Break-through medical research looks promising in the fight against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. New treatments, including that known as C31, is “exciting stuff” said Dr. Elliott Kroger, the medical director at Sedgebrook.
During Dr. Kroger’s May 25th presentation to more than 100 residents and guests, he explained that it’s a new type of mechanism developed to prevent degeneration and even stimulate regeneration of nerve fibers, necessary for cognitive functioning. The potential is exciting, but not imminent. C31 is in Phase II trials, meaning that the therapy has moved from animal studies to human studies, looking at proper dosing, long-term effects, tolerance, side effects and effectiveness. “Because we’re dealing with disease with long term time lines, trials are anticipated to go on for as many as seven or eight years. There’s no cure around the corner. It could take a long time before anything comes to market. It’s exciting, but not immediate,” Dr. Kroger cautioned.
So Immediately What Can We Do?
Losing one’s independence is, across the board, among the greatest fears of older adults. “In many cases, people fear dependency more than they fear dying,” said Dr. Kroger. Declining and eventual loss of independence is a very real outcome of dementia. To prolong independence and health, Dr. Kroger suggests the following. A healthy lifestyle, Dr. Kroger said, is vitally important to helping maintain independence. “Good diet, exercise, purpose, using your mind…we tell people, ‘keep yourself engaged mentally and physically’. All of these things are found to be useful in either slowing the progress of dementia down, or even helping to prevent it.”
Socialization, Dr. Kroger added is crucial, as isolation has a very negative impact on cognition.
Early detection of dementia might increase the effectiveness of current medications.
Select university medical centers have collaborative, multi-disciplinary programs for people at increased risk for dementia. On staff at North Shore Medical Center, Dr. Kroger is well positioned to refer residents to these programs.
Dr Kroger is the medical director, and he and Dr. Kim Jenson are the on-site physicians at Sedgebrook, a model which is unique in retirement communities. Dr. Kroger and Dr. Jenson are the primary care physicians for many of the residents, and part of a team that includes social workers, nurses, diet and fitness specialists, physical, occupational and speech therapists and more.