Alzheimer's disease

Older hand holding another hand
NPR

The Florida Alzheimer's Disease Advisory Committee could be expanded in size and scope under a bill unanimously approved by the state House. 

DeSantis Steps Up Alzheimer’s Efforts

Mar 15, 2019
Gov. DeSantis speaking at an event
Governor's Press Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis is directing the state Department of Health to add Alzheimer’s disease and related types of dementia as a priority in the State Health Improvement Plan. 

NPR's health reporters steadily cover the news in health and medicine. But there are always a few breakout stories that especially resonate with readers. In 2018, our most popular health stories ranged from practical advice on personal health, to discoveries on the frontiers of medicine, to the high cost of health care today. We pored over the list of our most widely read posts to bring you these highlights: 1o stories that reflect the health issues that mattered to you over the last 12 months. If you missed these when they first came out, here's your chance to catch up.

More than 540,000 Floridians are living with Alzheimer’s Disease, and health officials say that's expected to increase by more than 30 percent in the next few years.

Executive Office of the President of the United States (public domain)

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, announced Tuesday in a frank and personal letter that she has been diagnosed with "the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease."

Wikimedia Commons

It may be too late to stop Alzheimer's in people who already have some mental decline. But what if a treatment could target the very earliest brain changes while memory and thinking skills are still intact, in hope of preventing the disease? Two big studies are going all out to try.

A study published Monday by Human Rights Watch finds that about 179,000 nursing home residents are being given antipsychotic drugs, even though they don't have schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses that those drugs are designed to treat.

A year ago we were introduced to Brian LeBlanc. The Pensacola resident was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s in 2014 and he’s been sharing his story in hopes of raising awareness about the disease.

LeBlanc has been pretty busy lately, especially in November, which is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Carol Gentry / WUSF Public Media

Until three years ago, Ed Hancock traveled the world, a high-level executive for AmerisourceBergen, a global drug packaging and distribution company.

Carol Gentry / WUSF Public Media

When you’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease, there’s a huge incentive to sign up for a drug trial. But what if you’re healthy? What’s the incentive?

That’s the challenge facing researchers in a groundbreaking double-blind trial of an experimental drug meant to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. It is the Anti-Amyloid Treatment and Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease trial, better known as “A4.”

Larry Goldstein is trying to find drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease. A biologist in cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, Goldstein also just started testing something he hopes will enable paralyzed people to walk again.

For both lines of research, he's using cells from aborted fetuses.

"The fetal cells are vital at this time because, to our knowledge, they have the best properties for the kinds of experiments that we need to do," Goldstein says.

With a large aging population, Florida is an epicenter of Alzheimer’s cases in the United States. Roughly half a million people in the state live with the disease and by 2025, that number is projected to increase by 44 percent.

Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach and University of Florida Health just got 1.5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to run the only full-time Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the state to try and combat these numbers.

Empath Health

Julie Martin sits at a table in a nondescript room at Suncoast Hospice in Clearwater. She strums an instrument called a Qchord, a type of electronic autoharp.

"Hello my friends. Hello my friends," she sings in a slow, comforting voice. "Hello my friends, it's nice to see you today."

Martin, a board certified music therapist, sings "The Hello Song" with every Alzheimer's patient, every time she sees them.  She said music can help these patients reconnect to their lost memories.

Music is often part of some of our biggest moments. From singing happy birthday to your favorite song that you always sing along to, music can help you connect and remember. Studies have shown that music can also become a form of therapy.

Only seven states require a license for music therapists. Florida isn't one of them. But some music therapy professionals in the Sunshine State are trying to change that.

The country’s new surgeon general stopped in Fort Myers Friday.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has been on the job for about two months and he’s been touring the country listening to local health officials talk about issues facing their communities.

The Roskamp Institute in Sarasota is planning to expand its clinic. The clinic is seeing an increasing number of active duty military and veterans.

The journal Science Translational Medicine reports that a team at Columbia University thinks it has found a gene that figures into memory loss that is not related to Alzheimer's disease. The study, conducted on donated brains, was small. The report is summarized in the Tampa Bay Times.

Alzheimer's Cases Rise, But Hope Remains

May 18, 2013

More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease, and the National Institute on Aging estimates that that number is going to triple by 2050 — in part due to aging baby boomers.

The cost of coping with the disease — currently estimated at $215 billion — is projected to rise to half a trillion dollars by 2050. That amount will likely tax our overburdened health care system, the economy and the families of those affected.

Amy Goyer realized her 84-year-old father Robert's health was deteriorating one night while watching a movie with him.

The numbers are pretty grim: More than half of all 85-year-olds suffer some form of dementia.

But here's the good news: Brain researchers say there are ways to boost brain power and stave off problems in memory and thinking.