The last year has had a devastating effect on health, and in particular the health of older people, who have tragically been the age group who have suffered the most as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Whilst it is understandable that COVID-19 has dominated the news, there have been some interesting developments made in medicine and science in general that will have an effect on the elderly, and will help to support their choice of care in the future whether they opt for domiciliary care at home or residential care.
Here are just some of the recent statistics that relate to elderly health that might interest the elderly and those assisting with their care, provided by the non-profit organisation The Live-in Care Hub (https://www.liveincarehub.co.uk).
Vision tests predict Parkinson’s-linked cognitive decline
New studies being carried out by researchers at UCL have shown that a simple vision test can predict which individuals with a Parkinson’s diagnosis will develop possible dementia and cognitive impairment rough 18 months before it happens. It is not uncommon for those who have Parkinson’s to also suffer with dementia. In fact, it is a common and debilitating aspect of the disease. It is currently estimated that within 10 years of receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis around 50% of those patients will also be affected by dementia.
As part of the research that was carried out, which was published in Movement Disorders, they looked at 77 individuals with Parkinson’s in order to prove their theories.
Blood test for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is another common problem amongst the elderly. It is believed that there are around 850,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s at the moment, and by 2040 it is expected that this number will have risen to 1.6 million.
In recent publications, the University of Gothenburg has offered up some very convincing evidence that a blood test that they have developed for the disease can detect it early and allow its course to be tracked. This research has major implications when it comes to treatment trials and clinical practice. This biomarker identified by the research just last year will allow closer monitoring of the disease allowing a better understanding into the progress of Alzheimer’s over time. Those who work in domiciliary home care services already understand just how important it is to be in familiar surroundings are for as long as possible for those who have Alzheimer’s. Now this type of research will help to determine when this type of care may no longer be an option.
Genetic risk factor for stroke
It is believed that each year in the UK there are 100,00o strokes, and the risk of having a stroke is much higher in the elderly. Now a team of Geisinger researchers have made a discovery regarding the most comment genetic variant that is a risk factor for a stroke.
SVD, cerebral small vessel disease is the cause of around 25% of ischemic strokes globally, it is also the most common cause of vascular dementia. It is now believed that around 1 in 300 people have the gene variant that can cause this. This research will make it easier to identify those individuals who are most at risk of having a stroke as a result of a NOTCH3 variant, and this discovery is significant.