Archive for July, 2014


http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/broncos/2014/07/23/pat-bowlen-denver-broncos-owner-joe-ellis/13032671/

clinical trials

Scientists have made enormous strides in understanding how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain. Many of these insights point toward new therapies and improved ways to diagnose the disease and monitor its progression.

At any given time, dozens of studies are recruiting participants to help explore these exciting new approaches. Every clinical study contributes valuable knowledge, regardless of whether the experimental strategy works as hoped.

Without study participants, however, progress is stalled, and scientists report growing difficulty finding enough volunteers to complete these studies.

If you or a friend or family member has Alzheimer’s or another dementia — or even if you don’t — you can help advance knowledge about this illness. By participating in a clinical study, you can help new treatments, preventive strategies and diagnostic tools to become a reality.

What is a clinical study?

A clinical study is any medical research project involving human volunteers. Research into improved approaches usually begins with laboratory work or animal studies. Following early success with these methods, new strategies must demonstrate their effectiveness in the final proving ground of human testing.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a specific type of study in which one group of volunteers gets an experimental treatment, while a similar group gets a placebo ( a look-alike “sugar pill”). Scientists evaluate the effect of the new treatment by comparing outcomes in the two groups.

Phases of clinical trials

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates medical products and drugs, oversees a rigorous process for testing experimental treatments that is based on sequential phases. The treatments must perform well enough in each phase to progress to the next one. If a treatment performs adequately in all stages through Phase III, the FDA reviews the data and determines  whether to approve the drug for use in general medical practice.

  • Phase 1 trials, the first stage of human testing, typically enroll fewer than 100 volunteers. These studies are primarily concerned with assessing the safety of a drug and whether it has risks or side effects.
  • Phase II trials enroll up to a few hundred volunteers with the condition the drug is designed to treat. These studies provide further information about the safety of the drug and focus on determining the best dosage. Scientists also watch for signs of effectiveness, but Phase II trials are generally too small to provide clear evidence about benefit.
  • Phase III trials may enroll several hundred to thousands of volunteers, often at multiple study sites nationwide or internationally. Phase III trials provide the chief evidence for safety and effectiveness that the FDA will consider when deciding whether to approve a new drug.
  • Phase IV trials, also called post-marketing studies, are often required by the FDA after a drug is approved. The trial sponsor must monitor the health of individuals taking the drug to gain further insight into its long-term safety effectiveness and the best way to use it.

How to find a study near you

Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch is a clinical studies matching service. TrialMatch uses information about your diagnosis, location and preferences to match a person with current clinical studies. Finding the right trial can be done over the phone or online. Once a match is found, and with your permission, a TrialMatch specialist will contact you to answer questions.

If you would like to consider participating in a clinical study, call 1-800-272-3900 or visit alz.org/trialmatch. More information about clinical studies can also be found at clinicaltrials.gov.

What is an Adult Day Program?

adult day program dancing

Do you know what an adult day program is, and are you aware of the plethora of services their patrons can benefit from? Adult day programs are one of the most underutilized community resources, and yet, they provide valuable socialization and intellectual stimulation for the person with dementia. Exercise, meals, or even transportation to and from the program, are among some of the services that may be available. Perhaps most importantly, day programs offer much needed respite for the primary caregiver.

Want to learn more? Read below.

What are Adult Day Programs/Centers?

Adult day centers (a.k.a. adult day programs, adult daycare) offer group respite care that is provided outside the home and designed to meet the individual needs of the participants and to support strengths, abilities, and independence. Throughout the day, participants have the opportunity to interact with others while being part of a secure, structured environment. Daily activities  may include music, recreation, discussion, and support groups. Hours of service vary, but centers are often open 7-10 hours per day, 5-6 days per week. Transportation may be available. Adult day centers also give caregivers a break from caregiving. While the person with dementia is at a center, the caregiver will have time to rest, run errands, or finish other tasks. As a result, he or she may return to caregiving responsibilities feeling refreshed and renewed.

Getting Started

Adult day centers can vary. Consult a variety of sources to find a center that is suitable for your individual. Plan a visit to observe and ask questions. While visiting, notice if individuals are engaged in activities and if staff members treat each person as an individual with unique needs. Keep an open mind. You may want to visit without the person with dementia, then visit together for lunch or an activity.

But…what if my person does not want to go?

Know that initial resistance is not uncommon, but these feelings are often overcome through repeated exposure and positive experiences. It is sometimes helpful for caregivers to refer to the day program as going to school, work, a senior center, visiting with friends, etc., in order to encourage participation. Reassure the person if they express anxiety and reinforce the pleasant interactions/activities that await them at the day center. Consider using a center’s services at least twice a week for a month before making a final decision. If the adult day center does not seem to be working out, consider reintroducing it again after some time.

Questions to Ask

When choosing an adult day center, there are a number of factors to consider, including the staff, environment, programs and type of services available. The following list of questions may be helpful when checking out a day center:

Center clients

  • Does the center provide services for people with different types of impairments as well as those in good physical health?
  • Does the center provide specific services for individuals with dementia?

Assessment

  • Will the center evaluate the person’s needs, interests and abilities?
  • How will this evaluation be accomplished and how often will it be repeated?
  • Will medical needs, social and family history, cognitive functioning and social skills be assessed?

Programs and Services

Be sure the center offers the programs and services that you and the person with dementia need. The following are some of the specific services you may want to investigate. Keep in mind that few adult day programs offer all the services described below, and not all of the services are necessary for a program to be of high quality.

Activities

  • Does the center offer activities that the person can participate in and enjoy?
  • Are people with dementia separate from other participants or included in general activities?
  • Are participants involved in suggesting activities?
  • Is the schedule flexible and based on needs and interests?

adult day program puzzle

Personal care

  • Will the center’s staff help with grooming, toileting, eating, showering and other personal care tasks?

Nutrition

  • Does the center provide nutritious meals and snacks? You may want to sample a meal.
  • Can the center accommodate special diets or provide a culturally specific menu?

Health Services

  • Will the center provide blood pressure checks and physical, dental, foot, eye and ear examinations?
  • Will the center dispense medication and/or offer medication reminders?

Therapy

  • Will the center help arrange physical, occupational, or speech therapy?
  • Are there therapists onsite or on call?

Counseling

  • Will the center provide support for clients and families? For example, can they offer guidance on outside resources and arrange for supportive care in the home?

Special Needs

  • Is the center equipped to deal with someone who uses a wheelchair, is hearing or visually impaired or is handicapped in another way?

Operations

  • Who is the owner or sponsoring agency?
  • How many years have they been in operation?
  • Does the center have a license, certification or accreditation (is appropriate in that state)?
  • What are the hours of operation?
  • Is there a minimum number of hours required?
  • What are the policies regarding lateness or absence?

Cost

  • What is the daily cost?
  • What types of payments (e.g. Medicaid, long-term care insurance, military veteran’s benefits) are accepted?
  • Is there financial aid or a sliding scale rate — where caregivers pay according to ability or income?
  • Are there any additional charges for specific services?

Location and transportation

  • Is the center easy for you to get to?
  • Does the center offer its own transportation services?
  • Does the center recommend specific transportation providers?

Facility

  • What is the overall appearance and quality of the facility?
  • Is it warm, inviting and free of clutter?
  • Is there adequate space to accommodate activities for individuals with different needs?
  • Is there space available for outdoor activities?
  • Is the furniture clean and comfortable?
  • Are there secured areas for outside walking?

Staff

  • What are the staff qualifications?
  • What is the staff to client ratio?
  • Do staff members have dementia-specific training?
  • Are individuals with dementia treated with respect and dignity?
  • Does the center have a physician, nurse, or health care professional on staff or on call?
  • If the center uses volunteers, are they adequately trained and supervised?
  • Is staff warm and friendly to individuals, family members and caregivers?

It is also important to reevaluate your need for adult day services. At some point the person with dementia may need more care than the center can provide. Center staff and support groups can help evaluate your needs for future care.

Want to learn EVEN MORE and explore adult day programs that are nearby you? Call our 24/7 Harry L. Nelson Helpline at 1-800-272-3900, day or night!

 

 

 

 

Firearm Safety

gun safety

Although the person with Alzheimer’s might have once been able to handle a gun, serious accidents can occur. The use of firearms requires complex mental skills that are usually lost in early dementia.

Statistics

  • One half of all American homes have one or more firearms.
  • Studies indicate that physically aggressive behavior has been found to occur in 30 to 50 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The presence of firearms could contribute to the serious consequences of such behavior. Assault by persons with dementia can result in psychiatric hospitalization.
  • Studies also found that in more than 60 percent of the homes where guns were present, family members reported that the guns were loaded or that they were unaware of their loaded status. This was despite dementia severity, severity of depression, or perceived incompetence of the person with dementia living in the household.

Suggested gun safety tips

  • Although a person with Alzheimer’s might have once been able to handle a gun, serious accidents can occur. The use of firearms requires complex mental skills that are affected by dementia.
  • Guns must be put in a safe place. The best course of action is to lock the gun in a cabinet or drawer, or remove the gun from the house. Don’t allow the patient unsupervised access to a gun.
  • It is not sufficient just to unload guns and rifles or place a trigger lock on them.
  • Even without a gun, ammunition is still dangerous if subjected to the right conditions: a fireplace, stove, furnace, oven, microwave oven, disposal, hammer, etc. Remove weapons and ammunition.
  • Ask for outside assistance in talking with your loved one. If necessary, ask your doctor or clergy person to explain to the affected person’s hunting buddies that hunting is now too dangerous for him. Ask local police or sheriff’s department if they can help dispose of a gun or rifle if you do not know how to do so.
  • As with all such issues, the person with dementia should be involved as much as possible in the decision to remove or lock-up a gun.

Possible scenarios

  • Your family member accidentally happens upon an unloaded gun. He realizes that he should give it to you immediately. Off he goes looking for you, carrying the gun and walking down the corridor of your condominium or apartment complex. What would the neighbors think? What would the police do, maybe not realizing that your family member has Alzheimer’s disease?
  • The same scenario could happen with knives or other weapon collections, even if they are far from the ammunition that would make them operable. Also consider toy guns that look real enough to be convincing, even to the police, or real pistols with locks that can still be picked up and carried.