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

Tim McGraw Tribute To Glen Campbell

Tim McGraw tribute to Glen CampbellIn one of the most poignant moments at this year’s Academy Awards show Tim McGraw delivered a tribute to country singer (and legend) Glen Campbell.  If you weren’t aware, Glen Campbell is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  His disease has progressed far enough that he isn’t able to perform like he once did.  So if you’re going to attempt to replace an icon like Glen Campbell, you might as well do it with a modern superstar.  Up steps Tim McGraw… And in the true spirit of Glen Campbell’s last song, he delivers an incredible rendition that moved the audience to tears.

Tim McGraw Tribute to Glen Campbell at The Oscars

As we wrote back in November, “The song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was written especially for Glen Campbell’s recently released documentary called “I’ll Be Me” by PCH Films. The lyrics are eerily poignant, and this piece will forever be known as Glen Campbell’s last song.”  Enjoy this Tim McGraw tribute to Glen Campbell!

Alzheimer’s Patient Shops For Flowers In Act Of True Love

alzheimers patients and wanderingMight as well grab a tissue now… Yes, before reading this post or watching this video.  If you know anything about Alzheimer’s Disease, you probably know that people with dementia can get confused and wander at times.  Did you know that 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander?  It’s an incredible statistic and it can have very serious consequences.

The Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) says that “A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Wandering among people with dementia is dangerous, but there are strategies and services to help prevent it.” A few of those strategies include the assurance that all basic needs are met, using devices to signal when a door (or window) is opened, and keeping car keys out of sight.

True Love -“A Moment Of Clarity”

Back to that tissue advice.  Did you grab one?  OK good…  So imagine when Doris Amrine of Little Rock, Arkansas noticed that her husband Melvyn (a dementia sufferer) turned up missing.  Melvyn normally needs help walking around the block, so this was particularly concerning.  Melvyn had given flowers to his wife every Mother’s Day since the birth of their first child.  The day he went missing was the day before Mother’s Day.

Even though the mind doesn’t remember everything, the heart remembers. – Doris Amrine

When police finally found Melvyn, he was lost but he knew what he was doing.  Police reported, “It was absolutely a moment of clarity for him”.  He was trying to find flowers for his beloved wife.  With their help, he completed his mission proving that at times “Even though the mind doesn’t remember everything, the heart remembers.” Enjoy the video.

Glen Campbell’s Last Song

Glen Campbell's Last SongLegendary country singer Glen Campbell is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  Diagnosed back in 2011, Glen Campbell set out with Kenny Rogers to plan one final international “Good Bye” tour which was stopped short in late 2012 because of complications.  It would have been the last leg of his international swing… But alas it was time to rest, and to fight his last battle on the home front.

Alzheimer’s Disease isn’t discriminatory.  It hits country stars, rock-n-roll stars, fathers and sons… sisters and mothers.  It’s the most common type of Dementia, affecting a staggering 5 million Americans today.  From als.org:  “An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. This includes an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.”  Dementia recently reared its ugly head again recently with revelations that Robin Williams may have been suffering from Lewy Body Dementia.

The song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was written especially for Glen Campbell’s  recently released documentary called “I’ll Be Me” by PCH Films.  The lyrics are eerily poignant, and this piece will forever be known as Glen Campbell’s last song.


I’m still here, but yet I’m gone
I don’t play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you ’til the end

You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you
Not gonna miss you

I’m never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You’re never gonna see it in my eyes
It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry

I’m never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains

I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you

Top 5 Dementia Articles for 2014

Articles on Dementia: canstockphoto1476746We 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.”