Category Archives: Alzheimers/Dementia

Exercise & Brain: Four 2019 Articles

Posted on by

At the end of this past December, the NY Times published an overview/review (Move Your Body, Bolster Your Brain) of four 2019 articles covering research work on physical exercise and brain health. We’ll recap these below, providing additional media links along the way.

A Single Workout Can Alter the Brain (How Exercise Affects Our Memory)

A study of healthy older adults shows that just one 30 minute session of exercise increased activation in the brain circuits associated with memory — including the hippocampus. The latter shrinks with age and is the brain region attacked first in Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are two additional media articles:
Exercise activates memory neural networks in older adults
30 Minutes of Aerobic Exercise Supercharges Semantic Memory

Here is a link to the research publication:
Semantic Memory Activation After Acute Exercise in Healthy Older Adults

How Exercise May Sharpen Memory (How Exercise May Help Keep Our Memory Sharp)

New evidence reaffirms suggestions that exercise-induced irisin, a hormone, may protect against neurodegeneration and boost memory in both humans and mice.

Here are three additional media articles:
How exercise may protect against Alzheimer’s
Exercise-Linked Irisin May Protect Against Neurodegeneration
‘Exercise Hormone’ Could Slow Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Here is a link to the research publication:
Exercise-linked FNDC5/irisin rescues synaptic plasticity and memory defects in Alzheimer’s models

Weight Training Changes the Brain (How Weight Training Changes the Brain)

Until recently the majority of research on exercise and brain health has been done with aerobic exercise, which indeed, has show that exercise is good for your brain. Now, new work using lab rats has demonstrated that weight training can overcome cognitive impairment and even jumpstart the creation of new neurons.

Here are three additional media articles:
Weight Training – Good for the Brain Too?
Research shows surprising link between weightlifting and cognition
Strong Rat. Smart Rat. Got That?

Here is a link to the research publication:
Resistance-exercise training ameliorates LPS-induced cognitive impairment concurrent with molecular signaling changes in the rat dentate gyrus

The Right Kind of Exercise to Lower Dementia Risk (The Right Kind of Exercise May Boost Memory and Lower Dementia Risk)

It is never too late to begin exercising. This study shows that even starting in your 60’s, you can reduce your risk of dementia. Short intense sessions may be the most helpful.

Here are three additional media articles:
Improved fitness can mean living longer without dementia
Being Physically Fit Reduces the Risk of Dementia
Robust Workouts Guard Brains & Health at Any Age

Here is a link to the research publication:
Temporal changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and risk of dementia incidence and mortality: a population-based prospective cohort study

All the links above have been added to Health > Physical Exercise

Dementia, Depression And A New Path

Posted on by

It is not at all uncommon for a person suffering from mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate dementia to also suffer from depression. There is enough overlap between the signs and symptoms of each disease that teasing apart the diagnoses, or verifying the presence of both, can be difficult for clinicians. And the presence of cognitive issues can make traditional treatments for depression, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), more difficult to practice.
Recently, a number of groups have worked to adjust CBT and related therapies to better suit those suffering from both dementia and depression. One is called Problem Adaptation Therapy (or PATH) and focuses on solving tangible problems that fuel feelings of sadness and hopelessness, incorporating tools like checklists, calendars, signs and videos, to make it accessible for people with memory issues. Another, called the Peaceful Mind program, developed for patients with anxiety and dementia, simplifies traditional cognitive behavioral therapy.

Here are links to five media articles on depression and dementia:
How are depression and dementia related?
Alzheimer’s or depression: Could it be both?
Depression | Alzheimer’s Association
New Therapies Help Patients With Dementia Cope With Depression
Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety in people with dementia: a clinician guideline for a person-centered approach.

Here are three research articles dealing with Problem Adaptation Therapy (PATH) therapy:
Problem Adaptation Therapy for Older Adults With Major Depression and Cognitive Impairment
Problem Adaptation Therapy (PATH) for Older Adults with Major Depression and Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Home-Delivered Problem Adaptation Therapy (PATH) for Depressed, Cognitively Impaired, Disabled Elders: A Preliminary Study

All links have been added to Neuro-Psych.

Listen Up! Hearing Aids Can Help Resist Dementia.

Posted on by

In an October post (Hearing Loss and Dementia) we examined several studies of the relationship between hearing loss and the onset of dementia. The present post is a follow-up to that October post. We list three additional studies of the dementia-hearing loss relationship, together with seven media articles on that relationship, and on the ability of hearing aids to slow the possible onset of dementia due to hearing loss.

Here are the seven media articles:
For Better Brain Health, Preserve Your Hearing
Link between hearing and cognition begins earlier than once thought
Mild Hearing Loss May Be Associated with Mental Decline in Seniors
Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia
CAN HEARING AIDS HELP PREVENT DEMENTIA?
Cognitive loss and hearing loss
Hearing Loss and Dementia: Breakthrough Research Seeks Causal Link

Here are the three studies on the association of hearing losss with dementia:
Association of Subclinical Hearing Loss With Cognitive Performance.
Association of Hearing Loss With Dementia
Relationship of Hearing loss and Dementia: a Prospective, Population-based Study

All links have been added to Aging and Risk Factors.

Alzheimer’s And Sleep

Posted on by

A recent study suggests a connection between the slow waves of deep sleep and a cleaning process likely clearly some of the accumulation of brain toxins, include beta-amyloid. So it is recommended that aging people try to sleep as healthy as possible.

Here are links to three media articles about the work:
How Deep Sleep May Help The Brain Clear Alzheimer’s Toxins
Scientists Now Know How Sleep Cleans Toxins From the Brain
Sleep may trigger rhythmic power washing in the brain

And here is a link to the research study:
Coupled electrophysiological, hemodynamic, and cerebrospinal fluid oscillations in human sleep

All links have been added to Neuro-Psych

Robot Pets for Dementia

Posted on by

While dementia assistance dogs (Dogs And Dementia) are growing in use and popularity, live pets are not always possible or appropriate for many sufferers of dementia. In recent years, a number of companies have brought to market animatronic (preset moves and prerecorded sounds) and robotic (supporting more complex tasks) “pets” for use with dementia patients. Principally these “pets” are dogs, some cats, and even a harp seal. They can be held, petted, and brushed by dementia patients, and can produce some sounds and motion. Studies (see below) have shown that use of the robotic pets can reduce the stress and anxiety often suffered by dementia patients, and reports indicate that some patients develop emotional bonds with the pets.

Here are five media articles about the developments:
Therapy Cats for Dementia Patients, Batteries Included
Robotic pets delight patients with dementia
Robotic Pets To The Rescue? Dementia Care Gets Innovative
Is this robotic therapy pet the uncanny valley of dog?
The Second Coming of the Robot Pet

And here are a number of research articles on the use of robot pets for dementia intervention:
Pet robot intervention for people with dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
The Utilization of Robotic Pets in Dementia Care.
How do “robopets” impact the health and well‐being of residents in care homes? A systematic review of qualitative and quantitative evidence
Effect of an interactive therapeutic robotic animal on engagement, mood states, agitation and psychotropic drug use in people with dementia: a cluster-randomised controlled trial protocol
Use of a Robotic Seal as a Therapeutic Tool to Improve Dementia Symptoms: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial
Robotic Pets: A Senior’s Best Friend?

All links have been added to Alzheimers > Coping & Caregivers > Dementia Assist Dogs & Robot Pets

Dogs And Dementia

Posted on by

While the use of dogs as guide dogs (“seeing-eye dogs”) began in the aftermath of World War I, the last 40 years has seen the extension of service dog training into such areas as:

More recently, the last several decades have seen the development of dementia-assist dogs. Like all other therapy dogs, these dogs provide companionship and friendship for their owner. Additionaly, various trainers teach dogs a range of different behaviors, such as:

  • Since dementia patients often become agitated, some dogs are trained to interrupt this behavior by distracting their owner, and thus help reduce the owner’s anxiety and help them refocus;
  • Walk on a leash with the owner. If the owner gives the command “Home”, the dog will lead the owner back home. The dog’s collar will have a GPS device, which will allow caregivers to locate the pair if they get lost, or if the dementia patient forgets to issue the “Home” command;
  • Fetch a patient’s medication;
  • Waking their owner up each morning;
  • Trigger an alarm in the house if the patient falls and does not get up within a reasonable amount of time, or if the dog hears a choking sound.

The breeds used most often for service dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador/Golden Retriever crosses, and German Shepherds.

Here are links to several media articles about dementia-assist dogs:
The New Breed of Service Dog: Canine Caregivers for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients
Good Dogs: Dementia Service Dogs Provide Patients, Caregivers With Improved Quality of Life
Dementia Assistance Dogs
Assistance Dogs for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

Here is one study of how use of a therapy dog can affect the quality of life of an Alzheimer’s sufferer:
Stepping out of the shadows of Alzheimer’s disease: a phenomenological hermeneutic study of older people with Alzheimer’s disease caring for a therapy dog

Here is a review of six studies (between 2016 – 2018) of the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy (AAT) with special focus on dog therapy among people with dementia, and in particular, Alzheimer’s disease:
Effectiveness of the dog therapy for patients with dementia – a systematic review

All links have been added to Alzheimers > Coping & Caregivers > Dementia Assist Dogs & Robot Pets

Hearing Loss and Dementia

Posted on by

Most people can expect to deal with hearing loss in the course of normally long lives. 50% of people in their 70’s suffer from it, as do 80% of people in their 80’s. Unfortunately, besides being troublesome, it appears that hearing loss can have a direct causal effect on dementia, as well as other bad outcomes. (See the table in our post Nine Factors Contributing to Dementia — You Can Manage Them. Hearing loss, at 9%, is the largest factor.)

1,164 participants (average age 73.5) in a 24-year longitudinal study underwent assessments for hearing acuity and cognitive function between the years 1992 to 1996. All of them were followed for up to 24 years with up to five subsequent cognitive assessments at approximately four-year intervals. None used a hearing aid.

Almost half of the participants had mild hearing impairment, with almost 17% suffering moderate-to-severe hearing loss. Those with more serious hearing impairment showed worse cognitive performance at the initial visit. Hearing impairment was associated with greater decline in performance on cognitive tests over time, both for those with mild hearing impairment and those with more severe hearing impairment.

Here are two media articles on the work:
With age comes hearing loss and a greater risk of cognitive decline
How hearing impairment is associated with cognitive decline
Here is the abstract of the original research article:
Hearing impairment and cognitive decline in older, community-dwelling adults.

Similar conclusions arise from a study of 8 years of data from more than 10,000 men. The study compared the effects of hearing loss with measures of subjective cognitive decline, which is changes in memory and thinking that people notice in themselves.

The risk of subjective cognitive decline was 30 percent higher among men with mild hearing loss, compared with those with no hearing loss, while for men with moderate or severe hearing loss, the risk was between 42 and 54 percent higher.

Media article:
Hearing loss and cognitive decline: Study probes link
Research publication:
Longitudinal study of hearing loss and subjective cognitive function decline in men

In another study that covered over 154,000 adults 50 and older who had health insurance claims, but no evidence of hearing device use, researchers found that untreated hearing loss increased the risk of developing dementia by 50 percent and depression by 40 percent in just five years when compared to those without hearing loss. This study also demonstrated a clear association between untreated hearing loss and not only an increased risk of dementia and depression, but also falls and even cardiovascular diseases.

Here are three media articles on this study:
Hearing Loss Threatens Mind, Life and Limb
Higher risk of dementia and depression with an untreated hearing loss
Hearing Loss in Older Adults Linked to Depression, Dementia Among Other Comorbidities
Here is the original research publication:
Incident Hearing Loss and Comorbidity: A Longitudinal Administrative Claims Study

There is concrete evidence that using hearing aids can slow the rate of cognitive decline, as shown by two recent research studies.

Here is a review discussion of the first research publication on hearing aids:
Evidence that Hearing Aids Could Slow Cognitive Decline in Later Life
First research article:
Longitudinal Relationship Between Hearing Aid Use and Cognitive Function in Older Americans

Here are media articles about the second research publication on hearing aids:
Hearing aids linked to lower risk of dementia, depression and falls
Hearing aids lower the chance of dementia, depression, and falling
Second research article:
Can Hearing Aids Delay Time to Diagnosis of Dementia, Depression, or Falls in Older Adults?

Finally, we note a study, closely related to the “Administrative Claims Study” above, which shows that untreated hearing loss tends to lead to higher health care costs over time. (Users of hearing aids were not considered in the study, so, as yet, one cannot conclude that hearing aid use might lower costs, though that might be a reasonable inference.)

Media article:
Patients with untreated hearing loss incur higher health care costs over time
Research article:
Trends in Health Care Costs and Utilization Associated With Untreated Hearing Loss Over 10 Years

All links have been added to Aging and Alzheimers > Risk Factors

Visualization of Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials

Posted on by

This image displays the massive amount of as-yet-not-successful effort which has gone into seeking understanding or cures or ameliorations of Alzheimer’s disease:


From: History and progress of hypotheses and clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease

This link has been added to Alzheimers > .

Catch Up II: Weight Training, A Wedding, History, COPD.

Posted on by

Here we continue Catch Up I: Dementia Signs, Microbiome & Brain, Processed Foods & More, setting out four brief posts concerning links which either bring up to date earlier posts on Strong Brain, or which are simply of interest in and of themselves.

Weight Training & Brain Health

Add weight training to the list of types of exercise benefitting body and brain (even if the study deals with rats): Serious Exercise May Seriously Defer Aging.

Media articles:
How Weight Training Changes the Brain
Weight Training – Good for the Brain Too?
Research publication:
Resistance-exercise training ameliorates LPS-induced cognitive impairment concurrent with molecular signaling changes in the rat dentate gyrus

Category: Exercise, Aging

Another Bittersweet Wedding.

So sad, yet so sweet: A man descends into dementia, forgets he is married to his wife — who is his caregiver, and who he deeply loves — and pesters her to marry him. Which she does, again:
After Countless Proposals, She Finally Said Yes. Again.

See Coping & Caregiving: Bittersweet Stories for more such stories.
Category: Coping & Caregivers > Coping Stories

History of Alzheimer’s

The History of Alzheimer’s Disease

Category: Alzheimers > General & Resources > General

COPD and Your Brain

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cuts down on the amount of oxygen supplied by your lungs to all parts of your body, including your brain. It is linked to a higher risk for memory and cognitive problems with older adults with COPD having nearly twice the risk for memory problems:
How COPD Affects Your Brain

Category: Risk Factors

Each group of links has been added to the indicated categories.

Catch Up I: Dementia Signs, Microbiome & Brain, Processed Foods & More

Posted on by

Here we set out five brief posts concerning links which either bring up to date earlier posts on Strong Brain, or which are simply of interest in and of themselves.

Signs: Onset of Dementia

Our recent post Distilled: Signs of the Onset of Dementia listed 18 possible signs of the onset of dementia. The excellent article Recognizing Alzheimer’s Disease adds to that by providing a discussion of early warning signs and a view of diagnosis.

Category: Diagnosis & Tests

Microbiome & Brain

Quite recently, it has become apparent that the microbiome (all the microbes resident in an organism) can affect the brain, including the amount of amyloid beta clumps and exhibition of autistic behaviors. Much of the work has been done with mice (surprise!), but some also on humans. This is a quite interesting article on these investigations:
Germs in Your Gut Are Talking to Your Brain. Scientists Want to Know What They’re Saying.

Category: Neuro-Psych

☞ More on Processed Foods

Recently we published a somewhat lengthy post Best To Avoid Over-Processed Foods. The article below adds to that post:
What’s so bad about processed foods? Scientists offer clues.

Category: Diet

Cancer Treatment and Dementia

A very large U.S. study of prostate cancer patients in their 70’s demonstrates a notable increased risk of Alzheimer’s among patients who received Androgen Deprivation Therapy.
Dementia tied to hormone-blocking prostate cancer treatment
Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer Tied to Dementia
Original research:
Association Between Androgen Deprivation Therapy Use and Diagnosis of Dementia in Men With Prostate Cancer

Category: Risk Factors

Dementia Screening During Wellness Exams

The article Alzheimer’s Screenings Often Left Out Of Seniors’ Wellness Exams discusses the situation vis-a-vie dementia screening during annual wellness exams for seniors. The number of seniors experiencing them, and the number of physicians administering them, are relatively low, for a variety of reasons discussed in the article. Most likely, large-scale routine screening won’t be happening until a moderately inexpensive blood test is widely available.

Category: Diagnosis & Tests

Each group of links has been added to the indicated category.