Journal of Gerontological Nursing

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Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease With the MIND Diet

A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), could significantly lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease even if not meticulously followed, according to a study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53% in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by approximately 35% in those who followed it moderately well. This is the first study to relate the MIND diet to Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers developed the MIND diet based on information accrued from years’ worth of past research about what foods and nutrients have good and bad effects on the functioning of the brain over time. The MIND diet was compared with the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Individuals with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in Alzheimer’s disease (39% versus 54%, respectively), but achieved negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either.

The study enlisted volunteers (N = 923) already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project. Participants earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. A total of 144 cases of Alzheimer’s disease developed in the cohort.

Per the researchers, the longer an individual adheres to the MIND diet, the less risk he/she will have of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Source.“New MIND Diet May Significantly Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease.” (2015, March 19). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://bit.ly/1CMCv3v.

Preserving Memory With Arts and Crafts

Individuals who participate in arts and craft activities and socialize in middle and old age may delay the development of thinking and memory problems that often lead to dementia, according to a new study published in Neurology.

Participants included 256 individuals (average age = 87) who did not have memory and thinking problems at the start of the study. Participants reported their participation in arts (e.g., painting, drawing, sculpting), crafts (e.g., woodworking, pottery, ceramics, quilting, quilling, sewing), social activities (e.g., going to the theater, movies, concerts, socializing with friends, book clubs, Bible study, travel), and computer activities (e.g., using the Internet, computer games, conducting web searches, online purchases).

After an average of 4 years, 121 participants developed mild cognitive impairment. Participants who engaged in arts were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than those who did not report engaging in artistic activities. Likewise, participants who crafted were 45% less likely to develop MCI, and those who socialized were 55% less likely to develop MCI compared to those who did not. Computer use in later life was associated with a 53% reduced risk of MCI.

Source.“Can Arts, Crafts and Computer Use Preserve Your Memory?” (2015, April 1). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://bit.ly/1Kdl7Ei.

Individuals With Alzheimer’s Disease Not Being Diagnosed

The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report found that only 45% of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers say they were told the diagnosis by their doctor. In contrast, more than 90% of cancer patients say they were told their diagnosis.

The report also found that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers were more likely to say they were told the diagnosis after the disease had become more advanced. This is a problem because learning the diagnosis later in the course of the disease may mean individuals’ capacity to participate in decision making about care plans or legal and financial issues may be diminished, and their ability to participate in research or fulfill lifelong plans may be limited.

One of the reasons most commonly cited by health care providers for not disclosing an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis is fear of causing the patient emotional distress. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, telling the individual with Alzheimer’s disease the truth about his or her diagnosis should be standard practice. Disclosure can be delivered in a sensitive and supportive manner that avoids unnecessary distress.

Benefits of promptly and clearly explaining a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease include better access to quality medical care and support services, and the opportunity for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease to participate in decisions about their care, including providing informed consent for current and future treatment plans.

Source.“New Alzheimer’s Association Report Finds Less Than Half of People with Alzheimer’s Disease Say They Were Told the Diagnosis.” (2015, March 24). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://prn.to/1InGeTT.

Meditation as Therapy

In separate clinical studies, researchers looked into the effectiveness of a meditation and yoga program (i.e., mindfulness-based stress reduction [MBSR]) as a therapy for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and migraine headaches.

In the first study, participants’ ages were between 55 and 90, and they had MCI. Participants who practiced MBSR for 8 weeks had significantly improved functional connectivity in the brain’s network that is active during introspective thought, along with trends of less atrophy in the hippocampus (i.e., the area of the brain responsible for emotions, learning, and memory) compared with those who received conventional care.

Findings indicated that meditation may positively affect the areas of the brain most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and thus may be capable of slowing its progress.

The second study found that adults with migraines who practiced MBSR for 8 weeks had shorter and less debilitating migraines than those in the control group who received standard medical care. Members of the MBSR group also had trends of less frequent and less severe attacks, and reported having a greater sense of self-control over migraines.

Another researcher demonstrated that as little as three 20-minute training sessions in mindfulness meditation can reduce pain and everyday anxiety in healthy individuals with no previous meditation experience.

Source.“Researchers Probing Potential Power of Meditation as Therapy.” (2015, April 8). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://bit.ly/1dKzsOr.

Short-Term Exercise Programs Prevent Falls

New research findings about how and why seniors fall may give health care providers insight on improved balance- and strength-training strategies to prevent falls by older adults.

The study explored the effectiveness of a 5-week balance-training exercise program designed to focus on lower extremity strength, balance, and fear of falling in adults older than 60. Researchers worked closely with more than one dozen men and women at a senior center and tailored the exercise program to each participant’s needs.

Participants’ pre- and posttest evaluations included a self-report questionnaire (in which they rated their balance confidence for performing activities) as well as various physical and computerized tests that measured strength and balance.

Results found that a short-term balance program can improve lower extremity strength, balance confidence, and functional mobility in older adults. Although no significant changes were noted in dynamic balance, a positive trend suggested the benefit of a short-term training program.

Source.“Researchers Say Short-Term Exercise Programs Can Prevent Falls by Seniors.” (2015, April 8). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://bit.ly/1E51nip.

10.3928/00989134-20150515-02

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