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February 2014

The Many Faces of Dementia: Knowing the Symptoms

Dementia is not a single disease. It’s a non-specific syndrome that affects cognitive areas of the brain that control memory, language, attention and problem solving. To be considered dementia, the problems must be severe enough to affect daily living. Because Alzheimer’s is responsible for 50 to 60 percent of dementia cases, it’s the most broadly recognized form. However, there are up to 50 different known versions of dementia. Read more →


Shadowing in Alzheimer’s Sign of Fear, Anxiety

The need for reassurance playing out as shadowing would seem to call for many of the same responses from caregivers as those recommended for coping with sundowning. My article 10 Tips to Ease Alzheimer’s Sundowning focuses mainly on stress reducing steps that caregivers can try. If your loved one’s sundowning is preluded by shadowing, you’ll know to start the coping mechanisms earlier in the day. Read more →


Elder’s Sense of Home May Shift with Time

Again, this home is a state of mind rather than a building. Even if we could take our loved one to the actual house of his or her childhood, it's not likely that this structure would bring comfort. A sense of comfort comes from being with other human beings who love us and will do what they can to care for us. Read more →


Virtual Dementia Sensitivity Training Program Receives Patent

She covered my ears with ear phones emitting jabbering background noise, rather like a muted radio talk show [my eyes were already dimmed by special goggles]. She poured un-popped corn into each of my shoes, to simulate the pain of arthritic feet and bunions. Another woman pulled gloves with popcorn-filled finger tips over my hands, then taped together three fingers on each hand – middle to small fingers on my left hand, thumb to middle finger on my right. I felt as though I was, bit by bit, being entombed. Read more →


People With Dementia Sensitive to Caregivers Moods

Dear Carol: I’m a longtime reader and know that you’ve addressed this issue before, but now it affects my family. I’m hoping that my sister will see this letter and respect your opinion. Our mother is in a nursing home because of late stage dementia. I spend a lot of time with Mom and my sister sometimes joins us. My sister thinks that Mom’s isn’t really “there” anymore so when she comes to visit she spends her time venting to me about whatever is bothering her. Read more →


Unearned Guilt Intrinsic to Most Caregiving

While some reasons caregivers feel guilty are unique to their situation, many are commonly shared in caregiving. Below, I’ve listed four causes of unearned guilt that most caregivers share, along with some ideas that I hope will help you look at your situation more realistically: Read more →


Is Excess Iron a Missing Piece in Alzheimer’s Puzzle?

...as we age has to do with myelin, an insulating layer that forms around nerves in the brain. Myelin requires a lot of iron and as we age, increasing amounts are deposited. When these deposits become excessive, free radical damage occurs, eventually making the environment in the brain toxic. Read more →


Inability to Recognize Sarcasm Could Signal Frontotemporal Dementia

In FTD, damaged proteins accumulate in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain causing the neurons to progressively die. Since the ability to tell if someone is being sarcastic or lying depends on the functioning of the frontal lobe of the brain, the diminishment of this skill could be a signal that FTD is developing. Read more →


Male Caregivers Need Their Own Support

Two decades ago, one in four caregivers was a man. Now, according to a study published by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (currently known as the Caregiver Action Network), one in three caregivers is a man. Statistically, women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease because they tend to live longer and Alzheimer’s risk accelerates with age. That means more husbands are likely to be caring for wives with AD than the reverse. Read more →