Apathy is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom of dementia, with a bigger impact on function than memory loss — yet it is under-researched and often forgotten in care. A new study has found that apathy is present nearly half of all people with dementia, with researchers finding it is often distinct from depression.
Although common, apathy is often ignored as it is less disruptive in settings such as care homes than symptoms like aggression. Defined by a loss of interest and emotions, it is extremely distressing for families and it is linked with more severe dementia and worse clinical symptoms.
Now, research led by the University of Exeter and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in LA has analysed 4,320 people with Alzheimer’s disease from 20 cohort studies, to look at the prevalence of apathy over time.
Full story at Science Daily
As a specialist in Alzheimer’s prevention, Jessica Langbaum knows that exercising her mental muscles can help keep her brain sharp.
But Langbaum, who holds a doctorate in psychiatric epidemiology, has no formal mental fitness program. She doesn’t do crossword puzzles or play computer brain games.
“Just sitting down and doing Sudoku isn’t probably going to be the one key thing that’s going to prevent you from developing Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.
Instead of using a formal brain training program, she simply goes to work.
Full story at npr.org
A growing number of individuals of all ages are surviving intensive care unit hospitalization, however their mental and physical health problems persist. A new study from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University researchers reports that a care model they originally developed for older adults with dementia could benefit ICU survivors of all ages.
ICU survivors have high rates of persistent cognitive impairment similar to Alzheimer’s disease due to a combination of critical illness, medications administered during hospitalization, and physiological aspects of delirium that are not well understood.
The Critical Care Recovery Center (CCRC) care model developed by the Regenstrief Institute and IU Center for Aging Research scientists is the nation’s first collaborative care concept focusing on the extensive cognitive, physical, and psychological recovery needs of intensive care unit survivors and decreasing the likelihood of serious illness after discharge from an ICU. The CCRC is an outpatient clinic with an interdisciplinary care team working closely with family caregivers as well as the ICU survivors themselves after hospital or rehabilitation facility discharge.
Full story at Science Daily
Researchers at Penn Medicine have discovered that a patient’s awareness of a diagnosis of cognitive impairment may diminish their self-assessment of quality of life. In a study published this month in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences the researchers report that older adults who were aware of their diagnosis — either Mild Cognitive Impairment or mild stage Alzheimer’s disease dementia — reported greater depression, higher stress, and lower quality of life than those who were unaware. They also found that older adults who had an expectation that their disease would worsen over time reported lower overall satisfaction with daily life.
“These findings suggest that a patient’s quality of life could be impacted by a diagnostic label and their expectations for the prognosis. So, when a clinician discloses the diagnosis and prognosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment or mild stage Alzheimer’s disease, a patient may experience additional symptoms, like anxiety or depression,” said the study’s lead author, Shana Stites, PsyD, MA, MS, a clinical psychologist in the Penn Memory Center, senior research investigator for the Penn Project on Precision Medicine for the Brain (P3MB).
Full story at Science Daily
A recent review article published online in The FASEB Journal points to the “trigger” for the inflammatory response, caused by the immune system, that precedes Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. Specifically, the authors show that an increase in aggregated, damaged proteins within neurons, which is a normal part of the aging brain, sets off these inflammatory responses. This observation was published online in The FASEB Journal.
“We hope that the future development of therapies aimed at preventing or removing the accumulation of aggregated proteins within the aging brain will lead to healthy lifestyles in the elderly by maintaining their cognitive capabilities,” said Antonio Currais, Ph.D., a co-author of the work and senior research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. “Our laboratory is very focused on developing therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases by targeting pathological processes that occur with aging and that we believe are the primary cause of those diseases. This is in direct contrast to the pharmaceutical companies that have focused their drug discovery approaches on very rare genetic forms of these diseases, basically ignoring aging.”
Full story of protein build up triggering inflammation with Alzheimer’s at Science Daily
An intriguing finding in nematode worms suggests that having a little bit of extra fat may help reduce the risk of developing some neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
What these illnesses have in common is that they’re caused by abnormal proteins that accumulate in or between brain cells to form plaques, producing damage that causes mental decline and early death.
Huntington’s disease, for example, is caused by aggregating proteins inside brain neurons that ultimately lead to motor dysfunction, personality changes, depression and dementia, usually progressing rapidly after onset in people’s 40s.
Full story of fat reducing risk of brain disease at Science Daily
Caregiving for an Alzheimer’s patient is especially burdensome for spousal and family caregivers who at the time of their near and dear one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis suffer from depressive symptoms, according to a recent University of Eastern Finland study.
The study analysed the psychological stress of family caregivers during a three-year period following the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The study constitutes part of the ALSOVA project involving 236 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers. The study participants were voluntarily recruited from the memory disorder clinics of three Finnish central and university hospitals. The patients participating in the study were at the onset diagnosed with a very mild or mild form of Alzheimer’s disease.
The results indicate that the heaviest psychological stress was experienced by family caregivers who at the time of diagnosis suffered from depressive symptoms. “The occurrence of even mild depressive symptoms predicted a psychological load on the family caregiver irrespective of, for example, the progression of the disease,” says Researcher Tarja Välimäki of the Department of Nursing Science.
Full story of Alzheimer’s family caregivers and depression at Science Daily
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the most misdiagnosed form of dementia, taking on average more than 18 months and three doctors to receive a correct diagnosis. Even though it is second only to Alzheimer’s disease as the most common cause of progressive dementia, affecting 1.3 million Americans, the symptoms of LBD are not well recognized by many physicians, especially primary care physicians and other general practitioners. Unfortunately, then, most people are not diagnosed until they are at moderate or severe states, leaving their caregivers unprepared and the patient vulnerable to potentially deadly medication side effects.
“Recognizing LBD at its earliest stage is critical not only for an accurate diagnosis by the appropriate specialist but also because it is important for a patient with LBD to be managed by an expert familiar with dementia in general and LBD in particular,” says Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair Emeritus, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital, and Elliott Professor of Neurology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. “A primary care physician with the best intentions may not be well informed about LBD, so it becomes the duty of the patient and caregiver to know about resources, such as the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA), for help when needed.”