Posted by WBHI on May 20, 2013 in Think About It
by Andrea Gerlin for Newsweek:
A cheap regimen of vitamins in use for decades is seen by scientists as a way to delay the start of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a goal that prescription drugs have failed to achieve.
Drugmakers including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) have spent billions of dollars on ineffective therapies in a so-far fruitless effort to come up with a treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Now, in the latest of a steady drumbeat of research that suggests diet, exercise and socializing remain patients’ best hope, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that vitamins B6 and B12 combined with folic acid slowed atrophy of gray matter in brain areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
“You don’t have any other options for these patients, so why not try giving them this cocktail of B vitamins?” says Johan Lokk, a professor and head physician in the geriatric department at Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge in Sweden, who wasn’t involved in the study.
Posted by WBHI on May 7, 2013 in Think Ahead
by Philip Moeller for U.S. News & World Report:
As life spans continue to lengthen, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our brains as well as our bodies are amazingly resilient and adaptive. Even 90-year-olds can build new muscle mass through physical exercise. So can their brains, although what’s being developed is not new muscle but new synapses. And while some of the exercise that produces these effects is physical, most of it is mental.
Last year, when U.S. News reported and wrote the e-book, “How to Live to 100,” expert after expert extolled the benefits of continued strenuous mental and physical exercise into and throughout old age. These are not new benefits. But what is new is the accumulating evidence for how dramatically these activities can promote healthy aging, help ward off physical and cognitive decline and illnesses, and add years to our lives.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 22, 2013 in Helpful Thinking
by Elizabeth Snouffer for South China Morning Post:
It seems two popular pastimes in Hong Kong – mahjong and tai chi – have more than just sweeping hand movements in common. A recent study indicates they can both keep elderly minds sharp.
In a paper published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Hong Kong Institute of Education researchers suggest integrating mahjong and tai chi into regularly scheduled activities at nursing homes can halt or slow down cognitive decline, even for those suffering from significant dementia.
Played three times a week for two to three months, these activities – which were considered by the researchers as cognitively demanding – showed evidence of long-term benefits for the mind. And they may be more effective than less cognitively demanding activities such as beading and making other simple handicrafts.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 18, 2013 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Kerry Grens for Reuters:
A review of the best evidence for interventions to prevent declining brain power finds that only one – mental exercise – consistently makes a difference.
The analysis of clinical trial results for assorted drugs, supplements and activities still can’t say, however, whether the brain training programs that do seem to sharpen mental function also improve people’s daily lives or lower their risk of developing dementia.
“All we know is you will do better on certain (cognitive) tests. Whether that delays dementia…remains to be seen,” said Dr. Raza Naqvi, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the University of Toronto.
Mild cognitive impairment may affect as many as a quarter of people over age 70, according to Naqvi and his colleagues. And perhaps 10 percent of those seniors progress to more serious dementia each year, the researchers write in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 13, 2013 in Wishful Thinking
by Richard Lenti for American News Report:
The use of pain medication may help decrease the anxiety, depression and loss of sleep often encountered by patients suffering from dementia, according to a new study.
British researchers followed 480 patients in specialized dementia care homes and found that with a 10% increase in a person’s pain medicine, there was a dramatic reduction in the use of anti-psychotic drugs and other medications.
The study was not peer-reviewed and was conducted by Four Seasons Health Care, which manages 56 dementia care centers in England.
“When people with dementia are showing distress reactions this may be due to them experiencing pain or discomfort, yet too often rather than trying to identify and relieve this symptom they are needlessly given anti-psychotic drugs to calm them and keep them quiet,” said Caroline Baker, head of quality and dementia care for Four Seasons Health Care.
“Reducing use of these drugs is a national priority. With a better understanding of how to care for people with dementia we can reduce the need for anti-psychotics together with a range of other medications and at the same time improve well-being.”
Posted by WBHI on Mar 28, 2013 in Helpful Thinking
by Caroline Cassels for MedScape:
A novel exercise program may improve physical and cognitive outcomes in patients who have dementia, with effect sizes greater than those achieved with dementia medications, new research suggests.
A pilot study showed the program, which integrates functional movement and mindful body awareness, improved patients’ cognitive and physical function and quality of life and reduced caregiver burden compared with usual care (UC).
“This very small pilot study provides preliminary evidence [this program] may improve cognitive function, quality of life, physical function and caregiver burden with effect sizes that are substantially larger than what is typically seen with currently available dementia medications,” principal investigator Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH, University of California, San Francisco, and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, told delegates here attending the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 65th Annual Meeting.
According to the investigators, traditional exercise programs have been shown to improve physical function in individuals with dementia, but little is known about the effect of exercises that integrate functional movements with mindful body awareness, which may also affect cognitive function.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 25, 2013 in Think About It
by Lois Alcosser for The Hour:
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease is shattering. But often the worst part is keeping it a secret. When the message to the caregiver is: “I don’t want anyone to know” a tremendous burden is added. The stigma of any mental illness still exists with the implication that it’s a weakness on the individual’s part, as if having Alzheimer’s is the person’s fault.
The same attitude used to persist with cancer. People didn’t want to mention the word. That finally changed and with the end of secrecy came the opportunity to get down to the monumental task of treatment and potential cure.
“Coming out,” letting family, friends and colleagues know what’s happening and loosening the chains of denial is a liberating decision. Nine times out of ten, people find that almost everyone knows someone affected by the disease and has experiences to share. This openness is necessary to fully understand symptoms, learn about lifestyle changes and bring relief and support to caregivers.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 16, 2013 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Jan Johansen for Newswire:
Dementia is a terrible thing. It attacks your loved ones’ cherished memories and cognition and leaves them emotionally and physically wasting away. They can fall into depression and even begin refusing foods they once loved.
If you’ve ever had or cared for a loved one suffering from dementia, you know what a hopeless feeling it can be. But now a recent study out of Taiwan offers some hope on the horizon for dementia suffers and caregivers.
Researchers from the National Yang-Ming University set out to improve quality of life for millions of people currently suffering from dementia. And these researchers noticed the same things we all notice — as many dementia sufferers surrender to depression and cut back on eating and physical activity, their physical condition declines rapidly.
So instead of attacking the problem with some toxic, side-effect-laden prescription pill, the researchers tackled the problem another way — with a fork.
Posted by WBHI on Feb 28, 2013 in Helpful Thinking
by Health Day News:
Helping people with dementia to eat more regularly improves their physical health and may lower symptoms of depression, a small new study from Taiwan suggests.
The research included 63 dementia patients who were trained to remember proper eating habits and 27 patients who received usual care. The memory training used a method called spaced retrieval, which requires people to recall a piece of information over increasingly longer time intervals. Another memory-training tool involved practicing tasks associated with daily living.
The patients underwent tests for nutrition, body-mass index (a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) and depression before the start of the study and again six months later.
Posted by WBHI on Feb 23, 2013 in Great Minds Think Alike
Keep Your Brain Healthy
The best thing you can do to keep your brain working the way you want it to: exercise, and eat right. “Nutrition is very, very important to brain health,” says Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist and member of scientific advisory board for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “Surprisingly, the brain is made up of 60% fat–it’s the fattest part of our body–and that fat insulates the nerve tracks. Without that fat we slow down mentally,” Dr. Nussbaum says.
The crucial thing to know: The kinds of fats and foods you eat, can have a real impact on the health of your brain. Trans fats and sugar aren’t great for your brain health. What foods are good and can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s? Consider eating these good-for-your-brain foods: