Sudoku, Crosswords Could Make Your Brain Years Younger

Mornings spent figuring out Sudoku or finessing a crossword could spell better health for aging brains, researchers say.

In a study of over 19,000 British adults aged 50 and over who were tracked for 25 years, the habit of doing word or number puzzles seemed to help keep minds nimble over time.

“We’ve found that the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention and reasoning,” said research leader Dr. Anne Corbett, of the University of Exeter Medical School.

Full story at US News

What helps prevent dementia? Try exercise, not vitamin pills

If you want to save your brain, focus on keeping the rest of your body well with exercise and healthy habits rather than popping vitamin pills, new guidelines for preventing dementia advise.

About 50 million people currently have dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. Each year brings 10 million new cases, says the report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

Although age is the top risk factor, “dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging,” it says.

Many health conditions and behaviors affect the odds of developing it, and research suggests that a third of cases are preventable, said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, which has published similar advice.

Full story at NBC News

DASH diet reduced heart failure risk ‘by almost half’ in people under 75

Sticking to a plant-rich diet that can reduce high blood pressure may also lower the risk of heart failure in people under the age of 75.

This was the conclusion of a study that a team at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, led to assess the impact of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan on heart failure.

They report their findings in a paper that now features in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are around 5.7 million adults with heart failure in the United States.

Full story at Medical News Today

New Tax Will Help Washington Residents Pay for Long-Term Care

Eligible residents who live in Washington State will have a new benefit available to them starting in 2025: a $100-per-day allowance for a variety of long-term care services, which will last up to a year.

The money will come from a payroll tax that begins in 2022, according to rules in a bill that the state’s governor signed Monday. Residents’ employers will put 0.58 percent of their paychecks — $290 for every $50,000 in income — into a state fund. Washington does not have a state income tax.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, no state has passed such sweeping coverage for long-term care, including nursing home fees, in-home assistance and reimbursing family members for care they provide.

Full story at The New York Times

Potentially Blinding Shingles of the Eye on the Rise

The virus that gave you chickenpox as a kid can rise again after decades of inactivity and inflict a painful, even blinding, eye infection in old age.

New research reveals that cases of eye-based “shingles” have tripled since 2004.

Exactly what is driving the increase remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that either of two vaccines could prevent many cases of shingles.

The problem? Relatively few Americans have been vaccinated.

“Shingles is a recurrence of pre-existing varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection, which patients likely first got when they had chickenpox earlier in life,” said study lead author Dr. Nakul Shekhawat, an ophthalmologist with Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Full story at US News

Senior Care Centers Drags Down Sabra’s Q1, But Optimism Remains — With Addiction as Next Frontier

A sizable real estate impairment charge related to the bankrupt Senior Care Centers contributed to a $77.7 million first-quarter loss for Sabra Health Care REIT (Nasdaq: SBRA), but executives remain upbeat that the changes coming to skilled nursing this fall will boost fortunes industry-wide.

The real estate investment trust (REIT) took a $103 million impairment charge primarily associated with the Dallas-based SCC, which filed for bankruptcy last year, amid a larger push toward divesting almost all of its Senior Care Centers skilled nursing facilities.

That number was higher than the originally projected $69 million, in part due to the Irvine, Calif.-based Sabra’s decision to sell off more properties than anticipated. The charge also included the effects of lingering storm damage from Hurricane Harvey in the Houston region, CEO Rick Matros said on the company’s first-quarter earnings call Thursday.

Full story at Skilled Nursing News

Do Adults Need a Measles Booster Shot?

New York’s ongoing measles epidemic alarmed midtown Manhattan resident Deb Ivanhoe, who couldn’t remember whether she’d ever been vaccinated as a child.

So Ivanhoe, 60, sought out her long-time primary care doctor, who performed an antibody test to see whether she had any protection against measles.

To her surprise, the test revealed that Ivanhoe had no immunity to measles. Her doctor quickly gave her a measles booster shot.

“I’m a New Yorker. I’m out and about. I take the subway every day,” Ivanhoe said of her concerns. “One of the outbreak areas is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I have friends in Williamsburg. I go to there to visit, for dinner. It all becomes local.”

Full story at US News

Could a cell phone game detect who is at risk of Alzheimer’s?

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis often relies on signs of memory problems. However, these issues usually do not appear until years after the disease has taken hold. A new smartphone game is using spatial navigation to detect Alzheimer’s before it is too late.

Another person develops Alzheimer’s diseas eevery 3 seconds, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. The number of people living with this most common form of dementia currently stands at around 50 million. By 2050, experts expect this figure to have tripled.

The last “significant breakthrough” in Alzheimer’s research happened 4 decades ago, states the latest World Alzheimer’s Report. However, a recently developed smartphone game may alter that statistic.

Full story at Medical News Today

Understanding of atrial fibrillation-related dementia

University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have determined that atrial fibrillation (Afib) is independently associated with changes that occur with aging and dementia.

“Atrial Fibrillation and Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging Abnormalities” published in Stroke advances researchers’ understanding of the mechanisms underlying atrial fibrillation-related dementia. Jeremy Berman, a University of Minnesota cardiology fellow is the first author of this paper. It had already been determined that Afib is associated with dementia independent of clinical stroke but the mechanisms surrounding the association were still unclear.

“Until this point, most studies which looked into this association were cross-sectional, which have limitations,” said Lin Yee Chen, MD, MS, Associate Professor with tenure, Cardiovascular Division, in the Department of Medicine with the University of Minnesota Medical School. “In our study, brain MRI scans were performed at two different times within ten years.”

Full story at Science Daily

‘My dad died at their hands’: WWII vet fatally injured in VA nursing home

Jim Ferguson wanted answers.

How was his 91-year-old father, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, fatally injured in a Veterans Affairs nursing home, the institution Ferguson had entrusted to care for him?

Huddled around a computer monitor with managers at the VA in Des Moines, Iowa, Ferguson watched a hallway surveillance video that depicted a chilling blow to his father’s head.

“I lost it,” Ferguson told USA TODAY. “I broke down.”

In the video, James “Milt” Ferguson Sr., who had dementia and was legally blind, appears confused. He opens a hallway door, rolls his wheelchair into another resident’s room, then wheels back out. No staff members are visible. He circles around and heads back into the room.

Full story at USA Today