...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.
Dear Carol: My husband and I are both in our late seventies. There have been a few times when my husband has left the stove top burner on and sometimes he leaves water running after he leaves a room. Maybe it’s more because of distraction than forgetfulness, since I know that I’ve done similar things, but how do we tell? He seems to remember names and other details as well as anyone our age. When I mention my worries to my husband he gets defensive and reminds me of small things that I’ve forgotten. I’ve read the list of possible Alzheimer’s issues online, but that didn’t help much. How do older people decide if they need to be checked out for dementia? Linda
Adult children often worry about their aging parents’ eating habits. Sometimes the elders live alone and don’t feel like cooking or even going out to buy groceries. They may have pain issues that keep them from enjoying food, or dentures that make chewing uncomfortable. Depression can be a factor for some people, as can medication side effects. Loneliness, especially for people who have lost a spouse to a nursing home or death, can make eating seem unimportant or unattractive.
For years the Alzheimer's Association has made good use of the catch phrase "what's good for the heart is good for the brain." As additional research is conducted in both areas, that simple phrase is proving to be solid thinking.The startling admission of notable researchers who attended the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen that a healthy lifestyle is, at this point, the best hope that we have to prevent or delay Alzheimer's symptoms underscores this concept. Not surprisingly, the lifestyle recommended for preventing Alzheimer’s disease is also the lifestyle that is recommended for staving off heart attacks and stroke.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. What better time is there to become educated about how to help people who have dementia live a better quality of life, help their caregivers with support and resources, and teach others about the many types of dementia and other brain diseases that can occur? Steps have been taken but there is much more to do.