Alzheimer’s Germ Quest Team Visits Members of Dementia Respite Program
Naples, FL (March 21, 2018) – Dr. Leslie Norins, CEO of Alzheimer Germ Quest, Inc. (ALZgerm.org), visited the Naples Senior Center to observe one of the only programs in Collier County that provides specialized dementia respite care to caregivers and their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Norins was accompanied by Rainey Norins, vice president, who is also his wife.
Sheila Harris-Shutz, widow of Peter Shutz, the former CEO of Porsche International who recently died from Alzheimer’s, was also in the group. She had encouraged the visit, as she and Peter had participated in activities at the Center, such as art and music sessions designed for people afflicted with dementia.
The group came to the Center to better understand how lives are changed because of the disease. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and has increased 25 percent in recent years, according to CDC.
“There’s still a stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Dr. Norins. “And unlike other terminal illnesses, where progression might be rapid but doesn’t affect the brain, Alzheimer’s can linger for years and slowly destroys a person’s sense of self,” said Dr. Norins.
According to Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, President and CEO of the Naples Senior Center, many couples visit when they first receive the diagnosis, but some are reluctant to discuss future caregiving needs and assistance because of fear. She added that many caregivers push themselves to near-exhaustion, although programs like the ones the Center provides can alleviate some of the stress.
Dr. Norins launched a $1 million challenge award in January for any scientist who can provide proof that an infectious agent is the root cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.
“I have visited many retirement homes and seen residents participate in games and activities, but this dementia respite program is very different,” said Dr. Norins. “There’s a higher level of patience and acceptance at work here because it’s necessary when caring for people with Alzheimer’s. as it has such varied levels of cognitive impairment.”
Dr. Faffer said, “We were happy to receive the team from Alzheimer’s Germ Quest because we think it’s important for people working in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to see for themselves the impact the disease has upon not only the person with the diagnosis, but also family, friends and community, as well,”
A typical four-hour respite program at the Center provides cognitive activities that are carefully structured so that participants receive stimulating programing in a safe and nurturing environment. And while the respite groups are taking place, the caregivers have the opportunity to take an often much- needed break from their responsibilities.
In addition to encouraging more research and funding for research into germs as a trigger for Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Norins hopes to increase awareness of the disease among scientists and research administrators. “Many of these dedicated people have never spent even a few hours with an Alzheimer’s patient. But when they do, they can become super-inspired to intensify their search for the cause and a cure.”
Dr. Faffer adds, “How wonderful it would be if the scientists doing the important work of researching this very difficult disease would have the opportunity to see, first-hand, the population for whom they are working so diligently,”
The possibility a germ may be the root of Alzheimer’s Disease is described in Dr. Norins’ white paper “It’s Time to Find the Alzheimer’s Germ.”
Dr. Norins, a 44-year veteran of medical publishing, is the world’s leading creator and publisher of medical newsletters for healthcare professionals. He received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and his M.D. from Duke Medical School. His Ph.D. is from the University of Melbourne, where he trained in immunology with Sir Macfarlane Burnet, Nobel Laureate. In his early career he directed the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory at CDC.
Additional information about the Alzheimer’s Germ Quest Challenge can be found at ALZgerm.org