Exercise and Alzheimer’s Disease

As revealed in the Journal of Biological Chemistry “Paper of the Week,” Ayae Kinoshita, a researcher at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, exercise is of great significance in fighting against Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease mostly occurs in individuals who are above 65 years of age and is one of the common causes of dementia. This disease is attributed to a number of factors that include the lack of regular exercise as well as an unhealthy diet that includes excess fats.

The research done by Kinoshita included a comparative analysis of voluntary exercise, diet control, and a combination of exercise and diet control in a mouse model with Alzheimer’s disease. Results indicated that regular exercise was of more benefit in reducing formation of β-amyloid—typical characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease — compared to diet control. In addition, exercise triumphed over diet control in restoration of memory loss induced by a fat-rich diet in the mice models. On the basis of this research, the Kyoto University expert recommends that the first priority should be given to exercise in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

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Facebook Light for Dementia Patients

According to Medical News Today, there is a version of Facebook called Facebook Light being developed by SINTEF, the largest research organization in Scandinavia. This will enable the elderly and those with dementia to maintain important social contact. This will enable them to maintain their level of functioning longer, according to research and experience.

According to Tone Oderud, a research scientist at SINTEF, the elderly are being excluded from social media today. The user interface is too advanced for many of them. Oderud is working in a multidisciplinary research team to develop a web-based communications application which is simple enough to enable even people with dementia to use it. The goal is to create a simpler and more secure everyday life for elderly and senile people, their relatives and personnel in the community care services.

Furthermore, research scientists believe that contact through social media can improve the quality of health and life for the great numbers of elderly and those with dementia in our society. At the same time, this can ease the burden on therapists and caregivers.

Testing of other web-based communications systems have already been started. They include a “digital diary” and “scrapbook” with personal photos, newspaper cuttings, and other online information. Oderud says that both of these improved communication between both relatives and the community care services in an informal but valuable way.

The article states that the tests showed that constant, simple contact between relatives and the support services improved everybody’s security and at the same time it reduced the time the caregivers needed to follow up concerned relatives. This holds great potential in all fields of caregiving.

A prototype is currently being tested in the city of Drammen in southern Norway.

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, what should be a joyous time for all can be an especially challenging for a person with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their families. According to Dr. Stephen Moelter, associate professor of psychology at University of the Sciences, family members may not know how to react to a person who often repeats the same thing, is confused, or does not recognize the family member.

In order to engage a person with Alzheimer’s disease, he makes the following suggestions:

  1. Family members need to educate themselves about AD and the importance of supporting their loved ones and keeping them safe. There are many resources at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Web site, www.alz.org.
  2. Engaging the person in conversation and keeping them involved in activities is paramount to their health. It should be at their level and it is preferable to let them lead. Keep your tone positive and it is preferable not to challenge a person with AD. That my lead to increased anxiety and confusion. A memory test will not help the situation.
  3. Ask questions about the distant past such as how they spent their holidays as a child  rather than how they spent their holidays as an adult. Encourage reminiscing.
  4. Parents can help their children by giving suggestions to their children of topics to talk about such as hobbies, jobs, or family events. Younger children should be given permission to keep the conversations brief. It is very difficult for children to comprehend Alzheimer’s disease.

You can read the entire article at Medical News Today. Click here. Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a memorable holiday season.

University of Pittsburgh Heinz Chapel

A study done at the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer Disease Research Center, The impact of physical activity on neurocognitive function in adults with cognitive impairment, led by Kirk Erickson, PhD, found that greater amounts of walking are associated with greater gray matter volume, which in turn is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment. The study, published in Neurology, showed that walking 72 blocks was necessary to detect increased gray matter volume, but walking more than 72 blocks did not spare additional volume.

According to Medscape Medical News, Dr. Erickson stated, “These findings are really quite astonishing.  Other studies have previously shown that exercise is related to brain function, but the fact that we found that walking as little as 1 mile a day is related to brain volume 9 years later, and dementia 13 years later, is truly novel and really quite impressive.”

Furthermore, BBC quotes Dr. Erickson, “If regular exercise in midlife could improve brain health and improve thinking and memory in later life, it would be one more reason to make regular exercise in people of all ages a public health imperative.”

If you have not yet started moving, what’s hold you back? Let’s start walking.