Health Blog

Diane Schoenfeld comes every Friday to the Chaparral House nursing home in Berkeley, Calif. to spend time with her aunt, Lillie Manger.

"Hi Aunt Lill!" she says, squatting down next to her aunt's wheelchair, meeting her at eye level.

Manger is 97. She has straight white hair pulled back in a neat bun today. It's tied with a green scarf, a stylish reminder of the dancer she used to be.

They go together to the dining room to look over family pictures. Manger needs to be reminded who is in them. Including one of herself. "That's me?" she asks. "That's you," her niece confirms.

"Am I supposed to remember?" says Manger.

Schoenfeld smiles at her encouragingly: "I don't know if you're supposed to. It's OK either way."

Manger has dementia. Schoenfeld is her "surrogate decision maker" meaning that legally, she is the person who makes decisions about Manger's health care. Schoenfeld says Chaparral House is the second nursing home where Manger has lived. The first was 45 minutes away, and Schoenfeld wasn't able to visit as often.

At that first home, caregivers recommended antipsychotic sedatives for some of Manger's behaviors, like crying out and outbursts. Schoenfeld wasn't thrilled about the idea but agreed to it, thinking her aunt might get better care if staff members weren't unhappy with her behavior.

A single, brief session of resistance exercise done immediately after a visual learning task enhances episodic memory by about 10%, new research shows.

Lisa Weinberg, a psychology graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, and colleagues found that a resistance workout lasting as little as 20 minutes improved recall of a series of photos shown to participants 48 hours earlier.

"Our study indicates that people don't have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost," Weinberg said in a statement.

"We're not trying to replace long-term [aerobic] interventions ― they are great and do all sorts of amazing things for you," coinvestigator Audrey Duarte, PhD, Georgia Institute of Technology, told Medscape Medical News.

"But what hasn't been shown before is that the benefit we are seeing occurs after doing a really easy task that anyone could do at home when injured or even after a hip replacement. Since we are studying aging in my lab, I find this particularly compelling because of its application to aging."

The study was published in the October issue of Acta Psychologica.

The study began with a total of 46 participants who looked at a series of 90 photos on a computer screen. Images were evenly split between positive images, such as children on a water slide; negative images, such as mutilated bodies; and neutral images, such as pictures of clocks.

Researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have published the first small study of a novel personalized comprehensive program to reverse memory loss. Their first 10 participants carried the diagnoses of Alzheimer disease, amnestic mild cognitive impairment, and subjective cognitive impairment. The intervention was a 36-point therapeutic program involving comprehensive changes in diet, brain stimulation, exercise, optimization of sleep, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and multiple additional steps that affect brain chemistry. Within 3-6 months of the program's start, nine of the first 10 participants displayed subjective or objective improvement in memory. Of six patients who had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at study onset, all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. Improvements have been sustained for as long as 2.5 years from initial treatment. One of the 10 patients with late-stage Alzheimer disease did not improve.