Tag Archives: dementia

How to “Redirect” an Alzheimer’s Patient: Caregiver Tips

28 Feb

joindefeatdementiaHow do you “redirect” a dementia patient who wants to “go home” or  speak to someone who is no longer alive? How do you respond to a loved one who is living in a reality which isn’t yours? Here are a few tips that I posted yesterday on  Defeat Dementia, a Facebook group which provides information and support to caregivers of dementia patients:

• Don’t worry about convincing her that her loved one has already passed away, but to pay attention to the emotion she is expressing.

• Sometimes it is helpful to encourage the patient to talk about her loved one. Try questions like “what did you do with your (mom) when you were little?”, “What do you want to say to your (mom)?”

• Perhaps having a photo of her loved one available that you can look at together, ask her to tell a story about her loved one, might be strategies that would satisfy her.

• If necessary, some caregivers have tried a white lie, like “Your (mother) lives someplace else now.” or “I can’t take you there today. Maybe tomorrow.”

• It’s helpful to try to stay in the patient’s reality, and the death of her loved one is no longer a part of her reality, so saying her (mother) is dead only confuses her.

Source: UCSF Memory and Aging Center

For more information, visit the Defeat Dementia website, join our Facebook Group, visit the UCSF Memory and Aging Channel on YouTube, or check out UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center website.

New Theory About the Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease – a Prenatal Link?

22 Feb

pj-ao487_resear_g_20090218123227New research at Genentech provides a provocative theory about the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and   suggests potential new targets for therapies to treat it, reports Ron Winslow in the February 19 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

The prevailing view about what causes Alzheimer’s disease is that  deposits called beta amyloid accumulate in the brain, destroying nerve cells and ultimately, the patient’s memory.  Now, new research shows there’s a very different way of looking at the disease.

The Genentech/Salk Institute team of researchers propose that a normal process in which excess nerve cells and nerve fibers are pruned from the brain during prenatal development is somehow reactivated in the adult brain and “hijacked” to cause the death of such cells in Alzheimer’s patients, writes Winslow.

According to Marc Tessier-Lavigne, executive vice president, research drug discovery at Genentech, the new findings offer evidence that “Alzheimer’s is not just bad luck, but rather it is the activation of a pathway that is there for development purposes.”

Genentech has identified potential drug candidates based on the findings and says that it may take many years for any potential treatment to be developed.

The research was published Thursday in the journal Nature.

NOTE: The photos of normal and dead nerve fibers above are from Dr. Tessier-Lavigne.

links for 2009-02-17

17 Feb

links for 2009-02-08

8 Feb

US Senate Adds $6.5 billion in NIH Funding to Stimulus Bill

4 Feb

Good news on the NIH front . This investment could  help support more research on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, FTD and other diseases:

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The Senate on Tuesday approved an amendment that would add $6.5 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health to an economic stimulus bill, raising the total proposed cost of the bill to more than $900 billion.

The amendment, proposed by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would bring total funding for the National Institutes of Health in the Senate stimulus bill to $10 billion over two years.

“The National Institutes of Health have been starved recently,” Specter said in a statement. “This increase in funding will enable the National Institutes of Health to continue to produce remarkable achievements in scientific advances.”

Source:  Patrick Yoest, Dow Jones Newswires

What is CJD: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease?

1 Feb

Here is  a brief CJD FAQ, taken from UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center’s website. To learn more, visit the CJD website.

What is CJD?

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a human prion disease caused by a normal protein that becomes misshapen into a “prion”, builds up in the brain and disrupts normal brain function. It is a rare disorder that is fatal, usually within 6 months of diagnosis and a year of the first symptom. In the United States, there are about 300 new cases per year.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) belongs to a family of diseases called “prion disease” [pree-ahn] caused by abnormal “prions”, microscopic infectious agents made of proteins. Prions cause a number of diseases in a variety of mammals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease”) in cattle and scrapie in sheep.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Typical first symptoms include personality changes like anxiety and depression, memory loss, confusion and impaired thinking. Difficulties with balance and coordination as well as involuntary, jerking movements are also very common. People eventually lose the ability to move and speak. Pneumonia and other infections often occur in these patients and can lead to death.

What are the Tests?

When a diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is suspected, your doctor will likely order a number of tests. These can be helpful to either exclude other neurological diseases or support the CJD diagnosis.

Can I Participate in Research?

The CJD research at UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center focuses on understanding prion disease, diagnosing it earlier and more accurately, and developing treatments for CJD.

Other Resources

Please visit CJD Aware! a wonderful organization which provides information and support.

Get involved! Join the Defeat Dementia group on Facebook. Meet others in the fight against degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), non-AD dementias, including Frontotemporal Dementia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and others.

Here’s a link to the CJD video playlist from UCSF’s Memory and Aging Channel on YouTube.

Here’s a video featuring Dr. Michael Geschwind about the basics of Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease:

Mike Homer Has Died of CJD

1 Feb

I am sad to report that Internet industry legend Mike Homer has died today of CJD. This news was first reported this evening by Kara Swisher in her BoomTown blog. Kara writes:

We all liked Mike. In fact, we all loved the pugnacious, energetic and restlessly entrepreneurial Silicon Valley exec.

Sadly for those who knew him, Mike Homer died today at his home surrounded by family and friends, after a long battle with a severe illness. He was 50.

Homer is survived by his wife, Kristina, and three young children: James, Jack and Lucy.

His funeral is at Saint Raymond’s Catholic Church in Menlo Park on Thursday.

In 2007, Homer was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

A rare, neurodegenerative “prion” disease, which in Homer’s case has occurred sporadically rather than via infection (the well-known variant that occurs in animals is called mad cow disease), CJD’s incidence is one case in a million annually, and few survive beyond a year after exhibiting symptoms.

His illness inspired his family and many friends to find treatments and a cure for the cruel disease and include the man–Dr. Stanley Prusiner–who won the Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering prions, infectious agents that are at the heart of CJD.

Mike Homer was treated by specialists from UCSF. Homer’s fight made a tremendous impact on those who have been researching this devastating disease and raising public awareness about this and other forms of dementia.

Read about the Fight for Mike and Defeat Dementia campaigns here.

To learn more about current research and treatment options for CJD and other neurodegenerative diseases as well as how you can help, visit UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center’s CJD website or YouTube Channel.