Insulin and Brain Function Study at University of Texas

BE a part of cutting edge research and science by taking part in a study at the University of Texas! Thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association for the hot tip. Check out the details below! -SP

Insulin and Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Disease Study:
What is the purpose of this study?

The results of recent studies suggest that people with memory impairment may have problems with the way in which their body uses blood sugar. These problems may be due in part to the way certain hormones, such as insulin, affect the body’s ability to use sugar. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, improvements in blood sugar regulation have been shown to improve the ability to remember new information. These findings are interesting because they provide some clues about what causes problems with memory, attention, and concentration in some people with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders.

Some new findings indicate that insulin, when administered as a “nasal spray” into the nasal passages, improves memory in adults with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study is to understand the mechanisms of insulin-mediated improvements in memory. Using insulin in this way is experimental and we do not know if it will be effective in helping to improve every individual’s memory.

What will be done if you take part in this research study? If you agree to participate, and your agreement is endorsed by a family member or caregiver who has frequent contact with you, or your legal representative, you will be asked to complete a screening visit and, if eligible, four research-visits scheduled within two weeks of each other. Each visit will last approximately two to three hours.

We are currently recruiting participants with mild memory problems or early stage probable Alzheimer’s disease.

Click here to learn more at the UT Neuroscience Lab website.

Art Therapy Making a Difference: Former elementary art teacher now works with Alzheimer’s patients

We love this article from the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, a great blog on all things Alzheimer’s, highlighting the benefits of art therapy. We know first hand how important that our clients at Elderhaven Adult Day Centers enjoy and benefit from art projects, from working with clay to painting to quilting. Take a look at this article and see a little bit of what we see each day at AGE. -SP

By JOHN CARLSON

It started with real paint brushes and make-believe paint, applied to the big-band sounds of Tommy Dorsey.

“This lady loves to paint!” Laurie Lunsford had announced over the music, greeting the advanced Alzheimer’s patients as they were rolled or escorted into the activity room at the Golden Livingcenter. Now with dry brushes in hand, they stroked and dabbed on a print of a painting by Michael Coleman called In the Adirondacks, practicing for the fun to come.

“We’re warming up,” Lunsford explained, shortly before passing out jars of blue, red, green and yellow watercolor. “It’s getting them revved up to do the real painting.”

Soon enough, the residents — all 80-somethings, and including Marie Morris, Zora Begley, Dorothy Bannister and Maxine Siewert — were applying real colors to a large sheet of plain white poster board. One corner resembled a patch of ocean-blue sky. Elsewhere, undulating lines looked like the charting of a bear or bull stock market, depending from which direction you looked.

But either way, the women were moving and, at least to some extent, interacting.

That was a minor miracle.

“If they weren’t in here doing art therapy, you’d think they were completely gone,” said Ben Wells, Golden Livingcenter’s executive director. “Most don’t recognize family members, or even (remember) how to eat. There’s something about the art therapy that brings out something deep inside.”

That, to be sure, is why Lunsford voluntarily does this each week at four local nursing homes.

“It’s a mission I believe in,” said the former elementary school art teacher, an advocate of the arts-and-health-care movement. “I think it is essential. It is needed. They come alive.”

As her painting class continued, Lunsford worked to engage the women in several other artistic efforts.

“We ought to make up a story about this,” she said, motioning toward the print of the Coleman painting, which featured two black bears in a tree. “Tell me a bear story.”

And while you couldn’t say the talk that resulted was a story, the women attempted to verbalize something, with Maxine even expressing what sounded like some long-recessed thought about a bear and Wyoming.

“How old were you?” Lunsford asked.

“Well, I was married,” the elderly woman responded, plainly.

Putting it into words

From there, the group tried recitation. “The bear went over the mountain” and “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” were attempted before Lunsford moved on to simple poems like “Roses are red, violets are blue …” all the while encouraging the women to add new stanzas.

Read more here at The Alzheimer’s Reading Room blog.

The Caregiver’s Bookshelf: The Beginnings of Alzheimer’s

Another great post from The New Old Age, the blog on all things “older adult” at the New York Times.-SP

It’s been nearly 30 years since Dr. Peter Rabins, a Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, and his co-author Nancy Mace published “The 36-Hour Day,” the best known guide to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Now in its fourth edition, it remains a trusted source of information and support.

But the landscape of dementia — its diagnosis, its treatment, how much neuroscience has advanced, how much the public understands — has changed dramatically, as Gina Kolata has been reporting in The Times. As she also points out, this progress in diagnosing Alzheimer’s will mean that families are likely to face tough decisions sooner than ever.

“The book was a landmark twenty-some years ago when people were being diagnosed with what we’d call moderate to end-stage dementia,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a prominent researcher on the aging brain at Duke University Medical Center. “Now people are being diagnosed much earlier, when they’re still functioning well, and there’s a push to diagnose at even earlier stages.” With more medications available, with better understanding of the non-Alzheimer’s dementias, “people want to be more proactive,” Dr. Doraiswamy said. “They want to join clinical trials. They want ways to protect their brains.”

So Dr. Doraiswamy, with Lisa Gwyther, a social worker who directs Duke’s Alzheimer’s family support program, and Tina Adler, a science writer, intend for their book, “The Alzheimer’s Action Plan,” to fill a gap. “It’s essentially a book about the early stage of the disease,” Dr. Doraiswamy said.

These authors dispute the notion that since there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, diagnosis and treatment are pointless. “Studies suggest that people who start treatment early usually remain better off than those who start treatment months later,” they write. So they’ve mapped out strategies for seeking a diagnosis and maximizing the usefulness of a doctor’s appointment. They explain conditions that can masquerade as Alzheimer’s but aren’t. They offer very specific advice on medications, not only Alzheimer’s drugs but antidepressants and antipsychotics.

An analysis of the pros and cons of participating in clinical drug trials even includes — a bonus from Dr. Doraiswamy — a sample consent form, annotated to translate its medicalese into intelligible English.

Read more here at The New York Times.

Study: Body shape affects memory in older women

(CNN) — A woman’s body shape may play a role in how good her memory is, according to a new study.

The more an older woman weighs, the worse her memory, according to research released this week from Northwestern Medicine at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

The effect is more pronounced in women who carry excess weight around their hips, known as pear shapes, than women who carry it around their waists, called apple shapes.

The reason pear-shaped women experienced more memory and brain function deterioration than apple-shaped women is likely related to the type of fat deposited around the hips versus the waist.

Scientists know that different kinds of fat release different cytokines — the hormones that can cause inflammation and affect cognition.

“We need to find out if one kind of fat is more detrimental than the other, and how it affects brain function,” said Dr. Diana Kerwin, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of medicine and a physician at Northwestern Medicine. “The fat may contribute to the formation of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease or a restricted blood flow to the brain.”

The study published in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Geriatric Society said, on average, there is a one-point drop in the memory score for every one-point increase in body-mass index — a ratio of a person’s height and weight. The study included 8,745 cognitively normal, post-menopausal women ages 65 to 79.

“Obesity is bad, but its effects are worse depending on where the fat is located,” Kerwin said.

“The study tells us if we have a woman in our office, and we know from her waist-to-hip ratio that she’s carrying excess fat on her hips, we might be more aggressive with weight loss,” Kerwin said. “We can’t change where your fat is located, but having less of it is better.”

Read the article here at CNN.com.

Research: Dementia May Differ in Those With and Without Diabetes

(HealthDay News) — Vascular disease, which affects blood flow in brain vessels, appears to be a common cause of dementia in some people with diabetes, new study findings suggest.

That’s in contrast to dementia in people without diabetes, which the researchers say is more likely to be linked to the brain plaque deposits commonly seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings come from researchers at the Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus and the University of California, San Francisco, who compared the ratios of two different types of amyloid beta proteins in blood samples from 211 people with dementia and 403 others without dementia.

“This helps in understanding diabetes and dementia. It suggests that the vascular dementia seen in diabetics, which appears to be related to small blood vessel disease and strokes, can potentially be averted if development of diabetes is prevented,” neurologist Dr. Neill Graff-Radford said in a Mayo Clinic news release.

Read more here.

Breaking News: Major Victory for Alzheimer Advocates

From the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has added early-onset/younger onset Alzheimer’s to the list of conditions under its Compassionate Allowance Initiative, giving those with the disease expedited access to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Alzheimer’s Association, a longtime advocate for those with early-onset Alzheimer’s, has played an integral role in this movement to reduce the length of disability decision process.

Sign AA’s Thank You Card to SSA by clicking here.

Read more here.

Frequent Mental Lapses May Precede Alzheimer’s

MONDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) — Mental lapses among older adults occur more often among those developing Alzheimer’s disease than healthy elders, new research finds.

Excessive daytime sleepiness, staring into space and disorganized or illogical thinking are other mental fluctuations that often precede Alzheimer’s, say researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“For many years, people have jokingly attributed mental lapses, or incidents when the train of thought temporarily seems to jump its tracks, as ‘senior moments,'” said lead researcher Dr. James Galvin, an associate professor of neurology. “It has never been clear as to whether these lapses could lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more at BusinessWeek.com