Connecting Cognitive and Movement Disorders

Sami Barmada, M.D., Ph.D., is a scientist, lecturer, and clinician in the University of Michigan Cognitive Barmada labDisorders Program. He was recently in the news for the discoveries that he made in the laboratory with his colleagues in California and the United Kingdom. Their research findings focused on a protein, TDP43, which accumulates in the brains of individuals with ALS and dementia. We had a chance to sit down with Dr. Barmada to understand more about the connection between ALS, dementia and other related diseases.

You are a clinician in the U-M Cognitive Disorders Program but your research focuses on ALS. Are cognitive disorders related to ALS?

The short answer is yes. Years ago, we believed that ALS was a disorder that only affected movement, Continue reading

Detour Ahead: Your Journey road sign for dementia or memory loss

DetourLife is a journey. The Detour Ahead road sign acknowledges that dementia or memory loss significantly alters a person’s journey through life. Other road sign tips for living with memory loss will be introduced over the next few months.

Just as detours are not a normal, expected part of your daily commute or family road trip, dementia is not a normal part of aging. As you age, a few changes can be expected such as:

  • Increase in forgetfulness. The older we are, the more we have learned and have to remember.  It is normal to become more forgetful after age 50.
  • Slowing of response times
  • Decline in vision and hearing abilities
  • Increased cautiousness

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Patience as practice

“Patience may seem like a superficial virtue, but actually it embodies a deep insight into the nature of things: they’re intertwining, messy, imperfectible, and usually not about you.”  – Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist and author

Patience, is the quality caregivers and partners share most frequently when asked what they need and Handsfeel to be well and balanced in their caregiving role. Reliable and abundant patience is what they desire most in their relationships and in their daily lives. They express deep concern, and even shame, regarding their transient feelings of patience, especially towards the person they are caring for. The direct experience of “lost” patience combined with subsequent self-criticism and feelings of guilt can become a hamster wheel many care partners find themselves circling for years on end. This is a dangerous cycle that not only erodes the bedrock of caregiving confidence, but the health, well-being and safety of all involved.

Here are a few practical tips for nurturing patience as a caregiver: Continue reading

Be a link in the chain of Alzheimer’s research

Now is the time to join our discovery team

Currently, there are over 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. To prevent or delay the illuminated stone headonset of the disease, we need to do research and discover new treatments.

We’ve all been asked to lend a hand with something or donate a little time for a good cause.  It is quite eye opening how we benefit from volunteers who have helped improved our lives and enriched our culture – including medical discoveries that we rely on every day.

Research volunteers, who generously give up their personal time to become part of an Alzheimer’s research study, play a crucial role in the discovery of improved treatment options and cures for this disease. These do not just get discovered by scientists working in a lab, but also because people and families who are Continue reading

Encouraging News About the Incidence of Dementia

Many projections forecast a major increase in dementia in coming decades. With populations aging across the globe, many more elderly adults are expected to develop dementia.Better heart health reducing dementia

Current projections, for example, predict that cases of dementia will triple in the United States alone.

The results of several recent European studies, however, suggest a more optimistic future.

Large studies of aging individuals in Britain, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands indicate that a smaller proportion of aging individuals will experience cognitive impairment and dementia than had been anticipated.

While no one doubts that the aging of the worldwide population will result in marked increases in the number of individuals with dementia, the future may not be as grim as projected – which is very encouraging. Continue reading

On the list of possible dementia busters: An educated mom, robust social life and delaying retirement

New article highlights effects of education, prevention and better health care on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

BlogDementia (2)The growing number of older adults in the U.S. and around the world guarantees that over the next few decades we will see a huge growth in people with dementia.

However, a perspective piece I recently co-authored for the New England Journal of Medicine highlights at least five recent studies suggesting that the risk of any individual getting dementia or Alzheimer’s disease today is lower than it was about 20 years ago. This is good news because it means the average 75-year-old today may be less likely than a 75-year-old in 1993 to suffer from this devastating condition.
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