Decreased deep sleep linked to early signs of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have uncovered part of the explanation for why poor sleep is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. | via ScienceDaily

Poor sleep is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. People with the disease tend to wake up tired, and their nights become even less refreshing as memory loss and other symptoms worsen. But how and why restless nights are linked to Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood.

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Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may have uncovered part of the explanation. They found that older people who have less slow-wave sleep — the deep sleep needed to consolidate memories and wake up feeling refreshed — have higher levels of the brain protein tau. Elevated tau is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease and has been linked to brain damage and cognitive decline.

The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, suggest that poor-quality sleep in later life could be a red flag for deteriorating brain health.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Link to research: Lucey BP, et al. | Reduced non-rapid eye movement sleep is associated with tau pathology in early Alzheimer’s disease | Science Translational Medicine | Jan. 9, 2019

See also: Lack of deep sleep and more day time naps could be early sign of Alzheimer’s, study suggests | The Independent

Alzheimer’s study to look at gut health link

University of Aberdeen | December 2018 | Alzheimer’s study to look at gut health link

A new study led by experts at the University of Aberdeen will recruit patients in the local are to its study which will determine if there is a link between diet in managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of the disease. 

There is increasing evidence that suggests the gut microbiota is a key link between specific nutrients and brain function.

The study will collect samples from three groups of people: people with dementia and challenging behaviour; people with dementia without challenging behaviour; and a control group of people without dementia.

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Professor Alex Johnstone from the University of Aberdeen said:

“This study is the first of its kind and could lead to the possibility of dietary intervention as a solution to prevent behavioural and psychosocial issues which are associated with adverse outcomes as well as distressing to people with dementia, their family and carers.

“We want to explore whether or not the gut-brain axis plays a key role in behavioural changes in dementia.” (Source: University of Aberdeen)

For further details of this study read the release from University of Aberdeen

Supporting carers: guidance and case studies

Local Government Association | December 2018 |  Supporting carers: guidance and case studies

6.5 million people in the UK are classed as carers, a figure equivalent to 10 per cent of the population.  This includes the more than 3 million carers between the ages of 50 and 64 (2 million) and 65+ (1.3 million). As well as approximately 166,000 under 18s with caring
responsibilities in England currently. The majority of carers (approximately 40 per cent), care for their parents or parents-in-law, while over a quarter look after their spouse or partner. Caring for disabled children, both adult and under 18, accounts for 1 in 7 cases.

The care that is provided by carers is worth an estimated £132 billion, about the same amount that is spent on the NHS in England.

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Key statistics

  • 1 in 10 people are carers
  • 40 per cent increase in carers predicted over next 20 years
  • £132 billion worth of care provided by carers
  • 1 in 5 carers are aged over 65
  • 1.4 million carers provide over 50 hours of care a week
  • 7 in 10 have suffered mental ill health and 6 in 10 physical ill health from caring
  • 166,363 young carers in England – a fifth higher than a decade previously
  • 1 in 12 young carers is caring for more than 15 hours a week
  • 1 in 20 misses school because of their caring responsibilities
  • young carers are 1.5 times more likely to have a long-term illness, special educational needs or a disability
  • there are 670,000 unpaid carers of people with dementia in the UK
  • two thirds of people with dementia live at home and most are supported by unpaid carers.

The pressures of being a carer can place a burden on physical and mental health. Carers
are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and stress and nearly two-thirds of carers
have a long-standing health condition.

Supporting carers: guidance and case studies, a publication from Local Government Association highlights current examples of how councils support adult and young carers locally in a range of different ways from respite breaks to discount cards to tailored information and advice.

The publication includes a case study from Carers Leeds (Source: Local Government Association).

 

Friendship and dementia

Friendship and dementia: Hints and tips on supporting friends with dementia | via Alzheimer Scotland

For people living with dementia, maintaining meaningful friendships can be a difficult task. A dementia diagnosis can turn someone’s world upside down and it’s at this time that friendship is valued the most, not only to offer comfort and support but to help to maintain an essence of normality.

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In a 2017 poll  of more than 500 participants,  Alzheimer Scotland’s  ‘Friendship and Dementia’ survey highlighted some disheartening statistics:

  • Two out of three people living with dementia have lost friendships following their diagnosis.
  • 60% of people living with dementia felt reluctant to attend social situations after their diagnosis.
  • 91% of participants felt that there was not enough public knowledge of dementia and what it’s like to live with the illness.

These findings show that more must be done to improve public understanding of attitudes towards dementia, so we are able to help friendships adapt following a diagnosis and throughout the illness. Alzheimer Scotland’s Friendship and Dementia leaflet provides hints and tips on how to provide emotional and practical support to people with dementia, at all stages of the illness. The leaflet provides tips such as:

  • Find out more about dementia and how it’s likely to affect their everyday life. This will help you to support your friend and make you more prepared for changes in the months and years ahead
  • Accept the person your friend is now; try not to draw comparisons with how they were before developing dementia
  • Make sure to talk directly to your friend, especially in social situations.

Full article at Alzheimer Scotland

Click here to access the ‘Friendship and Dementia leaflet’.

 

Employees with early onset dementia face discrimination at work

Employees with early onset dementia face a lack of workplace support and early dismissal, with those in lower-paid jobs most affected, according to new research published in the journal, Occupational Medicine | via People Management

A new study has found ‘no real will’ among organisations to make reasonable adjustments for workers diagnosed with early onset dementia.

The study which looked into the management of employees who developed dementia between the ages of 30 and 65 years found those living with early onset dementia were not being offered reasonable changes to their roles that could have allowed them to continue working.

 

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The study found reports of poor management styles in dealing with dementia, low levels of colleague support and in some cases “no real will” within organisations to find individuals suitable jobs for their remaining skills level, with many being laid off from contracts or dismissed without consultation.

It said those in low paid or manual jobs were more likely to experience an “all or nothing” response to their diagnosis from their employers and often faced dismissal quicker than those in higher paid and non-manual jobs.

Full story at People Management

Full research article: Thomson, L. et al. | Managing employees with dementia: a systematic review | Occupational Medicine | published 27 November 2018

Regular exercise improves thinking skills

Researchers in the United States have found that regular aerobic exercise may improve thinking skills in people with cognitive impairment but no dementia | Neurology | via Alzheimer’s Research UK

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Researchers looked to see if people who take up aerobic exercise and follow an eating regime known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) over a 6-month period showed improvement in cognitive abilities.

The study participants who were cognitively impaired were split into four groups, those who took up aerobic exercise three times a week, people who kept to the diet plan, those who did both and participants who received only health education.

The volunteers who took up aerobic exercise were found to have improved executive functioning – a set of thinking skills associated with planning and controlling behaviour. This improvement was not seen in people who only took up the DASH diet or just received the health education. There were no significant improvements in memory or language abilities in any of the groups.

Full story at Alzheimer’s Research UK

Article reference: Blumenthal, J. A. et al. | Lifestyle and neurocognition in older adults with cognitive impairments | Neurology | December 2018