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Healthy Lifestyles May Help Prevent Alzheimer's
By Amanda Gardner -- HealthDay Reporter
MONDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- A stream of studies suggests that simple lifestyle activities such as being socially engaged and watching how you eat, drink and exercise may have an effect on risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Several of these studies are being highlighted Sunday at the first Alzheimer's Association International Conference on the Prevention of Dementia in Washington, D.C.

"It's exciting that we can even hold a prevention conference," said William Thies, vice president of medical and scientific affairs at the Alzheimer's Association during a Tuesday teleconference. "Had we proposed it 10 years ago, the likely response would have been laughter followed by skepticism."

But he added that "there's been an explosion of information over the last 10 years or so that really highlights the possibilities we have to lower the amount of Alzheimer's disease in our society, with some interventions that are relatively well known and have clear public health benefit."

One study found that an active social life was associated with a decreased risk of dementia.

Previous reports had shown that late-life social engagement seemed to be protective against dementia. Many of those studies were based on data collected closer to the onset of dementia, however. These authors wanted to look at earlier time frames.

The study looked at 2,513 elderly Japanese-American men followed since 1965 as part of the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Levels of social engagement were measured at midlife and late-life.

A low level of midlife social activity, on its own, was not associated with an increased risk of dementia, the researchers report. However, any decline in social activity from midlife into late-life did seem to raise dementia risks, the team found, as did poor social engagement in late life.

"So, overall low social levels in late life seem to be a risk [for dementia], but there are two ways you can get to be 'low' in late life: always were low and decreased. Decreasing is the bigger risk," explained study author Jane Saczynski, a postdoctoral fellow with the National Institute on Aging.

The findings suggest that the process of developing dementia impacts negatively on social relationships, rather than the other way around.

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Martha Stewart Gives the Gift of Healthy Aging
On Martha Stewart's new television show, "Martha," Ms. Stewart celebrated her mother's 91st birthday on September 16 by announcing that she was donating $5 million to Mount Sinai to create the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai, a new site for the outpatient clinical practice of geriatric medicine. During the show, Ms. Stewart surprised her mother by announcing that she was dedicating the new Center to her.

The Center, which will be designed and built by IM Pei and his son CC Pei, will be located in the Klingenstein Clinical Center. It will provide clinical care and education for patients, serve as a training ground for physicians-in-training, and coordinate research on healthy aging that is done across the Medical Center..

This project was spearheaded by Brent Ridge, MD, MBA, Assistant Professor of Geriatrics and Adult Development, who, in helping to create the Center, turned to those who exemplified the idea of healthy aging. First, Dr. Ridge sought the services of IM Pei who, at 86, showcases the idea that aging does not deplete vitality. Dr. Ridge then sought the attention of Ms. Stewart, who was interested in the idea of helping others age successfully. Ms. Stewart will turn 65 when the new Center opens in 2006.

The new Center builds on the founding principles of the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development, says Albert Siu, MD, the Ellen and Howard Katz Professor and Chair of Geriatrics and Adult Development. From coining the term geriatrics, to founding the first academic department in geriatrics, Mount Sinai has played a defining role in what it means to grow older and in demonstrating that aging need not mean decline.

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"Gerontechnology": the cutting edge of eldercare
Imagine: You have a chronic, life-threatening condition. The undershirt you wear monitors your heart rate, EKG, respiration and temperature, then alerts your doctor if there's a problem. This means you're able to continue living independently at home. MORE


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