...Some history Prior to the mid1980s, accepted psychiatric theory was that people with dementia had to be re-oriented. In other words, the people needed to be brought back into the real world – meaning the real world as we who do not have dementia see it. They were wrong.
While Alzheimer’s specific drugs may help slow symptoms for some people, they also may increase the risk of hip fractures, fainting, urinary problems and other health issues. Most researchers now think that a time comes when many medications for the elderly are no longer beneficial and may be harmful.
...RLS can affect caregivers and/or their care receivers, both of whom can be short on sleep. Knowing that we had a need for a sympathetic medical ear, I asked Keith W. Roach, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, for the facts. I have been a fan of Dr. Roach’s work for a long time because he has what I consider to be a balanced approach to medical care and he projects an attitude of relatability and sympathy. Dr. Roach answered my questions by phone.
We are made to move. Increasing the amount of physical exercise in our lives can help us maintain a healthy weight, prevent heart disease, and simply make us feel better. Exercise has also repeatedly been shown to help maintain a healthy brain. Most recently, according to the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, a study led by Cyrus Raji, MD, PhD, at UCLA, added significantly more value to existing information about exercise and Alzheimer’s. One reason may be...
Dear Carol: My dad is 79 and has suffered from aggressive prostate cancer for several years. What could be done has been done, so far, but the cancer has now spread to his liver and bones. We want Dad to have chemotherapy but his doctor says that he’s not a candidate for this treatment. Dad says he doesn’t want to go through it anyway. I think that they are just giving up. Shouldn’t the doctor be encouraging Dad to fight the disease? I thought that doctors were supposed to do everything to save lives. I think if the doctor insisted, Dad would agree. What can we do so that Dad gets all of the treatment possible? FMC
Whatever the reason that caregiving begins, I hear from a number of young adults who are trying to care for one or more grandparents. Most of them love their grandparent dearly, but they often come up against obstacles that are quite overwhelming for people so young. One young woman recently wrote about the problem of getting health information about her grandfather, because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws won't allow her to do so without the proper paperwork, and her grandfather doesn't see the need to have this youngster involved in his clinical care. The problem is that the grandfather doesn't understand that no other family member is available to help him.
Completing crosswords, making a habit of Sudoku and playing challenging brain games on the Internet have long been suggested as methods of maintaining our cognitive health. These are all fine pursuits, but recent research by Mayo Clinic has shown that creative arts such as painting, drawing and sculpting may protect the mind against cognitive decline even better than the commonly used forms of brain exercise.
Whether we are taking an elderly person to a family reunion or a backyard picnic this summer, we need to be aware that summer heat can become deadly as people age. From less efficient cooling systems to more illnesses and medications, elders have many issues that can make them vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Don’t let the heat stop you from taking your elder out for some fun, but prevent problems by finding a shady place for your loved one to sit and check frequently to see if he or she is comfortable.
As 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.
Moving a person who has developed Alzheimer’s is generally necessary at least once during the period of decline, and often several times. Since different types of care can be needed at different stages, frequently the only way to provide that care is to move the person from his or her own home to either a memory unit or to live with the family, perhaps supplementing family care with hired in-home caregivers. This is real life and caregivers need to overcome that unearned guilt that they so often live with every time they these decisions.