According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently more than 5.4 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the United States. When looking just at the senior population, that means that about one in eight older Americans have the disease. Our New York elder law attorneys appreciate that many local residents are surprised by these stats, as there is a misperception that Alzheimer’s is rare and only strikes a select few.
In other words, virtually all families are well advised to plan for these potential issues.
Each New York elder law estate planning attorney at our firm work directly with families wanting to account for the possible costs associated with Alzheimer’s. They are not insignificant. The latest 2012 figures from the Alzheimer’s Association notes that caring for these individuals costs Americans $200 billion each and every year when Medicare and Medicaid spending is taken into account. It goes without saying that it is essential for planning to be conducted so that resources are available for possible Alzheimer’s care.
The cost and lethality of the disease (it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country) has spurred many research efforts to minimize the harm of Alzheimer’s. While treatment options are still quite limited, a new study highlighted this week in MedPage offers some hope.
New Alzheimer’s Developments
The study, presented in abstract form at this year’s “Alzheimer’s Association International Conference,” involved treating patients with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). Though the study was small, researchers explained that those who received three year treatments saw further cognitive decline from the disease prevented. If applicable to the population at large, this may lead to revolutionary treatments to limit the harm suffered by Alzheimer’s sufferers.
It is important to admit that the study involved only a small group, with 16 original participants,not counting the five in the placebo group. Each received a 36 month treatment, once every two weeks. Along the way each patient was measured by multiple standardized instruments to identify cognitive functioning. Under every test the patient’s cognitive problems did not deteriorate further as would be expected over a three year period with Alzheimer’s.
Interestingly, some in the placebo group were eventually switched to IVIG treatment. At that time, there was a clear “bend in the curve” in their cognitive decline. In other words, the mental deterioration leveled out when switched over.
The main caveat is that a few toleration problems with the IVIG. Most notably, one patient suffered a stroke which may have been connected to the IVIG. IVIG is known to increase risk of “ischemic events.”
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