Area Agency on Aging: Metformin, memory and fact checking

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    By Kay Kaylor
    PREVIEW Columnist

    I advocate for residents in extended care and assisted living residences as the region’s lead long-term care ombudsman. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, all as an employee of San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). The many aging and care concerns will be addressed here.

    The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) of Colorado featured a story in its Sept. 30 E-News that a diabetes drug may “help protect the aging brain.” Metformin is a common Type 2 diabetes drug that is taken to control blood sugar levels. The AA source, HealthDay News, reported Sept. 23 that the six-year study by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in New South Wales, Australia, was first published in Diabetes Care on the same date. 

    The findings showed a link between metformin, which has several brand names, and “slower cognitive decline and lower dementia rates,” Dr. Katherine Samaras, the study author, said.

    As an insulin sensitizer, metformin helps the body’s cells use sugar for fuel, but it has several other effects in cells to keep them healthy, Samaras stated. 

    She noted that it is inexpensive and has few side effects. Because Type 2 diabetes can damage brain and nerve tissues, along with blood vessels, it has been linked to increased chances of dementia symptoms, such as memory and thinking problems.

    In the study of more than 1,000 people, aged 70 to 90, no one at the beginning had signs of dementia. Investigators found that of the people with diabetes, 123, those not taking metformin, 67 of them had a five-times higher risk of developing dementia during the study period. Other studies of younger people have found similar links of metformin to lower dementia risk. The next study Samaras and colleagues plan will involve people who do not have diabetes but have a high risk of developing dementia.

    The AA, which reports and funds promising studies and treatments, also emphasizes exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and socializing to lower your risk of dementia.

    Fact checking

    Social media such as Facebook has been in the news for allowing false or misleading information. Several fact-checking websites are available for people who question the truth of what they read in various sources.

    Featured here is a nonpartisan, nonprofit website, factcheck.org, operated by the Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and focusing on U.S. politics. Due to its nonprofit status, it does not have advertisements on its pages. The most known and oldest nonpartisan fact-checking website, snopes.com, covers a broad range of topics, helped by a search at the top, and does use ads. 

    SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call or text 403-2165 or send an email to leadombudsman@sjbaaa.org.