Stress has long been considered a major risk for developing Alzheimer’s, but there hasn’t been any real understanding as to why this is so. Now, researchers at the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Florida think that they’ve come closer to discovering the connection.
Last year, I reviewed the first edition of "Wishes to Die For" for my newspaper column. The review can be read below. I was later asked to write the foreword for this second edition. It was an honor to do so because I still consider this the best book available for people who want to learn how to take control of living until they die. - Carol
“Code Blue!: A voice cries out in the Emergency Department. “Is there a doctor who can ‘tube’ a patient in Cardiac Cath Lab?”
These beginning lines of “Wishes To Die For: Expanding Upon Doing Less in Advanced Care Directives” by Kevin J. Haselhorst, MD prepare the reader for an adventure in self-examination...
It's a human tendency to get stuck in a rut as we carry out life's demands, and caregiving is no exception. With spring nearly upon us, it's a good time to take a fresh look at our caregiving lives to see if there are areas that need improvement or at least a fresh approach. Making pro and con lists of what is working and what is not working is an effective method of examining anything from budgets to weight loss. It can be just as effective for caregiving. Below I've provided a template for a hypothetical caregiver we'll call Ann. If you're up for a little self-reflection, Ann's list could help you jumpstart your own self-improvement project.
Many people are genetically predisposed to developing certain diseases, among them diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. It’s natural to worry if you’ve watched family members endure the illnesses. However, the cortisol released in your body by chronic stress, which can be caused by worry, could increase your susceptibility. The fix?
Photo credit:Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay
Nearly all of us involved with dementia care know that the use of anti-psychotics has had terrible effects on many of our loved ones. My dad's story is one that I won't go into here, but let it suffice to say that I know what these drugs can do. That's one reason that the "Birdsong Initiative" fascinates me.
The 24-week study was conducted among residents of the Hoy Nursing Care Center by the non-profit life plan community Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay in conjunction with Eastern Virginia Medical School and Virginia Wesleyan College. During the study, 31 Hoy Center residents whose dementia makes it difficult to participate in social activities used computers to regularly access enriching content customized to their personal interests and cognitive ability. The touchscreen technology is designed to be easy for seniors and offers Skype, social networking and a spectrum of content. It was developed by Colorado-based It’s Never 2 Late and is referred to as iN2L.
Hospice care is palliative care, but palliative care is not hospice. The difference between these two types of care is something that I have found difficult to clarify myself let alone explain to others. However, this care is a fundamental part of treating any chronic or terminal illness.
With that in mind, I contacted Kimberly Angelia Curseen, M.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at Emory School of Medicine and Director of Outpatient Supportive/Palliative Care Clinic Emory Healthcare. Dr. Curseen has a passion for palliative care and was happy to clarify this important type of medical care that seems to pass under the radar.
According to an AARP survey, the vast majority of boomers have stated that they want to stay in their current homes rather than move to another setting for their later years. This attitude has been the springboard for many aging in place advocates as well as businesses like contractors and high tech companies. It’s not hard to understand why 60-year-olds would say that they want to remain in their home for life rather than move to assisted living or a nursing home. These are generally people who are relatively healthy and feel that they can hire help for whatever they need down the road.
It’s far too easy for onlookers to view someone with dementia as unable to feel pain. Since the disease eventually renders most people helpless and cognitively inexpressive, they can't articulate what hurts or why they are upset. Caring researchers have now brought new insight to this issue. In an article on altered pain processing in patients with cognitive impairment, Medical News Today states that new research shows how wrong previous ideas about what people with cognitive disorders could feel have been.
Caregivers to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia often have the unsettling, frustrating challenge of trying to quiet an agitated and possibly aggressive elder who is unable to communicate the source of his or her distress. We know that the behavior is an expression of discomfort either of body or mind, yet we are left trying to comfort our loved ones with few clues as to the root problem. Even experienced clinicians are often baffled.
Dear Carol: My wife has Parkinson's disease along with mixed dementia. She's still home with me but it's getting to be a challenge. The hardest part is preventing falls. She uses a walker. I settle her into her electric recliner and tell her to let me know when she wants to get up but she'll still try to stand alone. She can work the chair to sit upright and then she pulls herself up by one end of her walker which often tips to the side. She also will get out of bed without waiting for me to help. So far she hasn't hurt herself when she's fallen, but it's only a matter of time. She gets very upset over any type of restraining device. I don't know what to do.—Sam