Dementia in the News

A new study led by Jubin Abutalebi of the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, provides a possible explanation for why speaking a second language slows the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The researchers reported in the January 30 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that bilingual people form stronger connections between some regions of their brains than do monolinguals. These beefed-up networks might allow people to adapt to age-related reductions in brain functions.

Delirium may seem relatively harmless when it’s an elderly patient who temporarily blanks on who or where they are after an acute trauma, but it is not. Delirium can accelerate ongoing dementia. It can also independently precipitate cognitive decline, according to one of the most comprehensive studies of delirium and dementia to date.

In a barbed wire - enclosed parking lot 100 meters downwind of the Route 110 freeway, an aluminum hose sticks out of a white trailer, its nozzle aimed at an overpass. Every minute, the hose sucks up hundreds of liters of air mixed with exhaust from the roughly 300,000 cars and diesel-burning freight trucks that rumble by each day.

A gradual decline in memory is a dreaded effect of normal aging. But Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have discovered that some people in their 60s, 70s or 80s have the youthful memories of 20-year-olds and their brains show why. Bradford Dickerson, MD, a behavioral neurologist in the Mass General Memory Disorders Unit, and his colleagues are trying to learn as much as possible about these so-called “superagers.” He hopes their studies will point to ways all of us could become superagers with youthful memory too.

Many older adults want to live at home independently as they age. Sometimes all they need is a little help from their family and friends - and the right technology. A new initiative led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aims to help seniors age in place by developing a research platform to study the use of health-related in-home sensors and other technologies.

Many know the unique tragedy of this disease, but few know that Alzheimer’s is one of the most critical public health crises facing America. This powerful documentary illuminates the social and economic consequences for the country unless a medical breakthrough is discovered for this currently incurable disease. 

If you have a loved one with dementia, my first suggestion would be to find the very best doctors possible. My second piece of advice would be to go to the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. It’s a free blog that focuses on Alzheimer’s disease and the art of Alzheimer’s caregiving.

When I was a kid, if you asked me; "What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always reply; “I want to be a lawyer!” But when I started high school, I fell in love with biology and chemistry.

I found it so interesting to study how human bodies work and I became passionate about understanding human diseases, their causes, and how to defeat them.

A pilot study led by Ipsit Vahia, a member of the HMS faculty of psychiatry and medical director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital, suggests that the use of tablet computers is both a safe and potentially effective approach to managing agitation among patients with dementia. The findings were published in the online version of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Could concussions speed up the mental decline of people already at risk for Alzheimer's disease?

In a new study, researchers examined 160 U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The investigators found that concussions seem to accelerate Alzheimer's disease-related brain deterioration and mental decline in people who are at genetic risk for the disease. However, the study did not prove that concussions cause Alzheimer's risk to rise.

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