Can You Pass the One-Leg Test for Brain Health?

Here’s a quick, do-it-yourself test for brain health: See how long you can stay balanced on one leg. If you can’t hold that flamingo position for at least 20 seconds, it could indicate damage to small blood vessels in your brain even if you have no other symptoms, new research finds. That damage could put you at high risk for stroke and cognitive decline. A stroke is caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain that interrupts blood flow. …

Poor Sleep Quality, Sleep Apnea May Raise Dementia Risk

Does your spouse complain that you snore loudly or gasp in your sleep? Better pay attention — and not just for the purposes of marital harmony. A new study finds that people who have breathing problems while sleeping and those who don’t get enough deep sleep are at higher risk for dementia, according to a new study published in the journal Neurology. Scientists are increasingly finding that good sleep is crucial to brain health. Previous studies have suggested sleep quality and duration are connected to memory …

Midlife Diabetes Tied to Memory Problems Later in Life

Having diabetes or prediabetes in midlife is linked to memory problems later in life, according to new research published in Annals of Internal Medicine. In fact, diabetes appears to age the brain about five years faster than normal aging. Johns Hopkins researchers in Baltimore tracked the blood sugar levels and brain health of more than 15,000 adults ages 48 to 67 with regular exams for 20 years and found there was nearly 20 percent greater decline in memory and cognitive function in those with …

Worried Someone You Know May Have Diminished Financial Capacity?

What are the early warning signs of dementia? That’s a question professionals who work in the financial services industry have increasingly asked me since AARP released a report, entitled Protecting Older Investors: The Challenge of Diminished Capacity, on protecting investors who have diminished capacity. The report raised awareness among many financial professionals concerned about the decision-making capacity of their clients. Just to give some sense of how much of a potential problem this is, there are about 41.5 million Americans age …

Trick or Treat: Does Chocolate Help Brain Health?

A new study this week that linked the antioxidant-rich flavanols in cocoa to improved memory in healthy older adults produced lots of yummy headlines, so  it’s OK to stuff ourselves with leftover Halloween candy, right? Well, not exactly. Study participants — all between the ages of 50 and 69 — saw striking improvements in memory after drinking a special cocoa drink daily for just three months. On average, the memory of 60-year-olds improved to perform more like that of  30- or 40-year-olds, according to …

MRI Scans Could Detect Alzheimer’s Early

An MRI scan can detect signs of cognitive decline in the brain before symptoms of memory loss appear, according to a new study published in the online journal Radiology. This new use of a well-known technique has the potential to be used in the very early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers in Switzerland gave MRI brain scans to 148 healthy older men and women — average age, 76 — as well as 65 people with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers then …