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

As Sense of Smell Fades, Does Death Come Closer?

They say the nose knows, but can a loss of smell signal impending death?

Possibly, researchers say.

They discovered that a poor sense of smell was associated with a nearly 50% higher risk of death within the next decade for adults older than 70.

While the study didn’t prove cause and effect, that association is enough to make some experts wonder whether seniors’ sense of smell should be tested alongside their other vital signs.

“I would not be surprised if someday the sense of smell was included as a simple checkup, to see if this important human sense is affected,” said senior researcher Dr. Honglei Chen, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University.

Full story at US News

Could this brain stimulation technique reverse memory decline?

New research suggests that transcranial magnetic stimulation could reverse age-related memory loss. In fact, the technique restored the memory of senior participants to the level of young adults.

It is a known fact that a person’s memory tends to decline with age. Between 15 and 20 percent of people over the age of 65 years have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — a condition that is no cause for concern on its own but that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Misplacing things once in a while or having trouble finding one’s words can be a natural partof the aging process. However, researchers may now have found a way to reverse this form of age-related memory loss.

Full story at Medical News Today

Health Promotion Program Developers—Is Your Program Ready for the List?

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) hosts a list of health promotion programs that meet ACL’s evidence-based program requirements for Older Americans Act Title III-D funding. This list is just a small part of the health promotion-related technical assistance NCOA offers to the network through their National Falls Prevention Resource Center and the National Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Resource Center. This list takes the guess work out of trying to find and implement a program that meets the III-D funding requirement.

Currently, a vetting initiative is underway to evaluate programs and add new evidence-based programs to this list! This vetting process is conducted regularly, in order to provide the network with current, relevant, and robust evidence-based programming options.

Full story at acl.gov

Scientists Test Whether Brain Stimulation Could Help Sharpen Aging Memory

It’s an unfortunate fact of life — as we age, we tend to become more forgetful.

Aging brains struggle especially with working memory. Called the workbench of the mind, working memory allows us to store useful bits of information for a few seconds and use that information across different brain areas to help solve problems, plan or make decisions.

Researchers are trying to understand why this ability fades as we age and whether we can slow, or reverse, that decline.

One leading hypothesis contends that working memory works by far-flung brain areas firing synchronously. When two areas are on the same brain wavelength, communication is tight, and working memory functions seamlessly.

Full story at npr.org

Dementia looks different in brains of Hispanics

A major new study from the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Center has uncovered dramatic differences in the brains of Hispanics with a dementia diagnosis compared with those of non-Hispanic whites and of African Americans.

The first-of-its-kind study, based on extensive analyses of autopsied brains, found that Hispanics diagnosed with dementia were much more likely to have cerebrovascular disease than either non-Hispanic whites or African Americans. Researchers also found that Hispanics and African Americans were more likely to have mixed pathologies, that is, a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular disease, than non-Hispanic whites. And non-Hispanic whites were shown to have more pure Alzheimer’s disease than either Hispanics or African Americans.

Published today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the findings may help explain the higher rates of dementia among blacks and Hispanics, and point to the importance of treating each patient based on their individual risk factors.

Full story at Science Daily

Report finds few seniors are getting routine memory checkups

Few seniors get their thinking and memory abilities regularly tested during check-ups, according to a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association that raises questions about how best to find out if a problem is brewing.

Medicare pays for an annual “wellness visit” that is supposed to include what’s called a cognitive assessment — a brief check for some early warning signs of dementia, so people who need a more thorough exam can get one.

But doctors aren’t required to conduct a specific test, and there’s little data on how often they perform these cognitive snapshots.

About half of seniors say they’ve ever discussed thinking or memory with a health care provider, and less than a third say they’ve ever been assessed for possible cognitive problems, according to an Alzheimer’s Association survey being released Tuesday.

Full story at NBC News

Pooch Peril: More Elderly Are Fracturing Bones While Dog Walking

Walking the dog can be great exercise for seniors, but there could be one downside: bone fractures.

Fractures suffered by elderly Americans while walking their dogs have more than doubled in recent years, new research shows.

Still, taking your dog for a walk can also bring big health rewards, one joint specialist said.

“Pets can provide companionship for older adults, and the physical exercise from regularly walking a dog may improve other aspects of physical and psychological health,” said Dr. Matthew Hepinstall, who wasn’t involved in the new study.

Full story at US News

‘Young blood’ company Ambrosia halts patient treatments after FDA warning

A company that charged patients thousands of dollars for infusions of blood plasma from younger donors said Tuesday that it had stopped treating patients after the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against such treatments, purported to prevent aging and memory loss.

The company, Ambrosia, said on its website that it had “ceased patient treatments.” The announcement came hours after the FDA issued a statement saying there is no proof that plasma from young donors can be used as a treatment for dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder, as some companies have claimed.

The plasma infusions can also be dangerous, the agency added, because they are associated with infectious, allergic, respiratory and cardiovascular risks.

Full story at NBC News

Higher education won’t prevent mental decline, study finds

Education has long been thought to protect against the ravages of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Numerous studies seemed to suggest that the more educated were less likely to develop dementia.

But a large new study finds little difference between people with a high school diploma and those with a Ph.D. when it comes to staving off the damage to brain cells caused by dementing diseases or the rate at which mental decline progresses, once it starts.

“It’s been a longstanding idea that education might be one of those things that allows a person to tolerate these kinds of brain pathologies,” said the study’s lead author, Robert S. Wilson, a professor of neurological and behavioral sciences at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “We found that the more pathology you find in the brain, the faster the cognitive decline was.”

Full story at NBC News