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Advice to Alzheimer’s caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is especially difficult. You’re likely presented with situations that you don’t always know how to handle, such as when the person you care for loses his or her temper. The Huffington Post recently published an insightful and touching piece by Marie Marley, a woman who spent seven years caring for her partner suffering from Alzheimer’s. Marley reflects on her time as a caregiver a bit regretfully, but offers forth what she learned from her experience to all other Alzheimer’s caregivers:

Senior health news: Blood pressure medication can reduce dementia risk

Currently, an estimated 5.4 million peoples have Alzheimer’s disease and that number is expected to grow significantly as our population ages. With Alzheimer’s affecting such a large portion of our population, researching ways to combat it has become more important than ever. A recent study made a new discovery that could be an important breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research: blood pressure medication, particularly beta blockers, can reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The study on dementia, which was released this month by the American Academy of Neurology, observed 774 Japanese-American men ages 71 to 93 over the course of 21 years. A total of thirty-three percent of participants took beta blockers; 15 percent took beta blockers alone, while 18 percent took additional blood pressure medications. The results showed healthier brains among those who took blood pressure medications, particularly those taking only beta blockers. These men had fewer signs of brain damage associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia, such as mircroinfarcts (otherwise known as mini strokes), amyloid plaque build-up and brain atrophy. 

For most adults, decision making improves with age

Many studies have indicated that decision making and financial skills decline with age, making seniors particularly susceptible to fraud and identity theft. However, a new study by MetLife yielded more positive results; according to the study, the ability to make conscientious, informed decisions actually improves with age for most people.

The first study of its kind, “Healthy Brain, Healthy Decisions” assembled a research group of 72 healthy adults aged 50 to 79. Participants took extensive tests regarding their decision-making abilities. The results indicated health rather than age impacts decision-making skills. The 79 year olds who participated in the study could make decisions just as well as the 50-year-old participants. While seniors suffering from mental health issues may have a more difficult time handling finances and be more vulnerable to scams, mentally healthy seniors do not share these issues. The study indicates that more seniors have sound mental health than you may have thought – as many as 87 percent, according to the National Institute of Aging.

Study finds exercise helps seniors combat dementia

Dementia negatively impacts memory, thinking, language, judgment and behavior. Currently, it affects over 35 million all over the world and unfortunately, this number is expected to double by 2030. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and causes dementia symptoms to gradually worsen over time. There currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but luckily, treatments are available that help slow Alzheimer’s progression. We can also take comfort knowing experts are continuously researching ways to combat this devastating disease.

One way that adults with Alzheimer’s can slow the disease’s effects is through exercise. Why? Exercise helps preserve gray matter in the brain, which is crucial to brain health – the greater the gray matter volume, the healthier the brain. This discovery was reported in a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Number of individuals with dementia to top 2 billion by 2050

It certainly isn’t news that the senior population in this country is growing and will continue to grow at a rapid rate. Worldwide as well, the senior population is increasing as well; in some places, 2 of every 3 people are 60 or older. In a recent blog post, we explored what this will mean for how we care for seniors in the future. According to news, though, an aging population is not the only concern we will have worldwide in the near future: rates of dementia are skyrocketing as well, and by 2050 experts expect 2 billion people worldwide will struggle with this condition.