Music can improve mood and behavior for people with dementia

People with dementia showed positive changes in mood and behavior after listening to music, according to a study from researchers at George Mason University.

A documentary titled “Alive Inside” showed individuals with moderate to late stage dementia listening to personalized music with headphones. The listeners often sang along and became more talkative, showing a great improvement in mood, and decreased agitation.

The study involved 51 adults with dementia. An individualized playlist was developed for each participant. Study researchers recorded both within-person differences and between-group differences.

Behavioral observations showed increases in joy, eye contact and movement, communicating and talking. There was less restless moving, agitation, and sleeping. Participants smiled more, and were more alert and relaxed. Sometimes they recognized the music, sang, and followed the rhythm.

Music listening can be especially beneficial when the music is connected to positive memories for the listener. The music can be used in a variety of care situations, including at home. Music can be helpful to happily occupy a dementia sufferer when a caregiver needs to attend to other duties.

The study showed that music listening is a low cost, nonpharmacological intervention that can bring positive results for people with dementia.


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When Will We Have an Alzheimer’s Vaccine?

Scientists are working on a vaccine to delay or reduce Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say they are close to testing the vaccine on humans.

In spite of all the research and money spent, no reliable Alzheimer’s treatments are available yet. But researchers believe they may be able to cut down the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers half.     

At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a team of scientists has developed an experimental vaccine that is designed to reduce two proteins in the brain, beta-amyloid and tau, that are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Buildup of these proteins prevents the brain from functioning normally. In mice, the vaccine reduces beta-amyloid protein by up to 40 percent and tau by up to 50 percent.

If the vaccine has the same effect on humans, it could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, or cut in half the number of people affected.

The main problem with animal studies is that human diseases and immune systems don’t always work the same way. Another problem is that proteins can build up in the brain for 20 years before a patient will have symptoms. So patients would have to agree to taking the vaccine long before they know if they are susceptible to the disease. At this time, tests that show who is at risk for Alzheimer’s are expensive.

The vaccine may be tested for safety on monkeys before trying it on humans, so it will probably be 10 years or more before it is available.

At this time, around 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that by 2060 there will 14 million. The National Institute of Health will spend 2.3 billion on Alzheimer’s research this year.

Read more about Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Link

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Risk For Depression Higher If Using These Medications

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1 in 3 U.S. adults takes a medication that lists depression as a side effect.

The research shows that the prevalence of depression among participants rose as they took more medications that list depression as an adverse effect.

“I’m hoping this information will slow the process down a little bit, and that primary care doctors will also take a look at what medications the person is on and … consider that as a potential explanation for the patient’s depression.” – Dr. Mark Olfson

Read rest of story here.


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Caregivers At Risk.

It is not easy to talk about our parents or even ourselves getting older and some day needing help with very basic things. Here is information designed to educate the public about these issues.

Finding the words to begin a long term care conversation. (Genworth)

Beyond Dollars Infographic exposing the true costs of a long term care event. (pdf)

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LongTermCare.gov – Basic information about what is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

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There are different ways to fund long term care: self-insure, long term care insurance*, life insurance or annuity with a long term care rider*, life insurance with a chronic illness rider*, Medicaid.
* Insurance is medical underwritten. Insuring locks in age and health.
27% of applicants ages 60-69 are declined because of health.

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A Solution for Caregiver Shortage: Robots

The government of Japan expects a shortage of 370,000 caregivers for the elderly by 2025, and is will look to robots to help provide care in institutions and at home.

Robots can transfer patients who are unable to move themselves from bed to a wheelchair, or to a bath, for example.

A new robot named Named RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) has been developed by RIKEN and Tokai Rubber Industries (TRI). Using the latest sensor, control, information processing, mechanical and materials technology, it is the first of its kind in the world. So far, RIBA can safely lift and move a human patient of up to 61 kg (around 135 lb.).

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RIBA’s arms have high-precision tactile sensors and its human-like body has a soft exterior of urethane foam, for patient safety and comfort. Having robots do the lifting will ease the burden on staff, reduce injuries to health care workers, and help patients who want to live at home.

Another use of robot tech is a walking aid that can give a boost when the person is walking uphill and a braking action going down hills. The robot prevents falls and helps the user carry loads safely.

There are monitor systems that collect information aimed at improving nursing care services, and robots that can detect when a patient falls down or needs help. For example, robots are being developed that can predict when a person needs to go to the toilet and guide them there at the right time, helping them with removing clothing and other necessary motions.

In addition to their uses in nursing homes, robots can contribute to self-reliance for people who have some disabilities but want to remain at home.

The Japanese government wants patients to get used to robot helpers, hoping that by 2020, 80% of patients will accept having some of their care provided by robots. Several Japanese government agencies want to encourage businesses to develop care robots, and popularize them.

The RIKEN-TRI Collaborative Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research (RTC), where RIBA was developed, expects to bring care robots to market in the near future.

Priority Areas to Which Robot Technology is to be Introduced in Nursing Care – get information at METI.

For more information on long term care issues, see the Guide To Long Term Care,

 

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Promising New Research May Lead To Reversal of Alzheimer’s Dementia

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Scientists have recently discovered a possible new way to reverse Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study found that amyloid protein plaques, associated with Alzheimer’s disease, were eliminated when researchers removed a naturally occurring enzyme called BACE1 from the brains of mice.

Riqiang Yan and his team at the Cleveland Clinic studied mice that were genetically engineered to have a rodent form of Alzheimer’s disease. BACE1, known as beta-secretase, clings to the amyloid precursor protein, resulting in the production and buildup of plaques.

When the BACE1 enzyme was removed from the mouse brains, formation of amyloid plaques stopped, and plaque already in the brains of the mice disintegrated. Removal of the enzyme also improved learning and memory in the mice.

In the study, the scientists gradually removed BACE1 from the mice as they aged. By the time the mice were 10 months old (equivalent to the human age of 50 years) they no longer had any amyloid plaque in their brains.

Reducing BACE1 levels in the offspring mice also reversed other conditions found in Alzheimer’s disease, such as microglial cell activation and the formation of abnormal neuronal processes.

Yan published some of his discoveries about BACE1 in 1999 in the journal Nature. This recent study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, is the first one in which researchers have seen a dramatic reversal of amyloid deposits in the brains of mice. It may lead to new therapies that could reverse Alzheimer’s disease. The next step will be to see if human brains react the same way.

Find out about the care of people with Alzheimer’s disease at the Guide To Long Term Care.

 

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Diabetes drug doing double duty as Alzheimer’s therapy

A drug developed for treating diabetes now shows promise for Alzheimer’s patients, according to scientists at England’s Lancaster University. The drug is described as a triple receptor agonist, or TA. It combines hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), and Glucagon, activating these three receptors at the same time. The new study is published in the journal Brain Research.

A group of mice with Alzheimer’s-related symptoms were tested in a spatial water maze. The TA drug was injected once a day for two months. The mice who were treated with the drug remembered their path better than the control group.

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In addition to the memory improvement, other symptoms were improved: the accumulation of plaque in the brain was reduced; brain nerve cells were protected from deterioration and loss; and chronic nerve inflammation was reduced, as well as oxidative stress in the cortex and hippocampus. Increased levels of synaptophysin indicated protection from synaptic loss that occurs in Alzheimer’s. An increase of doublecortin positive cells showed improved neurogenesis.

Other diabetes drugs have shown promise for Alzheimer’s patients. The two diseases are known to be related, and type 2 diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials are proceeding to investigate the neuroprotective effects of extendin-4 and liraglutide.

Alzheimer’s cases are expected to triple in the next forty years, requiring more long term care. The increase in patients will bring financial challenges as well as medical ones. For more information on supporting Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, see the Alzheimer’s Section on Guide To Long Term Care.

 

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