Will Alzheimer's disease, a terrible degenerative brain disease with no treatments and no clear guidelines for diagnosis before its end stages, become like heart disease? Will there be early markers of risk, analogous to high cholesterol levels, that will predict who is likely to get it? And will there be drugs that actually prevent it?
In 1966, as a visiting medical student at a London teaching hospital, I interviewed a husband and wife, in their early twenties, who had recently experienced a truly calamitous health catastrophe. On their wedding night, in their first experience of sexual intercourse, a malformed blood vessel in the husband's brain burst, leaving him with a disabling paralysis of the right side of his body. Stunned and guilt-ridden, the couple clutched hands and cried silently as they shared their suffering with me.
Harvard researchers have uncovered a mechanism through which caloric restriction and exercise delay some of the debilitating effects of aging by rejuvenating the connections between nerves and the muscles that they control.
The research, conducted in the labs of Joshua Sanes and Jeff Lichtman, both members of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard and professors of molecular and cellular biology, begins to explain prior findings that exercise and restricted-calorie diets help to starve off the mental and physical degeneration of aging.
First Alzheimer's disease stole Rosemary DeFelice’s speech, mobility and independence. Then, at 75, she lost the ability to eat.
She would chew away at her food, coughing and sputtering and spitting up but swallowing very little, said her daughter, Cyndy Viveiros. And like many relatives caring for patients with advanced dementia, Ms. Viveiros had to decide whether or not to have a gastric feeding tube inserted.
Education has been linked to dementia risk for dementia for decades, but researchers behind a new study opened up the brains of hundreds of people who had died with the disease to try to find out why this correlation exists.
The scientists found that the number of years a person had spent in school early in life did not change the amount of damage to the brain from dementia.
The population of older Americans is growing faster than ever and living longer than ever, but not as long as in much of Europe and elsewhere in the developed world, according to “Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being,” a report compiled by 15 federal agencies.
The full report, with tables detailing senior demographics, economics, health status, health risks and health care, is available at agingstats.gov. It contains a number of surprises, and raises a number of questions, for those interested in how Americans are aging.