REMEMBER THE jump-to-conclusions mat in the movie “Office Space?” Maybe there should be a square for concluding: “My parent’s signs of normal aging must mean dementia is around the corner.” In truth, for most adults 65 years or older, that just isn’t the case.
In 2012, about 9 percent of U.S. seniors had dementia, according to a study published January 2017 in JAMA Internal Medicine, with the prevalence of dementia declining from 11.6% in 2000. The vast majority of seniors will not develop dementia.
However, well-meaning family members are sometimes anxious about any changes they see in an older loved one. Adult children can conflate medical conditions, physical disabilities or memory slips with impending mental impairment.
DIVORCE CAN BE TOUGH ON health, no matter your age. Legal uncoupling is listed as the No. 2 stressor on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, a scale that predicts which life events are likely to cause a stress-induced health breakdown within two years.
And for people age 50 or older, whose divorce rates have doubled since 1990, divorce may be even harder on their health. “What I see among older patients is that divorce can have myriad psychological and physical consequences, especially for those with already existing medical problems,” says Dr. Andreea Seritan, a geriatric psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California—San Francisco.
Divorce rates for people younger than age 50 are higher (about double) than they are for seniors. But younger couples’ divorce rates aren’t seeing dramatic increases. For 40-somethings, divorce rates are only slightly higher than they were in 1990. For people younger than 40, divorce rates have actually fallen.
Research led by scientists from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) at the University of Southampton has shown that a higher income and being married reduces the risk of experiencing a broken bone in old age.
The study, published in Osteoporosis International, investigated whether differences in socioeconomic status, represented by income and marital status, were associated with fracture risk.
Researchers from the University of Southampton, University of Oxford, University of Bristol as well as Aalborg and Southern Denmark, analysed data from 189, 838 patients who had broken bones, compared with 189,838 patients who had not experienced a broken bone, drawn from the Danish population.
As Kathy Helgerson slipped the pair of MINDVR goggles over Rita Strauss’ head, the reaction was instant.
“It looks like Midnight!” Strauss, 87, said with glee. “My tomcat.”
It’s moments like this that lead Helgerson, Strauss’ daughter and founder of “Simple Steps to Technology” to say she has “the best job in the world.”
“It is so powerful, I can’t even tell you,” Helgerson said, tears welling in her eyes at the spark of recognition from her mom, who has Alzheimer’s. “It brings up those memories of the past. … If you had asked my mom about (the cat) normally, she would have forgotten about it.”
Alzheimer’s disease is among the most expensive illnesses in the U.S. There’s no cure, no effective treatment and no easy fix for the skyrocketing financial cost of caring for an aging population.
Spending on care for people alive in the U.S. right now who will develop the affliction is projected to cost $47 trillion over the course of their lives, a report issued Tuesday by the Alzheimer’s Association found. The U.S. is projected to spend $277 billion on Alzheimer’s or other dementia care in 2018 alone, with an aging cohort of baby boomers pushing that number to $1.1 trillion by 2050.
Research so far has been stymied by clinical failures. By one count, at least 190 human trials of Alzheimer’s drugs have ended in failure. No company has successfully marketed a drug to treat it, though many big pharmaceutical companies, including Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc., have tried. Biogen Inc., a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, saw its shares dive last month after it said it was expanding the number of participants in its trial for the drug aducanumab.