Illinois Cognitive Resources Network

Connecting to resources throughout your dementia journey

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What Do We Know About Diet and the Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease?

Many studies suggest that our diet may affect the aging brain’s ability to think and remember. These findings have led to research on general eating patterns and whether they might make a difference. 

One diet that shows promising evidence of health benefits is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and other seafood; unsaturated fats such as olive oils; and low amounts of red meat, eggs, and sweets. A variation of this diet, called MIND (Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) incorporates the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which has been shown to lower high blood pressure, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

While scientists aren’t sure why the Mediterranean diet might help the brain, its effect on improving cardiovascular health might in turn reduce dementia risk. Two recent studies suggest that, as part of this diet, eating fish may be the strongest factor influencing higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline.

Learn more about diet and the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Caring for a Loved One With Dementia: Tips for Everyday Tasks

As the symptoms of dementia get worse over time, even simple, everyday activities can become difficult. As a caregiver, you can take steps to help manage these changes and make daily tasks easier. Consider these tips:

  • Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
  • Help the person write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar.
  • Consider a system or reminders for helping to track regular medications, such as a weekly pillbox or medication dispenser.

Explore more tips for everyday care. This information is also available in Spanish.

Visit Rush Alzheimer’s Virtual Resource Hub for Senior Services

The mission of Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s virtual social service hub is to connect seniors and their families to resources and services throughout the Chicagoland area. Visit their page – where you are sure to find valuable information. Don’t forget to sign up for the quarterly newsletter!

Website Link

Vision Impairment is Associated With as Many as 100,000 U.S. Dementia Cases

NIA-funded research suggests that existing treatments for vision problems — including eye exams, glasses prescriptions, and cataract surgery — could have potentially prevented about 100,000 cases of dementia in the United States. The study investigators used data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a longitudinal study tracking changes in health and economic circumstances for more than 20,000 older adult volunteers.

Researchers noted that about 1.8% of U.S. dementia cases were associated with visual impairment, and projected that, by 2050, that total would rise to around 250,000 cases. The study also showed that incidence of vision impairment in older adults was higher for Hispanics, at 11%, compared to 8.3% on average overall for Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites.

The researchers found that existing vision correction technologies and treatments, including eyeglasses and cataract surgery, are underutilized in the United States and globally, especially among disadvantaged communities. Additional research is needed to determine if addressing correctable vision problems may be an effective intervention to protect cognitive health.

Learn more about the research study.

Can Caregivers Get Paid to Take Care of a Family Member?

Family caregivers make a lot of sacrifices to care for older, sick, or disabled relatives. There are many costs involved in caregiving, such as covering travel expenses, paying bills, and buying household essentials. These costs can add up to create a significant financial burden for caregivers.

Many states offer some form of payment for family caregivers. But the laws, eligibility, and funding for this support vary by state. The most common source of assistance is Medicaid, which offers several state-based programs to people who are eligible based on income or disability.

Long-term care insurance also usually provides coverage for care at home. However, policies differ regarding who can deliver that care. In some cases, only a professional service will be paid for long-term care. In other cases, the policy will pay for a family member to provide care.

Learn more about financial assistance for caregiving.

New Video: How Biomarkers Help Diagnose Dementia

Biomarkers are measurable indicators of what’s happening in your body. They can be found in blood, other body fluids, organs, and tissues, and can be used to track healthy processes, disease progression, or even responses to medication. When combined with other tests, biomarkers can also help doctors determine whether a person might have or be at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

Watch NIA’s video to learn more about how biomarkers help diagnose dementia.

New video: How biomarkers help diagnose dementia