There are a number of clinical issues involved in treating seniors with new and lifelong mental illnesses. A loved one may develop one of these conditions as they age, or they may have received a diagnosis long ago and remained stable on the same psychiatric medication for decades. In the latter case, however, their treatment plan may need to be adjusted as their body processes these drugs differently, new conditions develop and other medications are added to the mix.
Caregivers often grieve while watching their aging or ill loved ones push away food because of digestive issues or a lack of appetite. We know that they need nutrition and calories in order to maintain and improve their health, but how do we make this happen when they don’t want to eat?
For most seniors, moving from their home of many years into an assisted living facility is difficult. For some, it's nearly paralyzing. Even if they are moving to a very nice assisted living environment, the move will likely mean a significant loss of space, especially if they are leaving a house. Downsizing – the term often used for weaning ourselves from long-time possessions – can be hard for anyone. When it's more or less forced upon someone because of age or infirmity, the process becomes even tougher.
When we think of Alzheimer’s symptoms we think of memory loss, yet this is not necessarily the case with younger onset Alzheimer's. Younger onset Alzheimer’s may present symptoms such as poor judgement and skewed thinking patterns before memory loss becomes evident. Researchers at University College London (UCL) studied 7,815 people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The point of the study was to determine if symptoms differed according to age of onset.
...The question that travels hand in hand with these studies is who should start these drugs if they do prove to be effective? It’s not prudent to simply give the drugs to the whole aging population.We may soon have an answer to that question. A study that shows differences in biological aging vs. chronological aging could help us find a way to differentiate between those for whom early treatment should be considered and those who aren’t likely to require the drugs.
Dear Carol: My dad has been in a nursing home for several years and, for the most part, we’re happy with the care. A problem occurred lately, though, where I’d like your thoughts. Dad has been on a medication for mental illness for years. We’re aware that this medication has side effects but we also know how miserable he is without it. Anyway, the dosage of this medication was lowered and we weren’t told. I found out about the change because of Dad’s behavior. I asked the floor nurse and she told me that an order had come through to lower the dosage. I then checked with the doctor who said he hadn’t lowered the dosage but that there was an order on Dad’s records for the change. In the end, we got the medication reinstated at the proper dose and Dad is improving. The staff knows that I have the medical Power Of Attorney for Dad's health. Am I wrong about thinking that I should have been told? KB
Alzheimer’s organizations, as well as the National Institutes of Health, have provided us with an abundance of statistics highlighting the financial effect of Alzheimer’s disease on the family of someone with the disease. A person who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be expected to live with the disease anywhere from six to 20 years. For many of those years, the person with Alzheimer’s will likely require paid outside help, and the cost of that help can be financially devastating.
Studies show that many diseases affect ethnic groups differently, with a larger percentage of some groups than others expected to develop these diseases over time. Recently, the first ever study to expand its research with dementia, particularly Alzheimer's, beyond the Black and Caucasian communities has published data that should make us all pay attention.
Dear Carol: My mother has had diabetes for years and now her health has been complicated by dementia. I cared for her in my home for three years but apparently couldn’t do anything right. That wasn’t new, since her personality is such that even when she was fairly healthy, nothing anyone did was ever right. She’s now in a nursing home. The staff is excellent and I visit her nearly every day but she’s still complaining. This makes me feel even guiltier than I felt when she was at home complaining. It’s as if moving her to the nursing home makes me a bad person. I know that I did what had to be done, but going forward is hard. How do I start? ELB
According to new research, the long-held theory that diabetes may cause Alzheimer’s could prove to be the reverse, at least in some cases. Scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai published, in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, their study results that suggest that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) impairs insulin signaling in the area of the brain that is responsible for regulating metabolism. This, in turn, makes a person with Alzheimer’s disease more susceptible to diabetes. Until now, an abundance of studies, including one that lasted nine years, concluded that diabetes significantly increased a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, while avoiding diabetes or keeping it under control lowered one’s risk.