Dementia in the News

I've invited the clinical psychologist Cynthia Green, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the author of several books on memory (including "Through the Seasons:  An Activities Book for Memory Challenged Adults and Caregivers"), to join the conversation today. I've been hearing laments about the difficulties of visiting relatives with dementia; people yearn to make that time together enjoyable and meaningful, but they can't always figure out how to connect. Dr. Green has some thoughtful suggestions. - Paula Span

 

New findings confirm atrial fibrillation (AF) is independently associated with the risk of all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's and other senile and vacular dementia types. According to a study published in the April edition of the HeartRhythm Journal, the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society, the presence of atrial fibrillation indicated highter mortality rates in all dementia subtypes; however, mortality risk was most prominent in the youngest population studied.

Of the millions of animals on Earth, including the relative handful that are considered the most intelligent - including apes, whales, crows, and owls - only humans experience the severe age-related decline in mental abilities marked by Alzheimer's disease.

To Bruce Yankner, professor of pathology and neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), it's pretty clear that evolution is to blame.

The use of repetitive anesthesia with isoflurace (one of the most common anesthetics by inhalation) increases the risk of developing changes similar to those observed in AD brains in mice with mutations of the amyloid precursor protein (APP).

In 1950, when Marybeth Solinski was born, a diagnosis of Down syndrome was practically a death sentence.

Children with the condition often died before their 10th birthday.

Yet Solinski, at 59, has outlived her parents. She has even joined AARP.

Her longevity illustrates the dramatic progress for people with Down syndrome. Thanks to better medical care, the average life expectancy for a child with Down syndrome is now 60 years, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, which estimates that about 400,000 people are living with the condition in the USA.

The decision is one of the hardest you will ever make. Your spouse, parent or loved one needs care that assisted living or home health care simply cannot provide. You need to choose a nursing home.

It's a difficult and emotional task. The horror stories are well documented, and even in the best nursing homes, the transition can be wrenching for the entire family.

Finding a good nursing home takes research and perseverance. You want a safe, engaging and pleasant environment with caring staff and solid medical practices.

18F-FDG PET identified the average increase amyloid-beta plaques among individuals whose mothers had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease compared to others with no family history of dementia, according to research findings published online March 15 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A team of scientists from Cambridge and Sweden have discovered a molecule that can prevent a toxic protein involved in Alzheimer's disease from building up in the brain. Dr. Leila Luheshi, of the Department of Genetics at University of Cambridge, et al. found that in test tube studies, the molecule not only prevents the protein from forming clumps but can also reverse the potentially toxic process. Then, using fruit flies engineered to develop a fly equivalent of Alzheimer's disease, they showed that the same molecule effectively "cures" the insects of the disease.

Busloads of students from Washington, D.C., area schools will visit the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on March 17 and 18 for a special experience. These students, grades five through eight, will participated in the museum's 11th annual Brain Awarenesss Week. During these two days, scientists from five Institutes at the National Institutes of Health will host interactive sessions focusing on brain health and neuroscience.

Two years ago my father, then 83, became very ill. Until then, he had been living alone in a pleasant one-bedroom apartment on the Hudson River, an hour's drive from my home in Brooklyn.

After a couple of months in the hospital, it became clear that my dad, Harvey Alderman, could not return to solo living. He was fragile and forgetful, and there was no way he could keep track of the 14 or so pills he had to take each day.

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