One of the many tragedies of Alzheimer's disease is that patients don't know until it's too late that they actually have the condition. By the time the first signs of forgefulness and confusion set in, experts believe, the disease has already been ravaging the brain for a decade or more, causing irreversible damage.
Veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia comparing with veterans who don't have the disorder, a study reports today.
Using data from the Department of Veterans Affairs National Patient Care Database, scientists from the University of California-San Francisco analyzed files of 181,093 veterans ages 55 and older without dementia from 1997 to 2000. The mean age at the start of the study was 68, and 97% were male.
Middle-aged adults who live alone are twice as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease later in life compared to those who are married or live with a partner. And the risk is three times higher among those who are divorced or widowed, according to a new study by Swedish and Finnish researchers.
The study included 2,000 men and women in Finland who were initially surveyed when they were 50 years old and again 21 years later.
When Diane Thornton first realized she was having trouble keeping track of appointments, she would write herself reminder notes. When she got lost on her way to the office, she'd call her secretary and ask for directions. On days she had trouble speaking or remembering words, she would avoid answering her phone.
Two European research teams have identified three genes that affect a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia in the elderly.
The new genes appear to have at least as big a role as four others discovered in the last 15 years that are known to play a role in Alzheimer's.
"The message here is that genes are important in Alzheimer's disease...and there may be multiple ways of reducing the risk that the genes produce," said Julie Williams, a neuroscientist at Cardiff University in Wales who helped lead one of the teams.
Eating curry containing turmeric once or twice a week could prevent Alzheimer's disease and many researchers are investigating if it can be used as a treatment in those who already have it.
Professor Murali Doraiswamy told delegates at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Annual Meeting in Liverpool that brain plaques dissolved in mice given high doses of curcumin and in younger mice, the spice appeared to prevent them forming in the first place.
Trials are currently under way that could lead to a curry pill, he said.
Donna Agnew loves her job, which is a good thing, because the way the economy is gasping, the 64-year-old Boston art gallery owner says she may not be able to afford retirement for the foreseeable future.
She is hardly alone.
With 401(k)s looking more like 201(s)s these days, many baby boomers are putting off retirement to rebuild decimated nest eggs. But amid such uncertainty there may be hope: A number of studies suggest that staying mentally and socially active may help starve off dementia and other dreaded declines associated with aging.
A genetic test that can find an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease does no psychological harm to people who take it, even if they test positive for a risky gene, a new study finds.
The results challenge views long held by the medical establishment, which has discouraged poeple from being tested, arguing that the test is not definitive, that it may needlessly frighten people into thinking a terrible disease is hanging over them and that testing is pointless anyway because there is no way to cure or prevent the dementia caused by Alzheimer's.