National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/
Alzheimer's Foundation of America: http://www.alzfdn.org/
Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org/
National Institute on Aging (Alzheimers): http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/
Articles on Seniors' Health:
14 Signs Your Elderly Parent May Be Unsafe Living Alone By Jeff Anderson
It can be difficult to tell the difference between normal, age-related decline and something more serious. According to Alan Gruber, M.D., a psychiatrist with a private practice in Massachusetts, there are several ways a loved one can tell if an elderly relative is losing his or her independence and may be better served and safer in a senior care home. Here are some things to look for:
1. Missed appointments: Failing to meet a friend or doctor without cancelling in advance may be a sign of declining health.
2. Maintaining hygiene: Pay attention to body odor, grooming, incontinence and dressing according to the season.
3. Easily disoriented: A failure to recognize familiar spaces, wandering, or getting lost in well-known areas are early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.
4. Loss of memory: Forgetting something at the store is a sign of “benign” memory loss; forgetting something at the store and not remembering that you did when someone reminds you of it is “malignant,” or pathological memory impairment and bears a closer look.
5. Word problems: Not being able to recall a common word for something, or repeating oneself can be a symptom of dementia or mental illness.
6. Random check-writing: Sending money to previously unknown “charities” or other out-of-the-blue expenditures can signal an inability to exercise appropriate judgment.
7. Physical aggression: A senior who attacks others because they are believed to pose a threat shows an inability to control feelings of distress.
8. Making inaccurate assertions: Signs of dementia may include “psychotic ideation,” in which clearly untrue statements are made, such as “They’re talking about me on T.V.,” or “I saw three men in my bedroom last night.”
9. Unopened mail: Watch for unpaid bills or other neglected household duties.
10. Spoiled food: Food left unrefrigerated or kept around long after it’s “sell by” date can indicate mental instability.
11. Poor Nutrition: Pay attention to weight loss, loss of appetite or unwillingness to cook for themselves.
12. Scorched pans: These may indicate the inability to cook safely, and could pose a bigger fire hazard.
13. Mystery bruises: Unexplained injuries are likely to be signs of falling.
14. Car damage: Look for dents and scrapes that cannot be explained or recalled. Be sure to drive with your family member to determine whether or not he or she is safe behind the wheel.
4 Alternative Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease
Recent studies have shown that treatments traditionally given for high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions also lessen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Discoveries like these could lead to greater and possibly more effective alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s patients.
Traditional Treatments for Alzheimer’s
Traditional Alzheimer’s medications treat cognitive symptoms of the disease, such as memory loss, confusion, and problems with language and judgment. These drugs target protein fragments (beta-amyloids) that build up as plaques in brain cells. This buildup causes the damage that leads to Alzheimer’s.
Physicians will prescribe a drug regimen based on the stage of the disease. While traditional drugs can’t cure Alzheimer’s or stop brain cells from deteriorating, they can delay the disease’s progress for a certain period of time.
Alternative Treatments for Alzheimer’s
In contrast to traditional therapies, alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s have shown to lower the risk of the disease and even reverse its symptoms. Although some of the recent breakthroughs were accidental, each of the drugs listed below shows promises in making Alzheimer’s a disease of the past.
1. Blood pressure medicines:
High blood pressure is typically treated with life style changes and medications. These medicines include ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and diuretics. Each of these medicines impacts the cardiovascular system in such a way as to lower blood pressure.
A recent study at Johns Hopkins University demonstrated how patients who took certain blood pressure medicines lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50 percent. Researchers haven’t yet been able to determine exactly why certain blood pressure medicines affect cognitive function the way they do. But their findings warrant further studies.
2. Diabetes treatments:
Scientists at Lancaster University examined the diabetes drug Victoza as a potential Alzheimer’s therapy. Victoza falls into a class of drugs designed to stimulate natural insulin production for diabetics. But researchers believed it could also prevent the buildup of beta-amyloids on brain cells.
They injected Victoza into mice suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s. After two months, the drug had reduced beta-amyloid plaques on the brain by 30 percent. And it actually protected brain cells from damage. These results have led to clinical trials to determine if the drug has the same effect on humans.
3. Rheumatoid arthritis drugs:
Physicians generally prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). If those don’t work, they’ll look to biologics. Made of proteins, biologics inhibit areas of the immune system that contribute to inflammation.
At the University of Southampton, researchers have planned a study on the biologic Enbrel as an alternative treatment for Alzheimer’s. Enbrel blocks tumor-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), a molecule that helps immune cells communicate. Blocking TNF-alpha reduces inflammation in the body. Beta-amyloid buildup also causes inflammation that remains after standard Alzheimer’s treatments. Researchers hope that Enbrel can reduce this inflammation and, ideally, stop Alzheimer’s damage.
4. Cholesterol medicines:
Statins are widely used to help people suffering from high cholesterol. These drugs block the action of an enzyme in the liver that produces cholesterol. If left untreated, high cholesterol can cause plaque buildup in the arteries and eventually cause heart attack or stroke.
Previous studies had shown that statins might cause memory loss. However, the latest research indicates that in high doses statins help prevent dementia. Scientists specifically noted high potency statins as having the greatest effects on lowering dementia risks. The FDA continues to include a warning about the cognitive effects of statins on drug labels. So further studies are needed before statins can receive approval as an Alzheimer’s treatment.
7 Things You Didn’t Know About Assisted Living by Jeff Anderson
Unless you have a loved one who lives at an assisted living community, you may not be familiar with what assisted living is and how it differs from other kinds of senior communities. Here are seven facts about assisted living facilities that are not common knowledge.
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/things-you-didnt-know-about-assisted-living-2-19-2012/
Home Care vs Assisted Living: Health and Quality of Life by Sarah Stevenson
Eight reasons why an assisted living facility could be better than living at home when it comes to seniors’ quality of life and overall wellness.
7 Biggest Fears of Senior Living by Sarah Stevenson
Your aging parent might find moving into senior living to be a scary prospect. Think again! We break down the 7 biggest fears for seniors about moving into a senior care facility and why there’s nothing to be worried about.
10 Ways Families Can Stay Connected When Caring for an Aging Parent
Whether you prefer pen and paper or your mobile device, harness the communication tools at your fingertips to help your family stay connected with senior loved ones.
Dangers of Seniors Living Alone
by Sarah Stevenson
When is The Best Time to Visit Assisted Living Communities?by Sarah Stevenson
Are your loved ones reluctant to visit senior communities? As you spend time with aging family members over the holidays this year, you have the opportunity to help them overcome their hesitancy.
Why Does Music Help Dementia Patients Recall Memories and Emotions? Nov 13, 2013 by Alissa Saur
1. Music evokes emotions that bring memories
Music can evoke emotion in even the seniors with the most advanced of Alzheimer’s. Neurologist Oliver Sacks says that, “”Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can”. By pairing music with every day activities, seniors in care homes can develop a rhythm that helps them to the recall the memory of that activity, improving cognitive ability over time.
2. Musical aptitude and appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in dementia seniors in elderly care homes
Linda Maguire, lead author on the study wrote, “Musical aptitude and music appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease.” Because these two abilities remain long after other abilities have passed, music is an excellent way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.
3. Music can bring emotional and physical closeness to seniors in elderly care retirement homes
In the later stages of dementia, patients often lose the ability to share emotions with caregivers. Through music, as long as they are ambulatory, they can often dance. Dancing can lead to hugs, kisses, and touching which brings security and memories.
4. Singing is engaging
The singing sessions in the study engaged more than just the brain area related to singing. Listening to the music sparked activity in the right side of the brain, while singing activated the left side of the brain and watching the class be led in song activated visual areas. With so much of the brain being engaged and activated, the patients were exercising more brain power than usual.
5. Music can shift mood, manage stress, and stimulate positive interactions in retirment homes and those in senior care
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has an entire web page dedicated to music therapy in Alzheimer’s patients. They say that, “When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.”. This is because music requires little to no mental processing, so singing music does not require the cognitive function absent in many dementia sufferers and this can be witnessed daily with any seniors in retirement homes.
Common Aging Myths
Most of us look at aging with dread - as an inevitable process of declining physical and mental abilities, accompanied by a steady erosion of personal freedom. But many of these expectations are incorrect.
Consider the following myths of aging - and why they are wrong:
Myth 1 - Dementia is inevitable. In fact, symptoms like memory loss and confusion are often a result of undiagnosed illnesses or even malnutrition. Many researchers believe that physical and intellectual exercise can significantly reduce the likelihood of those in elderly care.
Myth 2 - If you haven't exercised earlier in life it's too late when you reach your golden years. It's really never too late, and one widely reported study found that 50 older men and women who worked out with weights for 10 weeks increased their muscle strength 113%.
Myth 3 - Sex ends when you age. Sexual activity is related more to health than age. In a study of 3,005 people, women who rated their health as very good or excellent were 79% more likely to be sexually active than women who rated their health more poorly.
Myth 4 - Aging people are naturally depressed. While older people may tend to be more depressed, and depression can lead to other health problems, it is highly treatable. However, many people are reluctant to seek help for depression.
Myth 5 - Arthritis pain and disability is inevitable. Age doesn't cause arthritis! Taking preventive measures earlier in life - losing weight, avoiding high heels, moderating joint-jolting exercises - can help prevent arthritis. Regular exercise can also help.
Of course, health and mobility problems do increase with age, and if you or a loved one needs elderly care, senior care homes, or retirement homes, can provide help on a full-time or respite basis.
Good Hygiene Linked to Increase of Alzheimer’s Sep 17, 2013 by Jessica Gwinn
Alzheimer’s is on the rise in the developed world more so than poorer nations, and this can be seen in the increase in senior care homes specializing in elderly care of seniors with Alheimer's disease. But why? Recent research finds a direct correlation between good hygiene and greater incidences of Alzheimer’s. It turns out that cleanliness may not be quite next to godliness after all. This news is a wake up call that it may be better to just stick to ordinary soaps – rather than the chemical-laden antibacterial kind – and not make such a fuss about every germ. Those germs and those bacteria may be good for you after all.
When I was about five, the kids next door had chicken pox. As soon as my mom found out, she sent me over there to play. I still remember the terrible itchiness when I broke out in red bumps after I’d contracted it from them almost immediately. Back in the day, our parents recognized that exposure to germs and even common diseases were actually good for strengthening our immune systems. And, as studies show, that really hasn’t changed. New research from the Oxford Journal has found a strong link between wealthy, sanitized countries and a higher rate of Alzheimer’s disease. This new research led by Dr. Molly Fox, lead author of the study, across 192 countries, suggests that the lack of exposure to bacteria creates a poorly developed immune system, leaving your brain at risk for inflammation. Read the rest of the article: http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-09-17/good-hygiene-and-alzheimers/
7 Things You Can Do to Help End Alzheimer’s Disease Sep 17, 2013 by Jeff Anderson
Alzheimer’s impacts countless Americans. More than 15 million Americans care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association report 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. And the family of these caregivers are in turn impacted by the disease. Furthermore, it’s not just the very old who get Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s often takes our best and brightest, and far too early. Up to 5% of people with Alzheimer’s developed it before age 65 according to the National Institute for Health (NIH). That’s why we all need to get involved to end Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Join a Clinical Trial or Study:
Clinical trials allow doctors to learn what works and does not work in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Participating in a trial is not without risk, but when you or a loved one joins a Alzheimer’s trial, you help increase our understanding of the disease and bring the medical community that much closer to the cure. You also often receive free expert medical care at leading healthcare facilities while participating in the trial. The NIH Alzheimer’s Trial Referral Center has a great resource on their website for finding Alzheimer’s and dementia clinical trials in your area.
2. Consider Genetic Testing
If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, you may be interested in assessing genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by having your DNA analyzed. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that any genetic testing be done along with appropriate pre-test and post-test counseling.
3. Contact Elected Officials
Alzheimer’s disease will not be cured unless there is money to fund research. Government officials hold the purse-strings, so getting them involved is a crucial part of the process. Even “budget-hawks” have to recognize that, considering the projected costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease, research for the cure is money well spent. Let your elected officials in DC know how important finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is. It’s easy to identify and contact your elected officials at www.USA.gov. Furthermore, as social media gains influence, consider contacting your Senators and US House Legislators through channels like Twitter, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ENDALZ. You can also make a difference at the ballot box by voting for officials who respect science and value medical research.
4. Get Educated
Yes, it’s a cliché, but knowledge is power. Learn more about Alzheimer’s risk factors, treatments, and myths. There are a number of superb books and online resources. Our Alzheimer’s Care page has links to a number of fine resources, and the Alzheimer’s and dementia section of our blog is another great starting point for anyone researching Alzheimer’s or related types of dementia . The new AlzheimersNet site is a great and growing resource as well. If you’re devoted to senior and elderly care as an Alzheimer’s care giver, working in senior care homes, or doing in-home care, bookmark all these sites.
5. Speak Up if You See the Symptoms
If you notice that you or a loved one has the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or a related kind of dementia, make sure a medical appointment is arranged. Don’t just pretend nothing is happening. There’s a good chance what you believe may be Alzheimer’s symptoms is actually normal age related memory loss, but more thorough testing is certainly in order. The sooner an illness is recognized, the earlier physicians can begin to address it.
6. Sign the Stop Alzheimer’s Petition
Be counted and sign the Stop Alzheimer’s Petition by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Join the Fight Against Alzheimer’s
Contribute however you’re able in the noble fight against Alzheimer’s disease. In the United States, the Alzheimer’s Association is the foremost Alzheimer’s nonprofit. They organize numerous fundraising events, such as the Alzheimer’s Walk.
14 Ways to Help Seniors Avoid Isolation Aug 14, 2013 by Jeff Anderson
Social isolation among seniors is alarmingly common, and will continue to increase in prevalence as the older population grows. “A Review of Social Isolation” notes that the prevalence of social isolation among “community dwelling older adults” (seniors who live at home rather than in some form of senior or elderly care, or retirment homes) may be as high as 43%: “With a prevalence of over 40% and the sheer number of older persons projected to increase exponentially in the near future, social isolation will likely impact the health, well-being and quality of life of numerous older person now and in the foreseeable future.” Considering the demonstrated risks and the increasing prevalence of this issue, it’s certainly worth addressing how we can promote social integration at the larger social level, among our older loved ones, and even ourselves – for it has been shown that family caregivers are themselves at a high risk of social isolation. Here are 14 ways to promote social health and connectedness outside of the senior care home environment. Read the rest of the article: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/help-seniors-avoid-social-isolation-8-14-2014/
How Can Montessori Methods Help Alzheimer’s Patients?August 14, 2013 by Ann Nepoletan
Most often associated with early childhood education, the Montessori Method of teaching was developed at the turn of the 20th century by Dr. Maria Montessori. This child-centered (or person-centered in the case ofAlzheimer’s) approach relies heavily on muscle memory as well as use of the five senses to stimulate various parts of the brain. What, then, does all of this have to do with Alzheimer’s? Well, Tom and Karen Brenner are Montessori gerontologists and authors of You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello: The Montessori Method for Positive Dementia Care. Together they are looking to change the way dementia senior care is delivered to those in retirement homes, in elderly care, or at-home senior care. The premise is to build a program of senior care based on each individual’s strengths, interests, and needs. Activities are created using materials that elicit memories or bear some sense of familiarity to patients. The exercises encourage use of repetitive muscle memory as well as multiple senses. The Brenners note that great value lies in using sensory cues to unlock memories that may otherwise never reach the surface. For instance, presenting a patient with several bundles of fresh herbs may jog long buried memories. With no goading at all – just presentation of something as simple as fresh herbs, a dementia patient known for his difficult behavior melts into a gentle soul reminiscing about his mother’s garden. Another senior living in a care home immediately connected with a fishing tackle box containing interesting lures and bobbers in varying sizes. This gentleman who had always been extremely withdrawn from those around him in the care home, began to come out of his shell the moment his eye caught the box and its contents. Suddenly, the emptiness in his eyes was replaced by joy and a sense of connection. Read the rest of the article: http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-08-14/montessori-methods-for-alzheimers/
Join Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative Today
August 12, 2013 by Dana Larsen
The heart wrenching disease Alzheimer’s means more to the average American these days as it is one of the nation’s leading epidemics. As the population ages, Alzheimer’s is, quite simply, touching more lives inside and outside of the care home environment; the elderly, their friends, kids and grandkids. By 2050, it is estimated that 15% of the nation’s population will be at risk for the disease, according to U.S. News and World Report. Everyone is being affected, whether they are diagnosed with the debilitating disease or know someone who has it; not confined to those in senior care homes. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, including one in eight older Americans—and that statistic is expected to more than double in the next 40 years. And since it’s the 6Silver Tsunami. But the problem is that while the government spends $200 billion dollars annually on care, less than 1% is spent on research. Read the rest of the article: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-8-12-alzheimers-prevention-initiative/ leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed—the nation needs to begin preparing for the
What Role Does Diet Play in Alzheimer’s? August 12, 2013 By Ann Napoletan
The Alzheimer’s Diet, a 2012 book written by Richard Isaacson, MD, and Christopher Ochner, Ph.D., strongly suggests that by changing what we eat, we can significantly reduce our dementia risk and improve overall brain health. In fact, they even believe that proper diet can slow progression of these diseases. The book stresses the brain boosting power of protein, and recommends maximizing high-quality lean proteins such as egg whites, wild salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna, white-meat chicken and turkey (skin removed), and lean hormone-free beef. Dairy products? Stick to low- and non-fat options. With regard to fruits and vegetables, the authors suggest berries, with strawberries and blueberries getting especially high marks. They also advise loading your plate with vegetables and being extra generous when reaching for dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens. The Alzheimer’s Diet, used in many senior care homes specializing in Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, recommends moderation when it comes to mono- and polyunsaturated fats as well as complex carbohydrates. Examples include extra-virgin olive oil, peanuts, avocados, nuts (walnuts, pecans), seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds), and whole grains. Add these items here and there for variety, but don’t go overboard. Saturated fats, fried foods, and simple carbohydrates like white bread, cane sugar, and corn syrup should be greatly minimized if not avoided altogether. Also, watch out for things sold under the guise of good health, such as muffins and dried fruits; these are often loaded with sugar. Researchers have also touted the traditional Mediterranean diet as one that improves brain health, and with dementia less prevalent in that part of the world, one has to wonder if they’re onto something. This diet limits red meat, sugar, and processed carbohydrates, allows moderate consumption of fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy, and suggests lentils and legumes, extra-virgin olive oil, and a bounty of fruits and vegetables (the darker, the better). At the end of the day, perhaps the award for best common sense approach is striving for a well-balanced diet. Whether or not you choose to follow a formal plan, it certainly can’t hurt to maximize the good and minimize the bad. As cliché as it sounds, our bodies are miraculous machines fueled by what we put in them. Perhaps there is no better example to illustrate the expression “garbage in, garbage out.”
Dementia Care: What in the World is a Dementia Village? Aug 7, 2013
In the municipality of Weesp, not far from Amsterdam, sits the village of Hogewey. At first glance, it looks like any other village, complete with shops, restaurants, and even a movie theater. There are apartments surrounding a lovely courtyard complete with rippling ponds, trickling fountains, vibrant seasonal flowers, and benches perfect for enjoying a sunny afternoon. This village, however, is quite unique. Hogewey is a retirement home to 152 men and women living with severe dementia. The retirement home community has 23 residential units, each shared by 6 to 8 senior residents. Around-the-clock care is provided by 240 “villagers” who are actually trained geriatric nurses and caregivers dressed in street clothes. The staff takes care of everything from cooking meals and planning activities to assisting with bathing, personal care, and medications. Even the individuals staffing the various retirement home village “businesses” are trained in dementia senior care. Read the rest of the article:http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-08-07/dementia-village/
August 04, 2013by Ann Napoletan
This summer, the news has been full of wonderful dementia advocacy stories from across the Atlantic. Support and awareness are growing across Europe, and innovative ideas just keep coming. Students from the Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland, are responsible for a brilliant new project that has the potential to enrich the lives of dementia sufferers worldwide. A golden retriever and Labrador retriever are demonstrating that the canine crowd can increase quality of life for both elderly care patients and their caregivers. More than just pets, Oscar and Kaspa are trained dementia dogs, and their owners have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly they’ve made an enormously positive impact. With help from Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled, and Guide Dogs Scotland, both dogs received 18 months of training and have been with their families for about four months. They’ve been taught to nudge senior owners to read reminder notes, wake them in the morning, and fetch medicine pouches when prompted by an alarm. In addition, they can help with exercise and other owner-identified reminders. Senior care givers Glenys Will and Frank Benham credit the dogs for their spouses being happier and more relaxed, as well as enabling them to get out and about with less worry. Benham says that he’s seen his wife Maureen’s confidence rise with Oscar by her side, often serving as a conversation-starter in social situations. Likewise, Will notes that Kaspa has a knack for sensing when her husband is becoming agitated and can redirect him before things deteriorate any further. According to the Dementia Dog website, the program’s overarching goals include helping dementia residents in senior care homes or at home, to maintain their routines, allowing them to remain active, and providing a constant companion who serves as a reassuring anchor in stressful or unfamiliar situations. The organization is also exploring intervention dogs to work with patients’ support teams as well as a elderly care facility dog program to improve the physical and emotional well being of those living in senior care facilities and retirement homes.
4 Ways to Soothe Sundowner’s Symptoms
Picture It: How Art Helps Dementia Patient
For as long as there have been people there has been elderly care . This year archaeologists unearthed bones of an early human who lived approximately 500,000 thousand years ago. Analysis showed the bones belonged to an aged and disabled man who would have trouble walking or carrying the slightest load. To live as long as he did despite his disability, he must have had support from others in his group. This suggests that that elderly care is at least half a million years old and that caring and empathy are core human traits. In Ancient Greece and Rome, elderly people who required care had to rely on their children or extended family. For example, in Ancient Greece, Athenian law required that children care for their aging parents, and the punishment was loss of citizenship (the second most severe punishment for Athenians, besides execution). This arrangement did not change much for about 2,000 years. From antiquity all the way through the nineteenth century, senior care was ultimately the responsibility of the elder's family. Read the rest of the article: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/history-caring-for-elders-08-06-2013/
When Are You Old? Perspectives on Aging and Old Age July 24 by Jeff Anderson
3 Unexpected Benefits of Later Retirement
July 22, 2013by Ann Napoletan
While we know dementia is a common problem in the elderly, in and out of senior care homes, it’s important to be aware that various conditions can intensify its symptoms. Even individuals with no prior history can exhibit severe confusion when faced with UTIs, dehydration, or surgical anesthesia. Always take preventative measures where possible and be on the lookout for early signs of trouble.
Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are one of the common causes of confusion in the elderly; in fact, this is often the first thing doctors test for when treating an older patient that presents with confusion. Symptoms include:
- a.oConfusion, unusual behavior, or sudden change in mental status
- b.oSudden inability to perform tasks they can typically perform with ease
- c.oUrine that appears cloudy, red, bright pink, or brownish in color
- d.oStrong, persistent urge to urinate and/or passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- e.oPain while urinating
- f.oUrine having a strong odor
Urinary tract infections should be treated with antibiotics immediately to avoid complications. Steps that can be taken to reduce risk of UTI include drinking plenty of water, maintaining good hygiene, taking showers instead of baths, and avoiding use of feminine products such as powders and sprays in the genital area.
Another very common problem that can result in confusion, particularly in the extreme summer heat, is dehydration. Contributing factors include changes in the body’s water/sodium balance and decreasing thirst recognition, both deemed a normal part of the aging process. Medications can also have an impact, along with incontinence fears; some seniors tend to limit fluid intake to reduce incontinence issues, but that is a recipe for disaster. Individuals with cognitive and mobility issues, whether living at home or in a care facility require extra help staying hydrated. Even those who are mostly independent, living outside of senior care homes, often need reminders since they may not necessarily “feel” thirsty. Steer clear of diuretic beverages like those containing caffeine, devise a reminder system, and keep cold drinks within close reach; if your loved one spends the majority of his or her time upstairs and the kitchen is downstairs, consider a mini fridge for the second floor. Convenience is a major key to success. Finally, if you’re having difficulty keeping them hydrated, get creative with presentation. Rather than continually serving plain water, try a variety of juices, infuse water with lemon or cucumber for added flavor, and include fruits and vegetables high in water content. At the top of the list on many senior care home menus, are melons, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, and tomatoes. At the first sign of dehydration, offer a sports drink to help hydrate and boost electrolytes, and don’t hesitate to call the doctor for further assessment.
An article from Today’s Geriatric Medicine suggested that anywhere between 10 and 40% of older surgical patients experience postoperative delirium. This tends to be more prevalent after emergency or major surgeries, and the condition can last for several weeks. Individuals suffering from depression or in the early stages of dementia are also at higher risk. For the best experience possible, it is suggested that the anesthesiologist be provided with as much medical history as possible, including a complete list of medications and supplements being taken, their dosage, and frequency. If your loved one has experienced postsurgical confusion in the past, be sure to communicate that ahead of time as it may have a bearing on the drugs used during surgery. Barry Friedberg, MD, goes so far as to suggest older patients request use of a brain monitor during surgery to help gauge how much medication is needed. Without a monitor, Friedberg says most doctors will err on the side of too much rather than too little, fearing they won’t administer enough of the drugs. In order to address special needs of elderly patients, some hospitals have geriatric anesthesiologists on staff to specifically address elderly care . Be sure to ask about this option well in advance.
July 14, 2013 by Ann Napoletan
The fact is the majority of hospital workers and retirement home workers in elderly care are not trained in the unique needs of Alzheimer’s and dementiapatients. To further complicate matters, they are understaffed which means every moment is precious. Simply put, dementia patients often do not receive the special care they require if they are not in a care home specializing in dementia, and the results can be disastrous. Gary LeBlanc is doing something about this. LeBlanc is founder of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Hospital Wristband Project, currently being piloted at Brooksville Regional Hospital in Hernando County, Florida. Having had nightmarish experiences of his own as his father’s primary caregiver, he saw a need and jumped into action. The premise is simple, but getting there is going to take a lot of hard work. The wristband project does several things:
- Upon admission, patients with a prior diagnosis have a Purple Angel affixed to their standard issue hospital wristband for identification purposes.
- A Purple Angel is placed on their door so that anyone entering knows they should approach with the patient’s special needs in mind.
- Hospital staff, volunteers, senior care home workers and first responders receive training developed by LeBlanc in partnership with theAlzheimer’s Association-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.
- Use of “sitters” will become standard practice, allowing families to take much needed breaks without worrying that their loved one will be left alone.
- A dementia screening will be added to the admission process in hopes of identifying cognitive impairment even if there is no prior diagnosis.
Read the rest of the article: http://www.caregivers.com/dementia-and-alzheimers/alzheimers-hospital-wristband-project/
Assisted Living vs. Home Care: Health and Quality of Life Jul 15, 2013 by Sarah Stevenson
Eight reasons why an assisted living facility could be better than living at home when it comes to seniors’ quality of life and overall wellness. As the baby boomers continue to enter retirement in record numbers—a group that includes my own parents—more and more of us will face the question of how to handle their changing health needs. However, many of us will also face an even more urgent request from our parents themselves: “Please don’t put me in a nursing home.” The problem is this: when mom and dad start to need more daily care, it can put pressure on family caregivers and strain on relationships. That’s where assisted living comes in. In a residential care home facility where there is 24-hour access to personal care, as well as nutrition and wellness services designed specifically for older adults, seniors can enjoy social contact, security and support while still maintaining their independence. Assisted living is a great intermediate step in elderly care for seniors who need more help than the family can provide at home, but who don’t need the round-the-clock medical care of a nursing facility. Read on for eight compelling reasons to consider assisted living for the health and quality of life of your loved ones. Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-07-15-quality-of-life-in-assisted-living/
Seizures Linked to Early Alzheimer’s Disease July 11, 2013 by Dana Larsen
Well new research conducted by the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Franciscouncovered that patients with early onset and transient symptoms in early Alzheimer’s disease may also be experiencing seizures. In fact, epilepsy is being connected to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s occurs as much as 7 years sooner in individuals who endure seizures. And this new information gives researchers insight into developing a cure seniors suffering from for the debilitating disease in senior care homes and at home. According to Keith Vossel, MD, MSc and colleagues at the Gladstone Institute, “Careful identification and treatment of epilepsy in such patients may improve their clinical course.” They further add that “findings add to the mounting evidence that Alzheimer’s disease-related neural network hypersynchrony is an early and potentially treatable component of the disease.” It’s no secret that the government is on a mission to find a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025. The effects seizures have on the cognitive impairment of the brain helps give insight into finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-7-11-seizures-linked-early-alzheimers/
Loss of Appetite in Elderly: Causes and How to Cope Jan 23, 2013 by Sarah Stevenson
You’ve asked, and we’ve answered. Our recent senior nutrition poll highlighted readers’ concerns about elderly dietary problems—and your biggest worry is lack of appetite in the elderly. Poor appetite doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem, but there are some warning signs to watch out for, and some easy things you can do to help your loved ones get the right nutrition. From studies in senior care homes, it is known that elderly dietary problems can be caused by a number of different factors: lack of interest in food due to changing taste buds, depression, or loneliness; lack of energy to cook; loss of appetite due to health conditions; and medication side effects, to name just a few. Also, it’s normal for the appetite to change with age. “I remind my clients often that loss of appetite (and thirst) is a normal part of aging and doesn’t always mean something is wrong,” says Heather Schwartz, A Place for Mom nutrition expert and Registered Dietitian at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. “However, minimizing the detrimental effects of poor nutrient intake is always important, no matter from where the low appetite stems.” And of course it’s critical to rule out any underlying health problems, so if your loved ones aren’t eating well, a good first step is always to consult a physician. Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/01-23-2013-loss-of-appetite-in-elderly/
Do Brain Training Games Live Up to the Hype? July 2013
People are exceedingly afraid of losing their intelligence and memory. The only disease that scares the American public more than Alzheimer’s disease is cancer, according to a Harvard School of Public Health poll. Keen business people have known since ancient times that any product that soothes fears is likely to sell. Charms to bring luck and ward off evil spirits were popular commodities in ancient times, a trend which continues today. Our collective fear of cognitive decline has created a big market for new “brain games” or “brain training programs” that improve attention, working memory and are grounded in science rather than magic.
Brain games are typically video games that challenge the player with various puzzles. The games are becoming popular in senior care homes on smart phones and tablets, but are also available as PC software, and on video game consoles, particularly handheld consoles like the Nintendo DS. There are a huge variety of puzzles that confront players, and they’re designed to be enjoyable rather than a chore. For example, one problem in the iPhone app Fit Brains Trainer shows a side view of stacked geometrical shapes and asks the player to match it with the appropriate top view of the same stack. This is an example of a puzzle that summons the player’s spatial intelligence. Most of the brain games target various realms of intelligence, including logic and mathematics, linguistic intelligence (word smarts), and musical intelligence. Of course improving working memory is a key target of the exercises as well. Read the rest of the article here: Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/do-brain-training-games-lives-up-to-the-hype-6-26-2013/
Secrets to Longevity: Why Women Live Longer June 19, 2013 by Sarah Stevenson
Women outlive men by about five years, on average, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and this is apparent when walking into any retirement care home, as where the majority of the elderly care is for females. Longevity researchers know that the reasons for women’s higher lifespan are complex, with genetic, hormonal, psychological and sociological factors all playing a role. Another popular theory has targeted immunological differences—and that theory has acquired some real-world proof thanks to a newly released study in the journal Immunity & Ageing. Japanese scientists have confirmed that women’s immune systems age more slowly, contributing to the complex of factors that make women live longer. And, of course, the more scientists learn about longevity, the more we can pinpoint strategies for healthy aging for both genders. According to the study, which was released last month, there are marked differences in the way the immune system ages in men and women. Many types of white blood cells, which fight infection in our bodies, decrease with age as we get older; that’s only natural. But the researchers noticed that some types of white blood cells—T-cells and B-cells, for instance—declined more slowly in women than in men. Meanwhile, other types of white blood cells, such as CD4 T-cells and natural killer cells, tend to increase with age; for these cells, women showed a higher rate of increase than men. The BioMed press release also reported an age-related decline in red blood cells for men—but not for women. Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-06-19-why-women-live-longer/
Caregiving Men on the Rise June 24, 2013 by Dana Larsen
According to two studies, one by the Alzheimer’s Association, the other by the National Alliance for Caregiving, almost twice as many men these days are taking care of someone in senior care homes with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which is up almost 40 percent of caregivers, from 19 percent just 15 years ago. Experts say that is because more women older than 65 have the disease — 3.4 million, compared with 1.8 million men at last count. But why, exactly, is this? Changes in the economy, and the layoffs and early retirements that followed, made more men available than used to be the norm. And other contributing factors? Families scattered across the country, longer life expectancies and changing ideas about gender roles. Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-6-24-caregiving-men-increasing-in-number/
Financial questions and senior housing in care homes or retirement homes go hand in hand, so we recently asked readers to submit their financial questions to experts at the Mutual Fund Store. Our financial experts provided in depth responses to some of readers most pressing questions about paying for senior care. Mutual Fund Store experts will continue to answer questions for us in the Ask the Expert section of our website, but for now here are five great answers to five important questions. Read the rest of the article here:
How Pets Can Help Detect Cancer in Seniors Oct 11. 2012 by Sarah Stevenson
Next time Fido licks your face, think about this: researchers throughout the world are finding that dogs’ extra-sensitive olfactory systems can be trained to detect different types of cancer—sometimes long before symptoms actually appear. Early detection of many types of cancer is key to successful treatment, but diseases such as lung cancer and ovarian cancer are notoriously difficult to diagnose early. That could change, thanks to emerging scientific evidence that dogs can reliably sniff out telltale compounds in the body that indicate the presence of cancer. It’s tempting to ask how we can train our dogs to sniff out cancer, but the truth isn’t that simple. The dogs in question aren’t just any dogs—they’re specially trained to detect VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, that are telltale markers of cancer cells in the body. The canine researchers have been able to detect such compounds in the breath or in stool samples from volunteers. Read the rest of the article here: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/how-a-dog-could-save-moms-life/