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Personal Music Playlists May Reduce Medication Use With Dementia

Nursing home residents with dementia who listen to a personalized music playlist may need less psychotropic medication and have improved behavior, a recent study suggests.

The individualized music program designed for nursing homes, called Music and Memory, didn’t improve mood problems, but patients who listened to music tailored to their tastes and memories did need less anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medication, researchers found.

“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias can result in aggressive or other difficult behaviors, which affect people’s lives and take a toll on their caregivers,” said lead author Kali Thomas, an assistant professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
“We think that familiar music may have a calming or pleasurable effect and reduce the need for caregivers to use medications to control dementia behaviors,” Thomas told Reuters Health by email.

The potential of this kind of intervention was illustrated in the 2014 documentary “Alive Inside,” which shows nursing home residents with dementia moving, singing and engaging with others while listening to their favorite music, the study team writes in American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

But the effects have never been tested to see if the intervention is evidence-based, the authors write.

To determine what the program accomplishes, the researchers implemented Music and Memory in 98 nursing homes with a total of about 13,000 residents with Alzheimer’s disease or non-Alzheimer’s dementia and followed a roughly equal number of residents with dementia in 98 nursing homes without the program for comparison.

In the Music and Memory program, nursing home staff are trained to create music playlists for residents based on each patient’s personal history and music preferences.

At the start of the study in 2012, the researchers used records to assess patients’ behavioral problems, depressed mood and their use of ant-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications. The same assessments were done in 2013, after the experiment was over.

Among the facilities included in the music program, the typical proportion of residents who discontinued anti-psychotic medications in a six-month period was 17.6 percent prior to the program’s implementation, and rose to 20.1 percent after the program. In the comparison homes without the program, this proportion remained stable at about 15 percent.

Similarly, the proportion of people discontinuing anti-anxiety medications rose from 23.5 percent to 24.4 percent, while in the comparison group discontinuation rates dropped from 25 percent to 20 percent over the same period.

Nursing homes using the music program also reported greater improvements in residents’ behavior. The proportion of residents with reduced dementia-related behavioral problems rose from 51 percent to 57 percent, while the comparison group remained the same.

The cost of the program depends on the size of the facility and ranges from $250 to $1,000 for staff training, plus $200 per year for program support, the authors note. Some participants also receive a “starter kit” including an iPod for their music, or ask family members to provide them with an iPod to use in the program.

The benefits of music for people with dementia go beyond behavior management, said Orii McDermott, a senior research fellow at the University of Nottingham in the UK, who was not involved in the study.

“Sharing favorite music or taking part in music activities offer social opportunities for people with dementia,” said McDermott, adding that social interaction is extremely important because the progression of dementia often leads to isolation.
“For busy care home staff, finding out each resident’s preferred music may feel like a time consuming task,” McDermott said. However, “people with dementia find individualized music interventions meaningful and improve their quality of life – so it will be a time well spent in the long run,” she noted.
“The population of older adults with dementia, in particular those residing in nursing homes, is large and is growing,” Thomas said. “This study suggests that Music and Memory may be one intervention that holds promise.”

By Madeline Kennedy     Fri May 19, 2017     Reuters Health
SOURCE:    bit.ly/2pEIEhN       American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, online April 14, 2017          www.reuters.com
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Traffic exposure may increase risk of dementia, study finds

Dementia affects tens of millions of people worldwide. Common risk factors include age, family history, and genetics. But new research points to an additional factor that might affect the chances of developing dementia: living near a major, busy road.

Living next to a major roadway may increase the chances of developing dementia.

Dementia describes a wide range of brain illnesses that progressively lead to the loss of cognitive functioning. It affects reasoning, memory, behavior, and the ability to perform daily tasks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) report that approximately 47.5 million adults are currently affected by dementia worldwide.

The most common risk factors are age, family history, and hereditary background. While these are outside of one’s control, there are additional risk factors that could be controlled. These include avoiding head trauma and other conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels, such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Emerging research highlights a new element that might influence the chances of developing dementia – living close to major, busy roads, such as highways or motorways.

Examining the link between major road proximity and dementia

Researchers from Public Health Ontario, Canada – in collaboration with several Canadian universities and Health Canada – have set out to examine the link between residential proximity to major roads and the incidence of dementia in Ontario.

Their results were published in The Lancet.

More specifically, the team, led by Dr. Hong Chen, looked at three major neurodegenerative diseases: dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

The scientists were motivated by existing research that has previously linked living near a major road to negative effects on the residents’ cognition. Some studies have suggested that exposure to traffic and its side effects, such as noise and pollution, might contribute to neurodegenerative pathology.

In this new study, the Canadian researchers followed a total of 6.6 million Ontarians aged between 20 and 85 for over a decade, between 2001 and 2012.

The team used postcodes to determine the proximity of the residents to major roadways. The researchers also used the participants’ medical records to see if they developed dementia, Parkinson’s, or MS over the years.

Almost everyone (95 percent of the participants) in the study lived within 1 kilometer of a major road. Over the 10-year period, the researchers identified 243,611 cases of dementia, 31,577 cases of Parkinson’s disease, and 9,247 cases of MS.

traffic proximity

One in 10 dementia cases attributable to traffic exposure

Researchers found no association between living next to a major roadway and developing Parkinson’s disease or MS. However, dementia was found to be more common among people who lived closer to busy roads.

The study revealed that up to 1 in 10 cases of dementia among residents living within 50 meters of a major road could be attributed to traffic exposure. Additionally, the closer people lived to the busy roads, the higher their risk of developing dementia was. 

Between 7 and 11 percent of the dementia cases identified were attributable to major road proximity.

The risk decreased the farther away people lived from the main road. The results suggest that the risk of dementia was 7 percent higher for those living within 50 meters of a major roadway. This dropped to 4 percent for those living within 50-100 meters, 2 percent for those at 101-200 meters, and there was no increase in risk for those living more than 200 meters away.

Dr. Chen and team also found a link between long-term exposure to two common pollutants – nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter – and the incidence of dementia.

Although the link between dementia and road proximity weakened when researchers adjusted for these two pollutants, this association did not fully account for the entire near-road effect. This suggests that other pollutants, or even factors such as noise, could play a role.

Findings ‘open up crucial global health concern’

Strengths of this study include its large scale, as well as the access that researchers had to detailed medical and residential information over a period of 10 years. The study also adjusted for factors including socioeconomic status, education, body mass index, and smoking.

Limitations of the study include its observational nature, which means that it could not establish causality. Furthermore, the pollution exposure was estimated based on the postcode, so the study could not consider the pollution that each individual may have been exposed to.

The authors highlight the significance of their study in light of the growing prevalence of dementia, and the limited information researchers and healthcare professionals have on its causes and prevention.

“Our study suggests that busy roads could be a source of environmental stressors that could give rise to the onset of dementia. Increasing population growth and urbanization have placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden. More research to understand this link is needed, particularly into the effects of different aspects of traffic, such as air pollutants and noise.” Dr. Hong Chen

Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas from the University of Montana – who did not collaborate with researchers on this study but who has conducted extensive research on the link between air pollutants and brain pathology – also weighed in on the findings.

The mounting evidence linking dementia and road traffic, she says, “opens up a crucial global health concern for millions of people […] The health repercussions of living close to heavy traffic vary considerably among exposed populations, given that traffic includes exposures to complex mixtures of environmental insults […] We must implement preventive measures now, rather than take reactive actions decades from now.”

BY JOYO TENANAN · JANUARY 6, 2017
Written by Ana Sandoiu
source:      www.medicalnewstoday     baetrice.org


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A Simple Test Could Help Identify Thinking Problems

Test identifies smaller brain volume and problems with thinking.

A simple saliva test could help identify thinking problems in older people, a new study finds.

The study found a connection between the stress hormone cortisol and thinking skills.

Higher cortisol levels in the evening were linked to worse thinking skills and smaller brain volumes.

Dr Lenore J. Launer, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Studies have shown that depression increases the risk for dementia, but we don’t know much about how this relationship occurs.
High levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been found in people with depression, and the theory is that cortisol has a toxic effect on the hippocampus area of the brain, which plays an important role in memory.”

The study included data from 4,244 people who did not have dementia.

cortisol test saliva

Dr Launer said:

“Since this study just looked at a snapshot in time, we don’t know which came first: the high levels of cortisol or the loss of brain volume.
It’s possible that the loss of brain volume that can occur with aging leads to a lesser ability of the brain to stop the effects of cortisol, which in turn leads to further loss of brain cells.
Understanding these relationships may help us develop strategies to reduce the effects of cortisol on the brain and thinking skills.”

The research was published in the journal Neurology (Mirjam et al., 2015).

source: PsyBlog


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“Hidden Caves” in the Brain Open Up During Sleep to Wash Away Toxins

A new study published in the prestigious journal, Science, has found that the brain may wash away toxins built up over the day during sleep.

The research discovered “hidden caves” inside the brain, which open up during sleep, allowing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to flush out potential neurotoxins, like β-amyloid, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

To reach their discovery, researchers injected mice’s brains with a dye and monitored the flow while they were awake, asleep and anaesthetised (Xie et al., 2013).

One of the study’s authors, Dr Maiken Nedergaard, explained the results:

    “We were surprised by how little flow there was into the brain when the mice were awake. It suggested that the space between brain cells changed greatly between conscious and unconscious states.”

For a long time the real physiological purpose of sleep has remained a mystery.

We know that lack of sleep causes all kinds of psychological problems like poor learning, decision-making and so on.

We also know that animals that are chronically deprived of sleep will eventually die: flies or rodents in days to weeks, humans within months or years.

Everyone who has ever enjoyed a blissfully good night’s sleep knows just how restorative it can be, but the actual physiological process wasn’t clear.

This study, though, suggests that the flushing out of toxins by the CSF may be central to sleep’s wondrous powers.

The interstitial spaces in the mouse’s brain took up only 14% of the brain’s volume while it was awake. Yet, while it slept, this increased by almost two-thirds to take up fully 23% of the brain’s total volume.

The difference might seem slight, but the actual physiological effects are profound.

During the day, the CSF mostly covers the surface of the brain. During sleep, though, the CSF is able to move deep inside.

The effect is that potential neurotoxins, like β-amyloid, are cleared twice as fast during sleep as during waking.

The results of this study–if they hold in humans–may help to explain why many neurological diseases, like strokes and dementia, are associated with problems sleeping.

It could be that lack of sleep, and restriction of the brain’s cleaning system, may cause toxic metabolites to building up, leading to long-term damage.

source: PsyBlog


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What Are AGEs?

AGEs are toxic compounds. Their full name is Advanced Glycation Endproducts, and they form naturally in small amounts in our body. Until recently, scientists thought AGEs were just normal byproducts of our metabolic system linked to sugar.


New studies show that AGEs are present in large quantities in most of the foods we eat today. As new modes of food processing, applied by food industries, or popular methods of cooking expose food to dry-heat to make it safe, digestible and tasty, they also help raise AGEs to levels dangerous for the body.


Why do we consume foods that contain substances known to be toxic? It’s simple. AGEs are known to bring to raw nutrients those positive attributes we associate with our favorite meals. AGEs are responsible for the taste, appearance and the smell of foods we enjoy – the grilled burger and pizza and soft drinks and fried chicken; the bacon and corn chips and cookies. AGEs are at work whenever cooked food attracts our attention, awakens our senses and encourages us to take yet another bite, even when we’re already full. How many of us would consider eating these same foods raw? But before you think of thanking AGEs for all the pleasure they have given you over the years, consider this:

More than any other single dietary component, AGEs are now found to be linked to more diseases and health problems, including diabetesheart and kidney disease, but also dementiaAlzheimer’s diseasestrokearthritis,osteoporosisskin aging, poor wound healing, and periodontal disease.


Why are AGEs toxic?

1. AGEs are oxidants. They corrode our body the same way rust damages metal in a machine if it’s allowed to build up. Oxidation depletes our natural reserves of anti-oxidants, which are the “good guys”. Anti-oxidants are the substances that can neutralize the corrosive effects of AGEs, but only up to a point.
2. The body reacts to AGEs the same way it fights an infection, except that its capacity is limited. Our native defenses normally eliminate AGE toxins by mobilizing a low level of generalized inflammation, which is our body’s normal reaction to ”irritants”, such as bacteria. For example, a person with an infection – an “irritant” to the body – may experience a rise in body temperature – a “fever”, which indicates inflammation, but this will go away soon. Food AGEs, like bacteria, can also trigger inflammation but this time – since they come in often – it may not go away soon, and over time it can erode our self-defenses, as AGEs pile up in the body, like junk. And they continue to cause more oxidation (rusting) and inflammation (low “fever”), which may not become noticed for many years.

At worst, if inflammation is prolonged it will slowly damage every organ in the body – Most chronic diseases are associated with inflammation and high levels of AGEs. At best, AGEs speed up our body’s and mind’s aging

3. Animal fats are easily oxidized by AGEs.   When this happens, AGE-lipids from our food tend to stick to our arteries and cause blockage, high blood pressure or heart trouble. Or they settle in our waistline as AGE-fat, causing inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin, a vital hormone, becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar and its levels become abnormally high. Excessive body weight is closely associated with this condition, frequently leading to diabetes.
4. AGEs also can cause proteins to stick together. With years, AGE-proteins become rigid. This is one reason why joints, muscles and tendons become stiff and inflexible over time. This is why blood vessels become thick and inelastic, a condition we call “hardening of the arteries”, which leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.


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8 Astonishing Benefits of Walking

Enjoy a better sex life, save money on medication, protect your brain and more—for free.
By Leah Zerbe

Sneak out for a walk on your lunch break; walk around the block during commercial breaks when you’re watching your favorite TV shows.

Walking is known to melt your thighs and perk up your bum. But its healthy resumé boasts some even more impressive accomplishments, from cash savings to increasing the odds of survival for breast cancer patients. A lot of attention has been paid to getting in 10,000 steps of walking, jogging, or running a day. A 40-minute, two-mile walk will chip away half of those steps, and everyday activities can usually accumulate the other half.

Here are eight reasons to take those extra steps and make walking a part of your healthy lifestyle:

# 1: It deflects diabetes. New research links brisk walking to a significant risk reduction for developing type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is a predictor of this disease, even in people with normal glucose levels. But a recent British study found that people with a family history of the disease who walked briskly, or performed some other type of moderate to vigorous activity on a routine basis, improved insulin sensitivity.

#2: It soups up your sex life. Sex and exercise go hand-in-hand. In a study of women between 45 and 55 years old, those who exercised, including brisk walking, reported not only greater sexual desire, but better sexual satisfaction, too.

#3: It saves you on gym costs. In this icky economy, people are cutting excesses, and that includes trips to the health club. In an American Heart Association survey, a quarter of the 1,000 people questioned had axed their gym memberships sometime in the previous six months. But no matter where you live, there’s a place you can pound the pavement or trek a trail to experience the benefits of walking, and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity walking a week can help manage stress and prevent heart disease. Moderate walking equals an average of about 100 steps per minute. San Diego State University researchers suggest using a pedometer and aiming for 1,000 steps in 10 minutes, and working up to 3,000 steps in 30 minutes.

#4: It can get you off meds. Using data from the National Walkers’ Health Study, including more than 32,000 women and 8,000 men, researchers found that those who took the longest weekly walks, not necessarily accumulated the most mileage per week, were more likely to use less medication. This shouldn’t deter you from taking shorter walks more frequently throughout the week, but you should consider squeezing in a longer walk once a week, perhaps on the weekend when you have more spare time.

#5: It can help fade fibromyalgia pain. This chronic condition affects more than 4 percent of the population, and often involves pain, fatigue, and brain fog. A small study found that in women 32 to 70 years old, those who walked 60 minutes, performed light exercises, and stretched three times a week for 18 weeks reported significant improvements in walking and mental capacity, and were less tired and depressed.

#6: It helps you beat breast cancer. Women who walk regularly after being diagnosed with breast cancer have a 45 percent greater chance of survival than those who are inactive, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Yale researchers heading up the study also found that those who exercised in the year before being diagnosed were 30 percent more likely to survive, compared to women who didn’t exercise leading up to their diagnosis.

#7: Strolling reduces stroke risk. Walking briskly for just 30 minutes, five days a week can significantly lower your risk of suffering a stroke, according to University of South Carolina researchers. After studying 46,000 men and 15,000 women over the course of 18 years, those with increased fitness levels associated with regular brisk walking had a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a stoke than those with the lowest fitness level.

#8: It can save your mind. Italian researchers enlisted 749 people suffering from memory problems in a study and measured their walking and other moderate activities, such as yard work. At the four-year follow-up, they found that those who expended the most energy walking had a 27 percent lower risk of developing dementia than the people who expended the least. This could be the result of physical activity’s role in increasing blood flow to the brain. 

source: Rodale.com


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What Are Flavonoids?

Why flavonoids are good for you, 

and what foods you’ll find them in

Benefits of Flavonoids
Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties, which means they reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries, and help fight aging by preventing – and repairing – cellular damage. Flavonoids may also protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and some cancers.
Recommended Amount: How Much You Need
Get your fill of flavonoids by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables every day — we recommend four servings of fruit and five servings of veggies. Tea, red wine, and dark chocolate also contain flavonoids, but that’s not a green light to overindulge. Limit wine to a glass a day for women, two for men; and limit chocolate to a couple of small squares – about an ounce.
Good Sources of Flavonoids
There are many types of flavonoids, and their concentration in specific foods varies greatly, depending on how a product is grown and processed. So use the list below as a general guideline for foods that tend to be rich in flavonoids. Eating a diverse diet that regularly includes some of the following foods will provide you with a healthy helping of flavonoids:
Apples (flavonoids are in the skin)
Blueberries
Broccoli
Cabbage
Capers
Chocolate (dark, not milk) and cocoa
Onions
Strawberries
Red grapes
Red wine
Tea (all kinds)
source: RealAge.com