Using Cancer Drugs to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

  • By lemaster
  • 05 Dec, 2016

Ongoing research concerning the conditions that cause Alzheimer’s led a group of scientists from the Georgetown University Medical Center’s Translational Neurotherapeutics Program to an amazing discovery. Based on the chemical compounds that cause the neuron damage found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, researchers learned that the medications formerly approved by the FDA for the treatment of renal cancer prove helpful in combating the disease. Here are what families and Chicago home care providers need to know about the findings.

Alzheimer’s Building Blocks

Tau proteins in the brain assume the responsibility of eliminating harmful amyloid beta proteins. However, in Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders, tau proteins undergo a transformation process. They convert into a different type of protein that loses the ability to effectively protect neurons. Amyloid proteins are naturally sticky in nature, which enables the molecules to adhere one to another and form clumps. These clumps distort neurons out of alignment, which interferes with the communication between the cells. The accumulation of amyloids also eventually causes cellular destruction.

Increasingly Complex

Scientists learned that enzymes known as tyrosine kinases are the main reason for the abnormal cycle, which causes protein buildup, neurodegeneration and inflammation in the brain. Tyrosine kinase acts as an on/off switch that regulates or interferes with cellular function. The enzyme is also present in malignant cells associated with cancer. The chemotherapy drugs nilotinib and pazopanib are classified as tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

The Georgetown group was determined to learn if the medications might have an effect on the neurodegenerative processes that lead to Alzheimer’s. They administered the medications to laboratory mice exhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms. After one month, testing the mice revealed that their brains had less abnormal tau proteins, which enabled normal tau to resume the neuroprotective cleaning duties. The group has yet to begin chemotherapy trials on human subjects.

The researchers plan on conducting further studies in order to determine the location of specific receptor sites affected by the medications. In this way, they will better understand how tyrosine kinase forms and releases into the brain.

Living with Alzheimer’s comes with a host of challenges that not every family is prepared to handle alone. Contact Home Care Assistance at (847) 906-3991 today to learn about our comprehensive Chicago Alzheimer’s home care and how it can help your loved one. Our compassionate caregivers help clients with cognitive disorders by stimulating mental function, delaying the onset of dementia, and boosting self-esteem. Schedule a no-obligation consultation today when you call.

By proadAccountId-382942 01 Jun, 2017

The National Parkinson’s Foundation has invested millions of dollars in research to help improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease. One focus of the foundation’s research is an international study, the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, designed to investigate the efficacy of various treatments for Parkinson’s patients and improve care. With more than 8,000 participants across the world, this long-term study is the largest undertaking to date in Parkinson’s research history.

Though most people think of Parkinson’s as a mobility disorder, the study has shown that depression and anxiety are the No. 1 factors that most impact the overall health of Parkinson’s patients. About half of Parkinson’s patients experience depression at some point after diagnosis. Depression appears to be more common in Parkinson’s patients than in those with other chronic diseases.

While those with Parkinson’s disease may be upset about the loss of mobility and coordination attributed to their condition, the depression in this population is more largely related to changes in the brain; dopamine plays a role in muscle movement as well as mood. The fact that depression plays such a prominent role in the overall well-being of Parkinson’s patients makes early detection and treatment key. Unfortunately, depression is both under-

detected and under-treated in this population, having significant negative impacts on overall well-being. The loss of control of facial muscles associated with Parkinson’s makes the face rigid (masked facial expression) and thus difficult to read—our facial expressions are one of the key indications of mood.

In addition, Parkinson’s and depression share some symptoms. As a result, the National Parkinson’s Foundation suggests that doctors screen Parkinson’s patients for depression at least annually. These initial findings also highlight the importance of addressing both the physical and mental well-being of individuals with a holistic approach to care.

Our caregivers provide assistance at any stage of Parkinson’s—helping those with the disease accomplish tasks to function as independently as possible. Our care management team also provides emotional support for the patient and family members and helps individuals stay as active as possible through exercise and regular recreation.



By proadAccountId-382942 04 Apr, 2017
A recent study has shed promising light on a potential method to detect early Alzheimer’s and possibly treat or prevent the disease before symptoms even appear. The study concluded that a decline in glucose levels in the brain starts to occur right before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. Researchers at Temple University believe this discovery may lead to treatments that prevent Alzheimer’s disease from taking hold by keeping glucose levels in the brain from dropping in the first place.

For years, researchers and doctors have noticed an association between declining brain glucose levels and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, until now, no one had found that they are a trigger for cognitive impairments.

The study was conducted on mice, and the results were published in the J ournal of Translational Psychiatry in January. As anticipated, mice that were deprived of glucose in their brains showed signs of mental decline that indicated a breakdown of communication between neurons. The same mice also performed worse in maze memory tests than the control mice who were not deprived of glucose. Because cognitive decline is impacted by glucose levels, researchers suggest that a protein known as “p38,” which regulates glucose in the body, could possibly have a role in preventing Alzheimer’s. Early tests with p38 show that the anti-inflammatory properties of the protein may reduce the formation of plaques in the brain that are associated with dementia.

All tests conducted by the team at Temple University were performed on mice, and much more research and development is needed before human trials begin; however, these scientists are encouraged. Lead researcher, Dr. Domenico Praticò, called the findings “extremely exciting.”
By proadAccountId-382942 01 Mar, 2017

Caring for an aging parent is a complex task, but when dementia is part of the picture, it becomes even more difficult. Cognitive and behavioral changes may occur unpredictably, and parents may resist care. If you are the caregiver for a loved one who suffers from dementia, the most important thing is to first understand the disease.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is just one type of dementia, it is the one with the most pronounced stages. Becoming familiar with these stages will help you identify the behaviors your loved one is exhibiting, learn how to address them, and update his or her primary care physician. The National Institutes on Aging defines the three stages of Alzheimer’s disease as:
Mild:The disease begins with memory loss and small changes in personality. The person may forget recent events, the names of familiar people or things and may no longer be able to balance a checkbook. Those with Alzheimer’s slowly lose the ability to plan and organize and may have trouble making a grocery list or finding items in the store.
Moderate:In this stage memory loss and confusion become more obvious. People have more trouble following instructions and may need help getting dressed. They have trouble recognizing friends and family members. They may not know where they are or what day or year it is. They may lack judgment, begin to wander and become restless. In the moderate stages people may make threats, accuse others of stealing, curse, kick, hit, bite, scream or grab things.
Severe (late stage):This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s before death. People often need help with all their daily needs, may not be able to walk or sit up without help. They may not be able to talk and often cannot recognize family members. They may have trouble swallowing and refuse to eat.
Caring for someone with dementia is much more intense than caring for an older adult with other health issues. You can care for the physical needs of your loved one by closely coordinating care with his or her physician. Just as important is the ability to remain a caregiver for the long term. That requires a clear understanding of the role and strategies designed to protect the well-being of you and your family.
1. Caregiving demands will increase over time.As the disease progresses so will the needs of your loved one. By the advanced stages, caregiving will become a full-time job. Knowing this will help you to plan your work/life schedule in a realistic manner and seek help with caregiving responsibilities.
2. Dementia caregiving requires special skills.Caring for someone with dementia may not come naturally. It isn’t intuitive. In fact, sometimes the logical thing to do is the wrong thing. For example, insisting that they eat may be the wrong thing if they have developed swallowing or chewing difficulties. Learn about the disease and its treatment. Consult with your loved one’s physician and ask advice for caregiving.
3: Talk with your family and children about caregiving.Be honest. Children are very intuitive. They will know that their grandparent, aunt or uncle are changing and that their behavior is odd. Explain the disease and that loving the senior loved one is most important. Engage them and empower them to be part of the caregiving process. Younger children may read to the senior or help with chores. The family will be less stressed when the situation is discussed openly.
4. Have regular family meetings.Sit down on a regular basis to talk about how caregiving is impacting the family as a whole. Talk about the impact of the senior’s condition on the family and address stress points and difficulties. Meet with a therapist or case manager if that will help to solve grievances.
5. Pay attention to family needs.Caring for someone with dementia can quickly be the focus of attention for the household. Young children and spouses may feel excluded and left behind. Take time to schedule activities for just the family by asking a family member or professional caregiver to stay with your loved one. Encourage the caregiver to bring special activities so it also is a fun evening at home for your loved one.
Do you care for a parent with dementia? Have you found strategies that work for you and your family? If so, we would like to hear from you. Senior care is a special community. By sharing information, we can help one another to provide meaningful care.

By proadAccountId-382942 03 Feb, 2017
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex disease with many moving parts. As of today, no one is exactly sure what causes it or what can be done to prevent it. There are theories, and some of those are based on findings of scientific research studies. Even with the brightest minds continually working on finding a successful treatment or cure, it seems a cure may not be found for a long time.

Though the results of a newly published study out of MIT did not find a cure, they unveiled an interesting insight into the brain. Led by Li-Huei Tsai, Director of the Picower Institute of Learning and Memory at MIT, the study found that introducing flashing LED light into the brains of mice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease reduced the percentage of Alzheimer’s disease causing beta amyloid plaques in the brain by about 50%. This study was done on mice, but if their findings do end up working on people, we could be quite a bit closer to treatment – or someday even a cure.

Tsai and her colleagues at MIT were working with mice who had signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. One of their experiments involved using electrical impulses in an attempt to recreate the neuron firing that occurs in healthy brains. (Neuron firing slows down in the brain when people have Alzheimer’s disease.) Our brains have billions of neurons (nerve cells in the brain), and they talk to each other, reaching out to each other and communicating with electrical signals. When groups of neurons are “on” together in the same “beat” so to speak, we are able to process information and understand the world around us. The “beats” per minute between neurons depend on the difficulty of the tasks we’re performing. The neurons fire more slowly when we’re sleeping, and when we’re performing difficult tasks that require thought (or new tasks), the neurons fire (or beat) more quickly, at between 30 and 100 times per minute. This rate is considered the gamma frequency.

One of the problems in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is that the neurons get fatigued and quieter, so cognitive tasks become more difficult for the brain to process. There are other problems in brains affected by Alzheimer’s disease too, like beta amyloid plaques, muddled connections between neurons, and problems with immune cells. But this study focused on the neuron firing.

What Tsai and her team did was attempt to speed up the neuron firing to the gamma frequency (30 to 100 per minute). They started with mice that had multiple problems, including lots of beta amyloid plaques in the brain and less gamma (or slower neuron firing). They drilled a hole in the skulls of the mice and inserted a tiny fiber optic cable into the brain to fire light at a rate that matches the gamma frequency – in this case, 40 per minute. After one hour of being treated with the flashing lights in the brains, the mice had about 50% less beta amyloid plaque buildup. That finding surprised even the scientists.

It seems like the light ignited the “janitors,” of the brain called the microglia, which “clean” the brain of plaque so it doesn’t build up. In Alzheimer’s disease, the microglia seem to stop working, which many believe is one of the causes of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Excited by their findings, the researchers decided they needed to find a less invasive way to test whether the light was actually causing the decrease in plaque. So they decided to try putting the mice in a room with LED lights flashing at a gamma frequency. They were shocked when it had the same effect as putting a fiber optic cable in the brain did. All the mice studied had a 40 to 50% reduction in amyloid beta plaque after one hour of treatment in the light flashing room.
They followed that study with another study in which they treated the mice with the light one hour per day every day for seven days. And again, the results were the same – a 50% reduction of amyloid beta. The biggest problem they had was that the amyloid beta levels returned to their original levels about 24 hours after treatment. More studies will have to be done to find out whether daily light treatment could have positive effects on Alzheimer’s disease symptoms over a long period, whether humans will experience similar reductions in amyloid beta, and if so, whether those reductions will affect the symptoms of the disease once it’s been diagnosed.
There’s still no magic pill. There’s no cure. But there is some fantastic information to use as a springboard to future studies.

Check back next week to learn about a follow up study led by Susumu Tonegawa, Director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, that relates to “bringing back” memories thought to be gone using a technique called optogenetics.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease on our website.
By proadAccountId-382942 03 Jan, 2017
Being the primary caregiver for an elderly family member is complicated at best. There are medications and appointments to track, meals to plan, cognitive issues to address, and personal hygiene to attend to. Family members who are not involved in the senior’s day-to-day care may be supportive or resentful. They may interfere or offer help. Complicated family dynamics can add pressure and anxiety to already overwhelmed caregivers.

There is no absolute way to appease distant family members. The best thing a caregiver can do is to consistently communicate with key family members in order to provide a window of understanding into the complexities and uncertainties of caring for an aging loved one. In many instances, this information can reduce anxiety and criticism from family members who cannot or do not want to walk in the caregiver’s shoes.

The strategy is to deliver as many details as possible so that family members begin to understand the enormity of caring for an aging loved one. The goal is to give them a sense of the loved one’s health status and what their days are like. This does not mean that the caregiver has to keep a carefully written journal; unpolished daily information is usually the most powerful. Here are some tips on how to efficiently communicate with family members:

1. Keep a running list of notes that you jot down throughout the day and week. You can write them electronically in an email draft or in a notebook. At the end of the week send the email or copy the pages and mail them. Paper pages can also be scanned and emailed or sent via Skype.

2. Tiny details tell the biggest story. Relay things that your loved one says during the day. Make a note when they say them so you won’t forget. They are the tiniest things in daily life that speak the loudest. For example; Mom suddenly doesn’t like Earl Grey tea- her lifelong favorite; Dad hates his favorite doctor or now loves watching tennis on television which used to bore him. This is the information that gives family members a stark view of daily life.

3. Photos and videos tell the story firsthand. Phones can quickly capture photos and videos of your loved one that will effectively convey their current physical and mental status. Take advantage of mobile apps and use Snapchat or Instagram to send photos.

4. Schedule Skype calls. Don’t worry about corralling all of your family members for a call. Schedule the call according to the best time of day for your loved one. This is a great way for family members to see their loved one for themselves and intimately understand their status.

Despite all these efforts, some family members may never be satisfied with your care. However, the information you communicate may ease criticism from those who think they could do a better job.

At the end of the day you deserve support. Home Care Assistance can provide it to you. We offer numerous services ranging from hourly and daily care to specialized care for stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. You can review our Home Care Advantage checklist to see how we might best assist you and your loved one.

If you have ideas on how to keep family members in the caregiving loop we want to hear them. Please share them with us and let us know what works for you.
By lemaster 05 Dec, 2016

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that postmenopausal women stop taking supplemental calcium and vitamin D because there is very little evidence to support the theory that taking these supplements prevents fractures in healthy women. Additionally, researchers have found that calcium supplements can cause heart damage.

While calcium was once believed to help protect the cardiovascular system, studies conducted at the University of Auckland found that taking vitamin D and calcium supplements raised the likelihood of having a heart attack by more than 50 percent. The researcher reanalyzed the data and found that women were at a 24 percent higher risk of a heart attack when taking calcium with or without vitamin D.

Before you throw your loved one’s vitamin D and calcium supplements away, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center say that they found no such correlation during their seven-year study.

While this one may take a while for researchers to figure out, one thing is known for sure. Eating a diet that is high in calcium stops bone loss and may help heart health. The best choice for calcium continues to be a glass of vitamin D-fortified milk. Other choices that are high in calcium include yogurt and calcium-fortified tofu. Some vegetables are also very high in calcium including kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts and spinach. Additionally, some fruits are high in calcium including oranges, tangerines and dried apricots, which is why Hinsdale elder care providers recommend them for the seniors they care for.

Researchers have agreed for a long time that the best way to get vitamin D is to go outside for a few minutes each day. So, take that walk that you have been putting off and encourage your senior loved one to join you. The body absorbs vitamin D from the sun, so the best time to go is when the sun is at its highest.

People will need to decide for themselves whether or not they choose to continue taking their supplements, but living a healthy lifestyle is a choice that everyone can make. Help your senior loved one enjoy a balanced lifestyle with help from Home Care Assistance of Chicago. Our highly trained caregivers incorporate the Balanced Care Method (BCM) to help seniors adopt healthy lifestyle choices that consist of nutritious diet, daily exercise and active social lives. BCM is our proprietary care method based on studies centered on the longevity and vitality of seniors in Okinawa, Japan. Call (847) 906-3991 today to learn more about BCM and how it benefits our clients.

By lemaster 05 Dec, 2016

There is no doubt that Hinsdale Alzheimer’s caregivers hope for a miracle cure for the loved ones they care for. Pharmaceutical manufacturer Biogen announced recently that their Aducanumab drug might help reduce the amount of amyloid plaque that clumps together in the brains of those diagnosed with this debilitating cognitive disease. Before caregivers consult a local doctor about this medication, be aware that it will be many years before it is available commercially.

While the results from this latest drug look promising, Hinsdale dementia caregivers must remember that the testing phase is still early. Although participants who took the drug for 12 months showed no signs of plaque in their brains upon completion of the study, medical experts warn families that they have been down this road before with other Alzheimer’s drugs. Major firms such as Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer have all made announcements similar to the one made by Brogen. Later testing, however, did not show that their early results were correct.

One of the largest problems faced by this new drug is that it can cause the person’s brain to swell leading to even more debilitating problems. The Federal Drug Administration will never approve a medicine until these safety concerns are addressed and solved.

Furthermore, Biogen also has internal problems that may hurt the development of this drug. Their Chief Executive Officer is leaving the company. Their multiple sclerosis research unit has to cut back on research due to lack of funds. Unfortunately, while many in the media heralded Aducanumab as a major breakthrough, investors in the stock market hardly even noticed which might hurt funding even more.

Before families become too discouraged, however, this is great news that someone is still working on Alzheimer’s research. The disease affects 5.4 million Americans, and that number is likely to rise as America continues to age. With further testing and other adjustments, it’s possible that Aducanumab may revolutionize Alzheimer’s treatment in the near future.

In the meantime, seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are not without hope. Home Care Assistance of Chicago provides flexible Alzheimer’s and dementia home care Hinsdale, IL, families rely on to help seniors age in place with dignity. Call us today at (847) 906-3991 to learn how our compassionate caregivers boost our client’s cognitive and physical wellbeing.

By lemaster 05 Dec, 2016

One of the best parts of the holiday season is decorating, which is why Hinsdale, IL, in-home care providers recommend making something with seniors this year. There are so many crafty Thanksgiving centerpieces that you can make with your loved one. Making them together encourages your loved one to be part of the festive atmosphere and you will both enjoy the bonding time. The following centerpiece ideas were carefully chosen based on ease and cost.

Gourd Candleholders

There are so many different miniature gourds at stores this time of year. They also happen to make the perfect tea candleholders. Start by measuring the candle and drawing that size circle on top of the gourd. Then, use a sharp knife to cut off the top of the gourd. Use a spoon to dig out the inside of the gourd just like you would a pumpkin. Then, insert your candle. If the gourd is too tall, then stick some paper in the bottom and sit your candle on top of the paper.

Pumpkin Flower Vase

Seniors and their live-in or part-time Hinsdale caregivers can easily make a pumpkin flower vase to serve as a Thanksgiving centerpiece. Start by cutting the top off the pumpkin and hollowing out the inside. Then, stick fresh flowers in the hole. The moisture from your pumpkin will keep the flowers fresh for a long time.

Miniature Pumpkin Tree

A pumpkin tree can be a wonderful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. Start with a hurricane vase. Place a stick that has several strong branches inside the vase. Now, fill the vase with popcorn. Alternatively, fill it with birdseed and let the birds have their own feast when you are done. Now, take some fishing string and tie to the top of several miniature pumpkins and tie them to the branches.

Helping your senior loved one make centerpieces this Thanksgiving allows them to be creative and form lasting memories while bonding with you. Research shows that when a person is mentally active and exercise creativity, they do not experience as many health problems. Learn more about activities to do with your loved one this holiday season by calling Home Care Assistance at (847) 906-3991. We provide Alzheimer’s, dementia and Hinsdale, IL, post-stroke care seniors need to manage daily activities and enjoy a more comfortable quality of life. Call today to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.

By lemaster 05 Dec, 2016

Just two days after losing her husband, Miss Norma, a 90-year-old Michigan native, was told that she had a mass in her uterus that was likely cancer. After the doctor carefully explained her options, the 101-pound woman looked the young doctor in the eye and told him that she was hitting the road. Below is her story that has captivated and inspired both seniors and their at-home Hinsdale, IL, caregivers.

Accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law, the woman spent the last 14 months of her life traveling on an amazing cross-country road trip. In fact, she traveled more than 13,000 miles before she finally passed away in early October. The trio parked the RV in 75 different locations in 32 different states. Everywhere they went, Miss Norma’s faithful dog Ringo went too.

During that time, she got to do many things that she had only dreamed of before including riding in a hot air balloon and on a horse. The woman was a special guest on numerous television shows and watched her first NBA game in person as a special guest of the Atlanta Hawks. Along with the big things, she also experienced many little things like getting her first pedicure and eating her first slice of key lime pie. She even was made the honorary grand marshal in a parade when the town did not even know she was coming.

The end came peacefully in Harbor Freight, Washington, just two months after the trio arrived. Her memorial service was held there and a tree planted in the city park in her memory.

Over 482,000 people followed the journey on Facebook where her frequent updates often included an inspirational quote, such as this one from Jacob Nordly, “We wait, starving for moments of high magic to inspire us, but life is a bouquet of common enchantments waiting for our alchemist’s eyes to notice. “ It was her sincere hope that her journey would encourage seniors to openly discuss end-of-life plans with their families and live-in home caregivers in Hinsdale.

Talk to the professionals at Hinsdale, Illinois, Home Care Assistance when you call (847) 906-3991 today. We will customize a unique care plan for your loved one based on his or her individual needs to promote physical and emotional wellbeing in the comfort of home. Schedule a complimentary consultation with a trusted Care Manager today.

By lemaster 05 Dec, 2016

When migraines affect your senior loved one, you may be hesitant to reach for the ibuprofen or aspirin. In fact, many Chicago senior home care providers believe that tea is a helpful natural alternative to over-the-counter medications. Below is a list of teas that are most effective for soothing migraines.

1. Lime Tree Tea

Lime tree tea is a common natural remedy for headaches that has sedative properties. It is also credited for its ability to ease anxiety and tension throughout the body. Its anti-inflammatory properties alleviate pressure to reduce the pain of tension or sinus headaches.

2. Ginger Root

Make a cup of ginger root tea for your loved one when he or she is feeling the beginning stages of a migraine to relieve the pain naturally without resorting to medication. Studies show that ginger root tea can reduce swelling thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits and can also alleviate nausea and vomiting, which are common side effects of headaches.

3. Peppermint

Peppermint tea is a flavorful herbal tea that can reduce muscle spasms in the gastrointestinal tract that can also reduce the severity of headaches. Additionally, peppermint reduces the effects of nausea due to the methanol that it contains.

4. Sichuan Lovage

This tea is a well known pain reliever that works to expel wind pathogens in the body. It also promotes blood circulation and even reduces swelling, which can trigger migraines. It’s commonly been used in Chinese medicine and can be consumed two to three times each day for immediate relief.

5. Black or Green Tea

Black or green tea are ideal options for the treatment of migraines. They have even been used for many centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Seniors should drink a heaping cup of the beverage to increase the circulation in the body, reduce inflammation, and ease tension headaches.

6. Chamomile

Chamomile tea is one of the most effective herbal teas available to relax the body and induce sleep. The herb depresses the nervous system and is effective in calming the body while alleviating stress headaches that can develop. Those who suffer from anxiety can consume the beverage once or twice a day to prevent the migraines from returning.

Contact Home Care Assistance at (847) 906-3991 today to learn more about holistic alternatives to over-the-counter drugs. As the leading provider of Alzheimer’s, dementia and stroke care in Chicago, we are dedicated to changing the way seniors age at home. Our comprehensive services are designed to promote independence, confidence and overall wellbeing. Schedule a free consultation today to learn how your loved one will benefit from our assistance.

More Posts
Share by: