Can Just 30 Minutes a Day Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Would you be willing to trade in Alzheimer’s disease for activity? Because new research is showing it’s quite a viable trade. And if you ask me, 30 minutes of exercise a day is far better than living with the difficulties Continue reading

How Whole Body Vibration Exercises Can Help Improve Fitness in the Elderly

Story at-a-glance

  • Research suggests Whole Body Vibration (WBV) training can stimulate muscle growth and improve overall fitness in the elderly. Previous studies have also demonstrated Continue reading

Secret Ingredient Helps Protect You from Alzheimer’s

Resveratrol was first discovered by scientists way back in the 1940s. It wasn’t until about 1942, however, that reports about resveratrol’s beneficial effects on the heart began to appear. It turned out that the phytochemical could help significantly in the fight against heart disease by helping to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Continue reading

Erasing the Signs of Aging in Cells is Now a Reality

Inserm’s AVENIR “Genomic plasticity and aging” team, directed by Jean-Marc Lemaitre, Inserm researcher at the Functional Genomics Institute (Inserm/CNRS/Université de Montpellier 1 and 2), has recently succeeded in rejuvenating cells from elderly donors (aged over 100). These old cells were reprogrammed in vitro to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and to rejuvenated and human embryonic stem cells (hESC): cells of all types can again be differentiated after this genuine “rejuvenation” therapy. The results represent significant progress for research into iPSC cells and a further step forwards for regenerative medicine. Continue reading

Caregivers

Caregivers Are the Ideal Solution for Older Family Members and the Adult Children Watching out for them

Twenty-five percent of the population in the United States is currently dealing with care giving issues, with 80-85 percent providing the care themselves. These are people who are in their late 70s and 80s taking care of someone in their household, as well as adult children trying to maintain their own households while helping parents and family members live at home as long as possible. The adult children caring for parents have been called “The Sandwich Generation,” because they are sandwiched between aging family members on one side and young children on the other. Continue reading

Medical myths: Bizarre, but true…

Fat people are jollier

Ever since Falstaff, fatness has been associated with jollity. According to psychologists at Lakehead University in Canada, the “jolly fat” hypothesis might actually be true, at least among women. Not only have they found a link, they suggest a mechanism, too: estrogen.

They put forward the idea that body fat protects women again negative moods. In other words, the fatter a woman is, the less depressed she gets.

In the two-part research, the team looked at Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure that takes into account Continue reading

This Robot Will be Elderly People’s Caregiver

WELLINGTON – A company in New Zealand has developed a robot that reminds the aged people about their medication, monitors their vital signs, and will soon be able to entertain them too while encouraging exercise and mobility.

Christchurch-based gaming company Stickmen Studios has developed a game – Kung Fu Funk – that can help rehabilitate people who have suffered brain injuries.

Stickmen Studios and the University of Auckland have teamed up to customize the robot with gaming facilities that will help elderly people stay active through interactive games, reported the New Zealand Herald Monday.

The robot, Eldercare, has been developed with the Intelligent Robot Division of South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute to reduce the strain on healthcare resources as the aging population grows and to improve the lives of people who are dependent on care.

According to David Cotter, business development manager of UniServices – a division of Auckland University that commercializes its research – the robot could monitor a person’s blood pressure or insulin levels and then transmit the data to a centre using wireless connections where a nurse or doctor can access it.

The robot can also fetch and carry and monitor, when a person has fallen over, through a bracelet that communicates with it. It then decides whether emergency services are needed.

Cotter said the robot, which is still in a development phase, would help balance out the volume of elderly people to caregivers.

“We can use technology to help keep people active and in their own homes (for longer periods). The robot can also be used to monitor spiking insulin levels and monitor readings. Telecommunication medicine is the next generation of rest homes,” Cotter said.

Alzheimer’s Links to Nutrition

Research is trying to determine whether Alzheimer’s disease might be slowed or prevented with nutritional approaches, but a new study suggests those efforts could be improved by use of nutrient “biomarkers” to objectively assess the nutrient status of elderly people at risk for dementia.

The traditional approach, which primarily relies on self-reported dietary surveys, asks people to remember what they have eaten. Such surveys don’t consider two common problems in elderly populations – the effect that memory impairment has on recall of their diet, or digestive issues that could affect the absorption of nutrients.

This issue is of particular concern, experts say, because age is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and the upcoming wave of baby boomers and people 85 years and older will soon place many more people at risk for dementia.

“Dietary and nutritional studies have yielded some intriguing results, but they are inconsistent,” said Emily Ho, an associate professor of nutrition at Oregon State University, co-author of the study, and principal investigator with OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute.

“If we are going to determine with scientific accuracy whether one or another nutritional approach to preventing dementia may have value, we must have methods that accurately reflect the nutritional status of patients,” Ho said. “The gold standard to assess nutritional status should be biomarkers based on blood tests.”

The research was just published in Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders, in work supported by the National Institutes of Health. The study was led by Dr. Gene Bowman, a nutrition and aging researcher at Oregon Health and Science University, in collaboration with OSU researchers.

Prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s disease are “becoming more feasible,” researchers said, because scientists are beginning to understand what populations are at high risk for developing the disease.

“One of the issues in doing a good study is to understand the nutritional status of your participants when you start and how the nutrient treatment changes it,” Ho said. “Giving supplements or foods to a person who already has a normal nutritional status of that nutrient may be very different than if the person is deficient.”

Complicating the issue, she said, is that elderly people in general may not absorb or process many nutrients as well as younger adults, and because of genetic differences they many have different biological responses to the same level of a nutrient. Knowing what they ate gives, at best, only a partial picture of what their nutritional status actually is. And it also assumes that people, including those with beginning dementia, will always remember with accuracy what their diet actually has been when questioned about 124 food items in an interview that can last up to two hours.

In this study, the scientists recruited 38 elderly participants, half with documented memory deficit and the other half cognitively intact. They compared the reliability of the nutrient biomarkers to food questionnaires administered twice over one month.

The questionnaire was able to determine some nutrient levels, but only in the group with good memory. The reliability of the nutrient biomarkers depended on the nutrient of interest, but overall performed very well.

“Now that we have a reliable blood test for assessing nutritional status, we can begin to study nutrient biomarkers in combination, their interactive features, and how they collectively may influence chronic diseases, including risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” Bowman said.

Such approaches could lead to more effective nutritional therapies in the future to promote cognitive health, he said.

Sex still Important for Men age 70 to 95

Remaining sexually active is important for men – even those age 70 to 95, found in a survey conducted by Australian researchers. The study was initiated to find out what sort of factors influence sexual activity in elderly men.

43 Percent of Elderly Men would prefer more Sex

In the sampling of relatively healthy men, researchers found 43 percent would prefer to have sex more often. The survey included 3274 men aged 75 to 95 years, 85 percent of whom provided information about their sex lives.

Almost half (48.8%) of the respondents said sex was “somewhat important”, and 30.8 percent had at least one sexual encounter in the last year.

Researchers gathered information via questionnaires from 1996 to 1999, 2001 to 2004 and again from 2008 to 2009, assessing the men’s social situation and medical history.

The men again answered questions about their sex life from 2008 to 2009. The researchers evaluated hormone levels from 2001 to 2004 in an effort to garner more information about just how many elderly men are sexually active and what keeps them that way.

Men without health problems including diabetes, osteoporosis, prostate cancer, low testosterone levels, depression, and not on medications that might interfere with erections remained the most sexually engaged.

Other factors that limited sexual activity included partner’s lack of interest in having sex and simply not having a partner.

For almost half of the elderly men surveyed, sex remained an important part of life and 43 percent reported a desire to have sex more frequently. The findings have implications for clinicians who should discuss sexual activity with elderly male patients.

Annals of Internal Medicine 2010

Pre Dementia Can Be Spotted with Memory Test

LONDON – Memory and language tests can reliably reveal “hidden” early dementia, say UK experts.

Most dementias are missed for years as the symptoms can be elusive until considerable brain tissue is lost.

But doctors from Oxford found they were able to spot very early warning signs when they looked closely enough.

The findings in Neurology could help doctors diagnose dementia sooner, which is crucial since treatment is most effective when given early.

Over a span of 20 years, the researchers studied a group of 241 healthy elderly volunteers, giving them regular tests designed to measure their thinking or cognitive powers.

Being able to spot and measure the initial stages of dementia is a crucial challenge if we are to improve drug testing and lay the groundwork for prevention trials

When they scrutinized the test results, the doctors found subtle clues that, in retrospect, hinted at ensuing impairment.

Specifically, the patients who went on to develop mild cognitive impairment or pre-dementia stumbled on tasks involving language expression, learning and recall.

For example, they had greater difficulty remembering the name for common objects or animals and explaining the meaning of a given word.

And those who were older and who scored lower on the language or memory tests tended to deteriorate more quickly.

Professor David Smith and his team say their findings fit with what we already know about dementia.

Experts have noted that the early stages of dementia are associated with linguistic problems, such as word-finding difficulties.

Early literary works by authors who have later been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s show similar changes in language use – simpler narratives and a smaller vocabulary.

Rebecca Wood of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust said: “This significant long-term study shows how subtle, but measurable, problems with language or memory can predict when a healthy elderly person is likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, which frequently develops into dementia.

“Early intervention will be crucial for future dementia treatments. Being able to spot and measure the initial stages of dementia is a crucial challenge if we are to improve drug testing and lay the groundwork for prevention trials.”

Latest work in Archives of General Psychiatry adds weight to the evidence that Alzheimer’s dementia is at least partly inherited, and that being healthy in mid-life could help lower your risk of the disease.

Dutch researchers found that people with a parental history of Alzheimer’s had higher blood pressure and indicators of arterial disease as well as different amounts of inflammatory proteins in their blood compared with those without a parental history of Alzheimer’s.