Tag Archives: cognitive decline

Diet, exercise and brain training counter cognitive decline

This is wonderful news. I love everything about it. My blog is based on exactly these principles. Eat intelligently and get your exercise and your brain will benefit in your declining years. Well done!

A comprehensive program providing older people at risk of dementia with healthy eating guidance, exercise, brain training, and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors appears to slow down cognitive decline, according to the first ever randomized controlled trial of its kind, published in The Lancet.

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In the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) study, researchers led by Professor Miia Kivipelto from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and University of Eastern Finland, assessed the effects on brain function of a comprehensive intervention aimed at addressing some of the most important risk factors for age-related dementia, such as high body-mass index and heart health. Continue reading

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Alzheimer’s in the family – What next? – Harvard

Dementia affects the person diagnosed but also raises fears for siblings and children. Here are the facts.

I have three cases of Alzheimer’s/dementia on both sides of my family, including mother, aunt and grandfather. So, I am extremely sensitive to any information on the subject of cognition and aging. One of the aspects of Alzheimer’s that few people consider, until a loved one becomes afflicted, is that the relatives and people who care about the person suffer greatly as they see a person they loved deteriorate mentally and physically before their eyes. It also raises the specter of – what about me? Will I get it, too?

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Here is a good no nonsense discussion from Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

Alzheimer’s disease represents a personal health crisis, but it’s also a family concern. What does it mean for your children or siblings if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? What does it mean for you if a close relative develops the condition?

“People think that if their dad or aunt or uncle had Alzheimer’s disease, they are doomed. But, no, that’s not true,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Even though family history adds to the overall risk, age still usually trumps it quite a bit. It means your risk is higher, but it’s not that much higher, if you consider the absolute numbers.”

Family history by the numbers

Studies of family history say that if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease—the most common form of dementia in older adults—your risk increases by about 30%. This is a relative risk increase, meaning a 30% hike in your existing risk. Continue reading

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Cognitive Training Helps Regain a Younger-Working Brain

Relentless cognitive decline as we age is worrisome, and it is widely thought to be an unavoidable negative aspect of normal aging. Researchers at the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas, however, say their research could provide new hope for extending our brain function as we age.

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In a randomized clinical study involving adults age 56 to 71 that recently published in Neurobiology of Aging, researchers found that after cognitive training, participants’ brains were more energy efficient, meaning their brain did not have to work as hard to perform a task.

Dr. Michael Motes, senior research scientist at the Center for BrainHealth and one of the lead authors of the study, said, “Finding a nonpharmacological intervention that can help the aging brain to perform like a younger brain is a welcome finding that potentially advances understanding of ways to enhance brain health and longevity. It is thrilling for me as a cognitive neuroscientist, who has previously studied age-related cognitive decline, to find that cognitive training has the potential to strengthen the aging brain to function more like a younger brain.” Continue reading

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A salad a day may keep memory problems away – Study

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, perhaps we finally have a follow up for seniors worried about slippage in cognition.

Eating about one serving per day of green, leafy vegetables may be linked to a slower rate of brain aging, according to a study published in the December 20, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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The study found that people who ate at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables. The difference between the two groups was the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age, according to study author Martha Clare Morris, ScD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. (my emphasis)

“Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health,” said Morris. “Projections show sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number, so effective strategies to prevent dementia are critical.” Continue reading

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Memory loss reversed in early Alzheimer’s – Study

Researchers have successfully reversed memory loss in a small number of people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease using a comprehensive treatment program, which involves a combination of lifestyle changes, brain stimulation, and medication.

Researchers suggest the MEND program is highly effective for reversing memory loss.

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Memory improvements as a result of the treatment program have so far been sustained for 2 years, the researchers report, and some patients have even been able to return to work as a result.

Study co-author Dr. Dale Bredesen, of the Buck Institute on Research and Aging in Novato, CA, and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal Aging.

While the study only involved 10 patients, the researchers believe their findings may open the door to an effective therapy for cognitive decline.

“The magnitude of improvement in these 10 patients is unprecedented, providing additional objective evidence that this programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective,” says Dr. Bredesen.

There are currently around 5.4 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading

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Music, meditation may improve early cognitive decline – MNT

Meditation and music listening programs have shown promise in improving measures of cognitive and memory in adults with subjective cognitive decline, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Emerging evidence indicates that subjective cognitive decline (SCD) could represent a pre-clinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, or unhealthy brain aging. Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million people in the United States.

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Dr. Kim Innes, associate professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues aimed to assess the effects of two mind-body practices – Kirtan Kriya meditation and music listening – on cognitive outcomes in people with SCD.

Kirtan Kriya is a form of yoga meditation that combines focused breathing practices, singing or chanting, finger movements, and visualization. Practitioners of yoga claim that this type of meditation stimulates all of a person’s senses and the associated brain areas.

Meditation and music listening programs have shown promise in improving measures of cognitive and memory in adults with subjective cognitive decline, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Listening to music or taking part in meditation could improve memory and cognitive function among people with SCD.

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Can Exercise Slow Cognitive Decline?

Experts in aging and Alzheimer’s disease are conducting a national clinical study to determine if exercise may be an effective non-drug intervention for maintaining cognitive fitness.

The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center is the only site in Illinois, and one of only 15 sites across the United States leading the Exercise in Adults With Mild Memory Problems (EXERT) study, which is trying to determine if exercise can slow the progress of memory loss and cognitive impairment in older adults.

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Neuroscientists are collaborating with the YMCA to provide individualized, one-on-one exercise programs and personal training to study participants. Rush will be working with the McGaw YMCA in Evanston, Illinois, to provide 45-minute personal training sessions for one year.

Adults with memory issues may avoid being active when they need it most

“We want to see if a personalized program implemented in the community and prescribed by health care providers can be an effective therapy for people with memory issues,” said Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, associate professor of neurology and principal investigator of the EXERT study at Rush. Continue reading

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Women perform better than men on memory tests for Alzheimer’s

Since I have at least three cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia in my family, this kind of information always resonates with me.

Women do better on verbal memory tests commonly used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease compared to men with the same amount of neurotoxic protein in their brains, a new study has found.

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It is well known that females have an advantage on verbal memory tests, in which subjects are challenged to recite back a list of heard words. Because women are better at the tests, which are often used to help detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, the severity of their disease may be missed, says Dr. Pauline Maki, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author on the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Seniors’ brains benefit from distraction – Study

While I want to live past 100, I also want to have my brain fully functional. So, any piece of information that satisfies that criterion, is music to my ears.

As you age, you may find it more difficult to focus on certain tasks. But while distractions can be frustrating, they may not be as bad as we think. In a review published November 15 in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, researchers at the University of Toronto and Harvard University suggest that there may be some benefits to reduced focus, especially in people over 50. Using behavioral studies and neuroimaging evidence, the researchers discuss how being easily distracted can help adults with, for example, problem solving and learning new information.

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“Different types of tasks benefit from a more broad focus of attention, and this is usually seen in tasks that involve thinking creatively or using information that was previously irrelevant,” says first author Tarek Amer, a psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and a graduate student at the Rotman Research Institute. “The literature gives us the impression that older adults are essentially doomed as their cognitive abilities decrease, when, in reality, many older adults get along just fine in their day-to-day lives, and we think that shows that aging adults don’t always need to have high cognitive control.”

When people have high cognitive control, they are able to maintain their focused attention and ignore distractions to get things done. But Amer and his colleagues found that people with reduced cognitive control had an easier time thinking of creative solutions to problems, and they were better at noticing patterns in the world around them. These findings also indicated that older adults could outperform their younger counterparts on certain problem-solving tasks, as they were able to broaden their attention more easily. Additionally, people didn’t require high levels of cognitive control for inherent, day-to-day tasks, like walking down the street or learning new information.

In order to explore the benefits of cognitive control, many lab-based behavioral experiments require participants to complete a specific set of tasks, limiting the role of distraction. But the researchers say these experiments have shortcomings, as they don’t explore situations when distractions and reduced cognitive control could be helpful, making the conclusions fairly one sided.

“Many of the tasks that we study in classic cognitive psychology are tasks that require high cognitive control, but these assigned tasks might not accurately mirror what people do in the real world because they limit distractions,” says co-author Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the Rotman Research Institute. “But a distraction in one setting can actually be useful information in another setting, and the more information you have, the better able you’re going to be to address a current problem.”

Amer and his colleagues hope to use this information to determine exactly what tasks can benefit from reduced control in order to better simulate these experiences in a lab. Although they also hope to expand the research beyond the aging population to examine how distractions can be beneficial for people with a range of cognitive impairments, for now they recognize that this understanding of cognitive control is a step closer to understanding the aging brain.

“There is a question about what really sustains performance in old age, and it’s clear that working memory alone cannot provide us with the answer to that question,” says Hasher. “But we think it’s possible that studying reduced cognitive control can help us understand how older adults can still perform independently and successfully in their lives.”

While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page -While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more.

Tony

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High Blood Pressure May Impair Cognitive Function and Pose Risk for Alzheimer’s

My family history of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia popped this news item up onto my radar screen.

Before considering problems with high blood pressure, let’s understand what it is. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushed against the the wall of the arteries. It depends on the strength of the heartbeat, thickness and volume of the blood, the elasticity of the artery walls and general health. It is the arterial pressure of the circulation, a dynamic process that fluctuates all day.

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Normal BP is 120/80, systolic/diastolic. Prehypertensive is 120-139 over 80-89. Stage one hypertension is 140-159 over 90 – 99. Stage two hypertension reads 160 -179 over 100 – 109.

Some of the causes of high blood pressure include smoking, overweight, lack of physical activity, too much salt, too much alcohol, stress, older age, genetics. Continue reading

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Stave Off Cognitive Decline With Seafood – Rush

I have written repeatedly about the benefits to the brain of cardiovascular exercise. You can fill yourself in on details from my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits).

Eating a meal of seafood or other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week may protect against age-related memory loss and thinking problems in older people, according to a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

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Their research findings were published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Judith Zwartz Foundation.

The age-related memory loss and thinking problems of participants in the study who reported eating seafood less than once a week declined more rapidly compared to those who ate at least one seafood meal per week. Continue reading

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Stave Off Cognitive Decline With Seafood – Rush

Regular readers know that I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia in general.  So, my ears prick up when I hear of anything that might mitigate against these afflictions.  Rush University Medical Center has reported just that.

Eating a meal of seafood or other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week may protect against age-related memory loss and thinking problems in older people, according to a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

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Their research findings were published in the May 4 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Judith Zwartz Foundation.

The age-related memory loss and thinking problems of participants in the study who reported eating seafood less than once a week declined more rapidly compared to those who ate at least one seafood meal per week.

“This study helps show that while cognitive abilities naturally decline as part of the normal aging process, there is something that we can do to mitigate this process,” says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist and senior author of the paper.

Four types of seafood, five types of brain function

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Teeth Loss Increases Risk of Reduced Cognitive Function – Study

Regular readers know that cognitive impairment has my total attention as three of my family members suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and/or plain dementia. While I have written a number of posts covering various aspects of cognition and cognitive impairment I confess surprise upon learning of a correlation between losing teeth and diminishing mental facilities.

The increase of cognitive impairment and its pathologic correlates, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, in aging populations is progressing worldwide and creating a significant burden on health systems.  About 25 million people suffer from dementia worldwide, with an incidence of 4.6 million per year. According to follow-up studies, annualized rates of conversion from mild cognitive impairment to dementia range from 4% to 25%.

Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 71 percent since 2000, and it remains the only cause of death that cannot be prevented, slowed or treated. In 2016 an estimated 700,000 people will die with Alzheimer’s, meaning they will die after having developed the disease, the Alzheimer’s Association reported.

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Better insight into the nature and extent of the association between oral health and cognitive function is of great importance since it could lead to preventive interventions for cognitive performance. Therefore, the objective of this review was to systematically examine if tooth loss leads to cognitive impairment and its most prevalent pathologic correlate (dementia). Continue reading

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids Protect Cognitive Function in Aging Adults

It looks like there is some good dietary news on the cognitive functioning horizon.

Neuroscience News says, “Study participants who received omega-3 fatty acids showed greater improvements on an object location memory task than participants who received a placebo containing sunflower oil. However, there was no evidence of improved performance on a verbal learning test. “Results from this study suggest that a long-term approach to prevention is particularly effective in preserving cognitive function in older individuals. A targeted approach involving dietary supplements can play a central role in this regard,” concluded the researchers. Emphasis mine.

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“Changes in cognitive function and memory decline form a normal part of aging. However, in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or sometimes in the case of mild cognitive impairment, these changes occur more quickly. There are currently no effective treatments for these diseases….”

While there are no effective treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, it is a fact that exercise definitely can hold back other forms of dementia. I direct your attention to my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) for a number of posts I have written on the connection between exercise and the maintaining a healthy brain. Continue reading

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Health Declines for Seniors who Stop Driving – Columbia University

As a senior citizen (I just celebrated my 78th birthday) working on his physical and mental health, I was surprised to learn of this correlation between driving and health. As I have written time and again use it or lose it is the law of the body. Disrespect that law at your peril.

Columbia University reports, “For older adults, driving a car is an important aspect of having control over one’s life. While 81 percent of the 29.5 million U.S. adults aged 65 and over continue to hold a license and get behind the wheel, age-related declines in cognition and physical function make driving more difficult, and many seniors reduce or eventually stop driving altogether. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examined the health and well-being of older adults after they stopped driving and found that their health worsened in a variety of ways. In particular, driving cessation nearly doubled the risk of depressive symptoms, while also contributing to diminished cognitive abilities and physical functioning. Findings are published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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“For many older adults, driving is more than a privilege; it is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom, and independence,” said Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, Mailman School professor of Epidemiology, the founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and senior author. “Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable to face the decision to stop driving during the process of aging as cognitive and physical functions continue to decline.”

Dr. Li and a team of researchers reviewed and analyzed quantitative health-related data for drivers aged 55 and older from 16 studies that met eligibility criteria and compared results with data from current drivers. The study updates and expands on earlier findings with more than 10 additional years of empirical research.

“Data showed that older adults experienced faster declines in cognitive function and physical health after stopping driving. Driving cessation was also associated with a 51-percent reduction in the size of social networks of friends and relatives–something the researchers say can constrain the social lives of seniors and their ability to engage with others. Decline in social health after driving cessation appeared greater in women than in men.”

“Former drivers were also nearly five times as likely as current drivers to be admitted to a nursing home, assisted living community, or retirement home, after adjusting for marital status or co-residence.

“As older ex-drivers begin substituting outside activities with indoor activities around the home, these activities may not be as beneficial to physical functioning as working or volunteering on the outside,” said Thelma Mielenz, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and co-author. “When time comes to stop driving, it is important to make personalized plans to maintain mobility and social functions.”

The researchers note that merely making alternative transportation available to older adults does not necessarily offset the adverse health effects of driving cessation. “What we need most of all are effective programs that can ensure and prolong an older adult’s mobility, physical, and social functioning,” said Li.”

I would like to point out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) for lots more info on keeping your body and mind functioning well into your senior years.

Tony

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Dietary Flavanols Reverse Age-Related Memory Decline

“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink,” says lead author Adam M. Brickman, PhD, an associate professor of neuropsychology at the Taub Institute.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Dietary cocoa flavanols—naturally occurring bioactives found in cocoa—reversed age-related memory decline in healthy older adults, according to a study led by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) scientists. The study, published in the advance online issue of Nature Neuroscience, provides the first direct evidence that one component of age-related memory decline in humans is caused by changes in a specific region of the brain and that this form of memory decline can be improved by a dietary intervention.

As people age, they typically show some decline in cognitive abilities, including learning and remembering such things as the names of new acquaintances or where one parked the car or placed one’s keys. This normal age-related memory decline starts in early adulthood but usually doesn’t have any noticeable impact on quality of life until people reach their fifties or sixties. Age-related memory decline is different from the often-devastating memory impairment that occurs with…

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