Sharing Art Allows Medical Students to Connect to Dementia

After noticing that many of her peers were having a hard time relating to patients who had dementia, medical student Hannah Roberts decided to see if she could help break down the barrier. Partnering with her professor and organizing a trip to a local art museum showed changed attitudes and comfort levels among medical students.Sharing Art Allows Medical Students to Connect to Dementia

Learn more about the small study and the importance of physician attitudes when interacting with dementia patients.

Art Allows Medical Students to Connect to Dementia

First year medical student at Columbia University College of Physicians, Hannah Roberts, quickly saw that her peers were having a difficult time when it came to relating to their patients who had dementia. She noted:

“There’s a misconception that dementia patients are like toddlers in a way.”

She went on to say that she felt her peers were “intimidated at the challenge of having to get accurate histories and establish a connection with someone who has a limited ability to communicate.”

From previous work with people with dementia, Roberts knew that the relationship between patient and doctor did not have be awkward or forced. She said, “These are adults who’ve led full rich lives, who have lots of knowledge and personalities that are still very present.”

Shared Experience of Art Eases Tension

Roberts decided to see if she could help her peers break down barriers hindering communication by partnering with one of her teachers, Dr. James Noble. Noble, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and founder of the nonprofit Arts & Minds which provides museum experiences for people with dementia, and Roberts planned a field trip to a local art museum to see if the shared experience of art could ease the tension.

In a recent study published in Neurology, teacher and student took 19 medical students to the art museum along with patients and family members to create, discuss and observe art for 90 minutes. Students were asked to complete a questionnaire called the “Dementia Attitudes Scale” survey before and after the art trip. The 20 questions on the survey were meant to analyze the comfort and confidence of the students around people with dementia and to determine if art allows medical students to connect to dementia.

Noble and Roberts found that scores after the art experience demonstrated a higher comfort level among people with dementia and family members. One student participant said of the experience:

“It gave us a chance to interact with patients with dementia in a context where their dementia isn’t the main focus. We get to see what they are capable of — more so than what they are incapable of — which so often is what cognitive tests force a patient to do.”

With the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and related dementias only increasing, physician understanding of the disease is more important than ever.

Do you think this is a valuable lesson for doctors? Can the shared experience of art really change the stigma surrounding dementia? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Can Moderate Drinking Prevent Alzheimer’s?

As researchers look for a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, studies are pointing towards the importance of diet and lifestyle choices in brain health. Two studies show that moderate alcohol consumption (meaning one to two drinks per day) may be beneficial for the brain.Can Moderate Drinking Prevent Alzheimer's?

Learn more about two studies supporting moderate drinking to prevent Alzheimer’s.

The MIND Diet and Alzheimer’s

The MIND diet, which combines principles of a Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by over 50%.

Key components of the MIND diet consist of:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Poultry
  • Avoidance of sugary treats and greasy food
  • Glass of wine daily

A recent study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago put this theory to the test.

The study observed 960 people who did not have dementia over 4.7 years. The average age of the participants was 81.4 years old. Researchers tracked cognitive changes over the course of 4.7 years and found that those who drank a glass of wine daily were more likely to delay cognitive decline. Cognitive changes researchers tracked included episodic memory, working memory, semantic memory, visuospatial ability and perceptual speed.

The study was recently published in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Can Moderate Drinking Prevent Alzheimer’s?

In another study from Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine, researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption may have brain boosting benefits. In the largest analysis to date, researches studied the data from 143 studies including 365,000 participants around the world. Through their analysis they found that those who consumed alcohol moderately were 23% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. However, heavy drinkers (3-5 drinks per day) were more likely to develop dementia.

Researchers caution that non-drinkers should not begin drinking to delay cognitive decline and that the key to alcohol consumption is moderation. For women, moderation is defined as no more than one drink a day, and as one to two drinks a day for men. Study author Michael A. Collins, PhD, said:

“This study is not the final word, but it does provide the most complete picture out there.”

The study was published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.

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Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution

Vanessa Emm, the Operations Trustee of the National Association of Activity Professionals, and Scott Silknitter, founder of R.O.S. Therapy Systems, share dementia activities and planning for your loved one.Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution

Learn more about how to execute these plans when caring for someone with dementia.

Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution

This is the last article in our series which has taken you through the high points of activities and engagement to assist you in providing person centered care for your loved one.

We have been through three of the Four Pillars of Activities and now head into the fourth and final Pillar of Activities: Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution.

Here is what we have learned from the pillars of activities thus far:

  1. Remember, we are not talking about bingo.
  2. An activity, be it leisure or daily living, can be anything.
  3. You must know your loved ones likes, preferences and abilities.
  4. You must know how to best communicate with them.
  5. You must know their daily routine.

Now, you can plan an activity for them. Because it is the final building block to successful engagement, you may see immediate and wonderful success – a smile, a laugh, a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

You may also experience some hiccups along the way which is why you must remain flexible. No one was born a caregiver. This is a learned occupation. Yes, it is an occupation whether you are paid for it or not. You have one of the most important jobs in the world, taking care of someone that you care about.

One of the things we often stress in our training classes is to treat others as you would have them treat you because someday it very well could be you that needs help from a caregiver. Our experience has taught us that the best way to achieve success in an activity is to develop lesson plans for each activity you plan to execute. Lesson plans provide all the information a caregiver needs to provide person specific programming and are very straightforward.

Items included in a lesson plan are:

Date: Document the date that the activity occurred.

Program Name: Activity name or preferred activity name.

Objective of Activity: What do you want to accomplish? Have fun? Get Dressed? List every objective.

Materials: Suggested materials to use with the program. You want to make sure everything is available and prepared prior to beginning your activity.

Prerequisite Skills: Physical/mental skills and abilities your loved one should possess to successfully engage in the activity.

Activity Outline: Step by step instructions to complete the program. No step is too small. No instruction is too simple. Make sure everything is listed so any caregiver can work with your loved one on this activity.

Evaluation: A thorough evaluation is the most important part of the lesson plan. Record any verbal cues, assistance, or modifications you offered or made. It is very important to pass on this information so everyone who presents the activity in the future will do it the same way. You want others to be able to recreate a positive experience as easily as possible.

Activities are a process of trial and error to find the right fit for your loved one based on their remaining abilities during the progression of their dementia. As you probably know, you often do not know what kind of day it is going to be until it has started. During aging and disease progression, your loved ones needs, preferences and interests may evolve and change daily or even hourly. Having a variety of activity lesson plans to accommodate your loved one’s needs will assist you through this process.

Caregiving is a challenge. There are steps to take which can help improve your quality of life as a caregiver and the quality of life of your loved one. The Four Pillars of Activities and Engagement are some of those steps.

If you need more assistance or activity lesson plans, please or see some of the more than 1000 Activity Lesson Plans at the link below:

Please do not give up and know that you are not alone.

About the Authors

Vanessa Emm BA, ACC/EDU, AC-BC, CDP, is the Operations Trustee of the National Association of Activity Professionals which has been the training and education authority for quality of life and leisure engagement in senior care since 1982. Scott Silknitter, inventor, author, and speaker is the founder of R.O.S. Therapy Systems which began as a 2010 project to help his mother and father in a 25-year battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

What dementia activities have you planned and successfully executed with your loved one? Do you have any suggestions for us? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity Brings Serious Attention to Alzheimer’s

Seth Rogen is best known for his role in slapstick comedies like “Knocked Up” and “Superbad.” But there’s another side to the actor, one that is fighting for Alzheimer’s awareness and raising funding for Alzheimer’s research.Seth Rogen's Hilarity for Charity Brings Serious Attention to Alzheimer's

As Rogen watches his mother-in-law battle with the disease, he is raising funds and awareness through his organization “Hilarity for Charity.” Learn more about the organization and how it is bringing serious attention to Alzheimer’s.

Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity

Hilarity for Charity (HFC) is an organization led by Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller, to fight Alzheimer’s, the disease that plagues his mother in-law. Using his celebrity status and far reaching platform, Rogen and his team strive to raise Alzheimer’s awareness among the millennial generation.

The organization sponsors an annual event called the Los Angeles Variety Show and since the event began three years ago, HFC has raised over $1.7 million for Alzheimer’s. Past performers include Paul Rudd, Bruno Mars, Tenacious D, Patton Oswalt, Samuel L. Jackson and The Backstreet Boys, to name a few. This year’s event, James Franco’s Bar Mitzvah at the Fourth Annual Variety Show, will be held on October 17, 2015 and features Miley Cyrus.

Last year, HFC expanded their reach by launching HFC U to connect with universities and encourages college organizations to host their own HFC event. The organizations compete with each other and the top fundraiser earns a coveted prize. The most recent prize, awarded to Pi Kappa Alpha and Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Vermont, was a live commentary screening of Superbad with Seth Rogen and Chris Mintz-Plasse. The nationwide program has over 230 schools participating and has raised over $200,000.

Hilarity for Charity Brings Serious Attention to Alzheimer’s

There’s no question that Hilarity for Charity is making a financial impact in the fight against Alzheimer’s. However, it is arguably their impact on social awareness that is making the biggest contribution.

The money raised from HFC goes to care, support and raise awareness and research. Hilarity for Charity awards in-home care grants throughout the Unites States and Canada to allow more people to stay at home longer. As of 2015, HFC has given over 8,000 hours of respite care to Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers.

Another goral is to “mobilize a new generation of Alzheimer’s advocates while supporting young people who are currently affected by the disease.” To do this, HFC provides support and awareness programs for people under 40 fighting Alzheimer’s. A main component of awareness has been the the release of a feature length film, “This is Alzheimer’s” which documents the stories of three different families navigating their way through the disease.

Finally, HFC supports research efforts through the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Research Grant Program.  Of these grants, HFC has supported grants focused on early onset Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about HFC and to learn how you can become involved in their fundraising and awareness efforts visit:

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Manage Dementia’s Side Effects with These 7 Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used for generations to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia. Some caregivers are now using these trusted oils to ease anxiety, boost memory and improve the mood of loved ones living with dementia.Manage Dementia's Side Effects with These 7 Essential Oils

Learn which oils are best suited for people living with dementia and how to use each oil safely and effectively.

Manage Dementia’s Side Effects

As the search continues for a cure for Alzheimer’s and related dementias, some research suggests that aromatherapy and the use of essential oils may treat certain symptoms of the disease.

While research on the effectiveness of essential oils is somewhat limited, some studies have shown aromatherapy can:

  • Ease symptoms of anxiety
  • Offer relief from symptoms of depression
  • Improve the quality of life for people living with chronic health conditions

Oils may be inhaled, applied to the skin, or placed in food or tea depending on the type of oil and its level of concentration.

While oils have been used for generations and many are thought to be safe, essential oils are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so be sure to consult with your doctor before using to ensure oils will not have any negative interaction with medication.

In addition to the therapeutic benefits of the oils themselves, studies have also shown that sensory stimulation for people with Alzheimer’s can decrease agitation, improve sleep and improve the overall quality of life for those living with the disease.

7 Essential Oils That May Help Those Living with Dementia

Here are oils that have been shown to be effective in treating and controlling different symptoms of dementia:

1. Lavender

Lavender is thought to be calming and able to balance strong emotions. It has also been used to help with depression, anger and irritability, and can help in some cases of insomnia. Lavender can be directly inhaled, used a massage oil or sprayed on linens.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint is an energizer and can be used to stimulate the mind and calm nerves at the same time. Best used in the morning, peppermint oil can be inhaled directly, diffused in a room, used as a massage oil, sprayed in the air or even placed in a bath.

3. Rosemary

Similar to peppermint, Rosemary is an uplifting oil used to stimulate the mind and body. It may even improve cognitive performance and mood. Rosemary has also been known to ease constipation, symptoms of depression and also reinvigorate the appetite. Rosemary oil can be directly inhaled, diffused through a room or used as a spray.

4. Bergamot

Bergamot can be used to relive anxiety, agitation, mild depression and stress. This mood elevating and calming oil can also be used to relieve insomnia. To use bergamot oil, place a few drops in a bath, use as a massage oil, diffuse through a room or use a spray on clothing or linens.

5. Lemon Balm

While lemon oil may be among the more expensive oils, it is also one of the most studied and more effective oils. It has been shown to help calm and relax people who are dealing with anxiety and insomnia, improve memory and ease indigestion. Lemon oil can be dropped into a bath, inhaled directly, diffused, sprayed or applied directly to the skin as a massage oil.

6. Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang oil can help ease depression while also promoting good sleep. This is a great oil not only for a person living with Alzheimer’s, but also for caregivers struggling with restlessness and lack of sleep. Ylang Ylang is often combined with lemon oil and can be placed in a bath, inhaled, diffused or sprayed.

7. Ginger

Ginger oil is helpful for anyone struggling with digestion issues. Commonly used to treat a loss of appetite and constipation, ginger can help promote good eating habits. Ginger oil can be applied directly to the skin as an abdominal massage, inhaled, diffused, sprayed or placed on a compress.

Have you seen positive effects of essential oils in yourself or a loved one? Which oils worked best? Share your tips with us in the comments below.

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  • Rosemary

    I would really appreciate suggestions for activities for men in an assisted living place. Lots of things are offered for women, but absolutely nothing at all for the men. My husband is bored to death.


    • pcarrieri

      Dear Rosemary:

      My experience with assisted living is that most of the residents are women so I guess that’s why so many of the activities are geared toward them. However, what type of activities would your husband like? Gardening? Putting? Maybe you could request that they try to incorporate some of these activities into their calendar. If not, is it possible for you to start some type of activity that he would be interested in, or to hire someone who can visit regularly and do some of these activities with him?

      • Imactrs

        Apologies…I meant to respond to Rosemary.

    • Imactrs

      That is unfortunate to hear. I am a recreation therapist and have worked with seniors most of my 30 year career. You should talk with the activity director about what opportunities he may not be taking advantage of. Most facilities hire well meaning staff with little understanding and few skills needed to provide meaningful activities for their residents. You might want to speak with the administration about offering recreation therapy for those who don’t fit into the cookbook activity programs offered in most long term care facilities. Good luck to you.

  • pcarrieri

    I am so glad I came across this blog as I recently started using essential oils with my 89 yo mother who is in early late stage alzheimers, I am so thrilled about the improvements I have seen and experienced in her that I want to tell everyone who has a love one with alzheimers. I started experimenting with Serenity, it is a doTerra blend oil, a few months ago and within a few days both the caregiver and myself noticed significant improvement. Now after a few months, everyone who has known my mom, but has does not see her on a regular basis is absolutely flabbergasted at the difference in her appearance, her alertness, and her overall mood and level of engagement. Before using the oil, my mom would sometimes sleep 22 out of 24 hours, now she rarely even naps. I can’t say enough about the improvement the oil has made not only in my mom’s life, but in ours as well as my mom lives with us. I’ve also found that chamomile tea at sundown wards off sundowning and what a blessing that is for all of us as well. Hope this helps. Check out the essential oils. Find someone who is knowledgeable in how to use them and read everything you can about them and I trust you too will experience the difference they can make in one’s life.

    • clra

      Did you diffuse the Serenity or how did you use it?? Very interested in trying this for my dad!

    • Pam

      thank you for sharing your experience. I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013 & interested in trying these oils.

  • DeeAnn

    I have used DoTerra oils for almost a year now with great success for my health concerns but hadn’t thought about it for my 89 year old mom who lives with me. I am excited to use the oils mentioned for Alzheimers. My mom has never been diagnosed with it but is showing signs of the disease. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • mturchi

    Thank you so much for this discussion! My mom has dementia and I found diffusing an oil blend with basil, peppermint & rosemary at night helps with her mental clarity. As with anything, it is important to know how the oils are made so the quality is assured.

    • Connie

      Mturchi, How long did you use the oils before you could see a difference in your Mom?

  • crabjack

    See more about the benefits of aromatherapy for dementia at

  • Janet McGee

    Do you mean Lemon Balm (Melissa sp., a member of the mint family which spreads quickly and can take over a garden plot seemingly overnight), or lemon oil? These are two distinctly different botanical entities.

  • Karah Frances

    Frankincense is also amazing for those suffering with Alzheimer’s

  • Mike

    Peppermint and Lavender oils work great for migraines. Apply to temples

  • CLBailey

    I have been using EOs through several stages of my mom’s ALZ care. What I have seen is remarkable. Mom’s disease took her language first, so for years we created strategies for communication while her memory stayed in tact. During her agitation stage, we diffused lavender along with other blends that had lavender in them. I placed a diffuser at her bedside and was able to have the nurse create orders for caregivers to start diffusing 2 to 3 times per day: nap time, bedtime. When sickness spread through the building we diffused a blend which supported her immune system. (Not only did this benefit her, but others in the memory care area received the same support unintentionally.) The sickness didn’t travel to that living area. The use of EOs became so successful that caregivers began diffusing in their stations. When my mom was diagnosed with a UTI we combined her medication with Lemongrass. Now once or twice a week we diffuse Lemongrass to support UT health. We have successfully used a blend which has ginger, peppermint and fennel for constipation. Peppermint was supportive during a period of little responsiveness. Hand massages stimulate brain activity. EOs have been so helpful because of the option of topical use and aromatic use. Mom refuses most medications so the molecules from the EOs can support her. Mom is NOT getting better…she still has a disease which is snatching parts of her away, BUT EOs have supported her in so many different areas. I only wish that I had known about them years ago. I would have started her on Frankincense. Grateful for this article.

Dementia Activities and their Benefits

Scott Silknitter, founder of R.O.S. Therapy Systems, shares dementia activities and their benefits, as well as insight to enhancing the quality of life of people living with dementia.Dementia Activities and their Benefits

Learn more from his discussion with

Dementia Activities and Benefits

There are many causes and types of dementia – Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular, Lewy Body, Frontal Lobe and more. They each have their own signature symptoms. One thing that can be of benefit for all types of dementia is activities. We are not just talking about bingo. Any type of leisure activity, including a simple conversation, can benefit the person with dementia and their caregiver.

Research shows that the use of person-centered and person-appropriate activities can provide positive effects for individuals with dementia, including:

  • Minimize behavioral changes
  • Decrease depression
  • Reduce caregiver stress
  • Improve sleep habits
  • Improve self esteem
  • Increase mental and social stimulation

Improve your quality of life and the quality of life for the one you care for through activities and engagement. Commit to just one activity per day, start some joy and see what a difference it can make.

Dementia Activities for the Family Caregiver

The “How To’s” of activities – leisure and daily living – along with tips on communicating and mitigating behavioral issues are explored in several volumes of the “Activities for the Family Caregiver” book series from R.O.S.

Here are a few of the titles written by several of the leading experts in the industry:

R.O.S. Therapy Systems improves quality of life through activities and education for caregivers and the ones they care for. Whether it is Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Stroke, ALS, Huntington’s, TBI, Developmental Disability or any number of issues resulting in physical or cognitive impairment, R.O.S. teaches caregivers how to engage and communicate, provides products to engage, and consults or coaches as needed.

About the Author

R.O.S. Therapy Systems was founded by inventor, author and speaker Scott Silknitter of Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2010 as a project to help his mother and father in a 25-year battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. For more information about Scott or the R.O.S. family of companies, visit: or contact (888) 352-9788.

What activities have you found beneficial for your loved one with dementia? Share them with us in the comments below.

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On a Personal Note…Why I Walk (Steve Barbieri)

Steve and TracyMy name is Steven A. Barbieri. I will be 55 years old in November of this year, and I have dementia. I was diagnosed about three years ago, on Oct 18, 2012. That phone call changed my life, and that of my wife Tracy and our three children.

I get asked all the time about the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and this is how I explain it: “Let’s talk about Ice Cream. Everyone loves ice cream. Ice cream is not a flavor, it’s the word used to group all the flavors together. Alzheimer’s is like chocolate; it’s a flavor of dementia. The two most common dementia flavors are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. I have a different flavor. I have CTE, which is the form NFL football players suffer from after many head injuries. CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. You can see why they shorten it to CTE…

They say there are seven stages of dementia. I am at stage 3ish. I have short-term memory problems and problems finding words. I repeat things and have terrible sleep patterns that require me to nap each day. Like the battery on your cell phone, my personal battery stops each day at around 2:30, when I need time to lie down and recharge in a dark room.

Steve - Martial ArtsBefore I was diagnosed, I worked at Wells Fargo bank for 32 years. I was the VP & District Manager for one of the largest districts in the company, with 12 branches and about 250 employees. I was on two non-profit boards and I was very active in my community. My outside activities were martial arts (I hold the level of Master 5th degree in Tae Kwon Do), traveling with my wife and kids, going to my kids’ wrestling, football, swimming and dance events, and finding time to go to the gym.

I have a bucket list that I wish to complete before I am no longer here in mind:

  • To see my three children, ages 25, 18 & 14, graduate from college and walk to get their diploma.
  • To see my son get married
  • To walk my two daughters down the aisle at their weddings
  • To see my grandchildren someday, and show them how their Grandfather kicked his way around

    the world.

My wife has a hard time at weddings now. She is afraid that I will not be able to have the Father/Daughter dance with our two daughters when the time comes.

One night at around 2 am I was awake and looking online for more information about my disease. That’s when I discovered the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour helpline.(800.272.3900) The operator directed me to, where I found plenty of information about ways to get connected.

I have since joined a weekly call with people who have early-onset dementia like me. I am now a part of the advocacy group in my local area. My wife and I joined the advocacy awareness group that visited our local government official in Sacramento, and I visited my local Congressman’s office, asking for support in funding research to find a cure.

My co-workers remember me by my many one-liners: “When is the best time to do something? NOW.”  Or “I never expect someone to do something that I’m not willing to do myself.” Dementia in any flavor really sucks… but I can’t just sit back and wait for someone else to help find a cure.

So my family and I, together with some friends, are Walking to End Alzheimer’s on Sept 12th.

Come join us.

– Steve Barbieri

Helpful information related to the post

Senate Approves Landmark Increase in Alzheimer’s Research Funding

Alzheimer’s is one of the most deadly diseases in the United States that receives limited funding to put towards research efforts. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently passed a 60% increase in Alzheimer’s research funding, that, if passed into law, would be the largest increase in funding for the disease ever.Senate Approves Landmark Increase in Alzheimer's Research Funding

National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s

It’s no secret that Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive diseases in the U.S. and that research efforts remain grossly underfunded. The cost of care for Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. is estimated to reach $226 billion in 2015, with the global cost of care estimated to be close to $605 billion, equivalent to 1% of the entire world’s gross domestic product. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid are expected to pay $154 billion this year for dementia care.

Alzheimer’s disease remains the only leading cause of death in the U.S. without any cure or way to prevent or slow its progression. Yet, Alzheimer’s receives only $586 million for research.

Experts estimate that nearly $2 billion annually is necessary to find a prevention or treatment by 2025, the goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s.

Closing the Gap in Alzheimer’s Funding

In an effort to close the funding gap and fulfill the goals and objectives of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a historic 60% increase for Alzheimer’s disease research funding, adding nearly $350 million to the cause. If the increase is passed into law, it will be the largest increase in Alzheimer’s research funding ever.

Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraged by the potential increase in funding saying:

“With this bipartisan call for a 60% increase in Alzheimer’s disease funding, Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Subcommittee Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray are making history. More importantly, they are demonstrating to the millions of Americans affected by this devastating and fatal disease that they will not suffer indefinitely.”

He continues:

“As we look forward to the announcement of the first Alzheimer’s professional judgment budget next month, the momentum behind the fight to end Alzheimer’s has never been greater.”

What do you think about this landmark increase in Alzheimer’s research funding? Are we doing enough to hit our national goal of effectively treating and preventing Alzheimer’s by 2025? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 

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Benefits of Deep Brain Stimulation for Alzheimer’s

Deep brain stimulation is a neurosurgical procedure that has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for several disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. A new study found that deep brain stimulation may also be helpful when it comes to treating Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementiaBenefits of Deep Brain Stimulation for Alzheimer's

Learn more about the treatment method and the groundbreaking new study on brain stimulation.

Deep Brain Stimulation: An Overview

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure where electrodes are implanted in certain parts of the brain. These electrodes send electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain to change brain activity. The impulses can regulate abnormal impulses or affect certain cells and chemicals in the brain.

Controlled by a pacemaker-like device under the skin, DBS has been beneficial for a number of disorders including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, chronic pain, major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It is important to note that there are potential serious neuropsychiatric side-effects from deep brain stimulation, which range from apathy to hallucinations and compulsive gambling to hyper-sexuality and depression. These side effects are usually temporary and potentially reversible. Electrodes may also become displaced during surgery causing personality changes, but this can also be fixed and identified through a CT scan.

Using Deep Brain Stimulation to Create New Brain Cells

The latest study to look at the effects of DBS on dementia found that it may be a therapeutic target for dementia and related disorders.

The study, conducted at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, implanted DBS electrodes in rats. The electrodes were programmed to target the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain responsible for a higher level of cognitive function. Researchers noticed a significant improvement in the ability of the rats to perform memory tasks after constant stimulation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. They also saw new neurons being formed in the brain, compared to the control group.

This groundbreaking result means that new brain cells can be created through DPS, which can improve memory retention. The increase in neurons may also reduce anxiety and depression, commonly felt by people living with varying forms of dementia.

Ajai Vyas, Assistant Professor at NTU’s School of Biological Sciences said:

“The findings from the research clearly show the potential of enhancing the growth of brain cells using deep brain stimulation. Around 60% of patients do not respond to regular anti-depressant treatments and our research opens new doors for more effective treatment options.”

Dr Lim Lee Wei, associate professor at Sunway University Mayalsia and researcher added to the enthusiasm of his colleague stating:

“Memory loss in older people is not only a serious and widespread problem, but signifies a key symptom of dementia. At least one in 10 people aged 60 and above in Singapore suffer from dementia and this breakthrough could pave the way towards improved treatments for patients.”

Did you know that deep brain stimulation could be used to treat dementia? What are your thoughts on it as a treatment for memory loss? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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