Family history, variations in certain genes, and medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes influence a person’s chance of developing dementia. But less clear are the factors that affect when the first symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion will arise.
Factors such as education, blood pressure, and carrying the genetic variant APOE4, which increases the risk of dementia, accounted for less than a third of the variation in the age at onset—meaning that more than two-thirds remains to be explained.
“It’s important to know who is going to get dementia, but it’s also important to know when symptoms will develop,” says first author Gregory Day, an assistant professor of neurology and an investigator at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The causes of dementia can damage the brain in different ways. Is it possible that these differences may reveal themselves in the way that people walk? A new study that compared walking patterns in people with two types of dementia explored the question.
“Alzheimer’s and Lewy body disease have unique signatures of gait impairment,” state the authors in a recent Alzheimer’s & Dementia paper about their findings.
The researchers suggest that the unique impairments to gait — or alterations to walking pattern — may reflect the specific damage that each disease inflicts on mental function and the brain.
A study conducted by Evidation Health on behalf of Eli Lilly and Apple suggests that data collected from smart devices and digital apps might help speed up the diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, “Developing Measures of Cognitive Impairment in the Real World from Consumer-Grade Multimodal Sensor Streams,” was performed in order to assess the feasibility of using smart devices to differentiate individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia from healthy controls.
MCI is the clinically symptomatic, pre-dementia stage of AD; cognitive deficits do not yet impair the ability to function at work or in daily activities.
An extensive review of more than 100 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) strongly supports exercise interventions as a way to reduce both the risk of falls among adults 65 and older and the actual number of those who experience a fall. What’s less clear are some of the nuances of that finding—such as the effectiveness of resistance training or walking programs, and the differences between interventions provided by “health professionals” versus “trained providers who were not health professionals.”
The recently published Cochrane systematic review focused on 108 RCTs involving 23,407 community-dwelling adults in 25 countries. Participants were an average age of 76, and 77% were women. The majority of participants lived in the community, and RCTs that focused on participants with conditions that increased the risk of falls—Parkinson disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, dementia, hip fracture, and severe visual impairment—were excluded.
The Cochrane reviewers analyzed various categories of exercise interventions versus control, which consisted of either no change in usual activities or an intervention not anticipated to reduce falls, such as health education, social visits, “gentle” exercises, or sham exercises. The exercise interventions were categorized as balance and functional; resistance; flexibility training; “3D” exercise including Tai Chi and Qigong; “3D” dance-based exercise; walking programs; endurance; “other”; and exercise interventions that included more than 1 of the studied categories.
Researchers at Dalhousie University have found that frailty, more so than amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, is a key risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
PhD candidate Lindsay Wallace, lead author, and her supervisor Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, are optimistic their findings will be influential, as they were published this week in Lancet Neurology — one of the highest-impact journals in the field.
This study is the first to examine amyloid plaques and tangles in post-mortem brain tissues, in relation to both the subjects’ frailty index and the severity of their dementia symptoms when they were alive. The frailty index is a score of relative frailty based on the accumulation of deficits in physical health and ability to function.
People who move around more have sharper brains than couch potatoes, even well into old age and even if they already have some brain deterioration, researchers reported Wednesday.
The research helps answer a big question of whether exercise prevents dementia, or whether people with dementia-related damage to their brains move less because of that damage.
The new findings indicate that exercise and other activity helps preserve memory and brain function despite the various damage that leads to dementia, including hardened arteries and the brain-clogging plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia, according to new research.
The research team found that although exercise improved physical fitness, it cannot be recommended as a treatment option for cognitive impairment in dementia.
Nearly 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia and the view that exercise might slow cognitive decline has widespread popularity.
But recent reviews of trials of exercise training in people with dementia show conflicting results. To try and resolve the uncertainty, researchers decided to estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training program on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with dementia.
A simple, office-based screening tool scale can rapidly and accurately assess dementia risk in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a 4-year, prospective, multi-center study.
The Montreal Parkinson Risk of Dementia Scale (MoPaRDS) identified elements specific to PD and demonstrated predictive validity equal to or greater than other cognitive impairment algorithms, reported Ronald Postuma, MD, MSc, of Montreal General Hospital in Canada and colleagues in JAMA Neurology.
“With this clinical prediction tool, dementia risk in Parkinson’s patients can be calculated in a single office visit without any statistical software,” the study’s first author, Benjamin Dawson of the University of Ottawa, told MedPage Today.
Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
In particular, a new study from UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute suggests that the lower the fitness level, the faster the deterioration of vital nerve fibers in the brain. This deterioration results in cognitive decline, including memory issues characteristic of dementia patients.
“This research supports the hypothesis that improving people’s fitness may improve their brain health and slow down the aging process,” said Dr. Kan Ding, a neurologist from the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute who authored the study.
In nursing homes and residential facilities around the world, health care workers are increasingly asking dementia patients questions: What are your interests? How do you want to address us? What should we do to celebrate the life of a friend who has passed away?
The questions are part of an approach to care aimed at giving people with memory loss and other cognitive problems a greater sense of control and independence. At its core is the idea that an individual with dementia should be treated as a whole person and not “just” a patient.