Archives for August 2015

Has Someone You Know been Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease?

(Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry) Does someone you know have trouble remembering words or names? Have familiar places or faces slipped his or her mind? Perhaps he or she has trouble performing routine tasks or keeping appointments. If you have noticed a change in their memory in the last year, you both may be interested in a new research study.

The EPOCH Research Study is a clinical research study sponsored by Merck that is evaluating the safety and effectiveness of an investigational medication to see if it may help slow the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

To participate, one must:

  • Be between 55 and 85 years old
  • Have had memory problems for at least 1 year
  • Have someone that can attend study visits and help him or her follow study requirements

There are additional eligibility requirements that must be met in order to participate. The study doctor will explain these to them. Qualified participants will receive all study-related care at no charge and be monitored by a team of Alzheimer’s researchers.

About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. The most common symptom of early AD is trouble remembering something just learned, such as where the car is parked. A person may also have trouble remembering phone numbers or the details of an important conversation. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Not everyone with these symptoms has AD. Only a qualified professional can determine if you have AD.

Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

People in this stage begin having trouble with complex tasks, such as paying bills, going to the grocery store, or planning a party. They may also have trouble recalling recent major events, such as a holiday gathering.

Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

At this stage, people have more trouble with language and thinking clearly. They may have trouble picking appropriate clothing for the weather or may wear the same clothes every day unless they are reminded to change. They may forget significant aspects of their lives, such as their address or where they graduated from school. They may even become suspicious of others.

Memory Problems May Not Be a Normal Part of Aging

It is normal on occasion for everyone to forget or lose something or to make a bad decision. It is a problem when these incidents impact the ability to perform daily activities. The earlier an accurate diagnosis is made, the greater potential there is to effectively manage symptoms and impact the course of the disease.

Why is Clinical Research so Important for Alzheimer’s Disease?

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and no treatments to slow or stop its progression. Results of clinical research studies may lead to new prevention and treatment options that could help improve the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease, their families, and future generations.

To learn more about the possible risks and benefits of participation and to see if someone you know may qualify, visit http://www.EpochMemoryStudy.com or call 844-675-7575.


About the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) created and leads the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry in collaboration with partnering organizations as part of its mission to end Alzheimer’s disease without losing another generation. The Phoenix-based nonprofit organization is part of Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country.

BAI is helping to lead the fight against Alzheimer’s through its cutting-edge studies in detection, treatment and prevention and through a comprehensive model of care that addresses both medical and non-medical needs of patients and their families.

The Registry is part of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative, also championed by BAI, an international collaborative formed to launch a new era of Alzheimer’s prevention research. API is focused on evaluating the most promising therapies in cognitively normal people who, based on their age and genetic background, are at the highest imminent risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry is funded through generous donations to the Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation, with seed funding from the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative.

Citation

http://www.endalznow.org/

©2015 Banner Health

Memory Loss: When to Seek Help

(Mayo Clinic) A number of conditions — not only Alzheimer’s disease — can cause memory loss in older adults. Getting a prompt diagnosis and appropriate care is important.

Everyone forgets things at some time. How often have you misplaced your car keys or forgotten the name of a person you just met?

Some degree of memory problems, as well as a modest decline in other thinking skills, is a fairly common part of aging. There’s a difference, however, between normal changes in memory and the type of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. And some memory problems are the result of treatable conditions.

If you’re experiencing memory problems, talk to your doctor to get a timely diagnosis and appropriate care.

Memory Loss and Aging

Normal age-related memory loss doesn’t prevent you from living a full and productive life. For example, you may forget a person’s name, but recall it later in the day. You might misplace your glasses occasionally. Or maybe you find that you need to make lists more often than in the past in order to remember appointments or tasks.

These changes in memory are generally manageable and don’t disrupt your ability to work, live independently or maintain a social life.

Memory Loss and Dementia

The word “dementia” is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms, including impairment in memory, reasoning, judgment, language and other thinking skills. Dementia begins gradually in most cases, worsens over time and significantly impairs a person’s abilities in work, social interactions and relationships.

Often, memory loss is one of the first or more-recognizable signs of dementia. Other early signs may include:

  • Asking the same questions repeatedly
  • Forgetting common words when speaking
  • Mixing words up — saying “bed” instead of “table,” for example
  • Taking longer to complete familiar tasks, such as following a recipe
  • Misplacing items in inappropriate places, such as putting a wallet in a kitchen drawer
  • Getting lost while walking or driving around a familiar neighborhood
  • Undergoing sudden changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason
  • Becoming less able to follow directions

Diseases that cause progressive damage to the brain — and consequently result in dementia — include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia
  • Vascular dementia (multi-infarct dementia)
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Lewy body dementia

Each of these conditions has a somewhat different disease process (pathology). Memory impairment isn’t always the first sign of disease, and the type of memory problems may vary.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild cognitive impairment is a notable change in thinking skills that’s limited, for the most part, to a narrow set of problems, such as impairment only in memory. Changes in concentration, attention or mental quickness may also be observed. Mild cognitive impairment generally doesn’t prevent a person from carrying out everyday tasks and being socially engaged.

Researchers and physicians are still learning much about mild cognitive impairment. For many people, the condition eventually progresses to Alzheimer’s disease or another disorder causing dementia.

Other people experience little progression in memory loss, and they don’t develop the whole spectrum of symptoms associated with dementia.

Many medical problems can cause memory loss or other dementia-like symptoms. Most of these conditions can be successfully treated, and your doctor can screen you for conditions that cause reversible memory impairment.

Possible causes of reversible memory loss include:

  • Medications. A single medication or a certain combination of medications may result in forgetfulness or confusion.
  • Minor head trauma or injury. A head injury from a fall or accident — even an injury that doesn’t result in a loss of consciousness — may cause memory problems.
  • Depression or other mental health disorders. Stress, anxiety or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other problems that disrupt daily activities.
  • Alcoholism. Chronic alcoholism can seriously impair mental abilities. Alcohol can also cause memory loss by interacting with medications.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency — common in older adults — can cause memory problems.
  • Hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) slows the processing of nutrients to create energy for cells (metabolism). Hypothyroidism can result in forgetfulness and other thinking problems.
  • Tumors. A tumor in the brain may cause memory problems or other dementia-like symptoms.

When to See Your Doctor

If you’re concerned about memory loss, see your doctor. He or she can conduct tests to judge the degree of memory impairment and diagnose the cause.

Your doctor is likely to have a number of questions for you, and you will benefit by having a family member or friend along to answer some questions based on his or her observations. Questions may include:

  • How long have you been experiencing memory problems?
  • What medications — including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements — do you take regularly? What is the dosage of each?
  • Have you recently started taking a new drug?
  • What tasks do you find too difficult to perform or finish?
  • What have you done to cope with memory problems? Have these things helped you?
  • Do you drink alcohol? How much do you drink daily?
  • Have you recently been in an accident, fallen or injured your head?
  • Have you recently been sick?
  • Have you recently felt sad, depressed or anxious?
  • Have you recently experienced a major loss, change or stressful event in your life?
  • What is your daily routine? How has your routine changed recently?

In addition to a general physical exam, your doctor will likely conduct relatively brief question-and-answer tests to judge your memory and other thinking skills. He or she may also order blood tests and brain-imaging tests that can help identify reversible causes of memory problems and dementia-like symptoms.

You may also be referred to a specialist in diagnosing dementia or memory disorders, such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist or geriatrician.

The Importance of a Diagnosis

Coming to terms with memory loss and the possible onset of dementia can be difficult. A person may try to hide memory problems, and family members or friends may compensate for a person’s loss of memory — sometimes without being aware of how much they’ve adapted to the impairment.

Getting a prompt diagnosis is important, even if it’s a challenging step. Identifying a reversible cause of memory impairment enables you to get appropriate treatment. Also, an early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • Beginning treatments to manage symptoms
  • Educating yourself, family and friends about the disease
  • Determining future care preferences
  • Identifying care facilities or at-home care options
  • Settling financial or legal matters

Your doctor can help you identify appropriate community resources and organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, to help you cope with memory loss and other dementia symptoms.

Citation

Mayo Clinic Staff

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046326?pg=1

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.

Diabetes Complications Linked to Rising Risk of Dementia

(Endocrine Society) Better blood sugar control can help prevent decline in mental ability.

People who have diabetes and experience high rates of complications are more likely to develop dementia as they age than people who have fewer diabetic complications, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

An individual develops diabetes when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin or the body can’t use insulin properly to process sugar. When blood sugar levels remain high due to uncontrolled diabetes, serious complications can develop, including blindness, kidney failure and decreased blood flow in limbs that can lead to amputation.

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, according to the Society’s Endocrine Facts and Figures Report. Among every 100 Americans diagnosed with the condition, 21 have nerve damage, 27 have diabetic kidney disease, and between 29 and 33 have diabetic eye disease that can cloud vision.

“Our research is the first nationwide study to examine how the severity and progression of diabetes is related to dementia diagnosis rates in an older population,” said one of the study’s authors, Wei-Che Chiu, MD, PhD, of the National Taiwan University College of Public Health, Cathay General Hospital and Fu Jen Catholic University, all in Taipei, Taiwan.

“We found that as diabetes progresses and an individual experiences more complications from the disease, the risk of dementia rises as well.”

The 12-year-long population-based cohort study used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database’s records dating back to 1999 to identify 431,178 people who were older than 50 and newly diagnosed with diabetes.

The researchers reviewed records to determine how many people in the cohort were admitted to a hospital or had at least three outpatient medical visits for dementia after they were diagnosed with diabetes.

To evaluate the progression of each individual’s diabetes, the researchers used an adapted version of the Diabetes Complications Severity Index, a tool used to predict deaths and hospitalizations among people with diabetes.

Among the people in the cohort, 26,856 people, or 6.2 percent, were diagnosed with dementia. The risk of developing dementia was higher among people who had a high score on the Diabetes Complications Severity Index than for those who had a low score.

“The study demonstrates why it is so crucial for people with diabetes to work closely with health care providers on controlling their blood sugar,” Chiu said. “Managing the disease can help prevent the onset of dementia later in life.”

Citation

The study, “Progess of Diabetic Severity and Risk of Dementia,” was published online at http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jc.2015-1677, ahead of print.

http://www.endocrine.org/news-room/current-press-releases/diabetes-complications-linked-to-rising-risk-of-dementiaJournal Reference:

Wei-Che Chiu, MD, PhD et al. Progess of Diabetic Severity and Risk of Dementia. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, July 2015 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2015-1677

 

The Role of a Good Night’s Sleep in Dementia Risk Reduction

(Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation) New research has reiterated that a good night’s sleep may be one of the keys in reducing your risk of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from UC Berkeley, USA published results in the Journal Nature Neuroscience which suggest that sleep deficit may be a channel through which amyloid beta proteins (a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease) are triggered and cause the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

In their study, the researchers suggest that sleep disruption might be a pathway through which amyloid beta pathology occurs and contributes to memory decline particularly that associated with hippocampal dysfunction (a part of the brain important for memory).

UC Berkeley neuroscience professor Matthew Walker said that these findings reveal a new pathway through which Alzheimer’s disease may cause memory decline later in life and suggests that this research does offer some hope for the future.

“Poor sleep is potentially treatable and can be enhanced through exercise, behavioural therapy and even electrical stimulation that amplifies brain waves during sleep, a technology that has been used successfully in young adults to increase their overnight memory.”

He finished by saying:

“Sleep could be a novel therapeutic target for fighting back against memory impairment in older adults and even those with dementia.” Walker said.

In late 2013, Dementia News also covered this topic when researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also suggested that a good night’s sleep may help clean the brain of amyloid beta deposition. You can read this article here.

Watch the short clip below which further explains how poor sleep may be associated with memory loss.

For more information on sleeping and dementia you can also visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website. Dr Zoe Terpening from the University of Sydney is also currently being funded by the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation to look into whether treating people for sleep apnoea can in fact improve cognition.

 

Feelings of Loneliness Predict Dementia Onset

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2014 Feb;85(2):135-42. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2012-302755. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Feelings of loneliness, but not social isolation, predict dementia onset: results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL).

Holwerda TJ1, Deeg DJ, Beekman AT, van Tilburg TG, Stek ML, Jonker C, Schoevers RA.

Abstract

Background

Known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias include medical conditions, genetic vulnerability, depression, demographic factors and mild cognitive impairment. The role of feelings of loneliness and social isolation in dementia is less well understood, and prospective studies including these risk factors are scarce.

Methods

We tested the association between social isolation (living alone, unmarried, without social support), feelings of loneliness and incident dementia in a cohort study among 2173 non-demented community-living older persons. Participants were followed for 3 years when a diagnosis of dementia was assessed (Geriatric Mental State (GMS) Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy (AGECAT)). Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between social isolation and feelings of loneliness and the risk of dementia, controlling for sociodemographic factors, medical conditions, depression, cognitive functioning and functional status.

Results

After adjustment for other risk factors, older persons with feelings of loneliness were more likely to develop dementia (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.56) than people without such feelings. Social isolation was not associated with a higher dementia risk in multivariate analysis.

Conclusions

Feeling lonely rather than being alone is associated with an increased risk of clinical dementia in later life and can be considered a major risk factor that, independently of vascular disease, depression and other confounding factors, deserves clinical attention. Feelings ofloneliness may signal a prodromal stage of dementia. A better understanding of the background of feeling lonely may help us to identify vulnerable persons and develop interventions to improve outcome in older persons at risk of dementia.

 

Counseling has Benefits for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

(CNN) For 67-year-old Joe Fabiano, every morning is the same. After helping his wife, Anita, also 67, out of bed, he helps her bathe and dress, then guides her through their home of 45 years to the kitchen.

“This way, just turn to the right,” Joe tells Anita, holding her hands as she walks.

Anita, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2008, is now in the middle stage of the disease. She has problems finding the bathroom, kitchen and front door, even though the layout of their Staten Island home has never changed.

“Small amount today, just six,” says Joe as he hands Anita her pills. After making sure she swallows three at a time, he moves on to breakfast, a simple one of New York bagels. Even though the bagel is sitting in front of her, she waits for Joe to cue her to eat.

“Two hands,” he tells her as he hands her the bagel. “Two hands for what?” asks Anita.

“For the bagel,” answers Joe. “Now what?” asks Anita. “Bite away,” Joe tells her.

Anita stopped working within six months of her diagnosis, and Joe took early retirement to stay home to care for her. At first, they were able to get out and do things they both enjoyed, like singing in “The Unforgettable’ s Chorus,” a choir for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers started by Mary Mittelman, an NYU School of Medicine research professor.

“When I started the chorus the only requirement was a close friend or family member had to be present at all of the rehearsals and concerts in order to participate,” says Mittelman.

“What that meant was that the caregivers developed a social network, which is the key ingredient in maintaining the well-being not only of the caregiver but of the person with dementia.”

That was certainly true for Joe.

“We’ve made friends there,” he says. “I especially liked talking to the other man that was coming —we’d share the things that are going on with our lives, and you know you’re not alone.”

“He had the same issues as I did,” Joe adds. “He would help his wife get dressed, he would lay out the clothes, he would help her put on the clothes, and then you have bathroom situations. For a man to suddenly become a caregiver [rather] than a receiver of care is really so different.”

But as Anita’s Alzheimer’s has progressed, it’s harder for her to learn and sing the songs. She’s begun to balk at going to the choir, leading to a weekly repeat of this conversation:

“You go, go, go.” says Anita with a laugh. “I’ll stay home, home, home.”

“You can’t stay home, you know that,” answers Joe. “You may just open the door and walk out. I’ll come back and you won’t be here.”

“I’m not going,” insists Anita, still with a laugh. “No, you are going,” says Joe, with a sigh.

“Caregiving has been shown by many research studies to be extremely stressful,” says Mittelman. “To have impact on the physical and mental health of the family member. In fact, the latest figures put out by the Alzheimer’s Association show health care costs for caregivers (are) approaching $10 billion a year in the United States.”

Enter the NYU Family-Spouse Caregiver Intervention Project. It’s based on nearly 20 years of data gathered from a randomly controlled study of caregivers. Mittelman started the study in 1987 with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“We compared those who got the NYU intervention to those who got the usual care,” Mittelman says, “and we proved the benefit of providing support for the caregiver, particularly the spouse and partner. They were less depressed and had more healthy behaviors.”

“Most importantly, we found social support, largely from family members, was what made it possible for a spouse or partner to keep the person with dementia at home about a year and a half longer than people who received usual care,” adds Mittelman.

That can greatly reduce the cost of care. Mittelman points out that in Minnesota, one of 11 states that have implemented the program in various areas and the longest running program, a follow-up study showed “the state of Minnesota could save $996 million in a 15-year period if every caregiver of a person with dementia received the NYU caregiver intervention.”

Joe is hoping the program can help him keep Anita at home as long as possible. “Even though Anita says put me away,” says Joe sadly. “She’s always saying put me in a home, and I say you are in a home.”

But he admits that it’s hard for him to ask for help. “I’m nervous about that,” says Joe. “I’m not one that’s going to be asking for help that easily. I feel that if you know the situation, you should be offering me help.”

“There’s often a feeling among caregivers that people should know what I need, I shouldn’t have to ask them,” says Cynthia Epstein-Smith, a lead counselor for the NYU program and co-author with Mittelman of the book “Counseling the Alzheimer’s Caregiver.”

“I think that’s one of the really strong points of the intervention,” adds Smith. “We really try to help people be OK with asking for help, and in a way that people can respond to.”

For Joe there are two immediate needs: some time alone now and again, and help with the “bathroom situation.” As with many Alzheimer’s patients in middle-stage, Anita has become uneasy with the bathing process.

“I know Joe is starting to struggle with personal care issues,” says Smith. “Anita’s resistance is totally expected. This is a kind of experience that people with dementia find uncomfortable.”

There are four components to the NYU program: two individual counseling sessions with the caregiver to identify his or her specific needs, four family counseling sessions, participation by caregivers in weekly support groups, and the opportunity for any family member to use “ad-hoc” counseling via phone or in-person over the entire course of the disease.

“The NYU caregiver program has traditionally been delivered in person,” says Mittelman, “but we are now about to start a study in which we will be offering the intervention using video conferencing techniques so that people can take advantage of its benefits without leaving home.”

Mittelman says that once online training is available, it means counselors anywhere in the world could learn how to do the NYU caregiver intervention.

“The online counseling will be especially useful in connecting people to their family members,” adds Mittelman. “So very often if a family member doesn’t live nearby, he or she isn’t aware of the current status of their loved one and how to help.”

“It’s such a heartbreaking disease,” says Smith. “Does every change break your heart? Yeah. There’s no cure for that. But there is a support for it. You can come through it and there is help.”

Citation

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/health/alzheimers-caregiving-benefits/

© 2015 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

New MIND Diet May Significantly Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

(Rush University Medical Center)  A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even if the diet is not meticulously followed, according to a paper published online for subscribers in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and colleagues developed the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” (MIND) diet. The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD,” said Morris, a Rush professor, assistant provost for Community Research, and director of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology. “I think that will motivate people.”

Morris and her colleagues developed the MIND diet based on information that has accrued from years’ worth of past research about what foods and nutrients have good, and bad, effects on the functioning of the brain over time. This is the first study to relate the MIND diet to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I was so very pleased to see the outcome we got from the new diet,” she said.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.

In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD — 39 percent with the DASH diet and 54 percent with the Mediterranean diet — but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.

The MIND diet is also easier to follow than, say, the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish and three to four daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables, Morris said.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

The MIND diet includes at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine. It also involves snacking most days on nuts and eating beans every other day or so, poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. Dieters must limit eating the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s, according to the study.

Berries are the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet.

“Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,”

Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

The MIND diet was not an intervention in this study, however; researchers looked at what people were already eating. Participants earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. The one exception was that participants got one point if they said olive oil was the primary oil used in their homes.

The study enlisted volunteers already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), which began in 1997 among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing complexes. An optional “food frequency questionnaire” was added from 2004 to February 2013, and the MIND diet study looked at results for 923 volunteers. A total of 144 cases of AD developed in this cohort.

AD, which takes a devastating toll on cognitive function, is not unlike heart disease in that there appear to be

“many factors that play into who gets the disease,” including behavioral, environmental and genetic components, Dr. Morris said.

“With late-onset AD, with that older group of people, genetic risk factors are a small piece of the picture,” she said. Past studies have yielded evidence that suggests that what we eat may play a significant role in determining who gets AD and who doesn’t, Morris said.

When the researchers in the new study left out of the analyses those participants who changed their diets somewhere along the line — say, on a doctor’s orders after a stroke — they found that “the association became stronger between the MIND diet and [favorable] outcomes” in terms of AD, Morris said. “That probably means that people who eat this diet consistently over the years get the best protection.”

In other words, it looks like the longer a person eats the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing AD, Morris said. As is the case with many health-related habits, including physical exercise, she said,

“You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.”

Morris said,

“We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study.  The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.”

That is the best way to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging. All the researchers on this study were from Rush except for Frank M. Sacks MD, professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sacks chaired the committee that developed the DASH diet.

Citation

By Nancy DiFiore

https://www.rush.edu/news/press-releases/new-mind-diet-may-significantly-protect-against-alzheimers-disease

© Rush University Medical Center

 

Dementia Patients, Caregivers Prefer Better Care, Support over Research for Alzheimer’s Cure

(University at Buffalo)  More than $100 million in federal funding was spent last year toward searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, if given the choice, most people with dementia and those caring for them would like to see the money go elsewhere, according to a recent study led by University at Buffalo researcher Davina Porock.

The study surveyed people with dementia and their care providers on how funding from the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), a federal plan to overcome the disease, should be spent.

It revealed that the majority of respondents ranked caregiving support and resources for long-term care ahead of research for a cure.

The findings are in contrast to current NAPA spending to support those with Alzheimer’s disease, which dedicated only $10 million to care services and education, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

With more than 5 million people in the U.S. living with dementia, each person receives less than $2 for care support, says Porock.

“Sure, most people in our surveys would love for there to be a cure, but in the meantime they all have this disease and they need help,” says Porock, PhD, professor in the UB School of Nursing.

“We have 10 times more money going toward research instead of supporting the people who are living with dementia. Research is still high on the agenda, but they think that support is more important.”

The study, “National Priorities for Dementia Care: Perspectives of Persons Living with Dementia and their Care Partners,” was published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

The nationwide survey recorded nearly 700 responses, drawing participants from more than 25 Alzheimer’s disease advocacy and patient-support groups. Participants were asked to rank funding priorities based on 11 themes that included care setting, quality of life, and advocacy and awareness.

Of the responses, the top five priorities were:

  1. Financial resources for respite care and short-term caregiving support – care that typically lasts less than a week and is used to relieve family and daily care providers;
  2. Financial resources for long-term care support and aging in place, which includes assistance with nursing home and assisted living expenses;
  3. Research for a cure and medication;
  4. Education and training for families, health professionals and volunteers;
  5. Advocacy and awareness to reduce the stigma of dementia.

Respondents also preferred that not all research funding be allocated to finding a cure. Other areas of focus included workforce issues, education and training, impact on quality of life and the family, and alternative therapies and treatments.

Person-centered approaches to care were a clear theme in many of the responses. Most participants desired the person and family living with dementia, and not the disease, to be the center of care, policy and research.

Dementia is an irreversible condition that slowly impairs memory and cognitive skills, and eventually a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. People with dementia often need assistance eating, bathing and dressing, and sometimes have difficulties communicating.

Alzheimer’s disease makes up nearly half of all dementia cases, and symptoms typically first appear after age 65.

“It’s a taxing job to take care of someone with dementia,” says Porock. “Families, as much as they love each other, can find these tasks physically and emotionally difficult to do. And when the caregiver is a spouse who is close in age, it’s not unheard of for them to die first.”

Another common issue involves caregivers putting their careers on hold to support an ailing family member and having difficulty returning to the workforce, says Porock.

Increased funding for families living with dementia could improve their ability to afford nursing support in their home or at an assisted living home.

“Dementia is a major, and increasing, issue in the world because we have more and more people living longer. And one of the consequences of us not dying from heart disease, cancer or other organ failures is that we live long enough for our brains to wear out,” says Porock.

Porock hopes the results lead policymakers and the NAPA advisory council to reconsider the priorities for funding to better address the needs of those living with dementia and those who care for them.

Citation

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150803102852.htmJournal Reference:

Davina Porock. National Priorities for Dementia Care: Perspectives of Persons Living with Dementia and their Care Partners. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, August 2015

Copyright 2015 ScienceDaily or by third parties, where indicated.