Two weeks ago (3.5.15) I attended the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association ~ Rhode Island Chapter’s annual conference for family and professional caregivers. It was an excellent conference, with many presentations to choose from. A few of the important take-aways (TAW) for me.
1. BLOOD RESEARCH: The key note speaker, Dr. Sid O’Bryant from Texas, shared research information with us about blood research.
TAW~ In the not too distant future, patients will be able to get their blood tested during their annual physical with their primary care physician. This specific test will indicate if there are bio-markers in the blood that tell the doctor whether or not someone is developing Alzheimer’s disease. If they are, they would be referred to a specialist for further testing/evaluation and hopefully receive medications to slow down or stop the development of the disease.
2. Dr. O’Bryant feels there are many forms of Alzheimer’s disease, not just one form. Research will clarify that over a period of time.
TAW ~ Numerous medications will need to be developed for each form, as one medication won’t fit all needs.
3. FTD – FRONTOTEMPORL DEMENTIA TESTING: Dr. Brian Ott, a neurologist from Providence, spoke on this topic which effects 50-60,000 Americans between the ages of 45 and 64.
TAW ~ SPECT Scan ~ Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography, is a nuclear medicine study that shows and examines blood flow in the body.
“A single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan lets your doctor analyze the function of some of your internal organs. A SPECT scan is a type of nuclear imaging test, which means it uses a radioactive substance and a special camera to create 3-D pictures.
While imaging tests like X-rays can show what the structures inside your body look like, a SPECT scan produces images that show how your organs work. For instance, a SPECT scan can show how blood flows to your heart or what areas of your brain are more active or less active.” Mayo Clinic
Therefore, doctors can tell what part of the brain is receiving an adequate blood supply and, in this case, how much of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain have been damaged by this disease.
TMS ~ Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation:
“Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe, non-invasive, and painless technique today widely employed in studies designed to explore brain functions… In TMS short current pulses are driven through a coil positioned on the scalp of the subject.” International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
3. ANTIHISTAMINES: This category of drug can cause more confusion or cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
TAW ~ Drugs like Benedryl decrease the amount of acetylcholine produced in the brain which is necessary for brain function. It’s important to maintain the normal levels of acetylcholine if the brain is to function properly.
4. YOGA EXERCISES:
TAW ~ We know that caregivers are under a tremendous amount of stress. Simple yoga exercises, done on a daily basis for just a few minutes at home, can reduce an over-burdened caregivers’ stress dramatically. Yoga exercises provide a time for the caregiver to concentrate on him/her self, reduce tension within the muscles of the body and provide a few minutes of personal mindfulness.
Alzheimer’s Associations around the United States offer annual conferences for family and professional caregivers each year. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn new information about Alzheimer’s and the other related dementias, as well as pick specific topics that you feel you need more information about. The Rhode Island Chapter offers this program to family caregivers at no cost during the month of March each year and an adult day program is available for your loved one as well.
Photo Credit: oakparkmethodist.org