Older Adults Meditate Away Loneliness
A new study published in Brain, Behavior & Immunity and led by Carnegie Mellon University offers the first evidence that mindfulness meditation, a practice that focuses on creating an attentive awareness of the reality of the present moment, reduces loneliness in older adults. The researchers also found that mindfulness meditation lowered inflammation levels. These findings provide valuable insights into how mindfulness meditation training can be used as a novel approach for reducing loneliness and the risk of disease in older adults.
The research team recruited 40 healthy adults ages 55 to 85 who indicated an interest in learning mindfulness meditation techniques. Each person was assessed at the beginning and end of the study using an established loneliness scale; blood samples were also collected.
Participants were randomly assigned to receive either the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or no treatment. The MBSR program consisted of weekly 2-hour meetings in which participants learned body awareness and breathing techniques while working their way toward understanding how to mindfully attend to their emotions and daily life practices. They were also asked to practice mindfulness meditation exercises for 30 minutes each day at home and attended a daylong retreat.
The researchers found that 8 weeks of the mindfulness meditation training decreased the participants’ loneliness. Using the blood samples collected, they found that the older adult sample had elevated pro-inflammatory gene expression in their immune cells at the beginning of the study, and that the mindfulness meditation training reduced this expression, as well as a measure of C-reactive protein. These findings suggest that mindfulness meditation training may reduce older adults’ inflammatory disease risk.
Source.“Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Loneliness in Older Adults, Carnegie Mellon Study Shows.” (2012, July 24). Retrieved August 2, 2012, from the PR Newswire website: http://s.tt/1iQZJ.
Delve into the Minds of Nurses
Celebrating the roles of nurses in U.S. health care, The American Nurse Project is a photojournalistic essay of stories from 105 nurses across the United States. Seventeen Johns Hopkins nurses and nursing faculty are featured in the new book and video.
Accomplishments, daily trials, and thoughts of each nurse were documented by videorecording and interviewing nurses who worked at hospitals, universities, hospice care centers, and other medical facilities throughout the nation.
Each nurse had a different story to tell, but a common theme of caring and compassion for the patient was present throughout each interview. Video clips of all the interviews and a link to the accompanying book The American Nurse are available on the project website ( http://www.americannurseproject.com)
Source.“Johns Hopkins Nurses Share Their Wisdom.” (2012, July 13). Retrieved August 2, 2012, from http://www.newswise.com/articles/johns-hopkins-nurses-share-their-wisdom.
The (Petri) Dish on Alzheimer’s
Researchers at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2012 reported in July on the creation of a new model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) derived from the skin cells of people with the condition that were reprogrammed into AD brain cells.
The researchers pursued an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) approach to model AD, which involves taking cells—typically skin cells—from people with the disease and their unaffected family members, and reprogramming them by adding genetic factors. The resulting iPSCs can be used to model AD in a dish.
The researchers generated iPSCs from a total of 12 people with AD and healthy controls from two young-onset, genetic AD families. The iPSC lines had been quality controlled, including ensuring pluripotency.
The research reported focuses on people with presenilin-1 mutations, which are responsible for the most common form of rare, inherited, young-onset AD. However, because the overwhelming majority of people with AD have the late-onset “sporadic” form of the disease, the scientists say they plan to expand their research to include large-scale production of iPSCs from people with different types of AD.
Source.“New Model of Alzheimer’s Derived from Skin Cells of People With the Disease.” (2012, July 16). Retrieved August 2, 2012, from the PR Newswire website: http://s.tt/1i3Kw.
Specialized Care Equals Lower Costs
University of California, San Francisco researchers assessed a program called Acute Care for Elders (ACE), which offers individualized care for older patients in specially designed hospital units. It is being piloted in 200 hospitals nationwide, serving an estimated 100,000 patients annually.
The research, published in Health Affairs, consisted of a randomized controlled study of 1,632 older patients seen either in the ACE program or a traditional inpatient hospital setting between August 1993 to May 1997. They found that the average length of stay was shorter for patients in the ACE program (6.7 days) versus a traditional inpatient hospital (7.3 days). They also found that patients in the ACE program incurred lower hospital costs—$9,477 versus $10,451—or a savings of $974 per patient. These numbers could translate to a 1% saving of all Medicare expenditures nationally, or $6 billion annually.
Source.“Specialized Hospital Care for Elderly Patients Could Significantly Cut Costs.” (2012, June 8). Retrieved August 2, 2012, from http://www.newswise.com/articles/specialized-hospital-care-for-elderly-patients-could-significantly-cut-costs.
Timeline Details Brain Changes to Alzheimer’s
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have assembled the most detailed chronology to date of the human brain’s long, slow slide into full-blown Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The timeline appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.
As part of an international research partnership known as the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network, scientists evaluated a variety of pre-symptomatic markers of AD in 128 individuals from families genetically predisposed to develop the disorder. Individuals in the study have a 50% chance of inheriting one of three mutations that are certain to cause AD, often at an unusually young age.
Using medical histories of the participants’ parents to estimate the age of the onset of symptoms for the study participants, the scientists assembled a timeline of changes in the brain leading to the memory loss and cognitive decline that characterizes AD. The earliest of these changes, a drop in spinal fluid levels of the key ingredient of AD brain plaques, can be detected 25 years before the anticipated age of onset.
Other results from the study include:
- Elevated spinal fluid levels of tau appear 15 years before AD symptoms.
- Shrinkage in key brain structures becomes discernible 15 years before symptoms.
- Decreases in the brain’s use of the sugar glucose and slight impairments in a specific type of memory are detectable 10 years before symptoms.
Source.“Timeline Maps Brain’s Descent Into Alzheimer’s.” (2012, July 10). Retrieved August 2, 2012, from http://www.newswise.com/articles/timeline-maps-brain-s-descent-into-alzheimer-s.
Proper Sleep Decreases Chance of Nursing Home Placement
According to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, fragmented or interrupted sleep could predict future placement in a nursing home or assisted living facility. The study is featured in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and outlines the association between objectively measured sleep and subsequent institutionalization among older women.
Using a prospective cohort study, researchers measured the sleep of women with a mean age of 83 from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. Participants were asked to wear actigraphs on their non-dominant wrists for at least 3 days. Demographic information, as well as place of residence at initial interview and at 5-year follow up, was also provided.
Results show that more fragmented sleep is associated with a greater chance of being placed in a nursing home or personal care home. Those who spent the most time awake after first falling asleep and those who spent the smallest proportion of their time in bed actually sleeping had approximately 3 times the odds of placement in a nursing home. Similar patterns of associations between disturbed sleep and placement in personal care homes, such as assisted living facilities, were also discovered, but sleep duration did not necessarily predict placement in either of these settings.
Source.“A Good Night’s Sleep Could Keep You Out of a Nursing Home.” (2012, July 19). Retrieved August 2, 2012, from http://www.newswise.com/articles/a-good-night-s-sleep-could-keep-you-out-of-a-nursing-home.