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DEMENTIA CARE: Robear robot to take care of Japan’s elderly population

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Lindsey Caldwell covers this captivating story about the impact RI-MAN Robots are having on the senior care. Read the following article below: 

Japan is known for its love of robots. Japanese inventors have been following a trend of creating a robot for every occasion. One of the newest Japanese robots is the Robear, developed by Riken, a Japanese research group. Just like the name implies, Robear is a robot bear. This bear won’t steal your picnic basket. It’s been especially designed to take care of the elderly and give them back some of their independence. The growing elderly population has been a rising concern in Japan due to their recent population decline.

Almost ten years before the Robear, Riken created a man-shaped model called the RI-MAN. As improvements were made to each succeeding model, they robot evolved into a bear. Surprisingly, the Robear is designed to be more tender with patients than the RI-MAN was. The Robear has Smart Rubber tactile sensors that give it a softer and more responsive touch.

Japan is in the middle of a sharp and steady population decline. Their slowing birthrate has created a vacuum in workforce. More elderly Japanese are entering nursing homes, and there are not enough young Japanese in the nursing industry to take care of them.

Interestingly, Japan always sees the need for a robot to fill these jobs instead of finding new people to perform the task. It could be that Japan truly doesn’t have enough people who are willing to enter the home care industry, but it also seems like a task a loosened immigration policy would fix just as well as a robot.

February 27, 2015 (http://www.slashgear.com/robear-robot-to-take-care-of-japans-elderly-population-27370782/)

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DEMENTIA CURE: Using music to cure Alzheimer’s patients

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“Alive Inside” captures the powerful impact music has on Alzheimer’s disease. Documentary film maker, Michael Rossato-Bennett, went into filming with the common misconceptions many people have regarding this disease. 

“I went into these nursing homes, and I think I was like most people in that I saw these people who have no memory and very little functioning, and I intuitively thought they were gone; that there was nothing there,” he says. “The mysteriousness for me was the continual opening of my understanding of what was still there.” – Rossato-Bennett

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The film documents people suffering from dementia, and their positive reactions to music from their youth. The unpredictable relations were unlike anything Micheal Rossato-Bennett expected.

“I filmed an old man who had been sitting slumped over for 10 years,” he says. “We gave him his music, and he woke up with such profoundness on every level that it rocked me to my bone.”

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“It really profoundly changed the way I listen to music,” says Rossato-Bennett, adding that the documentary may very well be the only good-news film ever made about Alzheimer’s. “Some of these people would hug me, and I could feel this incredible aliveness in their emotional state; kind of this slow dawning that the emotional side of these people’s minds was actually perfectly functioning.”

He was so moved by the experience that he created the Alive Inside Foundation. The organization is designed to inspire young people to connect with their elders. According to Rossato-Bennett, music is a universal language capable of bridging the generational gap.

“This is the humblest of human situations; to be dealing with the diminishment of all that makes you who you are,” he says. “But certainly there’s a silver lining in the fact that we can make people in nursing homes’ lives better, or we can make the elders in our lives better, or we can make ourselves better by connecting through music and stories. It is not time wasted.”

March 06,2015

(http://www.metro.us/lifestyle/using-music-to-wake-up-alzheimer-s-patients/zsJocf—x7OK4JQrzuqKI/)

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HEALTHY AGING: Tips from a geriatrician

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 “Paths to Healthy Aging.” is a guidebook designed as a concise overview of the basic ways people can improve their physical and mental health and enjoy life as they age. The author, Ayati is an assistant professor at the Stanford School of Medicine and treats geriatric patients at the Stanford Medical Center and the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Palo Alto. He specializes in providing comprehensive care with a focus on prevention.

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With his wife and co-author, Arezou Azarani, who has a PhD in physiology, he synthesizes his experience and the latest research on nutrition, exercise and geriatric medicine into a book that emphasizes healthy lifestyle choices. Lifestyle choices can be just as important as medicine in fending off many common complaints from high blood pressure to sleep, disorders, from depression to frailty.

These crucial choices include eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, being socially involved, and pursuing creative, stimulating activities. 

“Physical health is achieved by persistent and enjoyable workouts,” he says.

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Tips for healthy aging

 Avoid trendy and drastic diets or exercise programs, especially rigorous programs you won’t stick to.

 Vitamins aren’t necessary unless a doctor identifies a deficiency, and be wary of nutritional supplements. You can generally get all your nutrients through a balanced diet of mostly whole, organic foods; limit your intake of canned, frozen or instant foods, as well as alcohol and caffeine.

 Find a hobby, or sign up for a class. Trying a new subject or activity can challenge you mentally and physically.

 Don’t just hang out with seniors; find ways to spend time with people of all ages.

 Keep in touch with your network of friends.

 Find a geriatrician. While there is a shortage of geriatricians, you won’t necessarily have to see one often. This specialist will offer care that is comprehensive and focuses on prevention.

March 07, 2015 (http://www.freep.com/story/life/wellness/2015/03/07/healthy-aging-tips/24507323/)

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DEMENTIA CARE: ultrasound successfully treats disease in mice

Alzheimer's

Ultrasound treatment successful in the improvement of mice with Alzheimers. Read the below article for a greater understanding:

Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound.

While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze.

In the past, high-energy ultrasound has been combined with injected microbubbles, which vibrate in response to sound waves, to get drugs across the so-called blood brain barrier. But the new research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, is the first demonstration that ultrasound alone might have a beneficial effect on the memory-robbing condition.

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“Our research was very exploratory and we really didn’t expect to see such a massive effect,” Juergen Goetz of the University of Queensland  in Brisbane, one of the study authors, said. “I’m really excited by this.”

After several weeks of treating mice that had been genetically altered to produce amyloid plaques, the scientists found the ultrasound almost completely cleared the plaques in 75% of the animals, without apparent damage to brain tissue.

While there is still some debate as to whether plaques are a cause or a symptom of Alzheimer’s, the experiment found that the treated mice had improved memory, as measured by three different tests, compared with untreated ones.

The technique works by stimulating microglial cells, which form part of the brain’s immune system, to engulf and absorb the plaques.

Goetz stressed that his research was at a very early stage and it would be several years before it could be tested in people. Several hurdles must be overcome first, including long-term checks for side effects in animals and much more research into whether the approach will work with thicker skulls and larger brains.

The next step is to treat sheep, with data from that experiment expected later this year.

Ultrasound devices capable of penetrating the human brain are already being tested for other conditions, with Israeli company InSightec pioneering it for tremors and chronic pain.

Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form, affects close to 50m people worldwide and that number is set to reach 135m by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, a non-profit campaign group.

March 12, 2015 (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/12/alzheimers-breakthrough-as-ultrasound-successfully-treats-disease-in-mice )

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HEALTHY AGING: Living a healthy life style improves dementia

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Through regular exercise and a nutritious meal plan Alzheimer’s can be drastically improved. Read the below article written by Laura Donnelly, Health Editor to see how adopting a healthy life style can protect the brain:

 Adopting a healthy lifestyle may reduce the risk of dementia, even if changes are made late in life, new research suggests.

Those who improve their lifestyles after retirement could slow their mental decline by one quarter, a major study in The Lancet has found.

Pensioners who were enrolled on a programme to encourage healthy eating, exercise, and regular “brain training” sessions performed far better in mental tests than others who were just given basic health advice.

Experts said the research ny the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, from the first major trial of its kind, found that changes in daily habits had a “significant impact” on brain function.

However they said it was too soon to say how long the impact on mental function persisted, and whether it reduces the chance of dementia in the long-term.

The study tracked more than 2,600 Fins aged 60 to 77, all of whom were considered to be at risk of dementia.

Half were given standard health advice about factors thought to reduce mental decline, such as following a healthy diet, socialising and having regular exercise.

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The rest were enrolled on an intensive programme, which gave detailed instructions, with regular checks on their progress.

Pensioners in the group were expected to carry out computer-based “brain training” three times a week, and follow precise instructions on diet and exercise.

At the end of two years, those on the programme has 25 per cent better scores in mental tests on their brains.

For some tests, differences between groups were more striking. For executive functioning – the brain’s ability to organise and regulate thought processes – scores were 83 per cent higher in the programme group, while processing speed – the ability to automatically perform relatively easy tasks – was 150 per cent higher.

Lead researcher Professor Miia Kivipelto, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said: “Much previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health, and fitness. “However, our study is the first large randomised controlled trial to show that an intensive programme aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.”

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The lifestyle advice those on the programme followed:

Exercise

  • Individually tailored programmes with aerobic exercise 2 to 5 times a week and muscle strength training 1 to 3 times a week

Brain training

  • Group and individual sessions, including computer-based training three times a week for up to 15 minutes at a time

Diet

  • 10 to 20 % of daily energy from proteins
  • 25 to 35 % of daily energy from fat (less than 10 per cent from saturated and trans fats, 10 to 20 per cent from monounsaturated fats, 5 to 10 per cent from polyunsaturated fats
  • 45 to 55 % of daily energy from carbohydrates (less than 10 per cent from refined sugar)
  • 25 to 35 grams a day of dietary fibre
  • less than 5 grams a day of salt
  • less than 5 per cent of daily energy from alcohol

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What did we know about reducing the risks of dementia until now?

Experts believe exercise may have the greatest impact in protecting against the condition. In 2014, a landmark study by Cambridge University suggested that just one hour’s exercise a week could reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s disease by almost half. Scientists don’t know why exactly, but it is possibly because it reduces blood pressure, controls cholesterol, improves blood vessel health and keeps weight down.

  • Diet is also key. A Mediterranean diet – plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish, olive oil and nuts, a little red wine and not much meat or dairy – has been highlighted as a key way to protect both the heart and the brain.
  • Avoid smoking – We all know smoking is extremely harmful and here’s yet another reason to quit – it significantly increases your risk of developing dementia, most likely because it damages blood vessels and reduces the amount of blood that reaches your brain.
  • Manage other health conditions – Other conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure both increase your risk of developing dementia, so get these checked and follow medical advice to keep them under control.
  • Use it or lose it – Scientists believe that frequently challenging your brain with new things is the key, for example taking up a new hobby, learning a language or even walking an unfamiliar route. Computer-based train training can offer some similar challenges, but there is limited evidence about the role of crosswords in protecting against dementia.

March 12,2015

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11465608/Study-prompts-hopes-that-it-is-never-too-late-to-reduce-dementia-risk.html)

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