Dementia in the News

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.

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.

In our house, we talk a lot about long-term care. My dad is 92 and afflicted by dementia and failing eyesight.

Luckily, I'm blessed with three wonderful siblings who do the hard work of caring for my father and making sure he can stay in his own home in suburban Detriot. But my visits from Brooklyn to spell my siblings are becoming increasingly complex, as my father needs more care and loses track of exactly who I am.

The patients were on the loose again, moving their shrunken frames through the nursing home's shadowy halls, chattering and giggling like children sneaking out of camp. 

At the age of 78, Bob Branham, a retired computer software developer in Dallas, Tex., took up quilting. It wasn't his idea, actually. He'd never dreamed of piecing together his own Amish diamond coverlet or rummaging around Jo-Ann Fabrics in search of calico prints.  But then he enrolled in a trial sponsored by the National Institute on Aging to assess whether learning a new skill can help preserve cognitive function in old age. By random assignment, he landed in the quilting group.

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/can-dementia-be-prevented

A new shoe outfitted with a GPS chip aims to offer peace of mind to Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.

The embedded GPS tracking system will allow the wearer of the shoe to be located instantly online and for their whereabouts to be monitored in real time.

The shoe may offer hope to the growing number of people with Alzheimer's disease. More than 26 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer's, and the figure is set to exceed 106 million by 2050, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health.

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.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Pittsburgh have recently published a late-life dementia risk index in the journal Neurology. Their objective was to develop a late-life dementia risk index that can accurately stratify older adults into those with a low, moderate, or high-risk of developing dementia within 6 years, using a sample group of 3,375 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Cognition Study.

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