Research suggests that up to 5% of the elderly population, age 70 and above, may suffer from a type of memory loss called mild cognitive impairment. This estimate is worse than any previous year according to a researching team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Ronald Petersen, the neurologist who led the study stated, “If we extrapolate these findings to the baby boomers, who are aging into the period of risk, we’re talking about a significant number of individuals who may become cognitively impaired in the very near future.” The number of elderly adults that have mild cognitive impairment has increased to an alarmingly higher rate than previously anticipated. More here
According to the latest report in The Journal of the American Medical Association by Becca Levy, an associate professor of epidemiology and psychology at Yale University who has been researching the effects of negative and positive stereotyping in older adults, suggests that seniors with this positive bias are 44% more likely to completely recover from a struggle with disability. Study showed that when seniors are introduced to negative stereotyping they are more likely to suffer memory loss, have poor physical functioning and possibly die earlier as opposed to seniors who are introduced to positive stereotyping. 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.
Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and, more recently, has been sold as a dietary supplement aimed at helping prevent memory loss and improving focus and mental sharpness. But, according to new research from the University of Hertfordshire, taking gingko biloba supplements provided no such boost to memory regardless of the age and health of the individual. Keith Laws, professor of psychology, said ginkgo biloba promises to reduce the mental decline associated with aging but the results of the study show it has no impact at all. Ginkgo biloba is one of the most popular plant-based products available without a prescription in North America, though a number of recent studies have found no evidence to support its effectiveness. More here.
For the most part, science has concentrated on understanding how the brain adapts and changes during age-related cognitive decline. But, more recently, research has proven that some of the cognitive decline once thought of as unavoidable can, in fact, be avoided. A study from Sweden recently published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences says that staying physically, socially, and mentally active in old age is more important to preserving brain function than past habits and experiences. Higher education and a demanding career is no guarantee against memory loss but staying engaged and active in old age can keep the brain youthful. The researchers say older adults who are active can show little or no brain changes compared to younger adults, which supports the theory that preserving and maintaining brain function is the key to successful aging, rather than compensating for cognitive decline. More here.
Though numerous studies have shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time can be hazardous to health, a new study from the Mayo Clinic found that sitting in front of a computer may actually help protect against memory loss. The research looked at 926 people between the ages of 70 and 93 and found that those who reported computer use, along with moderate physical exercise, had a lower risk of memory loss than those who reported one or the other. Yonas E. Geda M.D., the study’s author and a physician scientist with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said as computer use becomes more prevalent among all age groups it is important to explore how it affects aging and dementia. More here.
Of all the techniques, tips, and tricks offered up as effective ways to turn back the clock, the only proven way to slow the aging process is to stay active and mobile. Many studies have shown that the more physical activity and exercise we get, the better our overall health. Exercise and mobility are also associated with lowered risk of disability, disease, and memory loss. As we age, telomeres, which are found at the end of chromosomes, begin to shorten. This shortening has been linked to cognitive decline and aging. However, individuals who are physically active, engaged in sports, and exercising, delay the shortening of their telomeres, which rejuvenates their cells and keeps them feeling young and healthy. Fortunately, just about any physical activity, including walking, dancing, and even gardening, can help delay the effects of aging. More here.
According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, men over the age of 70 are more susceptible to memory loss and cognitive impairment than women. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic examined 1,450 people in their 70s and 80s every 15 months for three and a half years and found 7.2 percent of men and 5.7 percent of women developed mild cognitive impairment during that time. Previous studies, however, have found men are less likely to develop full-blown dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than women. Rosebud Roberts, lead author of the study and a professor of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic, said that, though men were more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, women with cognitive problems may progress into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease more quickly. More here.
Over the next two decades, the number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to double. And, as the number of older Americans increases, so will cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. But according to a recent study of nearly 17,000 women, the types of complaints an individual has about their memory may signal whether their memory loss is age-related or a sign of a more serious problem. Researchers asked seven questions that assessed cognitive function. For example, they found women who answered yes to having trouble remembering things from one second to the next were less likely to be suffering from serious cognitive decline than those who answered yes to having trouble finding their way around familiar streets. Dr. Rebecca Amariglio of Harvard Medical School said the findings suggest clinicians may need to differentiate between types of memory complaints their patients have in order to assess which are normal aging and which are possible cognitive decline. More here.
New research from the University of Colorado suggests that exercise may help prevent cognitive decline following an infection. The results add to increasing evidence that exercise is a key component of brain health. The study, which tested the effects of exercise on mice following an E.coli infection, found that the mice that exercised after being infected had nearly the same ability to remember as the mice who had not been infected, while the infected mice that did not exercise suffered memory loss. Study researcher Ruth Barrientos said infection can impair the memory process but the study found even a little bit of exercise can reverse or block a lot of those changes from happening. More here.