How Caregivers Can Join the Fight to Cure Alzheimer’s

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is one of the toughest jobs anyone can take. It’s understandable if you haven’t had time to keep up on the future of Alzheimer’s treatment — you’re worried about the here and now.

However, the truth is that Alzheimer’s research is at a crossroads. To come up with new and better treatments, scientists need more data from more diverse groups of people.

Now, Boston University School of Public Health and the cognitive assessment software company Savonix are making it easy for anyone to participate in a groundbreaking study that could contribute to new treatments for Alzheimer’s or even a cure.

Scientists Need More Data From Diverse Groups of People to Make Progress Against Alzheimer’s

As a caregiver, you understand the profound need for new Alzheimer’s treatments. Unfortunately, public health experts have agreed for years that research into Alzheimer’s disease is too narrow in focus and doesn’t include populations that are large enough or diverse enough. Writing for the news website Quartz in July 2019, Katherine Ellen Foley investigated the state of Alzheimer’s research and wrote:

”Alzheimer’s affects people of varying ethnicities, sexual and gender identities, and employment and educational backgrounds differently — yet the overwhelming majority of clinical research in Alzheimer’s is on white, affluent participants. Even if researchers do find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease [using the available data], it may not work for everyone.”

The lack of diversity in Alzheimer’s research, Foley concluded, sets the field up for failure. This problem won’t be an easy one to fix, but the ASSIST Study will help.

About the ASSIST Study

The ASSIST Study is the largest and most comprehensive brain health study so far. A joint effort between Boston University School of Public Health and Savonix, the ASSIST study will gather data from at least 400,000 individuals from all walks of life. By examining a larger and more diverse population than any study before, the ASSIST Study will find out how a wide range of factors influence our risk of developing dementia.

The information collected in the ASSIST Study may help us develop new therapies and drugs to treat memory loss, confusion, and other symptoms of brain disease. The results of the study may even help us find a cure for Alzheimer’s. But to succeed, we need to gather data from a diverse group of hundreds of thousands of people — including you.

How Alzheimer’s Caregivers Can Help

Even if you don’t have much available time, the ASSIST Study isn’t like other medical studies. You can participate in just 45 minutes from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is visit assiststudy.org and select the “Join the Study” button.

The ASSIST Study is open to all United States residents ages 22 and older. Your health status doesn’t matter, so both you and the person you’re caring for can participate and provide valuable data. You only need to meet one other requirement to participate:

  • You must have an Apple iPhone® 5s or later with iOS version 11.0 or later, and you must use the Health app to track your health information

—OR—

  • You must have an Apple iPad® with iOS version 11.0 or later or an Android™ device, such as a tablet or phone, running version 6 or late

What to Expect When You Join the ASSIST Study

When you join the ASSIST Study, you’ll need to review and sign a consent form. Then, you’ll fill out a short questionnaire about your current and past health conditions.

After you provide consent and fill out the questionnaire, you’ll register to receive the test link. At that point, you’ll need to download the Savonix mobile app to your Apple or Android™ device.

If you’re using an iPhone® with the Health app, the Savonix mobile app will ask you to share your Health app data, including body measurements and health habits such as exercise, sleep, and nutrition. If you’re using an iPad® or Android™ device, you’ll skip this step and proceed directly to the test.

The test for the ASSIST Study takes about 15–20 minutes to complete. Make sure you have uninterrupted time in a quiet space before you begin. The test itself will seem like a series of puzzles or brain teasers — nothing stressful.

Once Boston University researchers organize the study data and analyze it, we’ll send you a summary of the overall findings. You’ll also get a link to take the test again. When you take the test a second time, you can receive a personalized report that will compare your individual results to those of other study participants. You’ll also have the option to repeat the test in the future and see how your cognitive abilities change over time.

RELATED: How Boston University and Savonix Are Teaming Up to Fight Dementia

Ready to Join the Study?

You can join the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia right now. To get started, go to www.assiststudy.org and select the button that says, “Join the Study.” Follow the instructions and do your part today!


References

Foley, K.E. (2019, July 19). Excluding minorities from Alzheimer’s research is wrong—and it’s keeping us from finding a cure. Quartz. Retrieved from https://qz.com/1668543/alzheimers-research-has-a-diversity-problem/

Foley, K.E. (2019, January 7). New Alzheimer’s research highlights the need for diversity in medical studies. Quartz. Retrieved from https://qz.com/1516739/new-alzheimers-research-highlights-the-need-for-diversity-in-medical-studies/