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Scientific Discovery: A New Way to Distinguish Alzheimers from Dementia

On November 30, 2011, the American Academy of Neurology reported in its online journal Neurology an advancement in scientific knowledge that will help elderly adults universally. Prior to this study, doctors used an FDG marker to detect any changes in the brain’s metabolism that could signify either Alzheimer’s or a type of dementia called frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Although both are types of dementia with very similar symptoms, the treatments for each vary vastly and it is therefore important to distinguish the two in order to determine the best and most effective treatment.

Instead of using an FDG marker, this new method employs a PIB marker that detects a type of brain plaque called amyloid that is associated with Alzheimer’s, but not frontotemporal lobar degeneration. The study found that PIB markers had higher sensitivity rates, and better accuracy and precision in measuring qualitative factors that differentiate Alzheimer’s from frontotemporal lobar degeneration. For purposes of comparison, the PIB marker had a sensitivity rate of 89.5 percent, while the FDG marker had a sensitivity rate of only 77.5 percent.

This scientific advancement has many implications. Beyond the most apparent fact that it will improve the quality of life for many elderly adults worldwide, it also proposes the question of whether or not your loved one is receiving the most advanced and effective treatments, especially if he or she resides in a nursing home. Often, since nursing homes are underfunded and understaffed, they do not have the financial backing to provide your loved one with the best treatments. Nursing homes that are privately owned are often more concerned with personal profit than the well-being of your loved one. This is a direct violation of your loved one’s rights, as nursing home residents are entitled to receive the best possible care in response to any and all of their circumstances.

The quality of care provided by a nursing home is directly linked to its staff. Not only must there be an adequate staff, but this staff must also be well-trained and knowledgeable. Furthermore, caregivers must be continually educated and trained and re-trained as science advances and new discoveries are made. It is crucial that caregivers are kept updated with new treatments because nursing home residents may be suffering from preventable conditions that may even lead to death.

There are so many other unfortunate conditions that are prevalent in nursing homes, such as dehydration and malnutrition, pressure sores, incontinence, infections, and more.

Because scientists are constantly making advancements in these areas, it is important to ensure that your loved one’s nursing home is providing your loved one with the latest, most effective treatments for all of the aforementioned conditions. If your loved one resides in a nursing home in Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara, or Ventura, and you feel that he or she is not receiving the care to which he or she is entitled, contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help.