British health official: Cure for dementia could come by 2020

Advances in genetics and pharmaceuticals could lead to a cure for dementia by 2020, according to United Kingdom Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt.

“Finding drugs that can halt or cure dementia may seem a distant prospect now but there are drugs companies that think they will have a cure for dementia by 2020,” Hunt said at the recent Local Government Association conference in Manchester, according to The Telegraph.
The United Kingdom’s Alzheimer’s Society expanded on Hunt’s remarks commenting: “Studies we’re funding show that drugs which are already licensed for other conditions may also treat dementia. If these are successful, we could have them doubling as treatments for dementia within 10 years.”

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the Alzheimer’s Association foresees the number increasing to about 13.8 million by 2050.

As more of the population develops dementia and a cure remains elusive, providing effective care for residents with dementia becomes even more important. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services held a webinar Wednesday to discuss the reduction of antipsychotics among residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Facilities have achieved a 4% reduction in off-label use of antipsychotics among residents with dementia, but CMS is still aiming for a 15% average reduction.

More than anything, nursing home administrators and specialists emphasized the importance of personalized care.

“Get to know your residents, who they are and what their past has been, and it will help the care team,” said Alice Bonner, Ph.D., RN, deputy associate administrator in CMS’ northeast region. Bonner was previously the director of the division of nursing homes at CMS.