Alzheimer's is no joke - but celebrity charity sees the funny side

Posted under Uncategorized on April 10th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

This week saw celebrities gather together in aid of Alzheimer’s.  Actor Seth Rogen (star of Pineapple Express and Knocked Up) was joined by a host of comedy friends including Demetri Martin, Aziz Ansari and Natasha Leggero on Tuesday night (8 April) in support of Rogen’s charity, Hilarity for Charity.

Hilarity for Charity’s website describes it as “an awesome, one-of-a-kind, and most importantly, hilarious event to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s among a younger generation”.

The comedians performed stand-up at the Jane Hotel in New York to raise money for Alzheimer’s research and care. There was also an auction for VIP tickets to this week’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by Rogen, and tickets for premium seats at Hilarity for Charity’s upcoming event in LA; last year’s LA event featured collaboration between Rogen and the Backstreet Boys and raised $300,000. This year’s auction alone raised $11,300.

Rogen was inspired to start the charity with his wife Lauren Miller when Miller’s mother got Alzheimer’s at the age of 55. Rogen says: “I thought it was something that naturally affected old people in a harmless, almost humorous fashion. Then I saw the reality could not be more different.” Having seen his mother-in-law get Alzheimer’s at a young age Rogen wants to make young people aware of the condition – as they will “be the older folks before too long”.

Rogen and Miller say that along with raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s they want to build an understanding among young people, show how important research is – and have some fun along the way.

To this end, Hilarity for Charity began HFC U – a US-wide programme that encourages university students to throw their own fundraisers to raise money and awareness for Hilarity for Charity.

All money raised by the charity goes to the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading, global voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care and support, and the largest private non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s research.

Living in the moment, not in the past

Posted under Blog on March 27th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new report published this week provides guidance to carers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, helping their loved ones retain their identity and live happier lives.

The report places greater emphasis on helping people with Alzheimer’s live in the moment, rather than focus on memory loss. Written by independent research agency ESRO and published by Red & Yellow Care in association with the Alzheimer’s Society, the report suggests that carers can teach patients with Alzheimer’s to appreciate their day-to-day lives and not be concerned with memory loss.

While traditional methods of caring for dementia patients placed "lots of energy into devising activities and tools for remembering", the report authors argue for a new approach based on the idea that "we do not need to continually remember to retain our sense of identity to enable us to be happy."

Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahnemann contributed to the report, stating: “While past experiences are crucial in shaping our present selves, we do not need to continually remember them to retain our sense of identity for us to be happy.” Mr Kahneman says that our “consumption of memory” is less relevant than we realise.

When patients with Alzheimer’s find their memory deteriorating, there is an opportunity to embrace happiness that comes from the present moment, according to the report. The report uses new research and interviews with 80 people living with Alzheimer’s, to explore ways to allow someone with the illness to live a fulfilling life.

The report suggests six areas to focus on to help people with dementia feel more fulfilled: Respecting a sufferer’s identity, embracing the now, sustaining relationships, allowing good and bad days and maintaining physical and emotional wellbeing.

This new approach to Alzheimer’s care places a different focus on the day-to-day lives of patients, allowing them to value time spent with family and appreciate their capacity to continue enjoying every day as it comes.

New blood test may predict Alzheimer’s

Posted under Blog on March 17th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A team of researchers from Georgetown University in Washington DC have developed a blood test that they believe can accurately predict the onset of Alzheimer’s.

There are currently around 44 million people living with dementia worldwide and this figure is expected to treble by 2020.

A key priority for researchers is to develop ways of discovering the disease within the brain earlier. Alzheimer’s can be attacking the brain for over a decade before symptoms emerge.

The researchers’ findings have been published this month in Nature Medicine. Experts are excited by the potential of the test but have warned that the results need to be confirmed and tested in larger clinical trials.

The scientists tested blood samples from 525 people over the age of 70 in a five-year study. They took 53 samples of those who developed Alzheimer’s or other mild cognitive decline and compared the blood with 53 healthy samples.

They discovered differences in the levels of ten key fats.  It is thought those ten markers may help predict who is likely to develop mental decline in later years.

It remains unclear what causes the change in fats but it may be a result of early changes taking place in the brain.

Howard Federoff, professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center, said: “I think there is a huge need for a test. But we must look at larger numbers of people before this could be used in clinical practice”.

Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “If confirmed, these results could aid efforts to develop better tools for diagnosing Alzheimer’s – allowing people with the disease to access crucial support and existing treatments sooner”.

Tags: Alzheimer's, Blood test, dementia, Nature Medicine



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