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October 2015

Dementia Stigma Remains Strong Even with Awareness

CandleThere’s something intrinsically frightening about knowing that we have a disease which, as it progresses, will allow others to see us as someone other than the “self” we know. The inability to understand our surroundings or even recognize the people we love seems cruel beyond words. The lack of control over how we behave makes us fearful, and unfortunately it’s part of the human condition to avoid what we fear and, for many, deride that which is feared. 

Read more on HealthCentral about the stigma of Dementia:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Challenging Hobbies Help Maintain Brain Health

PoolAlthough there’s a long way to go before Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are well understood, studies have shown that keeping the body and brain active throughout life may offer some protection. Happily, it’s not all work. Hobbies can be healthy.

View slideshow on HealthCentral about how hobbies can benefit our brains:

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Exercise May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s: Study Shows Why

Exercise2The hippocampus, which is the area of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s disease, plays an important role in forming long-term memories as well as in spatial navigation. Now, new evidence shows that exercise helps keep the hippocampus healthy. 

Read more on HealthCentral about how exercise may help prevent certain types of dementia:

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Humor Shared With Other Caregivers Can Be Therapeutic

HumorAs I visited with a friend and her mother who had mid-stage Alzheimer's, her mother abruptly stood, held out her hand, and said to me, "You can go now." Since I'd been forewarned that this may happen and I'd been around people with dementia for years, I wasn't offended. My friend and I both managed not to laugh. I simply agreed with her mom and said that, indeed, it was time for me to be off, as there was much to do. I thanked her for the lovely visit and left.

Read more on agingcare about humor shared among caregivers:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Validation Can Help Create Happy Moments during Dementia Struggles

CommunicatingCan people find happiness – even joy – while living with dementia? That depends, of course, on one’s definition of happiness and joy. But I do believe that there can be satisfying moments for people with dementia and their caregivers. World War II left my dad with a brain injury. He was in a coma for six weeks and had to learn to walk and talk again. This he did.

Read more on HealthCentral about finding some happiness even with dementia:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Caregiver Needs Help When Person with Alzheimer’s Turns Violent

AggressionDear Carol: Six months ago, my husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia and soon after that with Alzheimer’s. I have health problems including osteoporosis. We’re in our late 70s. While my husband has always been a gentle man and would never have struck me, he now is, on occasion, abusive. I know that this is the disease and not him. When he realizes that he’s shoved me or struck out at me he feels terrible but  he of course then forgets the whole thing. So far, nothing terrible has happened, but I’m getting frightened. We always promised to take care of each other at home, but I don’t know if I can do it. That makes me feel guilty. – Marlise 

Read more on Inforum about violence and dementia:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Denial Can MakeTimely Dementia Diagnosis Difficult

FogPinesA recent article in the UK Telegraph reported on a survey showing that two thirds of people over the age of 50 are more afraid of developing dementia than of getting cancer. Other surveys show similar percentages.   One reason for this intense fear of Alzheimer's is obvious. While many types of cancer can be cured, most types of dementia cannot. However, another reason is that the idea of being betrayed by our brains to the point that we are essentially lost in the disease is abhorrent to most of us. 

Read more on HealthCentral about denial and Alzheimer's diagnosis:

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Breaking the Sacred Promise: It’s Time for a Nursing Home

LonetreeIt’s something many of us have done. Our parents are in their middle years and have come home from visiting someone in a nursing home. The hospital-like structure of the older nursing home was disturbing to them. While relating their experience to you they say that they’d hate to end up in a place like that. You jump in and say with feeling and genuine belief, “I’d never put you in a nursing home!” Fast forward a few decades.

Read more on HealthCentral about breaking the promise not to put a loved one in a nursing home:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Memory Box Valuable Tool for People with Alzheimer’s

Visiting3People with Alzheimer’s lose their short-term memory, progressively fading deeper and deeper into their cognitive past. While I’ve often written about the value of bringing old photos and other memorabilia along for visits to elderly loved ones, I don’t believe I’ve ever before suggested anything as self-contained as a memory box. 

Read more on HealthCentral about memory boxes for Alzheimer's:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


9 Tips to Manage Stress for Better Health

StressIncreasingly, stress is considered a risk factor for dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Stress is also a risk factor for stroke and heart attack as well as a trigger for many diseases from arthritis to psoriasis. Obviously, limiting stress in our lives is a good idea. But how? Simply living what we call modern life seems to make stress the norm.

View slide show on HealthCentral about managing stress:

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders e-mail Carol