A new report by the Alzheimer’s Association asserts that fewer than half of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers ever learn of their diagnosis from a physician, and those who do typically don’t learn of it until they are in the advanced stages of the disease.

The repercussions of those findings are troubling, says Beth Kallmyer, MSW, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association. The lack of knowledge likely hinders the impaired patients from actively participating in vital research or critical decisions about care plans, or legal and financial issues, she said.

“These disturbingly low disclosure rates in Alzheimer’s disease are reminiscent of rates seen for cancer in the 1950s and 60s, when even mention of the word ‘cancer’ was taboo,” Kallmyer said.

Mind the meds

A new peer-reviewed study is casting doubts on the efficacy of second-generation antidepressants for treating anxiety, placing much of the blame on various publishing bias of other works.

The study, published in the March 25 online edition of JAMA Psychiatry, asserts that despite their possible valid role in treating some anxiety disorders, “studies supporting the value of these medications for that purpose have been distorted by publication bias, outcome reporting bias and ‘spin,’” according to Oregon State University researchers.

Turn down the volume

Playing music too loud, or even just in the background too much, could impede seniors’ ability to remember simple concepts, including names.

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers found older adults remembered 10% fewer names than younger adults when listening to music, as opposed to being asked to match names and faces amid silence.

The study, “Turn Off the Music! Music Impairs Visual Associative Memory Performance in Older Adults,” appeared in the January 29 online issue of The Gerontologist

Helping the lonely

More aggressive interventions with lonely elders may significantly decrease physician visits and healthcare costs, authors of a recent study conclude. They assert their findings support a growing body of research establishing loneliness as a significant public health issue among older adults.

University of Georgia investigators say they discovered a direct link between elder loneliness and the frequency of visits to physicians, many of whom elders bond closely with to curb their anxiety. 

Dehydration challenge

A systematic review of 23 published research studies on the risk of dehydration in people 65 and older left researchers with little conclusive evidence about causes or a solution, investigators reported in the Annals of Long-Term Care

Diane Bunn, M.Sc., and colleagues said they could not identify “any proven effective strategies for dehydration prevention and/or increasing fluid intake for the older person living in long-term care facilities due to the high risk of bias in the studies reviewed.”

A recent study noted at least one-third of the 1.6 million U.S. nursing home residents may have malnutrition or dehydration.

C. diff getting tested

An international trial is examining the efficacy of a vaccine for C. difficile, the gut-destroying bacterium that is particularly dangerous to seniors.

Researchers are recruiting up to 15,000 volunteers for the Phase 3 study, which will provide a trial vaccination to 10,000 patients and a placebo to the remaining 5,000. There are more than 200 clinical sites in 17 countries, including the U.S. The “Cdiffense” trial is expected to last 4½ years.

Helpful cushions

Wheelchair cushions designed to adjust to a person’s size and form can help redistribute pressure and provide support for activities of daily living for patients with spinal cord injuries, report scientists at the Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación (Rehabilitation National Institute) in Mexico City. The cushions seem to provide the most benefit to patients with high thoracic and incomplete cervical injuries.