Listening to their favorite music may help people with dementia

Nursing home residents with dementia had fewer behavior problems and were able to cut back on antipsychotic and antianxiety drugs when they listened often to their favorite music, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Brown University in Providence, RI studied over 25,000 residents in 196 nursing homes around the country. They used a program called Music & Memory which provides Alzheimer’s and dementia patients with individualized music playlists.

In a national campaign led by Medicare, gerontology experts and patient advocates are seeking non-pharmacologic interventions to reduce the use of antipsychotic and anti-anxiety medications.

In nursing homes that used the program, residents with dementia were more likely to discontinue antipsychotic and anti-anxiety medications, and engaged in fewer disruptive behaviors, than in homes where the music was not used. However, the study did not show a significant improvement in mood.06_ALIVE-INSIDE_Photo-Courtesy-of-BOND360

Caregivers and family members in a documentary called “Alive Inside,” say that personalized music helps even patients with highly advanced dementia. They observe that patients look more at ease after listening to their favorite music.

The researchers studied residents who had dementia and cognitive impairment, but were not in hospice care or comatose.

The rate of discontinuation of antipsychotics rose to 20.1 percent in 2013 compared to 17.6 percent in a similar period before. The discontinuation rate of anti-anxiety meds rose to 24.4 percent compared to 23.5 percent before. In the studied nursing homes that did not use the music program, the rates did not improve.

Behavioral improvement increased to 56.5 percent in program homes from 50.9 percent before the program. Improvement in the behavior of residents helps the treated patients, but also enhances the quality of life for residents around them. Also, improvement in patients’ behavior raises the morale of nursing home staff, and may reduce staff turnover.

The study was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. To improve their evaluation, Baier, Thomas and their colleagues plan to conduct a second study. 

Nursing home or memory care can be costly. Long term care insurance provides not only money for care but a support system for both those needing care and their families. For more about long term care and insurance visit GuideToLongTermCare

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Have You Had The Conversation?

The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end of life care. They offer a collection of “Conversation Starter Kits” that you can download for free.

Talking with loved ones openly and honestly, before a medical crisis happens, ensures that everyone understands what matters most to each individual at the end of life. You can use a starter kit for yourself, or to help others communicate their wishes.

conversation2There are several different kits: for families and loved ones of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias; how to choose a health care proxy and how to be a health care proxy; how to talk to your doctor or nurse about your wishes; and one for parents of a seriously ill child.

There are starter kits in English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Hindi.

Organizations can purchase printed copies to distribute and add their logos.

The cost of care can be devastating, the national average is over $7,000 per month. To plan means to be insured before needing care, even before the diagnosis and not everyone can health-qualify for insurance (Can You Qualify?).

To find out more about long term care insurance see the Guide To Long Term Care

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U.S. Congress increases money for Alzheimer’s research

Congress just increased the budget for Alzheimer’s research by $400 million for fiscal year 2017. In 2016 the budget for Alzheimer’s at the National Institutes of Health was about $910 million.

The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 14 million by 2050. It is estimated that for every $100 that goes into research, around $16,000 is spent in caring for people with the disease.

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Money for research has greatly improved the outlook for heart disease and cancer patients. In 2017, health and long term care costs for Alzheimer’s came to around $259 billion in the United States. That number is expected to rise to $511 billion by 2020. Since not finding a cure is expensive, more funding for Alzheimer’s research is obviously needed.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and long term care, see the Guide To Long Term Care.

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Alzheimer’s drug: another take on Solanezumab

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The Alzheimer’s drug Solanezumab turned out to be a disappointment when clinical trials showed patients with long-established Alzheimer’s did not benefit from it. But a new study aims to find out if Solanezumab will help people who have high levels of amyloid in their brains but have not yet developed symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Some people develop amyloid plaques in their brains years before Alzheimer’s disease symptoms appear. Amyloid plaques are a sticky buildup which accumulates outside nerve cells. These plaque formations can interfere with how the brain works, causing problems with memory and thinking. Research has shown that people with high levels of amyloid in their brains are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, though some do not. The drug Solanezumab provides an antibody that binds to the amyloid proteins, and may slow the progression of the disease.

Dr. Brian Ott of Rhode Island Hospital is leading a study on the antibody drug. The vaccine is supposed to attach to the protein that makes neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, and block it from causing degeneration of other cells. This is the first study to find out whether Solanezumab can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease through early intervention.

The trial will examine healthy people ages 65 to 85, with normal memory. The subjects will undergo a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan to measure the amyloid in their brains. Participants must pass a general health screening and have normal brain function and memory, but an elevated amyloid level. The participants will be randomly assigned to get either the investigative antibody drug or a placebo by intravenous infusion every month. Three out of four participants will receive the drug, and the rest will get the placebo.

The study will last three years, and the results will show whether the drug can change the course of Alzheimer’s disease when given before symptoms start.

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Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America. It is the leading reason that people need long term care. For information on Alzheimer’s and long term care insurance, see the Guide To Long Term Care.

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Dementia isn’t just one thing.

Dementia isn’t just one thing. “People sometimes use dementia and Alzheimer’s disease interchangeably. But that isn’t correct,” says John Haaga, director of Behavioral and Social Research at the US National Institute on Aging.dementiaDownload 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.pdf – a statistical resource for U.S. data related to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, as well as other dementias.

You can donate to help the Alzheimer’s Association.

If you are at risk consider insuring before the diagnosis.

About Alzhiemer’s, The Leading Cause of LTC Insurance Claims

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Mineral water may help Alzheimer’s

The silicon in mineral water may help Alzheimer’s by removing aluminum

Aluminium is widely present in our environment, and we are exposed to it in items such as bread, tea, wine, aspirin and other drugs, baby food, cookware, and cosmetics. It is even in the air we breathe. Aluminum can enter the iron transport system in the bloodstream and bypass the body’s natural barriers to toxins, accumulating in our bodies and brains.

Research has shown that aluminum exposure can cause the neurofibrillary tangles found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum toxicity has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological diseases.

However, drinking mineral water that contains silicic acid, or silica, can help us excrete aluminum. The recommended amount of silica is 10 mg/day to protect against the adverse effects of aluminum absorption.

Clinical trials by Professor Christopher Exley of Keele University showed that drinking about a liter every day of mineral water containing 35 mg/liter of silicon sped up the removal of aluminium through the kidneys. After thirteen weeks, subjects showed significant reductions in the amount of aluminum in their bodies, even up to 70%. Along with the removal of aluminum came significant improvements in cognitive function and mental health, without side effects.

The silica follows water molecules through the gut wall and once it gets into the bloodstream, it unites with aluminium to form hydroxyaluminosilicate. This form of aluminium can be easily filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

The mineral water studied contained 35mg of silicon per liter. Brands of mineral water that contain silica include Fiji, which has 45 mg/liter, and Volvic, which has 20 mg/liter.

There are also foods naturally high in silica: brown rice, oats, millet, barley, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, red beets, asparagus, bananas, green beans, and carrots.

For information on Alzheimer’s care, see the Guide To Long Term Care

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Calls to clear the way for research on cannabis for Alzheimer’s

According to brain experts, cannabis holds promise as a treatment for the causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s, but federal regulators are blocking the path to a cure. Recent discoveries, along with the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in some states, have brought calls for reforms in the laws that regulate cannabis research.

Researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds in the cannabis plant can help the body remove amyloid beta, the toxic plaque protein linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. The protein causes inflammation and kills neuron cells, causing deterioration of memory.

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California are finding that marijuana extracts may help prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease. Cannabinoids are compounds found in marijuana, which can have medical applications. One study indicated that cannabinoids can relieve amyloid protein buildup and cell damage related to dementia using some of the brain’s own protective measures.

Unlike methods which seek to remove amyloid buildup from the outside of brain cells (such as those currently being explored by pharmaceutical companies), the method explored by Salk researchers works with the brain’s natural endocannabanoids to fight amyloid buildup inside cells, along with the resulting inflammation and cell death, at an earlier stage in the disease.

Endocannabinoids can active switches called receptors in the brain cells. Researchers found that these THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may help protect cells from dying.

Physical activity increases the production of endocannabinoids, which may explain why exercise can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. THC from cannabis is similar in activity to endocannabinoids, and can activate the same receptors.

Marijuana is legal in California, but because the Salk Institute accepts some federal funding, it must abide by federal rules that require approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for any cannabis studies. The DEA classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug, alongside heroin and other dangerous drugs, impeding research that may help treat Alzheimer’s and dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. The bureaucratic approval process can slow down research by months or years. Some observers think that the pharmaceutical industry is creating regulatory obstructions for researchers because cannabis is a natural product and cannot be patented.

Health researchers estimate that one in three seniors will die with dementia. Someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease every 66 seconds. In addition to the loss of longevity and quality of life, the financial costs of Alzheimer’s and dementia are significant.

A 2015 study by the National Institutes of Health found that the price of late stage dementia exceeds that of any other disease; a recent estimate of cost was $236 billion for 2016, or around $287,000 annually per person.

Alzheimer’s affects more than five million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, and is a leading cause of death. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. The number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple during the next 50 years.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, visit the Guide To Long Term Care

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