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Alzheimer's: Is Forgetfulness the First Sign?

Fatherson10Millions of aging boomers wonder if their memory lapses are the result of normal aging or a sign that they are developing Alzheimer’s. There’s some basis for the worry. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million people in the U.S. are living with it. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.

While these statistics are scary, you shouldn’t let them cloud the reality that many of us will age normally and will not develop AD, or any other type of dementia. Certainly, we will have some memory changes as we age. Improvements in our lifestyle may help mitigate some of those. Other changes we’ll just have to live with. So what is normal memory loss and when should we worry?

Read full article on HealthCentral about the first signs of Alzheimer's and how memory figures in:

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Mid-life Exercise: Being Vigilant May Have Beneficial Effects on Brain Later in Life

Exercise10Once you’ve reached your 70s, will you look back and thank your middle-aged self for spending another hour each day on social media rather than jogging around your neighborhood? According to new research, the answer is no: you’re more likely to wish that you’d had more self-discipline. A long-term study of more than 3,000 twins by researchers at the University of Helsinki found that midlife, moderately vigorous physical activity is associated with better cognition as we reach old age.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how mid-life exercise can help your brain when you are older:

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


Folic Acid May Aid Elders During Heat Waves

FanHeatThe type of heat exhaustion or mild dehydration that a middle aged caregiver may feel during a heat wave is uncomfortable, but the same occurrence could be deadly for an elder. Because of the seriousness of overheating, some older people take a prescription drug that helps increase blood flow to the skin which in turn helps them cool off. Recently, Penn State researchers published information suggesting that folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, may be an inexpensive alternative for prescription drugs for the elderly during heat waves. Folic acid also increases skin blood flow and has been shown to reduce cardiovascular events, as well.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how folic acid may help your elder stay safe in extreme heat:

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Faith Helps Many Caregivers Relieve Stress According to Study

Prayer3Caregiving can mean that nothing seems to change as we go about our daily routines, endlessly keeping tabs on all that must be done for our vulnerable loved ones, yet knowing that the next moment a life threatening, or at least quality of life threatening, incident can occur at any minute. This combination of unchanging daily routine all the while staying in a fight or flight mode because of a possible crisis situation can be exhausting. The only way I have ever coped with these issues is through my faith—I am never alone. My deeply held sense of spirituality has given me relief from the endless routines of caregiving as well as life-changing crises. Somehow, my core belief has helped me as a caregiver.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how faith can help caregivers relieve stress:

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Tai Chi Reduces Falls and Improves Brain Function In Elders

TaiChi2The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over 65. I can attest to that since frequent falls - as in nearly daily - were partly responsible for the final decision that my mother and I jointly made for her to join my dad in a nearby nursing home. I doubt that I could have talked my mother into learning tai chi. However, I have been doing my own rather modified version of yoga and a regular session of meditation for decades and am considering learning tai chi so to help maintain my sense of balance as I age.

Read complete article on HealthCentral about how Tai Chi helps us age well:

A Virtual Conference to Help You Thrive As a Caregiver – Check this out!

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


Group Activities Reduce Depression among Older Population

GroupWhen our elders are suffering from physical pain, mental stress, loneliness or the effects of ageism in our society, the result can be depression. Research done at Sweden’s Umeå University and reported on by Medical News Today finds that when group activities were introduced into the elders’ environments, depressive symptoms were often improved and the need for medication reduced or eliminated. Two separate programs were used for the research. One was a group high-intensity functional exercise program and the other was a non-exercise group activity. They were conducted with people in an elder care facility, all of whom had dementia.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how group activities can help reduce depression in older people:

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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


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


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.
 

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

“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

 

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