Posts tagged with "Dementia"

Here’s why eating three big meals daily–not five small ones—might fight cognitive decline

September 30, 2022

The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to triple by 2050, with low- and middle-income communities taking the brunt. What’s worse, establishing consistent research findings to help scientists pinpoint relationships between disease progression and factors such as sleep and diet continues to be an uphill battle, reports Brain Tomorrow.

However, a new Chinese study from Zhejiang University offers promising results. Scientists say that results show that eating three larger meals per day is associated with greater cognitive function than spreading out intake across five smaller meals.

Epidemiological studies have studied temporal distribution of eating patterns related to diabetes and hypertension risk in the past. Regarding brain function, there have been few. Previous studies in animals demonstrated that meal disruption can change the brain’s clock rhythm, specifically in the hippocampus, which is the memory hub.

The research team pulled data from 3,342 people at least 55 years old from nine different Chinese provinces. They used an algorithm to identify six patterns of temporal distribution of energy intake: evenly-distributed, breakfast-dominant, lunch-dominant, dinner-dominant, snack-rich, and breakfast-skipping.

They then assessed cognitive function using the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS-m), which organizes functions by a point system. Immediate and delayed word recalls are worth 20 points, backward counting 2 points, and serial -7 subtraction testing is worth 5 points. Higher cognitive scores (ranging from 0-27) signify greater cognitive function.

To tie eating patterns and cognitive score together, patterns were assessed over a ten-year period. These assessments were adjusted for age, gender, residence, total energy, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption, household income, education level, and body mass index (BMI) to account for limitations.

Those with evenly-distributed eating patterns had notably higher long-term cognitive function scores than those with irregular temporal distribution of energy intake. This was most commonly identified in participants part of the breakfast-skipping group.

From this, the team concludes that skipping breakfast may be detrimental. They emphasize that optimal, timely nutrition is crucial for cognitive health and dementia prevention.

It’s often said that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day,” and here’s more proof that the saying might just be right.

This study has been published in the journal Life Metabolism.

Research contact: @braintomorrow

Study: People raised in suburban or rural areas have a better sense of direction than city-dwellers

May 16, 2022

People who grew up in the countryside have a better sense of direction than city dwellers, according to a new study. European researchers have found that, on average, people raised in rural areas have stronger navigational skills than those who grew up in large towns or cities, reports Brain Tomorrow.

 

The pioneering international study used a video game called Sea Hero Quest developed to study Alzheimer’s disease. The game features a wayfinding task, requiring users to navigate a boat through a virtual environment to find checkpoints shown on a map.

 

Nearly 400,000 participants in 38 countries took part in the experiment. The research team—from University College London (UCL); the University of East Anglia (UEA), also in England; and the University of Lyon in France—says that people are better at navigating great distances if they come from rural areas.

 

  They also have found that people whose home city had a grid layout, such as New York or Chicago, are slightly better at navigating similarly organized street patterns, despite having poorer performance overallv. Authors say that early childhood environments influence not only navigation ability, but navigation styles as well.

 

“We found that growing up outside of cities appears to be good for the development of navigational abilities, and this seems to be influenced by the lack of complexity of many street networks in cities,” says lead researcher Hugo Spiers, a professor in Psychology & Language Sciences at UCL, in a statement.

 

“In our recent research, we have found that people’s spatial navigation skills decline with age, starting in early adulthood,” he continues. “Here, we found that people who grew up in areas with gridded streets can have comparable navigation skills to people five years their senior from rural areas—and in some areas the difference was even greater.”

 

Results show that where people grew up influenced their performance in Sea Hero Quest. That’s even after controlling for confounding effects of age, gender, and education levels. Their current place of residence did not affect their scores either.

 

The team compared the home cities of the study participants by analyzing the entropy—or disorder—of the street networks, to gauge the complexity and randomness of the layouts. To test if people from cities could more effectively navigate

environments comparable to where they grew up, the researchers developed a city-themed version of Sea Hero Quest. Called “City Hero Quest,” it requires participants to drive around city streets in a virtual environment that varied from simple grids to more winding street layouts.

 

People who grew up in cities with grid layouts were slightly better at navigating similar environments, although the difference was not as great as their inferior performance in Sea Hero Quest.

 

“Growing up somewhere with a more complex layout of roads or paths might help with navigational skills as it requires keeping track of direction when you’re more likely to be making multiple turns at different angles, while you might also need to remember more streets and landmarks for each journey,” says co-lead author Dr. Antoine Coutrot, of the University of Lyon.

 

The Sea Hero Quest project was designed to aid Alzheimer’s research, by shedding light on differences in spatial navigational abilities. More than 4 million people have played the game, contributing to numerous studies across the project as a whole.

 

“Spatial navigation deficits are a key Alzheimer’s symptom in the early stages of the disease,” explains joint senior author Michael Hornberger, a dementia researcher at UEA. “We are seeking to use the knowledge we have gained from Sea Hero Quest to develop better disease monitoring tools, such as for diagnostics or to track drug trial outcomes. Establishing how good you would expect someone’s navigational to be based on characteristics such as age, education, and where they grew up, is essential to test for signs of decline.”

 

The scientists are continuing their research into predictors of navigational ability, including how sleep impacts navigational skills in different countries.

 

The study has been published in the journal, Nature.

 

Research contact: @braintomorrow

All is not lost: When dementia patients wander, GPS devices can locate them quickly

August 27, 2018

Now where was I? That’s a phrase many of us use when we lose track of our thoughts for a moment. However, for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, that question often should be taken much more literally.

The disorientation that comes with these diseases often results in wandering—a common and serious concern for caregivers, who may fear that their loved ones are oblivious to their surroundings, or frightened and even in danger, according to Alzheimers.net.

Life-saving GPS devices can help caregivers to quickly track and find wanderers, before they go too far astray. Among those recommended by Alzheimers.net are the following:

  • AngelSense is a device that can be attached to a patient’s clothing and can only be removed by the caregiver. It provides a daily timeline of locations, routes, and transit speed—and sends an instant alert, if a loved diverts from a safe radius. Caregivers can use the device to listen in to what is happening around their loved one; to receive an alert if the patient has not left for an appointment on time; or to communicate with a lost person, wherever he or she may be.
  • GPS Smart Sole fits into most shoes and allows caregivers to track their loved one from any smartphone, tablet, or web browser. The shoe insert is enabled with GPS technology and allows real-time syncing, provides a detailed report of location history, and empowers users to set up a safe radius for their loved one.
  • iTraq can be used to track pretty much anything—from loved ones to luggage. This tracker pairs with a smartphone app and, for seniors, includes a motion or fall sensor that will send an alert if a fall is detected. It also has a temperature sensor. The company’s newest device, the iTraq Nano is marketed as “the world’s smallest all-in-one tracking device that has global tracking, two months of battery life, is water and dust resistant, and is able to be charged wirelessly.” The device also has an SOS button that will send an instant alert to friends and family, notifying them of their loved one’s precise location.
  • MedicAlert Safely Home originally was created to help emergency responders treat patients who could not speak for themselves. Today, the device also helps people with dementia who wander. The device is worn as a bracelet and—when a loved one goes missing—caregivers can call the police and have the police call the 24-hour hotline to get the location of the missing person. Caregivers also can call the hotline themselves to get information. In addition to a tracking device, the bracelet has important medical information engraved on it.
  • Mindme offers two lifesaving devices—one,a location device; and the other, an alarm. The alarm allows the user to alert a Mindme response center, in case of a fall or other emergency. The locator device is specifically designed for people with dementia or other cognitive disabilities. The simple device works as a pendant that can be put in a bag or pocket and allows caregivers to track the user online at any time. Caregivers also can set a radius for the user and receive an alert if the person travels outside that zone.
  • PocketFinder was founded in 2005 by a single parent who wanted to know the whereabouts of his young son. Their slogan, “If you love it, locate it!” says it all. Tracking everything from luggage to pets to children to seniors, the company offers a wide range of emerging technological products. PocketFinder is designed to be the smallest tracker on the market: The device can fit in the palm of your hand. It has a battery life up of to one week and allows caregivers to track wearers through a user-friendly app. The device was updated in January 2017 and now includes three location technologies—including GPS, Cell ID, and Google Wi-Fi Touch. It now also has an SOS button.
  • Project Lifesaver provides enrolled seniors with a personal transmitter that they wear around an ankle. If they wander, the caregiver calls a local Project Lifesaver agency and a trained team will respond. Recovery times average 30 minutes and many who wander are found within a few miles of their homes.
  • Revolutionary Tracker has location-based systems to keep tabs on seniors who may wander. This GPS-enabled personal tracker features an SOS button for emergencies and offers real-time tracking ability. The device allows multiple seniors to be tracked at the same time and syncs directly to a caregiver’s smart phone or computer.
  • Safe Link, also GPS-enabled, is a small device carried by the person who may wander. The device periodically sends its geographic coordinates to central server; and family members and caregivers can view the wearer’s location via website. The device needs to be charged and worn at all times. All devices have an SOS button for emergencies.
  • Trax is touted by the company as “the world’s smallest and lightest live GPS tracker.” The device sends position, speed, and direction through the cellular network directly to your app on a smartphone. Trax comes with a clip that is easy to attach to a loved one. The app allows caregivers to set “Geofences” and will send an alert if a loved one enters or leaves a predetermined area. Trax Geofences have no size limit: Caregivers can create as many fence areas as needed, and can schedule when those virtual fences are in effect.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018. This number includes an estimated 5.5 million people age 65 and older and about 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. One in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia.

Research contact: @alzassociation

Marriage may reduce the risk of dementia

November 30, 2017

Those of us who at some time in our lives have been “head over heels” for a partner or spouse probably are not headed for dementia in the future, according to findings of a study released on November 28.

Indeed, a paper published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry asserts that individuals who always have been single have a 42% higher risk of developing dementia than people who are married or in a committed relationship. The study was based on 15 analyses with a cumulative cohort of over 800,000 patients.

Dementia—a decline in memory or cognition severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities—usually occurs in older age. The most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.

Those who are widowed could have a 20% higher risk, the researchers determined. They could not examine whether the duration of being widowed or divorced had any influence on the findings.There was no similar risk found for those who had been divorced.

Marital status has the potential to affect dementia risk by increasing daily social interaction, the researchers found. Specifically, marriage may offer more opportunities for communications and contacts within the local community, which is associated with reduced dementia risk and reduced harmful lifestyle behaviors, they said.

They also determined that bereavement or divorce in people who have been married may promote dementia development through stress, which is pathogenic and associated with increased dementia risk.

By comparison, the health of unmarried Americans is worse than that of couples; being married is related to improved cancer survival; and widowhood is associated with disability in older people.13

That higher risk for singles remained even after researchers accounted for a person’s physical health, said Andrew Sommerlad, a research fellow and psychiatrist at University College London in Britain. That increased risk appeared to be similar to other known dementia risks, such as having diabetes or high blood pressure, he said.

“We don’t think that it is marriage itself or wearing a wedding ring which reduces people’s risk of dementia,” he told CNN recently.

“Instead, our research suggests that the possible protective effect is linked to various lifestyle factors which are known to accompany marriage, such as living a generally healthier lifestyle and having more social stimulation as a result of living with a spouse or partner,” he said.

Such factors as diet, physical activity, smoking and sleep also affect the risk.

The good news? As being unmarried becomes more of a social norm, it is likely that lifestyle differences between married and unmarried people are lessening, he researchers believe.

Research contacta.sommerlad@ucl.ac.uk