I live in a large co-op apartment building in Manhattan. Our staff is lovely and caring. A staff member told me that a resident is getting very forgetful and that she likes to spend her time in the lobby. I asked if she had family and was told she had only one brother in Japan. I was probably chosen as a confidante because I cared for my husband who had Alzheimer’s at home. Despite that experience, I was at a loss to give advice.
One day, I got on the elevator with this lovely, forgetful neighbor. She could not remember the number of the floor on which she lived. I offered to accompany her downstairs to learn her apartment number. She thanked me but was naturally embarrassed at the need for help and declined. She acknowledged that she was getting forgetful, and I told her my husband had the same problem and I understood.
I now find myself very worried about what will happen to this nice lady who has no one to help her. The thought has also crossed my mind that she may be a danger not only to herself but also to others living in the building. I am aware of the right of an individual to age in place versus the need for assistance, but this can’t be a unique problem. Is there a protocol for managing agents of buildings to follow? Linda, New York
Few seniors get their thinking and memory abilities regularly tested during check-ups, according to a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association that raises questions about how best to find out if a problem is brewing.
Medicare pays for an annual “wellness visit” that is supposed to include what’s called a cognitive assessment — a brief check for some early warning signs of dementia, so people who need a more thorough exam can get one.
But doctors aren’t required to conduct a specific test, and there’s little data on how often they perform these cognitive snapshots.
About half of seniors say they’ve ever discussed thinking or memory with a health care provider, and less than a third say they’ve ever been assessed for possible cognitive problems, according to an Alzheimer’s Association survey being released Tuesday.
A company that charged patients thousands of dollars for infusions of blood plasma from younger donors said Tuesday that it had stopped treating patients after the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against such treatments, purported to prevent aging and memory loss.
The company, Ambrosia, said on its website that it had “ceased patient treatments.” The announcement came hours after the FDA issued a statement saying there is no proof that plasma from young donors can be used as a treatment for dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder, as some companies have claimed.
The plasma infusions can also be dangerous, the agency added, because they are associated with infectious, allergic, respiratory and cardiovascular risks.
Education has long been thought to protect against the ravages of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Numerous studies seemed to suggest that the more educated were less likely to develop dementia.
But a large new study finds little difference between people with a high school diploma and those with a Ph.D. when it comes to staving off the damage to brain cells caused by dementing diseases or the rate at which mental decline progresses, once it starts.
“It’s been a longstanding idea that education might be one of those things that allows a person to tolerate these kinds of brain pathologies,” said the study’s lead author, Robert S. Wilson, a professor of neurological and behavioral sciences at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “We found that the more pathology you find in the brain, the faster the cognitive decline was.”
IT STARTS OUT SLOWLY, almost imperceptibly. The misplaced keys. The forgotten birthday or anniversary. Using the wrong word or losing the thread in mid-conversation. These are often dismissed as typical signs of aging, but in some people, they may be the earliest signs that something bigger is at work – the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. When a doctor diagnoses dementia or Alzheimer’s in your loved one, you should be sure to ask a lot of questions to make sure you understand your loved one’s current state of being and so you can appropriately prepare for how this progressive disease could change over time.
1. Is it Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia?
There are several types of cognitive decline people may experience. “Dementia is simply an umbrella term,” says Dr. Susann Varano, a geriatrician at Maplewood Senior Living, a Westport, Connecticut–based senior living residence company. “If a physician says, ‘you have dementia,’ it’s the same thing as saying, ‘you have cancer.'” She says it’s critical to pinpoint exactly which type of dementia it is. “Is it Lewy body dementia? Is it vascular? Is it a frontotemporal disorder? Is it mixed dementia? Is it Alzheimer’s disease?” Although all dementias affect the brain and cognitive function, “each of those types of dementias have a different path. Some accelerate more than others and some have different presenting symptoms, so it’s very important to get the actual diagnosis of dementia.”
People living with dementia are frequently under-recognized and under-diagnosed by healthcare providers. Consequently, they do not receive the medical care they need, nor are they connected to essential home- and community-based supports. The federal duals demonstration offers opportunities to better blend funding and oversight for Medicare-funded medical care with Medicaid-funded long-term services and supports, so that people with dementia and their families can get better integrated care. This webinar offers tools and strategies to improve dementia healthcare based on approaches that have been developed within this demonstration model but that also have relevance to other healthcare systems.
California’s presentation focuses on how the state and regional Alzheimer’s organizations partnered with participating health plans serving dual eligible participants to improve detection, care planning and community supports for individuals and family caregivers dealing with diagnosed and-or undiagnosed dementia. The presentation also shares resources developed and lessons learned in implementing this initiative. Texas’ presentation focuses on the Texas Takes on Dementia initiative, and how it builds on the California initiative’s principles and adapts these for the State of Texas. Also included is a discussion of key adaptations, challenges and lessons learned.
You’ve turned 65 and exited middle age. What are the chances you’ll develop cognitive impairment or dementia in the years ahead?
New research about “cognitive life expectancy” — how long older adults live with good versus declining brain health — shows that after age 65 men and women spend more than a dozen years in good cognitive health, on average. And, over the past decade, that time span has been expanding.
By contrast, cognitive challenges arise in a more compressed time frame in later life, with mild cognitive impairment (problems with memory, decision-making or thinking skills) lasting about four years, on average, and dementia (Alzheimer’s disease or other related conditions) occurring over 1½ to two years.