Brain Health Feed

Dementia Service Dogs an Idea That Should be Growing

DogMost of us are aware of service dogs, especially guide dogs for people with sight impairment, because we see them around our communities. These dogs are not pets. They are working animals and are allowed wherever the person they serve goes. Increasingly, other service dogs are being trained to help people with impaired hearing, people who have grand mal seizures and people with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. With more than five million people in the U.S. alone coping with the effects of Alzheimer’s, any attempt to help people with dementia have a better quality of life is welcome.  So why not have trained service dogs for people with dementia?

Read full article on HealthCentral about how dementia dogs are an idea that has come:

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Delaying Alzheimer's Symptoms: Life-long Learning Helps a Significant Number of People

Books2Nearly all of us know that if we don’t use our muscles as we age, we’ll lose muscle mass. The same theory seems to hold true when it comes to keeping our minds sharp. Computer games, word games, crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other challenging mental pursuits have been advised as methods of keeping the mind healthy as we age. Now, a recent study has shown that by pursuing life-long learning, even people who are genetically at risk for Alzheimer’s disease may be able to stave off symptoms for years.

Read the full article on HealthCentral about how life-long learning can help many people delay Alzheimer's symptoms:

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Alzheimer's Only One Type of Dementia but What Are the Others?

AlcoholOne of the most commonly asked questions about cognitive issues is “Is it Alzheimer’s or dementia?” The short answer is, Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.”

The National Institutes of Health says that some types of dementia can be stopped or reversed with treatment. Normal pressure hydrocephalus, caused by excess cerebrospinal fluid, can be helped by surgical intervention. Some drugs, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol abuse, depression, and brain tumors can cause dementia-like symptoms. Most of these causes respond to treatment.

View full slideshow on HealthCentral about the different types of dementia:

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Reasons to Overcome Denial and Seek Potential Dementia Diagnosis

CoupleComfortOne 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. This fear, unfortunately, tends to make many people less than willing to see a physician for dementia testing even when they are showing signs that point to the illness. People don’t want to hear that they have dementia. Refusing to be examined assures that they won’t hear those words even though the reality is that living in denial can be counterproductive. Many conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms and if they are caught early, damage can often be reversed.

Read the full article on HealthCentral about reasons to get an early diagnosis:

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

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Feeding Tube Can Be Considered Extreme When Caring for Someone with Advanced Disease

DianeWolffBookJacketcreditCraigWorshamDear Carol: My dad has had Parkinson’s disease for over 10 years. He has trouble speaking clearly, he chokes on food, and he’ll clamp his mouth shut when we try to give him his medicine. We’ve tried to trick him by putting a pill in his food, but he will spit it out. Dad’s doctor says that this is where he is in his disease and we need to accept that. He says that, eventually, people tend to get tired of the struggle. Dad's only 72. Should we have him put on a feeding tube? – G F

Read the full column on Inforum about swallowing problems and feeding tubes:

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

I'm honored to be among over 50 presenters in this summit who want to help make your caregiving journey easier. Click the image to learn more:

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Caregiver Tells of Harrowing Experience in Handling Parents' Finances

MotherDaugherFinances can be a difficult topic to discuss in some settings, and talking with aging parents qualifies as one of those. But it’s essential that families discuss finances and how they will be handled when — not if, but when — one of them becomes incapacitated physically or mentally. Wise people appoint a trusted person as power of attorney (POA) before there is a health crisis.

Read full article on HealthCentral about the importance of getting your parent's or spouse's finances in order well ahead of later stages of Alzheimer's or other issues:

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Dementia Death: Conflicting Emotions Are Normal for Caregivers After a Loved One Dies

Funeral“Carol!” The hospice nurse’s voice was quiet but urgent. I instinctively knew what was happening. She had been shifting Dad’s position so that he wouldn’t develop bed sores, but as she was laying him back on the bed, something changed in his respiration. This was it. His body was preparing for him to take his last breath. I slid back in my spot beside Dad and took him in my arms. His head drifted to my shoulder and that last, gentle breath slipped by unnoticed by me. What I felt was the positive force of Dad’s spirit leaving his body. And then — joy! Did I just write joy? Yes, I did.

Read the full article on HealthCentral about how conflicting emotions can affect us after our loved one dies:

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

The stories in this fine book showed us how others have gone through similar things with their families and that is somehow reassuring. There are some helpful suggestions but mostly there is the recognition that others went through the same thing. All we can do is our best. That is greatly reassuring during these difficult emotional times. If you are a caregiver, this is a must read. - Delores Edwards

I'm honored to be among over 50 presenters in this summit who want to help make your caregiving journey easier. Click the image to learn more:

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Reminiscing Can Be a Powerful Drug for People Living with Dementia

FatherSonthnkstockMany people around the country are now recording or even videotaping their elders as they tell stories about their past. This works for some. However, you need to know your loved ones. Not everyone wants to be on stage, so to speak, and preparing to record, even discretely, could take the spontaneity and fun out of the experience for some. Others may love it.

My family would have been put off by a formal approach with a tape recorder. For them, the stories were a natural part of some one-on-one time when I could ask a question that may stimulate a memory. They also often talked about the past with each other, and if I was nearby I’d soak it in. I do admit to wishing I’d been taking notes because I know I’ve lost details. Yet I’m heartened by the new research that shows that the telling of the stories may have helped their cognition as much as their moods.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how to help your loved one by listening:

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Swallowing Impairment Needn't Signal the End of Great Eating

DianeWoffCreditCraigWorsham...This is where groundbreaker Diane Wolff’s company Essential Puree comes into play. HealthCentral discovered that Wolff provides recipe books (both ebook and paperback) that can prove invaluable to the cook who must switch to purees for their loved one.

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

An amazing book of stories that will touch your heart and encourage you, especially if you are a caregiver. Carol  Bradley Bursack also has an excellent website devoted to the elderly and their caregivers. - Carol Heilman 

I'm honored to be among over 50 presenters in this summit who want to help make your caregiving journey easier. Click the image to learn more:

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Hearing Aids Help Balance, Prevent Falls for Some Older People

HearingaidAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over 65. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable. The CDC suggests these steps as a start:

Read full article on HealthCentral about how hearing aids can help prevent falls:

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

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