Living With Dementia

Living With Dementia

Dementia is defined as “a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.”  For anyone who’s life has been touched by dementia, you know how difficult it is for the afflicted, and their loved ones.

To put this growing epidemic into context, The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of people living with dementia (worldwide) is currently estimated at 47.5 million.  Incredibly it’s predicted to increase to 75.6 million by 2030.  Are you listening Baby Boomers?  We’re facing a crisis that is going to affect someone you love, in your lifetime.  You can bet on it.

A new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds.  The total number of new cases of dementia each year worldwide is nearly 7.7 million, implying 1 new case every 4 seconds. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 75.6 million in 2030 and 135.5 million in 2050. – World Health Organization

What’s it like living with someone afflicted with dementia?  In many cases, it’s like watching someone slip away before your very eyes.  There’s a tipping point to dementia where family members become more burdened than their loved one who is suffering.  Dementia sufferers can become so sick that they simply don’t recognize you, their surroundings, or even themselves.  They simply fall into a void.

Let me introduce you to Reddit user vingverm (otherwise known as Jake from Australia).  Jake’s  photo journal shares the decline of his 58 year old mother Jacquie.  Jacquie had been suffering from Pick’s Disease, which manifests with Dementia like symptoms, and leads to death (often in 2-5 years). The photos speak louder than words, so I’ll let his powerful lens give you a glimpse into his loving family.

Living With Dementia

Living with Dementia

“This was taken in 2005 or so. At this point, Jacquie had Pick’s Disease, but it had been misdiagnosed as menopause. She would be about 48 here.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living With Dementia

“On the beach, around 2010. Lots of Jacquie around. She can’t remember too much though.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“2010 again. Riding on the back of dad’s motorbike was one of her favourite things to do. She got quite terrified when the helmets were on, but once moving had a blast. This had to stop in 2011, when an on-bike paranoia attack nearly caused an accident.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Beach-time walks. Weight is falling off. Conversation is non-existent.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“The birth of her first grandchild. She had been looking forward to being a grandmother for years. ” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Still knows how to party. #yolo.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Cuddles with her 14 month old grandson. He’s very careful with her, knows she’s special.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“She doesn’t walk very much anymore. And she has lost a large amount of weight.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Fun times at the beach. She’s 58 here. Her eyes aren’t always open, and if they are, she’s staring into the void.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Sometime’s we’ll move to her to beanbags on the floor.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“She still smiles and laughs sometimes. I have no idea why. I really hope she dies soon.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Are you caring for someone with Dementia? Do you know someone who is? Would you be willing to share your story with us? Our comment section (below) is an open forum for you.

New Study Finds Correlation Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

A new study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JIC) found a correlation in both diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine found that elevated blood glucose levels stimulate the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide, which is a key factor implicated in sufferers of Dementia (and specifically those with Alzheimer’s disease).

While the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s has long been suspected and studied, the newly discovered link could help researchers develop treatments that reduce the harmful effects of elevated blood sugar on brain function, lead author Shannon Macauley, Ph.D., told reporters. — John Hall (McKnight’s)

This isn’t the first such research to suggest the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease.  In December 2006, Edward R. Rosick (DO, MPH, DABHM) wrote a compelling article for Life Extension Magazine suggesting a”Deadly Connection Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s“.  In his research nearly 10 years ago, Dr. Rosick noted that “those with insulin resistance or diabetes are at significantly higher risk of developing one of today’s most devastating and incurable neurological disorders: Alzheimer’s disease”.

Research like the diabetes studies noted above, inch us closer to treatments that could stave off or even cure somebody of Alzheimer’s Disease.  More focus, funding and analysis is necessary however, in order to scale back the growth of these pending epidemics.  Did you know the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease?  200,000 of those people are under the age of 65!  We encourage you to take good care of yourself (and your loved ones), to get yourself educated on Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, and support your local community advocates (like the good folks at alz.org).

Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease

New PBS Documentary On Family Caregiving

Caring for Mom and DadIf you’re a family caregiver, or want to know what caregiving is all about, you need to watch the new PBS documentary entitled “Caring for Mom and Dad”.  A family caregiver is a person who provides “care” to a family member, a neighbor, a partner or even a friend.  According to the National Center on Caregiving, there are 43.5 million caregivers provide care for someone aged 50 (or older).  Baby Boomers are facing a tidal wave of caregiving needs, and many boomers are caring for a parent at home.

Informal caregiver and family caregiver are terms used to refer to unpaid individuals such as family members, partners, friends and neighbors who provide care. These persons can be primary (i.e. the person who spends the most time helping) or secondary caregivers, full time or part time, and can live with the person being cared for or live separately. Formal caregivers are volunteers or paid care providers associated with a service system. — The Family Caregiver Alliance

The need for caregiving services at home has given rise to burgeoning businesses that offer home health services, home care services and hospice care.  Most of us simply aren’t well equipped to take care of our aging loved ones.  Understanding the needs of dementia sufferers, or more specifically – the demands of someone with alzheimer’s disease can take on new meaning when coming face-to-face with these prospects.  How comfortable would you be bathing your mom or dad?  Would you know what to do?  Would you even know how to transfer them?

The new PBS documentary “Caring for Mom and Dad” puts the caregiving conundrum into context.  It focusses both on the challenges of family caregiving… and the beauty of family caregiving.  It’s a time when life comes full circle for many of us.  Our parents, who nurtured us and cared for us as children have increasingly crucial care needs that require attention. Because we love them so much, the tug to provide care is always present.

View the trailers to the documentary above, and when you have time – Watch the entire documentary here –> Caring For Mom And Dad – A PBS Documentary on Family Caregiving. The video is almost an hour long (54:19) so you’ll want to clear some time.  If you do, I assure you it will be well worth your time.

Are you a family caregiver?  Have some tips for our readers?  Leave us a comment below!

 

Gently Showering Your Aging Parent

showering your aging parentWe love to pass along caregiving tips that might help our readers with aging parents.  One of the realities of caregiving that many new family caregivers don’t fully understand when faced with these responsibilities is showering and bathing a loved one.  This is a delicate subject for both the family caregiver as well as the aging parent.  This is a vulnerable (and scary) time for both, but it doesn’t have to be if you understand some of the basic techniques associated with this exercise.

Caregivers for Caregivers put this great educational video together on showering your aging parent.  They offer a wide variety of information that provides help to Caregivers of all types. One of Caregivers for Caregivers mantras reads; “We help you look at the world to see it as the new normal”.  Today we’d like to share a video that provides great tips on showering your aging parent.  We’ve included a clip below.

Tips: Showering Your Aging Parent

  • The caregiver should over communicate.  Letting your aging parent know exactly what’s going on at all times (and why) is important and will set everyone at ease.
  • The caregiver should plan the shower routine.  Notice that he has the proper equipment (chair, towel, shower temperature, etc.) all ready for his resident.
  • Keep your loved one covered so their not cold when out of the water.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

What is Alzheimer's Disease?This is the best video I’ve seen describing exactly what happens inside the brain of an Alzheimer’s Disease sufferer. While there is a great deal being done to understand Dementia related diseases, we need to do more. Did you know that 1 in 3 seniors dies of Alzheimer’s or another dementia related illness? The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that in 2015, Alzheimer’s and other Dementia related illnesses will cost $226 Billion dollars.  By 2050, these costs could rise to as much as $1.1 Trillion dollars (an unfathomable sum).

For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease, feel free to poke around our site here at The Senior List.  Also, we’d encourage you to visit alz.org where you’ll find all sort of great educational resources, and caregiver assistance.  We hope you find this video as informative as we did!

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures

Alzheimer's Facts and FiguresWe found a great new video posted recently by the Alzheimer’s Association. It notes the latest Alzheimer’s facts and figures for this debilitating disease, which is now the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.  While progress has been made on the Alzheimer’s research front, there is much to be done.  Awareness of the so called “memory thief”, caregiver training, and future care options all need to be understood and discussed further.

As you can see from the infographic above (courtesy of alz.org) Alzheimer’s Disease is now the only cause of death in the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed (yet).  If you have aging parents, it’s important to look out for the early warning signs of Alzheimers.  Familiarize yourself with the many resources available to you for both education and caregiving support.   And know that you’re not alone!

Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures

The Alzheimer’s Association has a great resource that’s just a click away.  It’s called the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center, and it’s full of great caregiver assistance.  Whether you need day-to-day help, someone to relate to, or some care training – This is a wonderful place to start.  For additional support, or somewhere to turn we invite you to come back to The Senior List often, or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheSeniorList

Life With Alzheimer’s Disease

Life with Alzheimer's DiseaseLife with Alzheimer’s Disease can be pretty tough.  It’s tough on sufferers of this debilitating disease and it’s tough on caregivers too.  Although much progress has been made researching Alzheimer’s Disease, it still remains a bit of a mystery to us all.  It’s been called “the memory thief” and affects half of all people over 85.  In an effort to educate the public on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, The Senior List (as well as other publishers) have shared the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease which was put together by the good folks at the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org).

In a wonderfully presented video, Lisa Cerasoli invites us into her world of caregiving for her grandmother Nora Jo.  Nora Jo suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.  One of the many things that Alzheimer’s Disease steals from sufferers are the most profound memories of our lives.  In this case, Nora Jo relives the terrible news that her husband has died.  She relives this realization every single day.

This is the first video in a mini series that Lisa Cerasoli has put together entitled “Life With Alzheimer’s Disease”.  She uploaded this video (entitled “Truth”) in 2011.

Life With Alzheimer’s: “Truth”

If you or your family members need more information on Alzheimer’s Disease, we invite you to visit alz.org for more information and resources. If you’d like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you below.

Bathing And Dressing Your Aging Parent

Bathing and Dressing an Aging ParentThe National Center on Caregiving’s Family Caregiver Alliance offers help and support to caregivers of all types.  Whether you’re taking care of a family member at home, or you work in a senior living facility you’re probably faced with a lot of situations that put you in unfamiliar territory.  The Family Caregiving Alliance offers education and support to help guide you through these challenging times.

Here’s how the Family Caregiving Alliance describes the work they do: “FCA is first and foremost a public voice for caregivers. Founded in the late 1970s, we were the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. We illuminate the caregivers’ daily challenges to better the lives of caregivers nationally, provide them the assistance they need and deserve, and champion their cause through education, services, research and advocacy.”

One of the key components of caregiving addresses important needs of aging adults called activities of daily living (or ADL’s).  These activities include those many of us take for granted like eating, dressing and going to the bathroom.  If any of you are dealing with an aging family member today, you know that even the most basic activities become a struggle for some.  It’s the caregiver’s job to understand how to help in the best way possible.

The term “activities of daily living,” or ADLs, refers to the basic tasks of everyday life, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring. When people are unable to perform these activities, they need help in order to cope, either from other human beings or mechanical devices or both. – The US Department of Health and Human Services

The video we’re sharing (below) offers some great guidance on how best to bathe and dress someone that requires assistance.  This is chapter 4 in what the Family Caregiver Alliance is calling their “Caregiver College Video Series”.  It’s titled “Bathing and Dressing”.  This video also includes five very important points to remember when bathing and dressing an aging parent:

  1. Don’t Rush
  2. Make it Safe
  3. Allow Independence
  4. Talk It Through
  5. Show and Tell

 Bathing and Dressing Techniques For The Caregiver

New Test For Alzheimers Shows Promise

Skin test for Alzheimers DiseaseToday, there is no single test used to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease but that may be changing soon.  A new study is being touted ahead of its release at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in April. This study indicates that a new skin test for Alzheimer’s Disease is showing a good deal of promise. The study indicates that skin biopsies can be used to detect elevated levels of (abnormal) proteins found in people with Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and 5.4 million Americans are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects one million Americans, with at least 60,000 new cases reported annually each year. – AAN.com

The American Academy of Neurology reports:  “Until now, pathological confirmation was not possible without a brain biopsy, so these diseases often go unrecognized until after the disease has progressed,” said study author Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva, MD, at Central Hospital at the University of San Luis Potosi in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. “We hypothesized that since skin has the same origin as brain tissue while in the embryo that they might also show the same abnormal proteins. This new test offers a potential biomarker that may allow doctors to identify and diagnose these diseases earlier on.”

The results were very encouraging.  A comparison of healthy patients (and those with dementia caused by other conditions), to patients with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s showed that the latter group had seven times higher levels of the tau protein. People with Parkinson’s also had an eight times higher level of alpha-synuclein protein than the healthy control group.  Researchers noted that their results need further study.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. – Alzheimer’s Association

For people with a family history of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, this is welcome news indeed. A definitive diagnosis by way of a skin test is far more reasonable than methods used today. These new study results could open the door up to completely new dimensions of understanding, and a path that one day leads to a cure for these debilitating conditions.

Sleep Problems And Dementia

Sleep Problems and Dementia RiskDid you know that this week is “Sleep Awareness Week“?  Sleep awareness week starts March 2nd and ends on the 8th with daylight savings time, when we all spring forward.  Here’s what The National Sleep Foundation says about Sleep Awareness Week:  “Sleep Awareness Week is an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep. The week begins with the announcement of the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll results and ends with the clock change to Daylight Saving Time, where Americans lose one hour of sleep.

Sleep Deprivation and Dementia Risk

As part of sleep awareness week we wanted to discuss a few very important topics with you.  The first is the role that sleep deprivation can have on Dementia risk.  Sarah Stevenson wrote a great article recently for A Place For Mom’s “Senior Living Blog”.  It’s entitled Hard Facts About Sleep Problems in the Elderly.  In her article Sarah discusses the link between sleep deprivation and insomnia on dementia risk.  She writes; “Unfortunately, older adults are more likely to have health issues that disturb their sleep, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. A 2011 study at the University of California, San Francisco, showed a clear association between sleep-disordered breathing in older women and the risk of cognitive impairment.”  That means that a good night sleep doesn’t just feel good the next morning… It is good for you, and your cognitive health!

Sundowning

Another very interesting sleep related issue to be aware of (especially for Alzheimer’s sufferers) is called sundowning.  HealthLine describes sundowning as “A symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Confusion and agitation worsen in the late afternoon and evening, or as the sun goes down. Symptoms are less pronounced earlier in the day.”  Sarah Stevenson believes that sleep disruptions are one of the factors that contribute to sundowning in those with cognitive impairment, and we’re inclined to agree with her.

Sleep problems and dementia are 2 big issues facing aging adults today, and it’s important to be aware of some of the signs and symptoms.  If you have more questions about sleep related issues and your health, contact the National Sleep Foundation at NationalSleepFoundation.org.  For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.

Photo credit: National Sleep Foundation