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Alzheimer's Apathy Preventable with Stimulation

Fatherson4smallLack of enjoyable, stimulating activity can lead to apathy for anyone but particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease. According to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), apathy is one of the most common neurobehavioral symptoms in dementia. Strong, focused stimulation can help people with Alzheimer’s disease overcome apathy. People with mild dementia will decline more quickly into severe dementia if they also suffer from apathy, therefore engaging, stimulating activities are especially vital to this group.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how stimulating activity can help offset common apathy in those living with Alzheimer's:

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Pride and Fear May Explain Elder's Refusal to Use Physical Aids

WalkerAideDear Carol: My mom loves to shop, attend church, see local theater, and go to park events. We’ve done these things together for years. What’s changed is that Mom had a stroke last year. She recovered well, but she is unsteady on her feet when conditions aren’t perfect. She’s supposed to use a walker for balance, at least when she goes out of the house, but she refuses. I’m always nervous that she will fall, so I want her to hold onto me, but she hates that. I’ve begged and I’ve nagged, but I don’t get anywhere. How can I convince my stubborn mother to cooperate? – MC

Read full column on Inforum about seemingly stubborn elders and their walkers:

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Driving and Memory Loss: Tips to Help Compromised Elders Give Up Driving

Driving2For many of us, a car is a sign of independence. But this emotional connection to our automobiles is part of what makes convincing a person that he or she is no longer capable of driving such a volatile battle. The longer adult children or others wait to discuss driving issues with a loved one, the harder it can be.

Occasionally, people in the earlier stages of cognitive or physical decline will recognize the signs of that decline when they have a close call while driving and scare themselves into giving up their right to drive. More frequently, if the person has developed Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, and the disease has advanced to a point where judgment is affected, a prolonged battle often erupts.

Read full article on HealthCentral to learn tips about how to help your compromised loved one stop driving:

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6 Potentially Reversible Conditions That Can Mimic Dementia

ComfortingWhen dementia symptoms appear it’s natural to fear that the person affected has an incurable form of dementia. Rather than reacting with panic, however, it’s far better to try to remain calm and have a specialist make the determination. Many forms of dementia are incurable, of course, but other conditions can present symptoms that resemble those of dementia but are in fact reversible.
 

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Hospice Care: Help During End Stages of Life

ComfortNo one needs to die in pain. That is what the social worker told me as I signed the papers that would put my father on hospice care. That is the mantra of hospice, and it became my mantra as well. I had no choice but to believe it since my dad had suffered so much. For weeks, each time I walked into Dad's room in the nursing home, he would be rigid in bed, up on one elbow and slamming his fist against his hand. Pow! Pow! Pow! Over and over, he pounded fist against hand. I would try to get him to relax; to lie back. He couldn't comprehend. Pow! Pow! Pow! He was trying to knock out the pain.

Read full article on AgingCare about how hospice can help your loved one through the death process:

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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


Broken Heart Syndrome Hastens Death of Some Spouses

HeartDear Carol: I read one of your articles which said that you had lost both your parents in quick succession so I identify with you. I live in the UK. In early March, I lost my father, aged 92.  He didn't want anyone with him when he passed away. Then, exactly two months later, my mother, aged 88, passed away at home. She waited until I was holding her hand, then she squeezed my hand, slightly opened her eyes to look at me, and peacefully passed on. Mum and I had talked about the future and I told her I would always live near her, or with her, if she preferred. She had seemed fine, but shortly after Daddy's death, she was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Mum passed away within three days of leaving the hospital. I was able to tell her how much I loved her, but then I had to let her go. I just wondered how quickly your Mum passed away after your father, and if you believe that your mum didn't want to go on without her husband. Thank you for reading this. – Meghan

Read full column on Inforum about broken heart syndrome:

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“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


Gene Therapy Delivered by Modified Virus Provides Hope for Alzheimer's Cure

BRain15...In continuing efforts to find a genetic route to cure Alzheimer’s, the findings of one study could revolutionize the numbers given above. This study involves a treatment that delivers a modified virus to a gene in the brain that could wipe out the damage being done by developing Alzheimer’s before any symptoms occur. The virus, which is called a lentivirus vector, is already used in gene therapy. Researchers from Imperial College London, have shown how using this modified virus to deliver a gene, known as PGC1-alpha, to the brain cells of mice destroys the progression of AD.

Read full article on HealthCentral a virus that may help the AD fight before symptoms show:

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Care or Cure: Where Should Alzheimer's Funding Go?

ResearcherWhen you hear the next plea for increased Alzheimer’s funding – and you’ll hear a lot of it during the upcoming Alzheimer’s Awareness months, both global and national – your first thought will likely be that the money should go into to find a cure. However, people who already have the disease, as well as those who care for them, may disagree. A recent survey showed that these people feel that more financial resources should be dedicated to helping them live life with some quality. Funding research is fine, but that will only help people years in the future. They need help now.

Read full article on HealthCentral about the controversy when it comes to funding Alzheimer's:

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Fitness Is a Vital Part of Aging Well: An Interview with Dr. Drapkin

BicyclingHow vital is fitness to aging well? Very. A recent study of participants in the 2015 National Senior Games, also known as the Senior Olympics, revealed that the typical participant had a fitness age of more than 20 years younger than his or her chronological age. According to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, fitness age is determined by a measure of cardiovascular endurance and is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age.

I asked Robert Drapkin, MD FACP, to help us understand the importance of physical activity to those of us who simply want to remain healthy. Dr. Drapkin is a former Instructor in Medicine, University of Illinois Hospital, Chicago, and a Memorial Sloan-Kettering trained Medical Oncologist. He’s Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, and Palliative Care and a competitive body builder, as well.

Read full article on Healthcentral about the science behind aging well:

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Dementia: Moving Beyond Diagnosis toward Living with the Disease

Hands-touching-10035106For most anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia, or has loved someone with a type of dementia, the formal diagnosis was a moment frozen in time. A moment where the thought of possibly having a brain-destroying disease became a confirmed reality. That pivotal moment is life changing, however, people can move beyond that moment in time and learn to live with dementia.

For our family, that moment arrived after my dad came out of a surgery that was supposed to repair damage caused by a World War II brain injury. We had seen Dad wheeled into surgery. He’d propped himself up on one elbow and given us a signal that all would be well. That hand sign was accompanied by his signature smile.

Read full article on HealthCentral about living with dementia after the diagnosis:

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