Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Using the Internet Promotes Memory and a Healthy Brain

I just finished reading an article about how using the Internet promotes memory and a healthy brain. This should be of great interest to the millions of baby boomers facing the possibility of Alzheimer's disease in their future. A Pew/Internet study showed that seventy five percent of Leading Boomers (age 51-59) use the Internet. The numbers are lower for Matures (age 60-69) at fifty four percent.

The brain study found that Internet savvy users that use search experienced greater brain activity. While there are no conclusive studies at this time, boomers should be thinking about ways to keep the brain healthy and memory sharp as they age. It appears the use of the Internet helps.
"This suggests that just searching on the Internet may train the brain -- that it may keep it active and healthy," said Small, whose research appears in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.


Also see: Ten Million Baby Boomers likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s during their lifetime

Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

Workout for brain just a few clicks away


By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Searching the Internet may help middle-aged and older adults keep their memories sharp, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles studied people doing Web searches while their brain activity was recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging scans.

"What we saw was people who had Internet experience used more of their brain during the search," Dr. Gary Small, a UCLA expert on aging, said in a telephone interview.

"This suggests that just searching on the Internet may train the brain -- that it may keep it active and healthy," said Small, whose research appears in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Many studies have found that challenging mental activities such as puzzles can help preserve brain function, but few have looked at what role the Internet might play.

"This is the first time anyone has simulated an Internet search task while scanning the brain," Small said.

His team studied 24 normal volunteers between the ages of 55 and 76. Half were experienced at searching the Internet and the other half had no Web experience. Otherwise, the groups were similar in age, gender and education.

Both groups were asked to do Internet searches and book reading tasks while their brain activity was monitored.

"We found that in reading the book task, the visual cortex -- the part of the brain that controls reading and language -- was activated," Small said.

"In doing the Internet search task, there was much greater activity, but only in the Internet-savvy group."

He said it appears that people who are familiar with the Internet can engage in a much deeper level of brain activity.

"There is something about Internet searching where we can gauge it to a level that we find challenging," Small said.

In the aging brain, atrophy and reduced cell activity can take a toll on cognitive function. Activities that keep the brain engaged can preserve brain health and thinking ability.

Small thinks learning to do Internet searches may be one of those activities.

"It tells us we probably can teach an old brain new Internet tricks," he said.

(Editing by Will Dunham and John O'Callaghan)

Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room



Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Guidelines For The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Dementia

Alzheimer's Reading Room: Guidelines For The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Dementia

People with mild to moderate dementia (and Alzheimer's) are usually cared for by the family personal care physician and the patient's family. The personal care physician is often very busy and is not a specialist in the area. The family is often ill equipped to take on this task due to lack of formal training, education, and experience. Family caregivers and the primary caregiver usually take a learn as you go approach. A team of physicians, teachers, and researchers have created a set of guidelines for personal care physicians on how to manage dementia once a diagnosis is made. This article should be read by physicians but I found it very helpful as a caregiver. From the caregiver perspective it will help you understand the services you need and help you interact with your family physician to assure that appropriate actions are being taken and treatments rendered.



Monday, September 15, 2008

Alzheimer's Reading Room: Vitamin B12 May Protect Against Brain Shrinkage in Old Age



These findings should be of special interest to baby boomers now entering their 60s.

A study conducted by researchers at the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) found that people with higher levels of vitamin B12 were six times less likely to experience brain volume loss. Vitamin B12, a nutrient found in meat, fish and milk, may protect against brain volume loss in older people. The researchers studied 107 volunteers age 61 to 87 who did not have cognitive impairment when they volunteered. The volunteers underwent yearly MRI brain scans, cognitive and memory tests and physical exams for five years.

This study suggests that simply adjusting our diets to consume more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory, says Anna Vogiatzoglou of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at Oxford University. Research shows that vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem. Without carrying out a clinical trial, we acknowledge that it is still not known whether B12 supplementation would actually make a difference in elderly persons at risk for brain shrinkage.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

TauRx Therapeutics-- New treatment halts progress of Alzheimer's disease

The results of the Phase 2 study of TauRx's new treatment strongly suggest that it is possible to halt progression in mild and moderate Alzheimer's. TauRx is continuing to refine its treatment and hopes that restoration may be possible at least at the earlier stages with improved versions of its drug. Tangles are already destroying nerve cells in parts of the brain critical for memory in people in their fifties and upwards. The ultimate goal is to develop a product that is convenient for patients that could be widely used at the very earliest stages of the disease, long before patients experience the first symptoms of Alzheimer's.
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TauRx Therapeutics-- New treatment halts progress of Alzheimer's disease

The results of the Phase 2 study of TauRx's new treatment strongly suggest that it is possible to halt progression in mild and moderate Alzheimer's. TauRx is continuing to refine its treatment and hopes that restoration may be possible at least at the earlier stages with improved versions of its drug. Tangles are already destroying nerve cells in parts of the brain critical for memory in people in their fifties and upwards. The ultimate goal is to develop a product that is convenient for patients that could be widely used at the very earliest stages of the disease, long before patients experience the first symptoms of Alzheimer's.
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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Special Reminder: PBS Presents The Future of Alzheimer's

PBS will present a special evening of programming focused on Alzheimer's disease on Sunday, August 3 starting at 9 p.m.

The programming starts with a national encore broadcast of the Emmy-Award-winning THE FORGETTING: A Portrait of Alzheimer's, followed by a new half-hour discussion, The Future of Alzheimer's, moderated by actor and Alzheimer's champion David Hyde Pierce.



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wii Fit

This is an excellent article about the new fitness module for Wii. I am considering getting this for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's. Along with this I hope to get friends to come over and bowl with her.

This would satisfy two important needs: exercise and social interaction. Follow the link to read the article.

I'll let you know.
clipped from www.nytimes.com
Exercising with Wii Fit is like having a Bob Harper or a Denise Austin who talks back — gently cajoling you through exercises, praising, nudging, even reminding you to eat a banana once in a while. It also lets you see how you stack up against friends or family members; each user creates a cartoony avatar called a “Mii.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Playbook for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Follow the link to get your free copy.
clipped from www.alz.org

Tackle the challenges of caregiving with this free football style "playbook" by Frank Broyles, former Athletic Director of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. The Playbook is an engaging, how-to guide written for those who care for someone with Alzheimer's. Coach Broyles cared for his late wife Barbara, who had Alzheimer's disease.

“My wife Betty is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. The minute I received the ‘Playbook,’ I sat down and read it word for word. What a huge blessing for me to find a straight forward, 'been there’ account of what lies ahead.
Thank you!"
John Cater
Richmond, Texas
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Caring for your Parents on PBS

clipped from www.pbs.org

As the population ages, many adult children are grappling with an unprecedented social, cultural, economic, and personal revolution as they transition into the primary caregiver role for their aging parents. Produced, written, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael Kirk, Caring for Your Parents is a moving two-hour special that draws much-needed attention to this universal reality.

Image of father and son
The first 90-minutes of Caring for Your Parents underscores today's struggle to keep parents at home

Immediately after the 90-minute broadcast, medical correspondent Dr. Art Ulene leads "A Conversation About Caring." This half-hour panel discussion offers concrete advice and guidance on how to start the conversation‒often the most difficult step in caregiving.

Caring for Your Parents is a Kirk Documentary Group, Ltd. Production for WGBH Boston.
(check local listings)
Producer's Interview
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