Silver surfers suffer less from memory loss, reveals top medical expert

Using the internet and sending emails can be used to prevent memory loss and reduce the likelihood of dementia in the elderly, according to new medical research.

Dr Tom Stevens

Results of an eight-year study of around 6,500 50-90 year-olds reveal that those who regularly go online experience less mental decline compared to those who do not use the internet. The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, reported a significant improvement in delayed recall over time intervals for those subjects who were frequent online users, highlighting the role played by the internet in preventing the degeneration of mental abilities in the elderly.

Ben Williams, Head of operations at Adblock Plus and Dr Tom Stevens, Consultant Psychiatrist at London Bridge Hospital argue the benefits of the internet in preventing mental decline and reducing the risks of social exclusion, whilst advising on the dangers to vulnerable groups in society from online scams and intrusions.

Dr Tom Stevens, Consultant Psychiatrist at London Bridge Hospital, comments on the impact of the internet in keeping older people mentally active: “People over the age of 65 must remember the phrase ‘use it or lose it’, and the internet is a good way to ensure that older people are still able to use their mental faculties.”

“The internet and information technology offers some of the best opportunities to challenge people of this age-group, as it provides a means of communication and convenience, and is something that they can take part in despite any disabilities they may have.”

Adblock Plus also encourages the move to widen internet access, but highlights the need to educate older and more vulnerable people about online dangers.

Advertising can be designed specifically to be intrusive, by blocking users’ viewing of pages and causing confusion for those less familiar with it. Older users are not only at a greater risk of being drawn into online scams, but are likely to suffer more from the intrusiveness of ads such as pop-ups and banners that obscure their view and make it harder for them to use the internet effectively.

Ben Williams comments: “Everyone in society – those both young and old – should be able to use the internet to stay in touch with others, for instance by sharing photos on social media with more distant family, and catching up with old friends. Any communication, whether it be face-to-face or digital, enables people to feel connected, and basic digital skills give people this opportunity.”

“However, we mustn’t forget that with more older people using the internet, they must be informed about the choices they have online. With no experience of online advertising, constant blinking banners and pop-up adverts could spoil the internet for them, making them think it is a tasteless and unmanageable jungle, and put them off the whole experience.”

“Plus, there are online risks that specifically target older users, such as phishing scams, or promotions of miraculous and discount medication, and low-cost insurance, and it is our responsibility to ensure that older people aren’t ignorant about these. Basic lessons in how to stay safe and not put yourself in danger of online scams and viruses is essential.

“Of course it is possible to use the internet and not fall prey to online advertising, for instance with the help of ad-blockers such as Adblock Plus. But, if we are to educate the elderly on these skills, we must ensure we don’t render them vulnerable in the process.”

Weightloss boosts memory, says new study

New York: Weightloss boosts memory, according to a new study from Kent State University in Ohio.

Tests were carried out on 150 volunteers who weighed 21 stone plus and these were compared with healthy people.

In many of the tests the scores of a quarter of the obese participants were so low they were considered learning disabled.

Following the tests, two thirds of them has gastric by-pass surgery and lost an average of 3st. 8lb. And after 12 weeks took the same tests again.

In the group who had lost weight, the scores involving memory had been boosted, as well as improvements in organisational skills.

The results of 41 volunteers who declined obesity surgery declined further.

The researchers discovered, by using magnetic resonance imaging of the brain that obese people appeared to have damage to the organis substances around the nerve fibres responsible for chemical brainmemory.jpgmessage communications.


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Can early-stage Alzheimer’s be detected in brain scans?

Alzheimers.jpgThining of the cerebral cortex, which can happen a decade or more before any symptoms of the debilitating disease, shows up in magnetic resonance scanning.This means more can be done to halt the progress of the disease because it has been spotted at an earlier stage when less damage has occured to the brain.

Current statistics reveal that One in three over-65s will die with dementia.And although there are no clinical tests available for early stage detection, brain shrinkage might indicate early changes in the brain and predict who might get the disease.

US researchers behind the new study say magnetic resonance (MR) scanning is not yet ready to use in diagnosing Alzheimer’s, but the findings bring the prospect closer.

Although existing drugs can slow progression of Alzheimer’s, there is no cure. For the study, researchers used MR scans in people in their 70s with no signs of Alzheimer’s.

They found the risk of developing  the illness was three times greater in those with the thinnest areas of the cerebral cortex area, which plays a key role in memory, compared with those who had above-average thickness. Those with most thinning of the brain also succumbed to the disease faster than people with average thickness, says a report in the medical journal Neurology.

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Campaign to cut doctor waiting times for Alzheimer’s patients launches


London: A new campaign, titled Memory Problems?,is launched today by ex GMTV presenter, Fiona Phillips today to help people recognise the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and distinguish these from the normal changes that occur with ageing.

The aim is to reduce the time it currently takes from possible symptoms being noticed in a potential sufferer to them seeing their doctor.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, diagnosing and starting treatments to manage the disease early can slow its progression.

Research reveals the vast majority of Alzheimer’s disease patients are initially brought to the doctor by a family member (93%).

But shockingly the average time from symptoms being noticed to making an appointment with a doctor is 43 weeks. And almost half (45%) of patients discussing Alzheimer’s disease with their doctors for the first time are already experiencing moderate symptoms.

Delays in seeing a doctor were blamed by patients and carers on wanting to ensure symptoms weren’t temporary (38%), thinking symptoms were a normal part of ageing (36%) and, tellingly, resistance from the patients themselves (33%), according to the research by the IMPACT 2009 Global Alzheimer’s Awareness Study.

At the heart of the campaign is a website, , that will help provide practical advice and tools to help anyone concerned about memory problems in a loved one. It includes two innovative animations – short educational films that bring to life some of the symptoms and behaviours that are early indicators of the disease and so prompt people to consult their doctor.

“Diagnosing dementia is often difficult, particularly in the early stages, but this is when it is most important”, says Professor Roy Jones from The Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) Centre, Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK. “If we can diagnose and start managing Alzheimer’s disease early, we can help patients and their families cope better with the situation. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this devastating disease, but there are treatments that may slow the progression of symptoms and these should be prescribed at the time of diagnosis.”

Fiona Phillips mother died from Alzheimer’s. Her father is now suffering from the disease.

Figures from

There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK. Two thirds are women. It is estimated that there will be over a million people with dementia by 2025.

60,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to dementia. Delaying the onset of dementia by 5 years would reduce deaths directly attributable to dementia by 30,000 a year.
The financial cost of dementia to the UK is estimated as over £17 billion a year.