Genetic predisposition is one of many factors implicated in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid precursor protein (APP) generates amyloid beta peptides; a mutation in the gene that encodes APP can cause these peptides to build up in plaques in the brain, which affects cognition. It is the ARC gene complex, which is involved in neural plasticity, or the brain changing and adapting over time, that contains the gene that encodes APP.
A long-term, large-scale study from the National Institutes of Health followed almost 16 thousand adults aged 45-64 in 1987 for 25 years; participants’ general health was assessed five times throughout the study. Over 1500 adults were diagnosed with dementia over the course of the study, with carriers of the APOE4 gene, African Americans, and those who did not graduate from high school being more likely to develop the disease. Individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure and Caucasian adults who smoked were also at elevated risk.
A recent study out of Montreal was the first to find that first-person shooter video games can have a negative impact on the brain; these video games have been shown in the past to have a positive effect on visual attention and motor control, but this study found the opposite is true for the hippocampus.
The Alzheimer Society of Ontario (ASO) has launched the Blue Umbrella (BU) program to create dementia-friendly business practices; the program consists of training for staff at local businesses in an effort to create Dementia-Friendly Communities (DFC). A DFC is a place where people understand the experience of living with dementia; it includes individuals living with dementia, and encourages and supports their independence. A DFC values the contributions of people living with dementia.
A study out of Pennsylvania found that a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may decrease a person’s subjective perception of wellbeing. Individuals that knew of their diagnosis were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and low quality of life than their cognitively normal counterparts. In addition, persons with cognitive impairment diagnoses that believed their condition would deteriorate over their life span experienced lower day-to-day satisfaction.