Category: Alzheimer’s

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THE EXTERNAL PHENOMENA of aging are known to all of us. We can expect graying hair, bone loss, fatigue or memory difficulties.

But what actually happens to our brain as we get older, and what goes wrong when aging develops into a neurological disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s? This is a primary focus of neurological specialists around the world working to map the brain and unlock its many mysteries.

Previous animal studies have shown that molecular changes in the composition of lipids and proteins in brain cells affect brain function and may cause cognitive impairment. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans allow us to look into the human brain in a non-invasive manner and learn about the changes that occur in it with age.

Read full article at US News

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS might seem trite, especially as you age. But think again. When you look at them, resolutions are goals. And when you have goals, you have purpose.

Studies in the past have hinted at the benefit of purpose for older adults. But a study published in 2019 actually shows that having purpose may extend your life.

Data from 7,000 Americans ages 51 and 61 explored the relationship between mortality and purpose. Purpose was defined as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals.”

People without strong purpose were more than twice as likely to die during the study period, regardless of income, gender, race or education. Purpose, it seems, is better at attaining longevity than reducing drinking, stopping smoking and conversely, even better than exercising regularly.

Full article at US News

Staying hydrated seems simple enough. Yet studies have shown that somewhere between about one-third and one-half of older adults may be dehydrated, increasing their risk of health problems.

Dehydrated people hospitalized with a stroke are more than twice as likely to experience impairment afterward.

According to a paper appearing in Age and Ageing, widespread misconceptions about maintaining proper hydration are partly to blame.

Full article at Medical News Today

For decades, scientists have known that Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by the buildup of clumps of amyloid protein between brain cells. Could these plaques be causing the disease?

That’s been a prevailing theory driving Alzheimer’s research for years. But a new study suggests the strategy could be wrong.

Researchers reporting Dec. 30 in the journal Neurology have found that early declines in memory and thinking seen in Alzheimer’s patients tend to occur before amyloid plaques begin to appear in the brain, not after.

Full article at US News

A drug that provides the benefits obtained from medicinal cannabis without the “high” or other side effects may help to unlock a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

The drug — HU-308 — lessens devastating involuntary movements called dyskinesias, a side effect from years of treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

The research, published today in Neurobiology of Disease, has been conducted by the Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Applied Medical Research Institute of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney.

The study shows that in mice HU-308 is as effective as amantadine, the only available treatment for dyskinesias. Furthermore, the combination of HU-308 with amantadine is more effective than either drug used alone.

Full story at Science Daily

Obesity in middle age is associated with an increased risk of dementia later in life, according to a study of more than 1 million women in the United Kingdom.

Those who were obese in their mid-50s had 21% greater risk of being diagnosed with dementia 15 or more years later, compared with women who had a healthy weight, a team of British and international researchers found.

The study adds to the “ever-expanding body of data that says what you do with yourself in midlife — and really even earlier — affects your risk for dementia as you age,” said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago. He was not part of the research.

Full story at US News

Research shows that white blood cells in the human brain are regulated by a protein called CD33 — a finding with important implications in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study by University of Alberta chemists.

“Immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play a critical role in Alzheimer’s disease,” explained Matthew Macauley, assistant professor in theDepartment of Chemistry and co-author on the paper. “They can be harmful or protective. Swaying microglia from a harmful to protective state could be the key to treating the disease.”

Scientists have identified the CD33 protein as a factor that may decrease a person’s likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease. Less than 10 percent of the population have a version of CD33 that makes them less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. “The fact that CD33 is found on microglia suggests that immune cells can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease under the right circumstances,” said Abhishek Bhattacherjee, first author and postdoctoral fellow in the Macauley lab.

Full story at Science Daily

Anne Firmender, 74, was working with her psychologist to come up with a list of her positive attributes.

“I cook for others,” said Ms. Firmender.

“It’s giving,” encouraged the psychologist, Dimitris Kiosses.

“Good kids,” continued Ms. Firmender, who has four grown children and four grandchildren.

“And great mother,” added Dr. Kiosses. Ms. Firmender smiled.

Dr. Kiosses typed up the list and handed a printout to Ms. Firmender to take home. “When you’re feeling down and hard on yourself, you can remind yourself of your strengths,” he told her.

Full story at New York Times

Migraine headache is the third most common disease in the world affecting about 1 in 7 people. More prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined, migraine headaches are among the most common and potentially debilitating disorders encountered by primary health care providers. Migraines also are associated with an increased risk of stroke.

There are effective prescription medications available to treat acute migraine headaches as well as to prevent recurrent attacks. Nonetheless, in the United States many patients are not adequately treated for reasons that include limited access to health care providers and lack of health insurance or high co-pays, which make expensive medications of proven benefit unaffordable. The rates of uninsured or underinsured individuals have been estimated to be 8.5 percent nationwide and 13 percent in Florida. Furthermore, for all patients, the prescription drugs may be poorly tolerated or contraindicated.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine have proposed aspirin as a possible option for consideration by primary care providers who treat the majority of patients with migraine. Their review includes evidence from 13 randomized trials of the treatment of migraine in 4,222 patients and tens of thousands of patients in prevention of recurrent attacks.

Full story at Science Daily

Playing cards and board games like chess, bingo and Scrabble might be the mental workout you need to keep your wits as you age, Scottish researchers suggest.

People in their 70s who regularly play board games score higher on tests of memory and thinking skills than those who don’t. And 70-somethings who step up their game-playing are more likely to maintain thinking skills as they age, researchers say.

“Playing board, card and word games may protect people from cognitive decline, but this study wasn’t an intervention, so we can’t say that for sure,” said lead researcher Drew Altschul, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Edinburgh. “But it, at very least, is fun, inexpensive, and it certainly won’t hurt you.”

Full story at US News