In a recent commentary in JAMA Neurology, Elisa de Paula França Resende, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues write about how social determinants of health affect demographic patterns of dementia in the United States. Noting that with an aging population, the prevalence of dementia will increase substantially, Resende and her co-authors write that of the social determinants affecting dementia risk, health and socioeconomics act more strongly than do race or cultural identifiers. I will add here that being female also is involved in dementia risk, as women are at greater risk for it than men. Continue reading
Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be a devastating diagnosis, but most people can lead full, active lives for many years thanks to medications that can control common symptoms, as well as surgical options, speech and physical therapy and lifestyle changes.
Actor Alan Alda, 82, recently revealed he had the condition during an appearance on CBS This Morning. He’s one of about 60,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed with PD each year. More than 10 million people worldwide are living with this progressive neurological disorder, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. There is no cure. Continue reading
For the first time, scientists have found a connection between abnormalities in how the brain breaks down glucose and the severity of the signature amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, as well as the onset of eventual outward symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
World experts in aging for the first time are recommending that everyone age 70 and older have routine brain health screenings.
At a recent conference of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, in St. Louis, a consensus panel examined the importance of early recognition of impaired cognitive health. They concluded that annual memory and reasoning ability evaluation by a physician or health provider is an important step toward enhancing brain health for aging populations throughout the world.
Why do the brains of some older adults look very different than those of their peers? Scientists at Northwestern University say the answer may explain why these elders don’t suffer the same cognitive decline that affects other seniors.
These so-called “SuperAgers,” all age 80 and older, have memories as sharp as those of healthy people 30 years younger, according to a small study by researchers from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. This is the first study to quantify brain differences of SuperAgers and normal older people.
When compared with people of similar ages, the “brain signature” of SuperAgers have a thicker region of the cortex; significantly fewer tangles — a primary marker of Alzheimer’s disease – and a substantial supply of von Economo neurons, which are linked to higher social intelligence.
We spend a lot of time reporting on studies about dementia, Alzheimers, loss of cognitive function, and other issues related to the aging brain. A report last week by NPR’s Michelle Trudeau is a good reminder to take a step back and remember to look for some positive news too.
Trudeau describes a study by a Northwestern University researcher who investigated the memory and recall ability of people age 80 and over. It turns out that some of the participating seniors had memory skills similar to those of 50-year-olds. This uncommon group of “superagers” underwent MRIs for brain analysis. Neuroscientist Emily Rogalski found that their brain cortices, the part responsible for thinking and memory, resembled those of people 20 or 30 years younger. Continue reading