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

Cognitive decline: A personalized approach could be key

Researchers have designed a brain aging model to investigate the factors that contribute to cognitive decline, borrowing principles from precision medicine.

Cognitive decline affects a person’s ability to focus, remember, and make decisions.

Its severity can range from mild to severe, and it may lead to dementia, in the most severe cases.

People with dementia may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks and live independently.

Full story at Medical News Today

How frontotemporal dementia affects ‘moral emotions’

Researchers reveal a marker and new testing tool of frontotemporal dementia that may help distinguish this condition from Alzheimer’s disease.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a less common form of dementia than Alzheimer’s. Sometimes called Pick’s disease or frontal lobe dementia, this condition occurs when brain cells in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain, or both, become damaged.

The frontal lobes of a person’s brain are responsible for problem-solving, planning, emotional control, and behavior.

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

What helps prevent dementia? Try exercise, not vitamin pills

If you want to save your brain, focus on keeping the rest of your body well with exercise and healthy habits rather than popping vitamin pills, new guidelines for preventing dementia advise.

About 50 million people currently have dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. Each year brings 10 million new cases, says the report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

Although age is the top risk factor, “dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging,” it says.

Many health conditions and behaviors affect the odds of developing it, and research suggests that a third of cases are preventable, said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, which has published similar advice.

Full story at NBC News

Could a cell phone game detect who is at risk of Alzheimer’s?

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis often relies on signs of memory problems. However, these issues usually do not appear until years after the disease has taken hold. A new smartphone game is using spatial navigation to detect Alzheimer’s before it is too late.

Another person develops Alzheimer’s diseas eevery 3 seconds, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. The number of people living with this most common form of dementia currently stands at around 50 million. By 2050, experts expect this figure to have tripled.

The last “significant breakthrough” in Alzheimer’s research happened 4 decades ago, states the latest World Alzheimer’s Report. However, a recently developed smartphone game may alter that statistic.

Full story at Medical News Today

Understanding of atrial fibrillation-related dementia

University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have determined that atrial fibrillation (Afib) is independently associated with changes that occur with aging and dementia.

“Atrial Fibrillation and Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging Abnormalities” published in Stroke advances researchers’ understanding of the mechanisms underlying atrial fibrillation-related dementia. Jeremy Berman, a University of Minnesota cardiology fellow is the first author of this paper. It had already been determined that Afib is associated with dementia independent of clinical stroke but the mechanisms surrounding the association were still unclear.

“Until this point, most studies which looked into this association were cross-sectional, which have limitations,” said Lin Yee Chen, MD, MS, Associate Professor with tenure, Cardiovascular Division, in the Department of Medicine with the University of Minnesota Medical School. “In our study, brain MRI scans were performed at two different times within ten years.”

Full story at Science Daily