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May 2014

Pain and Dementia: Observing Body Language Important When People Can’t Articulate Pain

A number of years back, my dad, who had developed dementia after a surgery to correct problems from a World War II brain injury, was seized by sudden, horrendous pain. While Dad had to cope with considerable pain from arthritis and some back issues, this was different. I knew his pain was acute and extreme by his body language and vocalizations, even though he couldn't articulate exactly what was wrong. Dad generally had the ability to communicate, though.

Read more on HealthCentral about pain and dementia:

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When Do I Let My Mother Die?

The reality of caregiving is that many of us are forced to make difficult decisions on a day to day basis. 
Sometimes, we need to decide if we should argue our reality against the reality of someone with Alzheimer's disease. Sometimes we have to decide whether we should encourage food or fluid intake to the point of forcing a loved one to eat or drink, or if we should step back and hope the right thing, whatever that may be, happens. Sometimes we have to decide what is "enough," when it comes to medical care for someone who is dying. The later of these decisions is one of the most painful decisions a family caregiver may ever have to make.

Read more on HealthCentral about caregivers and the death of a loved one:

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Can Middle Aged Caregivers be at Risk for Eating Disorders?

Middle aged women who have become caregivers report many health issues because they feel that their lives are spinning out of control. Depression and weight loss, or weight gain, are common symptoms reported. Could the recurrence of a previous eating disorder, or the development of a new one, be far behind? An insightful post by Tara Parker-Pope on the New York Times blog titled An Older Generation Falls Prey to Eating Disorders, points to the fact that eating disorders can develop anywhere over a life span, and that many older women may be at risk.

Read more on HealthCentral about caregiving and eating disorders:

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New Alzheimer’s Related Clinical Trials Open for Volunteers

Volunteers are needed for clinical trials and studies sponsored or co-sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. Some trials have been recently added to the NIA listing while other large studies are ongoing. Below are some options to consider. Volunteers for clinical trials are one major key toward finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, so pass the list on to relatives or friends who may be interested.

Read more on HealthCentral about new and ongoing Alzheimer's clinical trials:

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Enjoying a Picnic With Your Loved One In a Care Facility

...Residents and their families would gather on the patio, or find chairs under the trees out on the lawn. The able bodied served those with more limited abilities. For years, the grill chef was the husband of one resident. He was aided by other spouses, children and grandchildren of residents, as well as staff. Every resident willing and able to enjoy this outdoor festivity was escorted to a pleasant location and looked after.

Read more on Agingcare about how to enjoy a picnic with your loved one in a care home:

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One Man's Love Letter to His Alzheimer's Stricken Wife

Throughout my years of writing about eldercare I've come into contact with many fantastic caregivers. My newspaper column brought me the friendship of one outstanding caregiver, a retired college professor, named Bob Tolbert. Bob has contributed to my newspaper column, and he regularly comments on my other work, generally giving me a pat on the back. Occasionally, he'll add to what I've said with thoughts about his personal experience.

Read Bob's letter on HealthCentral:

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How Television News Affects Dementia and Alzheimer's Patients

Few people would argue that news - whether delivery is in the form of a newspaper, television or an Internet site, is generally led by catchy and often sensational headlines. Television, however, is the news-delivery system that has the most power to confuse elders with dementia, since the images an elder sees, often misinterpreted, can be stressful and painful. TV images, easily viewed out of context, make reality difficult to discern.

Read more on HealthCentral about how television can affect someone with dementia:

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10 Summery Outings For Senior Fun

...Use these ideas as springboards. You know your loved one. What did his or she enjoy in their earlier, healthier days? Don't be afraid to ask what they miss doing or what they'd like to do. They may not hear those questions very often these days.

Read on Agingcare some suggestions for outings with your loved one:

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Sharing Meals With Loved Ones As Dementia Takes Its Toll

Until I became a full-time employee at a newspaper, I'd made my noon hour the regular time for a daily visit with my elders in a nearby nursing home. Early on, that meant picking my mother up at her apartment and taking her along with me to see Dad who was the first to need nursing home care. Eventually, Mom needed nursing home care, as did my mother-in-law. I was then spreading myself out during the lunch hour, trying to be a part of the meal with each of them. Needless to say, I wasn't always successful in carrying this out to everyone's satisfaction, but I tried.

Read more on HealthCentral about sharing meals:

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Third Protein May be Catalyst for Alzheimer's Disease

The masses of plaques and tangles found during autopsies of older human brains are thought to be caused by a combination of beta-amyloid and tau proteins. These plaques and tangles have long been considered by many scientists to be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. A looming question, however, is that the same type of plaques and tangles are also frequently found in the autopsied brains of people without Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. The Mayo Clinic has been conducting research hoping to finding out why this is the case. Now, it looks as though they may have found the answer. 

Read more on HealthCentral about the new protein that may be a catalyst to Alzheimer's disease:

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