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January 2012

Study shows nicotine patch could help some with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Smoking is bad for our health. Nothing has changed that often proven fact. Also, nicotine is part of the addictive element in smoking. However, nicotine as administered through a medical patch, rather than a tobacco product, was shown in a recent study to have some benefit for nonsmokers with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Not everyone with MCI goes on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but many people do. Therefore, the interest in studying MCI is intense.

Read more about the nicotine patch for MCI:

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Use compassion with Mom to help her move

Dear Carol: My dad died suddenly about a year ago. Mom is 73 and quite frail for her age. She’s also slipping cognitively. She can’t keep up the house they’ve lived in for decades. She seems afraid to live there alone, so I’d like to see her move to assisted living. She actually wants to make the move, but she seems frozen when it comes to getting rid of anything in the house so she can move. How can I get her going with this project? - Amanda

Dear Amanda:  Your mom has decades of memories attached to the home, most of which likely include your dad. She probably feels she’s leaving a part of him behind if she moves out. At the same time, she’s rightly concerned about living alone. Remind her that Dad would want her to be safe.

Read more about helping Mom make the move to assisted living:

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When both parents have dementia

Statistics vary, but upward of thirty percent of caregivers die before those they are caring for. Some of those are adult children, lonely and depressed, isolated and frustrated, often torn by guilt. These caregivers can develop cancer, commit suicide, or have heart problems and other ill health that can likely be traced to the stress of caring for their loved ones.

How do caregivers cope when they have two parents with dementia?:

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UK reporter chronicles dementia awareness course: calls it a “taste of hell”

The saying that we can’t really understand another person’s experience until we’ve “walked in their shoes,” has always felt right to me. Intelligent people can be educated to the brim and be able to give excellent “book” advice. However, it frequently takes someone who has endured an experience similar to ours in order to make us feel thoroughly understood. This is where real "hands on" advice differs from advice in the abstract.

Read more about dementia sensitivity training:

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When an ill parent turns on the charm with the doctor

 A friend of mine took her mother to the doctor because she suspected her mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. My friend sat dumbfounded as her mom charmed the socks off the doctor and seemed as sharp as she was ten years ago. The mother denied any health issues, especially those associated with memory. The doctor, too busy to run tests on someone who seemed "so good for her age," signed off of some prescriptions and sent them off. My friend felt like banging her head against the wall.

Read more about how an ill parent can fool the doctor:

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Adjusting to the new normal: when caregiving takes over your life

Most caregivers go into caregiving mode with full hearts and wonderful intentions. They rarely stop to think, "Hmm, this could go on for years. I'd better plan it out. If I move to part-time at work, have more child care and spend mornings caring for my parents' needs, it will be difficult, but possible. If I continue to work full time, I'll have more for retirement, but I can't do it all. I have to plan this out."

 Read more about adjusting to a new normal after caregiving changes your life:

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How do we keep our elders safe and still maintain their sense of dignity?

How do we get elders to stop doing "handyman" tasks, doing yard work that should be hired out or even extensive kitchen work? Everyone needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning. If a person has no purpose in life, why go on living? For elders whose bodies – and sometimes minds – seem to betray them more each day, this becomes an issue.

Read more about keeping our elders safe while preserving their dignity:

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When your parent repeats "I want to go home"

A tip, here, for people who still have their elder at home, but the elder still asks to "go home." Understand what the person wants and then try the same distraction or relearning technique. Some people go as far as taking the person in the car and driving around the block, then re-entering the house. This can work for awhile, but not likely that long. No matter what you do, you will hear it again: "I want to go home." The point here is that no matter what you do or say, likely you will continue to hear the plea to "go home."

Read more about how to handle the plea "I want to go home":

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What can caregiver do when no one comes to visit or call an elder?

Dear Carol: My mom, 93 years old, sent cash Christmas gifts to all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. However, she got few thank you notes and asks why she never hears back from these people.  She also doesn’t have many friends left so there’s no one to fill the void. She has early to mid-stage dementia and gets depressed easily when she does not get visits, phone calls or notes. My siblings do call and some come to visit once or twice a month, but I wish they would do more.

Read more about how to encourage more family involvement with an elder:

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Vision and hearing checkups tough for people with dementia

You are helped into a chair and the doctor covers one of your eyes and asks what letters you see. What is a letter, you think, and why is he covering my face? You start to squirm and then push him away. You get more confused and frightened because you don't know what they want with you.

Read more about helping your loved on through vison and hearing checkups - or whether to have them done:

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