Life Experience May Offset Cognitive Decline Due to Aging

Brain5Could life experience make up for some of the effects of age on the brain? According to researchers from the School of Business Administration at the University of California, Riverside, it can and does. The research group measured a person’s decision-making ability over their entire lifespan. Using two different types of intelligence - fluid and crystallized - they found that experience and acquired knowledge from a lifetime of decision-making often offset the declining ability to learn new information. Fluid intelligence is the ability to learn and process new information. Crystallized intelligence is experience and accumulated knowledge. According to the researchers, previous studies have suggested that fluid intelligence declines as a person ages, but the studies didn’t address whether or not decision-making abilities also decline.

Read the full article on HealthCentral about how the brain works (and in some ways, improves) as we age:

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Virtual Dementia Sensitivity Training Makes Tremendous Difference to Both Care Partners

ConfusionWe can’t truly understand what others go through unless we have been in their shoes. Fortunately for caregivers, the inventive Virtual Dementia Tour Program comes as close as anything can to helping caregivers - whether medical people, social workers or family members - understand what their patients or loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are experiencing.

P.K. Beville, founder and CEO of  Second Wind Dreams, has now received the U.S. Patent for his Virtual Dementia Tour program which has already been experienced by 500,000 people in 14 countries. Second Wind Dreams was formed in 1997. The name is derived from a novel of the same name, written by Beville who is a geriatric specialist.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how virtual dementia training can help:

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The Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice Can be Confusing

DeathComfortMany people have heard of hospice care but they mistakenly think that it’s just a way to help cancer patients be more comfortable at the end of their lives. Fewer people have heard of palliative care, and they may have no idea what it is. The truth is that hospice and palliative care are related but used for different reasons at different times, and everyone should be well-versed in what they offer. Here, we’ll clarify some points of confusion.

View slideshow on HealthCentral about the differences between palliative care and hospice: 

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.” Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

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Caring for Aging Parents Who Didn't Care for You

Family10 ...Now her parents are getting frail. Nancy had been through a lot of therapy so she could learn to cope with her childhood issues. She's come to terms with the fact that her father did what he thought he was supposed to do. She rightly felt, as a child, that he should recognize and stop the abuse her mother was doling out. Through therapy, she has learned to forgive her father for his lack of involvement and the fact that he didn't stop the abuse.

She's learned that he likely didn't know about a lot of it. She's also learned that he probably was in denial about what he did suspect because he really didn't know what to do. He was wrong, but she's managed to forgive him for what he didn't know, and for what he didn't do about what he did know. Part of this is that her father recognizes where he failed. As he ages – and he's the one who is showing the need for care at this point – she feels she is capable of caring for him, in some "hands-on" capacity.

Read full article on Agingcare about how people who were abused as children must struggle to decide what they can do for their parents: 

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol 

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Trauma After a Fall Can Create a Dangerous Domino Effect for Elders

Comfort29Dear Carol: Four months ago, my mother fell and broke her hip. She was admitted to the hospital for surgery and then sent to a nursing home rehab. The care seems good but Mom has completely changed. Before the fall, she was mentally sharp for someone nearly 80. Her only issue was an occasional memory gap. Then, right after the emergency surgery, she began showing signs dementia. She’s only worsened in rehab. The facility doctor says that she has Alzheimer’s, but how could that happen so fast? I thought that Alzheimer’s took time to develop. How could she go from having almost no sign of Alzheimer’s to hardly knowing me in just four months?– DN

Read the full column on Inforum about how trauma can affect the brain of an older person:

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The stories in this fine book showed us how others have gone through similar things with their families and that is somehow reassuring. There are some helpful suggestions but mostly there is the recognition that others went through the same thing. All we can do is our best. That is greatly reassuring during these difficult emotional times. If you are a caregiver, this is a must read. - Delores Edwards

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