In the News

Juice May Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

Frequent consumption of fruit and vegetable juices may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to the results of a study published in the September issue of The American Journal of Medicine. The study involved 1,836 people identified as "free from dementia" between 1992 and 1994 who were evaluated at two-year time intervals until the end of 2001.

Researchers found that the risk for developing Alzheimer's disease was reduced by 76 percent for those who drank fruit and vegetable juices more than three times per week compared with those who drank juices less than once per week. Many fruit and vegetable juices are high in polyphenols, which are strong anti-oxidants that researchers suspect may inhibit the growth of amyloid beta peptides in the brain (A-beta plaques in brain tissue are almost invariably a telltale symptom of the disease). The mechanism is still poorly understood. For example, it's unclear to researchers why studies of anti-oxidant vitamins have failed to yield the same positive results. But for now, don't leave the juice out of your diet! Read More

New Obstacles to Assisted Living

Assisted living centers are an important part of America's eldercare infrastructure. These facilities provide a place to live and assistance to seniors who are not so frail that they need to be in a nursing home, but still require help with some daily activities. Assisted living facilities usually offer basic housekeeping help, assistance with managing medications, and ready access to a registered nurse. For increased fees, some will also provide other services, such as hygiene care and help in the bathroom.

Just a few years ago, there was a glut of extra space in such facilities following a construction boom. But now demand is rising dramatically, with consequent price increases. According to a recent MetLife survey, the average per-year cost of an assisted living facility has risen by roughly a third in just the past four years, and the facilities currently have a 95 percent occupancy rate nationwide. These factors place increased burdens on consumers, whether they are family caregivers or the patients themselves. Prospective consumers should educate themselves by shopping around to find the best facilities in their area. For more information or to find a checklist of what to look for in a facility, use the online resources listed under QUICK CLICKS in this newsletter (at right). Read More

Is It Alzheimer's or Stroke?

Mental deterioration often seen in older adults can be caused by a plethora of factors, but two of the most common are Alzheimer's disease and stroke. The two disorders are very different, but the diagnostic tools commonly used by clinicians to identify cognitive impairment tend to take an either/or approach. Tests for stroke focus on cognitive and nervous system changes, while Alzheimer's tests look almost exclusively for signs of memory loss.

But now leading researchers in Canada and the United States have agreed to a common set of tests and standards for measuring different types of cognitive impairment. Dr. Vladimir Hachinksi, a professor of neurology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, praised the new standards, saying that the change will allow people working in different fields to communicate more effectively, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. The new standards are published in the most recent edition of the medical journal Stroke. Read More

A New Report on Early Onset Dementia

We usually think of dementia as a problem of the elderly. But according to a new report from the National Alzheimer's Association, there may be as many as 500,000 Americans under the age of 65 who are suffering from dementia. These individuals, and their families, face unique social, economic, and emotional challenges.

Early onset dementia sufferers are often still employed when their symptoms begin to emerge, creating problems at work. They may also struggle to find a support network of peers because most dementia services and support groups are designed to accommodate dementia sufferers a generation older. And since clinicians are not always looking for dementia symptoms in younger populations, there may be delays in proper diagnosis, causing patients to miss out on state and federal disability benefits or other medical benefits for which they are eligible.

The National Alzheimer's Association's report makes a number of important recommendations for government, scientific research, health care, and social services to help meet the needs of early-onset dementia sufferers and their families. View the report, "Early Onset Dementia: A National Challenge, a Future Crisis" online or contact the National Alzheimer's Association Green-Field Library at 312-335-9602. Read More

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