A new study suggests that symptoms of Alzheimer’s may be harder to detect in patients over the age of 80. The study tested the relationship between age-related brain shrinkage and Alzheimer’s correlated memory loss. It used just over 100 Alzheimer’s patients and 125 dementia-free people who were grouped by age.
These participants then underwent a series of brain tests with scans that looked at attention, information processing speed and memory.
“People in both groups had similar levels of overall cognitive impairment, but the pattern of changes associated with Alzheimer's disease seemed to be less noticeable in very-old patients than in the young-old”.
Compared to other younger patients, the immediate memory and processing speed in very old Alzheimer’s patients was less abnormal indicating that it may be harder to diagnose.
The study also demonstrated that 80+ Alzheimer’s patients had less thinning of certain areas of the cerebral cortex and cerebellum than the younger patients. This also supports the “hard to diagnose” conclusion because thickness of these brain areas decreases in everyone with age so the differences aren’t as noticeable.
A new study revealed that two commonly prescribed antidepressants for dementia patients are not better than a sugar pill for reducing depression symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients.
This study published in the Lancet tested Zoloft (sertraline) and Remeron (mirtazapine), which are both generic antidepressants that have generated more severe side effects than placebo. These side effects have led researchers to suggest that these types of medicine should be only used in dementia patients who cannot be treated in a simpler fashion.
The study only tested around 300 patients but was still the largest placebo-controlled trial to date on antidepressants in dementia patients.
More than one-fifth of the 35 million people around the world who have dementia have also been linked with depression symptoms, making this study immensely important. “Alan Manevitz, M.D., a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, agrees with the authors' conclusion that doctors should consider nondrug treatments before prescribing antidepressants to depressed dementia patients”.
This study is a key step forward yet it is surely not a final statement on the subject. It was a bit small and the findings weren’t diverse enough to apply to a large population of patients. Hopefully more progress will be made on this issue in the future.
The Obama administration announced another piece of good news for seniors today: there will be no increase in Medicare premiums and these fees for prescription drugs will actually drop a bit.
“Overall, the average premium cost of the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2012 will be about $30, a modest decline from $30.76 paid out on average in 2011”. Many will ask “how did this happen?”. The answer is that Medicare’s drug benefits program is being aided by competition from private insurers and increased use of generic medicines. And experts predict that the prices may continue to drop as more big-time drugs become generic over the next year few years.
DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) secretary Kathleen Sebelius credited President Obama’s health care reform efforts for being crucial in these cost savings. "The Affordable Care Act is strengthening a very critical Medicare program and helping million[s] of seniors and Americans with disabilities get the care they need," she said. "Thanks to the new discounts, beneficiaries are saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, known as the donut hole, at the same time as Part D premiums are falling”.
Although this was big news, experts cautioned that much more work needs to be done. Sebelius said that there were still “critical” gaps in coverage especially with prescription drugs. Hopefully this trend of progress will continue and this will make life easier for the elderly everywhere.
Scientists are getting closer and closer to a critical milestone in diagnosing Alzheimer’s patients. They are extremely close to succeeding at creating a blood test to screen people for the disease.
Currently, Alzheimer’s is diagnosed only after people start having memory problems or unexpected change in behavior. They then undergo an in-depth medical interview, a memory assessment test and occasionally an MRI to look for brain shrinkage. The problem is that these processes are overly expensive and impractical for routine use.
That’s why two recent studies are being hailed around the medical world as a large step forward in Alzheimer’s research. Australian researchers reported a few weeks ago that their blood tests showed more accuracy than ever seen before when tested with over 1000 patients. “The test correctly identified 83 percent of people with high amyloid levels and correctly ruled out 85 percent of people without this condition”.
The other study used blood tests to screen for autoantibodies (special markers in blood) and showed even better experimental results. “The blood test correctly detected Alzheimer's disease in people already diagnosed with the devastating brain disorder with 96 percent accuracy, according to the researchers. The test could also distinguish who didn't have the disease from a control group of non-affected adults with 92.5 percent accuracy”.
This research is a huge step forward but the scientists cautioned spectators saying that there is still a long way to go. Let’s hope that future studies like these continue to show as exciting and ground-breaking results.
A recent blog post talked about some factors behind healthcare’s move home. Today, we’ll go more in-depth on a similar subject and outline some of the biggest advantages of opting for private duty nursing over hospital care.
As mentioned before, there is truly nothing like the comfort and security of your own home anytime, whether you’re a healthy child or elderly person recovering from illness. Many studies and extensive research show that even if you have a chronic illness, living at home with private home healthcare may be your best option for a swift and smooth recovery.
Some of the benefits of private care include:
“- Provides individuals needing care with dignity and independence.
- May help prevent or postpone hospital or nursing home care.
- Allows maximum freedom and comfort for the individual.
- Offers individualized care tailored to the needs of the individual and family.
- Provides professionally supervised services
- Supports families while keeping them together.”
Overall, if any of these benefits appeal to you or you’re just curious for more information, you should click the “Contact Us” tab above. HotelRecovery has offered quality private home care for over a decade and is the perfect local company if you want to recover at home.
The debt ceiling bill passed Congress yesterday which is good news for the country as a whole but many seniors are wondering how it will affect them. With all the horse-trading and compromising finally over, the news looks good (at least in the short term) for the elderly.
Most major programs of interest will be protected under the deal including Social Security, Medicaid, veteran’s benefits and pensions, civil and military pay and programs for women, infants and children. The deal does not raise taxes (due to Republican insistence) and will cut spending by over $900 billion starting in October.
What happens after this bill remains to be seen. A bipartisan committee has been tasked with finding another $1.5 trillion in savings later this year and that could definitely affect some of the aforementioned programs. Seniors may want to hope that Washington continues to struggle with compromising because if the committee fails to reach an agreement, automatic cuts would occur and Social Security would be safe again.
Everyone should be glad that a government shutdown was avoided but this process left an ominous future for new agreements and put many important programs at risk. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Home healthcare is becoming an increasingly viable and even preferred option among patients today. In places around the country from New Mexico to New York, home health agencies are providing a huge variety of care services which focus on coordination and support for the individual.
Steven H. Landers, M.D, said “that the venue of care for the future is the patient's home, where clinicians can combine old-fashioned sensibilities and caring with the application of new technologies to respond to major demographic, epidemiologic, and health care trends”. He isolates five major trends which are making home healthcare preferable for many including aging, epidemics of chronic diseases, technological advances, health care consumerism and increasing health care costs.
First, the aging population of the US will result in more adults having limitations on their activities, making leaving their homes for hospital care difficult. Therefore, home healthcare options have improved access and helped prevent complications due to hospital confinement such as delirium and falls.
Second, epidemics of chronic disease have become bigger concerns since around 90% of adults over the age of 65 have at least one chronic condition. The Chronic Care Model concludes that since patients manage their diseases at home, support and recovery are likely to be enhanced when care is provided there as well.
Third, advances in portability of medical technology have increased the viability of home health options. This has opened up the field and allowed nurses to treat patients in unexpected places already and should only improve as capabilities expand in the coming years.
Fourth, health care consumerism means that patients are looking for the best deals and that has pushed care to more convenient locations as well. Patients and caregivers want convenience and privacy, and as care models are developed to bring high-quality care home through the front door or mobile device, they may well surpass hospitals.
Lastly, in-home care is often much less costly for patients and can be more desirable which offers everyone a win-win solution. Landers concludes that “in one study of a hospital-at-home approach, patients who received care at home had lower rates of consultations, procedures, and use of devices than their hospitalized counterparts but had similar or better clinical outcomes” .
 Steven H Landers, Oct 2010, “Why Health Care Is Going Home”, N Engl J Med 2010; 363:1690-1691