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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: www.hilarityforcharity.org

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Alzheimer’s and Intimacy

While it’s no secret that sexual relationships occur among seniors and even seniors with dementia, the topic still remains extremely taboo. A recent trial brought the subject to national headlines and now caregivers everywhere are faced with the question of consensual sex among aging adults with dementiaAlzheimer's and Intimacy

When is dementia too far advanced for a person to consent to sex? Learn more about how assisted living communities are handling Alzheimer’s and intimacy while protecting the safety of residents.

The Controversy Surrounding Alzheimer’s and Intimacy

Sexual relationships among seniors living in assisted living communities are not uncommon, so why is there such a struggle when it comes to discussing seniors with dementia having sex?

The controversy was recently in national headlines when a 78-year-old man in Iowa was charged with raping his wife, who was living in a nursing home and has Alzheimer’s disease. The staff in the community maintained that his wife, their patient, was no longer able to consent to sex. He was eventually found not guilty of the crime but the trial did bring national awareness to a topic that often feels taboo.

The question remains how senior living communities are handling this confusing and emotionally driven issue.

At Hebrew Home in New York, the community has a written policy to clarify any confusion over the sex life of residents and has for 20 years. Daniel Reingold, CEO of RiverSpring Health, the nonprofit that runs Hebrew Home, acknowledges the sensitivity of the issue stating, “It was controversial in 1995 and it’s controversial today.”

He went on to say, “We knew that there was intimacy occurring, and we considered it to be a civil right and a legal right. We also felt that intimacy was a good thing, that touch is one of the last pleasures we abandon and lose as we age.”

Sensitivity Surrounds Issue in Senior Living Communities

While the policy at Hebrew Home is a step in the right direction, law professor at Albany Law School and bioethics professor at Albany Medical College, Evelyn Tenenbaum, cautions that even with a written policy, staff may have trouble differentiating between a consensual and non-consensual relationship.

“For example, suppose you have a couple and the woman believes that the man she’s seeing is her husband,” says Tenenbaum. “Then she consents to a sexual relationship. Is that really consent if she doesn’t understand who he is and that she’s not married to him?”

According to the American Health Care Association, there is no clear answer to defining a consensual sexual relationship when one or both partners has dementia.

Patricia Bach, a geriatric psychologist began looking for data to help clarify the question and found that little empirical evidence even existed. When she surveyed members of the American Medical Directors Association, she found that only 25-30% had completed formal training regarding intimacy and sexuality in seniors.

As the aging population grows this issue is going to become increasingly pressing. What do you think about defining consensual sex when one or both partners has dementia? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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I Am More than My Diagnosis

Tim, diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia in 2012, living with HIV

Working in information technology and then for many years as a part of a management team, my career was very important to me. At the end of 2009, however, I realized that I was having trouble focusing on my job, and one day after a lunchtime walk, I felt like I had lost sight in one of my eyes. Thinking it was due to stress, I didn’t tell my partner Ron. I explained it away.

In early 2010, I took a work trip to Denver. During that week I had issues typing and communicating. When I met with my boss to discuss the trip, I had trouble speaking. That’s when I decided to see a doctor. “After talking to you, I think you need to go to ER right now,” he said.  I found out that I had had a stroke, and doctors suspected that several mini- strokes had also occurred, which accounted for my vision loss.timblog

Despite having some answers, I didn’t have them all. After returning to work a couple of months later, I was still struggling to do my job, which resulted in my being demoted. In January 2012, I was laid off. Due to all of the anxiety I was experiencing, I started seeing a therapist, who suggested that I make lists of coping strategies, but I never made the connection in my head to actually complete the tasks.

While in therapy, I was also undergoing testing and not sharing the results with Ron. I would come home and say “everything is fine” very nonchalantly. Ron knew everything wasn’t. “Either you are not communicating properly or you are just not telling me something,” he said. From then on Ron accompanied me to my appointments. We learned that the results of the testing indicated that there was a problem, but no conclusive diagnosis. Ron crusaded to find out what was really going on.  Eventually, in 2012, after many tests and much anxiety, I was diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which is caused by progressive cell degeneration that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.  

Ron is my everything. He is my advocate, my only support, and my protector. If it wasn’t for him, I probably would not have received a diagnosis. I don’t even realize how many times a day he helps me make decisions. He’s good at subtly guiding me, as I can get very easily lost in a task. He is always looking out for my best interest. Because of FTD, I don’t have a perception of what repercussions exist due to my actions. I can’t even imagine what my life would be if I did not have him here.

Having been HIV positive for 25+ years, I treat the diagnosis of dementia like HIV; it doesn’t define who I am or what I can do. I don’t let the dual diagnosis control my life. I present myself first – work experience, life experience – and eventually my story unfolds. When I introduced myself to Congressman Cory Booker, I said, “Something you might not know about me is that I was diagnosed with dementia in 2012.” It was amazing how his constitution changed. “I wouldn’t have known,” he replied. It changed his whole perspective.

I tell people who I speak with on Peer-to-Peer Outreach Program calls that they have to look at their diagnosis as a new adventure. (Peer-to-Peer Outreach is a program of the Alzheimer’s Association that connects newly-diagnosed individuals with others living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias via telephone in order to share their experiences.) It’s a new challenge in your life. You will find different ways to accomplish tasks and you will find talents that you never had before. I never used to be able to speak in front of people. Because of my diagnosis, I can now give a speech. I still have challenges, I still have anxiety, but I have been able to do things I couldn’t do before as well.

As a care partner, Ron has a thankless job. I don’t always acknowledge what he does for me. Some doctors have suggested that the word dementia not be used in front of me and I appreciate that Ron is so honest with me about the diagnosis. Individuals living with dementia deserve to have advocates. You need someone who will go to battle for you. Ron does that for me.

I was losing direction and I needed to find a new outlet, so Ron encouraged me to get involved with the Alzheimer’s Association. Being an Early-Stage Advisory Group (ESAG) member has allowed me to let people know that their life is not over – that life is what you make of it. If I had a tagline like the women do on the Real Housewives reality shows, mine would be: “Get to know me first. I am more than my diagnosis.”

Ron, Tim’s care partner

I knew something was wrong long before Tim received a diagnosis. As his advocate, I helped coordinate his medical team and began making plans for the future. We went to an elder care lawyer (who was very helpful) and sold our home that we spent 10 years renovating .A lot of people wait too long to plan. The sooner you do that the better.

Dementia happened to Tim much earlier than it does for most. He was hoping to work up to 15 more years, build funds for retirement and travel. We moved from the suburbs to a 55+ community, and we live a very different life here. Tim and I have attended support groups through the Alzheimer’s Association, but I have also found support in our community by connecting with other caregivers. While other community members are older and their experiences more varied, their support is still valuable. Almost all of the people that are involved in support groups and services in the community are much older than us and it’s hard to relate to one another. Prepare yourself, because as a care partner, you have to realize it will only become even more intense.

You have to seek out advice. You have to be realistic. It won’t get any better. You have to take advantage of every moment together and celebrate what you have. Your relationship will change greatly. There are times when it’s difficult, and it’s usually little things that push you over the edge. You get by, but it’s very difficult. It is very hard to see your loved one diminish in front of you. I love Tim, but he isn’t who he used to be. As a care partner, you sometimes feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

It is a heavy journey and it is a process, but you do what you can do. It’s not all gloom and doom, but it has been difficult reflecting on the past three years. Neither of us have a career anymore. We had to sell our home and settle into a new place. Amongst all that, we were working on getting Tim’s diagnosis. I lost both of my parents and Tim’s brother and father passed away – we’ve had so much happen. But we don’t give up. You have to make the best of your situation. I want other care partners and caregivers to know that they shouldn’t give up their whole identity. You have to do things for yourself. Our situation is what it is. You have to try and take in every moment you have and hold on to what you can.

As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 National Early-Stage Advisory Group (ESAG), Tim Kaufman raises awareness of the financial impact of the disease and the value of an accurate and early diagnosis. He also addresses the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals living with dementia. Tim and his partner Ron live in Southampton, New Jersey.

Diet that mimics fasting may promote longevity and improve healthspan

A new study published in Cell Metabolism suggests following a calorie-restricted diet that mimics fasting for just 5 days a month for 3 months may promote longevity and reduce a number of risk factors for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A woman eating healthy food
Researchers found participants who followed a fasting-mimicking diet experienced a reduction in risk factors linked to aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

Study co-author Valter D. Longo, of the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology in Italy and the University of Southern California, and colleagues say the research demonstrates the first anti-aging, healthspan-promoting intervention that doctors could feasibly recommend for patients.

Previous research from Longo in June last year suggested prolonged fasting – defined as consuming only water for 2-4 days – can “reboot” the human immune system. That is, fasting can help clear out damaged cells and regenerate new ones.

Another study published later that month also found periodic fasting may protect against diabetes among individuals at high risk for the condition.

However, Longo and colleagues note that humans find it psychologically challenging to engage in such extreme dieting, and it can also have adverse health effects – particularly for older individuals.

“These concerns point to the need for dietary interventions that induce prolonged fasting-like effects while minimizing the risk of adverse effects and the burden of complete food restriction,” they note.

Fasting diet promoted cell regeneration, extending lifespan in mice

To address this need, the researchers developed a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) – a low-protein, low-fat diet high in healthy fats. By activating markers associated with prolonged fasting, such as low glucose levels and high levels of ketone bodies, the diet was able to simulate the effects of fasting.

Firstly, the team tested the diet in middle-aged mice, feeding them the diet for 4 days, twice a month. Mice fed the FMD intervention were compared with mice fed a control diet.

The team found mice fed the FMD intervention had much higher numbers of stem cells, and they experienced regeneration of an array of other cell types, including bone, muscle, liver, brain and immune cells, compared with mice fed the control diet.

In addition, the FMD intervention appeared to extend the lifespan of mice and promote better overall health. They experienced better learning and memory, lower incidence of cancer and inflammatory diseases and fat loss without a reduction in lean body mass, compared with control mice.

Reduction in risk factors for aging, CVD, diabetes and cancer in humans

Next, the team tested a similar FMD intervention in a group of 19 generally healthy people aged 18-70. These participants were required to follow the diet for 5 days a month for 3 months. The diet provided them with between 34-54% of their normal caloric intake, as well as 11-14% proteins, 42-43% carbohydrates and 44-46% fat.

The 19 participants following the FMD intervention were compared with a group of 18 generally healthy aged-matched individuals who continued to follow their normal diet.

Compared with the participants who consumed their standard diet, those who followed the FMD intervention experienced a reduction in risk factors linked to aging, cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and cancer, including lowered blood glucose, reduced markers of inflammation and weight loss.

The team notes that only 5% of FMD participants were disqualified from the study for failing to comply with the dietary regime.

Longo and colleagues say their findings indicate that following an FMD intervention periodically may promote longevity in humans and protect against risk factors for certain diseases. They add:

“Although the clinical results will require confirmation by a larger randomized trial, the effects of FMD cycles on biomarkers/risk factors for aging, cancer, diabetes, and CVD, coupled with the very high compliance to the diet and its safety, indicate that this periodic dietary strategy has high potential to be effective in promoting human healthspan.”

The team says they are now putting the FMD intervention through a rigorous testing process in order to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical use. This involves testing the efficacy of the diet in 60-70 participants, before moving to a clinical trial with 500-1,000 participants.

“This is arguably the first non-chronic preclinically and clinically tested anti-aging and healthspan-promoting intervention shown to work and to be very feasible as a doctor or dietitian-supervised intervention,” says Longo.

The researchers stress that because the effects of the FMD intervention are potent, individuals should only follow such a diet under medical supervision.

Written by Honor Whiteman