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The brains of SuperAgers (those 80 years old and older whose memories are as sharp as healthy people in their 50s and 60s) shrink much slower than their age-matched peers, resulting in a greater resistance to ‘typical’ memory loss and dementia, a new path-breaking study that shows.

 

This is a MRI scan of a SuperAger’s brain. The portion between the yellow and red lines is the cortex, which contains neurons. SuperAgers’ cortices shrunk over two times slower than average-age peers’ in a recent Northwestern Medicine study, which may contribute to their superior memory performance.

Credit: Northwestern University

The highly engaged and delightful conversationalist, who reads, volunteers and routinely researches questions on the Internet, is part of a new path-breaking Northwestern Medicine study that shows that SuperAgers’ brains shrink much slower than their age-matched peers, resulting in a greater resistance to “typical” memory loss and dementia.

Over the course of the 18-month study, normal agers lost volume in the cortex twice as fast as SuperAgers, a rare group of people aged 80 and above whose memories are as sharp as those of healthy persons decades younger.

“Increasing age is often accompanied by ‘typical’ cognitive decline or, in some cases, more severe cognitive decline called dementia,” said first author Amanda Cook, a clinical neuropsychology doctoral student in the laboratory of Emily Rogalski and Sandra Weintraub. “SuperAgers suggest that age-related cognitive decline is not inevitable.”The study was published in JAMA. Senior author Emily Rogalski will present the findings at the 2017 Cognitive Aging Summit in Bethesda, Maryland, April 6.SuperAger research at Northwestern is flipping the traditional approach to Alzheimer’s research of focusing on brains that are underperforming to instead focusing on outperforming brains.

Thinking and memory skills were most improved when people exercised the heart and muscles on a regular basis, a review of 39 studies found. This remained true in those who already showed signs of cognitive decline. Taking up exercise at any age was worthwhile for the mind and body, the Australian researchers said.

Exercises such as T’ai Chi were recommended for people over the age of 50 who couldn’t manage other more challenging forms of exercise, the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine said.

Physical activity has long been known to reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including type-2 diabetes and some cancers, and it is thought to play a role in warding off the brain’s natural decline as we enter middle age.

The theory is that through exercise the brain receives a greater supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients that boost its health as well as a growth hormone that helps the formation of new neurons and connections.

In this analysis of previous studies, researchers from the University of Canberra looked at the effects of at least four weeks of structured physical exercise on the brain function of adults.

In a variety of brain tests, they found evidence of aerobic exercise improving cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while muscle training – for example, using weights – had a significant effect on memory and the brain’s ability to plan and organise, the so-called executive functions.

Joe Northey, study author and researcher from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at Canberra, said the findings were convincing enough to enable both types of exercise to be prescribed to improve brain health in the over-50s.

“Even if you are doing moderate exercise only once or twice a week there are still improvements in cognitive function, but the improvements were better the more exercise was done,” he said.

He said people should be able to hold a conversation while doing moderate exercise.

NHS guidelines recommend that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and exercise the major muscles on two or more days a week.

As well as staying physically active, Dr David Reynolds, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said it was equally important to look after our brains by staying mentally active, eating a balanced diet, drinking only in moderation and not smoking.

Thinking and memory skills were most improved when people exercised the heart and muscles on a regular basis, a review of 39 studies found. This remained true in those who already showed signs of cognitive decline. Taking up exercise at any age was worthwhile for the mind and body, the Australian researchers said.

Exercises such as T’ai Chi were recommended for people over the age of 50 who couldn’t manage other more challenging forms of exercise, the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine said.

Physical activity has long been known to reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including type-2 diabetes and some cancers, and it is thought to play a role in warding off the brain’s natural decline as we enter middle age.

The theory is that through exercise the brain receives a greater supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients that boost its health as well as a growth hormone that helps the formation of new neurons and connections.

In this analysis of previous studies, researchers from the University of Canberra looked at the effects of at least four weeks of structured physical exercise on the brain function of adults.

In a variety of brain tests, they found evidence of aerobic exercise improving cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while muscle training – for example, using weights – had a significant effect on memory and the brain’s ability to plan and organise, the so-called executive functions.

Joe Northey, study author and researcher from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at Canberra, said the findings were convincing enough to enable both types of exercise to be prescribed to improve brain health in the over-50s.

“Even if you are doing moderate exercise only once or twice a week there are still improvements in cognitive function, but the improvements were better the more exercise was done,” he said.

He said people should be able to hold a conversation while doing moderate exercise.

NHS guidelines recommend that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and exercise the major muscles on two or more days a week.

As well as staying physically active, Dr David Reynolds, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said it was equally important to look after our brains by staying mentally active, eating a balanced diet, drinking only in moderation and not smoking.

As we get older, there are plenty of challenges to overcome. Mobility can be an issue. Your memory could begin to fade. The things you used to take for granted become more difficult. The development of a health problem or a condition such dementia may mean you need someone to watch out for you.

Most of us want to stay in our own home – it’s not only good for mental and physical wellbeing but allows us to stay connected to our local community, the friends and people we’ve shared our space with for so long.

Dementia and increasing frailty as the years go by naturally leads everyone to evaluate what’s best for the future. Decisions about what to do are usually down to close family members who can be torn between keeping mum or dad in their home and making sure they stay as safe and secure, and happy, as possible.

It’s easy to think there’s no real alternative but to move your loved one into a care home where they can receive professional, around the clock attention. For years, it’s been the traditional way we care for our older relatives. But for many people it’s simply not the right solution.

Live-In Carers

There can be numerous reasons why you don’t want to choose the care home option. Mum or dad may well want to stay in the family home for a start. If they’ve lived in the same location for most of their life, why wouldn’t they want to stay? You might be worried the care homes in your area are not up to the right standard or that they cope with too wide a range of residents and won’t be able to give your loved one the attention they need.

Another option is to hire a live-in carer. This is where a professional carer comes into your home and stays in the spare room, catering to your elderly parent’s needs on a full-time basis. While care homes are staffed with compassionate and caring professionals, they can’t normally give the kind of one to one care that older people need.

With a live-in carer, this is exactly what you get.

At Secure Healthcare Solutions we know that care isn’t a once size fits all issue. What works for one person, won’t necessarily be suitable for another. We also know that elderly relatives who remain in the familiar surroundings of their home have a better quality of life than those who find themselves uprooted to a care home.

Letting a stranger into your home to look after your mum or dad can be a big decision, of course. Our selection process is quite involved with a care assessment test and face to face interview as well as on the job monitoring. We make sure that all our staff are fully vetted and have a DBS check. Their job is to build a strong, caring relationship, not just with their ward but those around who have an emotional and familial connection. That’s why we take such care on who comes to work for us.

At Secure Healthcare Solutions, we believe t’s not just about having a full-time carer at home. It’s about the right plan tailored for your needs, getting the perfect match and a carer who essentially becomes a part of the family. Yes, they can handle all medical, health and personal needs but they also provide the companionship that so many of us need in later life.

If you wish to learn more about how we can support you, please contact us and let one of our advisers come to see you and your family for a more detailed plan on how we can support you.

Let us help you get the care you need for the life you want.

As we get older, there are plenty of challenges to overcome. Mobility can be an issue. Your memory could begin to fade. The things you used to take for granted become more difficult. The development of a health problem or a condition such dementia may mean you need someone to watch out for you.

Most of us want to stay in our own home – it’s not only good for mental and physical wellbeing but allows us to stay connected to our local community, the friends and people we’ve shared our space with for so long.

Dementia and increasing frailty as the years go by naturally leads everyone to evaluate what’s best for the future. Decisions about what to do are usually down to close family members who can be torn between keeping mum or dad in their home and making sure they stay as safe and secure, and happy, as possible.

It’s easy to think there’s no real alternative but to move your loved one into a care home where they can receive professional, around the clock attention. For years, it’s been the traditional way we care for our older relatives. But for many people it’s simply not the right solution.

Live-In Carers

There can be numerous reasons why you don’t want to choose the care home option. Mum or dad may well want to stay in the family home for a start. If they’ve lived in the same location for most of their life, why wouldn’t they want to stay? You might be worried the care homes in your area are not up to the right standard or that they cope with too wide a range of residents and won’t be able to give your loved one the attention they need.

Another option is to hire a live-in carer. This is where a professional carer comes into your home and stays in the spare room, catering to your elderly parent’s needs on a full-time basis. While care homes are staffed with compassionate and caring professionals, they can’t normally give the kind of one to one care that older people need.

With a live-in carer, this is exactly what you get.

At Secure Healthcare Solutions we know that care isn’t a once size fits all issue. What works for one person, won’t necessarily be suitable for another. We also know that elderly relatives who remain in the familiar surroundings of their home have a better quality of life than those who find themselves uprooted to a care home.

Letting a stranger into your home to look after your mum or dad can be a big decision, of course. Our selection process is quite involved with a care assessment test and face to face interview as well as on the job monitoring. We make sure that all our staff are fully vetted and have a DBS check. Their job is to build a strong, caring relationship, not just with their ward but those around who have an emotional and familial connection. That’s why we take such care on who comes to work for us.

At Secure Healthcare Solutions, we believe t’s not just about having a full-time carer at home. It’s about the right plan tailored for your needs, getting the perfect match and a carer who essentially becomes a part of the family. Yes, they can handle all medical, health and personal needs but they also provide the companionship that so many of us need in later life.

If you wish to learn more about how we can support you, please contact us and let one of our advisers come to see you and your family for a more detailed plan on how we can support you.

Let us help you get the care you need for the life you want.

Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers. People with dementia from conditions such as Alzheimer’s and related diseases have a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it more and more difficult for them to remember things, think clearly, communicate with others, or take care of themselves.  From angry outbursts to more physical manifestations of behavior, understanding and dealing with our loved one’s dementia behaviors may be one of the most stressful parts of being a caregiver.  Dementia involves more than just memory loss. A person with this disorder can be a challenge to take care of.  Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers.

The cause of the disease can have a bearing on the type of care given. Before embarking on caring for such a patient consider the following questions.

Is the dementia part of a brain disease process?

Is there a history of brain injury?

Is it the so called senile dementia which is considered part of the aging process?

Where to care for the dementia patient

Depending on the severity and predominant symptoms, a person with dementia can benefit from either home care or institutional based care. Where only personal care issues are involved, a general carer may be able to offer  care to the patient. However, where symptoms pose a risk to self and others, then a professional nurse may come in to offer at home care services.

Seven Tips for Communicating with a Person with Dementia

  1. Set a positive mood for interaction. …

  2. Get the person’s attention. …

  3. State your message clearly. …

  4. Ask simple, answerable questions. …

  5. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. …

  6. Break down activities into a series of steps. …

  7. When the going gets tough, distract and redirect. 

Emotional  and Physical support

People with dementia feel anxious when they realize that they have mental related problems. Showing Care, patience and reassuring them will help them to cope better and enjoy improved self-worth. Other measures to help these patients lead a dignified life include:

  • Helping them remain clean
  • Helping them dress
  • Helping them eat a healthful diet
  • Assisting them to remain as physically active as possible. This will be determined by their degree of mental or physical disability.
  • Legal representation and protection.  Some people may take advantage of the altered mental status of dementia patients. Help them get their rightful state support where necessary and protect their finances from potential fraudsters.

When dealing with difficult behaviors from someone with dementia, it’s important to remember that they are not deliberately being difficult. Our loved one’s sense of reality may now be different from ours, but it is still very real to him or her. As caregivers, we can’t change the person with dementia, but we can employ strategies to better accommodate any problem behaviors. Both the environment you create at home and the way you communicate with your loved one can make a significant difference.

Dementia can cause mood swings and even change a person’s personality and behavior. This Fact Sheet provides some practical strategies for dealing with the troubling behavior problems and communication difficulties often encountered when caring for a person with dementia. If you are the main carer of a dementia person, don’t forget to care for yourself. Burnout is a real possibility. To avoid this, always source for help and take needed break every now and then.

Be aware of the signs of dementia

Memory loss is one of the key symptoms, but others include:

  • increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
  • depression
  • changes in personality and mood
  • periods of mental confusion
  • difficulty finding the right words

If someone you know is becoming increasingly forgetful, you should encourage them to see their GP to talk about the early signs of dementia.

Finally, there are so many more behavior interventions, treatments and specialty care providers now than ever before. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to one of our qualified advisers.

You can read more top tips for talking about dementia on the UK Alzheimer’s Society website.