Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Of Differences and Risks and Impacts

On the way home from work yesterday, I listened to an article on NPR indicating that women progress through Alzheimer's faster than men.  We've known for some time that women are at higher risk for Alzheimer's.  We don't know why they're at higher risk or why they progress faster.

Looking up this article lead to several other connected concepts.
  • The pathology of Alzheimer's differs by race.  When brains are autopsied after an individual dies with Alzheimer's, there are significant differences in the findings.  For example, blacks have a higher rate of Lewy Body Dementia along with Alzheimer's than whites.  However, most therapeutic approaches have been developed off the pathology found predominately in whites.  This has been an issue in the treatment of other diseases as well and once again speaks to a need to research more using subjects of multiple races.
  • Alzheimer's affects caregivers more than the patient.  Yes, the patient is aware of their cognitive decline and they have anxiety, delusions and hallucinations.  However, it the caregiver who has to intervene with the behaviors which result, who has to arrange respite care if any is possible, who as to care for the patient and who faces the physical toll of the stress of that care.
  • Caregivers benefit from counseling.  This one seemed kind of obvious to me, but I put it here in case a caregiver has not considered working with a counselor.  The stress of caring for an Alzheimer's patient should not be downplayed.

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