Weekly ACA’s Weekly Email March 19, 2021

Upcoming Webinars from Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network (alabamarespite.org):

·         Just enough Grace, March 20, 10 CT

·         Caregiving is Not a Life Sentence, March 27, 10 CT

Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges of an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis (Home Instead, Inc., April 1, noon CT)

Zoom Support Groups available online:

·       ACA’s Coffee Talk with Miller & Vance, Tuesday, March 23, 11 – noon CT.  Call (205) 871-7970 or mpiggott@alzca.org.  Join us on zoom:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86450491838

·       CJFS CARES,  Mondays at 1:30 pm, contact Pam Leonard, pam@cjfsbham.org.

·        Founders Place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Tuesday’s at 10 am, contact Susan Logan, susanlogan65@gmail.com

·        Pell City, 1st Tuesday of each month, 2:00 pm, contact Bit Thomaston, Ethomaston50@gmail.com

·     West Alabama Area Agency on Aging, Caregiver Support Group, Tuesdays, contact Nikki Poe, nikki.poe@westal.org.

·         Leeds, 2nd Thursday of each month, 6:30 pm, contact Bit Thomaston, ethomaston50@gmail.com

·         United Way Area Agency on Aging of Jefferson County, 3rd Tuesday of each month 11:30-12:30, contact Valarie Lawson,vlawson@uwaaa.org

·         Asbury United Methodist Church 1st and 3rd Thursdays at 1:00, contact Maggie Dunaway at mdunaway@asburyonline.org.

·     CJFS CARES,  Thursdays, 7:30 pm, contact Pam Leonard, pam@cjfsbham.org.

Alzheimer’s News:

More than 90 percent of patients with dementia will have one or more behavioral or neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, agitation and aggression. Hallucinations and delusion are seen in roughly 75 percent of those with Lewy body dementia, half of those with Parkinson’s disease dementia, and a third of individuals with Alzheimer’s.  Delusions are firm but false beliefs not based in reality, such as believing incorrectly that strangers are living in the basement. Hallucinations typically involve hearing or, more often, seeing things that others do not, like frightening creatures in the room. Both of these symptoms can overlap or be confused with other neuropsychiatric behavioral issues like irritability or agitation. The latest Alzheimer’s Talks from UsAgainst Alzheimer’s focused on these symptoms and ways to help families cope.  you’ll find a recap here

Memory impairment is the cardinal feature of dementia, but behavioral and psychological symptoms, which can include apathy, delusions, and agitation, are common during all stages of illness and cause significant caregiver distress.  Researchers found a significant proportion of community-dwelling older adults with dementia take three or more central nervous system (CNS) medications despite guidelines that say to avoid this dangerous practice.  Investigators found that 14% of these individuals were receiving CNS-active polypharmacy, defined as combinations of multiple psychotropic and opioid medications taken for more than 30 days.  The study was published online in JAMA.  The American Geriatrics Society, advises against the practice of CNS polypharmacy because of the significant increase in risk for falls as well as impaired cognition, cardiac conduction abnormalities, respiratory suppression, and death when polypharmacy involves opioids.

The Alzheimer’s Drug, Oligomannate, approved in China and derived from seaweed, is now being studied in the U.S. in a Phase 3, multi-center clinical trial that is actively recruiting participants.   While pharmaceutical companies have invested decades of research and billions of dollars in the quest to cure to Alzheimer’s, more than 100 experimental therapies have either been abandoned in development or failed in clinical trials. A Shanghai drugmaker’s experimental ‘seaweed drug’ is the next glimmer of hope.  Now, the unique drug is being studied in the United States.  While drugmakers Roche, Eli Lilly and Biogen have focused their efforts on beta amyloids — a key Alzheimer’s biomarker — for their experimental drugs, Green Valley in Shanghai is working a different angle, attempting to reduce inflammation in the brain by way of altering the gut’s microbiome.  U.S. Trials for Alzheimer’s “Seaweed Drug” Oligomannate Recruiting Participants – Being Patient

The experimental intravenous drug donanemab could slow the cognitive decline of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to early clinical trial results, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.  The researchers found donanemab slowed the decline of cognition and daily function in Alzheimer’s patients by 32% after 76 weeks, compared to those who received a placebo. Experimental Alzheimer’s drug could slow cognitive decline in patients, early results suggest – CNN

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a new consensus report entitled Meeting the Challenge of Caring for Persons Living with Dementia and Their Care Partners and Caregivers: A Way Forward, which assesses the quality of the existing evidence about care for people living with dementia and their caregivers. The report highlights the need for research on dementia care to reflect the experiences of diverse populations, including people of different races, ethnicities, ages, genders, sexual orientations and abilities.

Being Patient spoke with acupuncture expert Dr. Mao Shing Ni about implementing lifestyle interventions of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to reduce the risk of dementia.  Mao, whose family line has been practicing TCM for 38 generations, believes using a holistic approach, both in philosophy and medicine, is most effective when combatting neurodegenerative diseases: “A smart approach to longevity includes balancing all aspects of one’s health: food, necessary medication(s), exercise and emotional well-being.”  Better Brain Health According to 38 Generations of Chinese Medicinal Wisdom – Being Patient.

Not being able to visit a loved one for long periods of time is tough. While there is technology to help bridge the gap during this pandemic, or if you live further away, some of these setups are particularly challenging when your loved one is living with dementia.  Read Teepa Snow’s blog, How to Instantly Improve Your Zoom Conversations with a Person Living with Dementia – Positive Approach to Care (teepasnow.com).

While we still don’t know the full extent of damage the pandemic will cause, scientific evidence has emerged that, in addition to severe illness and deaths, the virus is also causing damage to people’s brain health.  The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) recently released a special report, COVID-19 and Brain Health: The Global Council on Brain Health’s Recommendations on What to Do Now. The Global Council on Brain Health’s mission is to offer the best possible advice about what adults age 50 and older can do to maintain and improve their brain health.  This report explores both the direct and indirect ways the virus may undermine brain health and offers 10 recommendations for brain health during the pandemic:

·         Get the vaccine as soon as you are able.

·         Stay Physically active.

·         Maintain a balanced diet.

·         Stay socially connected.

·         Maintain a regular sleep schedule.

·         Stimulate your brain.

·         Don’t put off necessary medical appointments.

·         Take care of your mental health.

·         Pay attention to signs of sudden confusion.

·         Monitor changes in brain health

The National Institute on Aging has launched Alzheimers.gov, a new educational resource and online portal that highlights federal information on Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias for people living with dementia, caregivers, health care providers, community and public health professionals and researchers.

The Humans of Dementia Storytelling Contest is accepting submissions until April 22.   This year’s contest, for high school or college in the U.S. or Canada is focusing on intergenerational storytelling and will accept written and photo submissions featuring individuals currently living with or who have passed away from Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.