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Alzheimer's New Research and Funding Offers Hope for Seniors

Alzheimer’s already affects millions of people across the United States, and some researchers believe that those numbers will continue to grow at an alarming rate if some form of a cure isn’t found. For the time being, there are medicinal treatments that can help curb some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but there is nothing close to a cure. We as seniors are simply told to look for early warning signs (memory loss, inability to solve problems, confusion regarding time and place, problems with speaking and/or writing, etc.) in the hope that doctors can “catch it early” and begin treatment right away.

Unfortunately, even when Alzheimer’s is spotted early, it will ultimately take its course. However, steps are being taken to try to increase research into Alzheimer’s and to move us closer to a cure. In fact, it was recently announced that the U.S. Government will spend an additional $156 million over the next two years specifically on Alzheimer’s research:

“The spending will support the nation's first comprehensive plan to fight Alzheimer's disease, an effort mandated by the National Alzheimer's Project Act signed into law by President Barack Obama last year. The project will coordinate government-wide efforts to prevent and treat the disease and create a national strategy for Alzheimer's.” (from Reuters)

While many applaud the commitment of new funds to the cause, many in the medical research community think that the government’s spending on Alzheimer’s is still far less than it needs to be if any real progress is going to be made.

Possible Breakthrough in Alzheimer’s Research

While more money is directed towards further Alzheimer’s research, there are major strides already being made. At least that is what some researchers at Taub Institute for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at Columbia University are suggesting. A recent paper published by the lab proposes that they have discovered a possible way that Alzheimer’s progresses through the human body. The study (which used mice as its subjects) focuses on the “spread” of tau, one of the two proteins that build up in the brains of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s:

“By looking at the presence of tau in the mice at different times, the researchers suggest that tau abnormalities spread like a contagion from cell to cell, thus causing the global breakdown of neural communication that eventually leads to cognitive losses.” (from Is Alzheimer’s Caused by Contagious Proteins?)

While questions still remain about the study, its environment, and the validity of its claims, there is an understandable level of excitement surrounding the proposed findings. If these findings hold after further research, it is believed that the community could take a major step forward in combating Alzheimer’s by creating a drug that could stop the spread of tau. Of course, even those involved with the study urge patience. They still have a long way to go, and others are quick to remind everyone that “We should never forget that a mouse is not a person.”

For anyone who has watched Alzheimer’s take hold of a loved one, any news that suggests research is moving forward can be seen as good news. However, even as more money is put towards the study of Alzheimer’s and even as new trends in research emerge, many seniors still have to deal with Alzheimer’s in the present. So, what can those who do not have time to wait on new drugs or further lab studies do in the meantime?

As mentioned, it’s still important to look for early signs of the disease, and to consult with a medical professional. If Alzheimer’s is caught early, treatment can begin. There are also a number of organizations that offer support for those dealing with Alzheimer’s, and they provide a range of information for those taking care of loved ones who are struggling with the disease.

When discussing health issues with seniors, there are several topics that consistently come up. Some are more logistical, like concerns that standard Medicare plans do not offer enough healthcare coverage and that Medigap insurance policies (supplemental Medicare insurance) are necessary to make up the difference. Other healthcare concerns that seem to always be a concern for seniors are diseases that they have already watched loved ones struggle with, and many times, that means Alzheimer’s.

My Point of View

This is an exclusive and informative health article written for my website and that I felt was important to publish  on my website. Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that is constantly discussed these days. There are charity events and runs around the world to raise money to find a cure and even in the last couple of weeks, I watched two movies where this disease was one of the themes of the movie and played an important part in the story line. One of these movies is Rise of the Planet of the Apes where the scientist was working on a cure for Alzheimer’s and tried to treat his father with his new cure, but he  was not able to perfect it in time and unfortunately his father’s time ran out and the research and hope goes on…


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