Top 5 Dementia Articles for 2014

canstockphoto14767462 300x204 Top 5 Dementia Articles for 2014We thought it fitting to provide you with a new top 5 list to ring in the new year.  Listed below are the top 5 articles on DEMENTIA for this, the first week of 2014.  We hope you find it both interesting and informative.  As always, if you have comments, suggestions, or additional resources to add we invite you to participate in our comments section below!

Top 5 Articles on Dementia

1.  Bringing Dementia Patients Back To Life (The Atlantic; Jan. 5, 2014):  This article focuses on the many misconceptions of a dementia diagnosis, and it focuses what dementia patients CAN DO, not what they can’t.  Money Quote: “In some cases, unresponsiveness may say less about a patient’s disability than a failure on our part to offer something worth responding to.”

2. Heart Disease Could Be Tied To Dementia For Older Women (Reuters; Jan. 2, 2014)  Reuters reacts to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association entitled Cardiovascular Disease and Cognitive Decline in Postmenopausal Women: Results From the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.  This study looked at the relationship between heart disease and cognitive decline in elderly women.  Researchers confirmed the association noting that “Women who’d had a heart attack, in particular, were twice as likely to see declines in their thinking and memory skills”.  Money Quote:  “Understanding the connection between heart disease and dementia is important because heart disease is reversible but Alzheimer’s disease is not, O’Brien said.”

3. What Is The Global Impact Of Dementia (CBS News.com; Jan. 4, 2014)  CBS News VIDEO discusses the global impact (including economic implications, human implications and potential therapies). Money Quote: “Where we’re really lacking – is drugs that can hit that inflammation response where the brain’s immune cells are turning against it.  We really have nothing that can help you.  Ibuprofen and current anti inflammatories won’t do it.”


4. A Daily Dose Of Vitamin E Slows Ravages Of Dementia (Daily Express – UK; Jan. 1, 2014)  For the first time, US researchers have found a benefit of adding Vitamin E to the diets of mild to moderate dementia sufferers.  Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and the Veterans’ Administration Medical Centers in Minneapolis are reporting that “the annual rate of functional decline among dementia sufferers was reduced by 19 per cent thanks to a daily vitamin E supplement”.  This particularly study noted that those taking Vitamin E were able to carry out everyday tasks for longer periods of time.  Money Quote:  “Now that we have a strong clinical trial showing that vitamin E slows functional decline and reduces the burdens on care-givers, vitamin E should be offered to patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.”

5. The Younger Face Of Dementia: Ottawa Man Shares Wife’s Battle With The Disease (CTV news.ca- Jan. 6, 2014)  When people think of dementia they think of it as an older person’s disease, but as Matthew Dineen explains – his wife was just 41 when she began exhibiting signs of the disease.  Today, Lisa Dineen lives in the secure wing of a Ottawa nursing home, a stand-out among the elderly residents there.  A year ago she was diagnosed with FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia) a devastating brain disorder for which we know no cure.  Money Quote:  “We have people who get a divorce … their families leave them because some of them start acting very inappropriately. They don’t understand that it is a brain disease, they don’t understand that they are not doing it on purpose.”

Five More Senior Care Experts You Should Follow On Twitter

In June we wrote a piece called “5 Aging Experts You Should Be Following On Twitter“.  It was a popular post and features some of our favorite eldercare advocates that you should be following on Twitter (if you’re into tweeting).   Today we thought we’d give you 5 more senior care experts that you should add to your list.  Drum-roll please…

#1) Dr. Kathy Johnson is the Founder and CEO of Home Care Assistance. She is a certified care manager, psychologist and caregiver, and tweets about a multitude of aging issues (and solutions).

#2) Lynn Wilson founded The Care Giver Partnership, which provides advice, services, resources and products to Caregivers and their loved ones.

#3)  Nanette Davis, Ph.D.  is a writer, speaker, advocate and life coach for caregivers.  She’s also a community educator who’s written several books including; “The ABCs of Caregiving: Words to Inspire You” and “Caregiving Our Loved Ones: Stories and Strategies That Will Change Your Life”.

#4) Beverly Parsons is a licensed clinical social worker who has 12 years of geriatric care management experience working with aging families.  Beverly is also a family mediator who helps families navigate troubled waters.

#5)  Dementia Journeys – John Belchamber founded Dementia Journeys with great inspiration from his mother Anne.  He found comfort sharing his feelings through writing AND sharing with others.  A very nice dementia resource.

 

We hope you enjoy the above senior care experts on Twitter.  Click here to find The Senior List on Twitter, we look forward to interacting with you on Twitter soon!

Also, make sure you follow us on Facebook today or just click the big “f” and then click LIKE.

  facebook2 app Five More Senior Care Experts You Should Follow On Twitter

What Does Alzheimers Disease Feel Like?

Family members and caregivers experience many things when caring for an Alzheimer’s patient.  One of the more common feelings (aside from caregiver burnout) is a high degree of frustration.  Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease can be exhausting, especially if the caregiver has little experience with Alzheimer’s issues.  Ever wonder aloud… What does Alzheimers Disease feel like?

A new patented training experience is helping people experience Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms, and it’s proving to be a wonderful training tool for caregivers (and family members alike).  Geriatric Specialist P.K. Bevelle (founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Second Wind Dreams) developed a sensory alteration tool which simulates the effects of “age-related cognitive or physical decline”.  In other words, it simulates what it’s like to live with a disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Volunteers are fitted with gloves, and some fingers are taped (to simulate arthritic joints, etc.).  They also get fitted with shoe implants which make it more difficult to walk.  Then the most interesting part of the simulation… Volunteers wear eye goggles (which simulate macular degeneration and/or cataracts) as well as headphones that mimic the confusing sounds that many Alzheimer’s sufferers complain of.  The results are astounding.  Simple tasks become difficult or near impossible.  Something as simple as “finding a white sweater” is an exercise in futility.

We found a dramatic video posted on YouTube, that puts P.K. Bevelle’s training tool to the test.  It’s utilized by a real caregiver (a family member to someone with Alzheimer’s disease), as well as a news reporter covering a story on caregivers.  After just 12 minutes in the virtual Alzheimer’s environment, their lives were changed forever.  Being able to relate to what Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers go through gives people a perspective they never could have imagined.  After watching this video, we hope you gain some new perspectives on caregiving,  just as we did.

Where To Turn If You Suspect Elder Abuse

elder abuse hotlines 300x287 Where To Turn If You Suspect Elder Abuse

We’ve all heard the horror stories… Caregiver neglects 82 year old in her care.  Son spends elderly parent’s savings on liquor and motorcycles.  The list goes on and on.  Would you know where to direct someone if they suspected elder abuse?

Well we’re here to tell you!  The Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse has a great resource that provides a state-by-state resource guide that provides hotline numbers, statewide data, and statistics pertaining to elder abuse.  Click the interactive map to link up with this valuable resource.

As always, if you have some strong suspicions, please call your local authorities!  This is an issue that is incredibly under reported.

Saying Goodbye To A Parent Or Loved One

holding hands 300x199 Saying Goodbye To A Parent Or Loved OneHuffington Post is running a great article entitled “Saying Goodbye To A Parent” by Betty Londergan.  Many of us won’t have the privilege of saying goodbye because many times death can be acute, immediate and sadly… surprising.  For the lucky ones, being able to say-your-peace, and receive the same back can be incredibly fulfilling.

My husband was able to experience this with his grandfather many years ago.  His “Grandpa Joe”, a WWII veteran was dying of cancer that had spread extensively throughout his body.  He had been in and out of the VA in Spokane Washington… On and off chemotherapy…  And finally in his late 80’s he had had enough.  Weeks before he went into the VA (his final visit) my husband and his brother drove up to Spokane to spend some time with Grandpa Joe.  It was unlike any other visit they’d ever had.  The normally rough-and-tough Joe was extremely frail but still relatively lucid.  On this visit, Joe would open up about the war (he rarely if ever spoke of his year of grueling service as a medic in the war overseas), and he even initiated a discussion about what each grandchild had meant to him during his adult life.  Grandpa Joe knew this was the last visit he would have with his grandsons.  I know that tears were at full flood stage.  Each of the boys (then in their 30’s) were able to share their favorite memories and thank Grandpa Joe for being such a wonderful grandfather and friend over the years.  They also both (literally) said goodbye to Grandpa Joe one last time.

Being able to say goodbye, can be an incredible rewarding and fulfilling experience.  In her article, Betty Londergan calls being with a parent while they’re leaving this world “the great privilege”, and I must say I totally agree.  As a social worker, I’m around families dealing with these issues on a regular basis.  Some are good at it, and some not so much.  Most people know that in life there are no guarantees, so it’s important to take the opportunity to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.  Tell them you love them while you have the opportunity to do so in this life.  It will eliminate (or at least minimize) the “I wish I would have” notions, or the “I should have told them what they meant to me” regrets.

Have you had the “privilege” to say goodbye a loved one before they passed on? How did it go?  What would you do differently?  -Share your thoughts in the comments below

The 10 Early Signs Of Alzheimers Disease

A special report published recently by the Alzheimers Association, noted; “An alz facts figures The 10 Early Signs Of Alzheimers Diseaseestimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2012.  This figure includes 5.2 million people age 65 and older and 200,000 individuals age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimers.”  According to CNN this number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050!

The Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) has published a list of warning signs and symptoms of someone suspected of Alzheimer’s Disease.  This is an important list, and we’d encourage you to pass it along to others that may need this valuable resource.  Knowing the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, can help keep you (or your loved one) out of trouble should these signs start to occur more regularly.

“The 10 Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease”

  1. Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life (like forgetting names and appointments and remembering them later)
  2. Challenges In Planning Or Solving Problems (like making errors when paying bills or balancing a checkbook)
  3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks At Home, At Work Or At Leisure (like occasionally needing help with the settings on an oven or DVD player)
  4. Confusion With Time Or Place (like getting confused about the day of the week, and remembering later)
  5. Trouble Understanding Visual Images & Spatial Relationships (like difficulty reading or differentiating colors)
  6. New Problems With Words In Speaking Or Writing (like having trouble finding the right word to use in conversation)
  7. Misplacing Things & Losing The Ability To Retrace Steps (like misplacing something and retracing steps to find it)
  8. Decreased Or Poor Judgment (like giving money to telemarketers)
  9. Withdrawal From Work Or Social Activities (like not attending events with friends)
  10. Changes In Mood & Personality (like becoming easily irritable)

“Studies presented at the (2011 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease) conference reinforced the notion that signs of Alzheimer’s may develop in the brain 10 to 20 years before any symptoms begin.” -CNN Health

TSL checkmark The 10 Early Signs Of Alzheimers DiseaseIf you or anyone you know is experiencing any number of these signs you should consult with medical personnel immediately.  For further information and a thorough explanation of each of the symptoms above, visit alz.org.

Also Read:

A Letter From a Mother To Her Daughter (very touching)

Find a Caregiver Support Group

Your Mom Has Dementia… How Do You Keep Her Safe?

Finding Caregiver Support Groups

community300 Finding Caregiver Support GroupsFinding Caregiver Support Groups

It’s November, and IF you didn’t know, it’s National Family Caregiver’s Month.  It’s a time when we’re supposed to be celebrating and honoring caregivers.  Sometimes that means that caregivers need to celebrate and honor themselves.  One way that you can do that is to find caregiver support groups and attend them regularly.  It’s one of the ways you can actively deal with the sense of isolation and frustration, by finding a safe place where you can share your feelings.  At the same time, you have the opportunity to give and receive advice and support from other caregivers.

Patient support groups have been around for more than twenty years because of initial research that indicated patient outcomes were more positive among cancer patients who were part of a support group.  Those early  results have been discounted by recent research, however, newer studies indicate that patients of all types who attend support groups experience lower levels of distress.  Bottom line: they feel less stressed… and that more relaxed state enables them to simply feel better.  Feeling good can also translate into faster recovery from treatment.

Who Needs Caregiver Support?

So why do caregivers need support groups?  At it’s most basic… it’s important for stress reduction.  Stress reduction is directly related to caregiver well-being.  A high level of well-being enables caregivers to remain strong to care for their loved ones.

Finding a caregiver support group isn’t always easy (though patient support groups are plentiful).  There are support groups for families, which are helpful to caregivers, but these will also include non-caregivers.  The focus in these groups tends to be on the patient and how the patients’ response to their illness and treatment affects the family members.  Good stuff, for sure, but not necessarily focused on the caregiver.

If you’re in an urban or suburban location, the local hospital or the organization which supports your loved one’s disease (American Heart Association, the Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, etc.), is a good place to find a support group.

Blessings, Joanne

Caregiving During The Holidays

Holiday Surprise 300x198 Caregiving During The HolidaysThe year-end holidays are coming, and I want you to think for a moment about your plans to celebrate.  Rather than do your traditional celebrations, please consider alternative plans and reducing the burden to both honor and support your loved one.  People who are dealing with chronic ailments or who are in pain shouldn’t be expected to go through the holidays as they once did.  No matter how much you (or they) may want “the usual traditions”, you need to take into account reduced stamina and increase frailty.

Tips For Caregiving During The Holidays

Be sure you include your loved one in the planning process, this is very important.  They may want to do everything as it’s always been done… So you’ll need to help your loved one understand that there needs to be new traditions started (in order to account for the place you all find yourselves in now).  That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t celebrate!  It’s just a way of remembering that whatever you do, you need to take your loved one’s state-of-health into account.

Here are a few examples of how to reduce stress on your loved one:

  • Instead of a day-long cookie-baking extravaganza that will only exhaust mom, why not pre-bake the cookies?  That way mom can join in the shortened party to decorate them.  She’s still participating, but at a level she can handle.
  • Instead of the big traditional holiday dinner, why not down-size to a series of short events with much lighter menus.  A tea-and-cookies event, wine and appetizers, or even a bring your favorite soup party?
  • Folks who are frail and those suffering from dementia can be overwhelmed by even a handful of familiar faces.  It quickly becomes too much information to recall, too much energy to absorb, and your loved one may respond not with enjoyment, but with highly anxious behaviors.  It’s a good reason to keep your gatherings very small, maybe only two or three people at a time.
  • For the elderly, the process of selecting, buying and wrapping gifts may be too taxing.  Instead of doing a gift exchange, what not use the time to pull out the family photo albums, videos or 8 mm movies?  Other alternatives to spending time exchanging gifts would be to play board or card games that your loved one enjoys, or watch holiday-themed videos.  Our family holds a comic movie film fest.  Laughing together really makes for a great holiday mood.

You get the idea—think small and intimate.  You can still do all the holiday decorating, just have mom supervise from her favorite chair.  You can share and enjoy the music and food of the season.  Just keep your loved one’s state of health in mind and then make appropriate plans.

Blessings, Joanne

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Mom Has Dementia

Dementia Safety Precautions

“Mary” posted a question to an on-line caregiver-group that I want to share with all of you.  Her mom has dementia:

“How do I keep my parent, who’s suffering from dementia, safe while I’m at work?” – Mary

Here are some suggestions from the Alzheimer’s Association brochure, “Staying Safe”:

  • Be sure to have working fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the house.  Test them regularly.
  • If you are out of the home during the day, use appliances with an auto shut-off feature, such as coffee pots.
  • Install a hidden gas valve or circuit breaker on the stove so your loved one can’t turn it on.  You can also consider removing the knobs when you leave the house.
  • Store grills, lawn mowers, power tools, knives, firearms and cleaning products in a secure (that means locked) place.
  • Discard toxic plants and decorative fruit that may be mistaken for real food.
  • Store medications, vitamins, and other dietary supplements in a locked cupboard.  Remove sugar substitutes and seasonings from kitchen tables and counters.
  • Supervise the use of tobacco and alcohol.  Both may interact dangerously with your patient’s medications.

thumbs up 300x207 Mom Has DementiaDementia & Wandering

More than 60 percent of dementia patients will wander.  The danger is that they can become lost and die before they’re found.  The Alzheimer’s Association recommends the use of their MedicAlert-Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program.  There are other, similar programs available, which you can find on-line.

Even if your dementia patient is equipped with one of these tracking devices, prevention is still the best plan:

  • Short term memory loss can cause anxiety and confusion in a place that’s large or contains lots of people, such as the market, a theater, a restaurant, a shopping mall or sports venue.  That confusion can cause patients to wander off in search of something that will quiet their sense of panic.  The best strategy is to keep away from places that will induce this behavior.
  • Be on alert for wandering if your loved one wants to “go to work” or “go home,” if he or she is restless or has a hard time locating familiar place in the home such as the bedroom or bathroom.
  • Other ways to prevent wandering include placing deadbolt locks on exterior doors either high or low, and controlling access to the car keys.

One of the best things you can do when your patients are showing signs of anxiety which may lead to wandering is to give them plenty of assurance that you will not leave them alone.  Try distracting them by giving them repetitive tasks, like folding laundry or helping prepare dinner.

Keeping your dementia patient safe is really a matter of being aware of their reactions and anticipating problems before they actually occur.

Blessings, Joanne

*photo – freedigitalphotos.net

National Family Caregivers Month Is Here

2012 NFCMonthLogoMedium National Family Caregivers Month Is HereNovember is National Family Caregivers Month

Here’s what I’d like to see:

  • A big parade featuring caregivers on 5thAvenue in New York;
  • A huge rally in support of pro-caregiver legislation on the National Mall in Washington DC;
  • Restaurants across the country offering discounts to family caregivers;
  • Members of the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL wearing colored equipment that draws attention to caregivers  (What color would that be?).

While none of this is likely to happen, I do think that having a month to draw attention to family caregivers is a good thing.  It brings the facts about caregiving closer to the forefront of issues to be considered in 21st century America.  There have been gains made in the past decade in terms of government support for family caregivers through creation of national programs such as the Area Agencies on Aging and the Offices of Senior Resources and Councils on Aging.

Still, there’s a lot more that can and should be done to support family caregivers, but in the wake of the vitriolic debate over healthcare reform, I doubt that policy makers from either party are much interested in wading into similar waters to craft a spending plan to support caregivers.  So that leaves us doing what we do without “official” support other than in the form of having a whole month that honors and celebrates our unpaid work on behalf of family and friends.

A good way to use this month is to consider the way in which you go about your caregiving and find new ways to make it less stressful:

  • Learn to ask for and accept help;
  • Find ways to care for yourself in order to stay strong to care for your loved one;
  • Shift your thinking into new patterns of doing family celebrations that make room for the reality of your caregiving.
  • Pat yourself on the back—or take yourself out to lunch, a movie, some kind of treat—as a way of saying ‘thanks.’ You deserve it.

Blessings, Joanne