Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.....

Dear Editor -- I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says ''If you see it in The Sun it's so.'' Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

--Virginia O'Hanlon, 115 West 95th Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

"Sniff Test" Can Enhance the Accuracy of Diagnosing of Alzheimer's

Tests that measure the sense of smell may soon become common in neurologists' offices. Scientists have been finding increasing evidence that the sense of smell declines sharply in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and now a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease confirms that administering a simple "sniff test" can enhance the accuracy of diagnosing this dreaded disease.

The sniff test also appears to be useful for diagnosing a pre-dementia condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which often progresses to Alzheimer's dementia within a few years.

Neurologists have been eager to find new ways to identify people who are at high risk of Alzheimer's dementia but do not yet show any symptoms. There is a widespread consensus that Alzheimer's medications now under development may not work after dementia has set in.

"There's the exciting possibility here that a decline in the sense of smell can be used to identify people at risk years before they develop dementia," said principal investigator David R. Roalf, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of Psychiatry at Penn.

Roalf and his colleagues used a simple, commercially available test known as the Sniffin' Sticks Odor Identification Test, in which subjects must try to identify 16 different odors. They administered the sniff test, and a standard cognitive test (the Montreal Cognitive Assessment), to 728 elderly people.

The subjects had already been evaluated by doctors at Penn with an array of neurological methods, and according to expert consensus had been placed in one of three categories: "healthy older adult," "mild cognitive impairment," or "Alzheimer's dementia." Roalf and his team used the results from the cognitive test alone, or combined with the sniff test, to see how well they identified subjects in each category.

As researchers report, the sniff test added significantly to diagnostic accuracy when combined with the cognitive test.

For example, the cognitive test alone correctly classified only 75 percent of people with MCI, but that figure rose to 87 percent when the sniff test results were added. Combining the two tests also enabled more accurate identification of healthy older adults and those with Alzheimer's dementia. The combination even boosted accuracy in assigning people to milder or more advanced categories of MCI.

"These results suggest that a simple odor identification test can be a useful supplementary tool for clinically categorizing MCI and Alzheimer's, and even for identifying people who are at the highest risk of worsening," Roalf said.

Prompted by prior studies that have linked a weakening sense of smell to Alzheimer's, doctors in a few larger dementia clinics already have begun to use smell tests in their assessments of elderly patients. Part of the reason the practice has not yet become common is that the tests that seem most useful take too long to administer. Roalf and colleagues are now trying to develop a briefer test that works as well as the longer ones.

"We're hoping to shorten the Sniffin' Sticks test, which normally takes 5 to 8 minutes, down to 3 minutes or so, and validate that shorter test's usefulness in diagnosing MCI and dementia—we think that will encourage more neurology clinics to do this type of screening," Roalf said.

Roalf and his laboratory also plan to investigate whether protein markers of Alzheimer's, which are present in the olfactory region of the brain before dementia occurs, can be detected in nasal fluid to provide an even earlier warning of the disease process.

Studies suggest that a high proportion of older adults who have cognitive impairment are not identified as such, in part due to lack of adequate screening.

 Journal reference: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 

Provided by: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Memory Loss and Dementia

When is memory loss associated with dementia?

Memory loss is often one of the first signs of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease. Initially, memory lapses may be mistaken for the normal forgetfulness that often increases as people grow older, or when they become stressed. However, in someone with dementia it will gradually become clear that the memory problems are becoming more severe and persistent. This will often be more apparent to family and friends than to the person themselves. Memory loss will also be accompanied by changes in the way the person thinks, behaves and feels. This can make it even more difficult to cope with everyday life.

Memory loss affects each person differently, as do all aspects of dementia. For example, some people with dementia retain certain skills for much longer, while others need assistance earlier on. A person may recall a surprising range of facts or experiences, especially memories from earlier in their life, but may forget recent events or familiar situations.

Memory loss in dementia

People with dementia will often experience difficulties with their memory, which interfere with their day-to-day activities. This memory loss is often due to damage in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which plays a very important role in day-to-day memory. Damage to different parts of the brain will affect different kinds of memory.

While memory loss affects everyone differently, many people with dementia experience problems with the following:

  • forgetting recent conversations or events
  • struggling to find the right word in a conversation or forgetting names of people and objects
  • losing or misplacing items (eg keys or glasses) around the house
  • struggling with familiar tasks, eg making a cup of tea
  • forgetting appointments or anniversaries
  • taking medication (eg not remembering whether a regular dose has been taken)
  • getting lost in familiar surroundings (such as the neighbourhood they live in) or on familiar journeys (eg to the shops)
  • recognizing faces (even of those closest to them).

As the person's dementia progresses,  their memory will get worse. In the early stages, the person's long-term memory is often less affected. This is probably because older memories - which are thought about more often - become more firmly established and are more likely to be recalled than newer memories.

Memory also has an emotional aspect. Emotions influence what and how a person remembers and some memories can make the person feel a certain way. Memories can often be triggered by just one part of the memory, such as music or smell. People's emotional memory is affected much later on in dementia. Before this happens, people can often remember how they felt about something, even if they can't recall other details about it. For example, a person with dementia may not remember where or when they went on holiday, but they will remember how they felt when they were there.

There are some things that people with dementia may be able to recall for longer. These include:

  • things that happened long ago, especially in late adolescence or early adulthood
  • things that have been done many times, eg a route to school or work
  • things that have been rehearsed and practised over and over again, eg playing a musical instrument or dance steps
  • events or dates that made people feel strong emotions (eg births or marriage, or dates like September, 11 2001 or the assassination of John F. Kennedy)

The emotional impact of living with memory loss

Memory loss can lead to many practical difficulties for a person. It can also have a strong effect on how they and those supporting them feel. Everyone will react differently to their memory problems, but many people become frustrated or worried by them. They may lose self-confidence and be embarrassed by their difficulties. Memory problems can also lead to a person withdrawing from situations or stopping doing things they usually do. They may accuse others of having moved or stolen items they have misplaced. It is important to be aware of these difficulties and find ways to provide support. The following suggestions might help.

  • Encourage the person to talk about how they are feeling.
  • Support the person with any frustration they may be feeling, for example by talking through issues and looking for ways to manage them.
  • Support the person to cope with the difficulties they face on a day-to-day basis, rather than focusing on what may happen in the future.
  • Support the person to focus on what they can still do, and encourage them to continue doing these things.
  • Encourage the person to continue spending time with other people, and to take part in meaningful activities as much as possible.
  • At times, it may be best to change the conversation or activity to try and remove any frustration the person may be feeling. Do this sensitively - it is important not to undermine the person or dismiss their feelings.

Those supporting the person with dementia are also likely to feel a range of emotions due to the person's memory loss. Remembering that the person's difficulties are because of their dementia may help you to deal with these feelings.

There may be concerns that the person's memory loss will put them at risk. Using assistive technology products (eg a gas detector) can help to reduce the risk. If the person is able to make decisions, it is important that they are supported to do so . Very often, it is a case of balancing the risks against the benefits, and using this to find a suitable solution.

Supporting someone with memory loss

Forgetting recent conversations or events

People with memory problems will find it hard to store, and then remember, recent conversations and events. The part of the brain,  (the hippocampus) that allows new information to be processed may be damaged. This makes it harder for the person to form new memories and learn new information. The person may forget a conversation they've had, something they've recently done, or an appointment or plan. It is important to remember that the person isn't being difficult or ignoring you. Their brain hasn't kept the information, and so it may feel like the first time they've heard it. The following tips may help.

  • Avoid telling the person they have heard the information before.
  • Ask yourself whether it really matters if the person remembers a recent conversation or event. Forcing the matter can makes things worse.
  • Set up a regular routine. This can make it easier for the person to remember what is going to happen during the day.
  • Encourage them to use a diary or journal to record things that have happened. Pictures and words are useful tools. They can be used to remind the person what they have done, as a conversation starter.
  • Include cues and prompts, and try to give context, instead of asking vague questions. For example, 'It must be a while since breakfast. Are you hungry?' rather than 'Have you had breakfast?'
  • Consider using reminders such as sticky notes or a wall calendar for one-off tasks, and more permanent reminders for tasks the person does more often (eg keeping a note by the door for keys and wallet).
  • Focus on one thing at a time: giving the person too much information may be overwhelming.
  • Keep information simple, and repeat it often (if necessary).
  • Reduce distractions such as background noise.
  • Keep questions simple and specific, eg 'Do you want tea or coffee?' rather than, 'What would you like to drink?' This helps the person to make a choice by narrowing down options.

Struggling to find the right word

People with dementia may have difficulties finding the right word in a conversation. They may also struggle with remembering names of items or people. They may:

  • struggle to find the right word in a conversation (eg saying shoe instead of chair) or seem stuck because the word is 'on the tip of their tongue'
  • struggle to remember the meaning of words
  • forget people's names even if they know them well
  • forget the names of objects (eg knife, book, tree).

These difficulties can make it harder to communicate with a person with dementia. However, there are a number of ways to support conversation.

  • Give the person enough time to find the word, but try not to leave it so long that the person becomes embarrassed.
  • Consider the context of what the person is saying - this may give clues to the word they are trying to find.
  • Turn down background noise and try to make sure the environment is not too distracting.
  • Consider the time of day when the person is at their best. This may be in the morning when they have more energy.
  • Don't rush the person. If they feel stressed or under pressure it may make things worse. Be patient and don't complete the sentence for them.

Tips: supporting a person with dementia when they forget the names of objects and people

  • Try to find tactful ways to give the person reminders or prompts (eg 'Here's our neighbour, Bill').
  • Try not to put the person on the spot or say things that highlight they have forgotten the person's name (eg 'You must remember who this is?').
  • It's much harder for the person to remember names if they're tired or stressed. Try to wait until they're feeling a bit better.
  • Ask the person whether it would be helpful for other people to introduce themselves when they speak to them. This may depend on how the person feels about their difficulties and whether they are happy for others to know.
  • Use prompts, cues and context to help with naming items. The person may recognise something and what it is used for, even if they can't remember its name.
  • Consider using a 'memory book' or 'memory box' with photos and brief information on people (eg name, relationship) for the person with dementia to refer to.
  • Try not to visit places that are too busy, eg markets - the person may cope better in situations with fewer people.

Reprint:  Alzheimer's Association/UK

Happy Thanksgiving! Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire, if you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times, during these times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes, they will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you are tired and weary, because it means you've made a difference

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.  A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.  Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings.

Author Unknown


Alzheimer's Disease...hits home for Actor....

In off-Broadway’s "A Life"” David Hyde Pierce’s 54-year-old character realizes he’s forgotten what he was talking about.

That’s no big deal, says Pierce, 57: “It’s the kind of forgetting we all experience at this age.” What isn’t normal, he says, is the massive memory loss that accompanies dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, an illness with which he’s sadly familiar.

The nation’s sixth leading cause of death , Alzheimer’s afflicts 5.4 million Americans and affects the lives of 15 million family members and friends who are their caretakers.

Finding the funding to fight it is something the “Frasier” star has been doing since 1994, when he played TV’s “Celebrity Jeopardy” and picked a cause to which to donate his winnings. He chose Alzheimer’s, having seen the toll it took on his grandfather.

“We come from a family where you’re not supposed to have any problems, and if you do, no one’s supposed to know,” says Pierce, who grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY. “Dementia and Alzheimer’s can last a long time. It’s very difficult to care for someone who no longer recognizes you.”

Pierce is a national spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Association, testifying before Congress on the need to support research.

“My grandfather’s personality really changed,” Pierce tells The Post. “He went from not being able to play chess anymore to being strapped into the armrests of a wheelchair in a nursing home.”

‘Dementia and Alzheimer’s can last a long time. It’s very difficult to care for someone who no longer recognizes you.’

 - David Hyde Pierce on his grandfather

His grandfather’s memory began failing in the late ’80s. It wasn’t until a few years later, when the extended family dined at a restaurant, that they realized something was terribly amiss.

“He was looking at the menu, and it was clear that he couldn’t read it,” Pierce says of his grandfather, then in his 80s. But there were other signs: Always a gentleman, he was now prone to anger. When he knocked his wife to the ground, she knew she could no longer care for him.

A different kind of dementia struck Pierce’s father, George, an insurance salesman and amateur actor, after he suffered a stroke in the early ’90s following heart surgery. Pierce’s mother handled their finances until she died in 1995. Pierce believes stress wore her down. His dad died three years later.

Pierce is cautiously optimistic about the recent discovery of an antibody that could destroy the brain plaques that cause Alzheimer’s, though genetic tests are still inconclusive. “If you have [Alzheimer’s] in your family, it doesn’t mean you’ll get it,” Pierce says, “but for every person in your family who has it, your chances do go up.”

He stresses the importance of diet and exericse. “All the things you should do to keep your heart healthy,” he says, “will keep your brain healthy.”

David Hyde Pierce will be honored Nov. 7 by the Drama League.
reprinted - New York Post

Alzheimer's Animal Study Hints at Gene Therapy's Potential Promise


Gene therapy might one day offer a way to prevent and treat Alzheimer's Disease, new research in mice suggests.

Scientists at Imperial College London used a modified virus to deliver a gene called PGC1-alpha into the brain cells of mice. Previous research suggests this gene may prevent the formation of a protein called amyloid-beta peptide.

It’s the main component of amyloid plaques, the sticky clumps of protein in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. These plaques are thought to cause brain cell death.

These very early findings could lead to a way of preventing Alzheimer’s or stopping it in the early stages, according to study senior author Magdalena Sastre.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It causes memory loss, confusion, and changes in mood and personality. There is no cure.

“There are many hurdles to overcome, and at the moment the only way to deliver the gene is via an injection directly into the brain,” Sastre said in a college news release.

It’s also important to note that therapies that look promising in mice often don’t work in humans.

“However, this proof-of-concept study shows this approach warrants further investigation,” she added. Sastre is a senior lecturer in the department of medicine.

David Reynolds, chief scientific officer for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said studies like this one are important because current treatments do not stop progression of Alzheimer’s damage.

“This research sets a foundation for exploring gene therapy as a treatment strategy for Alzheimer’s disease, but further studies are needed to establish whether gene therapy would be safe, effective and practical to use in people with the disease,” Reynolds said in the news release.

The study was published Oct. 10 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

© 2016 HealthDay. 

Tau Pet Scan - New and Promising imaging method for Alzheimer's Disease

Tau PET is a new and promising imaging method for Alzheimer's disease. A case study from Lund University in Sweden now confirms that tau PET images correspond to a higher degree to actual changes in the brain. According to the researchers behind the study, this increases opportunities for developing effective drugs.

There are several different methods of producing images showing the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease. The tau PET method reveals the presence of a protein in the brain, tau, with the help of a gamma camera and a specially selected radioactive molecule (F-AV-1451).

Tau has an important function in assisting the transport of various substances within the brain's nerve cells. People with Alzheimer's disease have raised levels of tau, leading to accumulation of the protein in the brain cells and gradually to cell death.

Lund University and Skåne University Hospital are among other institutions studying patients with the tau PET method for research purposes. Until now, no one has had precise knowledge of how well the new imaging method reproduces the actual changes in a brain affected by Alzheimer's disease. The current case study, however, shows that image and reality match up well. The study has enabled researchers to compare tau PET images and brain tissue from the same person for the first time. The brain tissue came from a person who died having recently undergone examination with the new imaging method.

"Tau PET can improve diagnostics, but above all, the imaging method can be of great significance in the development of new drugs to combat Alzheimer's disease," explains Ruben Smith, researcher at Lund University and physician at Skåne University Hospital. He continues:

"There are new candidate drugs which aim to reduce the accumulation of tau. The imaging method opens up opportunities to investigate the development of the disease at a detailed level, and to observe how tau aggregates are affected by the drugs."

"The person who was examined had a mutation which led to the same type of accumulation of tau in the brain as in Alzheimer's disease. A single case study might seem insignificant, but since there are areas with a lot of tau stored and others with less tau in the same brain, it is sufficient to examine one person in order to verify whether the imaging method works," explains Oskar Hansson, professor at Lund University and consultant at Skåne University Hospital.

Interest from the research community in imaging methods focusing on tau is strong and growing. A reliable reproduction of tau protein in the brain is considered a more relevant marker and a better diagnostic tool than competing methods which are already in use.

The researchers behind the study are now focusing on tracking aggregation of tau in the brain over time and connections with diagnostics using spinal fluid samples.

Tau PET imaging is considered interesting for other, less common, neurological diseases as well, such as frontal lobe dementia and Parkinson's-like diagnoses such as PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy) and CBD (corticobasal degeneration).

The results are published in the journal Brain and the study was funded by the European Research Council (ERC), the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Alzheimer's Fund and the Swedish Brain Fund, among others.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Lund University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Ruben Smith, Andreas Puschmann, Michael Schöll, Tomas Ohlsson, John van Swieten, Michael Honer, Elisabet Englund, Oskar Hansson. 18F-AV-1451 tau PET imaging correlates strongly with tau neuropathology inMAPTmu

World Alzheimer's Day - Today



World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21st of each year, is a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning.

Every 68 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease is often called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. With the increases in life spans and baby boomers coming of age, support for Alzheimer’s research is more critical to our families than ever.


Source:  Fischer Center for Alzheimer's Research

Can Sleep Deprivation Be Linked to Alzheimer's Disease?

It’s long been known that not getting enough sleep is bad for your health.

A lack of shut eye has been linked to diabetes, depression, heart disease and other troubling ailments.

And now, scientists have highlighted the impact too little sleep can have on the mind - increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Dr Jeffrey Illif, a brain scientist at Oregon Health and Science University, told NPR that ‘changes in sleep habits may actually be setting the stage’ for dementia. 

  • A restless night is known to be bad for your health - leading to a variety of ailments, from depression to diabetes. But, scientists also say a lack of sleep also increases your risk of Alzheimer's disease

Sleep is beneficial for the brain, allowing for the process of clearing out toxins that trigger Alzheimer's, he said.

If a person gets too little sleep, there is a risk those toxins can build up and lead to brain damage - as seen in research in animals who do not get enough sleep. 

Dr Illif and his team are about to embark on a study investigating their theory in people, which they hope will clarify the association between sleep and Alzheimer’s.

Sleep disorders are common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. ntil recently, the medical community assumed the link occurred because the disease was ‘taking out the centers of the brain that are responsible for regulating sleep', Dr Illif said.

But, recent discoveries showed the association may be more complicated than that.

A 2009 study found that the sticky amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s ‘develop more quickly in the brains of sleep-deprived mice'.

And, in 2013, Dr Illif was involved in a study, which revealed too little sleep can speed up Alzheimer’s plaque development.

That study uncovered the cleansing process that takes place in the brain during sleep.

Dr Illif said: ‘The fluid that’s normally on the outside of the brain – cerebrospinal fluid – it’s a clear, clear fluid – it actually begins to recirculate back into and through the brain along the outsides of blood vessels.’

A study published this summer also found that poor sleep allows a memory-robbing protein to build up in the brain.

  • Scientists found that the brain undergoes a 'cleansing' process while you sleep - clearing out Alzheimer's toxins. Without enough sleep, the toxins can build up and damage the brain and cause Alzheimer's. In turn, higher levels of this beta-amyloid protein then disrupt sleep – leading to a vicious circle that could result in Alzheimer’s disease.

If sleep is as important as believed, sleep therapies could help delay the onset of the disease, as well as slow its progression in those who already have it, experts suggest.

With previous research showing deep sleep to ‘power cleanse’ beta-amyloid from the brain, the researchers believe lack of sleep to be a key part of a vicious circle in which memory gets worse and worse.

University of California, Berkley researcher Matthew Walker said: ‘The more beta-amyloid you have in certain parts of your brain, the less deep sleep you get and, consequently, the worse your memory.

Furthermore, in October, a study from the University of California, Davis found that jet lag-style sleep problems, suffered by shift workers and frequent fliers, may cause Alzheimer's disease.

That study provided the first evidence that alterations to the body clock really can trigger the memory and learning loss symptoms that are a hallmark of dementia.




FDA Facilitates Research on Earlier States of Alzheimer's Disease


  • Alzheimer’s disease is a nightmare haunting many Americans.

More than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the most common cause of dementia among people 60 or older. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. It eventually robs sufferers of the ability to perform even the simplest tasks of daily life.

Despite years of intensive efforts by scientists to develop new safe and effective treatments for Alzheimer’s, options remain limited. In the last 20 years, FDA has approved five drugs for the disease—the most recent one in 2003. Although the drugs can provide some benefit, more needs to be done.

A recent development could bring better results. Three years ago, FDA scientists released a draft guidance that may help companies conduct clinical trials focused on what could be a more treatable stage of the disease: before the onset of noticeable dementia.

Research has shown that there is a lag of many years between the beginning of changes in a patient’s brain and the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Yet in the past, clinical trials examined Alzheimer’s patients when their symptoms had become clearly apparent, long after the changes in their brains had started. Some researchers have theorized that the greatest benefits will be available if a treatment can be developed for very early in the disease course, when people have the very first symptoms of Alzheimer’s—or even earlier.

For that reason, the development of drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease has increasingly focused on the stages before the onset of overt dementia. A 2013 FDA draft guidance responded to this development by discussing the design of clinical trials for drugs for Alzheimer’s patients who are still in the very early stages of the disease, when only subtle symptoms are present.

“There may be a window of opportunity to affect the disease before people experience symptoms,” says Eric Bastings, M.D., a neurologist and the deputy director of FDA’s Division of Neurology Products.

FDA’s draft guidance may help researchers design clinical trials for early stage Alzheimer’s therapies. The agency hopes that the guidance will serve as a focus for continued discussions among FDA, sponsors of new drugs, the academic community, and the public.

“Earlier and more precise identification of patients with early changes in the brain who will go on to develop Alzheimer’s is important for the success of these clinical studies,” says Billy Dunn, M.D., a neurologist and the director of FDA’s Division of Neurology Products. “We hope that earlier interventions, before further extensive damage to the brain sets in, will be more successful. We’re very excited about the potential for this research to result in safe and effective treatments for early Alzheimer’s disease.”


New Paths for New Alzheimer’s Drugs

FDA’s draft guidance aims to encourage research and discusses FDA’s thinking about conducting new clinical trials at the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease—in patients with no obvious symptoms, or even no symptoms at all.

One example of how clinical trials are changing is thepartnership funded in part by the National Institute on Aging. Participants are people ages 65 to 85 who have normal thinking and memory function but might be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s, based on an advanced brain scan. The three-year study is testing whether a new investigational treatment can slow the memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s.

One of the biggest challenges is correctly identifying patients at risk for developing Alzheimer’s. In recent years, researchers have identified biomarkers (measurements, often based on a laboratory test, of a condition or disease) that may indicate a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Some of them are gene mutations.

“In a small proportion of patients, having someone in the family with Alzheimer’s dramatically raises the risk that they, too, will have the disease,” Dunn says.

For most people, however, the risk of Alzheimer’s is not quite as readily identified.

“If we can use biomarkers to better choose who should be in which clinical trials, these biomarkers hopefully will help increase the likelihood that we’ll be able to show the drug effect in clinical trials,” Bastings says.

Prompt detection of the disease may lead to the development of early treatments that could help patients retain their brain function for a long time, even if their underlying Alzheimer’s may not be reversed.

“We’re very excited about increasing our ability to find beneficial treatments for so many people with this devastating disease,” Dunn says.

This article appears on the FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

September 13, 2016


All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten....


by Robert Fulghum

Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sand pile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.



Tips on Caring for Someone Who May Wander

Because of symptoms like wandering, keeping a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia at home can seem challenging or downright impossible. It’s one of the main reasons why families choose to move their loved one into a memory care facility.

But there are ways for seniors who wander to remain safe in the familiarity of home for a longer period of time. Following, from Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, and the Alzheimer’s Association, are tips to help families balance independence and safety at home.

  1. Make a plan early. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, everyone who has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is at risk of wandering. “As long as that person is mobile, wandering can happen at any time – not just on foot, but in a vehicle or even in a wheelchair,” said Monica Moreno, director of Early-Stage Initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association. “Be proactive rather than reactive, and make a plan before a wandering incident occurs.”

  2. Safeguard the home and know your environment. Prepare the home to ensure your loved one is safe. Know your neighborhood. Are there lakes, wooded areas or shopping malls that could attract an interested senior? What has the individual been talking about? Was there a mention of wanting to visit someone or some place? Keep a list of the places where someone may wander.

  3. Protect your loved one. Make sure the individual is wearing identification at all times. Keep handy an updated photo of your loved one and a current medication list. Consider the fee-based Medi Alert and Alzheimer's Association Safe Return Program. Individuals who enroll wear an ID bracelet to help authorities identify them in the event they wander or have a medical emergency.

  4. Be prepared if a loved one becomes lost. Register with the free Missing Senior Network℠ program. This free web service will help family caregivers create a list of contacts they can alert should their loved one go missing. The service enables caregivers to notify their network of friends, family and businesses in the event a loved one become lost.

  5. Journal to help identify and avoid triggers. Try to find out if Dad’s walking has a purpose. Does he tend to wander after a meal? Perhaps he is wandering trying to find a bathroom, but can’t remember where it is. If that’s the case, direct Dad to the bathroom following each meal.

  6. Combat anxiety, agitation and restlessness with reassurance and diversions. The more anxious a loved one becomes, the more likely he or she could be headed out the door. During those times, provide activities that can help divert and entertain. Also help reassure the person that they are safe and that everything is OK.

  7. Avoid overstimulation. Too much activity or noise could trigger a “flight” reaction. Avoid large, noisy gatherings or crowded places.

  8. Educate others. Tell as many people as possible about the disease – from trusted neighbors to shop owners to the staffs of restaurants where your loved one likes to eat

  9. Ensure constant supervision. As the disease progresses, your loved one may need constant supervision to remain at home. This is not something you should try to do alone for extended periods. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter at 800-272-3900to learn more about the resources available to keep your loved at home for as long as possible.

  10. Take care of yourself and get help. You’ve heard it before, but it’s true: You can’t be a good caregiver unless you first take care of yourself. Keep up-to-date on medical check-ups and get respite help.

(Home Instead Senior Care)

September is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

September is Alzheimer's Awareness Month.  In the United States, one person every 66 seconds is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.   The Memory and Aging Center of New Jersey is offering free memory screenings.  Throughout the month, every Tuesday and Thursday between 10am-3pm, we will be offering free memory screenings at our office.   We are located at 20 Hospital Drive, Suite 12, Toms River, NJ 08755.   Please call 732 244-2299 to schedule your appointment.

Alzheimer's Research - a glimmer of hope

An experimental drug cleared protein buildup in the brains of people with mild Alzheimer's disease and slowed their mental decline, the results of a preliminary trial showed Wednesday.

The outcome raised hopes that a treatment may finally be within reach for the memory- and independence-robbing disease, but experts cautioned against overplaying the findings.

The drug, aducanumab, is only the latest antibody to show promise in an early, Phase I drug trial, they said. Others ended up disappointing in the decisive Phase III efficacy test.

"Although potentially this is an exciting story, it is important to temper any excitement with considerable caution," said Robert Howard, a professor of old age psychiatry at University College London.

"It would be premature to conclude that this is likely to represent an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease."

Researchers in the United States and Switzerland tested aducanumab, developed by biotech firm Biogen, on 165 people with early-stage Alzheimer's disease for a period of one year.

Some were given a monthly injection of the antibody, and others a placebo or dummy drug.

In the brains of those given the treatment, there was an "almost complete clearance" of so-called amyloid plaques, the researchers reported.

Amyloids are sticky proteins that clump together in deposits -- one of the mechanisms suspected of causing Alzheimer's.

"The effect of the antibody is very impressive," said Roger Nitsch, a professor at the University of Zurich's Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who co-authored the study.

- 'Now is the time' -

After one year of treatment, "practically no beta-amyloid plaques could be detected in patients who received the highest dose," said a university statement.

And while the trial was not designed to test drug efficacy, the team did observe slower onset of symptoms in treated patients.

This supported the hypothesis that amyloid plaques are indeed what cause Alzheimer's, the researchers said, but further tests are required to prove this once and for all.

"Indeed, confirmation that anti-AB (amyloid-beta) treatment slows cognitive decline would be a game-changer for how we understand, treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease," commented Eric Reiman at the Banner Alzheimer's Institue in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Now is the time to find out."

The drug did have side-effects, however, including fluid buildup on the brain, and headaches.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) says affects nearly 50 million people worldwide -- with some 7.7 million new cases diagnosed per year.

Old age is the major risk factor, and there is no prevention or effective treatment for Alzheimer's symptoms, which include memory loss and disorientation, as well as anxiety and aggressive behaviour.

Like actor Gene Wilder, who passed away on Monday, people do not die of Alzheimer's itself but complications which can include infections or malnutrition.

Last year, drug-maker Eli Lilly said the drug solanezumab, also an antibody, showed promise when given to people in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Results from further testing with both drugs will be hotly anticipated in the months to come.

Outside experts expressed cautious optimism about the new study, published in the journal Nature.

"Let's keep our fingers crossed for success in the next steps," said neuroscience professor Richard Morris from the University of Edinburgh.




Gene Wilder's Death: How Do People Die from Alzheimer's?

Legendary comedic actor Gene Wilder has died at age 83 from complications of Alzheimer's disease, his family announced today. But what exactly does it mean to die from Alzheimer's?

Although Alzheimer's disease shortens people's life spans, it is usually not the direct cause of a person's death, according to the Alzheimer's society , a charity in the United Kingdom for people with dementia. Rather, people die from complications from the illness, such as infections or blood clots.

Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disease in which abnormal protein deposits build up in the brain, causing brain cells to die. The illness is best known for causing memory loss, but it also has other debilitating effects on the body, and can affect people's ability to move and eat by the Alzheimer's patients may have difficulty swallowing, and they may inhale food, which can result in aspiration pneumonia, Dr. Marc L. Gordon, chief of neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, New York, who was not involved in Wilder's care, told Live Science,  in a 2014 interview. Pneumonia is listed as the cause of death in as many as two-thirds of deaths of patients with dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Society.

Alzheimer's patients may also become bedridden, which can increase their risk of fatal blood clots, Gordon said.

Weight loss and other complications from Alzheimer's can also lead to a weakened immune system, the Alzheimer's Society says. This increases a person's susceptibility to potentially life-threatening infections, according to the National Institute on Aging.

These effects on the body are most pronounced in the advanced stage of the disease, which lasts about 1.5 to 2 years, on average, according to the NIH.

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, nearly 85,000 people in the United States died from the disease, the CDC says.

However, death from Alzheimer's Disease,  may be underestimated, because death certificates often list pneumonia or another complication as the cause of death, rather than the underlying Alzheimer's, according to a 2014 study. The study estimated that as many as 500,000 people in the United States died from Alzheimer's in 2010.  There is no cure for this disease

Original article on Live Science.



Alzheimer's Disease - 5 Million Americans are Living with the Disease

There are 24 million people in the world with Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia, and this number is growing rapidly. In fact, it's expected to triple to 81 million by 2040. Here's what you should know about Alzheimer's disease and dementia life expectancy

How Common is Alzheimer's Disease?

In 2015, over 5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer's. This included about 5 million people over the age of 65, and about 200,000 people with earlier-onset disease.

One in nine people 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease, and about 30 percent of Americans over the age of 85 has the disease.

Eighty-one percent of people with Alzheimer's are 75 years old or older.

Alzheimer's Disease Life Expectancy

Figuring out the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on life expectancy and longevity is complicated, as people are normally older when they are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and they may have multiple conditions impacting their life expectancy. However, here's what we do know about Alzheimer's disease and life expectancy.

Alzheimer's disease is one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, the disease usually progresses over anywhere from two to 20 years. People diagnosed with Alzheimer's typically live an average of eight to 10 years from their time of diagnosis.

In one study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that having late-stage Alzh

 This 8 percent increase in risk remains constant with aging and is added to other risk factors, such as heart disease.

Factors That Determine Longevity

One study found that the main factors that determine how long a person lives after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia are age, gender, and level of disability.

Here are the main research findings:

  • Women lived an average of 4.6 years after diagnosis, men lived 4.1 years.
  • People diagnosed when under age 70 lived 10.7 years compared to 3.8 years for people over 90 when diagnosed.
  • Patients who were frail at the time of diagnosis did not live as long, even after adjusting for age.
  • Overall, the average survival time for someone in the study diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia was 4.5 years.

Improving Quality of Life for Your Loved One

In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, cognitive impairment is not the only determinant of quality of life. While you can't change factors such as age at diagnosis or gender, research shows that the care that a person receives impacts life expectancy. Be sure that you explore options when it comes to creating a care plan for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and take advantage of any support groups or other resources that may help.

The extent to which a person with the disease can maintain his or her social relationships can also play a large role.

Patients should talk with their doctor  for strategies to cope with social situations. In addition, maintaining household responsibilities for as long as able can help improve quality of life. In later stages, a patient's needs may change, and it is important for a caregiver to know how to care for themselves in addition to their loved one.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

There have been many studies looking into the use of puzzles  to help delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A famous study of nuns showed that the individuals most curious and engaged mentally in the world had less Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Try these top ways to exercise your brain.


Alzheimer's Foundation of America. (n.d.). Alzheimer's Disease Life Expectancy. Retrieved February 27, 2016

Johnson, Elizabeth; Brookmeyer, Ron; and Ziegler-Graham, Kathryn (2007) "Modeling the Effect of Alzheimer's Disease on Mortality," The International Journal of Biostatistics: Vol. 3 : Iss. 1, Article 13.

Xie J, Brayne C, Matthews FE; and the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study collaborators. Survival times in people with dementia: analysis from population based cohort study with 14 year follow-up. BMJ. 2008 Jan 10.



How to Approach Your Loved One When They are Aggitated and Anxiety Ridden

  • Try de-cluttering the environment.

  • Learn trigger points and avoid them in the future.

  • Create a calm space.

  • Be aware of what is in your loved one’s line of vision.

  • Make sure your loved one has enough light. Low lighting could trigger agitation and anxiety.

  • Create a change of scenery.

  • Try a gentle touch.

  • Your loving voice can provide comfort when your family member is agitated.

  • Know your loved one’s preferences and routines—it can make a big difference.

  • Refocus the person’s attention.

  • Try offering comfort from a beloved family pet or grandchildren.

  • Fresh air and nature can have a positive impact.

  • Everybody likes a good laugh.

  • Give simple tasks to make your loved one feel useful.

  • Provide something familiar—it can be calming.

  • If your family member is pacing, ask if you could join in the walk.

  • If your loved one gets flustered when faced with decisions, simplify choices.

  • Be prepared

resource: - Home Instead Senior Care

News from the Alzheimer's Association

July 6, 2016

Dear Colleague,

I am excited to share with you more encouraging news out of Washington, D.C. Today, the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee announced a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This comes just a few weeks after I was able to share with you the historic news that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $400 million increase.

With this proposed increase, both the House and the Senate have now proposed increases that are $50 million above what they proposed last summer. We are confident that, just like last year, our champions in the House and Senate will work hard to deliver the best possible final increase that they can, starting from these two proposals.

We will keep you informed, as the appropriations process continues to unfold. As you will likely recall, in June 2015 we were thrilled to share news of the historic $350 million increase, which was ultimately signed into law in December 2015 for FY2016.

It was just five years ago when Alzheimer's disease research funding at the NIH stood at only $448 million per year. With last year’s historic action Alzheimer’s disease research funding reached $991 million for the FY2016 budget. If another step of this magnitude is signed into law, we will surpass the $1.3 billion mark.

We are very proud of and thankful to our partners.This monumental growth would not have happened without your tireless work and support of of the Alzheimer's Association and the Alzheimer's Impact Movement. Working together going forward, we will accomplish even more, as we succeed in delivering our mission and in realizing our vision even sooner.

Thank you.



Dementia and Genetics


It’s A Family Affair

If you follow Alzheimer’s research, you may have heard of a village in Colombia called Yarumal, population of over 5000. Yarumal has the largest known population affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

More than 5,000 people in Yarumal who share the same blood line are affected. Genetic mutation and a linked bloodline means that most village residents will have dementia by the age of 40. In the following interview, Dr. Ashok Patel, Medical Director of the Memory and Aging Center of New Jersey, discusses the importance of current research in Yarumal.

Why is Yarumal so important to researchers? Well, for one, it has the highest per capita rate of Alzheimer’s Disease in the world. Twenty-five extended families in Yarumal are affected. These families, who all share the bloodline of one 350 year-old Spanish conquistador, have provided information and tissue for studies spanning more than 30 years. This research has sparked interest and hope among families, physicians and researchers across the globe.

What’s next in the assault against Alzheimer’s? The Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative is conducting drug trials to determine if giving treatment before the onset of dementia can lead to preventing Alzheimer’s. The families in Yarumal have inherited a genetic mutation that almost guarantees that they will develop Alzheimer’s. This makes them the perfect recipients for such new treatments.

Is there a link between early onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s? Not necessarily. There are differences in the form of inheritance of early and late-onset Alzheimer's, as well as in the pace of its progression, and so on. But despite these differences, the brain atrophy--the shrinkage or decay of the brain--in both types of the diseases were found to be identical. I believe that millions of people may benefit from more effective Alzheimer’s treatments in the future as a result of this ongoing research.

Despite the differences between the inherited form of Alzheimer’s and the more common type that mainly affects the elderly, the brain lesions in both types of the diseases were found to be identical. I believe that millions of people may benefit from more effective Alzheimer’s treatments in the future as a result of this ongoing research.

Are you concerned about memory loss? The Memory and Aging Center of New Jersey offers thorough memory evaluations to determine the current status of memory and to find the right treatment option for the patient. We provide the latest advanced testing and screening for Alzheimer’s. We conduct the test for the APOE gene and perform scans to detect amyloid plaques. Contact us for more information or to schedule a free evaluation.

More information about The Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative can be found in the July 2014 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia.