Monday, October 25, 2010

Women Will Be Increasingly Burdened By Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease will place an increasing burden on women according to new reports.

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month and even the U.S. Congress has urged “the people of the United States to recognize (this) as an opportunity to learn more about the potential risks and costs … and the options available.” Alzheimer’s is a leading cause of need for long-term care.

Over 10 million American females either have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or look after a patient with the disease, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Two thirds (65%) of all Alzheimer’s patients are female (3 million in America) and 6.7 million women care for somebody with the disease, says The Shriver Report, a collaboration between California’s First Lady Maria Shriver and The Alzheimer’s Association.

By the year 2050 approximately 8 million women will have AD in the US.

Here are some of the highlights of the report:

a) Over 10 million American females either have AD or look after a patient with the disease

b) 65% of Alzheimer’s patients are female

c) 60% of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are female

d) 40% of caregivers who are female say they have no choice

e) One third of all female caregivers are caring for somebody with AD around the clock, seven days a week

f) The impact of AD on business, families and government is estimated to be $300 billion annually

g) Nearly two-thirds of caregivers who also have a job say they have no choice but to get to work late, clock off early and sometimes take time off to care for somebody with AD.

The current $300 billion impact of AD is set to triple within a few decades, the authors write. 78 million baby boomers are rapidly reaching the age of Alzheimer’s onset, Shriver points out; this will soon push up the economic and social costs for America as a whole.

Despite hundreds of clinical trials and millions spent on research, Alzheimer’s disease is still incurable. Researchers and experts continue to hope, and say we are making progress. Even so, there is a feeling among most Americans that scientific progress is too slow. When compared to innovative breakthroughs that have occurred in diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease, Americans rank Alzheimer’s at the bottom of the list.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Munching Celery Reduces Memory Decline

Diets rich in the plant compound luteolin reduces age-related inflammation in the brain and related memory deficits.

Luteolin is found in many plants, including carrots, peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile. The compound inhibits the release of inflammatory molecules in the brain.

According to researchers who examined the effects of dietary luteolin in a mouse model of aging and reported their findings in the Journal of Nutrition.

The researchers focused on specialized immune cells that reside in the brain and spinal cord. Inflammation in the brain also appears to be a key contributor to age-related memory problems, said the University of Illinois animal sciences professor who led the new study.

Scientists found previously that during normal aging, microglial cells become dysregulated and begin producing excessive levels of inflammatory cytokines. The researcher has spent nearly a decade studying the anti-inflammatory properties of nutrients and various bioactive plant compounds, including luteolin.

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks aging research and issues, this is the first study to suggest, however, that luteolin improves cognitive health by acting directly on the microglial cells to reduce their production of inflammatory cytokines in the brain.

The researchers showed that microglial cells that were exposed to a bacterial toxin produced inflammatory cytokines that could kill neurons. When the microglia were exposed to luteolin before they encountered the toxin, however, the neurons lived.

The researchers next turned their attention to the effects of luteolin on the brains and behavior of adult (3- to 6-month-old) and aged (2-year-old) mice. The mice were fed a control diet or a luteolin-supplemented diet for four weeks. The researchers assessed their spatial memory and measured levels of inflammatory markers in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important to memory and spatial awareness.

Normally, aged mice have higher levels of inflammatory molecules in the hippocampus and are more impaired on memory tests than younger adult mice. Aged mice on the luteolin-supplemented diet, however, did better on the learning and memory task than their peers, and the levels of inflammatory cytokines in their brains were more like those of the younger adult mice.

The data suggests that consuming a healthy diet has the potential to reduce age-associated inflammation in the brain, which can result in better cognitive health.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Record Poor Will Impact Long Term Care Services

A record number of Americans signed up for Medicaid last year and experts warn it will impact those needing long term care.

According to a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation enrollment in Medicaid, medical insurance program for the poor, increased to more than 48 million – a record 15.7 percent share of the U.S. population. ”There will be two classes of Americans, those who will have to accept whatever care the government programs can afford, and those who have assets or insurance to pay,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “People in their 50s today are in for a real shock unless they expect things to get much better.”

With the economy barely improving, states are forecasting a 6 percent increase in the rolls next year, meaning another strain on their cash-depleted budgets. The Medicaid numbers are the latest piece to emerge in a grim statistical picture of the recession’s toll.

The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s last year, according to a recent Census report. Nearly 12 million households received food stamps, a record.

The $814 billion federal economic stimulus plan passed last year provided extra funding for states for Medicaid, in the hope of covering the costs of the increased number of enrollees and of freeing up state budgets for spending in other areas.

The plan helped states drop their spending on Medicaid, which can take up a third of their budgets, by 7.1 percent in fiscal 2010 and by 10.9 percent in fiscal 2009, Kaiser found. But even with the U.S. government shouldering a greater share of the burden, states were forced to make cuts. In fiscal 2010 48 of the 50 states made cuts to some part of their Medicaid programs, according to the report. In fiscal 2011, 46 states intend to cut back on Medicaid spending.

Altogether, 20 states restricted the types of benefits enrollees could use in fiscal 2010, the largest number since records began in 2001.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Exercise And Fall Prevention For Seniors

Research in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reports that improvements in gait strength and balance can aid in fall prevention for elderly women who are at high risk of hip fractures and costly hip replacement procedures.

According to the study, one hundred sixty women were broken into two study groups: 84to an exercise group, and 76 in a control percentage. For a six month period, once a week from October through March years 1998 through 2001, the women in the exercise group took classes pertaining to balance, leg strength and impact training.

After the exercise period was complete, 17 women in the exercise group were hospital-treated for fractures, and 23 in the control contracted fractures.

Five serious hip fractures were recorded in the control, non-training group compared to absolutely zero in the portion that worked on balance and stamina over the four year period. Hip fractures are a major cause of injury that can result in the need for costly long-term care according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the Los Angeles-based educational group.

The researchers conducted follow-up research of 160 women who participated in a randomized trial aimed at reducing risk factors for fractures in elderly women with osteopenia (a reduction in bone mass, or low levels of bone calcium).

They noted that Thirty months of supervised, mainly home-based exercises followed by voluntary home training had a positive long-term effect on balance and gait in high-risk elderly women. Life-long physical activity was associated with reduced risk of fractures.

Furthermore, mortality was significantly lower in the exercise group than in the control group during the extended follow-up period. Regular daily physical activity should be recommended to elderly women with osteopenia.