Monday, 22 December 2014

Seasonal Greetings

Seasonal Greetings

I would just like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas where ever you are around the world, and hope that you are able to share this time with family or friends.

There are a lot of very lonely people these days, and as Christmas is a time for sharing, its nice to be able to get involved with others.

I  admit that many will be struggling as they either live alone, or live in areas of conflict, but we should try to remember these people at this time.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Mild cognitive impairment

From the Alzheimer's Society web page

Mild cognitive impairment


      Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a term used to describe a condition involving problems with cognitive function (their mental abilities such as thinking, knowing and remembering). People with MCI often have difficulties with day-to-day memory, but such problems are not bad enough to be defined as dementia. This factsheet explains the link between MCI and dementia, and the benefits of having MCI diagnosed. It then looks at reducing your risk of developing MCI and dementia.

What is MCI?

MCI describes a set of symptoms rather than a specific medical condition or disease. A person with MCI has subtle problems with one or more of the following:
  • day-to-day memory
  • planning
  • language
  • attention
  • visuospatial skills ('visuo' referring to eyesight and 'spatial' referring to space or location), which give a person the ability to interpret objects and shapes.
In MCI, these symptoms will have been noticed by the individual and those who know them. If the person with MCI has taken cognitive function tests, their problems will be seen in test results over time. Any decline will be greater than the gradual decline that many people experience as part of normal, healthy ageing. There may be minor problems with more demanding tasks, but generally not problems in everyday living. (If there is a significant impact on everyday abilities, this may suggest dementia.)
Memory loss and other cognitive problems can arise from many different causes. For some people diagnosed with MCI, memory loss will be the first sign of Alzheimer's disease. For some of those with other cognitive problems, these will be the first signs of vascular dementia, fronto-temporal dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. For information about the different types of dementia, see factsheet 400, What is dementia?
Other people will have MCI as a result of a curable condition such as stress, anxiety or depression, or from physical illness or side-effects of medication. A doctor may, or may not, be able to say what is causing a person to have MCI.

How many people with MCI develop dementia?

Different studies suggest that between 5 and 20 per cent of older people have MCI of some form at any one time. The figure depends on how MCI is defined and where participants for the studies were selected from (for example, from clinics or the wider community). People with the 'memory loss' form of MCI make up about two thirds of all cases.
These findings are important because people who have MCI are at an increased risk of going on to develop dementia. In studies carried out in memory clinics, 10-15 per cent of people with MCI went on to develop dementia in each year that the research results were followed up. In other studies the rates are about half this level, but MCI still represents a significantly increased level of risk of dementia – about three to five times the risk of someone without MCI.
Although MCI significantly increases someone's risk of developing dementia, not everyone with MCI will get worse and develop the disease. Some people with MCI remain stable over time, and a few people improve and no longer have any problems. These different outcomes reflect the range of different causes of MCI.

Can we identify the people with MCI who will go on to develop dementia?

A lot of research has focused on identifying people with MCI who will go on to develop dementia. This is important because it would mean that people could be offered a range of support at an early stage in the illness. In the future, for example, researchers might seek to develop drugs to prevent the progression of MCI to dementia.
Researchers have tried to identify people with MCI who will progress to develop Alzheimer's disease by using different types of scans, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These help to detect changes in brain structure and activity. A different approach is to measure the concentration of proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid, which circulates around the brain and spinal cord. These proteins are studied because they may reveal that the changes in the brain seen in Alzheimer's disease are already underway. Some of these techniques show promise, and some are beginning to be introduced into routine use by doctors. This is, however, an area of ongoing research and it is not yet possible to predict with certainty whether a person with the memory loss type of MCI will develop Alzheimer's disease.
Research to identify which people with non-memory loss MCI will go on to develop dementia is progressing, but is much less advanced.

What are the benefits of diagnosing MCI?

The main benefit of diagnosing MCI is that it helps to identify people who are at increased risk of developing dementia. GPs can refer someone with MCI to a memory clinic for more detailed assessments over time. Many people with MCI will develop dementia, so this approach leads to people with the disease getting an earlier diagnosis. This means that people can have earlier access to treatments as well as practical information, advice and support.
Early diagnosis also allows people to plan ahead while they are still able to do so and – if needed – be encouraged to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
At present there are no drugs that have been approved for treating MCI, as opposed to dementia, outside clinical trials. It was initially hoped that the dementia drugs donepezil (eg Aricept), rivastigmine (eg Exelon) and galantamine (eg Reminyl) would help with symptoms of MCI. However, extensive trials of these drugs have shown no clear benefit to patients. In spite of this, some doctors may still prescribe them 'off label' for patients with MCI with memory loss.
There is only limited evidence that activities such as structured mental exercises ('brain training') might bring benefits to people with MCI, for example on their memory. 'Talking therapy', an established treatment for depression, may help people with MCI to cope better (see factsheet 445, Talking therapies (including counselling, psychotherapy and CBT)).

How can we minimise the risk of MCI and dementia?

Many studies have shown that age is a major risk factor for both MCI and dementia. Genes play an important role as well, most clearly for Alzheimer's disease and fronto-temporal dementia.
Similarly, several aspects of health and lifestyle are thought to influence the progression from normal ageing into MCI. There is better evidence that many of the same risk factors also affect the progression from MCI into dementia.
Medical conditions such as depression, diabetes and high blood pressure from middle age onwards are all clearly linked to a raised risk of developing dementia. It is therefore important that these are diagnosed and treated early. Other studies show that smoking, drinking too much, raised cholesterol levels and obesity also all raise the risk of dementia. Everyone, and especially someone with MCI, should reduce their risk by not smoking, drinking in moderation, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular and appropriate exercise.
There is some evidence that exercising the mind as well as the body can also help reduce the risk of MCI and dementia. Intellectually stimulating leisure activities such as card games or crossword puzzles in mid-life may allow the brain to build up a 'reserve capacity' that can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia. Keeping socially active may also help to reduce risk.
 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas and Neurological illnesses

Christmas is a time of good cheer, and a time for meeting up with loved ones.

Yet many people who have neurological illnesses, struggle to cope either because they live alone, or they simply find it hard to cope with noise etc.

These people may or may not require or want support from others at this time of year, and this must be respected, while ensuring that they are well looked after by the services.

If you are with a family there may well be young children around, all making noise, there may also be Balloons, Christmas decorations, or flashing lights on a Christmas tree.

Illnesses like dementia can be mood changing, and this causes extra stress on families and friends.

We have to plan around those in the later stages of the illness, who may well find this situation to be very stressful and upsetting.

While I love having the family around I don't cope with noise very well these days, but I am very lucky to have a family and grandchildren who are very caring and understanding.

My heart goes out to all who may be alone this Christmas, because many with dementia feel alone even when they have family or friends around them.

We must also remember those who care for people living with these illnesses as this can be a stressful time, as they are possibly working very hard to cope.





Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Energy firm staff trained to spot signs of dementia

Energy firm staff trained to spot signs of dementia in customers in "groundbreaking" move
Staff at energy company SSE have been trained to recognise signs of dementia in customers in a move described as ground-breaking by researchers.
Staff at energy company SSE have been trained to recognise signs of dementia in customers in a move described as ground-breaking by researchers.
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Experts at Stirling University provided the company's Perth-based customer service advisors with the knowledge and skills to help them better meet the needs of those living with the condition.
As a result, some of the changes SSE will look to make for people with dementia include reducing background noise when on the telephone or changing the times of day advisors contact customers.
Staff will also adopt new verbal and written communication styles and techniques, as well as signposting customers to support groups such as local dementia cafes.
Professor June Andrews at Stirling University's dementia development centre said: "We are delighted to help customer support staff to do their job better through an understanding of dementia.
"SSE is breaking new ground here, and it is not only good for customers but will help any of their own staff whose families or neighbours are affected by dementia.
"And all of that shows how businesses can really help the community."
Employees acted out a variety of scenarios which helped them to understand what life was like for those with dementia, watched videos and listened to experts talking about the condition with an aim to helping them provide better service for their customers.
Elaine Mathews, who works in the firm's priority services team, was one of the first employees to receive the training and said it was an eye-opening experience for her and her colleagues.
The team deal with many vulnerable and elderly customers who apply for additional assistance with their energy bills through the government's Warn Home discount scheme.
The 25-year-old said: "The training taught us about different things that a dementia sufferer may come into contact with, for example getting a fright easily by things like an energy bill, opening a letter or the print on the letter.
"During the training we watched a video showing us life through the eyes of a dementia sufferer and what kinds of things they may experience.
"When they are on the phone to us it can be difficult as we're only on the other end of a telephone line, we can't be there to comfort them in person.
"We did things which can help to reduce stress, like talking in a calm voice, making people relaxed, trying to diffuse a situation if the customer was to become angry or upset, keeping things in a light tone and manner, not becoming stern if they are getting angry on the end of the phone too."
Ms Mathews said the training helped the team identify areas where they could improve and now plan to use brighter colours and larger text on applications and make forms easier to complete using tick boxes.
Annette Sloan, SSE's Priority Services Co-Coordinator, said: "The increasing number of people living with dementia is a real concern for all of us. At SSE, we want to provide first class standards of service to all our customers - and to do that we need to be sensitive to to getting a fright easily by things like an energy bill, opening a letter or the print on the letter.
"During the training we watched a video showing us life through the eyes of a dementia sufferer and what kinds of things they may experience.
"When they are on the phone to us it can be difficult as we're only on the other end of a telephone line, we can't be there to comfort them in person.
"We did things which can help to reduce stress, like talking in a calm voice, making people relaxed, trying to diffuse a situation if the customer was to become angry or upset, keeping things in a light tone and manner, not becoming stern if they are getting angry on the end of the phone too."
Ms Mathews said the training helped the team identify areas where they could improve and now plan to use brighter colours and larger text on applications and make forms easier to complete using tick boxes.
Annette Sloan, SSE's Priority Services Co-Coordinator, said: "The increasing number of people living with dementia is a real concern for all of us. At SSE, we want to provide first class standards of service to all our customers - and to do that we need to be sensitive to the challenges some of them face.
"The training from the Dementia Centre was really powerful. We saw first hand how hard it is for people with dementia to do simple tasks - but we also learnt how a bit of thought from service providers can make life easier too.
"We are determined to provide as much support as possible to our customers affected by the condition. That means making sure employees are equipped with the skills and understanding to provide a better service to some of our most vulnerable customers.
"While this training has initially been delivered to advisors in Perth who work closely with our most vulnerable customers, it's part of our aim to improve our services for customers with dementia and ensure all front line employees can also benefit from awareness training."

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

People with dementia attending meetings and conferences

Many people with dementia attend, meetings and conferences, where this illness is the main topic, whether to listen or to take an active part in it.

Yet in many cases they are not treated with the respect they really deserve

It takes a lot of time to set up a presentation when your living with or caring for a person with the illness, yet many Organisers make them wait until the end of the conference to speak

These people know what its like to live with the illness or care for someone living with it, so they should be given prime spots, rather than making the wait

This is because its gets very tiring sitting listening to others, while trying to think about your presentation, wondering if you missed anything out, or have written something totally wrong.

Many of these people have a knack of setting the right tone, and should therefore be used better.

I know from my own experience that afternoons are or can be hazardous as I get tired after lunch if I don't get a good break, although everyone is so very different, so I tend to speak in the morning, while I am feeling fresh.

If a conference is talking about dementia, they should lead with the person living with it, and then when it comes to the caring side start with the carer.

Leaving them to the end of a meeting means that many people will have left.

Leaving them till lunch time, means that many people will be thinking of their lunch break and not the speakers, as I found on many occasions

Its so sad when people with the illness and their carers have to finish a conference or meeting, because they either get more and for fired up, or we find that in most cases people have left early for home, and that is something which can be annoying to the speakers.

I was told recently that some people enjoy being the speakers at the end of the event, but were surprised at how many people had already left for home before they got on the stage.


 So perhaps organisers should consider this in future

Monday, 15 December 2014

University Education and Memory problems

People with memory problems who have a university education could be at greater risk of a stroke, suggests research from the Netherlands.

In a study published in Stroke, they were found to have a 39% greater risk of stroke compared with those with a lower level of education,

This could be because their early defences against cognitive decline have been eroded.

Around 9,000 people in Rotterdam were tracked over 20 years.

They were all healthy and aged 55 and over. In a questionnaire, participants were asked if they had any issues with their memory.

Continue reading the main story

After analysing the results, researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam found an increased risk of stroke in people who had earlier complained of memory lapses.


But the risk of stroke was even higher if participants had a high level of education, defined as higher vocational education or university training.
Cognitive reserve
Arfan Ikram, associate professor of neuroepidemiology at Erasmus University, said that education was a good indicator of the brain's ability to fight against cognitive damage, such as dementia.

This ability, known as cognitive reserve, is usually built up during childhood and early adulthood, and is thought to protect against damage to the brain.

He said: "In people with a high level of education, it takes longer for the brain to be damaged and for dementia to occur.

"But if these people start complaining about their memory, then the mechanism is gone.

"This can be an indicator they have reached an advanced stage, when the cognitive reserve is not compensating any more."

As a result, Prof Ikram said, memory problems can be an important warning sign in this sub-group, "telling you to keep a watch on this person".

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain either becomes blocked by a clot or bursts.

When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and so brain cells die.

The Stroke Association says medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase the risk of having a stroke.

Leading a healthy lifestyle, keeping physically active and stopping smoking can all help to reduce the major risks.

In addition, Prof Ikram says people should start early to maintain brain health in later life - something which is as important as physical health, in the fight against stroke and dementia.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Keep your memory sharp with a nasal spray:

From the Daily Mail

Keep your memory sharp with a nasal spray: New twice-a-day therapy could help combat Alzheimer's disease 

  • Scientists have trialed a new twice-a-day nasal spray to help memory loss 
  • Researchers believe that brain cells need insulin to survive in old age 
  • A drop in insulin levels causes damage and can lead to memory loss 
  • The trial showed insulin spray helped slow the progress of memory loss 
 
Scientists have developed an insulin nasal spray to tackle memory loss.
In a new trial, patients with a form of memory loss called mild cognitive impairment are using the spray twice a day.
This condition affects one in five older people and triggers problems with day-to-day memory, such as forgetting people’s names or losing your train of thought. In some cases, the condition can progress to Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought that brain cells need insulin to survive, and that a drop in levels can lead to brain cell damage.
Researchers have found that a twice-daily dose of a nasal spray can combat memory loss (file photograph)
The new trial, with 240 patients, follows research which shows that insulin not only reduces memory decline, but may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, it is also known that poorly controlled diabetes can lead to memory loss.
In a year-long study led by doctors at Wake Forest University medical school in the U.S., patients with mild cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease will use a nasal spray containing either insulin or a placebo.
The team will carry out a battery of memory tests on the patients, and also scan their brains to monitor any changes. ‘Information gained from the study has the potential to move nasal insulin forward rapidly as a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease,’ say the researchers.

NEW PILL TO COMBAT DEMENTIA

Scientists are developing a new daily memory pill to tackle the early signs of dementia.
The drug acts on the brain chemical N-methyl-D-aspartate, or NMDA, low levels of which have been associated with memory and learning problems.
In a trial at China Medical University, 50 people will be given the drug or a placebo for 24 weeks. Doctors will carry out various verbal learning and memory tests before and after the trial.
‘The results will have considerable clinical and scientific significance, and growing evidence has shown that insulin carries out multiple functions in the brain and that insulin dysregulation may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.’
The trial follows a smaller study, funded by the U.S. National Institute of Aging, which showed that short-term use of insulin preserved memory. Those who used insulin also had a slower rate of physical damage in the brain associated with progress of the disease.
Commenting on the study, Dr Clare Walton, research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘Researchers are increasingly finding links between type 2 diabetes and dementia, and are now testing diabetes drugs as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
‘We believe that the concept of drug “repurposing”, where drugs already licensed for one condition may be beneficial for others such as dementia, has enormous potential to deliver new treatments faster and cheaper than producing a new drug from scratch. We look forward to seeing the results of this trial next year.’ 

Rude Health 
Men who have erectile dysfunction are known to be at higher risk of heart disease. But a U.S. study has found that it works the other way, too — i.e., men with heart disease are at more risk of erectile dysfunction.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Poor sleep may be linked to proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease

From the Alzheimers Society

Poor sleep may be linked to proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease



Published 9 December 2014
 
Poor sleep quality may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, a report presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting in Arizona has found today (Tuesday 9 December).
 
Ninety-eight cognitively healthy adults from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention participated. Participants reporting greater sleepiness showed a greater amyloid burden. Higher amyloid was also associated with reports of less restful sleep.

Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer's Society said:
'This study adds to an existing body of research suggesting that poor quality sleep is associated with the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. However, while those who reported less restful sleep in this study were more likely to have amyloid in certain regions of their brain, we do not know whether this would be enough to cause cognitive decline or dementia.

'Some elderly people have amyloid plaques in their brains but never go on to develop Alzheimer's disease, so it is far too early to say whether the amount of sleep you regularly get is important in the development of dementia and those who have a bad night's sleep should not worry. Take regular exercise, eat a healthy diet and avoid smoking to help keep your brain healthy.'

Could VIAGRA improve memory?

From the Daily Mail

There are more well known drugs being trialed for dementia these days, and it this is proved to be true  it will open the gates to many other medications being tried, and who knows we may well end up with something which kills this illness dead. We all live in hope it can happen

Could VIAGRA improve memory? Drug used to treat erectile problems could be used to stave off dementia

  • Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia
  • It is caused by damage to blood vessels in the brain which bring oxygen
  • This leads to decreased blood flow to the brain, starving it of oxygen 
  • Means parts of the brain become damaged, causing memory problems 
  • Tadalfil - a drug similar to Viagra - works by dilating blood vessels
  • Experts think it could treat dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain 
Viagra could be used to stop the onset of dementia, scientists believe.
A trial has been launched to see if the drug – normally used to treat erectile problems in men – could help stave off a common form of the disease.
The drug, called Tadalfil – which is in the same family as Viagra – works by dilating blood vessels.
Scientists believe it could treat vascular dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Scroll down for video 
Scientists believe a drug called Tadalfil - which is similar to Viagra (pictured) - could be used as a treatment for dementia, by increasing blood flow to the brain
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, and accounts for around 110,000 cases of dementia in the UK.
It is caused by damage to the small blood vessels of the brain, leading to reduced blood flow to brain tissue.
This damage to the brain’s blood vessels - known as small vessel disease – makes artery walls become thick and stiff, which prevents them from responding to the brain’s changing need for blood.
The result is damage to deep parts of the brain due to insufficient blood supply, leading to problems with memory.
The researchers hope Tadalafil’s blood-flow boosting properties can prevent this damage, and stave off vascular dementia.
Dementia, characterised by deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. 
Worldwide, 35.6 million people have dementia and there are 7.7 million new cases every year, according to World Health Organization figures.
Leader's at last year's first G8 summit on dementia called for increased investment and global collaboration in dementia research in order to find a treatment for the disease by 2025.

SLEEPING BADLY IN OLD AGE COULD SPARK DEMENTIA 

Sleeping badly in old age can result in brain changes associated with dementia, say scientists.
A study found those who spent less time in deep ‘slow wave’ sleep were significantly more likely to lose brain cells than those who slept the most deeply.
The research also showed that lack of oxygen caused by the snoring condition sleep apnoea increased fourfold the risk of tiny areas of damage in the brain.
These abnormalities are linked with the development of conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Experts say it is not yet clear if people sleep badly because they are in the early stages of dementia, or if it is the other way round and lack of rest exacerbates the disease process.
The study was published in the online edition of the journal Neurology, 



As part of the new study, Tadalfil will be given to 50 participants over the age of 65 who have small vessel disease following a stroke, or some problems with their memory.
Researchers will measure blood flow to the brain before and after a dose of the drug with a special type of MRI called arterial spin labelling.
It will use radiowaves to magnetise water in the blood and then trace it through the brain to find out how much blood reaches different areas of the brain tissue.
Participants will be given low doses of the drug, which will sometimes be substituted for a placebo.
This is so scientists can compare how much blood reaches the brain with and without the drug.
People who have already been diagnosed with dementia will not be able to take part, as scientists say the aim is to test if the drug could be used to prevent the onset of dementia rather than treat it once it has developed.
Lead researcher Dr Atticus Hainsworth, of St George’s, University of London, said: ‘My colleagues and I are very enthusiastic about this trans-Atlantic initiative as there are too few drugs in the medicine cupboard for dementia. 
'We want to know whether a well-known, well-tolerated drug can be used to combat dementia, which has been called the twenty first century plague.
‘The drug tadalafil is widely used to increase blood flow in penile tissue. Now we’re asking whether it can do the same for another vital organ - the brain.’
Dr Doug Brown, of Alzheimer’s Society, added: ‘Drug development can take decades and sadly, the path towards developing dementia treatments over the past decade is littered with drugs that have failed in clinical trials.
‘As we learn more about the causes of dementia and its links to other conditions, there is hope that treatments we routinely use for other diseases may also work for people with dementia.
‘These incredibly exciting studies could see existing treatments turned into drugs for the most common forms of dementia in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of developing new drugs from scratch.
‘By next year 850,000 people in the UK will have dementia and we owe it to them to do everything we can to develop better treatments and ultimately find a cure. Research like this is a huge part of that goal.’
Alzheimer’s Society is also funding research exploring whether an experimental diabetes drug could help reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Christian Holscher, of Lancaster University, has previously shown that diabetes drug Liraglutide could reverse memory loss and the build-up of plaques in the brain which lead to Alzheimer's.
The new study will follow up on this work.  


 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Brain's dementia weak spot identified

Brain's dementia weak spot identified


Conceptual computer artwork depicting neurology. From left to right: MRI brain scans, 3D dsi white matter brain scan, brain, Alzheimer's brain versus normal brain, MRI brain scan


The brain has a weak spot for Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, according to UK scientists who have pinpointed the region using scans.

The brain area involved develops late in adolescence and degenerates early during ageing.

At the moment, it is difficult for doctors to predict which people might develop either condition.

The findings, in the journal PNAS, hint at a potential way to diagnose those at risk earlier, experts say.

Although they caution that "much more research is needed into how to bring these exciting discoveries into the clinic".

Start Quote

Early doctors called schizophrenia 'premature dementia' but until now we had no clear evidence that the same parts of the brain might be associated with two such different diseases”
End Quote Prof Hugh Perry of the MRC
Weak spot
The Medical Research Council team who carried out the study did MRI brain scans on 484 healthy volunteers aged between eight and 85 years.

The researchers, led by Dr Gwenaƫlle Douaud of Oxford University, looked at how the brain naturally changes as people age.

The images revealed a common pattern - the parts of the brain that were the last to develop were also the first to show signs of age-related decline.

These brain regions - a network of nerve cells or grey matter - co-ordinate "high order" information coming from the different senses, such as sight and sound.

When the researchers looked at scans of patients with Alzheimer's disease and scans of patients with schizophrenia they found the same brain regions were affected.

The findings fit with what other experts have suspected - that although distinct, Alzheimer's and schizophrenia are linked.

Prof Hugh Perry of the MRC said: "Early doctors called schizophrenia 'premature dementia' but until now we had no clear evidence that the same parts of the brain might be associated with two such different diseases. This large-scale and detailed study provides an important, and previously missing, link between development, ageing and disease processes in the brain.

"It raises important issues about possible genetic and environmental factors that may occur in early life and then have lifelong consequences. The more we can find out about these very difficult disorders, the closer we will come to helping sufferers and their families."

Dr Michael Bloomfield of University College London said: "Schizophrenia can be potentially devastating but at the moment it's very difficult to predict with certainty who is going to have a good prognosis and who might have a poor one.

"This study brings us a step closer to being able to make this prediction, so patients could in the future receive better targeted treatments."

Armed with this new knowledge, it may also be possible to understand how to prevent the brain changes before they occur, he said

Winding down for Christmas

We have achieved a lot this year, and although we have done less that other years, but  I think we have got through quite a lot of work on the dementia front.

We travelled around 12 Lloyds bank branches talking to staff, in the hope that they would become Dementia Friends and this was successful and well accepted.

We have also done quite a few sessions with Graduate nurses in Northumbria University talking about treating people with dementia and memory problems with dignity and respect.

This is along with many other conferences and meetings where we have talked about illnesses around memory problems, like the Samaritans, who deal with many calls from people struggling to deal with the diagnosis of dementia.

 It always amazes me how many people come up to us in the street, and say that their father or mother experienced similar problems, but they had no idea of what was going on, and thanking us for our talks, and trying to explain things in laymans terms rather than medical jargon

I have met many new friends including many of my Twitter family, and that was amazing to meet people face to face for once, a wonderful experience.

Now I am tired and winding down for Christmas so that we can spend more time at home with our family.

Thank you to all who have contacted me through out the year, and also those who have helped me.





Sunday, 7 December 2014

County council encourages people to sign up as a Dementia Friend

County council encourages people to sign up as a Dementia Friend

DEMENTIA FRIEND: Councillor Clare Wood and 600th Dementia Friend Martin Feekins listen to Chris Riley playing ‘With a little help from my friends’.
DEMENTIA FRIEND: Councillor Clare Wood and 600th Dementia Friend Martin Feekins listen to Chris Riley playing ‘With a little help from my friends’.
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PEOPLE are being encouraged to give the gift of their time this Christmas and become a Dementia Friend.
North Yorkshire County Council is supporting the national campaign launched in May, which is an Alzheimer’s Society project with more than 400,000 volunteers from across the country.
Its aim is to give people an understanding of dementia and the small things that can be done to make a difference to people living with the condition.
County councillor Clare Wood, executive member in adult social care, said: “We were very keen to support Dementia Friends when the campaign was launched in the spring.
“In North Yorkshire we have an ageing population and more than 9,000 of our over 65s are living with dementia.
“Many more family members and friends will be affected through taking on caring responsibilities and most of us will know or care for someone with dementia.
“The efforts of people like Chris Riley make such a contribution to spreading the Dementia Friend message. Chris is a Dementia Champion and is actively training individuals to become Dementia Friends, and working with organisations to make them dementia friendly."
He uses music as responding to music is one of the last ones we lose and it is often used in dementia therapy sessions.
Mr Riley has just signed up his 600th Dementia Friend and is on target to meet his personal goal of signing 1,000 Dementia Friends by June next year.
People can find out how to sign up to become a Dementia Friend at www.dementiafriends.org.uk.

Dementia Friendly Transport

We often hear of towns and villages becoming dementia friendly, these days and that is wonderful.

I know that many bus companies claim to have had their staff trained to support people with dementia, yet many are very rude when asked simple questions.
These people may have jobs to do, but why get stressed with us when we panic or get confused

One large bus company in the North East, paints their buses with different colours and sometimes have their routes painted on the sides of the buses, which is a good way of recognising, your bus from a distance. 
But there are days when these same buses are used in totally different areas and routes which causes confusion, so are they totally dementia friendly.

I think not because the operators simply do not understand the confusion they are causing.

But every time I travel to London the transport system fills me with complete fear. 

While I can just about cope with some of the buses, the underground is becoming a no go area. 

I cannot see how the underground is disabled friendly, let alone dementia friendly, as its full of idiots, who think only about themselves.

This underground seems to turn everyone into different people,  where everyone is in a hurry to get from A to B as fast as possible, whether running past others standing in the escalators, to occasionally jumping barriers, or pushing others out of the way.

In many ways it reminds me of a colony of ants all rushing in different directions, or as many have commented lately. We also see people pushing their way into a train before others can got off
This is all done regardless  of anyone else who may be around.

It seems as if common sense and manners have been totally done away with.
We are told to keep to the left, yet people coming the other direction, keep pushing you over.

Kings Cross underground has changed so much, that it's become a nightmare too, as the pedestrian tunnel is far too long, which now fills me with complete dread.

I think that this is because the walls are curved, and this causes problems with my balance, as I like to have a wall close by, when things get busy. The problem is that my feet catch the wall, but I need to reach out to touch the wall due to the curve, and this makes things feel unstable.  

Obviously the people at the top of these businesses, do not talk to those who have this illness, otherwise they would change things to suit us.

Perhaps the Mayor of London should take this on board as it would help all with dementia living in London


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

People with dementia and voting

As we are coming up to a general election there is a great deal of discussion about how people with dementia etc, are supported in voting.
In the UK there is a general lack of interest in voting, possibly because we now have three main political party's and there is very little difference between them.

These days we seem to have the equivalent of three Tory party's, all variations of the same party, all looking after themselves and the wealthy, while totally fogetting the poor, sick and elderly.

The days of the three independant parties has long gone, and the days when politicians told the truth has passed us by, as they all seem to distort the truth to fit their needs, or as they say, put a spin on it so that normal people never get the real truth.

Yet many elderly people especially those with dementia may remember the political parties of old, where there were real differences, between the working class parties like Labour where people came up through the ranks from industry etc and the wealthy Tory party.


However I do wonder whether there is anyone to help people in need of support.

Yet how many people with dementia are given the support to decide who they wish to vote for. This is a grey area, because people could be influenced by others rather than hat they want.
I do feel that this is something which needs to be looked at so that those who have these illness are supported to get involved in voting, and are allowed to vote for themselves.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Off to London

Today we leave our Daughter and Grandchildren behind and head off to London, were we are staying for two nights.

Tomorrow we are at the National Dementia Action Alliance, which is being help at Westminster Central Hall.

It was here a few years ago, that I did my very first talk about the diagnosis of Dementia, something I never ever thought that I could do.

It was the first time I had ever spoken in front of a large audience, and although I do not remember very much about it, I have heard on numerous occasions that it went off well.

So although I am not speaking tomorrow it will be amazing to go back to the place where it all started

One or two old friends will be there along with a few new virtual friends, I have met via the Internet, and I am really looking forward to meeting up with them all again.


Guidelines to halt dementia

When I read the guidelines for stopping or halting dementia the other week, I was left feeling as if something wrong, some where along the l...