Category Archives: baby boomers

Worried about Alzheimer’s? Rule # 1 Exercise

It is getting more and more difficult for me to get my mother to exercise. Recently one of her best friends, now 79, received a scare when her good friend told her she was starting to get forgetful. She asked me what I thought she should be doing to help protect herself against dementia and Alzheimer’s. My answer to this is question is always the same–Rule #1 Exercise.

Our friend decided on the spot to take my advice and join Gold’s gym. She did so immediately. We decided to attend the Silver Sneakers exercise class the next morning. I had trouble getting my mother to go to the gym class so I asked our friend to come over and help me convince her. It worked, thank goodness.

On the way to the gym the best way I can describe my mother is zombie like. She could barely walk, kept telling me she was going to faint, and said she was sick. I could barely get her out of the car. When we walked out of the gym my mother was standing straight, had a smile on her face, and was communicating. It is rather hard for me to describe this unless you see it for yourself. This happens every time. Exercise works for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s and the benefits are obvious. Our friend upon seeing this in person for the first time decided she will attend the class at least three times per week.

The experience reminded me of an article I read a while back that discussed the positive effect that exercise had on nursing home residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

“Nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease who participate in a moderate exercise program have a significantly slower deterioration than those who receive routine medical care, researchers have shown.”

Reuters Health: Exercise slows decline in Alzheimer’s patients

Nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease who participate in a moderate exercise program have a significantly slower deterioration than those who receive routine medical care, researchers have shown.

Dr. Yves Rolland, of Hospital La Grave-Casselardit in Toulouse, France, and colleagues examined the effects of a program of exercise for one hour twice weekly on activities of daily living, physical performance, nutritional status, behavioral disturbance and depression among 134 Alzheimer’s disease patients in nursing homes.

The patients were 83 years old on average. They were assigned to the exercise program, which focused on walking, strength, balance and flexibility training, or to routine medical care for 12 months.

As reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 110 participants completed the study. Among the 56 subjects in the exercise group who completed the study, the rate of adherence to the program was about 33 percent on average.

At the end of the 12 months, the average activities-of-daily-living score was significantly more improved in the exercise group than in the routine medical care group, Rolland’s team reports.

In addition, average walking speed improved significantly more in the exercise group than in the routine medical care group at 6 months and 12 months.

However, the exercise program had no apparent effect on behavioral disturbance, depression or nutritional assessment scores.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, February 2007.

Read more about Alzheimer’s at the Alzheimer’s Reading Room Widgets


Congressional Task Force Leaders call for Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness

Last week I wrote about baby boomers and Alzheimer’s. The article, Ten Million Baby Boomers likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s during their lifetime, pointed out the potential devastating effects Alzheimer’s disease could have on baby boomers unless a cure or remedy is found. Today, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), House co-chairs for the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, called for earlier diagnosis, better care coordination, more support for geriatric training and affordable long-term care options. They called on the presidential candidates to address this issue which is likely to become a great debate as baby boomers grow older.

“According to current estimates, millions of baby boomers and their families will be struck by Alzheimer’s disease during the next decade,” said Markey. “It is crucial that Congress and the next administration take an active role in securing funding to diagnose and ultimately defeat this dreadful disease.”

Co-chairs of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease Call on Presidential Candidates for Increased Attention to Diagnosis, Treatment of Dementia
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Survey Shows Lack of Dialogue with Clinicians about Memory Concerns

House co-chairs for the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), called on the presidential candidates to consider the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias on those diagnosed, their loved ones, and federal and local healthcare systems at a Capitol Hill briefing today.

The representatives called for earlier diagnosis, better care coordination, more support for geriatric training and affordable long-term care options.

“According to current estimates, millions of baby boomers and their families will be struck by Alzheimer’s disease during the next decade,” said Markey. “It is crucial that Congress and the next administration take an active role in securing funding to diagnose and ultimately defeat this dreadful disease.”

Added Smith: “To avoid being overwhelmed by the pending tidal wave of Alzheimer’s patients, we need a full court press on research into effective treatments today, not next year or the year after. But, equally important, we also need to ratchet up education to replace the fear of seniors and their families with useful information on prevention and available treatments.”

Also at the briefing, Richard E, Powers, M.D., chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), highlighted recent survey results that indicate serious deficiencies in the health care system’s ability to recognize and subsequently treat dementia. The AFA survey found that an overwhelming number of Americans with memory concerns fail to report them to their doctors despite visits within the past six months.

In addition, Gary Andres, Ph.D, vice chairman of policy and research, Dutko Worldwide, today released results of a new national poll on public perceptions about Alzheimer’s disease, including support for screening tests and the need for political candidates and legislators to address this health-related issue.

In light of these findings, Powers urged Americans to take advantage of free memory screenings during AFA’s upcoming National Memory Screening Day on November 18, an annual initiative aimed at promoting proper detection and education about memory issues and successful aging.

“We need to make conversations about memory concerns more the norm rather than the exception—to bring the issue into the open in doctor’s offices and on public policy agendas,” said Powers. “Not all memory problems are related to Alzheimer’s disease, but when they are, it is important to obtain an early diagnosis, proper treatment and support services in order to improve quality of life.”

AFA’s survey involved 2,178 participants in National Memory Screening Day last November. Key findings include:

* More than two-thirds (68 percent) self-reported memory complaints, but only one in five (21 percent) had discussed them with their healthcare providers;
* Failure to communicate occurred despite recent visits to their primary care physicians; of those with memory concerns, 40 percent had seen their primary care physician within the last month and 44 percent had an appointment within the last six months;
* Nearly one-quarter of respondents (21 percent) said they kept their memory concerns to themselves;
* Those who came in for screenings had other healthcare concerns that are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease: 18 percent said they are depressed, 16 percent have diabetes, and 14 percent said they are obese.

Currently, AFA is gearing up for its 6 th annual National Memory Screening Day, which will be held on November 18 during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Free confidential screenings will be available nationwide at community sites, including the entire chain of 1,100 Kmart pharmacies, local Alzheimer’s agencies, senior centers, assisted living facilities, adult day centers and doctor’s offices. For more information, visit or call 866-AFA-8484.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of 950 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by dementia. AFA services include a toll-free hot line, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484 or visit Widgets


The New Old Age Blog

I recently ran across this New York Times blog–The New Old Age.

The blog is dedicated to Baby Boomers and issues they will be facing. You should consider adding this blog to your reader.

I will also be adding it to my Blog Roll (Weblogs) for your convenience. I included the link and the description in the clip below.

About The New Old Age

Thanks to the marvels of medical science, our parents are living longer than ever before. Adults over age 80 are the fastest growing segment of the population, and most will spend years dependent on others for the most basic needs. That burden falls to their baby boomer children, 77 million strong, who are flummoxed by the technicalities of eldercare, turned upside down by the changed architecture of their families, struggling to balance work and caregiving, and depleting their own retirement savings in the process.

Jane Gross on eldercare

In The New Old Age, Jane Gross explores this unprecedented intergenerational challenge and shares the stories of readers, the advice of professionals, and the wisdom gleaned from her own experience caring for her mother in her waning years. You can reach Ms. Gross at

blog it

First-Ever Alzheimer’s Rally Set for Sacramento – Over 1,400 Californians Headed for Capitol Steps

10 Million Baby Boomers will get Alzheimer’s – 1 Million in California

Journalists are invited to cover this largest such Alzheimer’s event, both locally – at points around California for scheduled departure points, and at the State Capitol. Rally Participants (currently 1,415 registered) will include: People with Alzheimer’s, family members, friends and neighbors, caregivers, health care professionals and science researchers. Alzheimer’s Rally on the Capitol Steps (North Side, L Street), Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 12:30pm to 2:00pm (11:30am attendees check-in).

Around California – Wednesday morning, April 16, Californians will be gathering, to fly and to take buses.

To cover the story from these perspectives, including interviews with participants, please see the list of Media Contacts for the Alzheimer’s Association throughout California.

Rally Program – Includes:

* The Face of Alzheimer’s by two Persons with Alzheimer’s;
* Alzheimer’s philanthropist Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns;
* Family Caregivers (including a 14-year-old helping care for her father with Alzheimer’s); legislators on Alzheimer’s;
* Actress/singer/director and long-time Alzheimer’s Champion Lea Thompson;
* Advocates – from throughout the Alzheimer’s journey, coming from throughout California.

12:15 Group Photo of California Legislators on the Capitol Steps, surrounding by Alzheimer’s Advocates (all California Assemblypersons and Senators invited). Group Photo to be made available immediately following the Rally.

12:30 – 2:00 pm Rally Program

Media Bull Pen – Available to assist all attending journalists. This area will be clearly marked as “News Media” near the stage/Capitol Steps.

Miss California 2007, Melissa Chaty, will be among those available for interviews. Appearing on the Rally Program, she is a long-time Alzheimer’s volunteer and has made “Alzheimer’s Advocacy and Awareness” her platform, in honor of her grandfather. Photo available: Media Contact Brad Makaiau.

Available materials will include the new two-page “Preliminary Findings: 2008 California Data Report on Alzheimer’s Disease” which includes these highlights:

* Alzheimer’s in California will double within the next generation.
* Every year over 11,000 Californians will develop the disease.
* One in eight California Baby Boomers will have Alzheimer disease.
* Chart: Summary of Alzheimer’s by Race/Ethnicity Percentage Increase from 2008-2030. Alzheimer’s does not discriminate. Every ethnic group will have a significant increase.
* Chart of Every California County: Number and Percentage Increase in People 55+ with Alzheimer’s, for 2008 and 2030, noting the % increase by county. Most counties will see at least a doubling in Alzheimer’s disease.
* Chart: Estimated Per Person Medi-Cal Costs in California (2007)
* The complete County-by-County 2008 California Data Report on Alzheimer’s Disease – publishing in June 2008 – is being prepared by the Institute for Health & Aging, University of California, San Francisco. The Report is being made possible by a grant from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.

To receive a fax or e-mail copy of the Preliminary Report, see the Media Contacts list provided below.

Media Contacts – Alzheimer’s Association, California:

Jill Center, Northern California, 650-962-8111; Cell: 415-730-5958,

California Southland (Los Angeles, Riverside & San Bernardino Counties):

Barbara Goen, 323-930-6265; Cell: 213-910-1949,,

or Akila Gibbs, 323-930-6255; cell: 323-646-6834,

Jim McAleer, Orange County, 949-955-9000,

Brad Makaiau, San Diego/Imperial Co, 858-492-4400; Cell: 619-865-7556,

Catherine Remak, Santa Barbara/Central Coast, 805-892-4259,

From March 13, 2008 Announcement of Rally by the Alzheimer’s Association:

As the Alzheimer’s epidemic continues upward, wreaking havoc for increasing numbers of California families, the Alzheimer’s Association projects that the state’s already overwhelmed care and research infrastructure will shrink – and in some cases disappear – if Sacramento lawmakers complete proposed mid-year budget cuts. To shine a spotlight on what has been described as “the public health crisis of the 21st Century,” the five California chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association, and its Sacramento-based California Council, today announced that volunteers and staff are organizing over 1,000 individuals from throughout California to turn up in Sacramento for a first-ever Alzheimer’s Rally on the Capitol Steps (North Side, L Street), Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 12:30pm to 2:00pm (11:30am attendees check-in).

Alarmed that California is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to one of the top fears among Baby Boomers and the aging American population, Alzheimer’s Association Advocates from every part of the state will stand on the steps of the state capitol and tell their elected representatives – some of whom are expected to attend – that when it comes to Alzheimer’s: “The present is catastrophic and California’s totally unprepared for what’s coming.” Coming to Sacramento, by plane, train, bus and automobile, in a pure exercise of representative democracy, they’ll ask their public servants, when it comes to Alzheimer’s and related dementias: “What’s your plan?”

Among those also expected to participate are representatives from the California Alzheimer’s infrastructure that is now at risk, including: Alzheimer’s Day Care Resource Centers, Adult Day Health Care, Caregiver Resource Centers, In-Home Supportive Services, physicians and other Home Health Community Providers, and those representing Medi-Cal Optional Benefits.

California’s Alzheimer’s Research Centers (ARCCs) are now also facing cuts that would: slow current research, delay better diagnosis, treatment and management strategies for Alzheimer’s, and impact dementia care in other health settings. The ten California ARCCs are at: UCSF, UCSF at Fresno, UC Davis, UC Davis at Martinez, Stanford, UCLA, USC, USC Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center, UC Irvine and UC San Diego.

William Fisher, Alzheimer’s Association CEO for Northern California, said there currently are over 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder – 500,000 here in California. If no cure is found, those numbers could triple by mid-century, to 16 million Americans. Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s can be expected to bankrupt the health care system. Already, annual National costs of care (direct and indirect) for individuals with Alzheimer’s are at least $100 billion; current costs to American businesses are $61 billion. One out of every eight people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s and nearly one out of every two over age 85 has it. Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

According to Peter Braun, President and CEO of the California Southland Chapter, seven out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s live at home, where family and friends provide almost 75% of their care. However, crucial at-home care will decline as an option if the State continues to pull back on what little infrastructure there currently is to support families, by: under-funding community providers, forcing the closure of adult day health care programs, and reducing access to physicians. Fisher said that in addition to the immediate pull-backs in the State’s community support apparatus – limited though it already is for the exploding Alzheimer’s population – one of the most significant demands of Alzheimer’s caregivers and others throughout the state is the failure to plan ahead. “California must create a strategic planning process in order to be ready for the Alzheimer’s epidemic.” He said, “To not be ready for a public health crisis that we already know is forming would be unconscionable.”

Braun succinctly summarized the situation this way: “Alzheimer’s is surging forward, and, at this moment, California is falling backward.”

Loretta Redd, Alzheimer’s Association Executive Director for Santa Barbara and the Central Coast, said, “These cuts are a blow to a fragile network of services families use to help them keep their Alzheimer’s patient at home, for perhaps years, rather than placed in far more costly institutions.”

Jim McAleer, Alzheimer’s Association Executive Director for Orange County, said that if California were to travel down this path, “The message from the California State Legislature, to all Californians – because every Californian is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s – would be: ‘If you’re struck by Alzheimer’s, you and your family are on your own.’” In fact, McAleer said, “These proposed cuts from the developing state budget situation sabotage smart, cost-saving mechanisms, such as aging-in-place and community-based care.” Ultimately, he said they do not help save California’s budget situation, and, “as an assault on family caregivers, they are unacceptable.”

Lisa Bruner, Interim CEO for the Alzheimer’s Association in San Diego County, said the message Alzheimer’s families and other Advocates will carry to legislators is personal as well as public: “If you do not think you know a person with Alzheimer’s, you certainly will.” She said, “Now is the time to address this escalating epidemic.”

NOTE to Journalists: The Alzheimer’s Association can assist you in developing local-to-capital “Ms .and Mr. Smith Go to Sacramento” stories. Photography from the Alzheimer’s Association will be available from the April 16 Rally.

Alzheimer’s Association, California:
Jill Center, Northern California, 650-962-8111
Cell: 415-730-5958
California Southland (Los Angeles, Riverside &
San Bernardino Counties):
Barbara Goen, 323-930-6265
Cell: 213-910-1949
Akila Gibbs, 323-930-6255
cell: 323-646-6834
Jim McAleer, Orange County, 949-955-9000
Brad Makaiau, San Diego/Imperial Co, 858-492-4400
Cell: 619-865-7556
Catherine Remak, Santa Barbara/Central Coast,

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