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February 2008

Dementia Less Common, But The Fight Isn't Over

Well, here we are again, looking at education and Alzheimer's disease. I wrote a post on OurAlzheimers.com early last October, titled More Education Means A Lesser Chance of Getting Alzheimer's, that was in response to a study on education and dementia. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a post titled New Study Highlights Dementia Risks for the Well-Educated in response to another study on education and dementia.

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Communicating With Our Aging Parents

When do you talk to your parents about their driving? About their legal papers and financial situation? For most of us, it's difficult to bring up these subjects. I advise involving a third party when it comes to driving issues, as that's extremely touchy, and few adult children get through it without help - at least unscathed. However, there are many issues that need discussing as our parents age. Home Instead has come out with some valuable information they refer to as the 40-70 rule. When adult children are around 40 and their parents are around 70 - that is the time to talk. Obviously, this is a generalization. If you notice driving problems early, or there is ill health, it's far better to get started early. And wading in gradually is helpful, so you don't have to blast them all at once. Having an established good communication pattern is another obvious plus. To get more information and some helpful guides, contact your nearest Home Instead office or go online here.

Resistance by Seniors to Professional Caregivers

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America Social Services Team addresses a common problem, below, that has no hard core solution. As a columnist, this question is in my most "FAQ" category. The AFA team does as good a job addressing the issue as any I've seen.

"Families who reach the decision to hire a professional caregiver, such as a home health aide, to provide care for a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease and lives alone are often faced with a challenge: their loved one is unwilling to allow the caregiver to come into their home."

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How Can You Recognize the Stages of Alzheimer’s?

It’s instinctive to want a map. Where’s the next turn? What’s the next step? It’s a human thought pattern. We at least think we want to know what happens next. After we find out that a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease (or any other disease) it’s only natural to research it. What can we expect and when can we expect it?

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Elder Care, Caregiving and Medication Control

My 82-year-old mother lives alone. She takes a lot of medications and I am worried that she might not take the proper pills at the proper times.

The a doctor's answer: "Elderly people are most definitely at an increased risk for problems related to the use of prescription drugs, nonprescription (or over-the-counter) medicines, and herbal or other alternative medicines."

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Alzheimer's Research Target May Be a Dead End

A recent HealthDay News article, reported by  E.J. Mundell, addresses what seemed to be a promising approach to getting a handle on Alzheimer's disease. The news is disappointing, but having even a disappointing answer is better than nothing. It means that resources can be used for other research.

The HealthDay News article begins:

"A once-promising pathway for research into preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease may have been derailed by a surprise chemical finding, researchers report. Scientists in laboratories around the world have been investigating drug candidates called amyloid inhibitors, which many experts believed could keep proteins such as amyloid-beta from sticking together in brain tissue."

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Technological Advances Useful Tools for Caregivers

And I thought personal alarms were the ultimate! When my elders were in their own homes, personal alarms like LifeLine and LifeStation were high-tech. And they still are. My uncle, my neighbor and my mom all had personal alarms to wear when they were home alone. Mom wore her bracelet and pressed the alarm many times. A few of those times were accidental,

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Caregiver Isolation: Don't Do It- Reach Out To Your Community!

I recently read an extremely sad newspaper article about a mother and daughter and their deaths. The mother, in her 80s, suffered from Alzheimer's disease, likely mid to late stage. Her daughter, in her early 60s, was the caregiver. The two lived alone in a neighborhood where most people were gone during the day. This was, indeed, a case of caregiver isolation, perhaps more extreme than most.

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Medicare Advantage and Retirement

I came across this latimes.com article titled "Medicare trend raises eyebrows," and thought I'd pass it on. This is a topic that concerns all of us - boomers facing retirement and caregivers looking at what is going on with their elder's pensions and Medicare. The newspaper article begins:

"Employers are shifting costs -- and more burden -- to a federal program, critics say.
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON -- Many large employers are struggling with the obligation to cover the rising medical costs of retirees, but last year officials in Michigan found a way to save at least $40 million on care for retired teachers and other public-school workers: Send the bills to Washington."

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Elder Care Becoming Part of Medical Curriculum

Finally, some encouraging news from our medical schools. In a story from Boston.com titled When old is new: A wave of change in medical schools puts emphasis on care of seniors, writer Alice Dembner follows the new, improved training of medical students in the art of treating our aging populace.

In the past, students who were not going into fields that focused on elders would spend very little time studying the aging of the human body and mind. Now, many students are spending significant time studying how the body ages. They are finding out that older patients need to be cared for differently than the young. Imagine! They are being taught about the whole life cycle, including how to handle that culturally taboo word - death.

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