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Senior Care News

August 29, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Brain-straining job may help with brain damage

Among the more fascinating preliminary studies presented at the most recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto, Ontario was research indicating that a job that makes you think and cogitate more may offset the effects of blood-vessel brain damage more.

It may even protect against Alzheimer’s, the researchers cautiously added.

In an analysis of data from patients with normal cognition in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), patients with more white matter hyperintensities on brain scans also tended to be those with mentally challenging occupations.

Those who worked predominantly with other people—rather than with data or with physical things—garnered the most protective effects, researchers said.

The data suggest that social interaction plays a unique role in cognitive reserve.

The idea of cognitive reserve has gained widespread acceptance in the Alzheimer’s field. It refers to the retention of cognitive function despite having pathology in the brain normally associated with dementia.

Cognitive reserve is typically associated with greater educational attainment or complex work environments—raising the question of whether modifiable factors could protect against Alzheimer’s.

Dementia sniff test still far from mainstream usage

Another two studies at Toronto’s Alzheimer’s convention had researchers following their noses—well, at least those of study participants, and rather literally.

The studies found significant overlap between senior participants’ onset and progression of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia—and increasing loss of ability to detect odors.

While some of the evidence of the studies indicate a fairly direct correlation between degeneration of the brain and loss of ability to smell, researchers both involved and uninvolved with the study say that a sniff test to diagnose Alzheimer’s is far from mainstream usage.

What’s more, it may never be used as a single definitive test to diagnose dementia but rather, as an additional tool for doctor to confirm a suspected diagnosis.

Patient, 86, left in dialysis clinic

Some way to spend your weekend!

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 13, firefighters had to break into the Fresenius Medical Care center in Methuen, Massachusetts after a dialysis patient, an 86-year-old woman, was left in her treatment chair alone after center staff left and locked up for the day.  The woman, who was not hurt, was transported home via ambulance.

For long life, family trumps friends

Huge families featuring multiple generations of siblings and cousins centered on patriarchs and matriarchs are anything but quaint throwbacks, research now shows.

A review of several national health databases on seniors found that older adults who reported not being close to their family had a 14-percent risk of passing away in the next five years—while those reporting being close with family other than spouses had about a six-percent risk.

According to lead researcher James Iveniuk of the University of Toronto School of Public Health, not only do family relationships trump friendships, but people not close to their family also have greater risk of suffering heart attacks or strokes.

“There are strong expectations about your family taking care of you, particularly when things are burdensome or frightful for you, like when you are in ill health,” Iveniuk explained to HealthDay News.  “Your family is supposed to be there for you.”

Which, of course, is the way it’s supposed to be—and the larger the family, the more loving people you’ll have to be there for you.