How Our Home State Is Changing the Game in Alzheimer’s Research

As a assisted living & memory care provider that was founded in Louisiana specifically to fill the need for exceptional, high-quality senior care options in the area, we here at Schonberg Care are proud to share our home state with the Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. The Institute was founded in 2008 as a means of bolstering research efforts in the Gulf South & serving patients as far away as east Texas & west Florida. Today, the Institute is considered a world class program & center of excellence at the forefront of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia research field, receiving 20.1 million dollars in federal, state, corporate & philanthropic funds to continue the promising partnerships with major drug companies & active studies they have underway with research participants across a four-state area.

As Jeff Keller, the director of the Institute, points out in a recent interview with The Advocate, this research is more important & vital than ever. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in America, with more than 5 million Americans currently living with the disease now. That number is projected to increase to a staggering 16 million by 2050, and the resulting cost to the nation could exceed $1.1 trillion dollars. “Unless we find a way to prevent this disease from happening, we are going to be stretched to our limits financially, socially, & emotionally as a country,” says Keller.

There is currently no cure for this disease, but researchers at the Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention are on a race against the clock to change that, working vigorously on both treatment methods & on discovering the various causes of the disease in efforts of stopping the damage before it starts. Their preventative studies cover a wide range of causal associations, including the effects of risk reduction in patients older than 60 years of age with no current signs of dementia, the impact of high blood pressure on cognitive function, & methods of decreasing beta amyloid, a protein known for its harmful effects on the brain when it clumps together to form plaques. The Institute’s focus on screening both seniors with healthy brains & those with dementia & comparing their cognitive changes is helping researchers make important connections regarding those key differences that is bringing us closer to understanding how to prevent the disease from occurring. "As the only community in the Greater New Orleans area devoted exclusively to serving residents with Alzheimer's and Dementia, we are very aware of the unique challenges that this disease causes for not only the person living with it, but also their loved ones," says Shelly Jarrell, Executive Director at Beau Provence Memory Care Assisted Living. "We as a community are thrilled with the amazing strides our home state is making in the fight against Alzheimer's through these groundbreaking research studies, and we are committed to supporting the Institute's efforts in every way that we can."

Alzheimer’s disease is affecting more and more of our senior population every day, & Keller emphasizes that getting a handle on this crisis is a “top priority” to the Institute, as it should be for the entire world. Are you interested in being part of this vital movement & contributing to the Institute’s valuable research? Below are some of the studies you can get involved in:

-Louisiana Aging Brain Study: Screens individuals over the age of 60 who have not been diagnosed with dementia, in order to track the relationship between mobility & cognitive change over time.

-Joe Lamar Dementia Study: For those with dementia, this study measures the patient’s cognitive function/risk for falls, with the potential to be asked to participate in a drug trial.

-Risk Reduction for Alzheimer’s Disease: Recruits those with high blood pressure over the age of 60 who do not show signs of dementia but have experienced some memory loss or have a family member that has been diagnosed.

-Early: A study focused on individuals between the ages of 55-85 who have not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but are at an increased risk for developing it. Some participants will receive medication designed to reduce levels of beta amyloid.

-A4: Studies the immune system of individuals 60 years of age or older who do not show signs of Alzheimer’s disease, to track whether or not the immune system can remove beta amyloids in the brain.

If you are interested in learning any more about these studies, visit http://idrp.pbrc.edu or call 225.763.2973.

Sources: The Advocate, The Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention