More than 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia, a neurological disorder that robs them of their memory and costs the world $1.3 trillion a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Viggo Mortensen adds to his résumé of actor, poet, painter, and musician, with the release of FALLING, his 2020 directorial debut about the legacy of dementia and family bonds. In this exclusive interview with NOWNESS creative director Bunny Kinney, Mortensen speaks about the personal experiences that inspired his latest film.
Still not seen FALLING? Rent it via https://www.nowness.com/story/falling…
FALLING is a powerful drama about a father and son relationship on the brink of collapse. Hollywood giant Lance Henriksen (Alien, The Terminator) plays Willis, a homophobic farmer who is forced to live with his gay son. Willis has early-stage dementia, which makes running the farm on his own increasingly difficult. So John (Viggo Mortensen) brings him to stay at his California home so that he and his sister Sarah (Laura Linney) might help him find a place closer to the family. Unfortunately, their best intentions ultimately run up against Willis’ adamant refusal to change his way of life.
Viggo Mortensen is one of the most in-demand actors of his generation. After winning hearts and minds with his valiant portrayal of Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he has received numerous Oscar and BAFTA nominations for his performances in Green Book, Captain Fantastic, and Eastern Promises, to name a few. Shot and edited by Antonio Rui Ribeiro Produced by Modern Films
The number of older people, including those living with dementia, is rising, as younger age mortality declines. However, the age-specific incidence of dementia has fallen in many countries, probably because of improvements in education, nutrition, health care, and lifestyle changes.
Overall, a growing body of evidence supports the nine potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia modelled by the 2017 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care: less education, hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, and low social contact.
We now add three more risk factors for dementia with newer, convincing evidence. These factors are excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution. We have completed new reviews and meta-analyses and incorporated these into an updated 12 risk factor life-course model of dementia prevention. Together the 12 modifiable risk factors account for around 40% of worldwide dementias, which consequently could theoretically be prevented or delayed.
The potential for prevention is high and might be higher in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC) where more dementias occur. Our new life-course model and evidence synthesis has paramount worldwide policy implications. It is never too early and never too late in the life course for dementia prevention. Early-life (younger than 45 years) risks, such as less education, affect cognitive reserve; midlife (45–65 years), and later-life (older than 65 years) risk factors influence reserve and triggering of neuropathological developments.
Culture, poverty, and inequality are key drivers of the need for change. Individuals who are most deprived need these changes the most and will derive the highest benefit.
“We are learning that tactics to avoid dementia begin early and continue throughout life, so it’s never too early or too late to take action,” says commission member and AAIC presenter Lon Schneider, MD, co-director of the USC Alzheimer Disease Research Center‘s clinical core and professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
LOS ANGELES — Modifying 12 risk factors over a lifetime could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an updated report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2020).
Twenty-eight world-leading dementia experts added three new risk factors in the new report — excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life and air pollution in later life. These are in addition to nine factors previously identified by the commission in 2017: less education early in life; mid-life hearing loss, hypertension and obesity; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity and diabetes later in life (65 and up).
Schneider and commission members recommend that policymakers and individuals adopt the following interventions:
- Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
- Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
- Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
- Prevent head injury (particularly by targeting high-risk occupations).
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week (one unit of alcohol equals 10 ml or 8 g pure alcohol).
- Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
- Provide all children with primary and secondary education.
- Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
- Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.
‘Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry” (July 10, 2020):
We tested the hypothesis that apathy, but not depression, is associated with dementia in patients with SVD. We found that higher baseline apathy, as well as increasing apathy over time, were associated with an increased dementia risk. In contrast, neither baseline depression or change in depression was associated with dementia. The relationship between apathy and dementia remained after controlling for other well-established risk factors including age, education and cognition. Finally, adding apathy to models predicting dementia improved model fit. These results suggest that apathy may be a prodromal symptom of dementia in patients with SVD.
Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is the leading vascular cause of dementia and plays a major role in cognitive decline and mortality.1 2 SVD affects the small vessels of the brain, leading to damage in the subcortical grey and white matter.1 The resulting clinical presentation includes cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms.1
Apathy is a reduction in goal-directed behaviour, which is a common neuropsychiatric symptom in SVD.3 Importantly, apathy is dissociable from depression,3 4 another symptom in SVD for which low mood is a predominant manifestation.5 Although there is some symptomatic overlap between the two,6 research using diffusion imaging reported that apathy, but not depression, was associated with white matter network damage in SVD.3 Many of the white matter pathways underlying apathy overlap with those related to cognitive impairment, and accordingly apathy, rather than depression, has been associated with cognitive deficits in SVD.7 These results suggest that apathy and cognitive impairment are symptomatic of prodromal dementia in SVD.
From the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April 22, 2020):
Our findings imply that higher long-term dietary intakes of flavonoids are associated with lower risks of ADRD and AD in US adults.
Our findings provide new evidence that diets higher in flavonols, anthocyanins, and flavonoid polymers are associated with a lower risk of developing ADRD. These associations were sustained after accounting for a variety of potential confounders including key nutrients related to ADRD risk and overall diet quality. Similar findings were seen with AD risk for flavonols and anthocyanins but the association with flavonoid polymers was no longer statistically significant.
Along with improvements in healthcare and medical technology, the aging of the baby boom generation will result in an unprecedented rise in the number of older Americans (1, 2). Currently, there are >50 million Americans aged ≥65 y, and that is projected to more than double by 2060 (3). A consequence of this increase in older adults is the escalation of age-related diseases (4, 5). Alzheimer disease (AD) and related dementias (ADRD), a group of symptoms in which there is progressive deterioration in cognitive function severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily living activities, are regarded as among the most significant public health challenges largely affecting adults aged >65 y (6). AD is the most common form of dementia, making up ∼60–80% of dementia cases. Currently, 5.8 million Americans are living with AD, and by 2050 that is projected to escalate to 14 million (7).
Presented by Sarah Dulaney, RN, CNS, a nurse at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, and Helen Medsger, a family caregiver and LBD support group leader, as part of the Lewy Body Dementia Caregiver Webinar Series supported by the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and the Administration for Community Living.