Genes vs. lifestyle: Study ‘undermines fatalistic view of dementia’

A new study investigates the effect of leading a healthful lifestyle on people who have a genetic predisposition to developing dementia.

Elżbieta Kuźma, Ph.D., and David Llewellyn, Ph.D., from the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom, are the joint lead authors of the new research, which appears in the journal JAMA.

Llewellyn, Kuźma, and colleagues also presented their findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019, which took place in Los Angeles, CA.

In their paper, the authors explain that while scientists know that genes and lifestyle both significantly affect Alzheimer’s risk and the likelihood of other types of dementia, they do not yet know the extent to which making healthful lifestyle choices can offset the genetic risk.

Full story at Medical News Today

Coping strategy therapy for family dementia carers works long-term

A programme of therapy and coping strategies for people who care for family members with dementia successfully improves the carers’ mental health for at least a six-year follow-up, finds a UCL study.

Carers who took part in the programme were five times less likely to have clinically significant depression than carers who were not offered the therapy, according to the findings published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

The intervention has also been shown to be cost-effective in a prior study.

“Taking care of a family member with dementia can be immensely difficult, particularly as their condition deteriorates and they may not appreciate their carer, so close to four in 10 family carers experience depression of anxiety,” said Professor Gill Livingston (UCL Psychiatry), the trial’s principal investigator.

Full story at Science Daily

How having a close relative with Alzheimer’s may affect cognition

New research suggests that having a family history of Alzheimer’s may impair cognition throughout a person’s lifetime, but it also identifies factors that could offset these adverse effects. The findings may enable people at risk to take active measures for delaying or even preventing this form of dementia.

Having a close relative with dementia is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, it is one of the two most significant risk factors, together with age. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s raises relative risk by 30%, which means that a person’s existing risk goes up by almost a third.

Having a copy of the gene APOE4 that encodes the protein apolipoprotein E raises Alzheimer’s risk by threefold. Having both copies of the gene — which is a rare occurrence — increases the risk by 10 to 15 times.

Full story at Medical News Today

How Aerobic Exercise Benefits the Brain – Especially As You Age

A RECENT COLUMBIA University study builds on previous research linking aerobic exercise to cognitive function and cortical thickness improvement in middle-aged and older adults. Here’s a look at what the findings could mean for you.

Can you imagine living through chronic neurological disease and dysfunction that prevents you from learning, reasoning, behaving appropriately or even remembering basic information? These are examples of cognitive functions, which are the sophisticated mental processes by which we’re able to carry out daily tasks and navigate the world around us. The way we learn things, how we remember them, problem-solving and paying attention to details can deteriorate with mild cognitive impairment and can be destroyed with more aggressive forms of dementia. Our cognitive abilities can also decline with age.

Full story at US News

Creating a More Welcoming World for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Individuals

From smartphones to social media, technology is reshaping our world. For people with disabilities, advancements in technology and engineering have the potential to knock down long-standing barriers to communication, employment, and full community participation. ACL’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) works to translate that potential into real-life solutions that increase choices, opportunities, and accommodations.

For more than 30 years, NIDILRR has funded a variety of research projects at Gallaudet University — a pioneer in advancing educational opportunities and research for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. On June 25, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and ACL Administrator Lance Robertson got an up-close look at the impact of Gallaudet’s NIDILRR-funded work at the university in Washington, DC.

NIDILRR-funded projects at Gallaudet include the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. A key principle behind Gallaudet’s work is that people who are deaf or hard of hearing should be directly involved in developing solutions to address the barriers they experience.

Full story at acl.gov

In Secret, Seniors Discuss Suicide

Ten residents slipped away from their retirement community one Sunday afternoon for a covert meeting in a grocery store cafe. They aimed to answer a taboo question: When they feel they have lived long enough, how can they carry out their own swift and peaceful death?

The seniors, who live in independent apartments at a high-end senior community near Philadelphia, showed no obvious signs of depression. They’re in their 70s and 80s and say they don’t intend to end their lives soon. But they say they want the option to take “preemptive action” before their health declines in their later years, particularly due to dementia.

More seniors are weighing the possibility of suicide, experts say, as the baby boomer generation — known for valuing autonomy and self-determination — reaches older age at a time when modern medicine can keep human bodies alive far longer than ever before.

Full story at US News

ACL Releases a New Alzheimer’s and Dementia Program Cooperative Agreement Grant Opportunity

AoA’s  Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative – Grants to States and Communities program announcement (HHS-2019-ACL-AOA-ADPI-0360) seeks to support and promote the development and expansion of dementia-capable home and community-based service (HCBS) systems in States and Communities.

There are two application options contained in the single funding announcement: Grants to States (Option A) and Grants to Communities (Option B).

No entity is eligible to apply for both State and Community options.

The dementia-capable systems resulting from program activities under either option are expected to provide quality, person-centered services and supports that help people living with dementia and their caregivers remain independent and safe in their communities.

Full story at acl.gov

Mouse study finds enzyme that prolongs life

New research in mice uncovers a previously unknown “pathway toward healthy aging.” A circulating protein from the blood of young mice led to health improvements and visible signs of rejuvenation when researchers gave it to aging mice.

As well as hair loss, wrinkles, and lessening mobility, less visible, underlying bodily changes also characterize the aging process.

One of these changes is the loss of a kind of “fuel” that keeps the body healthy — the so-called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD).

Full story at Medical News Today

For Some, Trouble Tracking Finances Could Be Sign of Dementia

If someone you know is struggling to keep track of their finances as they age, early dementia might be the culprit.

That’s the conclusion of researchers who tested 243 adults, aged 55 to 90, on their financial skills and performed brain scans to assess the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Some of the participants had no mental decline, some had mild memory impairment and some had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Specific financial skills declined with age and at the earliest stages of mild memory impairment, with similar declines in men and women, the study authors said.

Full story at US News

Questions to Ask When You’re Diagnosed With Dementia

ACROSS THE U.S. THIS year, about 500,000 people will learn they have Alzheimer’s disease. If that happens to you or someone you love, you won’t be happy about it, even if it confirms what you’ve long suspected. This is the illness Americans fear most, even more than cancer or AIDS. Dementia has many types, including Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body disease and others. They all cause a continuous, ultimately fatal decline in many functions, including memory, planning, speech and ultimately walking and even swallowing. We have no cure, and no reasonable expectation that one is around the corner. For this reason, some doctors still choose not to tell patients that they have dementia. It’s hard to excuse this approach – a person has a right to know about their health, and someone with dementia has many challenges ahead. Planning can ease later burdens – and even make room for happiness.

Dementia runs in my family, so I am at risk as I age. Here are some things I’ve thought about that you may want to think about, too.

Full story at US News