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Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

As far as the information shows at the time of writing this, dementia doesn’t increase your chances of developing Covid-19. Though those with dementia are still vulnerable to the virus if they have chronic conditions. They can forget to do crucial things like washing their hands to stay clean.

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

 

If you have a loved one with dementia, make sure to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

For example, more confusion than usual is the first symptom of any illness. Unless your loved one is having a hard time breathing or high fever, call your health provider first instead of going to an emergency room. Health providers are trying to treat people without them coming in.

Write out some reminders for your loved one, so they can remember to practice proper hygiene. Put a note in the bathroom reminding them to wash their hands for twenty seconds. If your loved one isn’t able to access a sink, using a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol is a good alternative.

See if your pharmacist is willing to fill prescriptions for a longer amount of time to minimizes trips to the pharmacy.

Also, make sure to come up with backup plans in case adult daycare or other activities are canceled due to the virus. Remember a backup plan in case the primary caregiver should get sick.

If your loved one is in assisted living, make sure that they are following proper protocols. Check to make sure that they have your contact info and someone else as a backup in case you don’t answer.

As hard as it may be, don’t visit your loved one if you have any signs of illness. There may be other ways of contacting them.

Read more here.

Eye-Tracking Tests Can Help Detect Alzheimer’s

Eye Tracking Tests Can Help Detect Alzheimer's

It’s hard to detect Alzheimer’s early because, by the time someone notices something is wrong, the disease has already spread. While dementia or Alzheimer’s can come from having mild cognitive impairment (MCI), they aren’t always connected. Some people can live with just MCI without developing further cognitive impairments. Sometimes MCI can even be improved with a healthy lifestyle and medication.

Eye Tracking Tests Can Help Detect Alzheimer's

Eye Tracking Tests Can Help Detect Alzheimer’s

 

Experts have split MCI into two different types: amnesic (aMCI) and nonamnesic (naMCI). aMCI is connected more to memory loss, while naMCI affects cognitive skills. Detecting and figuring out which mild cognitive impairment a person has is key to treating them.

Researchers from the School of Sports, Exercise, and Health Sciences at Loughborough University wanted to see if eye-tracking technology can help. Previous research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s show eye movement issues before any cognitive symptoms are apparent.

The study had 42 people with a diagnosis of aMCI, 47 people with naMCI, and 68 people who had Alzheimer’s. There were also 92 people who were the same age and cognitively healthy. One test that the participants did was to avoiding distracting stimulus while doing computer tasks. The distracting stimulus could be a dot randomly appearing on part of the screen.

Using an eye tracker with a 500 Hertz sampling technology, researchers tallied the number of times that a person failed the task and looked at the distracting stimulus.

The numbers showed that it was possible to tell the difference between the people who had aMCI and those who had naMCI from the eye-tracking results. Also, people with aMCI had similar results to those who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The results mean that using eye-tracking technology can help predict Alzheimer’s earlier and tell which MCI patients are at higher risk of developing it. Predicting it earlier allows for more treatment opportunities.

Read more here.

Illiteracy Could Increase Dementia Risk

Illiteracy Could Increase Dementia Risk

The United States Department of Education says that one in five adults have low literacy abilities, meaning around 43 million adults. New research is suggesting that illiteracy could increase dementia risk in older adults.

Illiteracy Could Increase Dementia Risk

Illiteracy Could Increase Dementia Risk

 

Jennifer J. Manly, Ph.D. of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, was in charge of the study. She explains the connection between reading and brain health.

“Being able to read and write allows people to engage in more activities that use the brain, like reading newspapers and helping children and grandchildren with homework.”

Using your brain in this way has been shown that it reduces the risk of dementia because it keeps the brain active and flexible.

In the study, Manly and her team surveyed and tested 983 people living in New York with low levels of formal education. Most of them had been born and raised in rural parts of the Dominican Republic. On average, the people were 77 years old and had gone to school for a maximum of four years.

Asking the participants if they ever learned to read or write, they discovered that 237 people were, illiterate and 746 were literate.

As a baseline for the study, participants had medical exams and took tests that focus on memory and reasoning. The participants then retook these tests every 18 months to two years for an average of four years.

At the start of the study, 83 out of the 237 (35%) people who could not read or write already had dementia. Compare that to the literate group, only 134 out of 746 (18%) people had dementia.

After adjusting for factors like socioeconomic status, age, and cardiovascular conditions, the study shows that people who are illiterate are twice as likely to develop dementia than those who can read and write. They also found that literacy was linked to higher scores on memory and thinking tests overall.

Even if a person was in school for only a few years, having the ability to read and write can make a huge difference.

Read more here.

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

Sometimes seniors struggle with their weight. Whether it’s that they’ve gained weight from lack of moving or lost a lot of weight due to lack of appetite, it can be dangerous for them. A study in South Korea found that huge weight changes can increase dementia risk in seniors.

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

Giant Weight Changes Can Increase Dementia Risk in Seniors

 

A team of researchers from the Republic of Korea studied BMI and dementia changes over two years. They looked at 67,219 people aged between 60 and 79. They noted the participants BMI changes in 2002-2003 and 2004-2005. The difference between these two years represented the BMI changes.

Other factors that were measured included socioeconomic status and cardiometabolic risk factors.

After two years, the researchers monitored the participants’ dementia incidents for five years. After five years, 4,887 men and 6,685 women showed signs of dementia. This proved that late in life changes to BMI can affect both sexes. Massive changes equal a two percent increase or decrease in BMI.

It’s shown that those with stable BMI had a lower risk of dementia than those with fluctuating BMI.

Read more here.

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer’s

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer's

We all know how important our oral health is to our overall health, but now some studies are suggesting that gum disease is connected to Alzheimer’s. More and more evidence is appearing that shows that gum (periodontal) disease is a risk factor, and some research suggests it can double your risk if you have gum disease for ten years or more.

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer's

Breaking Down Gum Disease

 

The beginning of gum disease is called gingivitis. Your gums are inflamed because bacterial plaque builds up on the surface of your teeth. Gingivitis happens to around half of the adults, but is generally harmless, if it’s treated. If left untreated, it creates pockets between your teeth and gums. The pockets are bad because it will fill up with bacteria.

The pockets are a sign that it’s turned into periodontitis. Periodontitis is almost impossible to get rid of but treatments can help control it.

People who smoke, have medications, have certain genetics, food choices, puberty and pregnancy can all contribute to developing gum disease. Plus, if you don’t care of your teeth, then that’s the biggest risk factor of them all.

Gum Disease is Connected to Alzheimer’s

 

The bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis or P. gingivalis, has been found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It appears to have spread from the mouth to the brain and destroyed nerve cells. The studies were done in mice and human trials will be happening soon.

The University of Central Lancashire was the first to notice the mouth and brain connection. P. gingivalis can recreate all the characteristic features of Alzheimer’s disease.

Of course, this isn’t the only thing that can contribute to Alzheimer’s, but it’s one way to lower your risk.

Read more here.

Small Companies Keeping Alzheimer’s Research Alive

Small Companies Keeping Alzheimer's Research Alive

Alzheimer’s research is expensive and doesn’t always produce a result. Alzheimer’s is complicated, and because of that, many companies are pulling back on research. Doing this is detrimental to everyone because it’s such a prevalent disease. Luckily, there are a lot of small companies taking up the mantle, and even trying a new angle by focusing on the immune system.

Small Companies Keeping Alzheimer's Research Alive

Small Companies Keeping Alzheimer’s Research Alive

 

Back in the 90s, a health-care startup called Partner Therapeutics made a leukemia drug called Luekine. Doctors barely prescribed it, and it faded away into obscurity until a group of researchers in Colorado brought it back. The Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center wanted to see if it can regulate the immune system as a way to battle Alzheimer’s.

Forty participants with Alzheimer’s will be part of the trail. In mice with this disease, the same protein in Luekine cleared amyloid debris from the brain while reversing memory loss. Though, the difference between humans and mice is vast, so we have to wait to know if it will do any good.

Many researchers and companies are looking at different ways to tackle the problem of Alzheimer’s since the usual research has come up with nothing.

Larger pharmaceutical companies have been backing out due to Alzheimer’s research failure. Biogen stopped a clinical trial in March after their latest experimental amyloid plaque drug fell flat. Stopping the test caused their stock to fall twenty-nine percent. Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Eli Lilly, and AstraZeneca have also had failures.

Last year there were more than 70 Alzheimer’s trials in different stages, plus 22 amyloid-targeting drugs were being tested. Compare that to the 1,100 drugs in development for cancer, 445 for other brain diseases, and 200 for heart disease and stroke.

Not all is lost, though. Drugs going after a different protein in the brain called tau protein tangles, anti-inflammation medications, immune modulators, gene therapy, insulin, and cannabis compounds are being looked into.

Immunity and Alzheimer’s

 

The immune system’s connection to Alzheimer’s has been an area of interest for a long time. Now, thanks to advances in human genome mapping, it’s possible to target the roles of specific genes. Three companies in California: Denali Therapeutics, Alector, and INmuneBio, are following this avenue. Too much inflammation, which is the immune system’s reaction to sickness, can cause damage to neurons and mess with the brain.

People at Alector think that researchers have spent too much time on getting rid of amyloid plaque, even though there is a lot of evidence saying it wasn’t working. They want to focus on drugs that help microglia do their job.

Denali is also looking into immunotherapy. They have created experimental molecules that can pass through a membrane called the blood-brain barrier. Doing this will let them affect the brain.

A Canadian company, IntelGenx, is doing a trial of an anti-inflammatory asthma drug called Montelukast. They changed its formula so that it can be taken as a dissolvable strip, making it easier for seniors and have the company stand out at the same time.

There are even more studies happening all over the world that are trying to tackle this problem from all different angles. So, while familiar names are backing away from this challenge, newer and younger names are stepping up.

Read more here.

Do You Know About Cerebral Small Vessel Disease?

What Happens When a Potential Alzheimer's Treatment Fails?

Do you know what Cerebral Small Vessel Disease is? Would you believe that adults 60 to 90-years-old show signs of this disease 95% of the time? Consequences of this disease include cognitive decline, problems with walking or balance, strokes, and vascular dementia.

Do You Know About Cerebral Small Vessel Disease?

Do You Know About Cerebral Small Vessel Disease?

 

Other names for this disease are small vessel ischemic disease, white matter disease, periventricular white matter changes, perivascular chronic ischemic white matter disease of aging, and more.

Cerebral Small Vessel Disease (SVD) is an umbrella term that covers a bunch of different abnormalities with the small blood vessels in your brain. Just like the body’s bigger blood vessels, it can develop plaque, inflammation, and chronic damage. This can lead to the small blood vessels in your brain getting blocked.

Blocked blood vessels mean your brain won’t get oxygen or will leak, which can cause bleeding.

Your brain can change appearance on MRIs. The report will say that there has been “white matter changes.” Meaning the doctor can see signs of SVD.

Symptoms and Causes of SVD

 

Symptoms are often not very noticeable. They can include cognitive impairment, problems with walking and balance, strokes, depression, vascular dementia, other dementias, possible disability, and death.

It’s unknown what specifically causes SVD since it’s an umbrella term. There are certain risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, diabetes, smoking, and age.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is at risk, don’t be afraid to ask for an MRI.

There are studies to figure out how to treat or prevent SVD, but there is no clear conclusion yet.

Read more here.

New Research Shows a Changeable Factor in Dementia

What Happens When a Potential Alzheimer's Treatment Fails?

It can feel like developing dementia is inevitable. Though new research is showing that there is something that is a changeable factor in dementia. There is something in our body that helps minimize the risk.

New Research Shows a Changeable Factor in Dementia

New Research Shows a Changeable Factor in Dementia

 

The University of Pittsburgh followed hundreds of seniors for more than 15 years for a study published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

They found that arterial stiffness is a good way to predict who will develop dementia. This is good because arterial stiffness can be helped with antihypertensive drugs. There are also lifestyle interventions that you can do to help prevent or delay the onset of dementia.

“As the large arteries get stiffer, their ability to cushion the pumping of blood from the heart is diminished, and that transmits increased pulsing force to the brain, which contributes to silent brain damage that increases dementia risk.” —Senior author Rachel Mackey, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The study looked into the ties between arterial stiffness and dementia among 356 older patients. The average was of 78. The participants were dementia free when the study started.

They tested the stiffness with pulse wave velocity (PWV). This is a noninvasive measure of the speed that blood pressure pulse travels through the arteries.

The Results of the Test

 

It was found that subjects with PWV readings were 60% more likely to develop dementia during 15 years compared to those with lower PWV values.

Arterial stiffness is connected to subclinical brain disease and are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

It’s thought that arterial stiffness increases the risk of dementia because it increases the subclinical brain damage.

Read more about the study here.

Poor Sleep Can Be Linked to Alzheimer’s

Poor Sleep Can Be Linked to Alzheimer's

There’s nothing like a great night’s sleep, right? Well, sleep is doing more than making sure you feel good and refreshed, it can also be helping stave off Alzheimer’s. Poor sleep can be linked to Alzheimer’s.

Poor Sleep Can Be Linked to Alzheimer's

Poor Sleep Can Be Linked to Alzheimer’s

 

How does that work? Well, chronic poor sleep causes a build up of beta-amyloid and tau, proteins that have been connected to the disease. It’s quality of sleep that is the focus, not the quantity. Good quality sleep is being in slow wave sleep, or deep sleep. Chronic disruptions of this wave is what builds up these proteins.

The study involved  a group of healthy participants aged between 35 and 65, who each undertook two sleep experiments a month apart. In both experiments, participants were asked to complete a sleep diary at home for between five days and two weeks, during which they also wore sensors to track their movements during sleep.

At the end of the period, they spent a night asleep in the laboratory where they had their brain-waves tracked and, the following morning, they each had a lumbar puncture taken. While asleep in the laboratory setting, all participants wore headphones, but while one group had no noises played to them, the other group were played a series of beeps of increasing loudness when it was detected that they had entered slow-wave sleep.

The goal was to keep them out of deep wave sleep but not wake them up.

The results, based on data from 17 participants, revealed that disruption of slow-wave-sleep had an impact. Among those who showed a response to the disruption, the team found on average levels of beta amyloid were about 10% higher when the beeps were played.

So poor sleep causes more of the proteins that create the plaque that causes Alzheimer’s. This is only with chronic poor sleep, one bad night will not affect you.

Let’s all hope we get a good sleep tonight!

To read the original article, click here.

Stressful Events Can Age The Brain

We all know that stress is bad for us, but did you know that it has the power to impact your memory? Experts led by a team from Wisconsin University’s school of medicine and public health found that stressful events can age the brain. These events can start as early as childhood to elderly age. Situations that are included are loss of a job, death of a child, and divorce. Basically, any traumatic event could be aging your brain.

How stress ages the brain

Stressful Events Can Age The Brain

 

The study was made up of 1,320 people who reported stressful experiences over their lifetime and underwent tests in areas such as thinking and memory. The subjects’ average age was 58 and included 1,232 white Americans and 82 African Americans.

They were tested in four categories: immediate memory, verbal learning and memory, visual learning and memory, and story recall. When specifically looking at African Americans, the team found they experienced 60% more stressful events than white people during their lifetimes.

Even scarier is that in African Americans, one stressful event can equal four years of aging.

Not all is lost, though. Stress needs to be studied more due to the complexities of it. Dr. Doug Brown, the director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“We know that prolonged stress can have an impact on our health, so it’s no surprise that this study indicates stressful life events may also affect our memory and thinking abilities later in life. However, it remains to be established whether these stressful life events can lead to an increased risk of dementia.”

Other research has suggested there are plausible links between stress and chronic inflammation, which in turn may accelerate the development of dementia. But experts believe that a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet can help minimize this risk, even for those people going through stressful events.

You can find the original article here.