Dementia is a world health crisis that threatens to overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 50 million people worldwide have some form of the disease. Absent a treatment breakthrough, experts predict those numbers will explode in the coming years. Thanks to a rapidly aging global population. By some estimates, there will be 82 million people with dementia by 2030 and 152 million people with the disorder by 2050.
As dementia progresses, the disease affects memory, speech, and behavior. Patients with end-stage dementia require round-the-clock care, which places tremendous strain on family members. To provide the care these patients need, many families turn to in-home care providers or residential care facilities. There is no cure for dementia, and to date, researchers have made very little progress in developing effective treatments. But two recently published studies offer some hope for improvement.
Is Inflammation a Key Cause of Dementia?
A recent study published in the journal Neurology tested the relationship between a specific inflammatory blood marker and some kinds of dementia. Researchers hoped that by establishing a link between the blood marker sCD14 and dementia, doctors would have a low-cost method for assessing dementia risk in advance. If doctors could then assess an individual’s risk of developing dementia later in life, they could begin interventions that could improve the person’s quality-of-life.
Research has already established a link between brain inflammation and neurological disease. Also, previous research showed that sCD14 helps regulate the brain’s inflammation response. Researchers in the Neurology study wanted to connect these previous research avenues by demonstrating a link between sCD14 and dementia. To do this, they studied 4,700 people over the course of nine years using MRI, cognitive tests, and surveys. After the study concluded, researchers found “higher levels of sCD14 were associated with brain injury and aging, as well as cognitive decline.”
There’s still much to learn about the relationship between inflammation and dementia. However, this new study gives hope that doctors may soon have a reliable method for predicting a person’s future likelihood of developing the disease.
Midlife Obesity a Long-Term Risk Factor for Dementia
Between 1996 and 2001, British researchers studied 1 million women in the United Kingdom. The study found that midlife obesity was associated with a “21% increased risk for all-cause dementia at 20-year follow-up.” Diet and exercise were associated with increased dementia risk over the first 5-10 years. But surprisingly, it was not a risk factor over the long term. This finding goes against some previous studies which say poor diet and lack of exercise are a risk factor for dementia. However, researchers theorize that there may be some reverse causality in their findings.
Patients who develop dementia experience a preclinical phase that can last up to 10 years. During this time, people can become less active, consume fewer calories, and lose weight. Study authors believe this might have altered the results of the first 10-year portion of their study. This study underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy weight while moving into middle age.
There’s Still a Long Journey Ahead of Us
While these two studies offer new insight into dementia, a cure, or even an effective treatment is still a long way off. Until then, dementia patients will need top-notch care to maintain their quality-of-life. If you live in Arizona, Generations Home Care can help. Our caretakers work in our clients’ homes to help them with the day-to-day tasks that often become difficult with age. Whether it’s cooking, laundry, errands, medication reminders, or more, our caregivers provide seniors and their families with additional peace-of-mind. By assisting with these everyday tasks, in-home caregivers may also help delay a move into a costly assisted living facility. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help dementia patients call us today at 602-595-HOME(4663).
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.