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  • Blog #15 In Memory of My Mother-in-law

    Usually, I avoid writing very personal matters in this blog page, however, I would like to share this story with you. Recently, my husband’s beloved mother passed away, after having fought against cancer for a several years. She was 85 years old. She raised eight children with her late husband.  Her eight children never even broke any bones growing up!  All have become intelligent, well educated, professionally successful professors, community leaders and executive level directors—and more than good enough adults. Her dedication was not only to her family but also to the community.  She taught the 6th graders, and later, she became the Liturgy Director for the catholic parish for 16 years, where she and her family attended.  Her Catholic faith was central to her life, and she utilized her expertise in Catholic liturgical ritual, liberation theology, and African American faith traditions to support her church and community for many, many years until her death. As a result, she had so many dear friends, respected community members, and even fans, all surrounding her. As a black woman from the south, navigating oppressive systems, such as racism and sexism, she graduated from a prestigious college in Louisiana.  She was very intellectual and witty.  Because she understood my work around dementia, she always jokingly told me that she felt her cognition declining as she aged and ‘was sure’ she would be my client soon.  But the truth was that she was the last person, in my professional opinion, that would ever develop dementia. Even during her chemotherapy, which had been very challenging for her, she knew her schedule, never missed her appointments, and understood the details of her medication and specifics of the side effects.  She was savvier about how to use pc and smart phone than I am!  She understood her condition, and communicated and used fluently the very difficult medical terminology with her doctors. Perhaps she was born with her intelligence. However, her vitality, even when many other American systems were against her as a black woman, was something very special.  She was consistently engaging with people and communities. She was always out there in her church and congregation.  She never withdrew herself from her perspective social groups.  As I touched upon it in my book, social isolation can be a dementia risk factor*1.  My mother-in-law exemplified many things, and especially how to be with people and communities.  She was and is a great role model for keeping her cognition/brain health intact by doing so whether or not she was aware of it. Thank you, Renette Mom, for everything. May your soul rest in eternal peace.  You touched and inspired so many that your beautiful legacy will live on. *1 Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A, Ames D, Ballard C, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet, 2020;396:413-446. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)3036-6

  • Blog #14 It looks like many people with Long COVID are experiencing brain fog.

    This recent study *1 was conducted in the U.S. in order to investigate the prevalence of self-reported cognitive symptoms in post–COVID-19 condition (Long COVID). People in the U.S. who were 18 years and older were participated in the internet survey. There were 14767 individuals reporting test-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection at least 2 months before the survey (average age: 44.6 years, 3.8%: Asian,10.0%: Black, 9.5%: Hispanic,73.2%: White, 68.0%: women, 32.0%: men).  And a total of 1683 individuals (11.4%) of the full sample met their definition of post–COVID-19 condition, which means the individuals whose survey start date was more than 2 months after the month in which they initially identified a positive COVID-19 test and who continued to report symptoms at the time of the survey.  The survey questions were about cognitive symptoms, mood, and functional aspects.  I was personally shocked to find out that of the 1683 individuals reporting post-COVID 19 condition, 955 (56.7%) reported at least 1 cognitive symptom experienced daily, compared with 3552 of 13084 (27.1%) of those who did not report post–COVID-19 condition.  Simply put, more than half of the people with post-COVID-19 condition were experiencing some kind of cognitive symptom daily such as slowed thinking, trouble concentrating, having to work hard to pay attention to avoid making mistakes, trouble getting started, trouble remembering (eg: taking medicine or buying something), difficulty multitasking, and trouble making decisions.  Interestingly, they found greater daily cognitive symptoms in post–COVID-19 condition in women than men.  Younger age (the 18- to 24-year and 45- to 54-year groups) was also associated with increased daily cognitive symptoms.  According to the authors, this may reflect increased salience of symptoms or change from pre-COVID-19 baseline in younger individuals relative to older individuals who may already be experiencing age-associated cognitive decline. Also, in those with post COVID-19 condition, cognitive symptoms were associated with greater levels of depressive symptoms, greater reported functional impairment, and less likelihood of full-time employment. As this study suggested, it is important to consider cognitive symptoms in the evaluation and management of post–COVID-19 condition since they are common features of post-COVID-19 condition.  There are many unknown aspects of the COVID pandemic since it was the first event that we as human have experienced together.  I hope that there will be more studies regarding post-COVID-19 condition in the near future and we will have some solid evaluation and management/treatment in place.  And of course, if you are experiencing cognitive symptoms in post-COVID-19 condition, please do not hesitate to seek help from healthcare providers so you can have an individualized care plan to improve your symptoms and quality of life. *1 Jaywant A, Gunning FM, Oberlin LE, et al. Cognitive Symptoms of Post–COVID-19 Condition and Daily Functioning. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(2):e2356098. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.56098

  • Blog#13 Can pets actually protect your brain??! It Turns out that Dogs can even better than cats!

    My first blog of this year is about pets and dementia.  Let's start with a Japanese study that was published in October of last year. This study was conducted for people aged 65 and over living in Ota Ward by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Geriatrics and Gerontology *1.  Of the 11,194 participants (average age 74.2 years, 51.5% female and 48.5% male, 67.1% married), 959 (8.6%) owned dogs and 704 (6.3%) owned cats at the time of the survey (2016).  Among them, 124 people had both dogs and cats. They followed these participants for about four years to track the incidences of dementia up to 2020.  As a result, those who had dogs had a 40% lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.  They also looked at the participants' exercise habits and whether they were socially isolated, and found that among dog owners, those who exercised regularly and were not socially isolated had a significantly lower risk of developing dementia. Also, the same effect was not seen in people who owned cats. The researchers concluded that caring for dogs might help owners exercise on a daily basis and maintain more social participation, which in turn may lead to the prevention of dementia in owners. The second study, published in December last year, was reported from the UK and is based on data from a long-term cohort study of community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and older.  Of those, 7,945 individuals (average age 66.3 years, 56% female and 44% male, 97.5% white) were selected.  The participants were evaluated for verbal memory and fluency from 2010 to 2019 every other year. Of these participants, 2,791 (35.1%) had some kind of pet, and 2,139 (26.9%) lived alone.  And the result of this study was that among people who had pets, those who lived alone had a slower decline in verbal memory and fluency than those who lived with others.  People living alone without pets had a faster decline in the above abilities than people who had pets and lived with others. The researchers also concluded from these results that pet ownership might be beneficial for older people living alone. These two studies are very intriguing in that they examined whether pet ownership affects cognition, although the conditions are different.   Since the first study was conducted on Japanese people, it is possible that other ethnic/cultural groups might not have the same result or outcome.  However, considering both studies, it might be beneficial for your cognition to own a dog if you are older and live alone.  If you are a cat lover, I am sorry but maybe, it’s time to consider having a dog instead…or have both?! *1 Taniguchi, Y., Seino, S., Ikeuchi, T., Hata, T., Shinkai, S., Kitamura, A., & Fujiwara, Y. (2023). Protective effects of dog ownership against the onset of disabling dementia in older community-dwelling Japanese: A longitudinal study. Preventive medicine reports, 36, 102465. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2023.102465 *2 Li Y, Wang W, Zhu L, et al. Pet Ownership, Living Alone, and Cognitive Decline Among Adults 50 Years and Older. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(12):e2349241. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.49241

  • Noto Peninsula Earthquake in Japan: Ways to Help Those Who Are Affected

    On the New Year's Day in Japan, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture. As of Jan. 13th (Japan Time), 220 people died, more than 20,000 people are still in the shelters. Ishikawa is my home prefecture, where I was born and raised. Fortunately, my mother, who lives in Kanazawa City which is a capital city in Ishikawa, is safe and uninjured, except for some broken dishes. Kanazawa City have suffered less than the Noto area. My mother's younger brother (my uncle) and his family live in Hakui City where is closer to the epicenter, and although part of their house was damaged by the earthquake, they are fortunate because the house is still livable. As of Saturday the 13th, about 55,550 houses in the prefecture have been without water, and my uncle's family is among them. Even though he is my mother's younger brother, my uncle is 90 years old. I'm worried about his physical and mental health. And there are 15 districts that are still stranded, including 793 people. I am so far away that I am very aware of my own helplessness every day. Under such circumstances, I sincerely hope for the safety of everyone in the affected areas and for the earliest possible recovery. Here I am posting some information regarding how to support (donate) for those who are affected by this earthquake in Japan. I hope that it will be useful for those who read this blog, and together we can make a small change. Thank you so much in advance for your support and prayers. ・For those who want to directly donate to Ishikawa Prefecture. Please look at 7. Frequently Asked Questions, Q1, A1. https://www-pref-ishikawa-lg-jp.translate.goog/suitou/gienkinr0601.html?_x_tr_sl=ja&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=ja ・For those who have mileages for ANA https://www.ana.co.jp/en/jp/shoppingandlife/donation/tukau_noto/ ・For those who have mileages for JAL https://www.jal.co.jp/jp/en/jalmile/use/charity/2024/noto-support/ ・For those who have an account for Rakuten https://global.rakuten.com/corp/donation/noto20240101_en/noto20240101_en.html ・For those who want to donate to nonprofits https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/japan-disaster-relief-and-recovery/ ¥ 怪我もなく 大丈夫でした。

  • Blog #12 Before going to a party....

    The end of the year has arrived quickly. Now, December is a time when there are more social opportunities to drink alcohol at rituals such as Christmas parties and year-end celebrations. And maybe, there will also be a New Year's party coming up soon too!  I'm not trying to put a damper on these fun occasions, but please be mindful not to drink too much alcohol. The other day, I had the opportunity to hear from someone who is an expert on the topic of "drinking and dementia."  According to this researcher, a recently reported British study*1 found that people who drank more than 7 units of alcohol per week (56g of pure alcohol by UK standards) were more likely to have smaller total volume of the brain's gray matter (such as cerebral cortex and cerebellar cortex) compared to those who drank less alcohol than 7 units per week. Simply put, for example, even if you drink just one can of beer a day (12 ounces of beer usually contains about 14g of pure alcohol), you will have consumed 98g of pure alcohol in a week, which may cause your brain volume to decrease. The same study also found that people who binge-drink everyday had significantly less total gray matter volume in their brains than those who never did.  Also, the relationship between the volume of gray matter in the brain and the type of alcohol consumed seems to be no difference between wine, beer, and spirits (equal opportunity brain shrinkers!). After all, the amount of pure alcohol is important. Of course, I think that the relationship between alcohol and dementia is an area that will require more research, especially in terms of racial, ethnic or cultural differences. In my book, I introduced that alcohol is one of the risk factors for dementia for people between the ages of 45 and 65.  The current standard recommended by Lancet*2 is an alcohol intake of no more than 21 units (168 g of pure alcohol) per week using UK units. However, if the above research results hold true, regardless of racial or cultural differences, the recommended amount of alcohol to prevent dementia may become even lower in the future. In the U.S., CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends  2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, or no drinking at all to reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, such as car accidents, violence, high blood pressure, and cancers *3. One standard drink means in the U.S. that any drink that contains 0.6 fluid ounces (14g) of pure alcohol, such as approximately 12-ounce beer or 5-ounce wine. Unfortunately (!?) I don't have enough enzymes to break down alcohol in my body, so when I drink alcohol, my face turns bright red and I feel unwell.  It is estimated that about 44 % of Japanese people fall into this category (do not have enough enzymes or do not have them at all).  Although I don't drink any alcohol at all, some people may be perfectly fine with drinking one bottle of wine. In this way, there are large individual differences when it comes to drinking. And you are the one who knows your body best and what it needs to thrive. Please enjoy drinking while considering the appropriate amount of alcohol for yourself, keeping in mind your future physical, cognitive, and mental health! *1  Topiwala, A., Ebmeier, K. P., Maullin-Sapey, T., & Nichols, T. E. (2022). Alcohol consumption and MRI markers of brain structure and function: Cohort study of 25,378 UK Biobank participants. NeuroImage. Clinical, 35, 103066. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2022.103066 *2  Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A, Ames D, Ballard C, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet, 2020;396:413-446. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)3036-6 *3 https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm#:~:text=To%20reduce%20the%20risk%20of%20alcohol-related%20harms%2C%20the,is%20better%20for%20health%20than%20drinking%20more.%204

  • Blog #11 Following the US., Japan Approved “Lecanemab” !!

    During my stay in Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare approved the manufacture and sale of the new Alzheimer's drug "Lecanemab" (trade name Leqembi). As I have introduced in my previous blog, "Lecanemab" is a joint development between Eisai of Japan and Biogen of the United States. Clinical trial data showed that it removed the amyloid β accumulated in the brain seen in Alzheimer's disease and slowed the progression of Alzheimer's. Japan is the second country to receive this approval, following the United States. As I wrote in my blog, this "Lecanemab" is only available to people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early Alzheimer's who have accumulated amyloid β. In order to become a candidate who receive this drug, a proper diagnosis is required. To get diagnosed with MCI or early Alzheimer's, PET scans, lumbar punctures, and MRIs may also be required. Of course, side effects (cerebral edema) have also been reported in people who have received "Lecanemab". Administration is a venous drip once every two weeks. I don't mean to dampen the good news, but there's a good chance that these things could get in the way of successful distribution and accessibility. Also, knowing that in the United States, the annual price of this drug is $ 26,500 (3.9 million yen), we are even more worried about the cost in Japan. It will be decided by the end of the year how much the government will bear and how much the out-of-pocket burden of those who will be administered. But in any case, there is no doubt that it will be a very expensive drug. As I have written repeatedly on my blog, it is a new drug that should help many people, so I sincerely hope that in the near future, it will be available equitably not only in the United States and Japan, but also all over the world! Once the drug price is decided in Japan, I will report it on the blog again.

  • Blog #10 My Trip to Japan

    I was back in Japan for a while from late September to early October. During my visit, I was honored to give a lecture at the Department of Occupational Therapy at Kanazawa University, where I previously studied to start my life over again at the age of 30! I was invited by my university professor, Prof. Shibata, to present keynote talk to third-year students in occupational therapy. From the perspective of theory and practice of dementia care, I briefly spoke with students about person-centered dementia care and cultural humility, which I use as frameworks. I was also able to highlight and share the dementia care model that I am currently creating as a tool for caregivers and professionals. I’ve set a goal to present this same care model at an international Alzheimer's Conference to be held next spring. As I’ve mentioned on this website, I believe that it is necessary to have a humble attitude and practice in order to respond to diverse cultures, not only in the United States, where the diversity co-exits, but also in Japan where the number of foreign residents is expected to increase in addition to the number of foreigners engaged in healthcare. My hope is that the students who will become wonderful occupational therapists in the future can understand and integrate my idea of what a healthcare professional should be into their lives and professional practices. I was born and raised in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, and my mother, who is now 93 years old, lives alone in Kanazawa. Since the construction of the Shinkansen (bullet train) connecting to Tokyo, Kanazawa has become more international, and there has also been an increasing number of tourists visiting from overseas. Currently, when I walk around the city, I can now hear various and diverse languages. Perhaps some of these tourists are unfortunate enough to visit or be admitted to the hospital due to illness or injury. In such cases, our prejudices and stereotypes about other cultures that we may or may not be aware of should not interfere with treatment and care of these visitors. I think it is important to understand the concept of cultural humility in order to engage in cross-cultural exchanges in a truer sense, not limited to healthcare field. To all of you majoring in and focusing on occupational therapy at Kanazawa University, please become an occupational therapist who will be equipped with cross-cultural experiences and spread your wings around the world. This cross-cultural expertise combined with a culturally humble practice will only help you to serve your clients better! I'm rooting for you. And thank you for having me and being open to my frameworks that are intended on supporting both you and your future clients in a quickly diversifying world!

  • Blog #9 What is Vitamin D?

    In my previous blog, I introduced a study from Canada regarding physical exercise, cognitive training, and vitamin D intake. According to the study, vitamin D intake didn’t affect the participants’ cognitive function*1. Vitamin D is probably most known for its role in bone health. Moreover, it is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective. But to be honest, I didn’t know much about the association between vitamin D and cognitive impairment. I was lucky enough to find this very comprehensive review on an overview of its association *2. According to this article, in conclusion, 1)Animal or cellular studies suggested that vitamin D has multiple functions in the central nervous system. 2)Cross-sectional studies (studies that examine the data of a specific population in a specific time) report that vitamin D concentrations are lower in people with cognitive impairment and dementia. However, reverse causality can be a possibility (because the person developed Dementia, which affected their diet, that’s why their vitamin D level is low, not vice versa). 3)Association of low vitamin D with an increased risk of cognitive decline still has no answer. 4)Trials examining the effect of vitamin D supplementation on cognitive outcomes, have produced mixed findings. 5) No consensus over the dosage of vitamin D and no optimal age of treatment for people at risk are identified. 6)More studies are needed! Indeed, we still don’t have definitive answers regarding the relationship between vitamin D and cognitive decline. The lack of improvement results of vitamin D in the study in my previous blog, might be related to the fact that there were only 4 participants who were severely deficient in vitamin D while others were not deficient in vitamin D, as the authors mentioned in the study. In the US, according to the National Institutes of Health *3, average daily recommended amounts of vitamin D are; if one is between 14 and 17 years old, they need to take 15 µg (micrograms). And, if one is older than 71 years, they should be taking 20 µg. A blood test can measure the amount of a form of vitamin D, called 25-Hydroxyvitamin D. If the levels are below 30 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter), they are too low, and if the levels are above 125 nmol/L, they are considered as too high. Both cases (too high/too low) might affect your health in very negative ways. Whether or not vitamin D levels affect our cognition, insufficient levels of vitamin D, for example, can increase the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis especially among the elderly population. Of course, it is a good idea to pay attention to one’s own levels of vitamin D— both too much and too little are not good for our health. But, if a person’s level is among the normal range, I think that it is wise to just keep getting vitamin D from your consistent healthy diet, and not from the dietary supplements. Vitamin D rich foods are, for example, fatty fish such as salmon, some mushrooms, eggs, milk, soy milk, and so on. And it’s also vital not to forget to regularly spend some time in the sun since our body makes vitamin D when our skin gets exposed to sunlight. I live under the gray skies of Washington State, so whenever the sun comes out, I make sure to apply some sunscreen and go directly outside!! *1 Montero-Odasso M, Zou G, Speechley M, et al. Effects of Exercise Alone or Combined With Cognitive Training and Vitamin D Supplementation to Improve Cognition in Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open.2023;6(7):e2324465. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.24465 *2 Sultan S, Taimuri U, Basnan SA, Ai-Orabi WK, Awadallah A, Almowald F, Hazazi A. Low Vitamin D and Its Association with Cognitive Impairment and Dementia. J Aging Res. 2020 Apr 30;2020:6097820. doi: 10.1155/2020/6097820. PMID: 32399297; PMCID: PMC7210535. *3 Vitamin D - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)

  • Blog #8 Both Physical and Cognitive Exercises may be the key?!

    I would like to share with you this research report from Canada on exercise, cognitive training, and vitamin D *1. 175 people (mean age 73.1 years, 86 women) over the age of 60 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) participated in this experiment. First, these participants were divided into five groups to examine the effects of exercise, cognitive training, and vitamin D over a 20-week period. Group 1 performed aerobic-resistance exercise, cognitive training, and vitamin D intake. Group 2 did aerobic-resistance exercise, cognitive training, and placebo vitamin D intake. Group 3 performed aerobic-resistance exercise, sham cognitive training, and vitamin D intake. Group 4 did aerobic-resistance exercise, sham cognitive training, and placebo vitamin D intake. The final group, Group 5, was the control group and performed balance-toning exercise, sham cognitive training, and placebo vitamin D intake. Participants were assessed for cognitive function three times: at baseline, 6-month point, and 12-month point. And of the 175 participants, 133 (76%) remained throughout the follow-ups. Participants in this experiment performed cognitive training with tablets for 30 minutes each time (real training or sham cognitive training) and 60 minutes of exercise (aerobic-resistance exercise or balance-toning exercise) in groups 3 times a week for a total of 20 weeks. All participants received either real or placebo vitamin D three times per week (10,000 IU). The real cognitive training was visual-motor training related to memory and attention, and the level of difficulty increased over time. Sham cognitive training was either touristic search or video watching. Aerobic-resistance exercises were programs specifically designed for older adults, with progressively increasing volume and intensity. The balance-toning exercises were a workout that did not progress in volume or intensity. Both types of training were properly supervised by instructors. As a result, groups that performed aerobic-resistance exercise had better cognitive function scores compared to Group 5, the control at 6 -month follow up. And what is even more interesting is that the groups that did both aerobic-resistance exercise and cognitive training (Group 1 and 2) had more clinically significant effects on cognitive function scores than the other groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 did not revert to their pre-experimental levels when their cognitive function was reassessed at 12-month point. As for vitamin D intake, there was no effect at all. In short, this research report suggests that adding cognitive training along with aerobic-resistance exercise may improve cognitive function in older adults with MCI. More data is needed in the future, but if this program of physical exercise and cognitive training is firmly established, it is likely to be a safer and more reliable method than therapeutic drugs for older adults diagnosed with MCI or early Alzheimer's disease?! As I introduced in this blog before, various Alzheimer's drugs have been developed, but there are still problems (price, availability, side effects, etc.). Perhaps, as this research report shows, incorporating both aerobic-resistance exercise and cognitive training may offer new hope for both prevention and treatment of dementia!? We will see… By the way, I would like to talk about vitamin D, which was used in this study, in my next blog. Stay tuned!! *1 Montero-Odasso M, Zou G, Speechley M, et al. Effects of Exercise Alone or Combined With Cognitive Training and Vitamin D Supplementation to Improve Cognition in Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open.2023;6(7):e2324465. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.24465

  • Blog #7 So, can this be the first successful & accessible drug or…?!

    I previously wrote about this on my blog, but, on July 6, finally, Leqembi which targets amyloid beta, a new drug for Alzheimer's disease developed by Eisai in Japan and Biogen in the United States, was given full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The results of clinical trials in the later stage showed that the decline in cognitive function of participants was slowed down by 27% over a period of 18 months. This is estimated that it is equivalent to delaying the progress for four to five months. This delay can be significant and can mean the world to people living with Alzheimer’s and their families. Leqembi is intended and designed for people with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's, and it is not meant for those embodying advanced symptoms. In the United States, by receiving full approval, the cost of this treatment will be covered by Medicare as long as the providers who prescribe the drug participate in registries to collect evidence. As I mentioned last time, the annual cost is $26,500. 80% is covered by Medicare, which means 20% will be at one’s own expense. In addition, to qualify, first of all, one has to do an expensive PET scan or lumbar punctures that may also put a strain on one’s body. These procedures are necessary in order to confirm there is an accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain. Thus, some economic burden on those who use Leqembi is expected. In addition, this medicine is administered intravenously every other week. Depending on where the treatment is carried out, it can be difficult and a real challenge for some people to go to the hospital twice a month. Currently, clinical trials of self-administration (injection in the thigh) are also underway, so hopefully, in the end, self-injection can solve such a potential problem. We certainly need more time to determine if this Leqembi is a breakthrough or another possible medical/systemic disappointment. In my home country, Japan, it is expected that the results of whether or not to approve Leqembi will be given this fall. I will closely monitor this matter and promise to keep my readers posted on its progress! If you are interested in, here's the press release from Eisai. No.23-49 (eisai.com)

  • Blog #6 Immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s : Do vaccines work?

    The other day I learned that vaccines for Alzheimer’s disease are possibly going to be available globally by the year 2030. Alzheimer’s Diseases International (ADI) *1. I recently attended a webinar that was primarily focused on this intriguing information *2. Both vaccines developed by AC Immune and Vaxxinity received FDA Fast Track designations *3. Both vaccines are immunotherapeutic vaccines, which target on amyloid beta. So, basically the vaccines teach our body’s immune system to attack aggregated amyloid beta *4&5. One notable aspect of this process is that AC Immune’s vaccine trial includes people with Down Syndrome as well as people with Alzheimer’s *5. Some people may not know the connection, but people with Down Syndrome are more likely to develop amyloid beta accumulation and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, this emerging vaccine is great news especially for people with Down Syndrome and their families. CEOs from these two companies mentioned that learning from the Covid pandemic, global access of the Alzheimer’s vaccine is possible. Their ultimate goal is for the general public to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This is fantastic news for ultimately everyone if/when the vaccines are safe and people across the world have equal access to this global distribution. This exciting medical possibility makes me cautiously hopeful about the future of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias!! This is a side note but I want to add one fact, which is that both CEOs driving these groundbreaking vaccines are female. It is extremely rare to see a female CEO in bio-pharmaceutical companies and at this corporate level of power and leadership! As a woman myself, it is exciting and encouraging to see that the face of advanced technology and innovation is someone like me, female! *1 ADI is the umbrella organization for Alzheimer’s Associations around the world. They directly work with WHO, and advocate for/with people living with dementia. They have been providing numerous informative webinars during the pandemic and beyond, which I have been enjoying and learning new knowledge, studies, and innovations regarding Alzheimer disease and other dementias. I would highly recommend these educational opportunities for people to check out their website if you are interested in learning about their work, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and more. Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) *2 https://youtu.be/h7A93G0HVxU *3 Fast Track | FDA *4 https://ir.vaxxinity.com/news-releases/news-release-details/vaxxinity-receives-fda-fast-track-designation-ub-311-treatment/ *5 AC Immune Receives FDA Fast Track Designation for Anti-Amyloid-beta Active Immunotherapy, ACI-24.060, to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease | AC Immune SA

  • Blog #5 The Long-Term Care Insurance System in Japan

    The long-term care insurance system was established in 2000 for the purpose of reducing the burden on family members and providing supportive care with the whole society. Long-term care insurance is a public insurance that pays the expenses for those who need nursing care. It is a system designed so that everyone bears the insurance premiums and pays them to those who need them most. After one reaches the age of 40, the long-term care insurance premiums will begin to be withheld from their salary. When one has retired from their lifetime of work, these premiums will be withheld from their pension. Therefore, it means that after one reaches the age of 40 in Japan, they will continue to pay the long-term care insurance premiums throughout the term of their life. The insured persons of long-term care insurance are divided into those who are 65 years old or older, and in addition, persons covered by medical insurance who are 40 to 64 years old. The former can receive long-term care services when they receive a certification of long-term care need or certification of needed support, regardless of the cause. The latter can receive long-term care services when they receive a certification of long-term care need (assistance) due to a disease associated with aging (specified diseases). Considering the sobering reality that Japan continues to grow as a 'super-aging' country*1, it becomes exponentially important for them (and other super-aging countries) to sustain and strengthen premium systems like the above mentioned one to truly create comprehensive support to families and communities. If you are interested in learning more about the long-term care insurance in Japan, you can check this; https://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/care-welfare/care-welfare-elderly/dl/ltcisj_e.pdf *1 https://amp.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article272316118.html

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