Feb 212014

Volunteers – both with and without Alzheimer’s disease – are needed to participate in actively enrolling clinical trials about Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Recruiting and retaining trial participants is one of the greatest obstacles to developing the next generation of  treatments and possibly future cures for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

TrialMatch® is a free matching service that connects individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, caregivers, healthy volunteers and physicians with current clinical studies. With a database of 130+ Alzheimer’s clinical trials, including both pharmacological (drug) and non-pharmacological (non-drug) studies being conducted across the country, TrialMatch is a unique opportunity to make a difference in your life and the life of others with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association spoke with TrialMatch user Wanda Young regarding the benefits of her participation in these clinical studies. Wanda is caregiver for her husband, mother and brother, all of which have forms of dementia.  She is participating in clinical trials as a healthy volunteer.

Wanda initially called the Alzheimer’s Association to receive information about brain donation and was told about TrialMatch. “I Cwas interested in the opportunity because I wanted to learn; I’m always trying to learn more. I’m actually taking a psychology course right now, studying the brain. My kids think I’m a bit of a geek, always trying to absorb the most I can about a subject… Education is the key to everything.”

“TrialMatch allowed me to plan my days as a caregiver better. It helped me take a look at myself and how I was coping, and how I could better care for my loved ones. TrialMatch prepared me for what to expect and how to respond as my family members progress with their various dementias. The TrialMatch experiences allow me to think further beyond today and into the future.”

Wanda says that she saw the TrialMatch process not only as an outlet, but as a helpful planning tool that allowed her to plan major life decisions. “My time at the computer is my time alone and my time away from everything else I am experiencing. Using the computer on my own schedule is an easy way to receive new information. The studies I participated in helped me write my advance directive and allowed me to look at my own life and health. I also received tips for managing the medications of my family members, as well as helpful information about daily toiletry, tactful ways to redirect, travel to doctor appointments and so many helpful resources for each of them (my husband, mother and now my brother.) These are not easy tasks. They take time to complete, and only someone in my situation knows what it is like.”

Whether you are a caregiver, someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, or even a loved one of a caregiver or person with dementia, you are needed for future research. “I wish more physicians knew about TrialMatch and could tell their patients and their families about it. I used to have my own business; needless to say, my life is very different from what it used to be. Caregiving takes a major hit on your self-esteem. As a caregiver, I have gained a lot of weight due to the stressors in my life.  Without a support group or outside help, you can begin to feel like a non-entity, like you don’t exist. Thankfully I have been able to join a support group and have participated in groups at the Alzheimer’s Association to help with these feelings.”

Wanda recognizes that the more that she learns, the more she can change her life and the lives of others. TrialMatch educates caregivers and offers researchers valuable information only caregivers and those with Alzheimer’s  and other dementias can provide. “I believe I have become an advocate,” Wanda says. “I read, I experience, I learn, and I take what I know back to the nursing home to help those in need. I share what I have learned with the staff, other caregivers, the residents and their family members. You don’t feel so far-removed from researchers when you are able to participate in a trial. I felt as though someone heard me, and that in itself is empowering. TrialMatch has been a way to de-stress. Being a caregiver is a full-time job. People don’t realize how difficult it is. It is important that caregivers have a voice.  I thank TrialMatch for giving me this platform.”

Ultimately, the goal is always the same. “The TrialMatch studies help caregivers cope with the difficult task of taking care of our loved ones. You feel less alone, and more educated. You feel like someone cares – and understands. Ultimately, the reason anyone should participate is to get us closer to a cure. The goal is always to find a cure.”


Wanda Young has been married to her husband Lou, a former teacher, mentor and coach for nearly 30 years. They have two wonderful sons. Wanda participated in the Medications Assistance study and the Relationship between Chronic Stressors and Eating Behaviors in Dementia Family Caregivers study through the Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch® program. She is the primary caregiver for her husband, her mother and her brother.FOTFE12_A

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  19 Responses to “A Caregiver’s Decision to Participate in Clinical Trials”

  1. Is there a new drug trial for alzheimer's starting up soon? What is the name of the Drug co. and the drug and how does it work with the brain?

  2. How do I sign up for the study. My mother has alzheimer. Please let me know how to participate. Thanks, Irene

  3. I would like to sign up and participate in this study. And have support from ones that understand. I am the caregiver of my dad, who is 88.

  4. I'm a caregiver and would like to particate

  5. My husvand has FTD known as frontotemporal dementia. He was diagnosed two years ago. I tried to care for him at
    home but it was unbearable and it was affecting my health. I now have him in a skilled home where some people have
    Alzheimer's and some do not. He is getting the proper care he needs but the cost for each month is out of site. We are
    using monies from an IRA and when that runs out what do I do.??? It is deplorable that we cannot get some financial
    assistance. I go to a support group but nothing seems to get done. We just talk with no action being taken.
    I need to know what other people are doing to pay expenses.

    • Mary Ann- You can find assistance and tips here: http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-commo… and you can also call the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 helpline at 1.800.272.3900.

    • You may call dept of aging in your area and ask for name of residential assistant living that specializes in residents with dementia they are more personal, licensed and they are cheaper

    • Hi Mary Ann:

      Unless you are just about destitute, or very wealthy and can afford to pay out of pocket, I was told, and I learned myself, there is very little to no help for the middle class. Alarming, since the middle class would most likely be the largest in numbers for both caregivers and dementia patients, and it is this class that donates, contributes, pays taxes for the less fortunate to get the help they need, but this help is out of site for the middle class. And even worse? No one addresses this issue.

  6. My wife has moderate to severe Alzheimer's. I would love to get her into a trial drug program where I knew she was getting a new drug. I would love to know about new promising drugs, especially ones that help and not keep things from progressing. . Thanks.

    Ron Bliss
    Maize, Kansas

  7. I am a care giver to an alzheimer patient (I live in the home). I also carry another alzheimer patient to church on Sunday. Please let me know how to participate. Thank you for your help. Linda

  8. I used to be an advocate for abused women and had to stop working to take care of my parent. I also feel like a non-entity and I don't exist. Idont know how I went from a strong women to this and it hurts

    • Carlene,

      The work you do is very important and can be very stressful. We have many resources at alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-healthy-caregiver.asp and you can speak to someone for support at our 24/7 helpline: 800.272.3900. Please feel free to reach out to speak to someone.

  9. I truly appkaud Wanda. I, myself, and our now deceased daughter tried taking care of my husband. After Chris's passing I tried to care formy husband but he contracted Cdef and was hospitalized, it was at that time I had to make the dificult decision to place him in a nursing home. I made the mistake of bring him home and even with help could not keep him safe from himself and had to once again place him in another nursing home. It's so hard to visit him because he plays me against staff and I never know if he is being truthful with me so I call staff to alert them to possibility he may be planning on leaving and he no longer knows how to get around town by

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