by Phil Chandler, Owner of Right at Home of Ventura County, Home Care Agency
Every year, the Alzheimer’s Association holds a conference for professionals to discuss trends and future directions in caregiving and research in dementia care and medications. This year the conference was held at the Ventura Marriott and had nationally renowned speakers discussing a variety of topics.
The morning keynote was presented by Dr. Keith Fargo, Director of Scientific Programs for the Alzheimer’s Association. He presented some statistics that had everyone take notice – in 2016, an estimated 700,000 people will die from Alzheimer’s in the United States, and it is the 6th leading cause of death. There is no cure and the disease cannot be slowed.
The largest risk factor for Alzheimer ’s disease is age – 1 in 9 people over the age of 65 will get Alzheimer’s, and 1 in 3 over the age of 85 will get it. Medications that are available can temporarily improve the symptoms in some people, but no medications can stop or slow the nerve cell death in Alzheimer’s.
There have been about 15 treatments tested that slow or stop the damage caused by Alzheimer’s – in animal models. This is very good news if you are a mouse. It is also good news for humans because these results show that the research is on the right track, but there is still work to be done.
Dr. James Sutton, Medical Director of Pacific Neuroscience in Oxnard, discussed research that is being conducted right here in Ventura County. He discussed the biological mechanisms that cause Alzheimer’s disease, and how the drugs being tested attempt to slow or stop these processes. Over the last decade, there has been an acceleration of progress in the understanding of the disease due to results from the Human Genome Project, advances in brain imaging, and strong international research efforts.
A husband and wife team of neurologists, Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, from Cedars-Sinai Hospital Alzheimer’s Prevention Program discussed healthy lifestyles that are believed to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is very complicated, and may be triggered by genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Additionally, it is different in men and women. Early diagnosis is critical so the patient and family can make plans for care, finances, and social support. They are a proponent of a program that they have called NEURO: Nutrition, Exercise, Unwind (stress relief), Restful sleep, and Optimal mental and social activity. They believe that we can improve our brain health by living healthy lifestyles.
What can you do? Even if you don’t have dementia, you can go the website www.alz.org/trialmatch, or call 1-800-272-3900. You will be asked to fill out a simple questionnaire, and your profile will be compared to a clinical study database of over 260 different drug and non-drug clinical trials. You will receive information about studies for which you might be a good fit. All of the information is confidential, and the Alzheimer’s Association will not know any personal information about you. It is up to you to contact the study if you are interested in participating towards a cure.
If you want to learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease, contact Monica Schrader at the Alzheimer’s Association at 484-5200.