Risk of dementia and death in community-dwelling older men with bipolar disorder

Almeida, O.P. et al. The British Journal of Psychiatry .Aug 2016. 209 (2). pp. 121-126;

Image source: Susan Lockhart – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Background: Bipolar disorder has been associated with cognitive decline, but confirmatory evidence from a community-derived sample of older people is lacking.

Aims: To investigate the 13-year risk of dementia and death in older adults with bipolar disorder.

Method: Cohort study of 37 768 men aged 65–85 years. Dementia (primary) and death (secondary), as recorded by electronic record linkage, were the outcomes of interest.

Results: Bipolar disorder was associated with increased adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of dementia (HR = 2.30, 95% CI 1.80–2.94). The risk of dementia was greatest among those with <5 years of history of bipolar disorder or who had had illness onset after 70 years of age. Bipolar disorder was also associated with increased mortality (HR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.28–1.77). Competing risk regression showed that bipolar disorder was associated with increased hazard of death by suicide, accidents, pneumonia or influenza, and diseases of the liver and digestive system.

Conclusions: Bipolar disorder in later life is associated with increased risk of dementia and premature death.

Read the abstract here

Retailers set to become more dementia friendly

Alzheimer’s Society. Published online: 28 July 2016

Alzheimer’s Society is launching a new guide for retailers to encourage them to become dementia friendly and support people living with dementia and their carers.

850,000 people live with dementia in the UK, and research * carried out by the charity has shown that 8 out of 10 of those with the condition list shopping as their favourite activity.

However, 63 per cent of people surveyed don’t think that shops are doing enough to help people with dementia and one in four people with dementia ** have given up shopping since being diagnosed. Many cite difficulties with shopping including finding their way around stores, picking up the wrong items, problems at the checkout and worries about staff and other shoppers’ reactions.

Getting out and about and performing everyday tasks like shopping are important because people with dementia want to live well within their own communities and remain independent for as long as possible.

Alzheimer’s Society has launched ‘Becoming a dementia friendly retailer, a practical guide’ at an exclusive industry event attended by retail leaders, including senior representatives from Sainsbury’s, East of England Cooperative, British Council of Shopping Centres and Tesco.

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Alzheimer’s disease and the law: positive and negative consequences of structural stigma and labeling in the legal system

Werner, P. & Doron, I. Aging & Mental HealthPublished online: 27 Jul 2016

Objective: To explore the meaning and consequences of labeling on structural stigma in the context of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the legal system.

Method: This qualitative study was made up of three focus groups including social workers and lawyers (n = 26). Participants were asked to report their experience in circumstances in which persons with AD and their family members engage with the legal system. Thematic analysis using the constant comparative method was used.

Results: The discussions in the focus groups raised two overall themes. (1) The significance of the medical diagnostic labeling of AD in the legal system and (2) the consequences of labeling of AD within the legal system. This last theme included four sub-themes: (a) negative consequences of labeling; (b) reasons associated with negative consequences of labeling; (c) positive consequences of labeling; and (d) reasons associated with positive consequences of labeling.

Conclusion: Findings of the study provide a first foundation for future research on the meaning and consequences of labeling in legal cases involving persons with AD. They suggest that increasing judges’ knowledge about AD and reforming the existing ‘status-based’ legal capacity legislation might benefit by limiting the legal weight given today to the medical diagnosis.

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Clinicians’ experiences of anxiety in patients with dementia

Goyal, A.R. Dementia. Published online: 14 July 2016

Image source: Susan Lockhart – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image shows illustration demonstrating the feeling of anxiety.

Since anxiety in patients with dementia is a complex, understudied phenomenon, this paper presents clinicians’ experiences of anxiety in this population. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven clinicians experienced with dementia in elderly patients (65 years and above), and then evaluated via qualitative content analysis.

Analysis revealed three main categories: A reaction to loss and worries, symptoms of anxiety and depression interfere with each other, and anxiety in dementia—a multidisciplinary task.

Anxiety in this population is perhaps best understood as a reaction to loss and worries, and existential in nature by the participants. Care interventions can reduce or prevent anxiety symptoms in this population. However, when anxiety co-exists with depression it might be difficult to attenuate these symptoms through care measures alone. To better identify and treat the condition, valid dementia-specific anxiety-screening instruments are necessary.

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Does a dementia diagnosis have a silver lining? Study suggests it can.

ScienceDaily. Published online: 25 July 2016

heart-1213475_960_720Results from a study of patients with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or early dementia indicates that their outlook isn’t as dark as expected.

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging asked 48 men and women with early dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) a series of questions about their quality of life and personal outlook post-diagnosis.

Called the Silver Lining Questionnaire (SLQ), the instrument measures the extent to which people believe their illness has had a positive benefit in areas such as: improved personal relationships, greater appreciation for life, positive influence on others, personal inner strength and changes in life philosophy. The SLQ has been administered previously to patients with cancer diagnoses, but hasn’t been given to MCI/dementia patients, according to Gregory Jicha, MD, PhD, a professor at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the study’s lead author.

Positive responses were even higher on certain scores, such as:

  • appreciation and acceptance of life
  • less concern about failure
  • self-reflection, tolerance of others, and courage to face problems in life
  • strengthened relationships and new opportunities to meet people.

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Systems to identify potentially inappropriate prescribing in people with advanced dementia: a systematic review

Disalvo, D. et al. BMC Geriatrics. 2016; 16: 114.

Image source: George Hodan // CC0

Background: Systems for identifying potentially inappropriate medications in older adults are not immediately transferrable to advanced dementia, where the management goal is palliation. The aim of the systematic review was to identify and synthesise published systems and make recommendations for identifying potentially inappropriate prescribing in advanced dementia.

Methods: Studies were included if published in a peer-reviewed English language journal and concerned with identifying the appropriateness or otherwise of medications in advanced dementia or dementia and palliative care. The quality of each study was rated using the STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist. Synthesis was narrative due to heterogeneity among designs and measures. Medline (OVID), CINAHL, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2005 – August 2014) and AMED were searched in October 2014. Reference lists of relevant reviews and included articles were searched manually.

Results: Eight studies were included, all of which were scored a high quality using the STROBE checklist. Five studies used the same system developed by the Palliative Excellence in Alzheimer Care Efforts (PEACE) Program. One study used number of medications as an index, and two studies surveyed health professionals’ opinions on appropriateness of specific medications in different clinical scenarios.

Conclusions: Future research is needed to develop and validate systems with clinical utility for improving safety and quality of prescribing in advanced dementia. Systems should account for individual clinical context and distinguish between deprescribing and initiation of medications.

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New research uncovers factors that can protect against cognitive decline and dementia

Alzheimer’s Society.Published online: 25 July 2016

face-535761_960_720Research at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2016 in Toronto, finds that certain genes and lifestyle factors can increase resilience against the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

These resilience factors may differ between men and women and may counteract the negative effects of a poor diet on cognition.

Factors such as the number of years spent in education, having a complex job and regularly doing activities that challenge the brain can contribute to resilience by helping to build up a ‘cognitive reserve’. Cognitive reserve is the ability of the brain to withstand certain levels of damage without any loss of function.

Read the full research overview here