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July 2009

Online Health Records: Life and Cost Saving Potential

One of my co-writers on OurAlzheimers.com is Dorian Martin, whose mother died from Alzheimer's disease. Here's an excellent post from Dorian about online health records. I heartily agree.

Health Care Reform's Online Records System Would Be Godsend for Alzheimer's Caregivers

"A lot of conversations are going on around the United States about health care reform. The Dallas Morning News recently ran an article entitled, “Who really profits from digital medical records?” reporters Dave Michaels and Jason Roberson wrote that computerization of medical records was a significant part of the federal stimulus package, with $45 billion reserved for hospitals and physicians to make the conversion. The reporters added that medical errors cost the United States $37.6 billion annually. Standards and timelines play a key part in this portion of the health reform. 

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Vitamin D and Curcumin Show Promise in Prevention and Reversal of Alzheimer’s

At times, even with all of the research being conducted, Alzheimer's prevention or reversal of symptoms seems like a dream. Just as scientists start to work on one line of thought, new obstacles arise, either convincing them they need to tweak their research or abandon it all together in order to follow some new line of thought. So, while we hope and pray for Alzheimer's prevention, studies and their results can seem discouraging. Now, there is promise shown by researchers at UCLA using substances already available. An article titled "Vitamin D, curcumin may help clear amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer's: Early research findings may lead to new treatments for the disease," reports on research done at UCLA. Vitamin D3 (a common form in supplements and the type made by the interaction of sun and human skin), plus curcumin, which is found in the herb turmeric, are showing signs of preventing and even reversing the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

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Squabbling Siblings a Common Problem

Dear Carol: My siblings and I have never gotten along. This has become more of an issue now that our aging parents need help. I do all the caregiving, and the strain shows. How do we resolve our differences so we can best help our parents? – Ben
Dear Ben: You are definitely not alone with this issue. The first thing to do is ask yourself if you’ve honestly left the door open for your siblings to help. Have you asked them to do specific things? Played to their strengths?

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Living With Vascular Dementia Gets Old

My colleague and fellow blogger Leah, wrote this poignant blog about how frustrating it is to live with dementia. Leah was a teacher and still is a teacher. Her attitude is amazing. But even she gets down at times. Read, here, Leah's post titled, "Life, A Bowl of Cherries?"

"I love that quote:  “Life is just a bowl of cherries…”  It describes what I am going through right now—my life with its ups and downs.  We all have them.  It’s just knowing what to do with them that counts…I’m getting tired of having dementia.  I want it to go away.  I want to brush out the cobwebs in my mind.  I’m tired of playing brain games.  My mind is tired of struggling.  I want to fire up the neurons and sharpen the synapses…I want to live and think like a normal person.  Having dementia is no fun; it is a lot of work! There!  I think I am getting the grumps out of my system…

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Nursing Homes: Are Your Expectations Realistic?

Making the decision to place an elder in a nursing home is one of the most grueling decisions many adult children have to make. Ideally, we'd always be able to take care of "our own" for the duration of their lives. However, life is often not ideal. My mother was in her own apartment for a number of years after my Dad had entered a nearby nursing home. There wasn't even an option for us to care for Dad at their apartment or at my house. He'd had brain surgery that, for all practical purposes, destroyed his brain, and the kind of care he needed was physically impossible for us to handle in a home.

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Program encourages CHAT on health care

I’d venture to say that nearly everyone is aware there’s a big push to change the way our health insurance system works. People have many ideas about how this should be done and diverse thoughts about what choices should be offered. That said, the need to change the status quo is obvious to most people. Some states are offering their residents a chance to voice their opinions through “Choosing Health plans All Together,” better known as CHAT.

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Caregivers Often Suffer Unfounded Guilt

Heads around the packed room nodded as I spoke. Many listeners grabedd tissues from strategically placed boxes. The head bobbing had started in earnest after I said, "There are times during this long journey when you'll look at the suffering elder and think, ‘Why can't you just die quickly?'"

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Sensitive issue frustrates caregiver

Dear Carol: My dad had prostate surgery and as a result he is sometimes incontinent. The doctor says this may improve, but meanwhile he’s humiliated by the accidents. He’s very proud, and the idea of what he calls “diapers” upsets him. It seems either way he’s upset, and I don’t know where to turn. – Andy
Dear Andy: Incontinence is something most adults don’t even want to think about. There’s enough indignity thrust upon an aging body without this bold reminder that defies denial of the ravages of age and disease.

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Study Shows Caffeine Reverses Alzheimer’s in Rats

Over thirty years ago, when I was pregnant with my first son, there were dire warnings for pregnant women to avoid caffeine. Coffee was particularly a "no no." I was told my children could be born with multiple sets of fingers if I indulged in caffeinated beverages, particularly coffee.
Well, being a good earth mother, I wasn't going to chance that, so I dutifully drank decaf. Yikes! A few years later, caffeine and coffee were vindicated and the process used to decaf coffee was suspect. What's a good mother-to-be to do?

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Elder Parent Care Can Bring Out the Worst in Siblings

Siblings! For some lucky families, having a bunch of adult siblings gather around and plan how to take care of Mom and Dad as their parents’ health begins to fail is a great comfort. For some families, siblings who never got along as kids and have had little to do with each other as adults being thrown together to make touchy decisions is disastrous. For most families, the journey through the mine of elder care decisions falls somewhere between the two extremes.

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