IT STARTS OUT SLOWLY, almost imperceptibly. The misplaced keys. The forgotten birthday or anniversary. Using the wrong word or losing the thread in mid-conversation. These are often dismissed as typical signs of aging, but in some people, they may be the earliest signs that something bigger is at work – the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. When a doctor diagnoses dementia or Alzheimer’s in your loved one, you should be sure to ask a lot of questions to make sure you understand your loved one’s current state of being and so you can appropriately prepare for how this progressive disease could change over time.
1. Is it Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia?
There are several types of cognitive decline people may experience. “Dementia is simply an umbrella term,” says Dr. Susann Varano, a geriatrician at Maplewood Senior Living, a Westport, Connecticut–based senior living residence company. “If a physician says, ‘you have dementia,’ it’s the same thing as saying, ‘you have cancer.'” She says it’s critical to pinpoint exactly which type of dementia it is. “Is it Lewy body dementia? Is it vascular? Is it a frontotemporal disorder? Is it mixed dementia? Is it Alzheimer’s disease?” Although all dementias affect the brain and cognitive function, “each of those types of dementias have a different path. Some accelerate more than others and some have different presenting symptoms, so it’s very important to get the actual diagnosis of dementia.”
Medicines commonly prescribed to reduce people’s risk of heart attack may have limited use for treating other diseases, research suggests.
Previous studies had suggested the cholesterol-cutting drugs — called statins — might help people with non-heart related conditions too, including cancer, dementia and kidney disease.
Experts reviewed hundreds of studies and found positive signs the drugs could benefit people with certain conditions, in addition to their proven effects on heart disease, but the results are inconclusive.
The researchers say there is not enough evidence to support a change in current guidance for the way these drugs are prescribed.
ALMOST HALF OF WOMEN and more than one-third of men will develop Parkinson’s disease, dementia or suffer a stroke after age 45.
A new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry examined 12,102 people aged 45 and older from 1990 through 2016 to observe their lifetime risk of these diseases. Researchers found that 1,489 people were diagnosed with dementia, 1,285 had a stroke and 263 were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Women are more likely than men to experience any of these conditions. A woman’s lifetime risk for any one of the three is 48.2 percent, compared to 36.3 percent for men. Among the participants, 438 of them, 14.6 percent developed multiple conditions, with women more likely to suffer from disease co-occurrence. Women were nearly twice as likely as men to suffer both a stroke and to be diagnosed with dementia – 2.9 percent of women compared to 1.9 percent of men.
IF YOU’RE AN ADULT IN your late 60s or 70s who’s physically healthy, mentally sharp and trying to stay that way, taking a daily low-dose aspirin probably won’t help that much, new research shows. Until now, there hasn’t been much guidance for healthy older people trying to weigh the possible preventive effects of aspirin against its known increased risks of bleeding.
On Sept. 16, findings from a large new study on preventive aspirin use appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. The three-pronged clinical trial encompassed more than 19,000 older adults in the U.S. and Australia. Participants were living independently, without heart disease, dementia or diabetes when they enrolled between 2010 and 2014 in the study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.
Participants, whose average age was 74, were randomly assigned to take either a daily low-dose 100 milligram aspirin (the international equivalent of a standard 81 mg baby aspirin) or a placebo. Over a roughly five-year period, researchers followed these healthy seniors to see whether regular preventive aspirin extended their lifespan free of disability or dementia. However, there was no real difference between people on aspirin and those on a placebo, results showed.
THE SHARE OF AMERICANS with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is expected to more than double by 2060 as people increasingly survive into older adulthood, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An estimated 5 million older adults had Alzheimer’s or a related dementia in 2014, and by 2060 that figure is expected to rise to 13.9 million, or about 3.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the report, which evaluated health claims data for more than 28 million Medicare beneficiaries.
Alzheimer’s – the fifth-leading cause of death for adults 65 and older and the sixth-leading cause of death for Americans overall – destroys memory and cognitive functioning and poses a greater risk as people age.
IF YOU WERE BORN between 1946 and 1964, you count yourself, of course, as part of the baby boomer generation that is the largest in American history. And boomers age just like everyone else. In March 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that by 2035, adults aged 65 and older will number more than 78 million. By comparison, kids aged 18 and younger are expected to total just 76.4 million, meaning that in short order, the number of seniors in the country will outnumber children for the first time in American history.
As they continue to age, many people need some help in completing the daily tasks of living. Faced with the decision of how to address these needs, thousands are settling on the option of an assisted living facility.
Definitions of assisted living can vary from state to state and facility to facility, but “we generally define it as another long-term care option for folks that generally don’t need 24/7 skilled nursing care, which is what most long-term nursing homes provide,” says Rachel Reeves, director of communications for the National Center for Assisted Living, a non-profit organization representing about 4,000 assisted living facilities across the country. For many people, assisted living means they need help with some aspects of daily living, such bathing, dressing, toileting, eating or transferring to bed at night. “Assisted living really focuses on supporting individuals with those activities, but then also maximizing independence and socialization in a home-like environment,” Reeves says. Currently, the NCAL reports that there are more than 835,000 Americans residing in assisted living facilities.
People living with dementia are frequently under-recognized and under-diagnosed by healthcare providers. Consequently, they do not receive the medical care they need, nor are they connected to essential home- and community-based supports. The federal duals demonstration offers opportunities to better blend funding and oversight for Medicare-funded medical care with Medicaid-funded long-term services and supports, so that people with dementia and their families can get better integrated care. This webinar offers tools and strategies to improve dementia healthcare based on approaches that have been developed within this demonstration model but that also have relevance to other healthcare systems.
California’s presentation focuses on how the state and regional Alzheimer’s organizations partnered with participating health plans serving dual eligible participants to improve detection, care planning and community supports for individuals and family caregivers dealing with diagnosed and-or undiagnosed dementia. The presentation also shares resources developed and lessons learned in implementing this initiative. Texas’ presentation focuses on the Texas Takes on Dementia initiative, and how it builds on the California initiative’s principles and adapts these for the State of Texas. Also included is a discussion of key adaptations, challenges and lessons learned.
A common symptom among people with dementia is agitation, which can affect their and their carers’ well-being. Dementia experts conducted a new study and found the most effective means of addressing agitation.
In a paper that is now published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, experts from several research institutions — including the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD — express their consensus on the best approaches to manage dementia-related behavioral and psychological symptoms.
More specifically, they speak of how to address states of agitation and psychosis in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Some studies have suggested that drinking alcohol in moderation lowers the risk of dementia, but the evidence may have been prone to certain biases. A new study follows more than 9,000 people over a 23-year period to draw robust conclusions on the link between alcohol consumption and dementia risk.
As the world population grows increasingly older, more and more people are at risk of developing dementia.
In fact, according to recent estimates, almost 50 million people worldwide are currently living with dementia, and this number is expected to double every 2 decades, reaching over 130 million by 2050.