaleb has had fewer emotional outbursts, he is better able to focus and transition from one activity to another during class, and he does not try to run away from people—which has in the past resulted in dangerous situations in the school parking lot—since Chewey is tethered to him and acts as a physical restraint. However, if the Villa Grove school district had its way, Kaleb would have to do without Chewey at school. District officials argued in court earlier this month that the dog is not a true service animal and does not perform tasks that benefit Kaleb academically.

Via For Student With Autism, Having Service Animal in School Is ‘Lifesaver’

Boy with Asperger’s lives 11 days in NYC subway system

Day after day, night after night, Francisco Hernandez Jr. rode the subway. He had a MetroCard, $10 in his pocket and a book bag on his lap. As the human tide flowed and ebbed around him, he sat impassively, a gangly 13-year-old boy in glasses and a red hoodie, speaking to no one.

After getting in trouble in class in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and fearing another scolding at home, he had sought refuge in the subway system. He removed the battery from his cellphone. “I didn’t want anyone to scream at me,” he said.

All told, Francisco disappeared for 11 days last month — a stretch he spent entirely in subway stations and on trains, he says, hurtling through four boroughs. And somehow he went undetected, despite a round-the-clock search by his panicked parents, relatives and family friends, the police and the Mexican Consulate.

Via Runaway Spent 11 Days in the Subways

New Alzheimer’s Program Available

A new nationwide program matches Alzheimer’s patients with state-of-the-art examinations and diagnostic tests for no charge.

CARE-PAC, the Community Alzheimer’s Research Exchange for Patients and Caregivers, is working in conjunction with geriatric care managers in Southern Connecticut, to evaluate whether a patient with Alzheimer’s disease could be referred to a local study center conducting a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease.

Once people with AD or dementia are assessed by a local CARE-PAC coordinator both over the phone and in person, they gain a better understanding of their disease from a trained health care professional.

And they may be interested in being referred to a local clinical trial site conducting research on AD. After a thorough memory and medical screening by the trial site, all participants receive free physical examinations and diagnostic tests related to the study. Participants may also gain access to investigational medications before they become widely available, and be able to get these new medicines earlier in their disease.

If you care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease and are interested in finding out more about the CARE-PAC program, call Marsha Beller at 203-389-2882 or call the CARE-PAC program office at 800-375-0595 or visit

Via New Alzheimer Program Available