I wish I could tell you about new research that shows us exactly what causes Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia or provides a clear way to a cure, but I cannot. Nevertheless, some recent research offers hope to people living with dementia and their families. Here are a few studies worth learning about.
- Dementia medication can help with survival if given early in Alzheimer’s. Early treatment with drugs for people with Alzheimer’s disease may prolong survival and save health care dollars, compared with people who have not received medication. These are strong reasons to seek on an early diagnosis. In addition, the presence of problems with the sense of smell can help predict who will respond well to these medications in people with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Midlife is a potentially effective time to prevent dementia. A variety of lifestyle changes during midlife can help reduce risks of developing dementia. These changes involve physical activity, hypertension control and achieving optimal levels of HDL cholesterol to help maintain verbal memory skills later in life. However, these preventative measures are less effective if they are begun only in elders.
- Intentional weight loss in old age can help with cognition. Older people who are obese with mild cognitive impairment improved memory, executive function and language use by intentionally losing weight. Improvements were the strongest in younger patients and those with the APOE4 type of genetically-related dementia.
- There is longer life expectancy with good cognitive health (especially for women). The data shows we are living longer and in good cognitive health for much of that extra time. According to researcher Carol Jagger, PhD, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, UK, “We tend to have better minds than we used to 20 years ago at the same age but not necessarily healthier bodies.”
Now that we’re finding ways to help prevent dementia, we can hopefully look forward to more years in good cognitive health. Adding to all this positive information is the knowledge that there are behavioral and environmental interventions that can help people with dementia use their remaining abilities to maintain function and enhance their quality of life. These best practices are at the very heart of DementiaWise®, our proprietary dementia care approach. ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care designed this comprehensive program to enhance the lives of those living with dementia, as well as their families.
Download our Family Guide to Dementia to learn more about:
- Various types of dementia
- The importance of a diagnosis
- Changes you may notice
- Ways to make days better for you and your loved one
 Szoeke, C., Lehert, P., Henderson, V. W., Dennerstein, L., Desmond, P., & Campbell, S. (2016). Predictive factors for verbal memory performance over decades of ageing: data from the Women's Healthy Ageing Project. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
 Horie, N. C., Serrao, V. T., Simon, S. S., Gascon, M. R. P., dos Santos, A. X., Zambone, M. A., ... & de Melo, M. E. (2015). Cognitive effects of intentional weight loss in elderly obese individuals with mild cognitive impairment. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 101(3), 1104-1112.
 Hughes, S. (December 10, 2016) Longer Life Expectancy Comes With Good Cognitive Health. Medscape Medical News. Retrieved July 17, 2016 from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/855811. And Jagger, C., Matthews, F. E., Wohland, P., Fouweather, T., Stephan, B. C., Robinson, L., ... & Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Collaboration. (2016). A comparison of health expectancies over two decades in England: results of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study I and II. The Lancet, 387(10020), 779-786.