Katy McNulty is the Outreach Coordinator for NeuroTrials Research. Katy will be guest posting on the NeuroTrials blog, providing readers with a closer look into what it means to participate in a clinical research study.
Alzheimer’s seems to be a topic few people like to discuss. For the many who are unaffected by this illness, it is someone else’s faraway problem that blends indistinguishably into the mass of multiple social issues competing for their attention. For the families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or related dementia, it may be an upsetting subject – a reminder of someone who is slipping away a little more every day.
Even physicians have been known to be hesitant to diagnose patients with the “A word” due to the emotional ramifications for the patient and family. For individuals like me, who lost a grandmother to Alzheimer’s, the topic nudges at my own fears about the genetic predisposition that I may or may not have inherited. However, despite the discomfort, there is a steadily growing movement to raise awareness, develop resources, research new treatments, and someday find a cure.
Alzheimer’s is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the US. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.4 million people are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to triple by 2050. Those numbers are forcing us to bypass our discomfort and pay attention.
My position as Outreach Coordinator pushes me to learn about all areas of our research – even uncomfortable topics like Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, my education has included the discovery of several community resources for our aging population that I never knew existed.
For example, Fulton County’s Office on Aging provides multiple services including Adult Day Programs, Caregiver Support Groups, and Transportation Services. Senior Services of North Fulton operates neighborhood senior centers, facilitates Meals on Wheels, and provides advocacy, referrals, and in-home services. There are several other independent facilities that provide adult day programs in their area, such as Plymouth Harbor in Northeast Atlanta and Aloha to Aging in East Cobb, which also provides educational programs and an Alzheimer’s support group.
The Alzheimer’s Association is vast resource of online information, including a Virtual Library with over 5,000 books, journals, videos and CDs, and a nationwide trial finder for people interested in Alzheimer’s research studies. The Georgia chapter provides local support groups, education programs, and training for senior service professionals.
There are several agencies around Atlanta, such as Hurley Elder Care Law and Solutions for Seniors, that can help families navigate complex issues from legal and custodial assistance, to evaluating patient needs and making recommendations for community resources. Multiple assisted living facilities, specialized memory care facilities, in-home companions, and visiting nurses are available for a wide range of incomes. The Senior Resources Directory offers a website and an annually printed directory that lists every imaginable senior service around the Metro Atlanta area.
NeuroTrials Research is grateful to align ourselves with such an amazing community of resources. We’ve been conducting Alzheimer’s disease research in Atlanta for over 10 years. We would be unable to complete clinical trials without the participation of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Our community helps to support our research by spreading the word about available opportunities, and educating potential participants about the importance of clinical trials. Without clinical trials, researchers would be unable to develop new treatments or potential cures for Alzheimer’s.
While Alzheimer’s may still be an uncomfortable topic for most of us, I appreciate the individuals and organizations throughout Atlanta who are willing to provide information and promote advocacy, always pushing toward a cure. Thank you for all that you do!