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Senior Care News

November 11, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Study: The happier the senior, the healthier the spouse

A health data review by Michigan State University (MSU) researchers finds that older married people are healthier if their spouses are happier.

Psychologists at MSU looked at information on 2,000 older participants from the Health and Retirement Study over the years 2006 through 2012.  Survey participants had been asked about four things: self-reported health, physical impairment, exercise and chronic conditions.

The study found that people with a happy husband or wife are 34 percent likelier to be healthy than those married to an unhappy person.  It also found that happier seniors have healthier spouses regardless of wealth, education, or serious illness of self or spouse.

The researchers say that happier wives cause healthier husbands (or vice versa) for several reasons: the happier spouse is likely a better caretaker; more-positive people practice better long-term life and health habits—and encourage spouses to do same; and life is less stressful when one’s spouse isn’t always in a bad mood.

What’s more, researchers believe, the happy spouse’s healthy attitudes and behaviors get increasingly mimicked over the years by his/her wife/husband—even if the wife/husband isn’t exactly the happiest person herself/himself.

Low-key researcher gets top Alzheimer’s award

For writing the past year’s best article, neuropsychologist Mark Bondi, Ph.D. of the VA San Diego Healthcare System got the 2016 Alzheimer Medal from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD), a global research publication.  Dr. Bondi’s research article challenges the conventional criteria for “preclinical,” or not-yet-diagnosed, Alzheimers.  According to the National Institute for Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), the order of getting Alzheimer’s is as follows: first, buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain, then degeneration of nerves in the brain, and then mild cognitive decline on top of both.  According to Dr. Bondi’s published research, though, the number of subjects with neurodegeneration only was over twice that of subjects with buildup of amyloid plaques only.

Interestingly, Dr. Bondi is neither on the JAD’s current “Top 100 Most Prolific AD Investigators” list nor its “Top 100 Most Cited AD Investigators” roster.

Better-functioning “Alzheimer’s gene” reverses symptoms in mice: study

Lab mice tests involving a gene called APOE suggest that “repairing” the APOE gene caused the disappearance of various Alzheimer’s symptoms in the mice.

A mutated form of that gene, known as APOE4, has been found in about 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients, indicating a link.  The APOE4 gene is thus a prime Alzheimer’s research area.

A healthy APOE gene—dubbed APOE3—helps vital nutrients called lipids enter and exit cells.  But with APOE4 present, lipid movement in and out of cells is impaired.

In this study, published recently in JAD, researchers found that mice with APOE4 had impaired learning and memory, damaged brain nerves, and buildup of tau and amyloid beta in their brains. 

The researchers also found that activating a protein called ABCA1 restored normal APOE function in the mid—allowing normal lipid movement in and out of their cells, reversing the impaired learning and memory, damaged brain nerves, and buildup of tau and amyloid beta in their brains. 

In plain English, researchers found that mice that had exhibited “lost” behavior and didn’t recognize familiar objects before “re-lipidation” of their APOE genes were able to locate hidden objects and recognize familiar objects after “re-lipidation.”