FAU aims to prevent dementia with new program

Post-mortem studies confirm that 30 percent of Alzheimer’s disease case can be prevented.

Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton is aiming to find how – and will give patients a plan to follow.

FAU will launch the Dementia Prevention Initiative at the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health. It will take a genetics, biology and the molecular approach to the disease, as well as a personalized approach and precision medicine to reduce risk.

The belief is that the innovative approach developed at Florida Atlantic University turns the “one-size-fits-all” approach on its head when it comes to battling Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other related disorders.

This center is one of only a handful of centers around the world that focuses on dementia prevention.

Dr. James E. Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., a world-renowned neuroscientist,  designed the program to deliver a personalized prevention plan, tailored to each individual’s risk profile based on their genetic traits, biomarkers, socio-demographics, lifestyle choices, and co-existent medical conditions.

Galvin’s work supports the idea that there may be multiple pathways to develop neurological disorders –and therefore multiple ways to treat and prevent these diseases.

The photo above shows  Catherine Robson, a nurse practitioner observing as Dr. James Galvin administers a test using to measure eye movement. is used as an early biomarker sign of Parkinson’s disease.

Facing questioning, guardian Savitt resigns from controversial case

When it came to deceased senior Frances Berkowitz, professional guardian Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt appeared ready to fight until the bitter end despite efforts to remove her from her position.

But last week she was ready to not only resign as guardian for the late Berkowitz, but as personal representative of the estate. However, the heirs to Berkowitz’s depleted estate wouldn’t let her completely off a hook at a court on Wednesday.

>> $400,000 allegedly missing in case of professional guardian Savitt

Savitt’s decision came after she sidestepped a scheduled deposition on May 23  to answer questions at the behest of a New York family who the court has determined is the rightful heir to Berkowitz’s estate. Savitt sought a protective order to keep from answering questions.

Elizabeth Savitt appears at a court hearing to discuss attorney fees in, August 2015. (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)

And there are plenty of questions for Savitt.

The former attorneys for Berkowitz tried to remove Savitt, saying they were concerned as much as $400,000 was missing from the guardianship. Savitt has denied that any money is missing.

They also told the court that Savitt cost Berkowitz hundreds of thousands of dollars by failing to properly litigate against a caregiver and other parties — including a bank and a Miami lawyer — who took $1.2 million from the senior under false pretenses, court documents allege.

>> RELATED: Guardianships: A Broken Trust

However, Circuit Judge Howard Coates last year found that the attorneys lacked standing to challenge anything that happened in the guardianship once Savitt was appointed.

Savitt used Berkowitz’s money to sue the former lawyers — Webb Millsaps and Donna Solomon Greenspan — to recoup fees that Savitt claims were excessive.  Still pending is a defamation lawsuit filed by Millsaps and Solomon against one of Savitt’s attorneys, as well as an appeal of Coates’ decisions.

At a May 24 court hearing, the lawyer representing Berkowitz’s heirs, the Kerner family, accepted Savitt’s resignation as a personal representative of the estate but said he wouldn’t let her out of her fiduciary duty as a guardian of Berkowitz’s property just yet.

Attorney John Carter also wouldn’t agree to allow Savitt to forgo the final guardianship accounting of her activity in the Berkowitz case. Savitt’s attorney said there is no money left, but Carter said he has seen no such proof that is the case.

“I want to make sure I don’t waive any rights the Berkowitz heirs have to recoup expenses and fees and wasting of assets intentionally or otherwise caused by Ms. Savitt’s professional guardianship,” said Carter.

The Kerner family has sought to remove Savitt as personal representative since they learned in January of Berkowitz’s death on Dec. 31. The Kerners have asserted in court that Savitt misrepresented to the court that there were no rightful heirs to serve as personal representative even though she knew there were family members who could serve in that capacity.

A Savitt attorney has repeatedly pointed out that the main heir to Berkowitz’s estate is facing murder charges for killing the late senior’s sister and has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.  Another Kerner family member has stepped up to replace Savitt as personal representative, however.

With the deposition pending, Savitt’s attorney filed a motion for a protective order to keep her from answering questions about her activity in the Berkowitz case, saying the professional guardian is entitled to be protected from “annoyance, embarrassment, oppression and undue burden.”

Berkowitz is just one of Savitt’s guardianships in turmoil as families have repeatedly complained about her. Foremost among the complaints was that Savitt took tens of thousands of dollars in fees prior to judicial approval.

Savitt’s actions were reported in The Palm Beach Post’s series, Guardianship: A Broken Trust. She points out that she has never been removed from a guardianship or sanctioned by a judge.

After the first stories ran, her husband, Martin Colin, announced his retirement as a circuit judge.  Chief Judge Jeffrey Colbath then handed down guardianship reforms, many of which addressed family’s complaints about Savitt.

Florida Supreme Court accepts guardianship case on marriage annulment

The Florida Supreme Court has officially accepted jurisdiction of Palm Beach County case on whether a court-appointed guardian can seek to annul a marriage of a senior citizen found to be incapacitated.

The annulment issue has surfaced recently in at least two guardianship cases in Palm Beach County – both involving elder law and special needs attorney Ellen Morris of Boca Raton.

 

Martinez
J. Alan Smith and Glenda Martinez Smith have fought to reverse the annulment of their 2011 marriage at the behest of a professional guardian. The case will be heard by the Florida Supreme Court.

Morris represented guardian John Cramer in the case in question involving 85-year-old J. Alan Smith. She also represented Elizabeth Savitt in the case involving senior Robert Paul Wein where she sought authority from the court to annul a 1959 marriage. Wein died before the issue was settled.

Concerns about Florida professional guardians in recent yearshave result in the state Legislature passing the state’s first regulatory authority over the industry that cares for adults and seniors found to be incapacitated by illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Robert and Vita Wein. Vita Wein says professional guardian Elizabeth Savitt has worked to break up the couple, who were married in 1958..
The late Robert  Wein with his and wife Vita last year. The couple fought to keep their 1958 marriage from being annulled by professional guardian Elizabeth Savitt.

The Smith case has already set precedent when the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that a senior’s advance directive naming a health care surrogate  must be followed by the court and not usurped by the appointed professional guardian.

Currently, Smith is being cared for by the woman he married, Glenda Martinez Smith. She is now fighting to reverse the decision by Circuit Judge David French to annul the marriage at behest of the guardian.

The 4th DCA in July certified a question of great public importance on whether incapacitated individuals can retain the rights to marry. The Supreme Court on Aug. 25 accepted the case and ordered attorneys to submit briefs by next week.

An annulment can be a fee generator for  guardians and the attorneys who represents them. The Post reported in its series Guardianship: A Broken Trust how annulment proceedings initiated by a guardian can drain the estate of the senior and cost loved ones tens of thousands of dollars in court fees fighting it.

Vita Wein told The Palm Beach Post that Savitt – who is married to Circuit Judge Martin Colin – aimed not only to generate fees but to cut her out of any of her husband’s inheritance and social security money in order to benefit relatives of her husband.

Elizabeth Savitt appears at a hearing with Attorney Sheri Hazeltine to discuss attorney fees for Albert Bach on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach. Elizabeth Savitt is the wife of Judge Martin Colin and also a professional guardian. (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)
Professional guardian Elizabeth Savitt  (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)

Scientists fear Okeechobee algae bloom with spread

Scientists worry that a large toxic algal bloom in Lake Okeechobee could spread through man-made canals to coastal estuaries like the Indian River Lagoon, according to a story published by Health News Florida.

Paul Gray of Audubon of Florida said he bloom likely will spread as water managers send large amounts of water from the rain-swollen lake to the estuaries. Lake O is a last ditch backup water supply for the city of West Palm Beach.

0010216A 071505 tc met river el 1 A view from the North Fork of the St. Lucie River shows fresh algae blooms off the shoreline Friday afternoon, July 15, 2005. The South Florida Water Management District held a media briefing and aerial tour of the conditions in Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River today, July 15, at 1 p.m. at the Witham Field Airport, 2555 SE Dixie Highway, Stuart.  (Erik Lunsford/The Palm Beach Post) NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION OUTSIDE COX PAPERS. OUT PALM BEACH, BROWARD, MARTIN, ST. LUCIE, INDIAN RIVER AND OKEECHOBEE COUNTIES IN FLORIDA. OUT ORLANDO. OUT TV. OUT MAGAZINES. OUT TABLOIDS. OUT WIDE WORLD. OUT INTERNET USE. NO SALES. ORG XMIT: MER0507151724509064 ORG XMIT: MER0706181400405571
A view from the North Fork of the St. Lucie River shows fresh algae blooms off the shoreline in 2005.

 

“When you open the gate to flow water out of the lake they just flow right along with it,” Gray said. “And they tend to stay at the surface so they can stay viable all the way down the canal and into the estuary.”

Gray said it’s too soon to know how heavy rain this week impacted the bloom.

A toxic bloom of the same algal species three years ago gripped the southern Indian River Lagoon, prompting advisories that people stay away from the water.

And there is more evidence these algal blooms could be affecting humans in ways we are only now beginning to understand.

The Palm Beach Post in March published how algal blooms have been tied to ALS, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. Blue-green algae produce a toxin called BMAA that has been linked to the neurological tangles in the brain that are the hallmark of these neurological devastating disorders.

 

Nursing home patient dies after being left out in the sun

A 65-year-old nursing home resident in Pinellas Park died over the weekend after caregivers apparently left him out in the sun.

Health News Florida reports that the man – whose name hasn’t been released – died of second-degree burns and was dehydrated.

He was staying at Gracewood Nursing Home in the Florida west coast community. The authorities were notified at 9:45 p.m. Saturday.

The man, who had blisters from the burns on his body, went into cardiac failure and died, police said.

Health News Florida reports detectives are working to determine what happened and whether the man was a victim of abuse.

 

courtesy Creative Commons

 

Concussion doctor blasts Academy Awards for racism

The discussion about the lack of black nominees for this year’s Academy Awards dominated the ceremony Sunday night – from host Chris Rock’s opening monologue to acceptance speeches.

OmaluSmith
Dr. Bennet Omalu, left, and Will Smith at the New York photo call for Columbia Pictures “Concussion,” which opened in theaters on Christmas Day 2015.

Absent from the ceremony was black actor Will Smith, whose nuanced performance in Concussion captured the doctor who brought the issue to the forefront of the NFL and the public.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, in an interview with the Palm Beach Post in January, spoke about the lack of Academy Award black nominees.

The doctor said the issue isn’t about Smith not receiving a nod, but the fact the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has failed for two consecutive years to nominate for a major award any black, Hispanic or Asian actor, calling the Academy “a country club of exclusivity” and a “remnant of our dark past.”

“I think it is high time to find an alternative to the Academy that will reflect modern times,” he said.

Omalu is on a mission to enlighten the public about how repeated concussions in sports causes the neurological condition CTE that brings on dementia, mental illness and other problems for pro athletes.

The Post spoke to parents  who say they wouldn’t allow their children to play football in the light of Omalu’s discovery.