Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Update on the UCI 90+ Study at Laguna Woods Village

During the past few years, I have been following the 90+ Study in which researchers from the University of California in Irvine have studied people who live to age 90 or older.  They refer to them as the Oldest of the Old.

The UCI findings have been fascinating.  The study has been conducted on residents of the retirement community where I live who are over the age of 90.  However, when the project first started, these people were in their 60s.  As a result, the researchers have learned a great deal about this group of people.

Recently, I once again attended a speech by Dr. Claudia Kawas of UCI in which she discussed her major findings.  She and her team of researchers have learned a number of things about the lifestyle choices and genetic makeup of people who manage to live to be 90 years old.  Below you will find data from their website, 90study.org, which summarizes what they have discovered.

Major Findings from the 90+ Study Listed on Their Website

*  People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol and coffee lived longer than those who abstained.  However, as you will see later in this article, living a long life is not the same as having a clear mind and a good quality of life.

*  People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.  Again, a long life does not mean you will avoid dementia or disability.

*  Over 40% of people who live until they are between 90 and 100 years old will suffer from dementia; almost 80% of the people in this age group are physically disabled.  Both conditions are more common in elderly women than men.

*  About half the people over the age of 90 who have dementia do not have sufficient neuropathology in their brain to explain their cognitive loss.  This means that some people develop dementia, even when an autopsy does not show that there was anything seriously wrong with their brain.

*  People aged 90 and older with an APOE2 gene are less likely to have clinical Alzheimer's dementia, but are much more likely to have Alzheimer's neuropathology in their brains.  In other words, an autopsy may show that their brains have damage that would normally indicate Alzheimer's, but there were no clinical symptoms of the disease while they were alive.

More Findings from the 90+ Study about Dementia

In addition to the items listed above, Dr. Kawas reported a few additional facts about dementia during her recent presentation at Laguna Woods Village.

*  At age 75, there is about a 5% risk of dementia. At age 80, senior citizens have about a 10% risk.  The risk currently doubles approximately every five years.  At age 85, the rate is 20%.  At age 90 and older it is 40%. 

*  While moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption may help you live longer, it does not appear to prevent dementia.  Taking Vitamins E and C did not appear to help, either.  However, physical exercise does seem to "increase the production of a key brain nutrient called brain-derived neurotrophic factor."  Exercise is the only lifestyle choice Dr. Kawas mentions in her website that definitely seems to make a difference in brain function later in life.
increases the production of a key brain nutrient called brain-derived neurotrophic factor - See more at: http://www.mind.uci.edu/research/cutting-edge-alzheimers-research/diet-and-exercise/#sthash.O3ebpG0v.dpuf
increases the production of a key brain nutrient called brain-derived neurotrophic factor - See more at: http://www.mind.uci.edu/research/cutting-edge-alzheimers-research/diet-and-exercise/#sthash.O3ebpG0v.dpuf
increases the production of a key brain nutrient called brain-derived neurotrophic factor - See more at: http://www.mind.uci.edu/research/cutting-edge-alzheimers-research/diet-and-exercise/#sthash.O3ebpG0v.dpuf

*  While many people assume that Alzheimer's Disease is the only cause of dementia, there are actually over 100 different pathologies or symptoms of diseases which appear to cause dementia.  For example, irreversible dementia can also be caused by vascular problems, a stroke, brain injury, sleep apnea, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease.  As reported above, people can have the Alzheimer's neuropathology in their brain and NOT develop dementia.  If they have the Alzheimer's neuropathology and one additional dementia pathology, they are much more likely to develop dementia symptoms.  If they have the Alzheimer's neuropathology and two additional dementia pathologies (or symptoms of brain diseases), they almost always have dementia symptoms that can be observed while they are alive.

*  On the other hand, approximately 40% of people with dementia have none of the pathologies or disease symptoms which are known to cause dementia.  In these people, the cause of their dementia is unknown!

*  Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia (defined as a decline in memory and cognitive abilities severe enough to interfere with everyday functioning).  Alzheimer's accounts for 70% of cases of dementia.

*  Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, often because the patient becomes bedridden and develops pneumonia.

*  One out of nine people age 65 or older and one out of three people age 85 or older are living with Alzheimer's Disease. 

*  Age appears to be the greatest risk for dementia.  No matter what you do, the longer you live, the greater your risk of becoming mentally impaired.
 

How to Learn More About the 90+ Study from UCI

Many of us are going to want to continue to follow the 90+ Study and readers can watch for future reports in this blog about the findings in the coming years.  Here are a few other ways you can learn more and, in some cases, help.

*  You can sign up to participate in a trial at:  TrialMatch.alz.org

*  You can follow the UCI 90+ study and, if you wish, make a donation at:  90study.org

*   You can read more on the background and findings of the UCI study in my article:  The UCI 90+ Study at Laguna Woods Village. 

If you are looking for more information that will benefit you as you age, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on medical issues, where to retire, financial planning, family relationships and more.


You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  Photo of Laguna Woods Village taken by author, Deborah-Diane.



  • People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained.
  • People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.
  • Over 40% of people aged 90 and older suffer from dementia while almost 80% are disabled. Both are more common in women than men.
  • About half of people with dementia over age 90 do not have sufficient neuropathology in their brain to explain their cognitive loss.
  • People aged 90 and older with an APOE2 gene are less likely to have clinical Alzheimer’s dementia, but are much more likely to have Alzheimer’s neuropathology in their brains.
  • - See more at: http://www.mind.uci.edu/research/90plus-study/#sthash.Ynp7gWGK.dpuf



  • People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained.
  • People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.
  • Over 40% of people aged 90 and older suffer from dementia while almost 80% are disabled. Both are more common in women than men.
  • About half of people with dementia over age 90 do not have sufficient neuropathology in their brain to explain their cognitive loss.
  • People aged 90 and older with an APOE2 gene are less likely to have clinical Alzheimer’s dementia, but are much more likely to have Alzheimer’s neuropathology in their brains.
  • - See more at: http://www.mind.uci.edu/research/90plus-study/#sthash.Ynp7gWGK.dpuf



  • People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained.
  • People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.
  • Over 40% of people aged 90 and older suffer from dementia while almost 80% are disabled. Both are more common in women than men.
  • About half of people with dementia over age 90 do not have sufficient neuropathology in their brain to explain their cognitive loss.
  • People aged 90 and older with an APOE2 gene are less likely to have clinical Alzheimer’s dementia, but are much more likely to have Alzheimer’s neuropathology in their brains.
  • - See more at: http://www.mind.uci.edu/research/90plus-study/#sthash.Ynp7gWGK.dpuf

    2 comments:

    1. Interesting findings. Thanks for sharing them with us.

      ReplyDelete
    2. This is very interesting! I know of no one in my family who has had any signs of dementia. Several of them lived up into their 90s. Maybe I will be one of those lucky ones! Great article! :)

      ReplyDelete

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