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AAGP President's Column: Advancing the AAGP Mission
By David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, AAGP President
I hope that you were able to attend March's AAGP Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. By almost any measure, this was one of our most successful meetings in years. Attendees came from all across the United States and the globe, with 20 countries represented. During four days of programming, a multi-disciplinary group of AAGP presenters connected with clinicians, educators and researchers. We offered six pre-conferences and workshops, and the 108 participants at the newly modified Review in Geriatric Psychiatry course were given the opportunity to claim Self-Assessment Maintenance of Certification CME credits. And the Annual Meeting helped push AAGP growth across all categories of membership. Currently we have almost 1300 members, 180 members-in-training and 32 student members.

In two plenary sessions, we presented the findings and recommendations of the Institute of Medicine report, The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands? A key message of the report is that at least 5.6 million to 8 million—nearly one in five—older adults in America have one or more mental health or substance use conditions, which present unique challenges for their care. There are clear recommendations to Congress, to the secretary of health and human services, and to organizations responsible for accreditation, certification, and professional examination, all addressing the workforce needs related to geriatric mental health and substance use disorders. Further, it is evident that part of the task of moving the IOM recommendations forward lies in our hands—with the AAGP at an organizational level and with individual AAGP members who are uniquely positioned to partner with colleagues and advocacy groups at the local level to urge elected officials to implement the report's recommendations.
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Earn online CME with AAGP 2013 Annual Meeting sessions
If you missed the AAGP 2013 Annual Meeting or were there but couldn't get to all the sessions, you can order online recordings with screen presentations. With online tests you can quickly and easily earn CME credits and print certificates to document your credits earned. CME will be available for one year. Almost 50 hours of recordings are available, and accessible to you 24/7 via the Internet in streaming media format or for download — even to your MP3 player. Audio is synchronized to the PowerPoint presentations to provide a true multimedia experience. Additional features include user notes, online handouts, and the MP3 files for download. Cost: $529 or $209 for registrants of the Annual Meeting. Visit to place your order.
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AAGP now accepting proposals for its 2014 Annual Meeting
AAGP is accepting proposals for sessions, case presentations, and posters for the 2014 Annual Meeting to be held March 14-17 in Orlando, Florida, at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld®. Many venues at the AAGP Annual Meeting invite innovative and interactive programs targeted towards clinicians, researchers, and educators. Clinicians and investigators in all arenas of geriatric psychiatry, psychology, neurology, medicine, nursing, social work, and other related disciplines are encouraged to submit abstracts of original work for presentation at the AAGP 2014 Annual Meeting.

Session proposals are due June 11. Submit online at

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Missed the last issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    No increased risk for death with antipsychotics in Alzheimer's? (Medscape)
Congratulations, award winners! (AAGP)
Genetic markers found to predict Alzheimer's (Fox News)
3-D stem cell culture technique developed to better understand Alzheimer's disease (Science Daily)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.

AAGP member news: Brown elected officer of The American College of Psychiatrists
Frank W. Brown, MD, was one of five officers elected to the board of the American College of Psychiatrists at its Annual Meeting in Hawaii, on Feb. 23. The College elected Brown as its second vice president. Brown, a longtime AAGP member, is associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and vice-chairman of clinical affairs at Emory University School of Medicine. He also serves as chief medical officer and chief quality officer at Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital and Long-Term Acute Care Hospital. Officers and members of the board of regents are responsible for managing the property and affairs of the college.
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AJGP covers the latest research news
The May issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, now available at, covers the neurobiology of late-life mental illnesses. The June issue will focus on neuropsychiatric symptoms in Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, addressing prevalence, pharmacologic treatment of anxiety disorders in PD, visual perception in dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease, neuropsychiatric features of frontal lobe dysfunction in patients with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease, and more. See the AJGP in July for new research articles on instruments for assessment.

The monthly journal and online access is a benefit of AAGP membership. For instructions on how to claim online access, please visit

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    President Obama launches initiative to address brain disorders
    On April 2, President Barack Obama unveiled a $100 million research initiative to map the human brain — an effort scientists and others hope will lead to treatments for Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries. The president said that the initiative would stimulate economic growth and lead to "jobs we haven't even dreamt up yet."

    The BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative will bring together public and private institutions to pursue research. The White House likened it to the Human Genome Project, which Obama said returned $140 for every $1 invested.

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., endorsed the new initiative, saying that it is "exactly the type of research we should be funding."

    The BRAIN Initiative is launching with approximately $100 million in funding for research supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation in the President's Fiscal Year 2014 Budget.

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    Department of Veterans Affairs

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    Behavior Imaging Solutions, formerly Caring Technologies Inc, develops solutions to facilitate the observational, analytical and collaborative needs of Behavioral Healthcare and Special Education professionals.
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    NIH to hold Alzheimer's disease-related dementias research conference
    The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke will host a conference May 1-2 entitled Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias: Research Challenges and Opportunities. At this conference, neuroscientists, physicians, and public and private stakeholders will solicit input and develop recommendations on special research priorities and timelines for addressing Alzheimer's disease-related dementias. Organized by the NINDS in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging, the conference is convened under the 2012 National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease to develop recommendations on research priorities in the areas of frontotemporal, Lewy body, mixed and vascular dementias, and is complementary to NIA's Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit 2012. The conference will be held at the Natcher Conference Center on the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Md., campus.
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    Senate committee approves reauthorization of mental health bill
    On April 10, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved, by voice vote, a bill (S. 689) to reauthorize through 2018 various mental health programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education. When it goes to the Senate floor for consideration, it is possible that the bill will be included in a larger legislative package to curtail gun violence.

    S. 689, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the HELP Committee, would reauthorize the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services on Campuses grant programs and update the use of funds to allow for the education of students, families, faculty and staff to increase awareness of training to respond to students with mental health and substance use disorders. In addition, it would reauthorize programs related to suicide prevention and funding to support a national network of child trauma centers.

    Mental health and gun policies have received a considerable amount of attention on Capitol Hill since the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killed 20 children and six educators. Since then, several lawmakers have introduced measures addressing mental health, including a bill (S. 264) by Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., that would increase access to community mental health services. Provisions similar to two other bills recently introduced — one addressing suicide and substance abuse (S. 116) introduced by Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I., and one to train teachers to recognize symptoms of mental illnesses (S. 153) introduced by Senator Mark Begich, D-Alaska — were included in S. 689 approved by the Senate HELP Committee.

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    Bipartisan request for review of Federal Mental Health Programs
    On April 11, as part of an ongoing effort to address mental illness following the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, Representative Tim Murphy, R-Pa., chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative Diana DeGette, D-Colo., the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, requested the Office of Management and Budget to provide a list of all federal mental health research, prevention and treatment programs, including the total amount of Federal funds that each of these programs receives.

    In a letter to OMB, Murphy and DeGette said, "While the vast majority of individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression are not violent, those with untreated severe mental illness are two to three times more likely to exhibit violent behavior—directed at themselves or others. The presence of such disorders in perpetrators of mass violence demands additional research, investigation, and understanding as to what went wrong. To understand the current approach in the mental health arena, the Committee is reviewing relevant federal programs and policies, research and treatments. Working together, we can ensure federal resources are effectively used so that tax dollars reach directly down to the level of patients and their families."

    The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has been examining whether federal dollars devoted to mental health are reaching those individuals with the most serious mental illnesses and ensuring the most effective treatments are available to them. The letter comes after a March 5 bipartisan forum in which members of the subcommittee learned that approximately half of individuals with severe mental illness do not even recognize the problem, and may refuse treatment and medication to help them recover. AAGP will monitor this issue as it moves forward.

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    How exercise and other activities beat back dementia
    The numbers are pretty grim: More than half of all 85-year-olds suffer some form of dementia. But here's the good news: Brain researchers say there are ways to boost brain power and stave off problems in memory and thinking.

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    Congratulations, award winners!
    During AAGP's 2013 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, at the March 14 Opening Plenary, the association honored several members for their achievements. Congratulations to this year's award winners!

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    No increased risk for death with antipsychotics in Alzheimer's?
    For years, clinicians have been warned that off-label use of antipsychotic medications to treat behavioral disturbances in patients with dementia could increase mortality. However, preliminary evidence from a new Japanese study appears to refute this tenet.

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    Genetically modified rat is promising model for Alzheimer's
    A rat with some human genes could provide a better way to test Alzheimer's drugs. The genetically modified rat is the first rodent model to exhibit the full range of brain changes found in Alzheimer's, researchers report in The Journal of Neuroscience. "It's a big step forward" for drug development, says Roderick Corriveau, a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or NINDS, which helped fund the work. "The closer the model is to the human condition in representing the disease, the more likely the drug will behave and cure the way it would in humans."
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    In blacks, Alzheimer's study finds same variant genes as in whites
    The New York Times
    African-Americans have a slightly higher risk of Alzheimer's disease than people of largely European ancestry, but there is no major genetic difference that could account for the slight excess risk, new research shows. The results are from one of the only large studies ever done on Alzheimer's in African-Americans. Researchers identified the same gene variants in older African-Americans that they had found in older people of European ancestry. But they found that African-Americans with Alzheimer's disease were slightly more likely to have one gene, ABCA7, that is thought to confer risk for the disease.
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    Who cares for caregivers?
    Cape Cod Times via The Boston Globe
    As the caregiver for a husband with Alzheimer’s disease, Gail McCarthy was on intimate terms with exhaustion and anxiety. "I was so, so tired. I was sleep deprived, my doctors called it," said McCarthy, 71. She was constantly on guard lest her husband, 76-year-old Paul McCarthy, attempt to cook or navigate the cellar stairs. "He'd be out watering the flowers at two in the morning," she said about the retired Marlboro police officer. "All my friends thought I was going to have a mental breakdown." Enter Molly Perdue, a psychologist with Hope at Home, an at-home therapy program run by HopeHealth, a nonprofit organization based in Hyannis, Mass., that provides services for hospice, Alzheimer's and other patients. Perdue started visiting the McCarthys at their Dennis home in March 2012 with the launch of the Hope at Home program.
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    Lilly and Sanofi CEOs take 2 very different R&D paths in Alzheimer's disease
    Alzheimer's Disease R&D might be the most challenging therapeutic area that faces medicine today. It is known that AD is caused by the build-up of proteins into clusters that clog up nerve cells in the brain. These "plaques" break down nerve cells which, in turn, results in a decrease in the ability of these cells to function thereby leading to the familiar AD symptoms of memory loss and erosion of cognitive skills. How these plaques form is a matter of scientific debate. One theory is that AD is caused by the build-up of the protein, beta-amyloid, and that if you can prevent deposition of this protein in the brain, you can slow plaque progression. Unfortunately, two compounds designed to do just that, Pfizer PFE's bapineuzumab and Lilly's solanezumab, failed in late stage clinical trials, thus casting doubt on this hypothesis. A second theory is that AD is caused by the build-up of another protein, known as tau, inside neurons where tau causes protein tangles. Interestingly, post-mortem samples of AD patients show that there is a correlation between tau protein tangles and the degree of AD severity.
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    How exercise and other activities beat back dementia
    The numbers are pretty grim: More than half of all 85-year-olds suffer some form of dementia. But here's the good news: Brain researchers say there are ways to boost brain power and stave off problems in memory and thinking. In other words, brain decline is not necessarily an inevitable part of aging. "It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings," Bryan James tells Shots. He's an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago. "Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia."
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    Apps and online tools make tough life a bit easier for Alzheimer's, autism caregivers
    Minneapolis Star Tribune
    As her mother and father edged toward dementia, Nancy D'Auria kept a piece of paper in her wallet listing their medications. It had the dosages, the time of day each should be taken and a check mark when her folks, who live 10 miles away, assured her the pills had been swallowed. "I work full time so it was very challenging," said D'Auria, 63, of West Nyack, Minn. Now she has an app for that. With a tap or two on her iPhone, D'Auria can access a "pillbox" program that keeps it all organized for her and other relatives who share in the caregiving and subscribe to the app. From GPS devices and computer programs that help relatives track a wandering Alzheimer's patient to iPad apps that help an autistic child communicate, a growing number of tools for the smartphone, the tablet and the laptop are catering to beleaguered caregivers.
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