Individuals age 40 and up with borderline-to-high levels of cholesterol have an increased risk of developing vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s according to research. The study involved a large number of people age 40 to 45 and discovered a link between dementia and borderline-high cholesterol. Cholesterol levels reaching 200-239 increased dementia and Alzheimer’s disease risk by 25%. Many experts suggest healthy exercise routines and diet to help reduce future risk and lower stress levels. More here
A recent study found that Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and high blood pressure are 3 of the most common overlapping diseases. 42% of individuals under assisted-living care suffer from dementia, while 9% suffer from dementia coupled with a form of heart disease and high blood pressure. A professor of geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Cynthia Boyd explained the lack of care for overlapping diseases, “We don’t universally do a great job of how we treat conditions that overlap, for example, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure.” It was suggested that future studies will be conducted to find ways to better treat overlapping diseases. More here
Studies are now suggesting that early dementia screening may be of value even without medication that can help slow the disease. Home care, counseling, and brain exercise have now been proven to help individuals suffering from dementia. Dementia screening has recently been added to wellness visits offered through medicare free of charge. Individuals on Medicare are entitled to screening under the Affordable Care Act. Last year only 9% of Medicare patients took advantage of the offered dementia screening. More here
New research suggests that coffee is likely good for health, reducing chances of type 2 diabetes dementia, certain cancers, strokes and heart rhythm dysfunctions. The study has yet to prove that the consumption of coffee can reduce health risks, but Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health said “there is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health”. More here
A study published in the Journal of Neurosciences states that being bilingual from an early age is good for the aging mind. Elderly adults who are bilingual have more “brain power” which may slow the decline of age-related problems in the brain such as thinking process and memory. The study also shows signs that bilingual adults are less likely to suffer from diseases effecting the mind such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. More here
Recent research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Critical Care, showed that 5% of Medicare patients, age 66 and older treated in the ICU, Intensive Care Unit in 2005, later received a diagnosis of dementia. Over the next 3 years, survey participants’ health and medical records continued to be watched closely. The survey confirmed that infections, acute dialysis, severe sepsis and neurological dysfunctions have all been associated with the risk of subsequent diagnosis of dementia as well as age, race and sex. Dr Hannah Wunsch, from Columbia University Medical Center, lead author of the study stated, “Our study provides a greater understanding of the consequences of these hospitalizations on subsequent risk of receiving a diagnosis of dementia, and may allow for better planning and targeting future studies to high risk populations.” More here
A new study from King’s College London has discovered four existing medications, used to treat conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, that may help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The study’s lead author, Professor Clive Ballard, said developing new drugs to treat dementia is incredibly important but also very expensive. Locating medications that already exist and have shown the potential to benefit dementia patients means quicker results and cheaper treatments. Among the drugs found to have possible benefits, calcium channel blockers have shown strong evidence that they reduce the risk of developing dementia. The authors caution, however, that more study is needed to better understand how these medications may benefit patients with dementia. More here.
Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax, are routinely prescribed to seniors for help with insomnia or anxiety. Now, a new study published in the BMJ, says that seniors who take benzodiazepines may be at increased risk for developing memory loss and difficulty thinking. According to the research, seniors who took these drugs were nearly 60 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. Still, the results cannot definitely prove that benzodiazepines cause declining brain function and the researchers say that seniors who use them as a short-term solution are probably not at risk. More here.
A new study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine aimed at measuring the amount of money Medicare beneficiaries spend on healthcare in the last five years of their life discovered a stunning amount of out-of-pocket expenses. The research analyzed data from 3,209 individuals and found that, though Medicare provides nearly universal coverage, a quarter of participants paid an average of $101,791 on healthcare costs and the average for all participants was $38,688 in the final five years of life. More than 75 percent of people in the study spent at least $10,000. The amount of money spent on healthcare costs varied based on the type of illness, with dementia costing more than twice the average amount paid by someone dying with cancer. More here.
Despite the common assumption that most older adults suffering from dementia live and die in nursing homes, a new study shows that not to be true. The study, led by Christopher M. Callahan, MD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, looked at the records of more than 1,500 dementia patients and found that, though 74 percent of the time patients went to a nursing home after hospitalization, nearly a quarter were returned to the hospital within a month and many of the rest were returned home to be cared for by family. The study highlights the complicated nature of family caregiving and the stress that occurs when a patient is shuttled back-and-forth between care settings. The results also revealed that most elderly dementia patients are cared for in the community by family and friends. More here.