Home-Based Activity Program Reduces Severity and Frequency of Behavioral Symptoms and Maintains Function for Older Veterans with Dementia

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

People with dementia often have behavioral symptoms. These include problems with memory, language, and decision-making abilities. People with dementia can also experience changes in mood, such as increased irritability, depression, and anxiety. They often need assistance with their daily activities, such as feeding, dressing, using the toilet, and bathing themselves. These symptoms are often troubling for people with dementia, as well as for their caregivers.

These dementia symptoms can reduce quality of life for people as they age. This can make them dependent on other people, which can lead to caregivers feeling distressed. It may also lead to people with dementia being hospitalized or placed in a nursing home, even if it is not what they would prefer for their care.

There are no effective drug treatments for dementia or its symptoms. Therefore, researchers have been exploring treatment options to improve symptoms that don’t involve using medication. A team of researchers studied one of those programs, called the Tailored Activity Program (TAP). TAP matches activities to the interests and abilities of people with dementia. Then it teaches caregivers how to use those activities daily.

The researchers initially reported positive results in a small study of 60 people. They then studied TAP in a larger group of veterans living with dementia. They reported their results in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

Taking Proton Pump Inhibitors Not Linked to Higher Dementia Risk

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines commonly prescribed to treat acid-related digestive problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD).  As of 2011, up to 1 in 5 older adults reported using a PPI. Although healthcare practitioners have long believed that PPIs are safe, recent studies have linked PPIs to potential risks, including fractures and kidney disease. Some studies also have linked PPIs to an increased risk for dementia among older adults. However, several experts have suggested that these studies may not correctly measure the connection.

In a new research article published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, scientists were able to conclude that developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) did not appear to be linked to taking PPIs.

The researchers reviewed information from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, which included 3,484 adults aged 65 and older. Participants did not have dementia at the beginning of the study and were followed for an average of about 7.5 years. Continue reading

For Adults Younger than 78, Higher Risk for Heart Disease Linked to Higher Risk for Problems Walking

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Problems with balance, walking speed, and muscle strength become more common as we age, and can lead to disability. In fact, studies show that for older adults, having a slower walking speed can help predict chronic illness, hospitalization, and even death.

A team of researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm examined the factors that put older adults at higher risk for developing physical limitations as they age. The team studied information from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care-Kungsholmen (SNAC-K), and published their research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers studied participants aged 60 or older who lived in Stockholm and who did not have heart disease at the start of the study. When the study began, participants did not have problems with walking speed, balance, or chair standing exercises. All of these measure your risk for falls. Continue reading

Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) Lowers 30-Day Readmission Rates

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

The Hospital Elder Life Program, or HELP, is an evidence-based treatment plan developed in the 1990s to prevent hospitalized older adults from developing delirium (the medical term for sudden confusion).  Delirium can cause people to be either aggressive and agitated or sleepy and inactive—sometimes even a combination of the two. Delirium is also the most common complication older adults experience after surgery.

Delirium has many causes, including infection, excess time in bed, and an imbalance in electrolytes (important minerals dissolved in bodily fluids). Older adults with delirium have longer hospital stays, higher care costs, and increased rates of death and institutionalization.

 In a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers examined the HELP program. They wanted to learn how effective it was at preventing older people from being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, which is often harmful for patients and costly for hospitals. Continue reading

For Older Adults with Diabetes, Losing Weight through Diet and Exercise Can Improve Blood Circulation in the Brain

JAGS graphicJournal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Type 2 diabetes affects blood circulation. The disease stiffens blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen that circulates throughout your body. This includes your brain. When blood flow in the brain is impaired, it can affect the way we think and make decisions.

People who have type 2 diabetes are often overweight or obese. These are conditions that may also be linked to cognitive problems (problems with thinking abilities). Lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity are known to reduce the negative effects of type 2 diabetes on the body. However, the effects of these interventions on cognition and the brain are not clear.

Recently, researchers examined information from a 10-year-long study called Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD). In this study, participants learned how to adopt healthy, long-term behavior changes. In their new study, the researchers focused on whether participants with type 2 diabetes who lowered calories in their diet and increased physical activity had better blood flow to the brain. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading