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Key Advance in Alzheimer’s Research

MedPage Today published an exciting story this week that shares information about new research. The study offers hope to many families with loved one’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Each Illinois nursing home attorney appreciates the wide-ranging significance of these issues. A large percentage of nursing home residents suffer from some form of cognitive condition, like Alzheimer’s. In fact, residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia are far more likely to fall victim to Illinois nursing home abuse or mistreatment. That is because they have substantial vulnerabilities and are often significantly reliant on caregivers.

The Alzheimer’s Association release information this year showing that a staggering one in eight older Americans have Alzheimer’s. This is not an isolated problem that involves only a few. On the contrary, according to the Association it is “the only cause of death in the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.”

Hopefully, however, that will soon change.

The Research
The new findings have yet to be published, but an abstract of the results were presented at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

The study included only a small group of participants–21 total, including five members of the placebo group. The participants were given treatments with intravenous immunoglobulim (IVIG). Participants were given bi-monthly doses of IVIG over an extended period of time, some as long as three years.

The results were quite encouraging. Those who were on IVIG amazingly had the mental deterioration effects of Alzheimer’s halted. The effects were measured as the trial was underway using different standardized measurements–including the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog) and the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC). The results were the same for each. The IVIG apparently slowed or altogether eliminated the deterioration. The patients were not cured, but they did not decline mentally when compared to the placebo group. Importantly, some in the placebo group were switched over to active treatments and saw a change as well. The researchers called it a noticeable “bend in the curve” of their mental deterioration.

Great Hope
Our Chicago nursing home attorneys appreciate the significance of these findings. Of course, it is far too early to make broad pronouncements about the way the results may eventually help society at large. That is particularly true considering the small scale of the sample.

Yet, all new efforts which even hint at relief from the devastating consequences of Alzheimer’s are useful. That is because, as the Alzheimer’s Association quote notes, there is currently precious little that can be done to help these individuals other than ensure they do not fall victim to overt elder abuse.

If the IVIG treatments prove helpful to others, then that may change.

It is hard to overestimate the possibilities. Beyond saving literally millions of lives, this sort of work may come with significant cost savings. The Association notes that right now over $200 billion is spent on medical care for these individuals annually. That does not even count the $210 billion in unpaid care provided by friends and family members of these individuals.

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