The Latest Research Findings About Dementia

Dementia is a condition that affects many older adults aged 65 years and older but is increasingly being diagnosed in much younger people. It is a tragic disease as the personality of the sufferer changes, they struggle to identify close family members, and there is a profoundly sad loss of dignity as the disease progresses. Medical researchers are very active in undertaking experiments to find better ways of early diagnosis and treating patients more effectively. We look at the more recent research in this regard.

Improved Digital Markers

Scientists have found a new method to predict dementia before its onset or while it is still mild. This allows those who are positively identified to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy for longer and to begin preparing for special care when they can no longer look after themselves. The research tests comprised a study of driving behaviors. This was a longitudinal study. It had a 96% accuracy and considered 200 driving elements. Just under 3000 test subjects participated in the study, which took place in five US states. All the participants were still driving their own vehicles as a way of retaining their independence as they entered the older age stages of life, with everyone being between 65 and 79 years of age. Eighty-five percent of this age group were found to still be driving at this stage of life. None had signs of cognitive decline.

Follow-up of the participants took place three years after the testing phase. Sixty-one participants had gone on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, some cognitive decline, or other types of dementia. The researchers compared their results against two other popular methods (logistic regression and random forests) of predicting dementia and found that their test had a 6-10% greater accuracy than the rest.

Two aspects of driving that were especially useful for predicting future dementia were how many times drivers braked hard with 0.4 g or greater deceleration and the ratio of right and left turns. Regarding the latter, older people found it less risky to turn right rather than left.

Early warning of possible dementia later in life is essential to preparing for increasing levels of care, from overnight, to 24/7. Check out this guide if you want to know more about what is overnight care. Many dementia patients with mild impairment may start with this form of assistance. A bit of help when needed can allow the person to store their energy for greater independence in intimate activities like bathing.

Avoid Laxatives

A healthy diet with plenty of water and fiber should deal with constipation unless there is a disease or condition causing it, or when taking certain prescribed medications. As it turns out, using a laxative is not the ideal solution to stubborn constipation. It may be associated with an increased risk of dementia in the region of fifty percent. Most laxatives soften stools and are bulk forming. However, osmotic laxatives have a higher risk. Note that although laxatives were found to create a higher risk for dementia, this study does not conclude that laxatives are a cause of dementia, just that they occur together.

Less Known than Previously Thought

Cognitive decline continues to require research as scientists confess that there is still much to learn. The variation in associated factors among Americans can only be explained by less than 40%, using measures like race, education, and socioeconomic status. The study focused on 54 years old citizens. Even not smoking, keeping weight down, religion, marital status, gender and regular exercise do not predict cognitive deterioration significantly for this group when they turn 85. The figure is merely a 5.6% variation. However, education could account for a quarter of it. Factors that played a lesser role were: having depression, occupational differences, the level of education the person’s parents had, household income, and race.

No doubt, scientists will continue to study dementia in search of answers.

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