Self-Reported Increased Confusion or Memory Loss and Associated Functional Difficulties Among Adults Aged ≥60 Years — 21 States, 2011
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Declines in cognitive function vary among persons and can include changes in attention, memory, learning, executive function, and language capabilities that negatively affect quality of life, personal relationships, and the capacity for making informed decisions about health care and other matters (1). Memory problems typically are one of the first warning signs of cognitive decline, and mild cognitive impairment might be present when memory problems are greater than normal for a person’s age but not as severe as problems experienced with Alzheimer’s disease (2,3). Some, but not all, persons with mild cognitive impairment develop Alzheimer’s disease; others can recover from mild cognitive impairment if certain causes (e.g., medication side effects or depression) are detected and treated (3). In 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, calling for expanding data collection and surveillance efforts to track the prevalence and impact of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia (4). To estimate the prevalence of self-reported increased confusion or memory loss and associated functional difficulties among adults aged ≥60 years, CDC analyzed data from 21 states that administered an optional module in the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. The results indicated that 12.7% of respondents reported increased confusion or memory loss in the preceding 12 months. Among those reporting increased confusion or memory loss, 35.2% reported experiencing functional difficulties. These results provide baseline information about the number of noninstitutionalized older adults with increased confusion or memory loss that is causing functional difficulties and might require services and supports now or in the future.
Monetary Costs of Dementia in the United States
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
We used nationally representative data to document comprehensively the incremental increase in costs attributable to dementia that arise from market transactions for goods and services as well as the costs of unpaid caregiving. We found that dementia leads to total annual societal costs of $41,000 to $56,000 per case, with a total cost of $159 billion to $215 billion nationwide in 2010. Our calculations suggest that the aging of the U.S. population will result in an increase of nearly 80% in total societal costs per adult by 2040.
The main component of the costs attributable to dementia is the cost for institutional and home-based long-term care rather than the costs of medical services — the sum of the costs for nursing home care and formal and informal home care represent 75 to 84% of attributable costs. Our estimate places dementia among the diseases that are the most costly to society. The cost for dementia care purchased in the marketplace ($109 billion) was similar to estimates of the direct health care expenditures for heart disease ($96 billion in 2008, or $102 billion in 2010 dollars) and significantly higher than the direct health care expenditures for cancer ($72 billion in 2008, or $77 billion in 2010 dollars). These costs do not include the costs of informal care, which are likely to be larger for dementia than for heart disease or cancer.
Although the costs attributable to dementia reported here are large, they are considerably smaller than those reported by the Alzheimer’s Association, which has estimated that in 2010 the monetary costs alone were $172 billion (2010 dollars) as compared with our estimate of $109 billion. There are several reasons for this higher estimate. It is likely that the cost per case reported by the Alzheimer’s Association is higher because it was estimated on the basis of a sample from a more severely impaired population (persons identified in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey as having dementia). The higher cost is also based on a significantly larger estimate of the prevalence of dementia. The national prevalence of dementia used by the Alzheimer’s Association is derived from a study of three Chicago neighborhoods. The diagnostic criteria for dementia used in that study did not require the presence of a limitation in ADLs or IADLs (a criterion that was used in ADAMS), a factor that probably led to the substantially higher estimate of the prevalence of dementia in the Chicago study. Finally, the cost estimate from the Alzheimer’s Association was not adjusted for the costs of coexisting conditions.
Source: Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics
When an adult suffers from a disorder that impairs his or her capacity to consent, may another person enroll that individual in research? The answer, it appears, is not a simple "yes" or "no," but rather "it depends."
The conduct of important research on disorders that affect many individuals. A growing population in our country suffers from illnesses that may affect decision-making, such as dementia, mental retardation, or, in certain instances, severe neuropsychiatric disorders. To illustrate this point, consider Alzheimer’s disease ("AD"). As the most common cause of dementia, the current and projected impact of AD is immense. An estimated four to fifteen million people are expected to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2047. Beyond the quantitative impact of AD, the personal and relational costs of the disease are staggering. Patients in later stages may not recognize family members and often lose many of their core human traits and abilities. Many patients face institutionalization because of the common, yet extremely challenging, behavioral and psychiatric expressions of the disease. The financial costs are also significant. Current annual costs, both direct and indirect, approach $100 billion in the United States alone. It is urgent that research on this disease be strongly encouraged and facilitated.
Galactic Cosmic Radiation Leads to Cognitive Impairment and Increased Aβ Plaque Accumulation in a Mouse Model o f Alzheimer’s Disease
Source: PLoS ONE
Galactic Cosmic Radiation consisting of high-energy, high-charged (HZE) particles poses a significant threat to future astronauts in deep space. Aside from cancer, concerns have been raised about late degenerative risks, including effects on the brain. In this study we examined the effects of 56Fe particle irradiation in an APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We demonstrated 6 months after exposure to 10 and 100 cGy 56Fe radiation at 1 GeV/µ, that APP/PS1 mice show decreased cognitive abilities measured by contextual fear conditioning and novel object recognition tests. Furthermore, in male mice we saw acceleration of Aβ plaque pathology using Congo red and 6E10 staining, which was further confirmed by ELISA measures of Aβ isoforms. Increases were not due to higher levels of amyloid precursor protein (APP) or increased cleavage as measured by levels of the β C-terminal fragment of APP. Additionally, we saw no change in microglial activation levels judging by CD68 and Iba-1 immunoreactivities in and around Aβ plaques or insulin degrading enzyme, which has been shown to degrade Aβ. However, immunohistochemical analysis of ICAM-1 showed evidence of endothelial activation after 100 cGy irradiation in male mice, suggesting possible alterations in Aβ trafficking through the blood brain barrier as a possible cause of plaque increase. Overall, our results show for the first time that HZE particle radiation can increase Aβ plaque pathology in an APP/PS1 mouse model of AD.
BackgroundDifferentiating amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) from normal cognition is difficult in clinical settings. Self-reported and informant-reported memory complaints occur often in both clinical groups, which then necessitates the use of a comprehensive neuropsychological examination to make a differential diagnosis. However, the ability to identify cognitive symptoms that are predictive of aMCI through informant-based information may provide some clinical utility in accurately identifying individuals who are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD).MethodsThe current study utilized a case-control design using data from an ongoing validation study of the Alzheimer’s Questionnaire (AQ), an informant-based dementia assessment. Data from 51 cognitively normal (CN) individuals participating in a brain donation program and 47 aMCI individuals seen in a neurology practice at the same institute were analyzed to determine which AQ items differentiated aMCI from CN individuals.ResultsForward stepwise multiple logistic regression analysis which controlled for age and education showed that 4 AQ items were strong indicators of aMCI which included: repetition of statements and/or questions [OR 13.20 (3.02, 57.66)]; trouble knowing the day, date, month, year, and time [OR 17.97 (2.63, 122.77)]; difficulty managing finances [OR 11.60 (2.10, 63.99)]; and decreased sense of direction [OR 5.84 (1.09, 31.30)].ConclusionsOverall, these data indicate that certain informant-reported cognitive symptoms may help clinicians differentiate individuals with aMCI from those with normal cognition. Items pertaining to repetition of statements, orientation, ability to manage finances, and visuospatial disorientation had high discriminatory power.
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2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures (PDF)
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures provides a statistical resource for U.S. data related to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, as well as other dementias. Background and context for interpretation of the data are contained in the Overview. This information includes definitions of the types of dementia and a summary of current knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease. Additional sections address prevalence, mortality, caregiving and use and costs of care and services. The Special Report focuses on the benefits and challenges of early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive risk (PDF)
Source: Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
We reviewed 143 papers that described the relationship between moderate drinking of alcohol and some aspect of cognition. Two types of papers were found: (1) those that provided ratios of risk between drinkers and nondrinkers (74 papers in total) and (2) those that, although they did not provide such ratios, allowed cognition in drinkers to be rated as “better,” “no different,” or “worse” than cognition in nondrinkers (69 papers in total). The history of research on moderate drinking and cognition can be divided into two eras: 1977–1997 and 1998–present. Phase I (1977–1997) was the era of neuropsychological evaluation involving mostly young to middle-aged (18–50 years old) subjects. Although initial studies indicated moderate drinking impaired cognition, many later studies failed to confirm this, instead finding no difference in cognition between drinkers and nondrinkers. Phase II (1998–present) was and is the era of mental status exam evaluation involving mostly older (≥55 years old) subjects. These studies overwhelmingly found that moderate drinking either reduced or had no effect on the risk of dementia or cognitive impairment. When all the ratios of risk from all the studies in phase II providing such ratios are entered into a comprehensive meta-analysis, the average ratio of risk for cognitive risk (dementia or cognitive impairment/decline) associated with moderate “social” (not alcoholic) drinking of alcohol is 0.77, with nondrinkers as the reference group. The benefit of moderate drinking applied to all forms of dementia (dementia unspecified, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia) and to cognitive impairment (low test scores), but no significant benefit against cognitive decline (rate of decline in test scores) was found. Both light and moderate drinking provided a similar benefit, but heavy drinking was associated with nonsignificantly higher cognitive risk for dementia and cognitive impairment. Although the meta-analysis also indicated that wine was better than beer or spirits, this was based on a relatively small number of studies because most studies did not distinguish among these different types of alcohol. Furthermore, a number of the studies that did make the distinction reported no difference among the effects of these different types of alcohol. Therefore, at present this question remains unanswered. Analysis also showed that the presence of the apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 allele eliminated the benefit of moderate drinking. However, this was based on a relatively small number of studies and several other studies have found a beneficial effect of the epsilon e4 allele. Further studies are necessary to settle this question. The benefit of moderate alcohol for cognition was seen in both men and women, although the amount and pattern of drinking is very different between the two sexes. Lastly, the finding of unaffected or significantly reduced cognitive risk in light to moderate drinkers was seen in 14/19 countries for which country-specific ratio data were available, with three of the five remaining countries showing nonsignificant reductions as well. Overall, light to moderate drinking does not appear to impair cognition in younger subjects and actually seems to reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline in older subjects.
People with Dementia as Witnesses to Emotional Events (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice
Demented elders are often the only witnesses to crimes against them, such as physical or financial elder abuse, yet they are disparaged and discounted as unreliable. Clinical experience with this population indicates that significant emotional experiences may be salient to people with dementia, and that certain behaviors and characteristics enhance their credibility as historians. For example, someone in an early stage of the disease may be able to reliably report on an event with strong emotional content. This is the first systematic research to identify people with dementia with reliable emotional memory and their characteristics.
A significant subset of older adults with dementing illnesses can reliably report emotional events in their lives. Compared to people with dementia with less reliable emotional memory, these individuals are able to report details of the event accurately and to recall the same event again after a short time delay. They are also likely to be an earlier stage of the disease, more aware of their own cognitive impairment, more likely to report negative events in their lives and to be able to recall an event without cues.
Older adults with dementia who are victims of crime should be evaluated for their ability to remember emotional events in their lives, and based on the results, allowed to provide testimony about the criminal events.
UK — Optimising treatment and care for people for people with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia
Optimising treatment and care for people for people with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (PDF)
Source: Department of Health
This best practice guide has been designed to support health and social care professionals to determine the best treatment and care for people experiencing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).
Medicare Atypical Antipsychotic Drug Claims for Elderly Nursing Home Residents
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General
For the period January 1 through June 30, 2007, we determined using medical record review that 51 percent of Medicare claims for atypical antipsychotic drugs were erroneous, amounting to $116 million.
A member of Congress requested that OIG evaluate the extent to which elderly nursing home residents receive atypical antipsychotic drugs and the associated cost to Medicare. Specifically, this member expressed concern with atypical antipsychotic drugs prescribed to elderly nursing home residents for off-label conditions (i.e., conditions other than schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder) and/or in the presence of the condition specified in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) boxed warning (i.e., dementia). Medicare requires that drugs be prescribed for “medically accepted indications” for reimbursement. Further, CMS sets standards to ensure that nursing home residents’ drug therapy regimens are free from unnecessary drugs.
We also found that 14 percent of the 2.1 million elderly (i.e., age 65 and older) nursing home residents had at least 1 claim for these drugs. We determined using medical record review that 83 percent of Medicare claims for atypical antipsychotic drugs for elderly nursing home residents were associated with off-label conditions and that 88 percent were associated with the condition specified in the FDA boxed warning. We further determined through medical record review that 22 percent of the atypical antipsychotic drugs associated with the claims were not administered in compliance with CMS standards regarding unnecessary drugs in nursing homes, amounting to $63 million. Nursing homes’ failure to comply with these standards may affect their participation in Medicare. However, nursing homes’ noncompliance with these standards does not cause Medicare payments for these drugs to be erroneous.
To ensure that Medicare correctly pays for atypical antipsychotic drugs and that elderly nursing home residents are free from unnecessary drugs, we recommend that CMS (1) facilitate access to information necessary to ensure accurate coverage and reimbursement determinations, (2) assess whether survey and certification processes offer adequate safeguards against unnecessary antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes, (3) explore alternative methods beyond survey and certification processes to promote compliance with Federal standards regarding unnecessary drug use in nursing homes, and (4) take appropriate action regarding the claims associated with erroneous payments identified in our sample.
In its written comments on the report, CMS shared our concern and that of Congress over whether atypical antipsychotics and other drugs are being appropriately prescribed for elderly nursing home residents. CMS concurred with the second, third, and fourth recommendations; however, CMS did not concur with the first recommendation and expressed several general concerns with the report.
CMS did not concur with the first recommendation, stating that diagnosis information is not a required data element of pharmacy billing transactions nor is it generally included on prescriptions. OIG recognizes that the industry has not developed a standardized way of collecting diagnosis information for prescription drugs. However, without access to diagnosis information, CMS cannot determine the indications for which drugs were used. For this reason, CMS is unable, absent a medical review, to determine whether claims meet payment requirements.
Although CMS concurred with the second recommendation, we further recommend that CMS use its authority through the survey and certification processes to hold nursing homes accountable when unnecessary drug use is detected.
Although CMS concurred with the third recommendation, it did not believe some of the examples of alternative methods to promote compliance provided in the report to be practicable. We suggest that CMS either use its existing authority or seek new statutory authority to prevent payment and hold nursing homes responsible for submitting claims for drugs that are not administered according to CMS’s standards regarding unnecessary drug use in nursing homes.
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Prediction of Dementia in Primary Care Patients
Source: PLoS ONE
Current approaches for AD prediction are based on biomarkers, which are however of restricted availability in primary care. AD prediction tools for primary care are therefore needed. We present a prediction score based on information that can be obtained in the primary care setting.
We performed a longitudinal cohort study in 3.055 non-demented individuals above 75 years recruited via primary care chart registries (Study on Aging, Cognition and Dementia, AgeCoDe). After the baseline investigation we performed three follow-up investigations at 18 months intervals with incident dementia as the primary outcome.
The best set of predictors was extracted from the baseline variables in one randomly selected half of the sample. This set included age, subjective memory impairment, performance on delayed verbal recall and verbal fluency, on the Mini-Mental-State-Examination, and on an instrumental activities of daily living scale. These variables were aggregated to a prediction score, which achieved a prediction accuracy of 0.84 for AD. The score was applied to the second half of the sample (test cohort). Here, the prediction accuracy was 0.79. With a cut-off of at least 80% sensitivity in the first cohort, 79.6% sensitivity, 66.4% specificity, 14.7% positive predictive value (PPV) and 97.8% negative predictive value of (NPV) for AD were achieved in the test cohort. At a cut-off for a high risk population (5% of individuals with the highest risk score in the first cohort) the PPV for AD was 39.1% (52% for any dementia) in the test cohort.
The prediction score has useful prediction accuracy. It can define individuals (1) sensitively for low cost-low risk interventions, or (2) more specific and with increased PPV for measures of prevention with greater costs or risks. As it is independent of technical aids, it may be used within large scale prevention programs.