Sleep Disorders as Prologue to Disease: From the Archives

What a (incremental) difference seven years make. In 2009, when we wrote about Dana Alliance member David Holtzman’s work, the headline was “Could Sleep Disorders Contribute to Alzheimer’s?” This month, Scientific American describes the work he and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are doing using the headline “Why Sleep Disorders May Precede Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.” We’ve gone from “maybe take a look” to “what’s the mechanism” on evidence for a link between sleep troubles and risk for neurodegenerative disorders has come.

Scientific American’s Simon Makin calls the Holtzman lab’s 2009 discovery the “best evidence for a causal relationship” From our story:

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New Brain Connections

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Part of the Dana Foundation’s mission of educating the public with the latest in neuroscience research involves providing a better understanding of the brain and its functions. Brain Connections is a newly refashioned feature of the Foundation’s website, where you can find answers to your questions about common neurological diseases and disorders.

The page currently offers validated resources for 30 common brain diseases, and links to sites that have been reviewed by our scientific advisors. Brain Connections is suitable for students, educators, families, and caregivers, as well as patients experiencing any of the listed conditions.

Visitors can find:

  • Descriptions of conditions
  • FAQs
  • Background for speaking with physicians
  • Treatment options
  • Support information for families and caregivers
  • Organization contacts
  • Sources for more information

Our knowledge about the brain is constantly progressing as science and technology advance, so it’s important to stay well-informed. The information provided in Brain Connections is not a substitute for medical advice, however. So be sure to consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Ways to Participate in Brain Awareness Week

Organizing and promoting events is a wonderful way to promote Brain Awareness Week (BAW) in your community, but did you know that you can also submit a request for a BAW proclamation? Your local city and state official(s) may be receptive to issuing one in honor and in celebration of BAW. A proclamation is a “time-honored vehicle for securing government recognition of your program and further promotes BAW’s core mission: to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.”

On the BAW website, you can find instructions for how to request a proclamation, as well as see sample proclamations awarded to select cities–and one signed by the United States President in 2002!

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Kathleen Roina, BAW Campaign Director, and Laura Reynolds, Director of the Cognitive Fitness Initiative, hold a proclamation issued by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer in celebration of BAW 2016. 

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Free Successful Aging & Your Brain Program in Maine!

For people in the Greater Portland, Maine area who are interested in learning about the aging brain and living a brain-healthy lifestyle, a Successful Aging & Your Brain program will be held next Thursday, October 27th from 3 to 5 p.m. at the University of New England’s (UNE) Ludke Audirorium at 716 Stevens Ave., Portland.

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Celebrate World Alzheimer’s Month with Brain Healthy Steps

There are approximately 46 million people living with dementia, costing $818 billion worldwide. By 2050, this number is estimated to rise to over 131 million people, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). With so many people living to be older, dementia is becoming one of the world’s most urgent healthcare issues.

This September marks the fifth annual World’s Alzheimer’s Month, with people around the world hosting events to raise awareness. The theme for 2016 is “Remember Me,” with people sharing memories on social media using the hashtags #RememberMe and #WAM2016. Alzheimer’s disease, along with vascular dementia, is one of the most common forms of dementia.

Recently released in honor of World’s Alzheimer’s Month is ADI’s annual Alzheimer Report. This year’s report emphasizes the importance of transferring responsibilities to primary care services from more specialized services, such as geriatrics, and psychiatrists. “As the numbers of people affected and the demand for services increase, it is unlikely that full coverage of dementia healthcare services can be attained or afforded using the current specialist care model,” the report states.

With all this worrisome news about the rise in dementia, the most important thing we can do is lead a brain-healthy lifestyle. Small changes can significantly delay the onset of dementia, reducing costs and strain on our health care system, and more importantly increasing quality of life for seniors. The Dana Foundation has a new set of four steps, based on research by the Institute of Medicine, to help keep the brain functioning into old age:

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