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People with dementia aren’t currently eligible for voluntary assisted dying. Should they be?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-white-15387">Ben White</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/casey-haining-1486290">Casey Haining</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindy-willmott-15386">Lindy Willmott</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-feeney-140352">Rachel Feeney</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Dementia is the <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia">second leading cause of death</a> for Australians aged over 65. More than 421,000 Australians <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia">currently live with dementia</a> and this figure is expected to almost double in the next 30 years.</p> <p>There is ongoing public <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2024/220/9/should-voluntary-assisted-dying-victoria-be-extended-encompass-people-dementia">discussion</a> about whether dementia should be a qualifying illness under Australian voluntary assisted dying laws. Voluntary assisted dying is <a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Issue-464-10-Waller-et-al.pdf">now lawful in all six states</a>, but is not available for a person living with dementia.</p> <p>The Australian Capital Territory has <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8631104/marisa-paterson-to-consult-on-voluntary-assisted-dying-amendments/?cs=14329">begun debating</a> its voluntary assisted dying bill in parliament but the government has <a href="https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/DownloadFile/es/db_68610/current/PDF/db_68610.PDF">ruled out</a> access for dementia. Its view is that a person should retain decision-making capacity throughout the process. But the bill includes a requirement to <a href="https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/b/db_68609/">revisit the issue</a> in three years.</p> <p>The Northern Territory is also considering reform and <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=TAWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&amp;dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theaustralian.com.au%2Fnation%2Fpolitics%2Fconcerning-territory-nt-surveys-public-support-on-euthanasia-for-mentally-ill%2Fnews-story%2F4e45111bb293af4cf32ac3c6df058869&amp;memtype=anonymous&amp;mode=premium&amp;v21=GROUPA-Segment-2-NOSCORE&amp;V21spcbehaviour=append">has invited views</a> on access to voluntary assisted dying for dementia.</p> <p>Several public figures have also entered the debate. Most recently, former Australian Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/melbourne-drive/voluntary-assisted-dying-dementia-victoria/103467864">called for the law to be widened</a> to allow access.</p> <p>Others <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/voluntary-assisted-dying-should-not-be-available-to-dementia-patients-20230607-p5deqo.html">argue</a> permitting voluntary assisted dying for dementia would present unacceptable risks to this vulnerable group.</p> <h2>Australian laws exclude access for dementia</h2> <p>Current Australian voluntary assisted dying laws <a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Issue-464-10-Waller-et-al.pdf">exclude access</a> for people who seek to qualify because they have dementia.</p> <p>In New South Wales, the <a href="https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2022-017">law specifically states</a> this.</p> <p>In the other states, this occurs through a <a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Issue-451-White-et-al.pdf">combination of the eligibility criteria</a>: a person whose dementia is so advanced that they are likely to die within the 12 month timeframe would be highly unlikely to retain the necessary decision-making capacity to request voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>This does not mean people who have dementia cannot access voluntary assisted dying if they also have a terminal illness. For example, a person who retains decision-making capacity in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease with terminal cancer may access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <h2>What happens internationally?</h2> <p>Voluntary assisted dying laws in some other countries allow access for people living with dementia.</p> <p>One mechanism, used in the Netherlands, is through <a href="https://agsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jgs.16692">advance directives or advance requests</a>. This means a person can specify in advance the conditions under which they would want to have voluntary assisted dying when they no longer have decision-making capacity. This approach depends on the person’s family identifying when those conditions have been satisfied, generally in consultation with the person’s doctor.</p> <p>Another approach to accessing voluntary assisted dying is to allow a person with dementia to choose to access it while they still have capacity. This involves regularly assessing capacity so that just before the person is predicted to lose the ability to make a decision about voluntary assisted dying, they can seek assistance to die. In Canada, this has been referred to as the “<a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Issue-451-White-et-al.pdf">ten minutes to midnight</a>” approach.</p> <h2>But these approaches have challenges</h2> <p>International experience reveals these approaches have limitations. For advance directives, it can be difficult to specify the conditions for activating the advance directive accurately. It also requires a family member to initiate this with the doctor. Evidence also shows doctors are <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1472-6939-16-7">reluctant</a> to act on advance directives.</p> <p>Particularly challenging are <a href="https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12910-019-0401-y">scenarios</a> where a person with dementia who requested voluntary assisted dying in an advance directive later appears happy and content, or no longer expresses a desire to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>Allowing access for people with dementia who retain decision-making capacity also has practical problems. Despite regular assessments, a person may lose capacity in between them, meaning they miss the window before midnight to choose voluntary assisted dying. These capacity assessments can also be very complex.</p> <p>Also, under this approach, a person is required to make such a decision at an early stage in their illness and may lose years of otherwise enjoyable life.</p> <p>Some also argue that regardless of the approach taken, allowing access to voluntary assisted dying would involve unacceptable risks to a vulnerable group.</p> <h2>More thought is needed before changing our laws</h2> <p>There is <a href="https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2020/5620T490.pdf">public demand</a> to allow access to voluntary assisted dying for dementia in Australia. The mandatory reviews of voluntary assisted dying legislation <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/ah/pdf/AH23005">present an opportunity</a> to consider such reform. These reviews generally happen after three to five years, and in some states they will occur regularly.</p> <p>The scope of these reviews can vary and sometimes governments may not wish to consider changes to the legislation. But the Queensland review “<a href="https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/asmade/act-2021-017">must include a review of the eligibility criteria</a>”. And the ACT bill requires the review to <a href="https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/b/db_68609/">consider</a> “advanced care planning”.</p> <p>Both reviews would require consideration of who is able to access voluntary assisted dying, which opens the door for people living with dementia. This is particularly so for the ACT review, as advance care planning means allowing people to request voluntary assisted dying in the future when they have lost capacity.</p> <p>This is a complex issue, and more thinking is needed about whether this public desire for voluntary assisted dying for dementia should be implemented. And, if so, how the practice could occur safely, and in a way that is acceptable to the health professionals who will be asked to provide it.</p> <p>This will require a careful review of existing international models and their practical implementation as well as what would be feasible and appropriate in Australia.</p> <p>Any future law reform should be <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/AH/AH19201">evidence-based</a> and draw on the views of people living with dementia, their family caregivers, and the health professionals who would be relied on to support these decisions.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224075/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-white-15387"><em>Ben White</em></a><em>, Professor of End-of-Life Law and Regulation, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/casey-haining-1486290">Casey Haining</a>, Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindy-willmott-15386">Lindy Willmott</a>, Professor of Law, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-feeney-140352">Rachel Feeney</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-with-dementia-arent-currently-eligible-for-voluntary-assisted-dying-should-they-be-224075">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Kick up your heels – ballroom dancing offers benefits to the aging brain and could help stave off dementia

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-blumen-1231899">Helena Blumen</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/albert-einstein-college-of-medicine-3638">Albert Einstein College of Medicine</a></em></p> <h2>The big idea</h2> <p>Social ballroom dancing can improve cognitive functions and reduce brain atrophy in older adults who are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. That’s the key finding of my team’s <a href="https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2022-0176">recently published study</a> in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.</p> <p>In our study, we enrolled 25 adults over 65 years of age in either six months of twice-weekly ballroom dancing classes or six months of twice-weekly treadmill walking classes. None of them were engaged in formal dancing or other exercise programs.</p> <p>The overall goal was to see how each experience affected cognitive function and brain health.</p> <p>While none of the study volunteers had a dementia diagnosis, all performed a bit lower than expected on at least one of our dementia screening tests. We found that older adults that completed six months of social dancing and those that completed six months of treadmill walking improved their executive functioning – an umbrella term for planning, reasoning and processing tasks that require attention.</p> <p>Dancing, however, generated significantly greater improvements than treadmill walking on one measure of executive function and on processing speed, which is the time it takes to respond to or process information. Compared with walking, dancing was also associated with reduced brain atrophy in the hippocampus – a brain region that is key to memory functioning and is particularly affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also know that this part of our brain can undergo neurogenesis – or grow new neurons – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0611721104">in response to aerobic exercise</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/unmbhUvnGow?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Research shows those who regularly dance with a partner have a more positive outlook on life.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>While several previous studies suggest that dancing has beneficial effects <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afaa270">on cognitive function in older adults</a>, only a few studies have compared it directly with traditional exercises. Our study is the first to observe both better cognitive function and improved brain health following dancing than walking in older adults at risk for dementia. We think that social dancing may be more beneficial than walking because it is physically, socially and cognitively demanding – and therefore strengthens a wide network of brain regions.</p> <p>While dancing, you’re not only using brain regions that are important for physical movement. You’re also relying on brain regions that are important for interacting and adapting to the movements of your dancing partner, as well as those necessary for learning new dance steps or remembering those you’ve learned already.</p> <h2>Why it matters</h2> <p>Nearly 6 million older adults in the U.S. and 55 million worldwide <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2019.01.010">have Alzheimer’s disease</a> or a <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia">related dementia</a>, yet there is no cure. Sadly, the efficacy and ethics surrounding recently developed drug treatments <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2022.2129858">are still under debate</a>.</p> <p>The good news is that older adults can potentially <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6">lower their risk for dementia</a> through lifestyle interventions, even later in life. These include reducing social isolation and physical inactivity.</p> <p>Social ballroom dancing targets both isolation and inactivity. In these later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a better understanding of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/23337214211005223">indirect effects of COVID-19</a> – particularly those that increase dementia risk, such as social isolation – is urgently needed. In my view, early intervention is critical to prevent dementia from becoming the next pandemic. Social dancing could be a particularly timely way to overcome the adverse cognitive and brain effects associated with isolation and fewer social interactions during the pandemic.</p> <h2>What still isn’t known</h2> <p>Traditional aerobic exercise interventions such as treadmill-walking or running have been shown to lead to modest but reliable improvements in cognition – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617707316">particularly in executive function</a>.</p> <p>My team’s study builds on that research and provides preliminary evidence that not all exercise is equal when it comes to brain health. Yet our sample size was quite small, and larger studies are needed to confirm these initial findings. Additional studies are also needed to determine the optimal length, frequency and intensity of dancing classes that may result in positive changes.</p> <p>Lifestyle interventions like social ballroom dancing are a promising, noninvasive and cost-effective path toward staving off dementia as we – eventually – leave the COVID-19 pandemic behind.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/194969/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-blumen-1231899">Helena Blumen</a>, Associate Professor of Medicine and Neurology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/albert-einstein-college-of-medicine-3638">Albert Einstein College of Medicine</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/kick-up-your-heels-ballroom-dancing-offers-benefits-to-the-aging-brain-and-could-help-stave-off-dementia-194969">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Terminal lucidity: why do loved ones with dementia sometimes ‘come back’ before death?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yen-ying-lim-355185">Yen Ying Lim</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/diny-thomson-1519736">Diny Thomson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Dementia is often described as “the long goodbye”. Although the person is still alive, dementia slowly and irreversibly chips away at their memories and the qualities that make someone “them”.</p> <p>Dementia eventually takes away the person’s ability to communicate, eat and drink on their own, understand where they are, and recognise family members.</p> <p>Since as early as the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21764150/">19th century</a>, stories from loved ones, caregivers and health-care workers have described some people with dementia suddenly becoming lucid. They have described the person engaging in meaningful conversation, sharing memories that were assumed to have been lost, making jokes, and even requesting meals.</p> <p>It is estimated <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20010032/">43% of people</a> who experience this brief lucidity die within 24 hours, and 84% within a week.</p> <p>Why does this happen?</p> <h2>Terminal lucidity or paradoxical lucidity?</h2> <p>In 2009, researchers Michael Nahm and Bruce Greyson coined the term “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21764150/">terminal lucidity</a>”, since these lucid episodes often occurred shortly before death.</p> <p>But not all lucid episodes indicate death is imminent. <a href="https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/alz.13667">One study</a> found many people with advanced dementia will show brief glimmers of their old selves more than six months before death.</p> <p>Lucidity has also been <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167494311001865?via%3Dihub">reported</a> in other conditions that affect the brain or thinking skills, such as meningitis, schizophrenia, and in people with brain tumours or who have sustained a brain injury.</p> <p>Moments of lucidity that do not necessarily indicate death are sometimes called <a href="https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/alz.12579">paradoxical lucidity</a>. It is considered paradoxical as it defies the expected course of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.</p> <p>But it’s important to note these episodes of lucidity are temporary and sadly do not represent a reversal of neurodegenerative disease.</p> <h2>Why does terminal lucidity happen?</h2> <p>Scientists have struggled to explain why terminal lucidity happens. Some episodes of lucidity have been reported to occur in the presence of loved ones. Others have reported that <a href="https://psywb.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s13612-014-0024-5">music can sometimes improve lucidity</a>. But many episodes of lucidity do not have a distinct trigger.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300957223002162">A research team from New York University</a> speculated that changes in brain activity before death may cause terminal lucidity. But this doesn’t fully explain why people suddenly recover abilities that were assumed to be lost.</p> <p>Paradoxical and terminal lucidity are also very difficult to study. Not everyone with advanced dementia will experience episodes of lucidity before death. Lucid episodes are also unpredictable and typically occur without a particular trigger.</p> <p>And as terminal lucidity can be a joyous time for those who witness the episode, it would be unethical for scientists to use that time to conduct their research. At the time of death, it’s also difficult for scientists to interview caregivers about any lucid moments that may have occurred.</p> <p>Explanations for terminal lucidity extend beyond science. These moments of mental clarity may be a way for the dying person to say final goodbyes, gain closure before death, and reconnect with family and friends. Some believe episodes of terminal lucidity are representative of the person connecting with an afterlife.</p> <h2>Why is it important to know about terminal lucidity?</h2> <p>People can have a variety of reactions to seeing terminal lucidity in a person with advanced dementia. While some will experience it as being peaceful and bittersweet, others may find it deeply confusing and upsetting. There may also be an urge to modify care plans and request lifesaving measures for the dying person.</p> <p>Being aware of terminal lucidity can help loved ones understand it is part of the dying process, acknowledge the person with dementia will not recover, and allow them to make the most of the time they have with the lucid person.</p> <p>For those who witness it, terminal lucidity can be a final, precious opportunity to reconnect with the person that existed before dementia took hold and the “long goodbye” began.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202342/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yen-ying-lim-355185"><em>Yen Ying Lim</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/diny-thomson-1519736">Diny Thomson</a>, PhD (Clinical Neuropsychology) Candidate and Provisional Psychologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/terminal-lucidity-why-do-loved-ones-with-dementia-sometimes-come-back-before-death-202342">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Legendary Aussie soap star dies just weeks before birthday

<p>Brian Wenzel has died aged 94.</p> <p>The beloved Aussie actor, known for his role on <em>A Country Practice</em>, passed away peacefully in an Adelaide nursing home, just weeks away from his 95th birthday.</p> <p>“It is with great sadness that we remember the life of beloved Australian actor Brian Wenzel,” the soap star's agent, Jennifer Hennessy confirmed in a statement. </p> <p>“His iconic and revered performances spanned multiple Australian generations with his wit and humour shining through to the end.</p> <p>“A passionate family man and devoted Carlton supporter leaves an irreplaceable mark on the Australian film and television industry.”</p> <p>Born on the 24th of May in 1929, Wenzel began his acting career at the age of just 17. </p> <p>He became a popular figure on Aussie TV in the 60s and 70s, starring in shows like <em>Homicide, Division 4</em>, and <em>Matlock Police</em>.</p> <p>He then scored his most memorable role as Frank Gilroy, an old-fashioned and uptight sergeant who was the heart of <em>A Country Practice</em> for 12 years. </p> <p>The show ran from 1981 to 1993, with a whopping 1,058 episodes, and he also briefly appeared on <em>Neighbours </em>after the show ended. </p> <p>Wenzel's role as Gilroy earned him a Logie Award for Best Actor in 1981.</p> <p>His final role on-screen was in 2014 for <em>John Doe: Vigilante</em>.</p> <p>In 2018 the actor had suffered two mini strokes that made him unable to walk unaided. </p> <p>“It’s terrible to not be able to walk and I can’t sing anymore, which is terrible. I’m hoping against all hope that I can get it all back again," he said at the time. </p> <p>Four years later, he was marred by his tragic battle with dementia and entered nursing care which he shared with his beloved wife Linda. </p> <p><em>Image: news.com.au/ Michael Marschall</em></p>

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What is childhood dementia? And how could new research help?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kim-hemsley-1529322">Kim Hemsley</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-smith-1529324">Nicholas Smith</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siti-mubarokah-1529323">Siti Mubarokah</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p>“Childhood” and “dementia” are two words we wish we didn’t have to use together. But sadly, around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">1,400 Australian children and young people</a> live with currently untreatable childhood dementia.</p> <p>Broadly speaking, childhood dementia is caused by any one of <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/what-is-childhood-dementia#what">more than 100</a> rare genetic disorders. Although the causes differ from dementia acquired later in life, the progressive nature of the illness is the same.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">Half</a> of infants and children diagnosed with childhood dementia will not reach their tenth birthday, and most will die <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/what-is-childhood-dementia#what">before turning 18</a>.</p> <p>Yet this devastating condition has lacked awareness, and importantly, the research attention needed to work towards treatments and a cure.</p> <h2>More about the causes</h2> <p>Most types of childhood dementia are <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/146/11/4446/7226999">caused</a> by <a href="https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Mutation">mutations</a> (or mistakes) in our <a href="https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Deoxyribonucleic-Acid">DNA</a>. These mistakes lead to a range of rare genetic disorders, which in turn cause childhood dementia.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">Two-thirds</a> of childhood dementia disorders are caused by “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459183/">inborn errors of metabolism</a>”. This means the metabolic pathways involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, lipids, fatty acids and proteins in the body fail.</p> <p>As a result, nerve pathways fail to function, neurons (nerve cells that send messages around the body) die, and progressive cognitive decline occurs.</p> <h2>What happens to children with childhood dementia?</h2> <p>Most children initially appear unaffected. But after a period of apparently normal development, children with childhood dementia <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2023.09.006">progressively lose</a> all previously acquired skills and abilities, such as talking, walking, learning, remembering and reasoning.</p> <p>Childhood dementia also leads to significant changes in behaviour, such as aggression and hyperactivity. Severe sleep disturbance is common and vision and hearing can also be affected. Many children have seizures.</p> <p>The age when symptoms start can vary, depending partly on the particular genetic disorder causing the dementia, but the average is around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbrain%2Fawad242">two years old</a>. The symptoms are caused by significant, progressive brain damage.</p> <h2>Are there any treatments available?</h2> <p>Childhood dementia treatments currently <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/news/report-reveals-global-research-inequity">under evaluation</a> or approved are for a very limited number of disorders, and are only available in some parts of the world. These include gene replacement, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmd2.12378">gene-modified cell therapy</a> and protein or <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1712649">enzyme replacement therapy</a>. Enzyme replacement therapy is available in Australia for <a href="https://australianprescriber.tg.org.au/articles/cerliponase-alfa-for-neuronal-ceroid-lipofuscinosis-type-2-disease.html">one form of childhood dementia</a>. These therapies attempt to “fix” the problems causing the disease, and have shown promising results.</p> <p>Other experimental therapies include ones that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/life12050608">target</a> faulty protein production or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2310151">reduce inflammation</a> in the brain.</p> <h2>Research attention is lacking</h2> <p>Death rates for Australian children with cancer <a href="http://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/2WX39O">nearly halved</a> between <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/australias-children/contents/health/cancer-incidence-survival">1997 and 2017</a> thanks to research that has enabled the development of multiple treatments. But over recent decades, <a href="http://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/2WX39O">nothing has changed</a> for children with dementia.</p> <p>In 2017–2023, research for childhood cancer received over four times more funding per patient compared to funding for <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/2WX39O">childhood dementia</a>. This is despite childhood dementia causing a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">similar number of deaths</a> each year as childhood cancer.</p> <p>The success <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/australias-children/contents/health/cancer-incidence-survival">for childhood cancer sufferers</a> in recent decades demonstrates how adequately funding medical research can lead to improvements in patient outcomes.</p> <p>Another bottleneck for childhood dementia patients in Australia is the lack of access to clinical trials. An <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/news/report-reveals-global-research-inequity">analysis</a> published in March this year showed that in December 2023, only two clinical trials were recruiting patients with childhood dementia in Australia.</p> <p>Worldwide however, 54 trials were recruiting, meaning Australian patients and their families are left watching patients in other parts of the world receive potentially lifesaving treatments, with no recourse themselves.</p> <p>That said, we’ve seen a slowing in the establishment of <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/news/report-reveals-global-research-inequity">clinical trials</a> for childhood dementia across the world in recent years.</p> <p>In addition, we know from <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/join-us/professionals/impacts">consultation with families</a> that current care and support systems <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/44MLP8">are not meeting the needs</a> of children with dementia and their families.</p> <h2>New research</h2> <p>Recently, we were awarded <a href="https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/media-releases/news-items/major-funding-boost-for-research-into-childhood-dementia">new funding</a> for <a href="https://www.flinders.edu.au/giving/our-donors/impact-of-giving/improving-the-lives-of-children-with-dementia">our research</a> on childhood dementia. This will help us continue and expand studies that seek to develop lifesaving treatments.</p> <p>More broadly, we need to see increased funding in Australia and around the world for research to develop and translate treatments for the broad spectrum of childhood dementia conditions.</p> <p><em>Dr Kristina Elvidge, head of research at the <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/our-people">Childhood Dementia Initiative</a>, and Megan Maack, director and CEO, contributed to this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228508/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kim-hemsley-1529322">Kim Hemsley</a>, Head, Childhood Dementia Research Group, Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, College of Medicine and Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-smith-1529324">Nicholas Smith</a>, Head, Paediatric Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siti-mubarokah-1529323">Siti Mubarokah</a>, Research Associate, Childhood Dementia Research Group, Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, College of Medicine and Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-childhood-dementia-and-how-could-new-research-help-228508">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Better sleep is a protective factor against dementia

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andree-ann-baril-1494268">Andrée-Ann Baril</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-de-montreal-1743">Université de Montréal</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-pase-1494296">Matthew Pase</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065"><em>Monash University</em></a></em></p> <p>Dementia is a progressive loss of cognitive abilities, such as memory, that is significant enough to have an impact on a person’s daily activities.</p> <p>It can be caused by a number of different diseases, including <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/what-alzheimers-disease">Alzheimer’s</a>, which is the most common form. Dementia is caused by a loss of neurons over a long period of time. Since, by the time symptoms appear, many changes in the brain have already occurred, many scientists are focusing on studying the risk and protective factors for dementia.</p> <p>A risk factor, or conversely, a protective factor, is a condition or behaviour that increases or reduces the risk of developing a disease, but does not guarantee either outcome. Some risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, such as age or genetics, are not modifiable, but there are several other factors we can influence, <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(20)30367-6/fulltext">specifically lifestyle habits and their impact on our overall health</a>.</p> <p>These risk factors include depression, lack of physical activity, social isolation, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, as well as poor sleep.</p> <p>We have been focusing our research on the question of sleep for over 10 years, particularly in the context of the <a href="https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/science/framingham-heart-study-fhs">Framingham Heart Study</a>. In this large community-based cohort study, ongoing since the 1940s, the health of surviving participants has been monitored to the present day. As researchers in sleep medicine and epidemiology, we have expertise in researching the role of sleep and sleep disorders in cognitive and psychiatric brain aging.</p> <p>As part of our research, we monitored and analyzed the sleep of people aged 60 and over to see who did — or did not — develop dementia.</p> <h2>Sleep as a risk or protective factor against dementia</h2> <p>Sleep appears to play an essential role in a number of brain functions, such as memory. Good quality sleep <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2793873">could therefore play a vital role in preventing dementia</a>.</p> <p>Sleep is important for maintaining <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1241224">good connections in the brain</a>. Recently, research has revealed that sleep seems to have a function similar to that of a garbage truck for the brain: <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mad.2023.111899">deep sleep could be crucial for eliminating metabolic waste from the brain</a>, including clearing certain proteins, such as those known to accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>However, the links between deep sleep and dementia still have to be clarified.</p> <h2>What is deep sleep?</h2> <p>During a night’s sleep, we go through several <a href="http://ceams-carsm.ca/en/a-propos-du-sommeil/">sleep stages</a> that succeed one another and are repeated.</p> <p>NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement sleep) is divided into light NREM sleep (NREM1 stage), NREM sleep (NREM2 stage) and deep NREM sleep, also called slow-wave sleep (NREM3 stage). The latter is associated with several restorative functions. Next, REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep) is the stage generally associated with the most vivid dreams. An adult generally spends around 15 to 20 per cent of each night in deep sleep, if we add up all the periods of NREM3 sleep.</p> <p>Several sleep changes are common in adults, such as going to bed and waking up earlier, sleeping for shorter periods of time and less deeply, and waking up more frequently during the night.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579041/original/file-20240229-16-efo9mx.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Sleep stages, and the role of deep sleep for brain health.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(Andrée-Ann Baril)</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Loss of deep sleep linked to dementia</h2> <p>Participants in the <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2810957">Framingham Heart Study</a> were assessed using a sleep recording — known as polysomnography — on two occasions, approximately five years apart, in 1995-1998 and again in 2001-2003.</p> <p>Many people showed a reduction in their deep slow-wave sleep over the years, as is to be expected with aging. Conversely, the amount of deep sleep in some people remained stable or even increased.</p> <p>Our team of researchers from the Framingham Heart Study followed 346 participants aged 60 and over for a further 17 years to observe who developed dementia and who did not.</p> <p>Progressive loss of deep sleep over time was associated with an increased risk of dementia, whatever the cause, and particularly Alzheimer’s type dementia. These results were independent of many other risk factors for dementia.</p> <p>Although our results do not prove that loss of deep sleep causes dementia, they do suggest that it could be a risk factor in the elderly. Other aspects of sleep may also be important, such as its duration and quality.</p> <h2>Strategies to improve deep sleep</h2> <p>Knowing the impact of a lack of deep sleep on cognitive health, what strategies can be used to improve it?</p> <p>First and foremost, if you’re experiencing sleep problems, it’s worth talking to your doctor. Many sleep disorders are underdiagnosed and treatable, particularly through behavioural (i.e. non-medicinal) approaches.</p> <p>Adopting good sleep habits can help, such as going to bed and getting up at consistent times or avoiding bright or blue light in bed, like that of screens.</p> <p>You can also avoid caffeine, limit your alcohol intake, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active during the day, and sleep in a comfortable, dark and quiet environment.</p> <p>The role of deep sleep in preventing dementia remains to be explored and studied. Encouraging sleep with good lifestyle habits could have the potential to help us age in a healthier way.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222854/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andree-ann-baril-1494268">Andrée-Ann Baril</a>, Professeure-chercheure adjointe au Département de médecine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-de-montreal-1743">Université de Montréal</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-pase-1494296">Matthew Pase</a>, Associate Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/better-sleep-is-a-protective-factor-against-dementia-222854">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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New studies suggest millions with mild cognitive impairment go undiagnosed, often until it’s too late

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/soeren-mattke-1484707">Soeren Mattke</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-california-1265">University of Southern California</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ying-liu-1221170">Ying Liu</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/usc-dornsife-college-of-letters-arts-and-sciences-2669">USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences</a></em></p> <p>Mild cognitive impairment – an early stage of dementia – is widely underdiagnosed in people 65 and older. That is the key takeaway of two recent studies from our team.</p> <p>In the first study, we used Medicare data for about 40 million beneficiaries age 65 and older from 2015 to 2019 to estimate the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment in that population and to identify what proportion of them had actually been diagnosed.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-023-01272-z">finding was sobering</a>: A mere 8% of the number of cases with mild cognitive impairment that we expected based on a statistical model had actually been diagnosed. Scaled up to the general population 65 and older, this means that approximately 7.4 million cases across the country remain undiagnosed.</p> <p>In the second study, we analyzed data for 226,756 primary care clinicians and found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.14283/jpad.2023.131">over 99% of them underdiagnosed mild cognitive impairment</a> in this population.</p> <h2>Why it matters</h2> <p>Mild cognitive impairment is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.2000">about half of cases</a> and progresses to dementia <a href="https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment">at a rate of 10% to 15% per year</a>. It includes symptoms such as losing the ability to remember recent events and appointments, make sound decisions and master complex tasks. Failure to detect it might deprive patients of an opportunity to get treated and to slow down disease progression.</p> <p>Mild cognitive impairment can sometimes be caused by easily addressable factors, such as medication side effects, thyroid dysfunction or <a href="https://theconversation.com/vitamin-b12-deficiency-is-a-common-health-problem-that-can-have-serious-consequences-but-doctors-often-overlook-it-192714">vitamin B12 deficiency</a>. Since mild cognitive impairment has <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjopharm.2008.06.004">the same risk factors as cardiovascular disease</a>, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, medication management of these risks combined with diet and exercise <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60461-5">can reduce the risk of progression</a>.</p> <p>In 2023, the Food and Drug Administration <a href="https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-converts-novel-alzheimers-disease-treatment-traditional-approval">approved the drug lecanemab</a> as the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-the-fdas-accelerated-approval-of-a-new-alzheimers-drug-could-mean-for-those-with-the-disease-5-questions-answered-about-lecanemab-197460">first disease-modifying treatment</a> <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-causes-and-risk-factors/what-happens-brain-alzheimers-disease">for Alzheimer’s disease</a>, the most common cause of mild cognitive impairment. In contrast to previous drugs, which can temporarily improve symptoms of the disease, such as memory loss and agitation, this new treatment addresses the underlying cause of the disease.</p> <p>Lecanemab, a monoclonal antibody, <a href="https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-are-Amyloid-Plaques.aspx">reduces amyloid plaques</a> in the brain, which are toxic protein clumps that are believed to contribute to the progression of the disease. In a large clinical trial, lecanemab was able to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2212948">reduce the progression</a> of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. A similar drug, donanemab, also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2023.13239">succeeded in a clinical trial</a> and is expected to be <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/fda-delays-approval-of-alzheimers-drug-donanemab-what-experts-think">approved sometime in 2024</a>.</p> <p>However, these drugs must be used in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, ideally when a patient has only mild cognitive impairment, as there is <a href="https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/treatments/lecanemab-leqembi">no evidence that they are effective in advanced stages</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/w3IbAscNjsQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">An earlier diagnosis leads to early treatment and better outcomes.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What still isn’t known</h2> <p>Many factors contribute to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.13051">lack of timely detection</a>. But researchers don’t have a good understanding of the relative importance of those individual factors or how to reduce the high rate of underdiagnosis.</p> <p>While distinct, symptoms are subtle and their slow progression means that they can be overlooked or misinterpreted as normal aging. A neurologist in China told our research team that diagnosis rates spike in China after the New Year’s holiday, when children who haven’t seen their parents for a year notice changes that are harder to pick up when interacting with someone daily.</p> <p>Doctors also commonly discount memory concerns as normal aging and doubt that much can be done about it. While cognitive tests to distinguish mild cognitive impairment from pathologic decline do exist, they take about 15 minutes, which can be hard to come by during the limited time of a doctor’s visit and may require a follow-up appointment.</p> <h2>What’s next</h2> <p>People, particularly those in their 60s and beyond, as well as their families and friends need to be vigilant about cognitive decline, bring it up during doctor’s appointments and insist on a formal assessment.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/yearly-wellness-visits">Medicare yearly “wellness” visit</a> is an opportunity to explore such concerns, but only about half of beneficiaries <a href="https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.01795">take advantage of it</a>.</p> <p>Just as physicians ask patients about unexplained weight loss and take those concerns seriously, we believe questions that explore a patient’s cognitive state need to become the norm.</p> <p><em>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/us/topics/research-brief-83231">Research Brief</a> is a short take on interesting academic work.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216892/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/soeren-mattke-1484707">Soeren Mattke</a>, Director of the USC Dornsife Brain Health Observatory, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-california-1265">University of Southern California</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ying-liu-1221170">Ying Liu</a>, Research Scientist, Center for Economic and Social Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/usc-dornsife-college-of-letters-arts-and-sciences-2669">USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-studies-suggest-millions-with-mild-cognitive-impairment-go-undiagnosed-often-until-its-too-late-216892">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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How music is changing the way dementia patients think

<p dir="ltr">New research has proven that music truly is the universal language, with experts discovering how the power of music is helping those suffering with dementia. </p> <p dir="ltr">Music therapists have shown that music brings dementia patients back to the present, with some even finding their voice thanks to the nostalgic memories of the past. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Registered Music Therapist and Managing Director of music therapy company Music Beat, Dr Vicky Abad, the power of music is not to be overlooked when it comes to degenerative diseases.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Music is a window into people’s pasts,” she said. “It builds on strengths and abilities against a disease that can strip a person of their dignity, abilities and quality of life.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The team at <a href="https://www.tricare.com.au/">TriCare Aged Care and Retirement</a>, who see the devastating impact of dementia each and every day,  also experience first-hand the impact music has on residents, with many noticing “unrecognisable” changes in personality when a nostalgic tune is played.</p> <p dir="ltr">Louis Rose, an 80-year-old dementia patient and TriCare resident, was diagnosed with dementia six years ago, and requires assistance with many aspects of day to day life. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, listening to music is one thing he can enjoy on his own.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I grew up in Mauritius and while we didn’t have a lot, we certainly had music. Listening to music has always been an escape for me and a way to relax,” Mr Rose said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When your brain starts to slow down and you find yourself forgetting things, it can be quite frustrating and confusing. Listening to music has been a way to distract myself from what’s going on in my head, it has helped me so much.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Tamsin Sutherland is a regular live music performer at TriCare facilities across Queensland, and has been able to witness incredible moments with the residents as they come alive as soon as she starts to play. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Watching residents who are often non-verbal sing along to the words is incredible,” she said “It really is like they are coming back to life and reconnecting with who they once were. To be part of that is quite emotional for me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Dr Abad, music can help prevent the restless behaviour that often leads to pacing and wandering, especially in the evenings, which are often difficult times for those battling the disease. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Sundowning usually occurs in the late afternoon as dusk approaches, a time that is also associated with what used to be a busy time period in people’s lives,” she noted. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Personalised music is a simple and effective tool to help residents feel validated in their emotions during this time and provides them an opportunity to experience a calmer state of mind”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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Husband and wife with dementia reunite after 30 years apart

<p>A former husband and wife with dementia have been reunited after 30 years apart when they moved into the same care home. </p> <p>Nancy, 86, and Stan, 91, were first married in 1957 in Edinburgh, despite their parents "forbidding" their romance and not approving of their union. </p> <p>The couple went on to have three children and lived happily, until Nancy was nearly killed by a brain haemorrhage when she was in her mid-50s. </p> <p>Nancy had to undergo life-altering surgery and a lengthy recovery time, which ultimately led to the downfall of her relationship with Stan and they filed for divorce. </p> <p>After their split, Stan met another woman when he was in his 70s, while Nancy never had another romance. </p> <p>When Nancy and Stan entered their 80s, they both began to show signs of dementia and could no longer care for themselves. </p> <p>Around Christmas time last year, their daughter Karen made the decision to put her father Stan, who suffered a fall while being cared for in Scotland, in the same home as Nancy, which is where she captured the heartwarming footage of them being reunited.</p> <p>In the clip, Nancy tells Stan he is "not bad looking for his age", while her ex-husband replies, "I recognise your face but I couldn't place who it was".</p> <p>The couple then agree to go on a date together and have a cup of tea, before having a kiss for "old time's sake."</p> <p style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #323338; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; outline: currentcolor !important;">The video was posted to TikTok by Karen's daughter Sarah-Ashleigh, who spoke to the <em><a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13196325/Heartwarming-moment-former-husband-wife-dementia-reunited-care-home-30-years-apart.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Daily Mail</a></em> about the family's decision to put both Nancy and Stan in the same care home. </p> <div class="embed" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: currentcolor !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: none; vertical-align: baseline; width: 600px; max-width: 100%; outline: currentcolor !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7341697620181519648&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40sarahashleighflorals%2Fvideo%2F7341697620181519648&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-useast2a.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-useast2a-p-0037-euttp%2F4189e3105ed04778a3de6a83a40077b6_1709372224%3Fx-expires%3D1712448000%26x-signature%3DcpIHZABQ%252FDnAqGU7bJYeryVnJlU%253D&key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>"We were so worried how this would go. It's so good to see them be friends again," she said.</p> <p>"Dementia is a horrible disease, but it's moments like this which we really just hold on to."</p> <p>"Granny struggles a bit more in general and gets anxious and confused but I think having someone there who she knows has done wonders for her."</p> <p>"She's always looking for him (even when he's right next to her) and they sit together a lot and bicker like the married couple they used to be."</p> <p>"Love might not be the same kind of love forever, it is a shape shifter, but it never leaves."</p> <p>"Their marriage didn't last forever but just seeing them have a friendship again just shows that love never dies."</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

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Demi Moore shares emotional birthday tribute to Bruce Willis

<p>Demi Moore has shared an emotional tribute to her ex-husband, Bruce Willis, to mark his 69th birthday. </p> <p>The <em>Die Hard </em>actor, who was diagnosed with <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/bruce-willis-forced-to-retire-after-medical-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">frontotemporal dementia</a> last year,  was pictured holding on to Moore's arm, as they shared a candid moment on the couch. </p> <p>“Happy birthday, BW! We love you and are so grateful for you ♥️,” Moore captioned the series of photos posted on Instagram. </p> <p>She also shared a photo of the actor, smiling lovingly at his grandchild Louetta, who Willis and Moore’s oldest daughter, Rumer welcomed in April 2023.</p> <p>The final photo Moore shared was a throwback picture of Willis smiling as he posed with their three daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallulah, who are now all in their 30s.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C4tOhkVOmAp/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C4tOhkVOmAp/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Demi Moore (@demimoore)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Fans were quick to share their birthday messages and admiration for their relationship. </p> <p>“Thank you for providing a loving example of parenting even after divorce. ❤️ You’re helping your children more than you know 🥰,” one wrote. </p> <p>“Their relationship is the sweetest thing ever ❤,” another added. </p> <p>“Absolutely love how, even though Bruce and Demi are divorced, they love and respect each other as parents and grandparents ❤🙌,” a third commented. </p> <p>His daughters have also shared their birthday tributes, with Rumer sharing throwback pictures with the caption: “Oh Daddio, to be loved by you is such a gift."</p> <p>“You are the funniest, most tender, charming, out of this world silly, talented and magical papa.</p> <p>“Looking through these photos ... I am just filled with the deepest gratitude that we chose to spend this life together.</p> <p>“I am your first baby and, man, sometimes I wish I could be tiny enough to just cozy up on your chest again and laugh and cuddle you. I love you so deep in my bones I don’t know how my muscles hold them," she added. </p> <p>“You are the greatest papa I could ever hope for. Thank you for your generosity, your silliness and heart.</p> <p>“Lou loves you so big." </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C4s81d9RTU0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C4s81d9RTU0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Rumer Glenn Willis (@rumerwillis)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Rumer's sister Scout also shared a tribute and said: “dad is one of my best friends, perhaps now on a deeper level than ever honestly. I cherish his affection and the immense freedom with which he’s always loved us.”</p> <p>Willis’ wife Emma Heming Willis, also shared a sweet message to the actor with a photo of him holding their two daughters, Mabel Ray, 11 and Evelyn Penn, 9. </p> <p>“Just like you, we simply adore him. What you might not know, but maybe you could imagine, that being wrapped in his arms is the safest place in this whole wide world,”  she said. </p> <p>“He’s a true gentle man. With so much love to give and share. That’s what I get to see, his true core. I can tell you, it’s so pure and ever so good.</p> <p>“Happy Birthday my love. You are the gift that keeps giving 💞.”</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

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Popular TV host diagnosed with same condition as Bruce Willis

<p>Popular American TV host Wendy Williams has shared her diagnosis after being plagued by "hurtful rumours". </p> <p>The 59-year-old's medical team announced in a lengthy statement that she has been diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia: the same conditions actor Bruce Willis is battling.</p> <p>The news comes after Williams' family confirmed she had checked in to a facility to treat cognitive issues.</p> <p>“Questions have been raised at times about Wendy’s ability to process information and many have speculated about Wendy’s condition, particularly when she began to lose words, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions,” her medical team said.</p> <p>They said Williams' symptoms first began in 2023, and was diagnosed with the neurological conditions just weeks later after undergoing a series of tests. </p> <p>Her team said both conditions have “already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life”.</p> <p>“Wendy would not have received confirmation of these diagnoses were it not for the diligence of her current care team, who she chose, and the extraordinary work of the specialists at Weill Cornell Medicine,” they said.</p> <p>“Receiving a diagnosis has enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires.”</p> <p>Williams chose to share the news to “advocate for understanding” and to “raise awareness” for the difficult conditions. </p> <p>“Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia face stigma and misunderstanding, particularly when they begin to exhibit behavioural changes but have not yet received a diagnosis,” her team said.</p> <p>“There is hope that with early detection and far more empathy, the stigma associated with dementia will be eliminated, and those affected will receive the understanding, support, and care they deserve and need."</p> <p>“Wendy is still able to do many things for herself. Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humour and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed."</p> <p>“She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way.”</p> <p>The TV presenter has previously been open with her medical battle with Graves’ disease and lymphedema, as well as other significant challenges related to her health.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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"What a life I’ve had": Author announces own death after years of battling dementia

<p>Wendy Mitchell has died aged 68 after documenting her brave battle with dementia. </p> <p>The author from Walkington, East Yorkshire, became the best-selling writer after she was diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia and Alzheimer's in July 2014. </p> <p>She shared her philosophical outlook on living with the condition in her acclaimed 2018 memoir <em>Somebody I Used To Know </em>and in her 2022 book <em>What I Wish I Knew About Dementia</em>.</p> <p>In an <a href="https://whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com/2024/02/22/my-final-hug-in-a-mug/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">open letter</a> shared online, the author announced her death and revealed that she had refused to eat or drink towards the end of her battle. </p> <p>"If you’re reading this, it means this has probably been posted by my daughters as I’ve sadly died," she began. </p> <p>"Sorry to break the news to you this way, but if I hadn’t, my inbox would eventually have been full of emails asking if I’m OK, which would have been hard for my daughters to answer… </p> <p>"In the end I died simply by deciding not to eat or drink any more," she wrote. </p> <p>She added that the last cup of tea she had, her "final hug in a mug" was "the hardest thing to let go of". </p> <p>"Dementia is a cruel disease that plays tricks on your very existence. I’ve always been a glass half full person, trying to turn the negatives of life around and creating positives, because that’s how I cope." </p> <p>Mitchell said that the language used by doctors can "make or break" how someone copes with dementia, and instead of saying there's "nothing they can do" it is better to tell them they will have to "adapt to a new way of living". </p> <p>"Well I suppose dementia was the ultimate challenge. Yes, dementia is a bummer, but oh what a life I’ve had playing games with this adversary of mine to try and stay one step ahead," she wrote in her final blog post. </p> <p>She also said that she had always been resilient, which has helped her cope with whatever life throws in her way. </p> <p>Mitchell has been an advocate for assisted dying in the UK, and said that "the only legal choice we shouldn’t have in life is when to be born; for everything else, we, as humans, should have a choice; a choice of how we live and a choice of how we die." </p> <p>She added that the way she died was an active choice as she doesn't want "to be an inpatient in a hospital, or a resident in a Care Home," as "it’s just not the place I want to end my years."</p> <p>"My girls have always been the two most important people in my life. I didn’t take this decision lightly, without countless conversations. They were the hardest conversations I’ve ever had to put them through. </p> <p>"This was all MY CHOICE, my decision. So please respect my daughters' privacy, as they didn’t choose the life I chose, of standing up to and speaking out against dementia." </p> <p>She then thanked everyone for their support and left with a touching final message. </p> <p>"So, enjoy this knowing that dementia didn’t play the winning card – I did."</p> <p><em>Images: Daily Mail</em></p>

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Bruce Willis' heartwarming reaction to granddaughter amid dementia battle

<p>Bruce Willis' daughter Rumer has shared what the actor is like as a grandfather, amid his battle with frontotemporal dementia.</p> <p>Rumer candidly revealed that the now-retired actor is “incredibly loving and kind” and despite his FTD, his face “lights up” whenever he sees his granddaughter Louetta. </p> <p>“His face lights up when he sees Louetta,” Rumer told <a href="https://nypost.com/2024/02/01/entertainment/bruce-willis-face-lights-up-with-granddaughter-amid-dementia-battle/?utm_medium=browser_notifications&amp;utm_source=pushly&amp;utm_content=Entertainment/Living%20Audience&amp;utm_campaign=4164834" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>The New York Post</em></a>.</p> <p>“And I’m just so grateful to have that kind of spark of mischief and fun and and play no matter what age I am.”</p> <p>Louetta is Rumer’s 9-month-old baby girl with partner, Derek Richard Thomas. </p> <p>Rumer also shared that her father is most like David Addison Jr, a character he played on the hit 80s show <em>Moonlighting</em>.</p> <p>“So charming, so funny, so silly … kind of mischievous glint in his eye, kind and sweet,” she said. </p> <p>“And so I feel like that’s really the epitome of who my dad is.</p> <p>“And that is so true to this day.”</p> <p>Despite his dementia diagnosis, Rumer said that her father has not lost any of his trademark silliness and sense of humour.</p> <p>“He’s so incredibly loving and kind,” she said. </p> <p>“My dad is absolutely the reason I (have) my taste in music (and) some of my humour.</p> <p>“Both of my parents are so silly.”</p> <p>In 2022 Bruce's family announced that the <em>Die Hard</em> star was going to retire, as he was diagnosed with <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/bruce-willis-forced-to-retire-after-medical-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">aphasia</a>, a disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate. </p> <p>A year later it was revealed that it had progressed to <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/cruel-disease-bruce-willis-given-heartbreaking-new-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">frontotemporal dementia</a>.</p> <p>His family have since kept fans updated on the star's health. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

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What’s the difference between memory loss and dementia?

<p dir="ltr">When it comes to memory loss, it's normal to become a little more forgetful as we age. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, it’s important to know the difference between a standard level of memory loss, and the early signs of dementia. </p> <p dir="ltr">Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) say it is crucially important to distinguish between the physical decline of ageing, and the more sinister reality of cognitive decline. </p> <p dir="ltr">Associate Professor Simone Reppermund from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing says, “As we age, we get more frail, and it may be difficult to walk longer distances or to have the range of motion to drive a car.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“But that's unrelated to cognitive decline, and this is where dementia or cognitive impairment comes in. A person with dementia at some point will not be able to do the things they once could do without thinking, such as drive a car, because they get confused and are no longer able to process the sensory information required to do this.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Prof. Brodaty went on to say that some cognitive decline is part of normal ageing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we age, we become slower in our processing speed. We’re not as good at remembering things, particularly when they’re not able to be logically sorted and connected.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But it’s not all bad for older folks, as some things are known to improve with age.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we age our vocabulary improves, our judgement improves, our ability to organise things improves. In everyday tests where we can sort, say, 10 grocery items into different categories, we do just as well as the younger person because we can use those strategies to compensate. There is also evidence that we become wiser as we get older.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dementia Australia</a>, it’s when people encounter difficulties with the following on a regular basis that there could be some underlying cognitive cause worth investigating. </p> <p dir="ltr">These difficulties include:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble remembering recent events</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble finding the right word</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble remembering the day and date</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Forgetting where things are usually kept</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble understanding written content or a story on television</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Difficulty following conversations in groups</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Problems handling finances</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Difficulty with everyday activities</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Losing interest in activities that were previously enjoyable</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Researchers and medical experts say that even if encountering these difficulties has not become a huge hurdle, it is important to be assessed by a doctor. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some conditions can cause symptoms similar to illnesses of cognitive decline, and can be reversed and prevented if caught early enough. </p> <p dir="ltr">While Professor Brodaty says there is no cure for most types of dementia and no known way to prevent it, we can certainly delay the onset of it. </p> <p dir="ltr">“There are certain risk factors that make it more or less likely to develop cognitive decline and dementia, including physical and social inactivity. Being inactive, not engaging in social activities, a poor diet and too much alcohol are all risk factors.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Even then, Professor Brodaty says, “it’s never too late to start, and never too early to start” making changes that maintain and protect your brain health into old age.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

Mind

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Maintaining friendships after a dementia diagnosis can spur feelings of joy and self-worth

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/colleen-whyte-1281976">Colleen Whyte</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/brock-university-1340">Brock University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/darla-fortune-1363967">Darla Fortune</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/concordia-university-1183">Concordia University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-genoe-1363968">Rebecca Genoe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</a></em></p> <p>What would our lives be like if we could no longer depend on our most cherished friendships? The people who know us best, who have been there through our ups and downs, and share a history with us?</p> <p>For many people living with dementia, this is a reality. Over 500,000 Canadians <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/what-dementia/dementia-numbers-canada">are currently living with dementia</a>, and a diagnosis often leads to <a href="https://www.alzscot.org/news/friendship-and-dementia">a loss of friendships</a> and social opportunities.</p> <p>The reactions of friends greatly affect the experience of someone living with dementia. When friends distance themselves because they don’t know what to say or presume they no longer know how to interact with their friend, a person with dementia can experience <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275353356_Friendships_for_People_Living_with_Dementia_in_Long-Term_Care">feelings of isolation and loneliness</a>.</p> <p>When people living with dementia can depend on their friends, they continue to enjoy meaningful leisure activities, experience <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afx186">feelings of joy and self-worth</a>, and see themselves as <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/take-action/become-dementia-friendly/meaningful-engagement-people-living-dementia">valued members of their social circles</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://dementiaandfriendship.ca/">Our research</a> had us interview friends together, asking them to share tips and strategies for navigating dementia. We heard moving stories of deepened bonds of friendship, genuine acceptance and the joy of simply being together.</p> <h2>Adapting to changes</h2> <p>Our research allowed us to speak with people who shared a 70-year friendship and couldn’t imagine life without each other. We learned that for some, a neighbourhood walk together was an opportunity to say a quick hello and how a weekly trip to the pub enabled some friends to connect and re-connect in a familiar space.</p> <p>People living with dementia and their friends <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/S0714980821000301">may adapt to changes</a> brought about by the diagnosis in several ways. For example, they may prioritize their friendship by setting aside time for regular phone calls and visits. They may alter the way they think about the friendship by being accepting of the changes. They may also use practical strategies, like providing reminders for plans, and offering additional support when spending time together.</p> <p>Friends of individuals living with dementia may seek ways to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301220980898">continue enjoying meaningful time together</a>. Sometimes this involves identifying activities that are comfortable and familiar. It may also involve providing direction and encouragement to support the continuation of enjoyable experiences, such as visiting a favourite restaurant.</p> <p>For some, additional comfort may come from hanging out as a group because there is extra support available if needed.</p> <h2>Open and honest communication</h2> <p>Open and honest communication is key to maintaining any friendship and becomes particularly important following a diagnosis of dementia. Yet, that may be the biggest challenge.</p> <p>Below are <a href="https://dementiaandfriendship.ca/">some questions that friends might find helpful</a> to ask over a cup of coffee, on a walk or in a quiet, shared moment:</p> <ul> <li>What do you value about our friendship? Can I tell you what our friendship means to me?</li> <li>What is one thing I do that makes you laugh? Here’s something you do that makes me laugh…</li> <li>How can we make sure we maintain our friendship (i.e., talk on the phone, over the internet, go for coffee)? How often do you want to connect? How do we need to change our time together? What can stay the same?</li> <li>How can we support each other to continue enjoying the leisure activities that are meaningful to us?</li> <li>What are the best times and days to plan activities (i.e., morning, afternoon, weekday, weekend)? Are there exceptions?</li> <li>Do we need to schedule something in advance (need time to prepare, or get more rest the day before) or can we be spontaneous?</li> <li>Where do you feel safe and able to be yourself?</li> <li>When we are in public and you need me to step in for you, how will I know? What is “our” signal?</li> <li>What do I do if I notice you’re starting to make decisions that are not like you?</li> <li>Can I ask you these same questions in a few weeks?</li> </ul> <p>The need for friendship <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/help-support/im-living-dementia/living-well-dementia/staying-socially-connected">does not diminish with age</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/happiness-in-world/201312/the-true-meaning-friendship">friendships continue to deeply enrich our lives</a>.</p> <p>Given that a dementia diagnosis often puts individuals at an increased risk of social isolation, we must pay careful attention to understanding ways to ensure that friends remain engaged with their networks in personal and meaningful ways.</p> <p>The first step is to trust in the friendship and begin to explore how it can be sustained over time.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/187038/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/colleen-whyte-1281976"><em>Colleen Whyte</em></a><em>, Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/brock-university-1340">Brock University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/darla-fortune-1363967">Darla Fortune</a>, Associate Professor, Applied Human Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/concordia-university-1183">Concordia University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-genoe-1363968">Rebecca Genoe</a>, Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/maintaining-friendships-after-a-dementia-diagnosis-can-spur-feelings-of-joy-and-self-worth-187038">original article</a>.</em></p>

Relationships

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More than a third of people with dementia don’t know they have it – what to do if you suspect your partner has the condition

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-irving-1493654">Kate Irving</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City University</a></em></p> <p>Around <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-67613465">36% of people</a> in England with dementia are unaware they have the condition, according to a new report from the Dementia Commission.</p> <p><a href="https://chamberuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/231127-Dementia-Commission-Report-Embargoed.pdf">The report</a> suggests things health and care professionals can do to improve spotting early signs of dementia. But what can you do if you think your partner has the condition? And how can you broach the topic with them?</p> <p>If you are worried about your partner having dementia, here are some useful things to know.</p> <p>Dementia is a term for a range of diseases (for example, Alzheimer’s) which develop over time (months and years) and cause problems with memory and reasoning, communication, changes in personality and a reduction in a person’s ability to carry out daily activities, such as shopping, washing, paying bills or cooking.</p> <p>Dementia can present very differently in each person, so it’s about knowing what’s normal for your loved one. A person who has always been conscientious and organised starting to unravel is very different from a scatterbrained person just being slightly more scatterbrained.</p> <p>Grief and stress can affect memory yet not be the start of dementia. But they can also mask the start of dementia: we call this “diagnostic over-shadowing”.</p> <p>There are also age-related changes to cognition. For example, we take longer to learn when we get older. But a one-off event – no matter how dramatic – is not necessarily dementia. It’s about looking for a pattern of decline.</p> <p>If you see these changes happen in a short space of time (weeks or days) it is unlikely to be dementia and could be something more serious. This requires urgent investigation by a doctor.</p> <h2>Greatest fear</h2> <p>Dementia is one of the greatest fears of our age. The horror of perceived loss of self can cause people to avoid discussing the issue, discussing it in an unhelpful way (such as criticising or inadvertently humiliating) or discussing it with other relatives, but not the person they are noticing changes in.</p> <p>Over time, this can cause a lack of trust to develop. Discussing memory problems openly with the person at the point of a memory failure or if they raise the concern is best. Of course, it takes courage and makes us face our own vulnerability.</p> <p>Sometimes the person will be in denial or lack insight into the memory problems (this can be a symptom of dementia, but isn’t always). If someone raises a concern about their memory issues, I would urge you not to minimise this, as it probably took courage to admit their concerns.</p> <p>I heard a relative say to my mother: “Oh, you left the pot on the stove. I lost the car in the multistory the other day.” My mother had dementia – the relative did not.</p> <p>If they are adamant that they do not have concerns, this is harder to deal with. One approach is to say: “I know you are not concerned, but I am concerned and I wonder if you would see a doctor to ease my worries?”</p> <p>Also explaining that memory problems can at least to some extent have reversible causes means a visit to the doctor to at least rule these out is an important step. It may also be encouraging to say to the person: “If there is something with your memory that will get worse over time, would you want to know?” (Most people <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408568/">answer yes</a> to this).</p> <h2>Seeing a GP</h2> <p>If your partner agrees to visit a GP, it is helpful to prepare by filling in a diary for a week with the kind of memory (or other) problems experienced, what was happening at the time and the effect of the memory failure. This can be shared with a GP to help them to understand the issues.</p> <p>When people hear even the suggestion of the word dementia, they are faced with the uncertainties of what will become of them, of what they will lose, what they can keep up and where they will end up. These uncertainties are often shared with family members. But research shows that positive aspects of timely diagnosis <a href="https://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/symptoms/diagnosis/early-diagnosis.asp">outweigh fears</a> over time.</p> <p>At the same time, there are often ongoing stresses to do with memory impairments or confusion. With these stresses, everyday life can be troublesome, family relationships can suffer, and people can find it difficult to be supportive of each other.</p> <p>Being honest and open is the best policy. Stating that we are in this together, I want to help, let’s meet whatever happens head on, can help. If a person becomes resistant, it may be there is another family member who might better assist the person.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219172/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-irving-1493654"><em>Kate Irving</em></a><em>, Professor of Clinical Nursing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/dublin-city-university-1528">Dublin City University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/more-than-a-third-of-people-with-dementia-dont-know-they-have-it-what-to-do-if-you-suspect-your-partner-has-the-condition-219172">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Early indicators of dementia: 5 behaviour changes to look for after age 50

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniella-vellone-1425451">Daniella Vellone</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-calgary-1318">University of Calgary</a> </em></p> <p>Dementia is often thought of as a memory problem, like when an elderly person asks the same questions or misplaces things. In reality, individuals with dementia will not only experience issues in other areas of cognition like learning, thinking, comprehension and judgement, but they may also experience <a href="https://www.alzint.org/u/World-Alzheimer-Report-2021.pdf">changes in behaviour</a>.</p> <p>It’s important to understand what dementia is and how it manifests. I didn’t imagine my grandmother’s strange behaviours were an early warning sign of a far more serious condition.</p> <p>She would become easily agitated if she wasn’t successful at completing tasks such as cooking or baking. She would claim to see a woman around the house even though no woman was really there. She also became distrustful of others and hid things in odd places.</p> <p>These behaviours persisted for some time before she eventually received a dementia diagnosis.</p> <h2>Cognitive and behavioural impairment</h2> <p>When cognitive and behavioural changes interfere with an individual’s functional independence, that person is considered to have dementia. However, when cognitive and behavioural changes don’t interfere with an individual’s independence, yet still negatively affect relationships and workplace performance, they are referred to as <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/sites/default/files/documents/other-dementias_mild-cognitive-impairment.pdf">mild cognitive impairment (MCI)</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-021-00949-7">mild behavioural impairment (MBI)</a>, respectively.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9169943/">MCI and MBI can occur together</a>, but in one-third of people who develop Alzheimer’s dementia, the behavioural symptoms come <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2019.01.215">before cognitive decline</a>.</p> <p>Spotting these behavioural changes, which emerge in later life (ages 50 and over) and represent a persistent change from longstanding patterns, can be helpful for implementing preventive treatments before more severe symptoms arise. As a medical science PhD candidate, my research focuses on problem behaviours that arise later in life and indicate increased risk for dementia.</p> <h2>Five behavioural signs to look for</h2> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=1000&fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=525&fit=crop&dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=600&h=525&fit=crop&dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=600&h=525&fit=crop&dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&h=659&fit=crop&dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=754&h=659&fit=crop&dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/551071/original/file-20230928-17-jmy46j.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=754&h=659&fit=crop&dpr=3 2262w" alt="Illustration of five behaviour changes that may indicate risk of dementia" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Spotting behavioural changes can be helpful for implementing preventive treatments before more severe symptoms arise.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(Daniella Vellone)</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>There are <a href="https://doi.org/10.3233%2FJAD-160979">five primary behaviours</a> we can look for in friends and family who are over the age of 50 that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s13024-023-00631-6">might warrant further attention</a>.</p> <h2>1. Apathy</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1002%2Ftrc2.12370">Apathy</a> is a decline in interest, motivation and drive.</p> <p>An apathetic person might lose interest in friends, family or activities. They may lack curiosity in topics that normally would have interested them, lose the motivation to act on their obligations or become less spontaneous and active. They may also appear to lack emotions compared to their usual selves and seem like they no longer care about anything.</p> <h2>2. Affective dysregulation</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2023.03.074">Affective dysregulation</a> includes mood or anxiety symptoms. Someone who shows affective dysregulation may develop sadness or mood instability or become more anxious or worried about routine things such as events or visits.</p> <h2>3. Lack of impulse control</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1002%2Ftrc2.12016">Impulse dyscontrol</a> is the inability to delay gratification and control behaviour or impulses.</p> <p>Someone who has impulse dyscontrol may become agitated, aggressive, irritable, temperamental, argumentative or easily frustrated. They may become more stubborn or rigid such that they are unwilling to see other views and are insistent on having their way. Sometimes they may develop sexually disinhibited or intrusive behaviours, exhibit repetitive behaviours or compulsions, start gambling or shoplifting, or experience difficulties regulating their consumption of substances like tobacco or alcohol.</p> <h2>4. Social inappropriateness</h2> <p><a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1041610217001260">Social inappropriateness</a> includes difficulties adhering to societal norms in interactions with others.</p> <p>Someone who is socially inappropriate may lose the social judgement they previously had about what to say or how to behave. They may become less concerned about how their words or actions affect others, discuss private matters openly, talk to strangers as if familiar, say rude things or lack empathy in interactions with others.</p> <h2>5. Abnormal perceptions or thoughts</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s44220-023-00043-x">Abnormal perception or thought content</a> refers to strongly held beliefs and sensory experiences.</p> <p>Someone with abnormal perceptions or thoughts may become suspicious of other people’s intentions or think that others are planning to harm them or steal their belongings. They may also describe hearing voices or talk to imaginary people and/or act like they are seeing things that aren’t there.</p> <p>Before considering any of these behaviours as a sign of a more serious problem, it’s important to rule out other potential causes of behavioural change such as drugs or medications, other medical conditions or infections, interpersonal conflict or stress, or a recurrence of psychiatric symptoms associated with a previous psychiatric diagnosis. If in doubt, it may be time for a doctor’s visit.</p> <h2>The impact of dementia</h2> <p>Many of us know someone who has either experienced dementia or cared for someone with dementia. This isn’t surprising, given that dementia is predicted to affect <a href="https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/nearly-one-million-canadians-will-live-with-dementia-by-2030-alzheimer-society-predicts-1.6056849#:">one million Canadians by 2030</a>.</p> <p>While people between the ages of 20 and 40 may think that they have decades before dementia affects them, it’s important to realize that dementia isn’t an individual journey. In 2020, care partners — including family members, friends or neighbours — spent <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/sites/default/files/documents/Landmark-Study-1-Path-Forward-Alzheimer-Society-of-Canada-2022-wb.pdf">26 hours per week</a> assisting older Canadians living with dementia. This is equivalent to 235,000 full-time jobs or $7.3 billion annually.</p> <p>These numbers are expected to triple by 2050, so it’s important to look for ways to offset these predicted trajectories by preventing or delaying the progression of dementia.</p> <h2>Identifying those at risk</h2> <p>While there is currently no cure for dementia, there has been progress towards <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/dementia-treatment-options-developments">developing effective treatments</a>, which <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/do-i-have-dementia/how-get-tested-dementia-tips-individuals-families-friends/10">may work better earlier in the disease course</a>.</p> <p>More research is needed to understand dementia symptoms over time; for example, the online <a href="https://www.can-protect.ca/">CAN-PROTECT study</a> assesses many contributors to brain aging.</p> <p>Identifying those at risk for dementia by recognizing later-life changes in cognition, function as well as behaviour is a step towards not only preventing consequences of those changes, but also potentially preventing the disease or its progression.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213954/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniella-vellone-1425451"><em>Daniella Vellone</em></a><em>, Medical Science and Imaging PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-calgary-1318">University of Calgary</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/early-indicators-of-dementia-5-behaviour-changes-to-look-for-after-age-50-213954">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Gogglebox star reunites with cast amid dementia diagnosis

<p>The <em>Gogglebox Australia</em> cast has reunited with beloved grandma Emmie Silbery over the weekend, amid her ongoing battle with dementia. </p> <p>The 94-year-old TV star personality was showered with love and affection from co-stars Tim Lai, Faye Kontos, Kate and Matt Dalton, and Keith and Lee Riley in a clip shared on Instagram. </p> <p>"It was great to see our darling Emmie again..❤️"  the captioned read, with Stevie Wonder's <em>Isn't She Lovely</em> playing in the background. </p> <p>This is the first time the cast have seen Emmie since her dementia diagnosis last year. </p> <p>In the clip, Keith and few other cast members were filmed hugging Emmie. </p> <p>Emmie, her daughter Kerry Silbery and granddaughter Isabelle Silbery first appeared on the show in 2016. </p> <p>After almost seven years and 14 seasons of the trio being couch critics, they announced that Emmie would not be joining them in the latest season because of her dementia diagnosis. </p> <p>But the Silbery's have been sharing updates on Emmie's health, and the moment she <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/heartwarming-moment-gogglebox-star-introduces-newborn-to-grandma" target="_blank" rel="noopener">met her great-granddaughter</a> just last month. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C1y_nv_hs9i/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C1y_nv_hs9i/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Lee and Keith (@lee_and_keith)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>In another <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C1yu_0ePuCG/?hl=en&img_index=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">post</a> shared by co-star Kate Dalton, she revealed that the cast members also met Isabelle's newborn daughter, Ruby, who was named after Emmie's aunt. </p> <p>"Meeting the newest Gogglebox family member, Ruby," Kate captioned the photo, tagging Isabelle. </p> <p>"Special guest Emmie ❤️" she added. </p> <p>Fans of the show have shared how much they miss seeing Emmie on TV. </p> <p>"So good to see her looking so well…miss seeing her on the couch," one wrote. </p> <p>"How wonderful! Miss seeing Emmie so thank you so much for sharing this with us! ❤️" added another. </p> <p>"Miss seeing her on the couch," commented a third. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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"He's in good spirits": Rex Hunt's devastating diagnosis

<p>AFL legend Rex Hunt has been diagnosed with dementia, with his family sharing that they are giving him "love and support" through the difficult time. </p> <p>Hunt's family shared the news of his diagnosis to the <em>Herald Sun</em>, with his wife Lynne saying they are going through a difficult time, but are rallying together. </p> <p>“Rex has recently been diagnosed with dementia,” Hunt’s wife Lynne said.</p> <p>“We are dealing with this as a family and are giving him love and support."</p> <p>“He is fit and in good spirits and looking forward to going fishing again soon."</p> <p>“Thousands of families around Australia have loved ones living with dementia and we are no different from any of them."</p> <p>“We are so very grateful for the constant support of Rex’s doctors and our friends.”</p> <p>In September, Hunt returned to a private care facility as his mental health issues, a result of his recent diagnosis with bipolar depression, continued to deteriorate. </p> <p>The 74-year-old has received an influx of messages of support from prominent sporting figures, including from long-time friend Sam Newman. </p> <p>On Newman's <em>You Cannot Be Serious</em> podcast, he shared a message for Hunt, saying, “It is a thing that grabs people at various stages of their life.”</p> <p>“I have been out to see Rex a couple of times and he is up and down in his mental acuity, but if he gets his meds right he is fine, so we wish him well."</p> <p>“We wish him well, we really do, because he had been – probably still is – a very great contributor to entertainment.” </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

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"More bad days than good": Sad new pics of Bruce Willis emerge

<p>Bruce Willis' family are "soaking up every moment" with the Hollywood legend, as his health is continuing to deteriorate. </p> <p>The 68-year-old's family have shared new heartbreaking photos of the actor, which show a steep decline in his appearance and capabilities since the onset of his health issues. </p> <p>Willis was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at the beginning of 2023, nearly one year after announcing his retirement from acting due to aphasia, which causes difficulties with speech.</p> <p>Since his diagnosis, his family have continued to share updates on the actor's condition.</p> <p>Now, a source close to the family has revealed that the star’s health has worsened in recent weeks, and now there are “more bad days” than good. </p> <p>“Bruce has good days and bad days, but in the last two months, there are many more bad days than good,” a source told <span id="U831940059013HOG"><em><a href="https://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/how-bruce-willis-family-is-supporting-him-as-he-battles-dementia/">US Weekly</a></em>.</span></p> <p>“This experience has brought the whole family even closer together. No one knows how much time Bruce has left, so they’re soaking up every moment they get with him.”</p> <p>Another source added that the four-time Golden Globe winner “has around-the-clock care, but at least one family member is always with him.” </p> <p>The beloved Hollywood action star has been spending his days alongside his wife, Emma Heming, ex-wife Demi Moore, and their collective five children, who all care for him throughout his difficult health journey.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

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