Health
May 27, 2018
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Alzheimer's Disease: Where are we now?

By: Julie Ann Soukoulis
March 16, 2018
Navigating the aging journey

“Alzheimer’s is the most under-recognized threat to public health in the 21st Century,” says former surgeon general and CDC director, Dr. David Satcher. What’s true is that Caucasians make up the majority of the over five million people that currently have Alzheimer’s disease in America.

However, when we looked at new evidence - we discovered that African Americans and Hispanics are actually at greater risk of coming down with the disease. It is not due to genetic factors, though. It’s actually triggered by conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Today experts are recommending better management of these key conditions, suggesting this will go far to help with Alzheimer’s disease prevention across the spectrum of race, ethnicity and gender.  

Updates on action

You can help accelerate research with your care and support. Here are a few things you can do;

•Support AB 2233 (Kalra) - to expand California’s Medi-Cal Assisted Living Waiver (ALW) to serve more individuals with cognitive impairments at-risk of costly nursing home placement.

•Support the Governor’s January 10 budget proposal to add 2,000 new slots to the existing Medi-Cal ALW. This increase is in the Department of Health Care Services budget.    •Support for AB 2025 (Maenschein) will help to invest in critical home and community based services at the local level, building infrastructure and capacity to meet growing demand for long-term services and support.   

•Please also support the Alzheimer’s Association’s $2.2 million stakeholder budget request to fund the first public education campaign to promote early detection in partnership with the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). Effective chronic disease management starts with early detection. For more actions call 800-272-3900 or just visit the website at www.alz.org.

Our newest innovations towards a cure

Today we are utilizing MRI-based technology. Our scientists are identifying physical symptoms as early as possible. Changes such as plaque buildup in the brain may differentiate mild cognitive impairment that is directly related to early-onset Alzheimer’s from normal aging. This approach serves to allow researchers to see brain dysfunction in patients well before they begin to lose tissue and nerve cells.

There are many new treatments in development. Most serious approaches have the potential to be the first disease-altering medications for this disease. An example of this is an approach that utilizes immunotherapy - an antibody treatment that directly attacks the disease to prevent it from progressing.

Another promising approach uses antibodies to significantly reduce the level of amyloid-β. This is a protein commonly found in the brains of people with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Researchers are also testing treatments that target tau protein tangles. These protein tangles cause damage that kill brain cells. The proteins also deactivate a receptor that decreases a neurotransmitter necessary for the brain to think and function normally.

There are also medicines being designed to decrease inflammation found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients - while helping to strengthen the immune system for better disease fighting functions.  

If only a single one of these treatments is proven effective - there would be a possible delay in the disease by as much as five years. Even a simple reduction like this can cut the number of people affected by roughly 40 percent.    

Current helpful resources

Local Support, Statewide Services, National Impact. To help support the movement you can simply contact your California State Policy Office urging any of the actions listed above. 

Contact Susan De Marios, State Policy Director 915 Street, Suite 1110 Sacramento, California 95814. Phone 916-447-2731, or email sdemarios@alz.org

For local support for your caregiving needs contact the Alzheimer’s Association of Santa Rosa at 1450 Neotomas Ave., Suite 140, 95405, 707-573-1210

Additional resources on the web can be found at www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com and to help care for yourself while caring for an aging  loved one look to  www.caregiverstress.com

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She would love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.