24 February 2010

Remember Magnesium If You Want to Remember

Those who live in industrialized countries have easy access to healthy food and nutritional supplements, but magnesium deficiencies are still common. That's a problem because new research from Tel Aviv University suggests that magnesium, a key nutrient for the functioning of memory, may be even more critical than previously thought for the neurons of children and healthy brain cells in adults.

Bad news for today's magnesium supplements
"We are really pleased with the positive results of our studies," says Dr. Slutsky. "But on the negative side, we've also been able to show that today's over-the-counter magnesium supplements don't really work. They do not get into the brain.> for the full story read 2010 American Friends of Tel Aviv University

22 February 2010

Untreated poor vision in elderly linked to dementia, U-M study shows

Early treatment of visual problems may delay development of dementia, but many elderly lack adequate vision coverage
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Elderly people with visual disorders that are left untreated are significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease -- the most common form of dementia, according to a University of Michigan Health System study.
The study used Medicare data and shows that those with poor vision who visited an ophthalmologist at least once for an examination were 64 percent less likely to develop dementia.
The study appears online ahead of print in the American Journal of Epidemiology and may draw a new picture of poor vision as a predictor of dementia rather than as a symptom after the diagnosis.
“Visual problems can have serious consequences and are very common among the elderly, but many of them are not seeking treatment,” says lead author Mary A.M. Rogers, Ph.D, research assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and research director of the Patient Safety Enhancement Program at the U-M Health System and the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center.
For the study, Rogers and her colleague Kenneth M. Langa, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at U-M Medical School, analyzed data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study and records from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

”Our results indicate that it is important for elderly individuals with visual problems to seek medical attention so that the causes of the problems can be identified and treated,” Rogers says.

The types of vision treatment that were helpful in lowering the risk of dementia were surgery to correct cataracts and treatments for glaucoma, retinal disorders and other eye-related problems.

Proper vision is a requirement for many of the activities that previously have been found to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These include reading, playing board games, other mentally stimulating activities, social networking, as well as physical activity such as walking and routine exercising. A visual disorder may interfere with normal mobility and may also hinder a person’s ability to participate in such activities.

“Many elderly Americans do not have adequate health coverage for vision exams, and Medicare does not cover preventative vision screenings for most beneficiaries,” Rogers says. “So it’s not unusual that the elderly receive vision treatment only after a problem is severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor when the problem is more advanced.”

According to a survey conducted by the National Eye Health Education Program, less than 11 percent of respondents understood that there are no early warning signs for eye problems such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

However, vision problems and blindness are among the top 10 disabilities among adults and can result in a greater tendency to experience other health conditions or even to die prematurely.

“While heart disease and cancer death rates are continuing to decline, mortality rates for Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise,” says Rogers. “So if we can delay the onset of dementia, we can save individuals and their families from the stress, cost and burden that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study was based on the surveys and medical information from 625 people compiled from 1992-2005. Only 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who developed dementia had excellent vision at the beginning of the study, while 30 percent of those who maintained normal cognition had excellent vision at the onset of the study.

One in five Americans who are over age 50 report experiencing a visual impairment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and the number has doubled since 1980. It is expected to be as high as 13 million by 2050.

25 November 2009

Newsletter for people with dementia

HOPE (Helping Other Possibilities Emerge) from Alzheimer's Australia is a bi-monthly newsletter for younger people with dementia, their care partners, friends, health professionals and care staff. It facilitates networking opportunities for all and welcomes contributions. > read September 2009 issue and past issues.


Perspectives is a quarterly newsletter written for people with dementia that addresses the concerns, reflections, and coping skills of individuals with Alzheimer's or a related memory disorder. It provides up-to-date research, explores relevant topics, provides a forum for discussion, and builds bridges between people with memory loss around the world. Individuals with Alzheimer's or a related disorder contribute their perspectives to this newsletter in the form of articles, poetry, or letters. > read Perspectives Vol 15 No. 1 and past editions

Perspectives is written and edited by Lisa Snyder, LCSW and published by the University of California, San Diego, Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Robyn Yale, LCSW and staff of the Shiley-Marcos ADRC serve as editorial advisors.


Living with dementia produced by Alzheimer's Society (UK) features news, human interest stories, expert tips and advice for carers and people with dementia, book reviews, updates on dementia research and articles highlighting good practice in dementia care, plus readers' letters. > read November 2009 edition and past editions

Recommended newsletter for carers

Dementia Now e-journal produced 10 times a year, containing research information, web links, news stories, resources and updates to the Dementia Services Centre (University of Sterling) library. Each issue tackles a different hot topic relating to dementia care. Archives are available from 2007. > read Sept/Oct issue on Learning Disability

Also view other journals and newsletters table of contents selected by Alzheimer's Australia NSW Library & Information Service.

Hereditary factors associated with FTLD

The heritability and genetics of frontotemporal lobar degeneration
Dementia News (Alzheimer’s Australia): 23 November 2009
There are many forms of dementia and some of these forms fall into the category of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. These disorders are genetically and pathologically diverse but all cause degeneration of the brain.

A group of researchers from the Institute of Neurology, London, undertook research examining whether different forms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration are heritable, and if so, which ones are heritable and to what degree. Two hundred and twenty-five people who had been diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration spectrum were included in the study.

The researchers collected blood samples for genetic examination and took each person’s family history to determine whether any first-degree relatives (e.g. mother, father, sister, brother) had been diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Each participant was given a score from 1 to 4, depending on his or her family history. A score of 1 indicated a clear autosomal dominant history of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. (A genetic trait is autosomal dominant when only one copy of the gene from one parent is needed in order for an individual to show the characteristic that is coded for by that gene. For example, genes that code for brown eyes are dominant over genes that code for any other eye colour). A score of 4 was given to individuals who had no family history of dementia. Of the 225 study participants, 41.8% had some family history of dementia, although only 10.2% had a clear score of 1.

The researchers also looked for mutations in each of the five known disease-causing genes: MAPT, GRN, VCP, CHMP2B, and TARDP, and the FUS gene, which is known to cause motor neuron disease. Mutations were found in the MAPT gene in 8.9% of study participants, and in the GRN gene in 8.4% of study participants. Both the MAPT and GRN genes are associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration. No mutations were found in any of the other genes.

Degrees of heritability were found to vary across the different types of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. The “behavioral variant” was found to be the most heritable form. The least heritable forms were found to be frontotemporal dementia-motor neuron disease and the language syndromes, particularly semantic dementia, which refers to a progressive loss of the ability to remember the meaning of words, faces, and objects.

Reference: Rohrer JD, Guerreiro R, Vandrovcova J, Uphill J, et al. 2009. The heritability and genetics of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Neurology, 73(18):1451-6.

Study into influence on family history and APO 4 gene

Family history, genetic status for apolipoprotein E4, and cognitive decline
Dementia News (Alzheimer’s Australia): 23 November 2009
Two areas of interest in research into dementia are the influences on cognitive decline of a family history of Alzheimer dementia and the possession of a variant of a gene that codes for the production of a form of a protein called apolipoprotein E. (The variant of apolipoprotein E that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease is apolipoprotein E4.)

Researchers from a number of institutions, including Duke University Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the University of Colorado, the Utah State University, and the University of Washington, invited residents of Cache County, Utah, who were aged 65 years or older, to participate in a study to examine the relationships between family history, genetic status, and Alzheimer disease. The 2957 participants who took part provided DNA for examination of their apolipoprotein E status and gave detailed family histories of Alzheimer dementia. They also had their cognitive status evaluated with the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination. Cognitive status was reexamined after three years and again after seven years.

At the beginning of the study, those participants with the apolipoprotein E4 genetic variant scored lower on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination than participants who did not have either apolipoprotein E4 or a family history of Alzheimer dementia.

Those participants who had a family history of Alzheimer disease and the apolipoprotein E4 genetic variant showed faster cognitive faster over the seven-year study than those who did not, but each factor alone did not appear to be associated with cognitive decline. The researchers concluded that much of the apparent association among family history of Alzheimer disease, genetic status for apolipoprotein E4, and cognitive decline may be attributed to disease that had been undetected at the beginning of the study.

Reference: Hayden KM, Zandi PP, West NA, Tschanz JT, Norton MC, Corcoran C, Breitner JCS, Welsh-Bohmer KA. 2009. Effects of Family History and Apolipoprotein E4 Status on Cognitive Decline in the Absence of Alzheimer Dementia: The Cache County Study. Archives of Neurology; 66(11):1378-1383.

Brain fitness for positive ageing

Positive Ageing all in the mind
Australian Ageing Agenda: 23 November 2009
Melbourne neuropsychologist, Dr Judy Tang, believes older Australians are not doing enough to keep their brains active and as a result, they are ageing prematurely.

According to Dr Tang, it is important that elderly people have a positive attitude about the ageing process. “There are so many negative perceptions about ageing,” she said. … > full story

New guide on palliative care

Demystifying the palliative care maze
Catholic Health Australia: 19 November 2009
Federal Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot today launched a practical new guide for medical and allied health professionals negotiating the often complex process of providing patients with holistic palliative care.Compiled with guidance from Catholic Health Australia’s (CHA) expert Palliative Care Special Interest Group, Provision of Palliative Care in Catholic Health and Aged Care Services is designed to help staff understand the palliative care experience from the patient’s point of view.“The book steps hospital and aged care staff through practical issues such as symptom management and taking an effective interdisciplinary approach, and addresses the less definable aspects of holistic palliative care including spiritual care and supporting the family,” CHA CEO Martin Laverty said at the Parliament House launch. … > full story

Catholic Health Australia's essential new guide to delivering palliative care, Provision of Palliative Care in Catholic Health and Aged Care Services - a guide for staff.

The book and brochures clearly explain the different aspects of palliative care and what patients, families and staff may expect to encounter as they move through the palliative care experience.

Brochures in Greek, Italian and Polish are available as free downloads on CHA's website, and the book can be purchased online or over the phone by credit card by contacting Deborah Reynolds on deborahr@cha.org.au or 02 62032777.

New discussion paper on dementia lesbians and gay men

The Hon. Michael Kirby to launch Alzheimer’s Australia discussion paper: ‘dementia, lesbians and gay men’
Alzheimer’s Australia: 19 November 2009
Alzheimer’s Australia in association with ACON and Aged and Community Services Association of NSW & ACT launched the discussion paper, ‘Dementia: Lesbians and Gay Men’ on Thursday 19 November 2009.

The paper was launched by the Hon. Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia.

The recent Access Economics Report, ‘Keeping Dementia Front of Mind’, predicts over 1.1 million Australians will have dementia by 2050. As a consequence, the health care system and the quality of life of Australians will come under even greater pressure.

The impact of dementia on the GLBTI community is already beginning to present itself. Although lesbians and gay men face many of the same challenges around dementia as heterosexuals, such as advanced care planning, assessment, community or residential care arrangements, many also face additional challenges such as social isolation, relationship recognition and navigating a complicated legislative environment.

Alzheimer’s Australia’s discussion paper, Dementia: Lesbians and Gay Men, provides practical advice on the issues many lesbians and gay men with dementia and their carers may face. In addition, it is a valuable resource for practitioners working in health care and related fields. > read Paper No. 15

Dementia care in hospitals

Poor dementia care in hospitals costing lives and hundreds of millions
Alzheimer’s Society UK: 17 November 2009
People with dementia are staying far longer in hospital than people without the condition who go in for the same treatment at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds to the NHS.
Based on research involving 2,400 people, Counting the Cost: caring for people with dementia on hospital wards reveals large, costly variations in the quality of care for people with dementia. … > full press release : BBC News story : Review by NHS Knowledge Service

Australia rating well in detection of dementia and depression

Australia leads the world in diagnosis
Australian Ageing Agenda: 17 November 2009
Australian aged care facilities lead in the world in diagnosing chronic medical conditions among their residents, according to a census from multinational provider Bupa.

The 2009 census was based on 26,647 surveys conducted across the group’s 400 aged care facilities in the UK, Spain, New Zealand and Australia.

The census revealed that Australian facilities were better at detecting dementia and depression. … > full story

AIHW report : Australia’s Welfare No. 9 (2009)

Disability rates growing rapidly
6minutes.com.au: 17 November 2009
Dementia is the greatest contributor to Australia’s increasing rate of disability, despite rising numbers of older people reporting good or excellent health, a new report shows.

The number of Australians with a disability doubled to four million between 1981 and 2003, while the number of people with a profound level of disability requiring help with core daily activities almost tripled, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report. … > full story

Midlife central obesity and increased risk of dementia

Fat around the middle increases the risk of dementia
University of Gothenburg: 16 November 2009
Women who store fat on their waist in middle age are more than twice as likely to develop dementia when they get older, reveals a new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy.

The study has just been published in the scientific journal Neurology.

"Anyone carrying a lot of fat around the middle is at greater risk of dying prematurely due to a heart attack or stroke," says Deborah Gustafson, senior lecturer at the Sahlgrenska Academy. "If they nevertheless manage to live beyond 70, they run a greater risk of dementia." … > full press release

Creative Arts and dementia

Research finds creative solutions for aged health
ABC News: 15 November 2008
Can participating in the arts help people be happier and healthier? Scientific research suggests that, in some cases, it can.

An international conference on the New South Wales mid-north coast has heard about the benefits of specifically tailored arts programs for the aged and those suffering dementia.

Susan Perlstein is the founder of the National Centre of Creative Ageing in the United States and has been a keynote speaker at the Art of Good Health and Wellbeing Conference in Port Macquarie.

"Creative ageing is about engaging creative expression with older people, linking healthy living with ageing," she said. … > full story

UK report on use of anti-psychotic drugs

Review calls for action on dangerous use of antipsychotic drugs for dementia
Alzheimer’s Society UK: 12 November 2009
An independent review has today (Thursday, 12 November 2009) found that an estimated 150, 000 people with dementia in the UK are being inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs. These are contributing to 1,800 deaths a year.

Antipsychotics have a serious number of side-effects for people with dementia and a profound effect on people's quality of life, leaving them heavily sedated.

They double the risk of death, triple the risk of stroke and accelerate cognitive decline. Care Services Minister Phil Hope announced a new action plan to tackle the issue. … > read Alzheimer’s Society comment : Review by NHS Knowledge Service : BBC News story

Related information:

Alzheimer's Australia NSW

Alzheimer's Australia NSW
Alzheimer's Australia NSW

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