Clinical Trials & Our Senior Loved Ones

We report about studies every day that have found new information about a disease.  Things we often hear about in the news from recent studies are new drugs to treat a chronic condition, a new gene that will unlock a cure, how siblings are affected by a particular condition, how a mother’s nutrition can affect the potential of developing a particular disease, how what we eat can improve our health and a multitude of other important findings.

Research requires in depth study in the field of science, medicine, nutrition and behavior to name a few.  Oftentimes, studying in a lab using animals or plants will tell scientists more about an disease but sometimes more investigation is needed to uncover the answers we all seek.

Clinical trials use human volunteers to investigate certain diseases in order to learn from the research findings.  These trials will help decide if particular drugs or treatments can be beneficial for everyone afflicted by the particular disease being studied.  Many studies are looking for participants and your senior or family members may be interested in furthering our knowledge of a disease that has plagued them personally over the years.  Participation is usually free and often a small stipend is provided to the participants.

Finding Clinical Trials

If you think your senior might be interested, here are some possible links that you might want to pursue.

1.  Informal/Family Caregivers of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury:  Please contact Dr. Karen Saban, Health Research Scientist, Edward Hines, Jr.  VA Hospital at 708/202-5264 or Project examining stress and perceived health of female informal caregivers caring for a Veteran who has experienced a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury within the past six months to ten years

2.  Web-based Study: Promoting Alzheimer’s Caregivers Communicative Skillfulness (PACCS)

Please contact Amanda Gentry at 412-624-3798 or for more information.  This study will test whether a new educational program can help caregivers to communicate more effectively with their loved one’s doctors.

3. Dementia Caregiver Support Research Study:  Contact Kelley O’Connor, the research coordinator, at (401) 444-4528 or This study is focused on the caregiver and the project will examine the impact of a telephone intervention on reducing the stress and burden associated with caring for a person with dementia.

4. Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study:  Contact: Study Coordinator at 1-800-526-2839 or The purpose of the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study is to help identify the genes that may be responsible for causing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) by collecting genetic material from families with multiple members diagnosed with AD.

5. Assessment of Sleep Disturbance in Alzheimer Disease: Contact: Philippe Robert or Contact: Renaud David This study takes place in France. The purpose is to determine a genetic relationship between sleep disturbance and Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Screening for Memory Studies: Contact: J Wesson Ashford, MD, PhD (650) 493-5000, The purpose of this protocol is to advertise, recruit, and do a preliminary screen for various clinical trials. Information collected will be entered in a database available to researchers connected with the Stanford/VA Aging Clinical Research Center, located at VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto Division.

7.  Study to Identify Clinical, Imaging and Biologic Markers of Parkinson Disease Progression (PPMI): Michael J Fox Foundation, Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders Kenneth Marek/Coordinating Investigator. 21 study locations with contact info, 15 in US. ( The primary objective of this study is to identify clinical, imaging and biologic markers of PD progression for use in clinical trials of disease-modifying therapies.

These are just a few examples of what types of trials on happening.  If your senior or family members find this interesting,  You can search for trials based on location, disease process and interventions.

If you have any questions about the appropriateness of a trial for your senior, be sure to check with their doctor.

We would love to hear experiences if your senior or family have been trial participants in the past.