seniors

Resistance training improves attention in older women

January, 2010

A study has found resistance training significantly improved selective attention and conflict resolution in older women, but balance and tone training did not.

A study involving 155 women aged 65-75 has found that those who participated in resistance training once or twice weekly for a year significantly improved their selective attention (maintaining mental focus) and conflict resolution (as well as muscular function of course!), compared to those who participated in twice-weekly balance and tone training. Performance on the Stroop test improved by 12.6% and 10.9% in the once-weekly and twice-weekly resistance training groups respectively, while it deteriorated by 0.5% in the balance and tone group. Improved attention and conflict resolution was also significantly associated with increased gait speed.

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Blueberry juice & purple grape juice improve memory in older adults

January, 2010

Two small studies provide the first human evidence that blueberries and Concord grape juice can improve verbal memory in those with mild cognitive impairment.

A number of rodent studies have shown that blueberries can improve aging memory; now for the first time, a human study provides evidence. In the small study, nine older adults (mean age 76) with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) drank the equivalent of 2-2 l/2 cups of a commercially available blueberry juice every day. After three months they showed significantly improved paired associate learning and word list recall. The findings will of course have to be confirmed by larger trials, but they are consistent with other research.

A companion study involving 12 older adults (75-80) with MCI found that those who drank a pure variety of Concord grape juice for 12 weeks also saw their performance progressively improve on tests in which they had to learn lists and remember items placed in a certain order.

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Rapamycin rescues memory in Alzheimer's mice

February, 2010

A mouse study found Rapamycin improved learning and memory and reduced Alzheimer's-like damage in the brain.

Rapamycin, a drug that keeps the immune system from attacking transplanted organs, was recently found to extend the life span of aged research mice. Now a study involving genetically engineered mice has found that 10 weeks of taking the drug improved learning and memory and reduced Alzheimer's-like damage in the brain.

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Damaged protein identified as early biomarker for Alzheimer's

February, 2010

Evidence that levels of damaged tau protein in the cerebrospinal fluid is associated with atrophy in the medial temporal lobe may help diagnose Alzheimer’s early.

A study involving 57 cognitively healthy older adults has found that those who showed decreased memory performance two years later (20 of the 57) had higher baseline levels of phosphorylated tau231 in the cerebrospinal fluid, and more atrophy in the medial temporal lobe. Higher levels of damaged tau protein were associated with reductions in medial temporal lobe gray matter. The finding may be useful in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Hypertension may predict dementia in older adults with particular cognitive deficits

February, 2010

A large five-year study concludes that late-life hypertension doubles the risk of dementia in those with executive dysfunction only (but not for those with memory dysfunction alone or memory and executive dysfunction).

Midlife hypertension has been confirmed as a risk factor for the development of dementia in late life, but there have been conflicting findings about the role of late-life hypertension. Now a five-year study involving 990 older adults (average age 83) with cognitive impairment but no dementia, has found that dementia developed at around the same rate among participants with and without hypertension, among those with memory dysfunction alone and those with both memory and executive dysfunction. However, among patients with executive dysfunction only, presence of hypertension was associated with double the risk of developing dementia (57.7 percent of those with high blood pressure progressed to dementia, vs. 28 percent of those without). The findings suggest that efforts to control to hypertension should be especially targeted to this group.

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Predicting the progression of Alzheimer's

February, 2010

A 15-year study concludes that a simple progression rate calculated at the initial visit can reliably identify slow, intermediate and rapid progression.

By following 597 Alzheimer’s patients over 15 years, researchers have determined that a simple progression rate can be calculated at the initial visit, using symptom onset and present performance, and that this can reliably identify slow, intermediate and rapid progression.

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[175] Doody, R. S., Pavlik V., Massman P., Rountree S., Darby E., & Chan W.
(2010).  Predicting progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy. 2(1), 2 - 2.

Full text available at http://alzres.com/content/2/1/2/

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Review confirms early diagnosis tool

February, 2010

A comprehensive survey confirms the value of an early diagnostic tool, and provides strong evidence for the central importance of amyloid-beta protein plaques in the development of Alzheimer’s.

A survey of more than 100 studies involving PIB-PET, a diagnostic tool that involves injecting a radiotracer called Pittsburgh compound B into the brain via the bloodstream, and imaging the brain with positron emission tomography (PET), has confirmed its sensitivity in detecting amyloid-beta protein plaques. The tool is not yet commercially available. The study also provides strong evidence supporting the theory that accumulation of amyloid-beta protein plaques in the brain is central to the development of Alzheimer’s. The findings, that amyloid deposits appear to reach a plateau early in the disease course, may explain why Alzheimer's patients have not responded to promising experimental drugs that target amyloid. It may be that they are being administered too late.

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Dementia rate in extreme elderly population

February, 2010

Data from The 90+ Study has revealed a sharply increasing incidence rate for dementia, from nearly 13% per year for 90-94, to over 40% in the 100+ age group.

Data from 330 participants in The 90+ Study, of whom 70% were women, has revealed an overall annual incidence rate of 18.2% for dementia, rising from 12.7% per year in the 90-94 age group, to 21.2% in the 95-99 age group and 40.7% per year in the 100+ age group. 60% of the cases were attributed to Alzheimer's disease, 22% vascular dementia, 9% mixed Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and 9% other/unknown. Unlike previous findings, rates were very similar for men and women.

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Stress raises risk of mental decline in older diabetics

February, 2010

A large study of older adults with type-2 diabetes has found those with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are more likely to have experienced cognitive decline.

A study involving over 1000 older men and women (60-75) with type-2 diabetes has found that those with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood are more likely to have experienced cognitive decline. Higher fasting cortisol levels were associated with greater estimated cognitive decline in general intelligence, working memory and processing speed. This was independent of mood, education, metabolic variables and cardiovascular disease. Strategies aimed at lowering stress levels may be helpful for older diabetics.

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Mediterranean diet may lower risk of brain damage

February, 2010

Seniors who were most closely following a Mediterranean-like diet were 36% less likely to have brain infarcts than those least following the diet.

Following on from studies showing that a Mediterranean-like diet may be associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and may lengthen survival in people with Alzheimer's, a six-year study of 712 New Yorkers has revealed that those who were most closely following a Mediterranean-like diet were 36% less likely to have brain infarcts (small areas of dead tissue linked to thinking problems), compared to those who were least following the diet. Those moderately following the diet were 21% less likely to have brain damage. The association was comparable to the effects of high blood pressure — that is, not eating a Mediterranean-like diet was like having high blood pressure. The Mediterranean diet includes high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish and monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil; low intake of saturated fatty acids, dairy products, meat and poultry; and mild to moderate amounts of alcohol.

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The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010.

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