NEWS: Driving With Early Alzheimer’s May Be Ill-Advised

By Ellin Holohan, US News and World Report
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Elderly people with failing memories often keep driving, but a study of Alzheimer’s patients suggests the risk of getting lost — even on familiar streets — may be greater than once thought.

Even with early dementia, there may be no safe period behind the wheel because the disease is unpredictable, said Linda Hunt, an associate professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University, Oregon, and author of a new study.

“Alzheimer’s disease affects memory and navigational skills. These impairments may lead to getting lost, which is a life-threatening problem,” Hunt said. “Family members and friends of individuals with dementia need to recognize these impairments as serious threats to safety for anyone who has dementia.”

It is estimated that 30 to 45 percent of Alzheimer’s patients continue to drive after diagnosis.

About 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, a progressive brain disease causing a variety of mental impairments that include memory loss, inability to recognize objects, problems with reasoning and judgment, and getting lost. As the population ages, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple to 16 million by 2050.

The study, published in the March-April issue of American Journal of Occupational Health, looked at media stories published between 1998 and 2008 that involved Alzheimer’s patients reported missing.

Of 207 drivers with Alzheimer’s who went missing while driving, 32 died and 35 were found injured, the research showed. Another 70 were not found at the time the data was analyzed. Some had driven for almost two days and covered more than 1,700 miles while lost. Most had set off on routine trips to the post office, store or a relative’s house.

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Decrease in Postoperative Delirium in Elderly Patients

Released: 1/18/2010 10:30 AM EST
Source: Mayo Clinic

Newswise — A recent study, published in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, demonstrates that in elderly patients undergoing hip fracture repair under spinal anesthesia with propofol sedation, the prevalence of delirium can be decreased by 50 percent with light sedation, compared to deep sedation.

“These data show that, for every 3.5 to 4.7 patients treated in this manner, one incident of delirium will be prevented,” says Frederick Sieber, M.D., primary investigator of the study from the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “Therefore, interventions capable of reducing the occurrence of postoperative delirium would be important from a public health perspective.”

Read more at Newswise.com

Number of Patients with Dementia on the Rise

From Right at Home.com

Studies are underway to help understand Alzheimer's disease and offer more effective treatment
At 81, Alberta Sabin’s mind is not as sharp as it used to be, and she knows it. She frequently misplaces common items, forgets names and appointments, some of the most frustrating aspects of memory loss, she says. “I had been looking for my cell phone for three days and would you believe I found it laying on the counter in plain sight?” Sabin says. “There it was and I thought, why didn’t I see it before?”

It is that frustration that motivated Sabin to participate in University of Michigan-sponsored research designed to better diagnose and treat dementia before it escalates.

Sabin is one of millions of Americans who experience memory loss and may eventually be diagnosed with dementia. “This is an explosive disease,” says Sid Gilman, M.D., director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at University of Michigan Health System, who conducts research with Sabin and others in her community. “It’s a disease that robs people of their humanity. They forget their families and friends.”


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