Guardian Dementia

This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Dementia newsfeed.

UK health services failing south Asian people with dementia, says report

Exclusive: Outdated system designed for white British patients leads to inequalities in diagnosis, care and support, review finds

Thousands of south Asian people with dementia are being failed by outdated health and care services designed for white British patients, according to an alarming review that warns the UK is “woefully unprepared” to cope with a predicted sevenfold increase in cases.

People of south Asian heritage in the UK are more likely to develop the disease than the general population due to their higher risk of other illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, that increase the risk of dementia.

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26 June 2022, 1:10 pm

Rugby’s dementia stand-off: ‘They ignore it. It’s just deny until you die’

Former All Black Geoff Old and his wife, Irene, are struggling to get the condition taken seriously by the game’s authorities

These are desperate times for an increasing number of rugby union families, but a businesswoman from New York offers herself as a reference point and champion. As former rugby players and their families come to terms with their diagnoses of neurological conditions, Irene Gottlieb-Old can say she has been there and continues to fight for support – or even just simple recognition of her family’s plight.

Gottlieb-Old met the former New Zealand back-row forward Geoff Old nearly 20 years ago. He and his first wife had split up after the death, aged 16, of their first son when Old was head coach of the Netherlands team that played off against England for a place at the 1999 World Cup. Gottlieb-Old fell in love with Old when their paths crossed on the sport scene in Colorado a few years later. He had been technical director of USA Rugby but he had just stepped away, aware of a decline in his executive functioning – and a concomitant spike in his frustration and, inevitably, aggression.

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19 June 2022, 7:00 am

‘Shocking’ rate of sexual abuse of aged care residents barely changed since royal commission

Peak rights group for older Australians demands urgent change after 530 incidents of sexual abuse reported in last quarter of 2021

More than 500 cases of sexual abuse of aged care residents were reported in the last three months of 2021, a rate largely unchanged since the royal commission dubbed the prevalence of sexual crimes in residential care a “source of national shame”.

Experts say victims, many of whom live with dementia, are still being failed by systems not equipped to recognise or respond to crimes against those with serious cognitive impairment.

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5 June 2022, 5:30 pm

I thought having a baby might turn me into an ‘elite sleeper’. I was wrong | Arwa Mahdawi

Scientists have found 3% of the population need less shut-eye than the rest of us. Could I train myself to be one of them?

I don’t want to boast or anything, but I have always considered myself something of an elite sleeper. I love sleeping more than just about anything. Given the opportunity, I will sleep for marathon stretches and can snooze through even the most extreme situations. On one very choppy ferry crossing on the notoriously rough route to the Isles of Scilly, for example, my travelling companion spent the entire three-hour ride throwing up in the bathroom while I dozed happily on a plastic chair.

Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that I am not an elite sleeper after all. It seems I am just lazy. Or, possibly, a high-functioning narcoleptic. Because, as it turns out, neurologists have been studying actual “elite sleepers” for years and they are defined as the approximately 3% of the population who are biologically programmed to need less sleep than the rest of us. According to a study that came out in March, elite sleepers have rare genetic mutations, which means they can sleep fewer hours than mere mortals without any risk of cognitive decline – excitingly, they could hold the key to a future cure for dementia.

Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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1 June 2022, 6:00 am

One Fine Morning review – Léa Seydoux sparkles in poignant drama

Mia Hansen-Løve returns to Paris with this powerful story of a single mother torn between emotionally unavailable men

The mystery of what the heart wants, and what it might give in return, is the theme of this humane, sympathetic movie from Mia Hansen-Løve. For all its tendency to soap opera, it has a lovely happy-sad sweetness. The setting is the briskly and urbanely photographed Paris that Hansen-Løve showed us in her second film, Father of My Children from 2009. Just as in that movie, she shows us familiar tourist landmarks without them seeming cliched. And of course, fathers again loom very large.

Léa Seydoux plays Sandra, a single mum, apparently widowed for many years, who speaks fluent English and German and works as an interpreter. We see her doing live audio-headphone translation at an international media conference, and also translating a powerful speech from a US army veteran at an Omaha beach reunion. The effect is to show us a clever, self-effacing professional who has been pushed to the margin of things, a little. She wears workaday jeans and sweaters and has a short haircut which looks businesslike rather than chic or gamine.

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20 May 2022, 8:22 am

Sajid Javid told dementia patients ‘need change now’ as 10-year plan launched

Campaigners welcome health secretary’s promise of ‘seismic shift’ in care, but say it must be backed by urgent funding and delivery

Sajid Javid has been warned that thousands of people living with dementia “need to see tangible change now” after he announced a 10-year plan to tackle the condition.

The health secretary told delegates at the annual conference of the Alzheimer’s Society his dementia strategy would include a major focus on prevention and research as he promised a “seismic shift” in how the condition is approached. The plan will look at why people fall ill, Javid said, with figures suggesting as much as 40% of dementia is potentially preventable.

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17 May 2022, 5:38 pm

Taboo stops south Asian people in UK seeking help for dementia, says charity

Exclusive: Alzheimer’s Society says fear of embarrassment or misunderstanding stops thousands coming forward

Thousands of south Asian people living with dementia in the UK are being denied access to help and support because stigma and taboo deter them from getting diagnosed, a charity has warned.

People from south Asian communities are more likely to develop dementia than the general UK population due to being at higher risk of other illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, that increase the risk of dementia.

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15 May 2022, 2:56 pm

Vortex review – Gaspar Noé’s punishing portrait of dementia

The director abandons his showy style in this brutally matter-of-fact tale of a couple at the end of their lives in a Paris apartment

Never a director known for his gentle handling of an audience, Gaspar Noé applies the cinematic thumbscrews with his latest picture, in some ways his most punishing film to date. It’s also a world away, stylistically, from the bold, synapse-sizzling aesthetic of films such as Enter the Void and Climax.

A painfully bleak portrait of an elderly couple at the end of their lives, Vortex is brutally matter-of-fact about the indignities of old age. The film’s one concession to Noé’s normally showy directing style is a split-screen device, used to convey the disengagement and disorientation of dementia – the wife (Françoise Lebrun) struggles to recognise her husband and anxiously prowls their labyrinthine Parisian apartment, hoping to find an anchor of familiarity. The husband (neither character is named) is a petulant intellectual, played by the writer-director Dario Argento. He views his wife’s deterioration as an inconvenience.

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15 May 2022, 10:00 am

Maggie May review – deft dementia drama underscores the power of memory

Leeds Playhouse
Eithne Browne gives a superb depiction of the bewilderment brought on by Alzheimer’s in Francis Poet’s sharp-witted play

Frances Poet has form when it comes to dramatising illness. Her play Fibres (2019) was about a shipyard worker and his wife living with asbestosis. The cast of ailing characters in Still (2021) included a woman with chronic pain. Maggie May, delayed from 2020 because of the pandemic, is about dementia.

The writer plays a trick on us when it looks certain her focus will be on Tony Timberlake’s Gordon. He is the one snoring – well, snorting – in the bed after a blockage has caused a stroke. We assume he is in a bad way. Turns out he is fine. Timberlake plays him as genial and loving. He is as patient and forgiving as he is quick to burst into song.

At Leeds Playhouse until 21 May. Then at Queen’s theatre, Hornchurch, 24–28 May and Curve, Leicester, 7–11 June.

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13 May 2022, 10:21 am

Vortex review – Gaspar Noé’s stunning split-screen descent into dementia

A retired psychiatrist suffers a stroke, while her film-maker husband potters about their Paris apartment in denial in this brutally insightful film

Gaspar Noé brings his cauterisingly fierce gaze to the spectacle of old age: the world of those about to enter the void. He brings to it a particular structural insight which I don’t think I have ever seen represented so clearly. Dying is bifurcated: a real-time split-screen experience divided between the carer and the cared-for. An old married couple, people who have had a lifetime to wonder which of them will die first and which of them will have to take up the burden of care, find that it is not so clear during the terrible endgame itself.

Veteran director Dario Argento and actor, screenwriter and director Françoise Lebrun play a couple who live together in a small, chaotic Parisian apartment covered in an amiable clutter of books and papers. He is evidently a film-maker or maybe a writer, working on a book about cinema and dreams entitled Psyche; she is a retired psychiatrist. They have a son, Stéphane (Alex Lutz) who is himself the father of a small boy, and burdened with drug issues and money and marital worries. The movie opens – ominously – with a video clip of Françoise Hardy performing the 60s chanson Mon Amie la Rose, about the mortality of flowers. Then Argento and Lebrun enjoy a modest meal on their rickety terrace: these are Lebrun’s final moments of lucidity. We learn that she suffered a stroke a few years ago and has been descending into dementia since then; recently the rate of decline has accelerated.

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12 May 2022, 8:00 am

Keith Pontin died of dementia caused by head trauma, inquest finds

  • Former Cardiff and Wales defender died in 2020 aged 64
  • More than 200 league appearances made during career

The former Wales defender Keith Pontin died from dementia caused by repeated trauma to the head during his long playing career, an inquest has found.

Pontin played for Cardiff between 1976 and 1983 and made more than 200 league appearances as well as being capped twice by Wales.

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3 May 2022, 7:26 pm

Alzheimer’s study finds 42 more genes linked to higher risk of disease

Evidence linking Alzheimer’s to disruption in the brain’s immune system is hailed as ‘enormous clue’

The largest genetic study of Alzheimer’s to date has provided compelling evidence linking the disease to disruption in the brain’s immune system.

The study, using the genomes of 100,000 people with Alzheimer’s and 600,000 healthy people, identified 75 genes linked to an increased risk of the disease, including 42 that had not previously been implicated.

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4 April 2022, 3:00 pm

Long naps may be early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, study shows

Excessive daytime napping likely to be symptom rather than cause of mental decline, say scientists

Taking long naps could be a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study that tracked the daytime sleeping habits of elderly people.

The findings could help resolve the conflicting results of the effects of napping on cognition in older adults, with some previous studies highlighting the benefits of a siesta on mood, alertness and performance on mental tasks.

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17 March 2022, 3:37 pm

Elite sleepers: are you one of the people genetically programmed to need less sleep?

New research shows those who need less than six hours’ kip are at less risk of cognitive decline. And they could hold the key to a scientific breakthrough

Name: Elite sleepers.

Age: As old as humanity.

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16 March 2022, 2:25 pm

‘Wisdom and respect’: what Peru’s forgotten generation can teach us about life and ageing

Connection to nature and strong family ties met photographer Alex Kornhuber on his journey to document elderly people in his country – as well as dementia, hardship and a brutal wave of Covid

  • All photographs by Alex Kornhuber

Enedina Avilés sits on a rocky ledge surveying the city below. She comes to this spot every evening after spending the day earning a living peeling garlic cloves. “This is her moment of meditation,” says Peruvian photographer Alex Kornhuber.

Avilés’s home, a wooden shack with no running water or electricity, is perched on a hillside on the southern outskirts of Lima. She lived in the mountains for most of her life but moved to the city seven years ago after visiting her son and finding a small patch of land where she could build a house.

Enedina Avilés lives in the Villa María del Triunfo district. Every evening, she sits on a rock high on a cliff to absorb the landscape – a contemplative practice that benefits her mental health.

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14 March 2022, 8:15 am

Is Wordle good for your brain? | Letters

Tim Sanders says socialising with people is more beneficial, while Anne Cowper recommends crosswords for a real challenge

A Wordle habit probably wouldn’t protect Emma Brockes from dementia (My five-letter reaction to the New York Times taking over Wordle? I quit, 17 February). There is a myth about puzzles and brain health. The human brain is large because we are social beings. Meeting our fellow creatures is more likely to keep us well. The Lancet’s review, published in 2020, is useful for those interested in what makes a difference – eg exercise, eating well, voting for clean-air policies and embracing education. If your family tells you that your hearing is getting worse, get it checked. Gather with others in whatever way you can. If you like peace, quiet and indeed word puzzles, enjoy them in moderation.
Tim Sanders

• In response to Emma Brockes and other adopters of Wordle, I have one word: crosswords. Never knowingly bettered.
Anne Cowper
Bishopston, Swansea

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21 February 2022, 6:09 pm

Bit by bit, dementia made him slip away. The beginning of the end came when he got lost in the city | Ranjana Srivastava

My friend’s father was an expert in his field, but dementia took a relentless toll – on him and his family

“You are a hero.”

“Not really. The strength just comes to you.”

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8 February 2022, 4:30 pm

Two or more chronic health problems in middle age ‘doubles dementia risk’

Risk 2.5 times greater for those with multimorbidity at age 55, long-term study of 10,000 Britons reveals

Having two or more chronic health problems in middle age more than doubles the risk of dementia, according to a study that researchers say underscores the importance of good health earlier in life.

More than 900,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, and about 57 million people are affected globally. The worldwide toll is predicted to nearly triple to 153 million by 2050.

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2 February 2022, 11:30 pm

Dawn Astle will lead PFA dementia team to protect and support players

  • Jeff Astle’s daughter will lead dedicated dementia department
  • Focus on current protections and supporting retired players

Dawn Astle has agreed to lead a dedicated dementia department in the Professional Footballers’ Association as part of the union’s push to ensure support for former players with neurodegenerative diseases is “a top priority”. Last month marked 20 years since Astle’s father, Jeff, the former England and West Brom forward, died aged 59 from accumulated brain trauma.

The PFA’s chief executive, Maheta Molango, who was appointed last June, said he was “acutely aware that this is just the first step”. Astle will speak to current players to help raise awareness.

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2 February 2022, 7:46 pm

What I Wish People Knew About Dementia by Wendy Mitchell review – a book of hope

Wendy Mitchell’s good-humoured practical guide to living with dementia has a deeper, more existential message for all of us: connect, forgive, accept and live

One bright afternoon not long ago, Wendy Mitchell saw her father in her garden. She was inside with a mug of tea and he was standing on the lawn in his baggy green cardigan, smiling at her. She saw the yellow of his nicotine-stained fingers and the shine of his black, Brylcreemed hair. They stared at each other, happy to be together again. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was gone and the sunlit lawn was empty.

Her father had been dead for more than 20 years and the sighting of him through the glass door was simply one of the many visual hallucinations that ambush Mitchell: the escalator turns into a waterfall; a marble floor is a swimming pool; a patterned carpet writhes with creatures; a person dressed in black becomes a disembodied head floating on air. Seeing her dead father could have been scary, confusing or painfully distressing, but instead Mitchell accepted the trick that dementia was playing on her as a gift, a moment of grace.

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1 February 2022, 7:00 am