Category: Mental Health

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DALLAS–Music is something many of us can relate to—it helps us reminisce, express ourselves, and it can provide comfort and a much-needed distraction. For these reasons and more, music therapy is an integral piece for those navigating life’s final passage and for their grieving family members.

Jennefer Dixon is a music therapist for Faith Presbyterian Hospice (FPH), and she witnesses the benefits of music therapy every day. She visits patients in their homes Monday through Friday, patients at the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center on Wednesdays, and she provides the music during Faith Kids and Camp Faith. Each situation is unique, and her techniques vary to accommodate the needs of patients and/or loved ones.

“Music therapy is the use of music and musical activities to care for patients and their families who are experiencing physical or emotional setbacks,” said Dixon. “I visit many of my patients in their homes. One patient really enjoys when I play older songs like ‘Clementine’ and ‘Home on the Range’ because her husband used to sing them to her, and they would sing them in the car with their kids when traveling on family road trips. The songs help her reminisce and recall happy moments she shared with her family. Another woman is a retired music teacher who sang in the opera. She lost her speech and ability to communicate—but listening to music still brings her a lot of joy. She lights up when I come to visit, and I’ve noticed certain songs like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ really enhance her mood.”

Full article at Senior Living 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

Two mornings a week, a van arrives at the Escondido, Calif., home of Mario Perez and takes him to a new senior center in this northern San Diego County town, where he eats a hot lunch, plays cards and gets physical therapy to help restore the balance he lost after breaking both legs in a fall.

If he wants, he can shower, get his hair cut or have his teeth cleaned. Those twice-weekly visits are the highlights of the week for Perez, a 65-year-old retired mechanic who has diabetes and is legally blind.

“The people here are very human, very nice,” he said. “I’m gonna’ ask for three days a week.”

Full story at News-Medical

An unhealthy diet is one of the leading risk factors for poor health, accounting for up to 45 percent of all deaths from cardiometabolic diseases (CMD), such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But the national economic burden of unhealthy diet habits remains unknown. A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in collaboration with investigators at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, analyzed the impact of 10 dietary factors — including consumption of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, processed meats and more — and estimated the annual CMD costs of suboptimal diet habits. The team concludes that suboptimal diet costs approximately $300 per person, or $50 billion nationally, accounting for 18 percent of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes costs in the country. The team’s findings are published in PLOS Medicine.

“There is a lot to be gained in terms of reducing risk and cost associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes by making relatively simple changes to one’s diet,” said corresponding author Thomas Gaziano, MD, MSc, of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Brigham. “Our study indicates that the foods we purchase at the grocery store can have a big impact. I was surprised to see a reduction of as much as 20 percent of the costs associated with these cardiometabolic diseases.”

Full story at Science Daily

Scientists recently discovered an unexpected role for a protein they associate with premature aging. They showed that it is a master regulator of cellular senescence and argue its loss leads to normal aging.

Aging is an inevitable part of our lives. But an increasingly aging population poses public health challenges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people in the United States aged 65 years and older will reach around 71 million in the next 10 years.

But what actually happens when we age? Scientists are working on a number of theories.

Full story at Medical News Today

Four months after treating them, Yasuhiro Shiga, MD, PhD, checked on his rats. Walking into the lab, he carried minimal expectations. Treating spinal cord injuries with stem cells had been tried by many people, many times before, with modest success at best. The endpoint he was specifically there to measure — pain levels — hadn’t seemed to budge in past efforts.

“Well, it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t see any real change in pain behavior in any of the groups,” said Shiga, a visiting scholar at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, apologetically, as he walked into the office of his supervisor, Wendy Campana, PhD, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Program in Neuroscience.

But, to Campana’s surprise, he continued, almost as an after-thought.

“Although … some rats are actually really moving.”

The difference for those rats was this: Before delivering them into the spinal cord injury site, Shiga and Campana had conditioned stem cells with a modified form of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug commonly used to treat non-hemorrhagic stroke.

Full story at Science Daily

A leukemia drug may have cleared another hurdle as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

But critics say it’s still not clear whether the drug, nilotinib (brand name Tasigna), is truly safe or effective for this use.

In a study of 75 people with Parkinson’s, nilotinib appeared to improve quality of life and boost the chemical dopamine, a team from Georgetown University Medical Center reported Monday in JAMA Neurology.

“We are seeing signals that this may be a potential treatment for our Parkinson’s disease patients,” says Dr. Fernando Pagan, director of the medical center’s movement disorders program.

Full story at NPR