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February 2009

Statin Study Shows Promise for Alzheimer's Disease

"This stuff ought to be in the drinking water!"

I remember hearing that from doctors when they first found out how effective the early cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, were. Of course, I also read a couple of articles where at least one doctor thought Prozac, an anti-depressant that belonged to a new class of  drugs, ought to be given to everyone - that way everyone could be happy all the time (true, I did read that, though it was short-lived). I think most doctors and researchers have gone beyond that jubilant mentality.

Read more on statins and Alzheimer's:

Memory Lessons: a Fascinating Book Combining Personal Stories with Professional Advice

Dr. Jerald Winakur is the doctor we all wish we had, if not for ourselves, for our elders. His book, Memory Lessons: A Doctor's Story, suffers from a bland cover and a deceivingly simplified subtitle, but don't let that fool you. This doctor is a writer. He is a story teller. He is a gift to his patients and to us, the reader. In Memory Lessons, Winakur tells stories of his humble beginnings, the son of an immigrant pawn shop owner. He intertwines stories of his youth growing up in a tough neighborhood with a hardworking family that just wanted to make ends meet, with his medical education and eventual career as a gerontologist. 

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Simple Steps Can Help Prevent Dangerous Falls in Seniors' Homes

For people who want to stay in their homes as they age, avoiding falls is a top priority. Because of the economic downturn, growing numbers of seniors might be unable to sell their homes and therefore need to make them safer, said Marion Somers, a geriatric care manager in Brooklyn.

"That's what is making people look at their own place, or a family member's house if they are living with them, and evaluate, how can we make this senior-friendly and safer?" said Somers, who wrote "Elder Care Made Easier" (Addicus Books, 2006). "With this economy, seniors and their families are not able to afford the cost of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities."

Read more about preventing falls on Agingcare.com:

Study Shows Insulin Can Help Protect Brain From Alzheimer’s

My area of the country has a relatively high rate of diabetes. When I was spending a good portion of every day in a local nursing home, taking care of the needs of family elders, I would often see quite young folks in wheelchairs, recovering from foot surgery or even an amputation due to diabetes. Blindness and other serious consequences of diabetes are well known. My area of the country has a relatively high rate of diabetes. When I was spending a good portion of every day in a local nursing home, taking care of the needs of family elders, I would often see quite young folks in wheelchairs, recovering from foot surgery or even an amputation due to diabetes. Blindness and other serious consequences of diabetes are well known. Now, however, there is evidence that a type of Alzheimer's can also be a consequence of diabetes.

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National Institute of Health Offers Valuable Tool to Help Hospitalize Elders

Elders exposed to hospital stays can become very disoriented, to the point of delirium, which is difficult to distinguish from dementia. The scary part is that some never totally recover, once they return home. Also scary, is that fact that many medical professionals don't know about, or completely understand, this problem. I wrote about this situation for OurAlzheimer's in,"Is It Dementia or Delirium?". The strange, cold environment, ever changing staff and constant level of noise that people are exposed to in a hospital setting can be hard on anyone. This setting, along with drugs, fast talking staff and impersonal treatment can push an elder over the edge of reality into a mental state of delirium.

Read more about delirium and hosptialization of elders:

Forget Me Not - Walking For Alzheimer's

Shelly, at Forget Me Not, is walking for funds for Alzheimer's research. Her financial goals are modest, her heart huge. She has watch Alzheimer's in her family and has a touching post that begins:

I am walking because I have seen two grandparents and a great aunt suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. I've seen ...

Please go to www.forgetmenot.blogspot.com and read the rest of Shelly's post. Her heart is in this. Let's help her make her goal.

Technology in Caregiving Welcome But Can’t Be Allowed to Replace Human Connection

Ever increasing technology is making its way into elder care. Much of it is wonderful. From talking medicine reminders to sensors that can tell if an elder has gotten out of bed, there is much good to be had from these advances. An article from washingtonpost.com, titled, "High-tech sensors help seniors live independently," touts the wonders of technology. The article follows a woman who had several visits to the hospital for congestive heart failure. While the woman felt good, the motion sensors in her bed at the retirement home where she lived told a different story.

New Study on Education and Alzheimer’s Contradicts Some Previous Research

New research is fine-tuning one older belief and standing another on its ear. In an article by HealthDay reporter Carolyn Colwell titled, "Education Doesn't Slow Alzheimer's Decline: Large, 14-year study finds no effect, contradicting previous research," several ideas once taken as fact are, at least for now, proven flawed or down right wrong. The study was conducted at Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago. There are findings in this study that are to me, quite frankly, rather hard to distinguish from an earlier study. Older studies, such as the one I wrote about in, "More Education Means A Lesser Chance of Getting Alzheimer's, Dementia," showed that people with more education took longer to show symptoms of Alzheimer's.

It’s a Puzzlement!

Another wonderful post from my cowriter on Our Alzheimers, Leah. Leah has vascular dementia:

This post is a hard one for me.  I am really opening myself up, exposing a very private “secret”.  I may be making more of it than need be.  You be the judge. I am a little worried about my mind…about losing it, that is.  Lately, it has been playing a little trick on me.  Hmmm, how do I explain what is happening? One day, I was doing something, I don’t remember the first time it happened.  I can just remember the effect.  I saw a woman either on TV or in a magazine—or maybe in real life.  That part’s not important.  What happened next is!  Mentally, I switched from looking at her as another fellow human being to looking at her from the eyes of an alien, as though I were from another world and had come across some strange creature here on planet Earth.  Suddenly, the woman looked strange to me, I looked at her as though I were examining a bug on a Petri dish.  The following are my mental notes, at least the ones I can remember: 

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Does Your Personality Predispose You to Alzheimer’s?

How much does personality determine our health? That question has been pondered, studied and argued over for decades. Most people would say it only makes sense that a certain amount of our physical health will depend on our mental health and our outlook on life, but the concept is extremely difficult to quantify.  That elusive quality, however, doesn't keep scientists from trying to put their collective finger on how much it matters. Washingtonpost.com recently ran an article titled, "Positive Outlook Cuts Chances of Dementia."

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