Alzheimer's caregivers need support

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In the Feb. 6 Augusta Chronicle, Kathy Tuckey wrote a compelling piece ("Remember the 'Gipper' in Alzheimer's fight") urging support for Alzheimer's disease. There is more needed in addition to this support.

The facilities from which this very devoted staff operates on Central Avenue are woefully inadequate to serve those in the area suffering from this ailment. Space for support groups and training is limited to eight to 10 people, and when other space is used classes spill into the hallways. Parking is available only for, at best, six cars.

One can read I Remember Better When I Paint, by Eric Ellna and Berna Huebner; Brain Views, by Harold Nash; or I'm Still Here, by John Zeisel to realize that, although Alzheimer's patients cannot hope to get radiation or chemotherapy or travel to high-powered clinics in hope of arresting their disease, there is hope of better use of their existing brain capacity to make up for that which is being lost. As Mrs. Tuckey states, help is not even on the horizon.

As a caregiver, I can testify that these opportunities can result in providing improved lifestyles and positive reinforcement for those with severe dementia and the onset of Alzheimer's. Currently a powerful ongoing program in caregiving is limited to 10 participants because of space; even then the facilitators teach from the hallway.

Surely in a community that can give so much time and money to the study of building a baseball park, support for a hockey team and closing a street for the "comfort and happiness" of medical students can find a way to provide new space for those inflicted with Alzheimer's. Space in the new Kroc Center? The old library?

I pray that worthy local trusts and foundations will take up this urgent task. Many willing hands await. It should not be a matter of who will do this, but of who will speak up first.

Fred Johnson

North Augusta, S.C.

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soldout 02/16/11 - 11:49 pm
The low cholesterol we are

The low cholesterol we are all supposed to strive for is a likely cause of this increase in Alzheimer's disease. Work in the 1950s found that as we get older, the level of cholesterol in our brains declines.Later studies suggested that this decline may be the cause of brain disorders such as Alzheimer's.

In 1991, a paper discussing the relief of Alzheimer's Disease, asked that 'strategies for increasing the delivery of cholesterol to the brain should be identified' and recommended increasing fat intake.

The Framingham Study added weight to this proposition when it examined the relationship between total cholesterol and cognitive performance.Participants were 789 men and 1105 women who were free of dementia and stroke and who received biennial cholesterol checks over a 16- to 18-year surveillance period. Cognitive tests were administered four to six years after the surveillance period and consisted of measures of learning, memory, attention, concentration, abstract reasoning, concept formation, and organizational abilities.

The researchers found a significant linear association between the level of blood cholesterol and measures of verbal fluency, attention, concentration, abstract reasoning, and a composite score measuring multiple cognitive domains. Participants with 'desirable' cholesterol levels of less than 5.2 mmol/L (200 mg/dL) performed significantly less well than participants with cholesterol levels higher than 6.25 mmol/L (240 mg/dL). Dr. Penelope K. Elias from Boston University said that:

'It is not entirely surprising that lower cholesterol levels were associated with moderately lower levels of cognitive function, given [that] cholesterol is important in brain function.'

soldout 02/16/11 - 11:48 pm
Henry Lorin in his book,

Henry Lorin in his book, Alzheimer's Solved, shows that low cholesterol level is the main cause of Alzheimer's disease.

In November 2007, another study looked at the effects of taking statins on cognitive function and dementia. What the study found was that the:

"Initial use of statins resulted in less cognitive decline in individuals, but continued use of a statin resulted inmore cognitive decline. "

At first sight, this looks confusing. But this new study actually confirms the role of low cholesterol in Alzheimer's disease and in cognitive decline generally. And this is why:

Having a high cholesterol is associated with having good cognitive function and with being on a statin. Hence, just after the beginning of statin therapy, these people will still show a relatively good cognitive function.

If they continue with the statins, however, the detrimental effects of lower cholesterol on brain function will progressively show up.

This is exactly the pattern this study shows. And this is why those who started taking statins, then stopped, were in a better state than those who continued to take them.

In view of all this evidence, why on earth is the government so keen to get everyone on cholesterol-lowering drugs?

msitua 02/17/11 - 12:55 am
Lots of different studies

Lots of different studies have been going on. The ones mentioned here are just some of them and not proved. The very newest out just last week is that AD is caused by herpes simplex virus 1. In an effort to fight off the virus invading the brain-ameloid(sp?) proteins are formed to fight off the virus. As a result the ameloyds(sp?) also end up destroying the basic mylin proteins that protect the cells in the brain-thus causing AD.
I find this possibility extremely interesting.

derekdugan 02/17/11 - 04:36 pm
As a former caregiver who

As a former caregiver who lost my mother to Alzheimer's, I know of this group and its facilities. I know that we at the Salvation Army Kroc Center have been in discussions for quite some time for programming and obviously I have an emotional stake in seeing the Kroc Center help the families through this. Thanks for the letter - good to hear about supporters of this critical organization.

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