A positive outlook on life helps brain function in later life, new research reveals.

Researchers have found that pensioners aged between 80 and 100 who have a positive outlook on life can enjoy better cognitive function that people in their fifties.
Medical experts were stunned when they carried out research on ‘super-agers’, who despite having many symptoms associated with dementia, seemed not to be affected by the condition.

In spite of the fact many of the super-agers had unhealthy habits including smoking and drinking, researchers found what they had in common was a positive attitude in life and an unusually high proportion of the rare brain called called the von Economo neuron.

Professor Emily Rogalski, of the Northwestern University in Chicago, examined the brains of 10 super-agers who underwent examination while they were alive and after they had died. They were part of a group of 74 super-agers followed by the research.
Rogalski said in a paper she is presenting to the American Association for the¬†Advancement of Science she is presenting today: “The findings suggest that super-agers have unique personality profiles.Excellent memory capacity is biologically possible in late life and can be maintained for years even when there is significant neuropathologic burden.'”

Her research found that 71 per cent of super-agers smoked and 83 per cent drank alcohol regularly. However Rogalski estimated that less than five per cent of the population are super-agers.

The von Economo neurons which were present in super-agers are only found in the brains of large mammals and are believed to offer highspeed connections between different regions within the brain. They are known to develop in the late stages of pregnancy and early childhood and could be down to luck.

Rogalski’s study could provide a breakthrough in dementia research. In contrast to much of the dementia research carried out to date, it does not focus on trying to reverse the spread of amyloid and tau, deformed proteins that form lumps in the brains of people with dementia.

 

Dementia becomes main cause of death in UK, latest figures reveal

Dementia is now the leading cause of death in England and Wales, new figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics reveal.

The neurological disorder has now overtaken coronary heart disease at the top of the table. It was the cause of 61,686 deaths registered in 2015, equivalent to 11.6 per cent of the total figure. The new ONS data also shows women are more susceptible to the deadly disease than men. This may be because women are living longer than men – with the risk of developing dementia increasing with age.

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Dementia killed more than twice the amount of women than men, with 41,283 losing their lives as a result of the disease, new figures show.

Its recognised that over-65s are most at risk from the disease as a result of their increased blood pressure and changes in the immune system. But records of the growing mortality rates of dementia may be because doctors are better at diagnosing the disease. The figures show that killed more than twice the amount of women than men, with 41,283 losing their lives as a result of the disease.

Elizabeth McLaren, head of life event statistics at ONS, said: ‘In 2015, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease became the leading cause of death in part because people are simply living longer but also because of improved detection and diagnosis.’

However, coronary heart disease, which has been at the top of the death table since the new figures began in 2011, was the leading cause of death in males.Figures show 36,731 men fell victim to the planet’s biggest killer – but no longer England and Wales’, which is caused by smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. While 20,403 men died as a result of having dementia. Death rates from dementia have more than doubled over the last five years due to people living longer than ever before and developing the condition.

Despite the latest figures, coronary heart disease is still believed to be responsible for more than seven million global deaths yearly. It was also found to be behind 11.5 per cent of the total 529,655 deaths.

But the new figures show a large variation among age groups as people over 80 were most likely to die from dementia and Alzheimer’s.

While suicide was the leading cause of deaths for adults younger than 35. Meanwhile, breast cancer remains the leading cause of death for women aged between 35 and 49.

The statistics also found that when all forms of cancer are grouped together, it was the most common form of death – responsible for 27.9 per cent of all cases, with irculatory disease, such as heart disease and strokes were responsible for 26.2 per cent.

However, the nation’s previous leading killer, coronary heart disease, was still responsible for killing most males, nearly double that of dementia

Curcumin may help repair brains of dementia sufferers

Curcumin, a derivative of the aromatic spice turmeric, may help repair the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Curcumin

In recent scientific tests on rats, turmerones – botanical compounds in curcumin that enhance its absorption – promoted the proliferation of brain stem cells and their development into neurons.

It could now help scientists develop treatments for conditions in people in which brain cells are lost, including Alzheimer’s and stroke, according to an article in Stem Cell Research and Therapy.

Lead researcher Dr Adele Rueger, from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany, said: “While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine.”

At certain concentrations, the turmeric compound boosted the proliferation of rat foetal NSCs by up to 80 per cent, and increased the speed at which they matured.

In living rats, injections of aromatic turmerone led to the expansion of two key brain regions, the subventricular zone (SVZ) and hippocampus.

Facts about curcumin

  • One of today‚Äôs most promising natural disease-fighting agents is curcumin. Derived from the curry spice turmeric, curcumin has been used for millennia to target disease and promote good health.
  • Most commercially available preparations of curcumin have very poor bioavailability, impairing their ability to confer life-sustaining properties.
  • Scientists have recently discovered a novel curcumin preparation with exceptional bioavailability. In a human study, this advanced curcumin preparation‚ÄĒtermed BCM-95¬ģ‚ÄĒdelivered up to seven times more curcumin to the bloodstream than a standard curcumin product. This increased bioavailability should greatly enhance curcumin‚Äôs benefits.
  • Curcumin promotes health by diverse mechanisms. Scientists have documented curcumin‚Äôs anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, neuroprotective, cancer-fighting, and immune-enhancing abilities.
  • Studies suggest that curcumin may help prevent or fight prostate, pancreatic, breast, and colon cancers.
  • Curcumin may help protect the brain against the devastating consequences of stroke and exposure to toxic heavy metals.
  • Individuals who consume more curcumin-rich curry are less likely to experience cognitive decline, suggesting curcumin could help protect the nervous system against aging. In laboratory and animal models, curcumin shows promise in preventing the pathological changes seen in the brains of Alzheimer‚Äôs disease sufferers.

Advanced Bio-Curcmin with Ginger & Turmerones contains BCM-95, a patented bioenhanced preparation of curcmin that has been shown to reach up to 7 times higher concentration in the blood that standard curcumin.

 

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What is dementia? The Alzheimer’s Society explains in this video:

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: ‚ÄúPeople over the age of 65 must remember the phrase ‘use it or lose it‚Äô, and the internet is a good way to ensure that older people are still able to use their mental faculties.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe 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.‚ÄĚ

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: ‚ÄúEveryone in society ‚Äď those both young and old ‚Äď 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.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúHowever, we mustn‚Äôt 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.‚ÄĚ

“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.

‚ÄúOf 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‚Äôt render them vulnerable in the process.‚ÄĚ

Alcohol link to dementia warning

Older people are to be given a government health warning about the increased risk of dementia as a result of drinking.

The stop drinking advice will be given to middle-aged patients during the regular ‘MOT’ visits to their GP.

The role played by alcohol in increasing the risk of dementia, frailty and disability in ageing has been highlighted by recent research.
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is proposing that lifestyle advice should be included in NHS health checks to all patients aged between 40 and 74.

There is increasing medical evidence to suggest that even moderate drinking, within the current health guidelines, may be harmful to health.

NHS guidelines recommend men drink no more than three to four units daily and women only two or three.

A new dementia drug offers hope to some sufferers

A new dementia drug made from pigs’ brains could help sufferers of a vascular variant of the disease.
 The new drug, brand name Cerebrolysin improves concentration, memory processing and mood in patients and appears to have no adverse side effects.
Vascular dementia, caused by damage to blood vessels supplying the brain affects around 1 in four of dementia sufferers.  Symptoms include vagueness, lack of concentration, difficulties communicating, as well as seizures and confusion.
The drug which is still undergoing trials is licensed in some countries for dementia, stroke and traumatic brain injury – although not yet in the UK or US.
A recent review by researchers at the Department of Neurology at Sichuan University in Sichuan, China, said they had found evidence to suggest that Cerebrolysin can help improve cognitive and global function in patients with mild to moderate severity vascular dementia. They reviewed evidence from six trials on 597 patients who were given Cerebrolysin in different amounts over different timespans. It was found that the drug significantly improved brain function, including recall, arithmetic and other cognitive abilities. It also improved general mood.
Cerebrolysin is a drug made from pig brain proteins that has produced some positive results from small vascular dementia trials. Another difficulty is that it has to be given by regular intravenous infusions necessary, says the review. So far no serious side affects have been reported.
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Loneliness threatens life of elderly as Government mobilises to tackle problem

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Ester Ranzen, chair of Silver Line
A co-ordinated effort, bringing together care agencies and local authorities, to tackle loneliness amongst the elderly has been launched by the Government.
 For the first time local authorities will identify areas where older people suffer most acutely from loneliness to allow them to tackle the growing problem of social isolation and its harmful effects, announced Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
By mapping areas where loneliness is high, better care can be targeted at those who need it most – including older people.
Research clearly shows us that loneliness can affect health – it increases the risk of heart disease, puts people at greater risk of blood clots and dementia, and makes them more likely to exercise less and drink more. Socially isolated and lonely adults are also more likely to undergo early admission into residential or nursing care.
The new measure of social isolation, launched as part of the updated Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework for 2013/14, is part of a package of plans to address the challenges of caring for an ageing population Рincluding £20m announced today to help thousands of older people stay warm and healthy over the winter.
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said:
“Tackling loneliness, by giving people better care and improved services, is another step towards making the UK one of the best places to live in Europe for older people.
 
“I want the highest standards of treatment and care in our hospitals, in our care homes and in the community – and that means looking at whatever is needed to drive improvements.
 
“We need a measure of loneliness to shine a light on this problem and to know what we are dealing with.  Once we have this solid evidence, local communities will have new tools to come up with the right, targeted solutions to the problem.”
Further research shows that:
  •  more than half of those over the age of 75 live alone – with about one in ten suffers ‘intense’ loneliness;
  • half of older people – more than five million – say that the television is their main company;
  • 17 per cent of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, and 11% are in contact less than once a month;
As a result of this new measure, local authorities will be able to compare data about how lonely or isolated the people in their area report to be. This information will help them identify how serious the problem is in their communities and what action is needed to tackle it.
Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness said:
“Loneliness is a major health issue. An effective measure of isolation and loneliness is an important step to improving the lives of the hundreds of thousands of older people who are chronically lonely. This national measure can only help those making local health and care decisions to prioritise loneliness as a health issue, and one that they will tackle.”
Chair of The Silver Line, Esther Rantzen CBE said:”Loneliness creates a loss of confidence, an erosion of self-esteem, so that the front door becomes as solid as a brick wall and as impossible to break through. Some older people told me that they have nobody to speak to at all for weeks on end.  
“And yet there are many varied projects and organisations all over the UK, often staffed by volunteers, who could break through this life-threatening isolation, if older people knew whom to contact.   That is why we are in the process of creating a special helpline for older people, The Silver Line, which pilots from the end of November for three months and will launch nationally next year, and which will offer advice, information and friendship. We will have an important role in linking callers to the existing services in their local areas and we hope that our high profile will enable us to reach people who are at the moment totally isolated. Our slogan will be, “No question too big, no problem too small, no need to be alone.”  
Paul Najsarek, ADASS and Corporate Director for Adult Services at London’s Harrow Council said:
“The development of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework for 2013/14 has been a genuinely collaborative process between the Department of Health and local government. We strongly support the emphasis on the greater alignment of the framework with the Public Health and NHS Outcomes Frameworks – shared outcomes will drive the more efficient use of resources, and more seamless, joined-up care pathways. 
“The framework’s focus on people’s experiences of care and support is welcome – in particular, a new measure of social isolation among users of care and carers will bring a renewed focus to efforts to support people to maintain the connections to their communities which are so vital to their wellbeing. This year’s framework marks a significant step forward, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department to build on the framework in future years”.
This announcement comes as Jeremy Hunt revealed that thousands of people across the country will benefit from a share of £20 million of Government money to help them stay safe and well during the cold winter months.
Council projects will receive a total of £20 million from the Warm Homes, Health People fund. This will help them run innovative schemes to help vulnerable people keep warm and safe and prevent people needing to go to hospital during the winter months.
The new measure forms part of the new Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework and updated Public Health Outcomes Framework for 2013/14. The Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework measures the quality of our care and support, and how well that care helps people to stay well and independent, and able to play an active role in their communities.   As the problems of  loneliness and social isolation can affect everyone, not just users of care services and carers, the Department of Health is working to develop a population based measure of loneliness.
The updated framework includes:
  •  Social isolation – a new measure of social isolation for users of care and support and carers, in response to the key White Paper commitment to address loneliness and social isolation (shared with PHOF)
  • Dementia care – a new measure to promote joined up working across adult social care and the NHS, to improve the quality of life and sustain the independence of people with dementia (shared with NHSOF)
  • Integrated care – a new measure on people’s experience of seamless, integrated care (shared with NHSOF)
  • Reablement – a new measure of the effectiveness of reablement care in supporting people to maintain their independence
 
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Move to create common diagnosis for Alzheimer’s

Brain with Alzheimers.jpgParis: Two studies to help establish an internationally consistent approach to detecting Alzheimer’s disease have been reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2011 in Paris.

 The research, focusing on biomarkers – telltale biological indicators of Alzheimer’s – could help standardise the detection of the disease and increase the accuracy of clinical trials by ensuring those most likely to benefit from drugs or preventions take part.
 
The first study examined the association between a well-established Alzheimer’s risk gene – APOE4 – age, and a hallmark protein in Alzheimer’s – amyloid – to test the consistency of the relationship across ethnic groups. Led by researchers from Japan, the study took data from three different national populations – the US, Australia and Japan – all three of which include people with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment and normal individuals.
 
The team evaluated the influence of the APOE4 risk gene and age on the build up of amyloid in the brain, measured by PET scans. Amongst the three populations, the researchers observed consistency in the way amyloid build-up was affected by the risk gene and age, showing the biomarkers to be consistent across different ethnic groups – crucial for a test to be internationally applicable.
 
A second study concentrated on the hippocampus, responsible for the formation of new memories and usually the first area of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s. MRI scans have become increasingly important in tracking shrinkage in this area of the brain, which can be useful for diagnosis and measuring disease progress.
 
Researchers in Italy have been examining and compiling the different approaches to MRI scanning used in worldwide dementia research to measuring volume changes in the hippocampus. The team’s next step is to review the different approaches and draw on the input of an international panel of experts to determine a common protocol.
 
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at the UK‘s leading dementia research charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “If we are to effectively test new treatments or preventions, we have to be able detect Alzheimer’s early to get people involved in trials who stand to benefit most. An approach to detection that works consistently across the world is crucial to the global effort to defeat dementia and work towards that goal is to be welcomed.
 
“Numbers or people living with dementia are spiralling towards a million in the UK alone; research is the only answer to defeating the condition. Investment across all areas of dementia research – diagnosis, prevention and treatment – is urgently needed”.
 
More Information about Alzheimer’s Research UK

‚ÄĘ Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia

‚ÄĘ To help us defeat dementia, donate today by visiting www.alzheimersresearchuk.org or calling 01223 843899

‚ÄĘ We are currently supporting dementia research projects worth ¬£17 million in leading Universities across the UK

‚ÄĘ The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world’s largest conference of its kind, bringing together researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders

‚ÄĘ Ref: Kenji Ishii, MD; et al. Age, APOE őĶ4, and Ethnic Effect on [C-11]PiB in Multi-national ADNI Studies – Direct Comparison of J-ADNI, US-ADNI and AIBL Data

‚ÄĘ Ref: Giovanni Frisoni, MD; et al. Estimating the Impact of Differences among Protocols for Manual Hippocampal Segmentation on Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Atrophy: Preparatory Phase for a Harmonized Protocol.

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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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Can a new test predict Alzheimer’s in middle-age?

dementia.jpgA new study has revealed that apparently healthy adults can already have the brain lesions associated with Alzheimers.

The neurological decline that leads to Alzheimer’s disease may begin in middle-age and can be predicted with a simple to administer test.

The study, a collaboration between Professor David Bunce at Brunel University and a visiting professorial fellow at The Australian National University (ANU) – has revealed that some apparently healthy adults living in the community aged between 44 and 48 years have minute white matter lesions in areas of their brains similar to those found in persons with Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

A further breakthrough generated as part of this research has allowed scientists to more easily predict which individuals may develop these lesions.

The results suggest that the neurological decline thought to lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease may begin much earlier in people’s lives than was originally thought.

“Although we cannot be certain that these middle-aged people will go on to get dementia, the results are important for several reasons,” said Professor Bunce.

“First, the study is one of the first to show that lesions in areas of the brain that deteriorate in dementia are present in some adults aged in their 40s.

“Second, although the presence of the lesions was confirmed through MRI scans, we were able to predict those persons who had them through very simple to administer tests.

“Finally, if the findings are repeated in laboratories elsewhere, the study lays open possibilities for screening, early detection and intervention in healthcare settings. The earlier we can intervene with people vulnerable to eventual dementia, the greater the chances of preventing or delaying the disease onset.”

The researchers’ paper, ‘Cognitive Deficits are associated with Frontal and Temporal Lobe White Matter Lesions in Middle-Aged Adults Living in the Community’ is published in the open-access journal PLoSONE (Public Library of Science-ONE).

A copy of the paper is available at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013567

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

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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, www.aboutmemoryproblems.com , that will help provide practical advice and tools to help anyone concerned about memory problems in a loved one. It includes two innovative animations ¬Ė 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.

¬ďDiagnosing dementia is often difficult, particularly in the early stages, but this is when it is most important¬Ē, says Professor Roy Jones from The Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) Centre, Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK. ¬ďIf we can diagnose and start managing Alzheimer¬ís 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.¬Ē

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

Figures from www.alzheimers.org.uk

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.

Middle-aged smokers at increased risk of dementia

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New York: Smoking in middle age increases the risk of developing dementia by nearly 75%, a new study from the US claims.

IResearchers at Minnesota University found smokers aged between 46 and 70 were at least 70 per cent more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s in later years than those who had never smoked.

The study, published in the medical magazine, the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, also revealed the links between ¬Ďlifestyle-factor¬í diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and dementia.

People with high blood pressure, for example, were 60 per cent more likely to develop dementia while people with diabetes had more than double the risk of the same disease.

Lead research Dr Alvaro Alonso, said: ¬ĎOur results emphasise the importance of early lifestyle modification and risk factor treatment to prevent dementia.¬í

8 out of 10 UK doctors criticise Alzheimer’s treatment

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London: Most doctors feel Alzheimer’s sufferers do not receive sufficient treatment, according to a new survey.

The IMPACT (Important Perspectives on Alzheimer¬ís Care & Treatment) study explored the views of 1800 people – physicians (GPs and specialists),1 Alzheimer’s carers,1 payors1 and the general public1 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

According to the new study presented at the 2009 Alzheimer¬ís Association International Conference on Alzheimer¬ís Disease (ICAD 2009), almost 8 out of 10 UK physicians (77 percent)1 consider Alzheimer’s disease to be undertreated in the UK.1 These perceptions reflect behaviours identified in earlier research by the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service which highlighted an uncertainty in diagnosing any form of dementia by GPs in the UK, with 40% of GPs reluctant to refer early for diagnosis.2

According to the study, supported by Eisai and Pfizer Inc, UK doctors feel the medical community hesitates in discussing the earliest stages of Alzheimer¬ís disease because of their uncertainty.1 Furthermore, 63% of responders from the general population, many of whom could be tomorrow’s carers, felt that most people would have difficulty identifying the early signs of the disease.1

¬ďThe National Dementia Strategy sets out a clear direction for dementia management and if adhered to closely, it could help the UK lead the way in Alzheimer’s disease care and management. Today’s survey findings suggest that although we are making progress, we still have a long way to go. Alzheimer’s disease needs to be tackled with the same force as the fight against cancer and we need to act now in order to halt this generational time bomb”, said Professor Roy Jones, Clinical Gerontologist and Geriatrician at The Research Institute for the Care of Older People, Bath, and Study Steering Committee Chair.

Alzheimer¬ís disease, the most common type of dementia, affects nearly half a million people in the UK3 ¬Ė a figure expected to double within twenty years.4 According to IMPACT, Alzheimer¬ís disease is the most feared disease after cancer in the general population,1 with physicians1 and carers1 being the only groups surveyed to fear it even more than cancer. In 2007, the annual cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease was ¬£11 billion,5 with dementia costing the UK economy over ¬£17 billion a year,6 more than cancer, stroke and heart disease combined.5 Additionally in 2007, Alzheimer¬ís disease research received 3 percent of the funds spent on cancer, a disease that affects a similar number of people.5

While the study revealed that UK doctors face a number of barriers to early drug treatment,1 it also showed that according to physicians in the UK, the medical community is more likely to recommend third party support (e.g. patient organisations) after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease than in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.1

Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer¬ís Disease International and member of the IMPACT Study Steering Committee, said, ¬ďIt is reassuring to note that the benefits of support groups are clearly recognised by clinicians and hopefully experienced by carers and patients. We strongly support the tendency to refer to patient groups at diagnosis, as it is well known that seeking support improves the quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and eases the burden for the carer.”

About Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive and degenerative brain disease,7 is the most common type of dementia7 and affects more than six million Europeans.8 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include increased forgetfulness, repeating or asking the same question frequently, and problems making decisions.9

These symptoms gradually affect a person’s cognition, behavior and everyday activities, some severe enough to have an impact on their work, social activities and family life.9 While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are treatments to help slow the progression of the symptoms of the disease.10

About the IMPACT Study

The IMPACT study was conducted online within the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany by IPSOS on behalf of Eisai and Pfizer Inc between April 1 and May 1, 2009, among 500 physicians (including general practitioners and specialists), 250 AD carers, 50 payors and 1,000 members of the general population age 18 and over. Statistical differences are noted using a 90% confidence interval. A full methodology is available upon request.

About the IMPACT Study Steering Committee

The IMPACT study was developed and implemented with the oversight of an expert Steering Committee comprised of a variety of leading AD specialists, including geriatricians, neurologists, epidemiologists, primary care physicians and old-age psychiatrists from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. The Executive Director of Alzheimer Disease International (ADI) was also part of the committee. Most members of the IMPACT Study steering committee received honoraria for their participation. The Committee was supported by Eisai and Pfizer Inc.

About Eisai

Eisai is a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world. Eisai focuses its efforts in three therapeutic areas: Integrative Neuroscience including neuroscience, neurology and psychiatric medicine; Integrative Oncology including oncotherapy and supportive-care treatment and Vascular/Immunological Reaction which includes acute coronary syndrome, atherothrombotic disease, sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.

Through a global network of research facilities, manufacturing sites and marketing subsidiaries, Eisai actively participates in all aspects of the worldwide health care system. Globally, Eisai operates in five key regions: its home market of Japan, North America, China, Asia/Oceania/Middle East and Europe and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide.

About Pfizer

Pfizer Inc., founded in 1849, is dedicated to better health and greater access to health care for people and their valued animals. Every day, colleagues in more than 150 countries work to discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to patients.
In the UK, Pfizer has its European R&D headquarters at Sandwich and its UK business headquarters in Surrey, and is the major supplier of medicines to the NHS. Pfizer¬ís annual UK R&D investment is more than ¬£550 million ¬Ė more than ¬£10 million a week.

1 Impact Study 2009: Global Alzheimer’s Awareness Study. Data on File Eisai, Pfizer Ltd

2 Audit Commission Update, Forget Me Not 2002: Developing Mental Health Services For Older People In England. Audit Commission February 2002.

3 Alzheimer¬ís Society Factsheet available at What is Alzheimer’s Disease?.
4 Alzheimer’s Society. Facts for the Media.
5 Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Annual Review 2007. February 1, 2007.
6 Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Dementia Statistics. Available at: Dementia Statistics.
7Alzheimer¬ís Association. 2008 Alzheimer¬ís Disease Facts and Figures. Available at: Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.
8 Alzheimer Europe. Policy watch Europe Unites Against Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia In Europe: The Alzheimer Europe Magazine. December 2008;2: 9.
9 Alzheimer’s Association. 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
10 Alzheimer’s Association. Treatments Available at Treatments and Treatments

Married life helps prevent Alzheimer’s, says new report

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Stockholm: The mental engagement of marriage may protect against the brain disease, Alzheimier’s.

People who have a partner or are married in middle age are at half the risk of developing dementia as those who live alone, says a study.

Getting divorced and becoming widowed in mid-life raises the risk three-fold.

The study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm is one of the first to focus on marital status and the risk of dementia.

Previous research already suggests that social isolation or lack of personal contact carries an increased risk of dementia and mental decline.

An American study last year found significant links between feelings of loneliness and the chances of suffering Alzheimer’s.

In the latest study, researchers, led by Professor Miia Kivipelto, interviewed 2,000 people aged 50 on average and then again 21 years later, drawing conclusions from three quarters of those initially involved.

They found that middle-aged people who live alone have double the risk of dementia compared with those who are married or have a partner.
Those living alone in middle-age and who are widowed or divorced have the highest chances of developing dementia.

They are three times more likely to develop diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as are people who are single during middle-age.

People living with a partner or married in mid-life were less likely than the single, separated or widowed to have dementia in later life.

The experts suggested women overall had less chance of dementia than men, but called for more research into differences between the sexes in a report in the British Medical Journal.

The report said: ‘There is a substantial and independent association between marital status in mid-life and cognitive function later in life.’

The researchers speculate that the stress of becoming widowed may play a part in declining mental functions.

Precisely what the connection is between being alone and Alzheimer’s remains an unanswered question.

But experts suspect that constant social interaction between marriage partners may keep brain cells in better working order.

Other studies have revealed that the risk of dementia can be reduced by exercise, a healthy diet and a ‘rich social network’.

The best evidence is around eating a Mediterranean diet, exercising regularly, and getting your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly.

MRI scans can spot Alzheimer’s before symptoms

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Miami: MRI scans can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, even before the onset of symptoms of dementia, say researchers.

Alzheimer’s disease is currently diagnosed by a process of elimination as many other diseases cause similar symptoms, furthermore a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease cannot be confirmed until after the patient has died by autopsy.

However, results of a study by Ranjan Duara and colleagues at the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) has added to a growing body of evidence which suggests that MRI scans of the brain can be used to diagnose the neurodegenerative disease.

The researchers used a visual rating system to evaluate the extent of atrophy, or shrinkage, present on MRI scans in three parts of the medial temporal lobe of the brain which are vital for conscious memory.

They then compared the MRI brain scans of 260 people, which included people with probable Alzheimer’s disease, people with varying degrees of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and a control group of normal elderly with no symptoms of memory loss.

Results showed that by using the rating system they could accurately distinguish those with probable Alzheimer’s disease from those with MCI, and from those in the control group. Furthermore, the scans even enabled the researchers to identify brain atrophy in some participants who did not have symptoms of memory loss at the start of the study, but who went on to develop memory problems several years later.

Thus suggesting that MRI scans could enable doctors to identify those who will get Alzheimer’s long before they become symptomatic.

¬ďThis study demonstrates that MRI brain scans are accurate enough to be clinically useful, both in diagnosing Alzheimer¬ís disease itself at an early stage and in identifying people at risk of developing Alzheimer¬ís,¬Ē said Huntington Potter, PhD director of the Florida ADRC.

New drug attacks Alzheimer’s

London: British scientists have trialed a new drug that stops the worst effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

A daily capsule of Rember, is Isaid to be more than twice as effective as current treatments and can prevent the desease from progressing, in effect stablising it.

In trials patients who tried the drug had no further significant decline in their mental function over 19 months.

Rember attacks the plaque tangles that destroy nerve cells and memory allowing the brain to recover.

The bad news is the that drug will not be available for at least four years. There are also doubts as to whether it will be available on the UK’s National Health Service following the decision not to fund another drug, Aricept, which only costs ¬£2.50 a day.

The one-a-day pill also has the potential to be used to prevent the disease progressing at even earlier stages ie when there are no symptoms.

The Rember trial was carried out by a team at the University of Aberdeen and the new research was presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s disease in Chicago, involved 321 people with mild and moderate Alzheimer’s disease in the UK and Singapore.

They were divided into four groups, three taking different doses of rember and a fourth group taking a placebo or dummy capsule.

After 50 weeks, those with both mild and moderate Alzheimer’s who were taking rember experienced 81 per cent less mental decline compared with those on the placebo.

Those taking rember did not experience any significant decline in their mental function over 19 months, while those on the placebo got worse.

The results suggest the drug is about two-and-a-half times more effective than existing drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors.

Images of the brain showed rember had its biggest effect in the parts linked to memory, where the density of tau tangles is greatest, with better blood flow to these areas.

The drug works by dissolving the tangle of tau fibres which releases waste products that kill nerve cells, and by preventing the fibres from becoming tangled.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Donald Mowat, who monitored the progress of patients, said they were more confident, better able to cope with daily life and not experiencing the level of mental decline they had expected.

The trial was a Phase 2 study, which checks the safety and efficacy of the drug, but if a large-scale Phase 3 trial due next year repeats the findings, the drug could be available for prescribing by 2012. At the same time, the research team is investigating a way of diagnosing Alzheimer’s at its earliest stages when tau tangles are first being formed in the brain.

People may have these tangles in their 50s, long before symptoms develop, and the researchers hope the drug could be used as a preventive treatment.

Professor Wischik co-founded TauRx Therapeutics, which is developing the treatment.

Professor Stephen Logan, professor of neuroscience and TauRx board member, said: ¬ĎThis is a fantastic breakthrough and very exciting.

¬ĎPatients have been doing well for 18 or 19 months. They are continuing to take the drug and will probably do so until there is no benefit or they start to decline.

Blood pressure drugs help cut Alzheimer’s risk

Chicago: Drugs used to cut blood pressure has been shown to improve the risk of Alzheimer’s.

According to a new US study of angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, which are normally prescribed as a second choice treatment to patients unable to tolerate ACE inhibitors, another class of blood pressure drug, the results are dramatic.

Both drugs work by allowing the blood vessels to the vessels to relax and widen so more blood can flow through them, which cuts blood pressure.

Alzheimer’s is associated with high blood pressure, damaged arteries and amaloid plaques, a type of protein which attaches itself to the neurotransmitters in the brain.

In the new study, an Alzheimer’s conference in Chicago was told, six million patients treated for high blood pressure between 2001 and 2006 were examined by scientists.

Those taking ARBs were 35 to 40 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia than patients on other medications.

Patients already suffering from Alzheimer’s when they started taking ARBs had a 45 per cent reduced chance of developing delirium, being admitted to a nursing home, or dying prematurely during the period of the study.

Those who had experienced strokes before or during the course of their illness appeared to benefit most from the drugs.

Study leader Professor Benjamin Wolozin, of Boston university medical school, said: ‘For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes. The study is particularly interesting because we compared the effects of ARBs to other medications used for treating blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.’

Alzheimer’s Disease is affecting more and more older adults as people live longer.

Can tomatoes fight Alzheimer’s?

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Seol: Korean scientists have genetically modified tomatoes to produce a prototype vacinne against Alzheimer’s Disease.

The disease, kills brain cells when a sticky plaque known as beta-amyloid protein clogs up nerve connections.

And the disease, which starts with short-term memory loss and leads to death, is on the increase as people live longer.Current drugs do not prevent or cure it but only slow its progress.

The researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology say they have genetically modified the fruit to create an edible vaccine that fires up the immune system to fight the disease.

To create the vaccine, the scientists combined the gene behind the beta-amyloid protein with the tomato’s genetic code.They then used mice to experiment with the designer tomatoes.

Blood samples taken from the mice revealed the tomatoes triggered their immune systems to release disease-fighting antibodies, although the levels of plaques in the brain were not reduced.

They said the tomato was a good way of getting a vaccine into the body because it was enjoyable to eat and could be eaten raw.The vaccine could be destroyed if the tomatoes were cooked, they added.

Tomatoes are already known as a natural antioxidant. They cut cholesterol and may help prevent some cancers (prostate, rectal and colon), protect against sunburn and are packed with vitamin C. The active ingredient is called lycopene which is responsible for the red colour.

Herb remedy fails Alzheimer’s victims

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London: Research on the herbal remedy, ginkgo biloba, has concluded that it does not help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The Chinese remedy is taken by one in ten sufferers of dementia, but new research by the Alzheimer’s Society, has found it has no real impact on symptoms.

A total of 176 adults with mild to moderate dementia took part in the six month study. Half were given a 120 milligram daily dose and the others a placebo.

The result was that the herb, made from the leaves of a tree, did not bring any significant improvement to their quality of life, says a report published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Do incontinence drugs accelerate mental decline?

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New York: Elderly people treated with drugs for dementia and bladder incontinence at the same time declined faster than those treated only for demenia, according to new research from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina.

Lead researcher Kaycee M Sink MD, MAS, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the school commented: “It is likely that the oppositional effects of the drugs contributed to the accelerated decline.

“Over a year’s time, the decline we observed would represent a resident going from requiring only limited assistance in an activity to being completely dependent or from requiring only supervision to requiring extensive assistance in an activity.”

The combination of drugs affected older adults who started out with higher levels of function in activities of daily living such as dressing, personal hygiene, toileting, transferring, bed mobility, eating, and being able to get around the unit. The results which reveal a 50% greater decline are pubished in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study looked at 395 nursing home residents in Indiana who were taking medications for both conditions and 3,141 who were taking only a dementia medication.

Residents included in the analysis were aged 65 years and older and had had at least two consecutive prescriptions for cholinesterase inhibitors, for example, donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne), rivastigmine (Exelon), and tacrine (Cognex). These drugs are designed to increase levels of acetylcholine, a chemical that enhances communication between nerve cells in the brain.

About 10% of the residents were also taking either oxybutynin or tolterodine, the two most commonly prescribed drugs for urinary incontinence. These drugs are known as anticholinergic agents and are designed to block acetylcholine, a substance required by the brain for optimum function.

“The two drugs are pharmacological opposites, which led us to hypothesise that the simultaneous treatment of dementia and incontinence could lead to reduced effectiveness of one or both drugs,” said Dr. Sink.

She said the finding of the more rapid decline among residents taking both types of drugs represents a significant public health problem because an estimated 33% of people with dementia also take a drug for incontinence.

“Until now, the clinical dilemma for managing incontinence and dementia has been largely theoretical. This research suggests it may lead to worse outcomes, which is the opposite intention of therapy for dementia.”

The researchers also measured whether the residents taking both drugs experienced a decline in mental function as well, but there was no difference between the two groups, possibly because the test was not sensitive enough. Dr. Sink said that similar research should be extended to community-dwelling older adults with dementia and that more sensitive measures for cognition should be used. Previous studies have shown that the bladder medications are associated with cognitive decline and that people with dementia are especially sensitive to this side effect.

“The results suggest that clinicians should continue to try nondrug management strategies for incontinence before beginning therapy with one of these common drugs,” said Dr. Sink.

She noted that the study was conducted in 2003 and 2004, before newer incontinence medications were introduced that may have less effect on acetylcholine in the brain.

Exercise grows your brain

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London: Physical exercise helps to keep your brain healthy by boosting oxygen which is turn increases the number of blood vessels.

And experts say that exercise is the single most important measure you can take to help keep your cognitive abilities as you age.

The reason exercise is so vital is that that the body’s circulatory system begins to shrink as we age – reducing the amount of oxygen and glucose available to brain cells.

But to achieve real results exercise needs to last for at least 30 minutes at each session and to elevate heart rate. Walking is recommended if you don’t want to visit the gym.

UK MPs highlight abuse of elderly with dementia

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London: An influential group of MPs is calling on the Government to stop the dangerous over-prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia. Up to 105,000 people with dementia are given the drugs inappropriately, according to expert predictions in the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dementia report, ¬ĎA Last Resort¬í, published today.

Antipsychotics continue to be a first resort for dealing with challenging behaviour in people with dementia, such as aggression or agitation, despite causing devastating side effects, doubling risk of death and costing the UK over £60 million a year.

¬ĎA Last Resort¬í identifies 5 vital steps to reduce antipsychotic use and reveals there is currently no audit or regulation of the issue. It urges the Government to use its new National Dementia Strategy to address the problem and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to conduct a thorough review.

Jeremy Wright, Chairman of the APPG on Dementia, says:
¬ĎA Last Resort shines a light on one of the darkest areas of dementia care. Antipsychotics can double risk of death and triple risk of stroke in people with dementia, heavily sedate them and accelerate cognitive decline.

¬ĎThe Government must end this needless abuse and make the 5 point plan a key element of the National Dementia Strategy. Best practice guidelines are not enough – safeguards must be put in place to ensure antipsychotics are always a last resort. We need to include families in decisions, give people with dementia regular reviews and equip care staff with specialist training.¬í

Neil Hunt, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, says
¬ĎIt is absolutely disgraceful that widespread the abuse of people with dementia has been allowed to continue despite safety warnings on antipsychotics. Urgent action is needed.

¬ĎSafe, effective alternatives to antipsychotics are available. New Alzheimer¬ís Society research shows specialist dementia training vastly increases quality of life and could save the UK ¬£35 million a year if it was mandatory.¬í

¬ĎOver 70% of people with dementia experience challenging behavior at some point during illness. More often than not this is an expression of unmet need, not a symptom of dementia, and there is no excuse for reaching for the medicine cabinet.

Lynn Ramsey, whose husband David was prescribed antipsychotics, says
¬ĎMy husband David was given antipsychotics without my knowledge. He was unable to make the decision himself because of his dementia. At first it was extremely painful for him and the drugs impacted on his ability to eat and dress. David¬ís chin became slumped onto his chest and he could only look at the floor for the rest of his life. He died aged 63. These drugs have a major adverse affect on people¬ís lives, both patients and families.¬í

The 5-point plan recommended in the report:

1. Specialist dementia training for all care staff
2. Families must be involved in all decisions around antipsychotics.
3. More pro-active support for care home staff from GPs, community psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists.
4. Compulsory medical reviews of people with dementia every 12 weeks
5. A cost effectiveness review by The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence and a national audit by the Care Quality Commission

References

¬ē Up to 150,000 people with dementia in the UK in care facilities are prescribed antipsychotics according to best estimates.¬í (Prof C Ballard, APPG inquiry oral evidence). Experts in Old Age Psychiatry predict 70% of prescriptions are inappropriate, therefore up to 105,000 people with dementia are inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs (A Last Resort).
¬ē Alzheimer¬ís Society funded research estimates antipsychotics cost the UK ¬£60, 792, 263 per annum and specialist dementia training would save the UK ¬£35 million a year if it was mandatory.
¬ē Antipsychotics can treble risk of stroke in people with dementia (Committee on Standards for Medicine, 2004), and double a person¬ís risk of mortality (FDA 2005).
¬ē Alzheimer¬ís Society research published in the BMJ found that specialist dementia training reduces disruptive behaviour and the use of antipsychotics by 50%.

More information
¬ē ¬ĎA Last Resort¬í collates evidence from stakeholders, experts and people with personal experience, received as part of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia investigation, including the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Alzheimer¬ís Society and the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
¬ē 244,185 people (two thirds of care home residents) have a form of dementia.
¬ē If we live to over 65, 1 in 3 of us will end ourlives with a form of dementia
¬ē 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. In less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia and by 2051 there will be 1.7 million
¬ē For support or advice contact Alzheimer¬ís Society Dementia Helpline number is 0845 300 0336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk

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

Smart technology to help dementia sufferers goes on trial

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London: As part of a project looking into helping dementia sufferers remain in their own homes for as long as possible, a flat within a Sheltered Housing Scheme in the UK town of Bristol has been converted into a prototype ¬ĎSmart Home¬í by APH Limited using KNX technology.

APH is a member of the KNX UK Association and was asked to tailor an intelligent design to suit the requirements of the occupant of the flat. KNX smart technology is employed to monitor the occupant’s activity and sounds a warning when it thinks there may be a problem. Special sensors have been fitted into the flat that can tell, for example, if the front door is being opened at night. In this particular flat, wireless light switches, motion detectors, speakers and a voice messaging system have been installed. Coercive messages pre-recorded by the occupant’s family are then played when appropriate.

The smart technology in the flat provides a front door sensor to detect if the door is opened at an inappropriate time. A pre-recorded message is activated and will advise the occupant not to leave the flat and to go back inside. If the door does not close, a message will be issued to the on-call warden via an interface to his monitoring system.

Motion detectors are positioned throughout the flat to monitor movement. If the lights are left switched on and no movement is detected after a given time, the lights will automatically be turned off. For example, if the occupant goes to the bathroom and then forgets to turn the lights off when they return to bed, after a set period of time with no movement detected the lights will be turned off automatically.

A smoke/heat Detector is activated if the cooker or hob is left on and food is found to be burning. In such an event a pre-recorded message will advise the occupant to return to the kitchen and switch it off. If no response is received, a message will be issued to the on-call warden via an interface to his monitoring system and the cooker’s electrical supply terminated. Only the warden can re-instate the supply when they are sure the occupant is safe.

The housing scheme and wardens involved say that this was an exciting development for them, and reports show that everything is running smoothly. They are confident that the assistive smart technology installed in the flat will improve the quality of life for the residents.

Full details of KNX technology and the vast range of KNX products available, which fully comply with EN 50090 the European Standard for Home and Building Electronic Systems are available from KNX UK, PO Box 4082, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG42 9EQ,
Email: admin@konnexuk.co.uk Website: www.knxuk.org

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.