Want to live longer? Take care of someone

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Seniors who take care of others live longer than those who do not.

This observation comes from an international research project in which scientists analyzed data from the Berlin Aging Study that followed 500 adults over the age of 69 from 1990 to 2009. About half of the subjects took care of friends, children, or grandchildren; these caregivers were still alive 10 years after their first interview in 1990.

For those who took care of non-family members, half were still alive seven years after the first interview. For those seniors who did not take care of anyone, 50 percent had died within four years of the first interview.

However, moderation in caregiving is essential. Other studies have shown that too much caregiving responsibility is stressful and can endanger one’s health.

Long term care insurance can help pay for needed care at home or in an institution. Some companies offer a cash benefit that can be used to pay a friend or family member for care. Get more information here: GuideToLongTermCare.com

 

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Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease rising

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From 1999 to 2014, United States deaths from Alzheimer’s disease rose by 54.5 percent. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Alzheimer’s death rate rose during those 15 years from 16.5 to 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people. In 2014, 93,541 people died from Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, caused 3.6 percent of deaths in 2014.

Researchers expect rates will continue to rise as life expectancy increases. About 5.5 million Americans are living with the disease. That number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050.

There is a trend for more people with Alzheimer’s to die at home rather than a medical facility. The number of Alzheimer’s patients dying at home increased from 13.9 percent to 24.9 percent from 2009 to 2014. During the same time period, the number of who died from Alzheimer’s in medical facilities fell from 14.7 percent in 1999 to 6.6 percent in 2014.

The disease mainly affects people over the age of 65. The rise in Alzheimer’s cases is attributed to the increasing numbers of older people, as medical improvements have led to fewer deaths from conditions such as heart disease. However, some of the increase may be the result of more accurate reporting by doctors.

At this time there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. It is the leading cause of long term care insurance claims. To plan for possible long term care needs in the future, see the Guide To Long Term Care.

Planning to buy long term care insurance at some point? Remember you must buy before the diagnosis. There are many conditions like Alzheimer’s that are uninsurable, here is a partial list: Are You Insurable?

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Blood test coming to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease?

A research team has found a method to detect biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in blood platelets. The test uses a ratio between normal and abnormal brain tau proteins to identify those with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

The researchers found that the presence of abnormal tau proteins corresponds with decreased brain volume in parts of the brain where characteristics of Alzheimer’s appear.
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A non-invasive test for Alzheimer’s disease would help detect people at risk before symptoms develop, and make prevention and early treatment possible.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016 described using levels of the protein clusterin to ascertain which dementia patients are at risk of Alzheimer’s. Also, a 2015 study focused on using metabolites in saliva to detect cognitive impairment.

In 2016, 5.4 million Americans were affected by Alzheimer’s disease. For more information, consult the Alzheimer’s @Guide To Long Term Care.


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How your nose can expose your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s researchers found that a person’s sense of smell declines strongly in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting a noninvasive “sniff test” for diagnosis.

The test can help identify the pre-dementia condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which often progresses to Alzheimer’s dementia in a few years.

David Roalf, Assistant Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, led a study in which scientists used a simple, commercially available test called the Sniffin’ Sticks Odour Identification Test. Subjects have 16 different odours to identify.

Along with the sniff test, researchers administered a standard cognitive test (the Montreal Cognitive Assessment) to 728 elderly people who had already been diagnosed by doctors as healthy, having mild cognitive impairment, or having Alzheimer’s disease.

The research team found that the sniff test, when combined with the cognitive test, increased diagnostic accuracy. The cognitive test alone identified 75% of people with mild cognitive impairment; after adding the sniff test, 87% of cases were identified.

Using the two tests together also helped the researchers to detect subjects with Alzheimer’s and those who were healthy, and to determine the degree of cognitive impairment.

Doctors believe it is more possible to help people with Alzheimer’s disease if they begin treatment before dementia symptoms appear.
Genworth 2015 Cost of Long-Term Care Survey Chart

Many people get Long Term Care Insurance to protect themselves and their families against the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.


 

 

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Parkinson’s disease connected to bacteria in the gut

Some researchers have found a link between Parkinson’s disease and the bacteria in the digestive tract. The discovery may lead to a new way of treating Parkinson’s, through the digestive tract, rather than the brain. Finely targeted probiotics may be the answer. The scientists published their findings in the journal Cell.

Parkinson’s disease causes brain cells to accumulate excessive amounts of the protein alpha-synuclein and then die. Physical and mental effects include loss of motor function, tremors, shaking, and more. It seems to be caused by environmental factors rather than heredity.

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The researchers performed three different experiments that showed the link between bacteria in the gut and Parkinson’s disease. The experiments were performed on two sets of mice that were genetically modified so they overproduced the protein alpha-synuclein. One set of mice had bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract; the other set had none. Read more about the experiments at Cell.

So Parkinson’s patients may have bacteria in their guts that contribute to the disease, or lack beneficial bacteria that could prevent the disease. These patients have some kinds of bacteria in their digestive tracts that are not found in healthy people, and they lack some kinds of bacteria found in healthy people.

Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder. One million people in the United States and up to 10 million worldwide have Parkinson’s, making it the world’s second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s.

Past research indicates bacteria in the gut may also be connected with other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. There has been found a type of bacteria that is a major cause of stomach (gastric) and upper small intestine (duodenal) ulcers.

To find out about insuring for the risk of these disabilities visit the Guide to Long Term Care


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Eli Lilly’s latest Alzheimer’s drug fails clinical trials

Eli Lilly’s drug solanezumab, designed to treat dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, failed to show significant benefits in a large multi-national trial. The trial, which began in 2013, involved over 2,100 Alzheimer’s patients with mild dementia.

The pharmaceutical company announced that in the Phase 3 clinical trial of solanezumab, patients taking the drug did not show a significant slowdown in cognitive decline compared to those who took a placebo.

Solanezumab was designed to reduce the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain. Some researchers have postulated that amyloid plaques may cause or contribute to the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The failure of this trial brings that theory into question.

Some scientists say there is still no convincing evidence of a clear relationship between amyloid plaques and dementia. Amyloid deposits begin to form up to twenty years before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but may not cause it. Some people who have the plaques do not show cognitive decline.

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While disappointing, the failure of this trial will not end efforts to find a cure. The results of this test will stimulate the scientific community to look in other directions. Even failed trials can provide helpful information and point to new avenues for research.

The next drug to be tested will be aducanumab by Biogen, which also attacks plaques but in a different way.

Alzheimer’s disease is involved in 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Almost 47 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and many require special care whether at home or in an institution.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of Long Term Care Insurance claims.


 

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Assisted suicide in nursing homes creates moral and ethical dilemmas

A court in Switzerland has ordered a nursing home to perform assisted suicide for those patients who want it. Switzerland legalized assisted suicide and has become a destination for suicide tourists – 611 from 2008 to 2012 – since passing the law, including 21 patients from the United States.

The nursing home, run by Christian charity The Salvation Army, claims its religious beliefs forbid helping patients commit suicide. But the court denied The Salvation Army’s appeal.

There is one way the nursing home can avoid helping patients kill themselves: giving up its charitable status and state subsidies.

One concern about assisted suicide is that some people who do not have a terminal illness are choosing to end their lives. Also, there is a risk that elderly people may be pressured into “voluntary” suicide by family members, or their own concerns about the cost of their care.

Find out about long term care insurance in America at Guide To Long Term Care.


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