News and Research Feed

Life Experience May Offset Cognitive Decline Due to Aging

Brain5Could life experience make up for some of the effects of age on the brain? According to researchers from the School of Business Administration at the University of California, Riverside, it can and does. The research group measured a person’s decision-making ability over their entire lifespan. Using two different types of intelligence - fluid and crystallized - they found that experience and acquired knowledge from a lifetime of decision-making often offset the declining ability to learn new information. Fluid intelligence is the ability to learn and process new information. Crystallized intelligence is experience and accumulated knowledge. According to the researchers, previous studies have suggested that fluid intelligence declines as a person ages, but the studies didn’t address whether or not decision-making abilities also decline.

Read the full article on HealthCentral about how the brain works (and in some ways, improves) as we age:

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Thinking About Donating Your Body to Science? Here's the Scoop

Researcher3Many people sign a form to have body tissue or organs donated to others after their death. They often have this information recorded on their driver’s license to expedite procedures necessary in case of an accident. But far fewer choose to donate their whole body for scientific research — despite the fact that this type of donation is vital to help train new doctors, as well as to develop cures for diseases.

Read the full article on HealthCentral about donating one's body to research:

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June is Brain Awareness Month: Helping Caregivers Cope

WheelchairmanJune is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. What better time to become educated about how to help people who have dementia live a better quality of life, help caregivers with support and resources, and teach others about the many types of dementia and other brain diseases? The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was signed into law in 2011. Since that time, milestones have been identified to meet the plan’s biomedical research goals. But until recent years, the creation of similar milestones on patient care and caregiver support has lagged.  In 2014, the Alzheimer’s Association Workgroup published recommendations – including patient-care milestones – to augment the U.S. Government’s “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Read more on HealthCentral about Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month and tips on how caregivers can grow:

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Surprising Changes that May Indicate Dementia

Caregiverstress3When the average person thinks of dementia, generally Alzheimer’s disease comes to mind. At the same time, the person will likely think of memory loss. Both of these conclusions are understandable since Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and memory issues are often, though not always, the first symptom of that disease. Surprising then, to many people, is the fact that there may be earlier indicators of potential Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia than frequent memory lapses.

Read full article on HealthCentral about changes other than memory that could indicated dementia:

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Alzheimer’s Documentary Sparks Controversy Over What Some See as Negativity

OlderCouple3According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million people in the U.S. live with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and the price tag for the disease in 2016 was over $236 billion. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that the disease is often featured on news broadcasts and as a topic of documentaries. PBS has been particularly attentive to the issues of AD. In 2012, PBS aired a moving documentary about Lee Gorewitz, who became the focus of You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t. This documentary takes the viewer into Gorewitz’ life as a resident in a memory unit. In 2014, they aired The Genius of Marian, a story about Pam White and her family as they came to grips with her early onset Alzheimer’s disease (EOAD). Both programs sparked emotion in viewers with much praise and little controversy.

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Read full article on HealthCentral about the controversy over "Every Minute Counts"

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Alzheimer’s Rate Declining as Heart Related Disease Better Managed

HeartHealthWe are, for good reason, repeatedly reminded of the horrifying statistics related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people over the age of 65 is exploding and most dementia symptoms develop as a person ages. This is fact. In no way does this article intend to distract from the need to cure all types of dementia. However, there is one thing to celebrate. Alzheimer’s rates seem to be declining.

Read full article on HealthCentral about decline of AD rates and the reasons why:

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Alzheimer’s Symptoms: Navigational Skills May Deteriorate Long Before Memory

Walker2Typically, when we think of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease we think of memory problems. Words go missing, names escape one's grasp, daily tasks are forgotten. Now, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that making mental maps of where we have been and where we are going is a process the brain may lose before memory problems begin to show. People with these early symptoms can no longer navigate even a familiar area as they once did.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how navigational skills need to be considered when assessing brain health:

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Caffeine May Lower Risk for Cognitive Decline, Study Suggests

Coffee1Throughout the last several decades, caffeine has been alternately touted as hero or villain. For a time, caffeine was blamed for birth defects in children, and healthy eating, in general, meant eliminating food or beverages containing caffeine. Still, one of the most explosive new trends we’ve seen over the last dozen years has been designer coffee shops and kiosks, which show that people will not always follow where health gurus lead. Now the coffee drinkers may be vindicated.

Read full article on HealthCentral about new study showing caffeine may lower risk for dementia:

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Gene Therapy Delivered by Modified Virus Provides Hope for Alzheimer's Cure Prior to Symptoms

BRain15We can’t keep these facts buried. Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the leading variety, is a family disease in that it affects family dynamics, family income, and family health. It turns couples into care partners. It turns adult children into caregivers for their parents often during the time that they also are caregivers for their young children, which has created the term “sandwich generation.” In continuing efforts to find a genetic route to cure Alzheimer’s, the findings of one study could revolutionize the numbers given above. This study involves a treatment that delivers a modified virus to a gene in the brain that could wipe out the damage being done by developing Alzheimer’s before any symptoms occur.

Read full article on HealthCentral about this genetic road to curing AD:

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Negative Thinking Is Risky for Health

Brain4Most of us know that positive thinking is supposed to enhance our lives but thinking positively, especially for some personalities, can be easier said than done. Life can be hard. If you have dementia or another terminal illness, or if you provide care for someone who does, thinking positively can seem impossible.Yet, many studies have shown that negative thinking can cause havoc with our health.An article from a University of Minnesota newsletter about how negative thinking affects the body states:

Read full article on HealthCentral about how negative thinking impacts our health:

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