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June 2012 Feed

Another study shows stress hormones likely increase Alzheimer’s risk

If we’re alive, we are coping with a significant amount of stress. Yet stress hormones have been shown to have a negative effect on our health. Now, the recent article, "Stress may increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease: Stress hormones lead to Alzheimer-like protein modifications,” brings to light epidemiological studies by scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in which the scientists hypothesized that adverse life events, which generally cause stress, may be one trigger for Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more about stress and Alzheimer's risk:

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Study says exercise key to preventing Alzheimer’s

A recent paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reported on some encouraging results about the benefits of exercise. Researchers at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan concluded exercise is something we can do right now to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. While the study was done on mice, the researchers feel strongly that people will show similar results.

Read more about exercise and Alzheimer's:

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9-year study concludes preventing or managing diabetes prevents cognitive decline

As far back as 2006, the New York Times was reporting on the deepening link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Now, new results from a study led by researchers from the University of California San Francisco show that there is a link between the risk of cognitive decline and the severity of diabetes

An article on the UCSF website reports on a 9-year long study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. The Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study enrolled 3,069 adults over 70 at two community clinics in Memphis, TN and Pittsburgh, PA beginning in 1997. All the patients provided periodic blood samples and took regular cognitive tests over time.

Read more about diabetes and cognitive decline:

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Reminiscing powerful “drug” for people with dementia

I love stories. When I was a teenager, I’d encourage grandparents to relate stories of their young years struggling to survive on the wind-swept prairie. When I grew older, I was fascinated by the stories my parents and in-laws told of their early years of growing up during the Great Depression. Little did I know at the time that peoples’ stories would become the springboard for my life’s work. Now there is mounting evidence that encouraging our elders to reminisce about their past is therapeutic as well as enjoyable.

Read more about reminiscing as therapy for Alzheimer's:

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Coping with criticism from your loved one

Caregivers frequently turn their lives inside out in order to care for their loved ones in decline. I know, because I've done it. The number of elders who depended on my help increased throughout the years, to a total of seven, though the most I cared for at one time was five. I also had two children and work part time writing as a freelancer. Each care situation was different. I started with an aged neighbor, then moved on to a childless aunt and uncle, my in-laws and eventually my parents. All of them appreciated me. However they each had moments when, because of their own misery, they’d lash out at me in some way.

Read more about coping with criticism for the loved one you care for:

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Alzheimer’s diagnosis not always accurate

Dear Carol: My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago. Recently, after the elimination of some medications Dad had been taking for years, the doctor changed the diagnosis to vascular dementia. In some ways, dementia is dementia, I guess, but still the doctor said as dad’s disease progresses the difference will become more apparent. I’m wondering how common this type of mix-up is with a dementia diagnosis. – Paul

Dear Paul: Actually, an error in dementia diagnosis is quite common. Peter Lichtenberg, Ph.D., head of Wayne State University's Institute of Gerontology, wrote in a paper published in a recent edition of the journal Clinical Gerontology about this problem. 

Read more about faulty Alzheimer's diagnosis:

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Drug free management of sundowning in people with Alzheimer's

Sundowning, sometimes called Sundown Syndrome, is the label given to late day anxiety, irritability, disorientation and general agitation in people with Alzheimer’sSundowning frustrates home caregivers and professional care staff alike, as they often feel completely unable to comfort the person affected. Researchers and care staff alike are looking for answers. One nursing home in particular has made some dramatic changes in end-of-day care, resulting in a major reduction in the need to medicate residents for late day anxiety. Home caregivers can learn from their work, as well.

Read more about sundowning and how to cope:

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Hidden financial costs when we quit our jobs to care for our loved ones

I don’t need a study to tell me that leaving the workforce to become a family caregiver has cost me, financially.  All I have to do is look my puny projected Social Security. Over two decades of my adult “productive” years have been spent caring for elders and children while not working at paid employment. Eventually, I did go back into the workforce, even though I was still a primary caregiver for three elders and one young adult with health issues. While I certainly was aware that I wouldn’t get any Social Security or retirement benefits for the years outside the traditional workforce, I also knew that our family didn’t have the money to pay agencies to do what I did for my loved ones.

Read more about hidden financial costs of quitting a job to be a caregiver:

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Family mediator can help you over the rocky road of caregiving

Even siblings who grew up together with fondness for each other often have different ideas about what the right care for aging parents incorporates. When siblings have clashing personalities, or family issues have driven them apart, finding middle ground on anything can be extra challenging. However, the reality is that for many families the time eventually comes when adult childrenmust make decisions for their parents’ living arrangement, medical care and even end of life treatment. We have more options for care than we did a couple of decades ago, but with options comes the need to make decisions.

Read more about family mediators and how they can help:

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Administration on Aging programs provide assistance for caregivers nationwide

Nearly any family caregiver has felt isolated and alone at one time or another. For many, that feeling is chronic. Friends don’t understand the strain we are under. Some people get no support from their extended family or friends. Where can we turn when there seems to be nowhere to turn? Believe it or not, many resources are at your fingertips on the Administration on Aging website. 

The National Family Caregiver Support Program 

The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) is one resource every caregiver should look into. The links to the NFCSP support features can be found on your state website as well as the Administration on Aging site. The NFCSP provides grants to states and territories, based on their share of the population of people aged 70 and over, to fund a range of supportive services that assist family caregivers caring for a loved one at home.

Read more about benefits check up and other programs available:

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