On “SuperAgers”: People Who Avoid Age-Related Memory Problems (BBC News / Journal of Neuroscience / Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience / JINS)

Dementia and Elderly Care News


Researchers have been studying “SuperAgers”, and the associated phenomenon of SuperAging, to discover possible physiological and genetic mechanisms behind the fortuitous preservation of superior memory into old age.

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‘Super agers’ offer clue to keeping a sharp memory. London: BBC Health News, September 14th 2016.

This relates to:

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Sun, FW. Stepanovic, MR. [and] Andreano, J. [et al] (2016). Youthful brains in older adults: preserved neuroanatomy in the default mode and salience networks contributes to youthful memory in superaging. The Journal of Neuroscience. September 14th 2016; 36: pp.9659-68.

Some earlier articles:

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Gefen, T. Peterson, M. [and] Papastefan, ST. [et al] (2015). Morphometric and histologic substrates of cingulate integrity in elders with exceptional memory capacity. Journal of Neuroscience. January 28th 2015; 35(4): 1781-91.

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Rogalski EJ. Gefen, T. [and] Shi, J. [et al]…

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Dementia research to receive £45 million over the next five years

Dementia research will receive £45 million over the next five years as part of a record £816 million investment in NHS research, the Health Secretary announced this week.

Twenty NHS and University partnerships across England have each been awarded funding, through the National Institute for Health Research.

Each of the twenty Biomedical Research Centres will host the development of new, ground-breaking treatments, diagnostics, prevention and care for patients.

Read more via the Department of Health

Mood, activity, and interaction in long-term dementia care

Hanneke C. Beerens et al. The relation between mood, activity, and interaction in long-term dementia care   Aging & Mental Health Published online: 13 Sep 2016


Objective: The aim of the study is to identify the degree of association between mood, activity engagement, activity location, and social interaction during everyday life of people with dementia (PwD) living in long-term care facilities.

Method: An observational study using momentary assessments was conducted. For all 115 participants, 84 momentary assessments of mood, engagement in activity, location during activity, and social interaction were carried out by a researcher using the tablet-based Maastricht Electronic Daily Life Observation-tool.

Results: A total of 9660 momentary assessments were completed. The mean age of the 115 participants was 84 and most (75%) were women. A negative, neutral, or positive mood was recorded during 2%, 25%, and 73% of the observations, respectively. Positive mood was associated with engagement in activities, doing activities outside, and social interaction. The type of activity was less important for mood than the fact that PwD were engaged in an activity. Low mood was evident when PwD attempted to have social interaction but received no response.

Conclusion: Fulfilling PwD’s need for occupation and social interaction is consistent with a person-centred dementia care focus and should have priority in dementia care

Carers: The navigators of the maze of care for people with dementia—A qualitative study

Jamieson, M. et al. (2016) Dementia. 15(5) pp. 1112-1123


Background: Dementia is a challenge in our society, with individuals accessing services across multiple settings. Carers are navigating and delivering care services in the home. This research sought to investigate the experiences of people with dementia and their carers when transitioning home from hospital.

Methods: This study used a qualitative descriptive design, employing in-depth interviews with 30 carers recruited through networks known to one state branch of Alzheimer’s Australia. Emerging themes were validated in one focus group.

Results: During the hospital stay carers experienced a paradox: being required to deliver care yet perceiving that they were being ignored in regard to decisions about care. The time in hospital was considered by some carers to be stressful, as they were concerned about the safety of the person with dementia. Many reported that discharge home was rarely planned and coordinated. Returning home carers found re-establishing and/or accessing new services challenging, with available services often inappropriate to need.

Conclusion: The paradox of the care experience in the acute setting, whereby the carer was either invited, or sought, to deliver care, yet was excluded in staff decisions about that care, challenges the current communication and coordination of care. For people with dementia and their carers, there is a need for a coordinated seamless service that enables continued unbroken care and support from acute care to home. Carers also need support navigating the wide range of services available and importantly both carers and care providers may need to understand service boundaries.

Recommendations: This study highlights the need to acknowledge the expertise of the carer, and their need for support. Enabling a smooth discharge from hospital and support to navigate care access in the community is paramount. These experiences provide insight into gaps in service provision and modifying existing services may lead to improved experiences.

Read the abstract here

Being a pedestrian with dementia: A qualitative study using photo documentation and focus group interviews

Brorsson, A. et al. (2016) Dementia. 15(5). pp. 1124-1140


The aim of the study was to identify problematic situations in using zebra crossings. They were identified from photo documentations comprising film sequences and the perspectives of people with dementia. The aim was also to identify how they would understand, interpret and act in these problematic situations based on their previous experiences and linked to the film sequences.

A qualitative grounded theory approach was used. Film sequences from five zebra crossings were analysed. The same film sequences were used as triggers in two focus group interviews with persons with dementia. Individual interviews with three informants were also performed.

The core category, the hazard of meeting unfolding problematic traffic situations when only one layer at a time can be kept in focus, showed how a problematic situation as a whole consisted of different layers of problematic situations. The first category, adding layers of problematic traffic situations to each other, was characterized by the informants’ creation of a problematic situation as a whole. The different layers were described in the subcategories of layout of streets and zebra crossings, weather conditions, vehicles and crowding of pedestrians. The second category, actions used to meet different layers of problematic traffic situations, was characterized by avoiding problematic situations, using traffic lights as reminders and security precautions, following the flow at the zebra crossing and being cautious pedestrians.

In conclusion, as community-dwelling people with dementia commonly are pedestrians, it is important that health care professionals and caregivers take their experiences and management of problematic traffic situations into account when providing support.

Read the abstract here

Couples’ experiences with early-onset dementia: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of dyadic dynamics

Wawrziczny, E. et al. (2016) Dementia. 15 (5). pp. 1082-1099

pair-378562_960_720Objective: The growing interest in early-onset dementia has attracted attention to the situation and experiences of the caregiver, most often the spouse. Several qualitative studies on caregiving spouses have underlined the importance of the feeling of loss, the change of role reported by the caregiving spouses, and the strategies used to protect the person with dementia, all of which raise the question of the relational dynamics at play in these dyads. The present study on 16 couples examines the experiences of each partner, as well as the kinds of interactions taking place within the dyad and how they have evolved since the disease began.

Design: An interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted on dyadic semi-structured interviews.

Results: Seven axes emerged from the analyses, showing that control over symptoms gradually leads to deterioration of marital interactions and to the components of marital dissolution.

Read the abstract here


Engagement in elderly persons with dementia attending animal-assisted group activity

Olsen, C. et al. Dementia. Published online: September 2 2016

Image source: normanack – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The need for meaningful activities that enhance engagement is very important among persons with dementia (PWDs), both for PWDs still living at home, as well as for PWDs admitted to a nursing home (NH). In this study, we systematically registered behaviours related to engagement in a group animal-assisted activity (AAA) intervention for 21 PWDs in NHs and among 28 home-dwelling PWDs attending a day care centre.

The participants interacted with a dog and its handler for 30 minutes, twice a week for 12 weeks. Video-recordings were carried out early (week 2) and late (week 10) during the intervention period and behaviours were categorized by the use of an ethogram.

AAA seems to create engagement in PWDs, and might be a suitable and health promoting intervention for both NH residents and participants of a day care centre. Degree of dementia should be considered when planning individual or group based AAA.

Read the full article here

Learning and knowing technology as lived experience in people with Alzheimer’s disease: a phenomenological study

Rosenberg, L. & Nygård, L. Aging & Mental Health | Published online: 03 September 2016


Objectives: Most research on learning in the field of dementia has studied teaching approaches, while little is known about learning as experienced and enacted by the people with dementia. The aim was to explore the lived experience of learning and maintaining knowledge related to technology among people with mild to moderate stage dementia.

Method: Seven persons with dementia were interviewed in-depth, and data were analyzed with a phenomenological approach.

Results: The participants positioned themselves on a continuum from ‘Updating and expanding is not for me’ to ‘Updating and expanding is really for me’. They used different ways of learning in their everyday life – relying on one’s habituated repertoire of actions, on other people or on technology itself, or belonging to a learning context.

Conclusions: We have much to gain from better understanding of how people with dementia strive to learn and maintain their skills and knowledge related to technology. This is particularly important as they seem to use other approaches than those employed in current teaching methods. The necessity of learning stands out particularly when it comes to the interaction with the current multitude and ever-changing designs of technologies, including assistive technologies developed specifically to support people with dementia.

Read the abstract here