Reduce your risk of dementia

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London: The Alzheimer’s Society today launched a national campaign to reduce people’s risk of dementia as the count down to Dementia Awareness Week begins.

Running from the 6 ¬Ė 12 July 2008, Dementia Awareness Week will challenge people to reduce their risk of developing dementia, a condition that affects one in three people who live past the age of 65. Already over 700 000 people in the UK have dementia and millions more families are affected. This number is set to increase dramatically to over a million people by 2025.

Alzheimer’s Society Ambassadors, Fiona Phillips, Russell Grant, Lynda Bellingham and Ruth Langsford are among the high profile supporters of the campaign.

Alzheimer¬ís Society is launching a revised edition of ¬ĎBe head strong¬í, a free advice booklet showing how people can reduce their risk of dementia. It contains nutritional information on what types of foods to eat, exercise activities and information to help dispel existing myths about dementia.

The booklet urges people to follow a healthy diet, get active and not smoke. People are also being encouraged to visit their GP and get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

A recent survey by Alzheimer’s Society found that dementia is the condition we fear most in old age yet many people do not realise there are things we can do to reduce our risk.

Background information
¬∑ Copies of the Alzheimer¬ís Awareness Week brochure ¬ĎBe Headstrong. Challenge your risk of Dementia¬í are available on request.

· www.challengedementia.org.ukwill be launched on 24 April 2008 containing information to reduce your risk and

· 1 in 3 older people will end their lives with a form of dementia

· 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. In less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051. 1 in 6 people over 80 have dementia.

· Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and those who care for them. Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

· As a charity, Alzheimer’s Society depends on the generosity of the public to help it care, research and campaign for people with dementia. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visitingwww.alzheimers.org.uk

· Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline number is 0845 300 0336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk

Mental decline is No1 fear of ageing

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London: Research conducted by Help the Aged has revealed that the UK public rank mental decline higher than any other worry about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis and the fear of isolation (1).

In response to this concern, the Charity has launched a new website www.disconnectedmind.org.uk to help mobilise public support for one of the world’s most promising scientific projects to combat the condition.

Help the Aged has committed to fund this historic project, called The Disconnected Mind, through to its conclusion in 2015. Donations are needed now to maximise the possibility of a breakthrough in the fight against early mental decline that usually leads to dementia (2).

The project is unique because the scientists leading the study at the University of Edinburgh will revisit 1,000 volunteers, who are now aged 71, who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey in 1947 ¬Ė a survey that has not been repeated since. The project will compare the participants¬í childhood mental ability, current ability, biological health and 60 years of life experience.

www.disconnectedmind.org.uk uniquely divides the project into tangible pieces so that the public can see how any donation from them, however small, can make a big difference. For example, just £45 would fund the in-depth examination of one participant’s test results, which could hold the secret to the prevention or treatment of mental decline.

Early mental decline often leads to dementia that affects 700,000 people in the UK. Tragically, this is expected to rise to over a million by 2025 unless new ways are found to combat it.

More details on the survey:

(1) Survey by GfK NOP for Help the Aged. A sample of 1000 adults aged 16+ in the UK were interviewed during the weekend of 4th ¬Ė 6th May 2007. This survey was designed to be nationally representative of the telephone owning population of the UK. It revealed that mental decline ranks higher (41% of responses) than any other concern about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis/lack of savings and fear of isolation. Initial mental decline often leads to full dementia which the survey revealed is the age-related health condition of greatest concern, with 53% of respondents ranking it above strokes, incontinence and osteoporosis.

(2) Four out of five people who experience mild mental impairment go on to develop dementia within six years.

The team of experts at the University of Edinburgh performing The Disconnected Mind project are Professor Ian Deary, Doctor John Starr, Professor Jim McCulloch, Professor Joanna Wardlaw, Professor Richard Morris and Doctor Karen Horsburgh.
Help the Aged is the charity fighting to free disadvantaged older people in the UK and overseas from poverty, isolation, neglect and ageism. It campaigns to raise public awareness of the issues affecting older people and to bring about policy change. The Charity delivers a range of services: information and advice, home support and community living, including international development work. These are supported by its paid-for services and fundraising activities – which aim to increase funding in the future to respond to the growing unmet needs of disadvantaged older people. Help the Aged also funds vital research into the health issues and experiences of older people to improve the quality of later life.

Alzheimer’s – join the campaign to fight against mental decline

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London: Research conducted by Help the Aged has revealed that the UK public rank mental decline higher than any other worry about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis and the fear of isolation (1).

In response to this concern, the Charity is today launching a new website www.disconnectedmind.org.uk to help mobilise public support for one of the world’s most promising scientific projects to combat the condition.

Help the Aged has committed to fund this historic project, called The Disconnected Mind, through to its conclusion in 2015. Donations are needed now to maximise the possibility of a breakthrough in the fight against early mental decline that usually leads to dementia (2).

The project is unique because the scientists leading the study at the University of Edinburgh will revisit 1,000 volunteers, who are now aged 71, who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey in 1947 ¬Ė a survey that has not been repeated since. The project will compare the participants¬í childhood mental ability, current ability, biological health and 60 years of life experience.

www.disconnectedmind.org.uk uniquely divides the project into tangible pieces so that the public can see how any donation from them, however small, can make a big difference. For example, just £45 would fund the in-depth examination of one participant’s test results, which could hold the secret to the prevention or treatment of mental decline.

Early mental decline often leads to dementia that affects 700,000 people in the UK. Tragically, this is expected to rise to over a million by 2025 unless new ways are found to combat it.

More on the Survey

(1) Survey by GfK NOP for Help the Aged. A sample of 1000 adults aged 16+ in the UK were interviewed during the weekend of 4th ¬Ė 6th May 2007. This survey was designed to be nationally representative of the telephone owning population of the UK. It revealed that mental decline ranks higher (41% of responses) than any other concern about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis/lack of savings and fear of isolation. Initial mental decline often leads to full dementia which the survey revealed is the age-related health condition of greatest concern, with 53% of respondents ranking it above strokes, incontinence and osteoporosis.

(2) Four out of five people who experience mild mental impairment go on to develop dementia within six years.

The team of experts at the University of Edinburgh performing The Disconnected Mind project are Professor Ian Deary, Doctor John Starr, Professor Jim McCulloch, Professor Joanna Wardlaw, Professor Richard Morris and Doctor Karen Horsburgh.
Help the Aged is the charity fighting to free disadvantaged older people in the UK and overseas from poverty, isolation, neglect and ageism. It campaigns to raise public awareness of the issues affecting older people and to bring about policy change. The Charity delivers a range of services: information and advice, home support and community living, including international development work. These are supported by its paid-for services and fundraising activities – which aim to increase funding in the future to respond to the growing unmet needs of disadvantaged older people. Help the Aged also funds vital research into the health issues and experiences of older people to improve the quality of later life.

Exercise more beneficial to older adults than cutting calories

New York: Older adults who want to loose weight get more benefit from exercise that a calorie restricted diet alone, according to new research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

A study of 34 adults in their 50s and 60s, found that both dieters and exercisers lost weight. But those who also exercised kept their muscle mass, strength and fitness levels.

The exercise taken by older adults fights the natural muscle decline that comes with ageing.

The researchers concluded that it was more beneficial to exercise than diet, provided extra calories are not consumed.

The study findings are based on a one-year follow-up of healthy older adults who were required to take either exercise or cut calories to lose weight.

The dieters had weekly meetings with a dietitian to discuss ways to alter their eating habits, while the exercise group met with a trainer each week.

The average weight loss in each group was nearly identical — about 17 pounds over one year. But while dieters lost muscle mass, strength and endurance, exercisers preserved theirs.

Veggies halt mental decline

Chicago: Vegetables help fight mental decline, says a new report that investigated the eating habits of 2,000 men and women in the Chicago area.

On measures of mental sharpness, older people who ate more than two servings of vegetables daily appeared about five years younger at the end of the six-year study than those who ate few or no vegetables.

The research adds to mounting evidence pointing in that direction. The findings also echo previous research in women only.
Leafy Greens

Green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale and collards appeared to be the most beneficial. The researchers said that may be because they contain healthy amounts of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to help fight chemicals produced by the body that can damage cells.

Vegetables generally contain more vitamin E than fruits, which were not linked with slowed mental decline in the study. Vegetables also are often eaten with healthy fats such as salad oils, which help the body absorb vitamin E and other antioxidants, said lead author Martha Clare Morris, a researcher at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

The fats from healthy oils can help keep cholesterol low and arteries clear, which both contribute to brain health.

The study was published in this week’s issue of the journal Neurology and funded with grants from the National Institute on Aging.

“This is a sound paper and contributes to our understanding of cognitive decline,” said Dr. Meir Stampfer of Harvard’s School of Public Health.

“The findings specific for vegetables and not fruit add further credibility that this is not simply a marker of a more healthful lifestyle,” said Stampfer, who was not involved in the research.
Mental Function

The research involved 1,946 people aged 65 and older who filled out questionnaires about their eating habits. A vegetable serving equaled about a half-cup chopped or one cup if the vegetable was a raw leafy green like spinach.

They also had mental function tests three times over about six years; about 60 percent of the study volunteers were black.

The tests included measures of short-term and delayed memory, which asked these older people to recall elements of a story that had just been read to them. The participants also were given a flashcard-like exercise using symbols and numbers.

Overall, people did gradually worse on these tests over time, but those who ate more than two vegetable servings a day had about 40 percent less mental decline than those who ate few or no vegetables. Their test results resembled what would be expected in people about five years younger, Morris said.
Physically Active

The study also found that people who ate lots of vegetables were more physically active, adding to evidence that “what’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” said neuroscientist Maria Carillo, director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association.

The study examined mental decline but did not look at whether any of the study volunteers developed Alzheimer’s disease