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Aspects of Aging

Dementia and Alzheimer's

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Designing a better way to cope with Alzheimer's
PBS Newshour
March 20, 2014


There is a common theme about the need for new solutions to help seniors “age in place” in their own homes, to provide support for the caregivers (often family members), and to keep costs down. Many of the entrepreneurs working with the San Francisco based start-up incubator Aging 2.0 are trying to do just that, and some like BrainAid are specifically focused on developing apps geared toward those with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. But clearly there is a lot of need out there for some fresh thinking about aging with dementia.  That need inspired faculty at Stanford University’s Center on Longevity — whose mission is to “redesign long life” — to launch a design challenge last fall. Partnering with the Aging 2.0 team, they invited students around the world to submit ideas for new products that can maximize independence for those with cognitive impairment.

Effects of Music and Memory on Dementia
AlbuquerqueJournal/Associated Press 
November 3, 2014
A study being led by the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is the largest yet on the impact of the Music and Memory program, which is in hundreds of nursing homes across the U.S. and Canada. Similar studies will be conducted in Utah and Ohio. Researchers are monitoring the responses of 1,500 Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who were given iPods at Wisconsin nursing homes through the program, which was highlighted in a documentary honored at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Their mental state will then be compared to the same number of people in 100 other nursing homes who haven’t received iPods.

As We Age, Keys to Remembering Where the Keys Are
New York Times
May 4, 2015

Have you heard about “retrieval disorder,” our shared problem with remembering names and dates, what we had just read and where, even what we had for dinner last night? Or maybe we should call it "delayed retrieval disorder". It’s not that we can’t remember, it just takes us longer, sometimes a lot longer, than it used to. Is it really a disorder, or does it happen to all of us, a part of normal aging? Indeed it is, say recent reports, including one released last month by the Institute of Medicine. And it doesn’t mean we’re all headed down the road to dementia, although unchecked, cognitive changes with age can make it increasingly difficult to meet the demands of daily life, like shopping, driving, cooking and socializing.
New York Times
May 18, 2015
Fears about memory issues, commonplace among those of us who often misplace our cellphones and mix up the names of our children, are likely to skyrocket as baby boomers move into their 70s, 80s and beyond. Many may be unwilling to wait to have their memories tested until symptoms develop that could herald encroaching dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, like finding one’s glasses in the refrigerator, getting lost on a familiar route or being unable to follow directions or normal conversation. But simple tests done in eight to 12 minutes in a doctor’s office can determine whether memory issues are normal for one’s age or are problematic and warrant a more thorough evaluation. The tests can be administered annually, if necessary, to detect worrisome changes. However, according to researchers at the University of Michigan, more than half of older adults with signs of memory loss never see a doctor about it. Although there is still no certain way to prevent or forestall age-related cognitive disease, knowing that someone has serious memory problems can alert family members and friends to a need for changes in the person’s living arrangements that can be health- or even lifesaving.

Could Alzheimer's Stem From Infections? It Makes Sense, Experts Say
New York Times
May 25, 2016

New research at Harvard leads to a startling new hypothesis which could explain the origins of plaque, the mysterious hard little balls that pockmark the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

Parade Magazine
June 21, 2015

Lacking a cure or even meaningful treatments, those who bear the brunt of care are taking things into their own hands—and sharing their inspired solutions. Some reach hundreds or thousands at once. Others improve a handful of lives at a time.  This kind of grassroots movement is key to helping patients and caregivers cope with a disease on the rise. Every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association; an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages already have the disease in 2015. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and it’s the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed, the association says.

Albuquerque Journal
August 6, 2015

Researchers at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center say they are getting closer to a vaccine that could someday rescue people from Alzheimer’s.  The initial pilot grant from Clinical Translational Science Centers, funded through the National Institutes of Health, would support a study to examine the blood of people with Alzheimer’s and those without it to measure and compare the presence of the biomarker, an abnormal tau protein.  Tau is a protein in neurons that becomes tangled and toxic in people with Alzheimer’s. It results in progressive, debilitating loss, beginning with activities of everyday life and ending with death.  Toxic tau is one of two proteins that accumulate in brains of those with Alzheimer’s. The other, beta-amyloid,causes an accumulation called plaques. 

Albuquerque Journal/Philadelphia Enquirer
February 16, 2016

There was a time when caregivers tried orienting people with dementia to reality. That often feels like the natural thing to do. “No, Mom, I actually did tell you that. Like, five times.”  Times are changing.

New York Times
July 24, 2016

Dr. Zahinoor Ismail, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Calgary and a member of a group proposing a new diagnosis of Minimal Brain Disorder said studies and anecdotes suggested that emotional and behavioral changes were “a stealth symptom,” part of the dementia disease process, not separate from it.

Preparing Your Home for a Loved One with Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's Guide
September 25, 2016

Practical advice on what kinds of alterations may be needed for keeping someone with Alzheimer's in the home.

Prolonged Sleep May Be Early Warning Sign of Dementia
New York Times 
February 22, 2017

Researchers report that older adults who started sleeping more than nine hours a night - but had not previously done so - were at more than double the risk of developing dementia a decade later.

More Than Memory: Coping with the Other Ills of Alzheimer's
All Things Considered/NPR
June 24, 2017

Besides memory loss, Alzheimer's can bring many other physical and mental problems. [Includes transcript and link to the broadcast story]

In "Memory's Last Breath," Remembering Life, Before It's Too Late (Book Review)
New York Times
June 22, 2017

Review of a memoir by Gerda Saunders, who was diagnosed with microvascular disease and decided to record both her past life and her present as her memory slipped away. 

An Ancient Cure for Alzheimer's?
New York Times
July 14, 2017

Very preliminary research indicates that exposure to certain parasites may protect the brain from Alzheimer's.

Nine Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Dementia Risk, Study Says
BBC News
July 20, 2017

Research indicates that changes like not smoking, increasing social and intellectual activities, and losing weight may reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life.

Scientists Endorse These Three Strategies to Delay Dementia
PBS NewsHour
July 20, 2017

A growing body of research indicates that there are things you can do to delay, but not prevent, dementia. Others don't work at all. And not everything will work for all people. The important thing is to start early and try several things. 

Tapping the Creative Brain for People With Alzheimer's and Related Diseases
August 11, 2017

Music, poetry, improv, special museum programs.... There are lots of things being done to use the arts to help dementia patients live better lives.

What If You Knew Alzheimer's Was Coming for You?
New York Times
November 17, 2017

In the near future, there may be a test to identify those who are most likely to develop Alzheimers, or who are in the very earliest stages of the disease. But there is still no treatment or cure. Would you have the test? What about making sure the results don't affect your ability to get insurance or otherwise hurt you.

Older Adults' Forgetfulness Tied to Faulty Brain Rhythms in Sleep
National Public Radio
December 18, 2017

Research indicates that some forgetfulness in older adults may not be dementia. It may be problems with sleep patterns that affect the brain and how memories are stored during sleep.

Scientists Explore Ties Between Alzheimer's and Brain's Ancient Immune System
National Public Radio
February 18, 2018

Recent research indicates that the brain may be producing amyloid-beta (the plaques associated with Alzheimer's) as an immune response, much as an oyster produces a pearl to protect itself from an invader.

Alzheimers Hitting New Mexico Like "Tsunami-like Wave"
March 21, 2018

A new report from the Alzheimer's Association indicates that approximately 29,000 New Mexicans have Alzheimer's disease; a sharp increase from the 1,000 reported in the 2017 report. And they project the number will grow to 53,000 by 2025. The report also outlines the costs of caring for Alzheimer's patients, mortality rates and other information. 

The Menopause-Alzheimer's Connection
New York Times
April 18, 2018

There are currently 57 million Alzheimer's patients in the US, and there will be as many as 14 million by 2050. And twice as many are women as are men. Recent research indicates that at least part of the reason for this difference may be estrogen and menopause. Estrogen protects the female brain from aging, stimulating neural activity and preventing the buildup of plaques. With menopause, estrogen is reduced and the brain is left vulnerable. A lot more research is needed to confirm the link and determine the best ways to reduce the risks. 

Alzheimer's? Your Paperwork May Not Be In Order
New York Times
April 30, 2018

Feeding an Alzheimer's patient at the end of their life poses a difficult decision for family and decision makers. Responding to a spoon full of food is instinctive, even after the ability to chew and swallow is gone. Health care directives don't cover this decision. The state of New York has developed a special form, to be completed when the patient is still competent, to indicate preferences. While it is probably not legally binding (yet) in New Mexico, having it as part of your health decisions file may be useful.

Study: Memories of Music Cannot Be Lost to Alzheimer's
April 29, 2018

Music affects our brains. A strong response to a piece of music triggers a part of your brain to do something called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)"According to a recently published study in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease..., the part of your brain responsible for ASMR doesn't get lost to Alzheimer's." You may not remember other things, but your response to music continues.

A Common Virus May Play a Role in Alzheimer's Disease, Study Finds
New York Times
June 21, 2018

Research indicates that the herpes virus, which is extremely common, may play a role in the development of the plaques that are indicative of Alzheimer's disease. While the results are preliminary, they point to a new path for research an a possible treatment or preventative path.

Alzheimer's Drug Slows Memory Loss in Early Trial Results
New York Times
July 25, 2018

Results of a large scale trial seem to indicate that a new Alzheimer's drug may reduce plaques in the brain and slow the progression of the disease. Additional trials, and several more years, will be required before the drug might be widely available, but this is the first promising drug.

In a related article, the Times reports on the difficulties of identifying patients to participate in dementia drug trials. They have to fit a particular profile, and there are a lot of trials going on, reducing the number of potential participants in any one. Read For Scientists Racing to Cure Alzheimer's, the Math is Getting Ugly.

A Photographic Treatment for People with Dementia
August 20, 2018

Using pairs of photographs, a new "therapy" encourages conversation among people with dementia. The photographs may spark memories, or the pairs may serve as starting points for discussion of similarities and differences between the images. Results in small trials have been notable, with extended conversation taking place among people who otherwise may be nearly silent.

Take a Look at These Unusual Strategies for Fighting Dementia
New York Times
August 22, 2018

In the Netherlands, caregivers are experimenting with some unorthodox approaches to dementia treatment, "harnessing the power of relaxation, childhood memories, sensory aids, soothing music, family structure and other tools to heal, calm and nurture . . . rather than relying on the old prescription of bed rest, medication and, in some cases, physical restraints." Video recreations of bus rides, beaches, cafes, etc. in common rooms encourage relaxation and conversation. Projections of nature scenes on the ceiling above a bed-ridden patient also help with relaxation. Caregivers report a reduced need for medication and restraints as a result of the new techniques.

I Had Alzheimer's. But I Wasn't Ready to Retire
New York Times
September 7, 2018

Alzheimer's patients, particularly those with early-onset of the disease, are frequently forced out of the workplace. Simple accommodations would allow them to continue to work and contribute to their employer and the community.

To Manage Dementia Well, Start With the Caregivers
September 15, 2018

Caring for a family member with dementia is extremely challenging. New programs train caregivers to understand the disease and to respond to the patient's problems appropriately. The result can be less suffering for both. Unfortunately, the programs are not widely available, and can be costly.

In 1960, About Half a Million Teens Took a Test. Now It Could Predict Whether They Develop Alzheimer's
Chicago Tribune (Washington Post)
September 21, 2018

A recent research report indicates that students who did well on the "Project Talent" test as high school students in 1960 have a lower chance of developing Alzheimer's as they age. The massive scale of the original test has made this group one that has been studied in a variety of ways for decades.

The Comforting Myths of Dementia Care
The New Yorker
October 8, 2018

A growing trend in "memory care" residences is to create artificial environments that seem to sooth through nostalgia - front porches, village parks, beaches. Why this helps residents isn't clear, and some question whether we should be "fooling" them. (Long read)

For a personal view of this, read The Dementia Heist (New York Times, December 7, 2018)

Leading an Active Life With a Diagnosis of Dementia
New York Times
October 5, 2018

The number of dementia patients is rising, driven in part by an aging population. There are ways for those in the early stages of dementia to continue to live their active lives. Medical and social professionals, as well as family, can help develop coping mechanisms to make the most of abilities and decrease the potential problems of weaknesses as they develop.

A Brain Scientist Who Studies Alzheimer's Explains How She Stays Mentally Fit
October 8, 2018

The best exercise for your mind may be your job. Your daily work routine, involving multitasking, remembering key things, and processing information, is probably better for your memory than doing crosswords or even expensive computer "brain games." "In the study of about 2,800 people age 65 and older, most spent more than five weeks doing exercises that tested memory, reasoning or speed. Two of the interventions, reasoning and processing speed, helped a bit even 10 years later..." Volunteer work that challenges you mentally is as helpful as paid work.

Dementia is Getting Some Very Public Faces
New York Times
November 9, 2018

Revelations of dementia diagnoses by several well known figures may help to lessen the stigma of the disease. This openness may lead to earlier diagnosis and advances in treatments, as well as relieving some of the isolation of patients and their care givers.

Dementia Patients Fuel Assisted Living's Growth. Safety May Be Lagging
New York Times
December 13, 2018

Analysis of state reports shows that the safety records of assisted living facilities are not good for dementia patients. Assisted living facilities are not regulated as nursing homes are, and their staffing levels and staff training are not always adequate to deal with the challenges of residents with dementia, who may be aggressive and dangerous to other residents or staff, may wander away, or otherwise harm themselves.

Just 6 Months of Walking May Reverse Cognitive Decline, Study Says
December 20, 2018

Results of a recent study involving people with high blood pressure and signs of cognitive impairment, indicates that exercise can make a significant difference, improving "executive function" in as little as 6 months, compared with patients who did not exercise.

Study Offers Hint of Hope for Staving Off Dementia in Some People
New York Times
January 28, 2019

A recent large scale study indicates that for some people - over 50 with high blood pressure but without diabetes or a history of heart disease - intensive treatment of hypertension can result is a lower risk of developing minor memory and thinking problems that can lead to dementia.

Changing the Tragedy Narrative
Washington Post
February 21, 2019

A diagnosis of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's, has been viewed as tragic. A growing number of patients and their families and care-givers are insisting on changing that perspective and seeing opportunities for joy in living with the disease.

How Much a Dementia Patient Needs to Know
New Yorker
March 4, 2019

Patients deserve truth from their doctors. They want, and deserve, to know what their condition and prognosis is. With dementia patients, however, it's more complicated. If they have been informed but don't remember, should they be told repeatedly, or allowed to live in their perceptions?

Supplements Won't Prevent Dementia, But These Steps Might
New York Times
March 1, 2019

There are a lot of pills being sold that claim to prevent dementia and memory loss. The latest research shows they don't work. What does is exercise (both physical and mental), keeping your cholesterol down, maintaining a healthy weight..... and (in some cases at least) a certain amount of luck and good genes.

A Possible Alzheimer's Treatment With Clicks and Flashes? It Worked on Mice
New York Times
March 14, 2019

Preliminary research using genetically engineered mice indicates that exposure to rapidly flashing strobe lights and clicking noises helped reduce Alzheimer's related proteins and improve brain function. It's not clear that the treatment will work on humans (other mice studies have not) but the results are a promising new avenue.

The Diagnosis is Alzheimer's. But That's Probably Not the Only Problem
New York Times
April 8, 2019

Most elderly patients with Alzheimer's actually have multiple brain abnormalities, including mini-strokes and other arterial diseases. This makes it extremely difficult for researchers to determine what is causing memory loss in a particular patient, or whether the combination is the cause. This makes treatment even more difficult. Researchers and clinicians are only beginning to come to grips with the problem.

How Exercise Affects Our Memory
New York Times
May 1, 2019

A growing body of research proves that exercise affects our memory, and that the improvements can accumulate with a regular exercise routine. Studies show that, over time, exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, a key center of the brain for memory. Even a single exercise session can improve memory, but a sustained program seems to make the improvement last longer.

A Genetic Test That Reveals Alzheimer's Risk Can be Cathartic or Distressing
July 12, 2019

A gene has been identified that indicates an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's. Choosing to be tested can be a relief and allow for planning. Or it can increase stress since there is no cure for the disease. For more, see also this New York Times article.

What Multilingual Nuns Can Tell Us About Dementia
Waterloo News (Univ. of Waterloo)
September 12, 2019

Part of the international, long term "Nun Study" studied a link between speaking multiple languages and developing dementia. Those women studied who spoke four or more languages had a much lower risk; but speaking two or three didn't seem to make a significant difference over being monolingual. The study also looked at the nuns' written communication and found that "denser" writing - conveying more complex ideas more succinctly - also had a correlation. Further study of language and dementia is needed.

Steps to Prevent Dementia May Mean Taking Actual Steps
New York Times
October 21, 2019

According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that brain training games and apps actually help with long term cognitive performance. Instead, regular exercise is recommended, specifically 150 minutes each week of vigorous exercise, including strength training, has been found to significantly improve cognition.

In Surprise Turnaround, New Analysis Finds an Alzheimer's Treatment May Work
Washington Post
October 22, 2019

After stopping a study of an Alzheimer's drug because it didn't seem to benefit patients, researchers did additional analysis and found that it was beneficial in high doses for patients with early stage Alzheimer's. The manufacturer is in discussions with the FDA.

Government Funds 2 New Alzheimer's Research Centers
October 1, 2019

The National Institute on Aging has announced funding to support two centers to research drugs to treat dementia and Alzheimer's. Most notably, the centers will be "open science," meaning that all of their data, research methods, tools, and findings will be available for other scientists to use.

How Deep Sleep May Help the Brain Clear Alzheimer's Toxins
October 31, 2019

It's been known for some time that people with sleep problems are more likely to develop dementia, and that dementia patients have sleep problems. New research may have found the link, showing that deep sleep actually helps clear toxins from the brain that may be linked to Alzheimer's. During deep sleep, waves of cerebrospinal fluid wash over the brain, carrying away toxins.

Doctors Are Torturing Dementia Patients at the End of Their Lives
Washington Post
November 28, 2019

Many dementia patients are subjected to painful and invasive procedures at the end of their lives because their families want to "do everything" for them. These procedures may not do any good and may actually worsen the patient's dementia. Be sure you document your end of life wishes and that your family knows what they are.

The Unending Indignities of Alzheimer's
New York Times
December 1, 2019

Medicare does not pay for long term care; Medicaid only pays in specific situations. The result is that untrained, unprepared and sometimes financially stressed families end up trying to care for those living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Both the patient and the family can be badly hurt by this situation.

New Therapies Help Patients with Dementia Cope with Depression
New York Times
December 8, 2019

Many people with dementia also suffer depression or anxiety. Many medications for those conditions have side effects that are particularly bad for dementia patients. New forms of therapy are providing ways for patients to deal with their other conditions.

Better Daytime Lighting Improves Sleep, Reduces Depression in Alzheimer's Patients
December 17, 2019

Sleeplessness and depression are both common problems for Alzheimer's patients. New research indicates that increasing daytime exposure to bright light - specifically bright LEDs - can help alleviate both problems.

Alzheimer's Tests Soon May Be Common. Should You Get One?
New York Times
December 20 (updated 12/24), 2019

Diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's disease are increasingly available. But they raise a number of problems. There is no cure for the disease, although a new treatment that claims to slow its progress if taken early is on the horizon. For now, health insurers are not allowed to share the results of such tests, but that could change., and there's nothing to prevent a long term care insurer from refusing you coverage. There are social impacts of the diagnosis, and friends and family may be reluctant to take on the burden of care. And patients need to deal with the impact of the diagnosis as they make plans for their future.

A New Way to Think About Alzheimer's
January 3, 2020

Researchers are finding that not everyone who has the physical symptoms of Alzheimer's, such as plaques, displays the cognitive symptoms. A study of 5000 adults between 60 and 89 revealed a majority had the pathological diagnosis, but didn't display cognitive difficulties.  Physicians and patients need to adjust their thinking about this devastating disease and its diagnosis.

How to Talk to Someone With Alzheimer's
New York Times
December 31, 2020

Although Alzheimer's can affect different people in different ways, there are easy things to do to talk with them and spend time with them even without words.

For Better Brain Health, Preserve Your Hearing
New York Times
December 30, 2020

One of the preventable causes of dementia is hearing loss. Protect your hearing by avoiding loud noises and wearing protection when needed. If you have hearing loss, get and wear hearing aids. Doing to can delay or prevent dementia.

Everyone Knows Memory Fails as You Age. But Everyone is Wrong
New York Times
January 10, 2020

Short term memory lapses - forgetting a name or why you walked into a room - happen to everyone. But how we interpret those lapses differs if we're 70 or 20. It isn't necessarily a sign of dementia, no matter your age. We're distracted, or tired. There is a general slowing of cognitive ability with aging, but given time we will remember. And as we age, more memories accumulate, causing a "crowdedness" that can be measured and that does account for some lapses.

An Alzheimer's Treatment Fails: "We Don't Have Anything Now"
New York Times
February 10, 2020 (updated Feb. 15)

A promising treatment was tested on patients with a genetic mutation for developing Alzheimer's. The test was stopped after no difference was shown between the treated patients and another group. While the results are disappointing, further investigation, using higher doses or younger patients, is possible.

Stalked by the Fear that Dementia is Stalking You
New York Times
February 20, 2020

Many people who have watched family members struggle with dementia worry that they will have the same problems. There are a variety of ways of diagnosing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, including genetic testing as well as detailed cognitive testing. But for some people, the knowledge that they have early stage dementia or a genetic predisposition to develop Alzheimer's causes significant stress. And a negative test doesn't mean you won't develop some form of the disease in the future. Consider carefully and talk with your doctor before being tested.

Can Hearing Aids Help Prevent Dementia?
New York Times
February 20, 2020

About 2/3 of adults over 70 have some hearing loss, and only about 14% have hearing aids. Research increasingly links hearing loss and cognitive impairment, even at very low levels of impairment. There are no downsides to treating hearing loss with hearing aids, but they can be prohibitively expensive. That may change, as 2017 legislation requires the FDA to regulate some hearing aids as over the counter products available without a prescription. Already, technology companies are developing products for the market. And proposed legislation would require Medicare to cover the cost of hearing aids.

Should Older Adults Get Cognitive Screening?
Washington Post
February 29, 2020

Citing insufficient evidence of benefits and harms, the US Preventive Services Task Force has declined to endorse cognitive screening, and called for more research. A growing portion of the population is being diagnosed with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, but treatment remains elusive. The finding is, however, controversial. Medicare encourages cognitive screening as part of an annual "wellness check."

Alzheimer's Researchers Go Back to Basics to Find the Best Way Forward
June 25, 2020

After years of unsuccessfully seeking a cure for Alzheimer's, researchers are stating over to investigate how the brain works and how Alzheimer's and dementia affect it, trying to understand the disease at the cellular level, rather than looking for a cure.

Flu Shot and Pneumonia Vaccine Might Reduce Alzheimer's Risk, Research Shows
July 27, 2020

Although the reason isn't clear, research demonstrates that, not only are they good for you and those around you, but the annual flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Dementia on the Retreat in the U.S. and Europe
New York Times
August 3, 2020

The dementia rate in developed countries is shrinking. Although the total number of patients continues to grow, the percentage of elderly people with dementia is significantly less than it was even 10 years ago. The rate in other parts of the world, however, is increasing.

Deep Sleep Protects Against Alzheimer's Disease, Growing Evidence Shows
November 17, 2020

People who have longer periods of deep sleep are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, research shows. Deep sleep allows the brain to clear out waste products, protecting it from damage.

They Have Alzheimer's. This Clinical Trial May Be a Last Hope
New York Times
April 22, 2021

Clinical trials are an essential step in getting new drugs onto the market. But it's incredibly difficult to do trials for Alzheimer's drugs. Partly, this is because so many drug trials have been stopped because the drug has proven ineffective. The other problem is that patients have to be at a narrow stage of the progression of the disease to be appropriate subjects. This article outlines the difficulties, and profiles some patients participating in clinical trials.

The Secrets of "Cognitive Super-Agers"
New York Times
June 21, 2021

Recent research indicates that the small number of individuals who reach 100 with their cognitive abilities unimpaired are likely to remain that way, even if their brains show the physical signs of the disease. Researchers are studying these "super agers" to see what they can learn regarding preventing or limiting the disease.

Seeking Early Signs of Dementia in Driving and Credit Scores
New York Times

August 23, 2021

Researchers are finding that observations of small changes in every day behaviors can indicate the onset of dementia much earlier than the more commonly recognized signs. Early interventions can help the patient live better longer.

How Vision Loss Can Affect the Brain
New York Times
September 6, 2021

Recent research shows that people who are losing their vision have a harder time with other mental activities, including memory. Glasses may help; for problems that glasses can't fix, adjustments to the home and surroundings can help compensate for issues such as macular degeneration and loss of depth perception.

Is Inflammation in the Brain Causing Alzheimer's Disease?
Science Friday
September 10, 2021

Brain inflammation has long been recognized as a symptom of Alzheimer's. Now, scientists are suggesting that it may actually be a cause. Inflammation is being linked to a growing number of medical conditions, and reducing it is increasingly important. (Note that you can listen to this radio report or read the transcript)

Exercise May Protect Your Bain Even If You Have Signs of Dementia, Study Finds
January 10, 2022

A new study shows that exercise increases the production of a protein that strengthens communication between brain cells. Even study participants showing early signs of dementia showed improvement if they exercised regularly.

When Dementia Strikes at an Early Age
New York Times
January 17, 2022

Early onset dementia is a huge challenge in all ways. Even getting a diagnosis can be a challenge. Caring for a patient who may stil have young children and isn't ready to retire presents many challenges. But research indicates that the problem is real and must be addressed.

Cataract Surgery May Reduce Your Dementia Risk
New York Times
January 24, 2022

Surgery to improve vision by removing cataracts also improves cognitive ability and reduces the risk of developing dementia by as much as 29%. This recent research bolsters other research indicating that vision and hearing loss are directly related to cognition.

This Form of Memory Loss is Common - But Most Americans Don't Know About It
March 18, 2022

About 1 in 7 people over 60 has "mild cognitive impairment," which is defined as changes in memory and thinking that are noticed blue to the affected person and those around them but not serious enough to interfere with the individual's everyday activities."   It may be an early sign of Alzheimer's.

For End-stage Dementia, Medicare Can Make Hospice Harder to Access
Washington Post
March 26, 2022

Medicare covers the costs of hospice services for patients who are expected to live no longer than 6 months. Dementia patients may live longer than expected, and may be removed from hospice. The system needs significant changes to recognize this and to provide coverage of essential services.

Dementia Is a Place Where My Mother Lives. It is Not Who She Is
New York Times
May 8, 2022

Thinking of dementia as a different place may make it easier for caregivers to cope with the inevitable decline.

VR "Reminiscence Therapy" Lets Seniors Relive the Past
New York Times
May 6, 2022

Although traditional reminiscence therapy is useful for dementia patients, some therapists are using virtual reality to expand the therapy and allow patients to safely "visit" their pasts. 

New Dementia Prevention Method May Be Behavioral, Not Prescribed
New York Times
July 3, 2022

As drugs to treat or even prevent dementia continue to fail, the medical community is focusing on reducing known risk factors to slow the growth of the population suffering from the disease. Recent research shows that improving vision can reduce the risk of developing dementia.

What If This Is My Destiny? Children of Alzheimer's Patients Fear a Future Diagnosis
New York Times
August 2, 2022 (updated August 5)

Children of Alzheimer's patients, particularly those who are caring for their parents, worry that every memory lapse is the first sign that they are developing the disease. Although people with at least one relative with Alzheimer's have a higher risk of being diagnosed. However, the majority will not.

What Types of Exercise Reduce Dementia Risk?
New York Times
August 15, 2022

Research continues to demonstrate that exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia. A long term study indicates that regular vigorous exercise significantly reduces the risk, and that even regular housework does, too. The benefit even reduces the risk among those with a family history. Starting and maintaining a habit of exercise young (school age) increases the benefit.

Alzheimer's Drug Slows Cognitive Decline in Key Study
New York Times
September 27, 2022

Scientists have been searching for a drug to treat Alzheimer's for decades. Newly released research shows the first real promise in slowing cognitive decline. Lecanamab is administered intravenously. The drug's maker has applied for accelerated FDA approval, with a decision expected in January.

A Neurologist's Tips to Protect Your Memory
New York Times
July 6, 2022 (updated July 18)

A new book (available at the Corrales Library) provides some suggestions to help protect your memory as you get older. The Complete Guide to Memory includes tools such as sleep habits, mental exercises, and diet that can help. But it goes beyond the familiar by examining all aspects of memory.

A French Village's Radical Vision of a Good Life with Alzheimer's
New Yorker
November 23, 2022

Rather than increasing restrictions to keep Alzheimer's patients safe, The Village Landais strives to feel more like a neighborhood and less like a health care facility. It's part of a growing movement.

The Struggle: Notes from a Caregiver
Next Avenue
January 18, 2023

Family members (usually spouses) provide the majority of care for patients with dementia. This narrative provides a glimpse into the difficulties in caring for another while taking care of yourself.

New Study Finds 6 Ways to Slow Memory Decline and Lower Dementia Risk
Washington Post
January 26, 2023

A study of over 29,000 seniors indicated 6 things you can do to slow memory loss, including eating the right things, regular reading or card playing, and social interaction.

The Promise of a New Alzheimer's Drug
New Yorker
February 7, 2023

Scientists have been working for years to develop drugs to stop or at least slow the progress of Alzheimer's. A new drug shows promise among those in the early stages of its progression. It's the latest promising treatment, but there have been a number of drugs that showed early promise but ended up being useless.

When My Father Got Alzheimer's, I Had to Learn to Lie to Him
New York Times
April 7, 2023

An ongoing ethical discussion exists among families and medical professionals concerning lying. Is it better to lie to reduce anxiety for the patient and make care giving easier? Or does lying reduce the dignity of the patient?

Not Enough People Wear Hearing Aids, Experts Say. Doing So Could Reduce Dementia
April 13, 2023

New research demonstrates that the use of hearing aids reduces dementia, possibly because they reduce the cognitive effort involved in trying to hear, and the effects of sensory deprivation if you can't hear. The increased availability of affordable, over the counter hearing assistive devices may mean more people hearing better and improving cognition.

What SuperAgers Show Us About Longevity, Cognitive Health as We Age
Washington Post
April 13, 2023

Long term studies of subjects over 80 is revealing that, although most of us lose some cognitive ability as we age, the same is not true for everyone. Factors identified in these patients that seem to help them stay sharp include "resilience," strong interpersonal connections, and things like diet and exercise.

The New Face of Alzheimer's: Early Stage Patients Who Refuse to Surrender
Washington Post
April 24, 2023

Patients diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's are finding ways to continue to live full lives, and seeking out promising treatments, rather than surrendering to the disease that they may live with for decades.

Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Slows Cognitive Decline in Large Trial
May 3, 2023

A new drug to treat early stage Alzheimer's slowed cognitive decline almost half of the patients receiving it, compared to patients receiving a placebo. The drug manufacturer, Eli Lily, expects to apply for FDA approval of the drug soon. There were side effects and 3 deaths reported among the 1,700 patients in the 18 month long trial.

He Defied Alzheimer's for Two Decades. Scientists Want to Know How
Washington Post
May 15, 2023

Scientists have identified an individual who has a genetic mutation that should have lead to early onset dementia. Instead, he showed no cognitive decline into his late 60s. They are studying his brain to try to figure out why, with the hope that they will be able to develop drugs to mimic his condition.

How to Find a Missing Person with Dementia
New Yorker
May 23,2023

The advice given to dementia patients and their caregivers is that it isn't a question of whether they will wander, but when. Because one of the common symptoms of dementia is that the location of a familiar place disappears from the brain. Wandering is a logical reaction to this disorienting loss. Planning ahead to deal with the problem (and the majority of those who wander are located quickly) is essential.

Phone, Keys, Wallet . . . Brain?
New York Times
September 8, 2023

Some age-related memory lapses are not cause for concern. For example, blanking on a name is common. There are things you can do to keep your memory relatively sharp. But sometimes it is appropriate to talk to a health care provider about concerns about your memory.

Can Supplements Help You Focus?
New York Times
June 22, 2023

We've all seen the ads for pills that claim to improve your memory and mental focus. Experts say that they don't do what they claim and are probably a waste of money.

My Father Didn't Want to Live If He Had Dementia
New York Times
October 23, 2023

Should we reexamine advance directives when the person who wrote it in health now has dementia? How do we interpret their wishes as circumstances change? What role do family members play when the aging relative can no longer make decisions?

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