Category Archives: News

Effects of Covid 19 lockdown on mental health & well-being to be assessed

The Silver Santé Study’s Age Well clinical trial volunteers are helping our expert researchers learn more about the impact of the Covid 19 lockdown on their mental health and well-being.

The volunteers – all aged 65+ and living in Caen, France – completed a questionnaire at the beginning of the lockdown and another one at the end to help our researchers study the effects of being housebound and isolated from friends, family, and colleagues and its impact on mental health.

Dr Gaël Chételat, Project Coordinator, said: “As the Silver Santé Study is already focused on safeguarding good mental health and well-being in later life, our researchers are ideally placed to explore the effects of the lockdown.”

“Although it presents huge challenges for us all, the lockdown does, however, provide us with an opportunity to learn more about the effects of being isolated from friends, family and colleagues and its impact on our mental health and well-being in later life.

“It will also be very interesting to see whether there is any difference between the group that practiced meditation, the group that learned a new language and the group that made no lifestyle change.

“We hope to have results of this study as soon as possible so that the findings can inform policy and support relating to the current and future lockdowns.”

For advice and links to help older adults safeguard their mental health and well-being during the lockdown see our advice page at https://silversantestudy.eu/2020/04/28/tips-for-maintaining-good-mental-health-and-well-being-during-the-lockdown/

The effects of Covid 19 lockdown isolation are being assessed by Silver Santé researchers.

Delays due to Covid 19 restrictions

Data analysis and planned follow-up testing of volunteers taking part in our Age Well clinical trial have been postponed due to the health and safety restrictions put in place to combat the Covid 19 pandemic.

The restrictions have prevented our researchers from gaining access to data for analysis which will, inevitably, create a delay in the release of the project’s results. Additional follow-up tests, at 21 months after the interventions, have also been delayed and it is hoped that the Wave 1 round will take place in October, restrictions permitting.

Project Coordinator, Dr Gaël Chételat, said: “Naturally, we would rather not experience delays, but the health and well-being of our volunteers and of our researchers is our top priority so the testing will only resume once it is safe to do so.

“We are enormously grateful to our volunteers for devoting their time, energy and commitment to helping us discover more about how we can safeguard mental health in later life.”

To follow the progress of the project, sign up to receive our quarterly e-newsletter here https://silversantestudy.eu/join-our-mailing-list/

The follow-up tests, which include neuroimaging scans, will be delayed due to Covid 19 restrictions.

Project experts prepare to present at world’s largest Alzheimer’s conference

Silver Santé Study experts from several institutions and countries are preparing to present their work at this year’s prestigious Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC).

The conference, which will take place this year online, is the largest and most influential international meeting dedicated to advancing dementia science. Each year, AAIC convenes the world’s leading basic science and clinical researchers, next-generation investigators, clinicians and the care research community to share research discoveries that will lead to methods of prevention and treatment and improvements in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Silver Santé Study researchers, including those from the University of Caen, Inserm, and Hospices Civils De Lyon  in France, UCL in the UK, DZNE in Germany,  the University of Geneva in Switzerland and the University of  Liége in Belgium will be participating..

Project Coordinator, Dr Gaël Chételat, who will be among those attending the conference, says: “As the world’s leading Alzheimer’s conference, the AAIC provides an invaluable opportunity for us to share our findings with the international scientific community.

“We look forward to doing so and to hearing from other scientists about their most recent findings in this important field of research.”

The AAIC conference will take place online between the 27th and 31st July. For further info and to register visit https://www.alz.org/aaic/overview.asp

Dr Natalie Marchant, of UCL, presenting the key findings of the Silver Santé Study’s SCD Well trial at the AAIC Conference in 2019.

Tips for maintaining good mental health and well-being during the lockdown

The Silver Santé Study is a 5-year EU-funded project investigating mental health and well-being in Europe’s ageing population. So our experts have come up with a few tips and links that may help older adults maintain good mental health and well-being during this challenging time.

While we all stay at home to protect ourselves and others, it’s more important than ever that we find ways to stay in regular contact with friends and family. Online platforms such as WhatsApp, Skype or Houseparty can be great for video calling but if that’s new to you, Age UK has produced this handy guide to help get you started: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/work-learning/technology-internet/video-calling/ . If you don’t have access to a computer, make sure you phone friends, family and neighbours regularly to chat and keep in touch.

Social contact is essential for maintaining good mental health, particularly if you live alone. But there are other things you can do to support good mental health. Take the time to get outside in the fresh air and enjoy your garden, if you have one, and make the most of the arrival of spring to tidy up and get planting. You can even start growing your own fruit and veg in the smallest of gardens. Meditation, yoga/stretching, or just sitting and listening to nature can also help you take time out for yourself. You could also take advantage of this time to learn a new foreign language with a free app like Duolingo ( https://www.duolingo.com/).

Even though outings are limited, it’s important to build some regular exercise into your new routine. Try doing exercises at home each day by following Joe Wicks’ free online workouts for seniors (https://youtu.be/A2wp8Ipxn9s)  or if your mobility is limited, try this chair-based workout from Age UK https://youtu.be/4Qx2vPetMRQ   .

It’s always beneficial to do the things you enjoy like reading a good book, playing a musical instrument, playing card games, board games, chess, or doing arts and crafts. You could also take the time to browse your photo albums or start making a new one with the stack of photos you never had time to organise. If you live alone, there are apps for scrabble, card games, crosswords, or Sudoku, to keep your brain active, to name but a few.

Keep your brain active by doing puzzles, crosswords and games.

Below are some further links from the Silver Santé Study team with ideas to help you stay in good physical and mental health during this challenging time:

Classic FM’s list of best live streamed music performances

National Theatre productions available free online

Free mindfulness audio resources from the Mindful website

Free online gardening advice from expert Christine Walkden on the Age UK website

Download the free MindMate app which offers free brain games and personalised daily workouts that help sharpen cognitive skills for seniors and baby boomers.

To sum up, try to keep yourself busy both mentally and physically in order to stay healthy and happy and remember that these restrictions won’t last forever, so keep smiling and stay positive!

Try an online yoga or mindfulness session.

New study identifies brain changes which explain why sleep apnea increases risk for developing Alzheimer’s

Researchers working on the EU-funded Silver Santé Study have identified brain changes which explain for the first time why sleep apnea increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The research, led by Dr Géraldine Rauchs , of Inserm, in Caen, France, was published in JAMA Neurology (https://bit.ly/33HxOIB )

Dr Rauchs and her team studied the effects of sleep apnea on 127 older adults who were taking part in the Age Well clinical trial of the Silver Santé Study. The volunteers, with a mean age of 69, completed neuropsychological assessments (tests to assess how the brain is working), polysomnography (to assess sleep quality and potential sleep disorders) tests and neuroimaging scans.

Those participants with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB or types of sleep apnea) showed greater amyloid burden (protein deposits in the brain), GM volume (number of brain cells) and metabolism (how these cells use glucose for their activity) in brain areas particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s – increasing their risk of developing the disease in coming years. No association was found with cognition, self-reported cognitive and sleep difficulties or excessive daytime sleepiness symptoms.

Dr Rauchs, the paper’s author, says: “The results are very significant as although there was increased evidence suggesting sleep-disordered breathing (SBD) increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, the brain mechanisms underlying the link were unclear.

“This study shows for the first time that SBD, or sleep apnea, increases amyloid burden, GM volume and metabolism in brain areas particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, increasing the risk of these individuals developing the disease in the future. This doesn’t mean, of course, that these participants will necessarily develop Alzheimer’s – just that their risk of developing the disease in future is increased.

“Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for SDB but the results of this study re-emphasize the importance of preserving good sleep quality throughout life in order to safeguard good mental health in later life.”

The results of the Silver Santé Study’s two clinical trials are due to be released later this year.

A volunteer has special headgear fitted by a researcher to monitor their sleep at Inserm in Caen, France.

Funds sought to add 21-month follow-up to Age Well trial

Silver Santé Study researchers are exploring funding opportunities to allow them to add a 21-month post intervention analysis to the Age Well clinical trial.

All 137 volunteers, bar two, have agreed to take part in additional follow-up tests at 21 months to further strengthen validation of the trial by studying whether the effects of mental training techniques persist over time.

After taking part in a series of baseline tests at the beginning of each wave, the volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three groups – an English language course, a meditation course, or a control group that had no intervention.

Blood tests, neuroimaging scans and questionnaires have been used by our expert researchers to assess the impact of the mental training techniques on the brain. The volunteers’ lifestyle habits – such as sleep, diet, physical exercise and emotions – have also been monitored.

The results of the Age-Well trial are expected to be released later this year.

Volunteers taking part in an English class as part of the Age Well trial

Project researchers to present results at prestigious Alzheimer’s conference

Senior researchers from the Silver Santé Study will be presenting the key findings of the project at the prestigious Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in July.

The teams will gather in Amsterdam from 26-30 July to present their analyses of the data collected from the project’s two major clinical trials – Age Well and SCD Well. Each year, the AAIC convenes the world’s leading basic science and clinical researchers, next-generation investigators, clinicians and the care research community to share research discoveries that’ll lead to methods of prevention and treatment and improvements in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Age Well is examining the impact of an 18-month intervention on healthy older adults aged 65+ in the Caen area of France and expert meditators. The volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three groups – meditation practice, foreign language learning, or a control group that had no intervention.

The SCD Well trial is assessing the impact of a short (8 week) course of either meditation or health education on patients from memory clinics in the UK, France, Spain and Germany.

Project Coordinator, Dr Gaël Chételat, who will be among those attending the conference, says: “As the world’s leading Alzheimer’s conference, the AAIC provides an invaluable opportunity for us to share our findings with the international scientific community.

“We look forward to doing so and to hearing from other scientists about their most recent findings in this important field of research.”

The AAIC conference takes place at the RAI Amsterdam, Europaplein 24, 1078 GZ Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

The Silver Santé Study consortium pictured at the project’s 2019 annual consortium meeting in Berlin.

Final Age Well trial intervention now complete

The final wave of meditation and language-learning interventions in the Age Well clinical trial has just been completed.

Forty-four healthy older adults, all aged 65+, were randomly assigned to either an 18-month long meditation or foreign language-learning group course or to a control group that did nothing. They will now take part in follow-up tests which are due to finish in February 2020.

Overall, the trial – which took place in Caen, France – has involved 137 participants over three waves of intervention. The results of the trial are expected to be published in 2021.

The Wave 3 foreign-language class participants in their English class.

Silver Santé Study and Lifebrain projects share expertise

Experts from the EU-funded projects Silver Santé Study and Lifebrain held a joint meeting in Berlin to share and discuss their research on brain health.

The meeting, which involved more than 70 experts, saw researchers from both projects present and discuss their work on topics ‘anxiety and depression in ageing and dementia’ and  ‘sleep’. This was followed by a group discussion on ‘the challenges of studying causal effects in brain research with the perspective of translation of results into clinical practice’.

Dr Gaël Chételat, Silver Santé Study Project Coordinator, said: “As Lifebrain is also an H2020-funded study focusing on brain health, it makes sense for us to liaise closely and to share common areas of work for the benefit of all.

“As well as holding the joint meeting with Lifebrain, we also jointly organised the public conference on ‘Brain health across the lifespan’ and we will continue to liaise regularly with the team.”

The joint meeting was followed by the successful public conference ‘Brain health across the lifespan’ as well as the Silver Santé Study’s annual consortium meeting, at which all project partners reported on progress to date and plans for the fifth year of the project.

The consortia of the EU-funded Silver Santé Study and Lifebrain projects following their joint meeting in Berlin in November 2019.

Public and professionals gather for Berlin brain health conference

People from all over Europe gathered in Berlin on November 30th to hear leading European brain health experts discuss the latest scientific evidence on mental health.

The ‘Brain health across the lifespan’ public conference – which was jointly organised by the Silver Santé Study, Lifebrain and the German Brain Council – brought together more than 200 people from as far afield as the Republic of Ireland, France and Switzerland to hear presentations and discussions on a range of brain health topics.

These included the impact of video gaming on the brain, whether styles of thinking can affect dementia risk, how lifestyles shape the brain in health ageing and disease, and the impact of meditation-based interventions.

Dr Gaël Chételat, Silver Santé Study Project Coordinator, and keynote speaker at the conference, said: “This was a rare opportunity for patients, health NGOs, health professionals and researchers to hear about the latest scientific evidence on mental health directly from some of Europe’s leading experts.

“It was a fantastic event which included lots of interesting questions and discussion on a variety of topical points – from video gaming to personalised brain health – and we’ve had excellent feedback from those who attended.”

Speakers at the one-day conference included Silver Santé Study senior researchers, Dr Antoine Lutz, of Inserm, and Dr Natalie Marchant of UCL, as well as Lifebrain researchers such as Professor Ulman Lindenberger of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Professor Lars Nyberg of Umeå University, Sweden.

Professor Ulman Lindenberger of MPI welcomes audience to Brain Health Across the Lifespan public conference at Harnack House, Berlin.

The Silver Santé Study had three speakers at the conference, pictured left to right, Dr Antoine Lutz, of Inserm, Dr Gaël Chételat (Project Coordinator), of Inserm, and Dr Natalie Marchant, of UCL.

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