Does Hearing Loss Contribute to Dementia?

It really doesn’t seem fair: Hearing loss, a troublesome fact of life for more than 48 million Americans, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, may increase the risk of cognitive problems and even dementia. By the time Americans reach their 70s, two-thirds have hearing loss.

“The general perception is that hearing loss is a relatively part of aging,” says Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But recent findings, he says, suggest that it may play a much more important role in brain health than we’ve previously thought.

Treating hearing loss more aggressively could help stave off cognitive decline and dementia.  

Lin is the author of several recent studies pointing to a link between hearing and cognitive problems ranging from mild impairment all the way to dementia.

In a 2013 study, he and his colleagues tracked the overall cognitive abilities (including concentration, memory and planning skills) of nearly 2,000 older adults whose average age was 77. After six years, those who began the study with hearing loss severe enough to interfere with conversation were 24 percent more likely than those with normal hearing to see their cognitive abilities diminish. The researchers said, hearing loss seemed to speed up age-related cognitive decline.

Lin and his colleagues monitored the cognitive health of 639 people who were mentally sharp when the study began. The researchers tested the volunteers’ mental abilities regularly, following most for about 12 years, and some for as long as 18 years. The results were striking: The worse the initial hearing loss was, the more likely the person was to develop dementia. Compared with people of normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss had triple the risk.

Lin is quick to point out that simply being at increased risk does not mean a person is certain to develop dementia.

A recent study, led by Isabelle Mosnier of Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris in France, offers more hope. Mosnier studied a group of 94 people ages 65 to 85 with profound deafness in at least one ear. Each received a cochlear implant followed by twice-weekly auditory rehabilitation. More than 80 percent of those with the lowest cognitive scores showed significant improvement one year after implantation, according to the study published March 12 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

“The improvement in cognition was huge — about double that seen with any of the current [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] FDA drugs for treating Alzheimer’s.”

“Every doctor knows that hearing loss can result in cognitive problems, but they still don’t focus on it as a priority when they evaluate someone with suspected dementia — which is a big missed opportunity,” Doraiswamy says. “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market. It should be the first thing we focus on.”

Hearing Aid

4 ways hearing loss can lead to dementia

How might hearing loss contribute to cognitive problems and dementia? Lin suggests four possibilities. The most obvious is a common physiological pathway that contributes to both hearing loss and cognitive decline.

Another possibility has to do with what researchers refer to as “cognitive load” — essentially, that the effort of constantly straining to understand stresses the brain.

“If you put in a lot of effort just to comprehend what you’re hearing, it takes resources that would otherwise be available for encoding [what you hear] in memory,” says Arthur Wingfield, professor of neuroscience at Brandeis University. Research in Wingfield’s lab has documented this effect on a short-term basis. The big question, he says, is whether years of drawing resources away from brain functions such as working memory will eventually reduce the brain’s resilience.

M. Kathleen Pichora-Fuller, a psychologist from the University of Toronto, is conducting research to test the hypothesis that treating hearing loss in those with dementia will help to optimize communication, with positive effects on everyday well-being for the patient and caregivers. “I have no doubt that if a CI [cochlear implant] makes it easier for a person to listen, then they will be able to spend more of their power to do other cognitively demanding tasks.”    

A third factor, Wingfield and Lin suggest, is that hearing loss may affect brain structure in a way that contributes to cognitive problems. Brain imaging studies, Wingfield says, show that older adults with hearing loss have less gray matter in the part of their brain that receives and processes sounds from the ears. “It’s not necessarily that you’re losing brain cells,” he adds. Certain structures of brain cells can shrink when they don’t get enough stimulation. This raises the question, Wingfield says, whether getting clearer speech signals to the brain through use of a modern hearing aid might allow these brain structures to recover their previous size and function.

Finally, it seems very likely that social isolation plays a part. Being hard of hearing tends to isolate people from others: When you have to struggle to converse, you’re less likely to want to socialize in groups or go out to restaurants. And being socially isolated has long been recognized as a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.

Lin and his colleagues have received the first phase of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to plan and develop a definitive clinical trial that will monitor a large group of older adults with hearing loss. Half will get best-practice hearing treatment, and the other half will get what Lin calls “watchful waiting.” Over the following three to five years, researchers will track the participants’ cognitive functions. The results won’t be available until 2020 at the earliest.

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Does Obesity Increase Dementia Risk?

People who have a high body mass index (BMI) are more likely to develop dementia than those with a normal weight, according to a new UCL-led study.

The study, published in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia journal, analyzed data from 1.3 million adults living in the United States and Europe. The researchers also found that people near dementia onset, who then go on to develop dementia, tend to have lower body weight than their dementia-free counterparts.

“The BMI-dementia association observed in longitudinal population studies, such as ours, is actually attributable to two processes,” said lead author of the study, Professor Mika Kivimäki (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health). “One is an adverse effect of excess body fat on dementia risk. The other is weight loss due to pre-clinical dementia. For this reason, people who develop dementia may have a higher-than-average body mass index some 20 years before dementia onset, but close to overt dementia have a lower BMI than those who remain healthy.”

“The new study confirms both the adverse effect of obesity as well as weight loss caused by metabolic changes during the pre-dementia stage.”

Past research on how a person’s weight influences their risk of dementia has produced conflicting results. Some findings have suggested that being obese poses a higher dementia risk, but other studies have linked lower weight to increased dementia incidence.

In this study, researchers from across Europe pooled individual-level data from 39 longitudinal population studies from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and Finland. A total of 1,349,857 dementia-free adults participated in these studies and their weight and height were assessed. Dementia was ascertained using linkage to electronic health records obtained from hospitalization, prescribed medication and death registries.

A total of 6,894 participants developed dementia during up to 38 years of follow-up. Two decades before symptomatic dementia, higher BMI predicted dementia occurrence: each 5-unit increase in BMI was associated with a 16-33% higher risk of this condition (5 BMI units is 14.5kg for a person 5’7″ (170cm) tall, approximately the difference in weight between the overweight and normal weight categories or between the obese and overweight categories). In contrast, the mean level of BMI during pre-clinical stage close to dementia onset was lower compared to that in participants who remained healthy.

In 2015, the number of people with dementia reached almost 45 million, two times more than in 1990. This study suggests that maintaining a healthy weight could prevent, or at least delay, dementia.

Middle age spread raises the risk of dementia by up to a third, a University College London study has found.

A study of more than 1.3 million people found that those with a high body mass index in their 50s were much more likely to develop the neurological condition two decades later.

The research, published in the journal Alzheimer’s And Dementia, found that being overweight leads to a reduced flow of blood to the brain.

Excess body fat is harmful to the cerebrovascular system, the vessels that carry blood to and from the brain. Arteries supply oxygenated blood to the brain, boosting mental function.

Professor Mika Kivimaki, of UCL, explained: “Reduced cerebral flow is obviously one possibility, but there are many other mechanisms, involving for example the quantity and secretory capacity of peripheral white adipose tissue as well as disturbed insulin regulation and its multiple effects on the central nervous system.

“Diabetes, a common consequence of obesity, is associated with numerous metabolic and hemodynamic defects that cause microvascular and macrovascular damage, potentially leading to reduced cerebral flow and impaired vascular reactivity. And so on.

A Cambridge University study published last year found that being overweight in middle-age makes the brain age by 10 years. The study, which scanned 473 brains, found changes in the brain structure of overweight people which are normally seen in those far older.

The volume of white matter – the tissue that connects areas of the brain and allows information to be communicated between regions – shrunk far more in those with a Body Mass Index above 25.

Human brains naturally shrink with age, but scientists are increasingly recognizing that obesity – already linked to conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease – may also affect the onset and progression of brain ageing.

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Holiday planning: Alzheimer’s, other dementias create special needs for families

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and families are making plans to

Enjoying the Visit

celebrate them. The hustle and bustle of the season often fills the household with an added measure of stress. Shopping has to be done. Dinner parties and other special functions begin to fill the family schedule. Those things are enough to cause headaches for any family.

But what about families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia? How will they cope with the holidays, when members of their families don’t see the world the same as they once did? What if the added activities elevate the level of anxiety for their loved ones? What should they do?

Two words for families: simplify and prioritize.

“Don’t attempt to do everything you did in the past,” “You will need to simplify and prioritize traditions. It may help to have a family planning session, including young children, well in advance to discuss everyone’s needs, expectations and roles.”

One way to simplify and prioritize, is to put everything on a large kitchen calendar.

“Before you write a party or event on the calendar, make sure you really want to attend and that it is worth the effort. The fewer events, the fewer things you have to make plans for, which frees up valuable time.

The family caregivers see the changes in their loved ones. Family members who come around infrequently may not be prepared to see their ailing loved ones in their current condition.  An open line of communication is important.

“Prepare your visitors for changes in the mood or the behavior of the person with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.“Let them know what time and what type of visit are best for that person and for you. Share communication techniques with your visitors. And, be sure to turn off the television. It’s important to remember to be calm and quiet. It’s also wise to prepare distractions beforehand. Old family photos, old scrapbooks, folding clothes, wrapping pennies, matching buttons, matching socks are things that should be in your bag of tricks to have ready should a distraction be needed, if your loved one gets upset or agitated.”

“Learn to say ‘yes’ to offers of help, such as shopping, wrapping, writing cards or preparing your favorite recipe. Keep this practice of saying ‘yes’ even after the holidays are over.”

“Do something special for yourself,”  “Go out for lunch or shopping with a friend or family member. Schedule a manicure, a hair dressing appointment or a massage before or after the holidays. Put yourself high on your gift list. Get as much sleep as possible. Exercise as much as possible. Laugh. Eat breakfast. Try to relax every now and then. Close your eyes and imagine you are somewhere quiet and peaceful, like at the beach. Use all of your senses to focus on it. When you take care of yourself, you are taking care of your loved one.”

And, change the way you’ve handled holidays in the past.

“Avoid those traditions which bring more awareness of loss than pleasure.” “Focus on traditions which still bring joy and warmth. Try to remember that things can’t be exactly like they were. Life has changed for you. So, you do not have to live up to either the expectations you sense in others or those you have of yourself. Set your own limits early and be clear about them to others. There will be other holidays, when your hands won’t be so full.”

If planned out well, the holidays can be a time of creating new traditions and new moments of joy for all involved.

“Holidays have long been a time of conflicting emotions.” “Along with stressful and frantic rushing around, there are the beautiful shared occasions with family members and friends. But, when we add to that the care of an Alzheimer patient and the emotional and physical exhaustion of a caregiver, holidays can be overwhelming. Because the holidays, in particular, can be a time to rekindle beautiful memories and to enjoy the moment, it is important to approach them with the understanding that some of the traditions we shared in the past will need to be different.”

As a coping mechanism, Jones says it’s important to focus on the true meaning of the holiday season.

“The holidays are about sharing, caring, giving and loving.” “They are about giving thanks for the past, reliving and giving thanks for those memories. And, as we reflect on our memories and traditions, we are sharing the joy of the past with our parents and grandparents as well as with our future generations.

“When the hustle and bustle and exhaustion of the holidays are over, hopefully, those moments of joy, pleasure, remembering, smiling and loving during the holiday season will have been captured in our memories for many years to come – even as our own children will celebrate the holiday season one day with their families.”

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8 ways to prevent dementia in old age

Here are eight tips for cutting your chances of dementia later in life

With people living longer, the number of people suffering from dementia is expected to double in the next 30 years. There are two major types of dementia — Alzheimer’s disease, where parts of the brain waste away and vascular dementia, caused by inadequate blood flow to the brain. Sufferers experience symptoms such as memory loss and personality change.  “In some cases, it’s genetic,” says health expert Dr Bob Lister.

“Patients with either type of dementia often have parents who suffer from the same condition.”

Research has uncovered ways we can all decrease our risk. “Whatever your genetics, there are techniques to reduce your chances of developing dementia,” says Dr Lister. “Lifestyle is the most important factor in determining if and when these conditions develop.”

 

Do as the Japanese do
Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. “Recent studies have found that nations such as Japan, with diets high in fish, have lower rates of the diseases in addition to longer life expectancies,” says Dr Bob Lister.  Eat cold-water oily fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines, which are packed full of omega-3, or take a supplement.

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Take it easy
If you’re struggling with stress, it might save your future health if you learn to manage it better. A 2010 study of around 1,500 Swedish women found that those who were more stressed in midlife were more likely to develop dementia later.  Other studies suggest depression can lead to dementia. If you’re struggling to cope with stress or are feeling down, you should speak to your GP.

Get better sleep
Getting plenty of shuteye is vital for the health of your brain. Disordered sleep patterns in mid to late life may affect the protein amyloid-beta, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s. “Studies have demonstrated an association between insomnia and the early onset of dementia,” according to Dr Lister.

Cut down on booze and fag
According to research, drinking and smoking can bring forward the onset of Alzheimer’s by up to seven years. “Common habits that can kill off your brain cells include smoking and drinking too much,” Dr Lister says.

– Quitting smoking improves circulation in the brain almost straight away. “And when it comes to boozing, make sure you remember your recommended daily limits — three to four units for men and two to three units for women.

Get out and socialize
Maintaining an active social life can help delay the onset of dementia. “Some scientists believe it may help strengthen the brain’s connections so that they’re more resilient to damage later in life,” says Dr Ridley. “Delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s has the potential to improve people’s quality of life and also helps them live independently for longer.

– If you enjoy socializing, get out and mix with other people more — it could help you live a healthier life.

Limit junk food
According to Dr Lister, a well-balanced diet and a healthy weight are essential in the fight against dementia. Foods like wholegrains and lean meats, which are low in saturated fat, keep cholesterol and blood pressure low. A recent report linked  diabetes, caused by diets that are high in sugar, and Alzheimer’s disease. “There’s evidence that dietary factors can reduce or delay the onset of dementia,” says Dr Lister.

– So eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and swap chocolate bars for healthier snacks to lower the levels of sugar in your body.

Sharpen of your mind
Mental exercise will strengthen the brain — studies have found solving puzzles can reduce dementia onset. Frequent mental activity creates connections between nerve cells in the brain, making them more resistant to deterioration. http://amzn.to/2A6pMNy

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Keep yourself active
Looking after your heart is the first step to protecting your brain. “It’s all about blood flow,” says Alzheimer specialist Jessica Smith. “The brain uses 20% of the oxygen in the blood pumped around your body.”

– Exercise is one way to take care of the heart and brain. But don’t worry about hitting the gym every day. Twenty minutes of any sort of cardiovascular exercise daily will really help improve your health.

 

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These 9 behaviors could cut your dementia risk by 35 percent

Dementia has long been thought of as an inevitable part of aging, but researchers are increasingly learning that’s not quite true.

About a third of dementia cases might actually be avoided by living a lifestyle that better protects your brain.

Dementia is how we describe symptoms that impact memory and lead to a decline in cognitive performance, often in ways that disrupt daily living. There are different brain disorders that cause dementia, but Alzheimer’s is the most common, followed by cerebrovascular disease and Lewy bodies disease.

Around the world, some 47 million people are currently living with dementia — including more than 5 million Americans. The burden of Alzheimer’s alone on families and the health system is difficult to overstate: It’s the most expensive disease in America, costing up to $215 billion per year (more than double that of cancer or heart disease), and it can take a terrible toll on patient’s loved ones.

The number of people with dementia is also expected to triple worldwide by 2050 as populations age.

But there’s some good news: You might be able to modify some of your risk of developing dementia.

A recent Lancet report, by 24 leading dementia researchers from around the world, zeroed in on nine of the best-known lifestyle factors that contribute to the illness and account for more than a third of dementia cases. The takeaway: Addressing these factors might be able to cut our dementia risk by up to 35 percent.

Another bit of good news is that the prevalence rate of dementia has declined in some countries, including in the US. And researchers think it may in part be due to increases in levels of education, which seems to protect people from getting dementia. For a disease many of us fear, the message is hopeful: Dementia is not necessarily an inevitability.

9 ways to cut your dementia risk

Dementia symptoms typically show up in old age, but the brain changes that cause it are thought to develop years earlier. These are things that might help stave off those changes:

1) Check your hearing and get a hearing aid if you need one

It’s not yet clear why, but there’s a strong correlation between even mild hearing loss and an increased risk in cognitive decline and dementia (and the dementia risk goes up with more severe hearing loss). Hearing may be important to dementia because of what study lead author, University College London professor Gill Livingston, called “the use it or lose it model.”

“We get a lot of intellectual stimulation through hearing,” she said, so when a person can’t hear as well their brain may begin to shrink. Researchers think hearing aids could help reduce that risk, but they need better evidence to know that for sure.

2) Keep learning

Less education is also associated with an increased risk of dementia because of something researchers call “cognitive reserve,” or a person’s resistance to assaults on the brain. “Low educational level is thought to result in vulnerability to cognitive decline because it results in less cognitive reserve,” they wrote, “which enables people to maintain function despite brain pathology.”

3) Stop smoking

Smoking is bad for the brain because it degrades cardiovascular health (and interferes the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the brain). Tobacco also contains neurotoxins, which damage the brain.

4) Seek out treatment for depression

It’s still not entirely clear whether depression contributes to dementia, or whether dementia puts people at an increased risk of depression. But the researchers concluded that it’s “biologically plausible” depression boosts a person’s dementia risk because it “affects stress hormones, neuronal growth factors, and hippocampal [brain] volume.” Making sure people are treated for depression could mitigate a person’s dementia risk, and the researchers said antidepressants might also help, but called for better evidence to understand the effects of the medications.

5) Exercise

Exercise is believed to protect the brain by reducing cortisol levels in the body, cutting vascular risk, and increasing the growth of nerve cells that are related to memory. So people who are inactive are at a greater risk of dementia because they don’t get the extra protection exercise confers.

6) Manage high blood pressure

Stress on the circulatory system increases the risk of neurodegeneration, which also contributes to dementia.

7) Be social

Like depression, it’s unclear whether social isolation is a symptom or cause of dementia. “However, evidence is growing that social isolation is a risk factor for dementia and it increases the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and depression,” the researchers wrote.

The theory is that social isolation is similar to not being able to hear, Livingston explained. “You need a cognitively enriched environment to keep the brain in good health, and if don’t see people or can’t hear them, you get less of that stimulation.”

8) Maintain a healthy body weight

Researchers believe obesity causes brain damage because it’s linked with reduced blood flow to the brain and it increases oxidative stress, which is also bad for the brain.

9) Keep your blood sugar in check

People with diabetes are more likely to have dementia. One reason why: Having diabetes means you can no longer control your blood sugars. And having more sugar in your blood stream means more sugar in your organs, including the brain. So just as diabetes can damage other organs in the body, it also damages the brain.

By 2050, an estimated 140 million are expected to be living with dementia

CAT scan of a person’s brain with Alzheimer’s disease. 
 

This list of nine contributors is only the beginning. The scientific community is already learning about other potential contributors to dementia, such as exposure to pollution and lack of sleep.

“So we don’t think this [list of nine things] is everything but this is what we have evidence on now,” said Livingston.

There are other caveats to note about this research. Some of the factors — such as hearing loss, or social isolation — are again associated with dementia, but whether they causedementia isn’t yet clear, and researchers are working to better understand dementia’s causes.

What’s more, not all cases of dementia are preventable; about 7 percent are linked with genetics and can’t be modified with lifestyle changes. And, the researchers wrote, “age, the greatest risk factor for dementia overall, is unmodifiable.”

Even so, Livingston added, people should think about finding ways to cut their dementia risk, and policymakers should think about creating environments that promote health. For example, some communities aren’t walkable, or lack strong tobacco control policies. Making exercise more accessible, and helping people quit their smoking habit, could reduce the dementia burden. Considering what a costly and devastating problem dementia is, we can’t wait for better evidence. And, it seems, even small steps toward living a healthier and more active lifestyle not only boost your overall health, but the health of your brain, too.

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Dementia/Alzheimer’s Recipes

Carrot, turmeric, and ginger soup with cumin roasted chickpeas

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric root, grated (or 1½ teaspoons, ground turmeric)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated (or 1 teaspoon, ground)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ½ teaspoon salt (and more to taste)
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 1¾ pounds peeled and roughly chopped carrots (about 6 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup coconut milk, canned and full fat

For the cumin toasted chickpeas:

  • 1½-2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Roast the chickpeas. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Toss the chickpeas in the oil, cumin, chili, and paprika. Spread them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chickpeas for 35 minutes, or until they’re quite golden brown and a little crispy. Give them a stir a few times during roasting to prevent sticking. Chickpeas can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
  2. To make the soup, heat the coconut oil a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are clear and soft. Add a few tablespoons of water as you go along to prevent the onions from sticking. Add the garlic, turmeric , and ginger, and cook for another two minutes, or until everything is very fragrant.
  3. Add the cinnamon, salt, pepper flakes, carrots, and vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
  4. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes, or until the carrots are totally tender. When the soup is ready, transfer it to a blender (in batches, if necessary), and blend carefully until it’s totally smooth (stand back from the blender, as hot soups tend to spatter). Alternately, you can use an immersion blender to blend the soup till smooth. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add another ½-3/4 cup broth.

PROCEDURE

MAKE THE SAUCE

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.

FOR THE SAFFRON TOMATO SAUCE

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • Large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

    FOR THE MEATBALLS

    • 1 and 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    •  teaspoon grated nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
    • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
    • All-purpose flour, for dusting
    • Coconut oil or olive oilMAKE THE MEATBALLS
      1. Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.
      2. In a mixing bowl, put squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute. May be prepared several hours in advance, up to a day.
      3. With hands, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.
      4. Garnish meatballs with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion.

      Serving suggestions:

      • Couscous
      • Brown rice
      • Roasted tomatoes
      • Pilaf

        Guidelines for creating recipes for Alzheimer’s – Use organic and fresh ingredients whenever possible. If nothing else, organic food is less likely to contain the chemical pesticides and preservatives that are common on “traditionally grown” foods. Stay away from prepared foods that contain artificial sweeteners (aspartame in particular), artificial colors, MSG (and hydrolyzed vegetable protein), and any other artificial ingredient. Many, if not all of the substances named in this paragraph are suspected of causing damage to brain cells and contributing to dementia.

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Amazing Benefits of Drinking Tea Decreases Dementia/Alzheimer’s by 50%

Thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, drinking tea is linked to lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Now, a new study finds its benefits don’t end there. It found that tea drinkers cut their chances of dementia in half.

And if Alzheimer’s runs in your family, tea is even more protective. People who inherit ApoE4, the so-called “Alzheimer’s gene,” reduce their risk 86% by drinking tea regularly.

Researchers from the Yon Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore followed 957 adults for more than five years. All the subjects were 55 or older.

During the study, 72 of the participants developed some form of cognitive decline. Scientists found that people who drank tea at least once a day had a 50% lower risk of memory problems.

Those who drank green tea reduced their risk by 43%. People who drank black or oolong tea reduced their risk by 53%.

This is particularly important for people with a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. Having one copy of the ApoE4 gene gives you a 25% chance of developing Alzheimer’s. People with two copies of the gene (about 2% of the population) have a nine in 10 chance.

Dr. Lei said tea’s brain-protective effects are “due to the bioactive compounds in tea leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins, and L-theanine.3

“These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration,” he said.

Tea brewed directly from the leaves has more beneficial compounds than tea made using tea bags, researchers said.

And if you are worried about Alzheimer’s, there is something else you should know…

The decades’ worth of research on one natural herb is impressive to say the least. And Big Pharma knows it… They’re trying to turn this extract into a drug. Go here to get all the details.

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Sense of Smell vs. Dementia

Older people with a poor sense of smell have a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, US research has shown.

The discovery raises the prospect of using “sniffing sticks” to flag individuals needing closer monitoring in the next five years.

Though humans lack the acute sense of some animals such as dogs, they can distinguish up to a trillion different odors.

The brain’s ability to sort and recognize smells may provide a way of spotting early damage caused by neurodegenerative disease, the research suggests.

But experts warned that impaired smell detection was not always a symptom of early dementia.

Almost 3000 adults aged 57 to 85 took part in the long-term US study, which involved waving “sniffing sticks” with various smell flavors in front of their noses.

Those with a “normal” sense of smell could identify at least four out of five common odors.

Compared with this group, people who failed the test were more than twice as likely to develop dementia five years later.

The vast majority of those tested, 78 per cent, had a “normal” sense of smell and could accurately identify the scents.

But 14 per cent could name just three out of five, 5 per cent could identify only two, and 2 per cent could recognize only one.

Just 1 per cent of participants were not able to name a single smell.

Five years after the initial test, almost every participant who was unable to name any of the smells had been diagnosed with dementia.

Nearly 80 per cent of those who provided only one or two correct answers had developed the condition.

There was a dose-dependent effect, the study found, with dementia rates rising in step with increasingly poor smell sense.

Lead scientist Professor Jayant Pinto, from the University of Chicago, said: “These results show that the sense of smell is closely connected with brain function and health.

“We think smell ability specifically, but also sensory function more broadly, may be an important early sign, marking people at greater risk for dementia.

“Loss of the sense of smell is a strong signal that something has gone wrong and significant damage has been done. This simple smell test could provide a quick and inexpensive way to identify those who are already at high risk.”

The findings are reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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2017 Dementia/Alzheimer’s Information

Dementiachronic, usually progressive deterioration of intellectual capacity associated with the widespread loss of nerve cells and the shrinkage of brain tissue. Dementia is most commonly seen in the elderly (senile dementia), though it is not part of the normal aging process and can affect persons of any age. In 2005 researchers reported that some 24.3 million people worldwide were living with dementia. In 2010 this figure rose to an estimated 35.6 million, a number that was expected to double by 2030, in part because of anticipated increases in life expectancy in many countries.

Histopathologic image of neuritic plaques in the cerebral cortex in a patient with Alzheimer …

The most common irreversible dementia is Alzheimer disease. This condition often begins with memory loss or with subtle impairments in other cognitive functions. These changes may manifest initially as simple absentmindedness or forgetfulness or as minor problems with judgment, language, or perception. As dementia progresses, memory loss and cognitive impairment broaden in scope until the individual can no longer remember basic social and survival skills or function independently. Language, spatial or temporal orientation, judgment, perception, and other cognitive capacities decline, and personality changes may occur. Dementia is also present in other degenerative brain diseases, including Pick disease and Parkinson disease.

The second most common cause of dementia is hypertension (high blood pressure) or other vascular conditions. This type of dementia, called multi-infarct, or vascular, dementia results from a series of small strokes that progressively destroy the brain. Dementia can also be caused by Huntington diseasesyphilismultiple sclerosisacquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and some types of encephalitis. Treatable dementias occur in hypothyroidism, other metabolic diseases, and some malignant tumours. Treatment of the underlying disease in these cases may inhibit the progress of dementia.

Dementia is a condition characterized by the global impairment of intellectual capacity. Common early symptoms include personality changes, loss of interests, impairment of attention and concentration, difficulty with comprehension, and difficulty in handling abstract concepts. Later, increasing impairment of the capacity to retain new information, social withdrawal, unnecessary repetition of…
In addition to the mental symptoms that may accompany pellagra, other mental disorders more specifically related to the consumption of alcohol include mild dementia, which may persist for up to six months after cessation of alcohol ingestion, and a relatively uncommon chronic brain disorder called Marchiafava-Bignami disease, which involves the degeneration of the corpus callosum, the tissue…
By the early 21st century it Alzheimer’s was recognized as the most common form of dementia among older persons. An estimated 47.5 million people worldwide were living with dementia in 2016; that figure was expected to increase to 75.6 million by 2030.

There are three recognized stages of Alzheimer disease: preclinical, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer dementia. For clinical diagnosis the two most relevant stages are MCI and dementia. Recognition of the preclinical stage acknowledges that the Alzheimer disease process begins before symptoms are apparent and anticipates advances in diagnostic testing that may eventually enable diagnosis at the preclinical stage.

MCI often is subdivided into different types, namely amnestic and nonamnestic. One of the first symptom’s marking the transition from normal aging to Alzheimer disease is forgetfulness. This transitional stage represents amnestic MCI and is characterized by noticeable dysfunction in memory with retention of normal cognitive ability in judgment, reasoning, and perception. In nonamnestic MCI, impairments in cognitive functions related to attention, perception, and languagepredominate over deficits in memory. However, as MCI progresses to Alzheimer disease, memory loss becomes more severe, and language, perceptual, and motor skills deteriorate. Mood becomes unstable, and the individual tends to become irritable and more sensitive to stress and may become intermittently angry, anxious, or depressed. Those changes mark the transition to Alzheimer dementia, which in its advanced stages is characterized by unresponsiveness and loss of mobility and control of body functions; death ensues after a disease course lasting from 2 to 20 years.

About 10 percent of those who develop the disease are younger than 60 years of age. These cases, referred to as early-onset familial Alzheimer disease, appear to result from an inherited genetic mutation. The majority of cases of Alzheimer disease, however, develop after age 60 (late-onset); they usually occur sporadically—in individuals with no family history of the disease—although a genetic factor has been identified that is thought to predispose some of these individuals to the disorder. Rosacea, a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin, is also associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer disease, particularly among individuals aged 60 or older.

Neuropathology

Neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles

The presence of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain are used to diagnose Alzheimer disease in autopsy. Neuritic plaques—also called senile, dendritic, or amyloid plaques—consist of deteriorating neuronal material surrounding deposits of a sticky protein called amyloid beta (or beta-amyloid). This protein is derived from a larger molecule called amyloid precursor protein, which is a normal component of nerve cells. Neurofibrillary tangles are twisted protein fibres located within nerve cells. These fibres consist of a protein, called tau, that normally occurs in neurons. When incorrectly processed, tau molecules clump together and form tangles.

Both neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which also may be found in smaller amounts in the brains of healthy elderly persons, are thought to interfere in some way with normal cellular functioning. However, it is not known whether the plaques and tangles are a cause or a consequence of the disease. Research in animals suggests that amyloid-beta plaques form naturally in the brain in response to infection, serving to entrap microorganisms. The idea that amyloid beta serves as a natural antibiotic implies that Alzheimer disease may be in some way linked to brain infection, plaque formation being either excessive in older individuals or abnormal in some other way.

Other features have been noted in the brains of many persons with Alzheimer disease. One of these features is a deficiency of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine; neurons containing acetylcholine play an important role in memory.

Hyperinsulinemia

Abnormal insulin signaling in the brain has been associated with Alzheimer disease. Under normal conditions, insulin binds to insulin receptors, which are expressed in great numbers on the membranes of neurons, to facilitate neuronal uptake of glucose, which the brain depends upon to carry out its many functions. However, neurons in the brains of patients with Alzheimer disease have very few, if any, insulin receptors and therefore are resistant to the actions of insulin. As a result of the inability of insulin to bind to the neurons, it accumulates in the blood serum, leading to a condition known as hyperinsulinemia (abnormally high serum levels of insulin). Hyperinsulinemia in the brain is suspected to stimulate inflammation that in turn stimulates the formation of neuritic plaques. Abnormal insulin signaling in the brain has also been associated with nerve cell dysfunction and death, decreased levels of acetylcholine, and decreased levels of transthyretin, a protein that normally binds to and transports amyloid-beta proteins out of the brain.

Genetic variants

Underlying genetic defects have been identified for both late- and early-onset cases of Alzheimer disease. The identification and characterization of these defects has provided important insight into the pathology of Alzheimer disease and has informed the development of new approaches to diagnosis and treatment.

A defect in a gene known as APP, which codes for amyloid precursorprotein, may increase the production or deposition of amyloid beta, which forms the core of neuritic plaques. This gene, however, is responsible for only a very small percentage of all early-onset cases of the disease.

A defect in the gene that directs production of apolipoprotein E (ApoE), which is involved in cholesterol transport, may be a factor in the majority of late-onset Alzheimer cases. There are three forms of this gene—APOE2APOE3, and APOE4—two of which, APOE3 and APOE4, are associated with an increased risk of disease and influence the age of onset of disease.

Studies employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown that individuals between ages 20 and 35 who carry the APOE4variant frequently have increased activity in the hippocampus of the brain. This region plays a central role in the formation and recall of memories and is involved in the production of emotions. Scientists suspect that in some APOE4 carriers hyperactivity of the hippocampus early in life leads to this region’s later dysfunction, which contributes to the development of Alzheimer disease. Brain imaging using fMRI in young APOE4 carriers may be useful for identifying those carriers at greatest risk of disease.

Genetic screening to determine the status of a gene known as TOMM40(translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 40 homolog [yeast]) can be used to provide additional information about the risk of Alzheimer disease and to predict the age of onset. There are several forms of this gene, which differ in their length due to variations that influence the number of repeats of a specific base-pair segment within the gene sequence. In persons who have inherited variants of TOMM40, the occurrence of a long form of the gene, in conjunction with either APOE3or APOE4, correlates with onset of the disease before age 80. In contrast, short forms of TOMM40 were found to correlate with onset of the disease after age 80.

Several other genes have been implicated in Alzheimer disease. Examples include CD33, which encodes a cell surface protein of the same name; PICALM, which encodes a protein involved in endocytosis (the cellular uptake of substances); and CD2AP, which encodes a protein that interacts with the cell membrane and may have a role in endocytosis.

Early Detection

Improved detection and treatments for Alzheimer disease are areas of concentrated scientific investigation. Progress in early detection has been of special significance, underlying important changes in diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer disease. The first guidelines, implemented in 1984, restricted clinical diagnosis to the final stage of dementia, generally with diagnosis confirmed on autopsy. However, in 2011, as a result of improvements in diagnostic methods and in scientists’ understanding of the pathophysiology of Alzheimer disease, new guidelines that accommodated diagnosis at three different stages of the disease (preclinical, MCI, and dementia) were developed, allowing for more rapid incorporation of new or experimental diagnostic technologies.

Early detection of Alzheimer disease is based largely on advances in diagnostic imaging, on the discovery of biomarkers (physiological changes specific to and indicative of a disease), and on the development of methods sensitive enough to measure those biomarkers. Several detection methods being developed for Alzheimer disease include blood tests to measure increased expression of a protein present in certain white blood cells and positron-emission tomography to detect increased levels of an enzyme in cerebrospinal fluid.

A test designed to analyze spinal fluid for certain biomarker signatures indicative of Alzheimer disease has shown promise in early detection of the disease. Fluid for the test is collected via lumbar puncture (spinal tap). The sensitivity of the test is such that it can identify persons who are affected by mild cognitive impairment and hence are at the greatest risk of later developing the disease, thereby providing time for intervention strategies to delay its onset.

Lifestyle Factors And Prevention

A number of lifestyle factors that benefit cardiovascular health are associated with decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. Examples of such factors include regular physical exercise, a healthy diet, and low stress. In contrast, in persons genetically predisposed to Alzheimer disease, diets high in fat and sugar are suspected to negatively affect the brain by facilitating the development of neuritic plaques.

Dietary substances such as vitamin Bcaffeine, and alcohol also have been implicated in reducing the risk of Alzheimer disease. For example, a clinical trial involving a small number of subjects found that vitamin B12can slow the rate of brain atrophy in some persons with MCI. This effect is attributed to the ability of vitamin B12 to control blood levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine. Unusually high levels of homocysteine have been associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer disease. In studies of Alzheimer mice, intake of caffeine at concentrations equivalent to five cups of coffee in humans resulted in decreased levels of amyloid-beta proteins in the brain and blood. The effects of caffeine were strongest in mice displaying mild cognitive impairment. The substance also was found to improve memory significantly in these animals. In persons aged 75 and older who have normal cognitive function, the consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol, defined as being between 8 and 14 drinks per week (one drink equals 0.5 ounce of 100 percent alcohol), has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by nearly 40 percent. However, in persons in the transitional stage to Alzheimer disease, who have symptoms of MCI, alcohol consumption is linked to accelerated progression toward dementia.

Another factor associated with a decreased risk for Alzheimer disease is rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the connective tissues of the body. A protein known as GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor), which is present in arthritis patients, is believed to stimulate the production of immune cells that destroy the amyloid-beta proteins. In studies of mice affected by cognitive impairment mimicking Alzheimer disease in humans, treatment with GM-CSF reduced the burden of amyloid plaques in the brain and was associated with improved performance on memory and learning tests. A form of GM-CSF known as sargramostim, which is used in the treatment of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, is being investigated as a form of treatment for persons with Alzheimer disease.

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The Miracle Worker

DEMENTIA – including Alzheimer’s disease – causes symptoms including memory loss and problems thinking. However, taking a particular type of omega-3 supplement could help brain function.

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