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The Many Faces of Dementia: Knowing the Symptoms

FacialExpressionsDementia is not a single disease. It’s a non-specific syndrome that affects cognitive areas of the brain that control memory, language, attention and problem solving. To be considered dementia, the problems must be severe enough to affect daily living. Because Alzheimer’s is responsible for 50 to 60 percent of dementia cases, it’s the most broadly recognized form. However, there are up to 50 different known versions of dementia. Dementia symptoms can include changes in personality, mood and behavior. While some cases, such as dementia caused by medications, infections, hormone imbalances, vitamin deficiencies and alcohol and drug abuse can be cured, most cases cannot.

Read more on HealthCentral about the many ways that dementia can present itself:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

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

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Steps to Take When Planning for Future Caregiving

ComputerElderDear Carol:  I’m an only surviving adult child. My parents, who are in their late 70s, have been healthy and active all of their lives. They have no trouble keeping track of their medications. They haven’t fallen and don’t have memory problems beyond what you’d expect with age. Even then, as I see the years pass I know that one day I’ll be a caregiver in that I’ll be making decisions for them.  How do I prepare? Gerald

Read more on Inforum about how to prepare for helping your parents:

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

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


Surprising Changes that May Indicate Dementia

BrainWhen the average person thinks of dementia, generally Alzheimer’s disease comes to mind, and when people think of Alzheimer’s they think of memory loss. Both of these conclusions are understandable since Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and memory issues are often the first symptom of that disease. Surprising then, to many people, is the fact that there may be more subtle indicators of potential Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia than memory lapses. If we feel that dementia may be in our future or that of our loved one, what other indications of cognitive change should we watch for?

Read more on HealthCentral about subtle signs of potential dementia:

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

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


Having the End-Of-Life Talk with Our Elders

ElderTalkFew of us like to consider the fact that our parents will die. However they will. Nothing will change that fact. Good medical care, solid healthful habits, a pleasant social life – all of these may extend our years, but in the end, we will die. With this in mind, it is to everyone's advantage to discuss the details at as early a stage as possible. As I told my kids when I had my own legal papers drawn up, "Let's do all of this and then get on with the business of living." We did just that, and while my sons didn't find the prospect of my death fun to talk about, they dutifully listened to what I had drawn up and where I keep my papers. Whether it is the adult children or the parents who don't want to have the talk, this is something that needs to be done.

Read more on Agingcare about having the end-of-life talk:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

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


Specialized Music Therapy for Alzheimer's and Other Types of Dementia

ReverieHarpCredit...Fridays at the nursing home were very popular. Regular music groups would come by at the week’s end to play old favorites for the residents, always filling the room with cheer. My dad, who had dementia caused by failed surgery, loved the live music but also responded well to CDs of his favorites from the big band era. I know that his quality of life during his last ten years would have been diminished without music to help override the effects of dementia.

Read more on Agingcare about specialized music therapy for people with dementia:

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

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

Harp Image Amazon.com


Getting Over the Guilt of Placing a Loved One in a Home

AnxietyFor many caregivers, placing an elder in a home spells failure on the part of the caregiver. Even when carers know they've done all they can, a subconscious nagging voice often tells them they are giving up on their parents or spouse. I'm here to tell you that you are not giving up. You are just getting help. 

Read more on HealhtCentral about getting over the guilt of placing a loved one in a home:

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

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


Group Singing Offers Multiple Benefits for People with Dementia

Piano...Why would we be surprised? People with dementia are not less intelligent after they develop the disease than they were before. They aren’t less talented. They aren’t less in any way except that portions of their brains are being damaged so that they can’t always function well in the world as we know it. Anything that can level the playing field for people with dementia is bound to give them joy and renewed confidence.

Read more on HealthCentral about the benefits of group singing for people with dementia:

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

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


Allow for Natural Grieving Process and Adjustment after Stroke

Comfort3Dear Carol: My widowed dad has never been a social person but since his stroke two months ago he’s gotten worse. The stroke affected his left arm and hand the most. Since he’s left-handed this makes the situation hard. He’s rather clumsy while eating or just trying to do many small things which I think works into his not wanting to be out in public. Still, I think not socializing is bad for him. In my opinion, he has to face up to his new limitations by going out and interacting with people. His walking is okay, if a little slow, so he could go out if he wanted to. I try to find things for him to do, but he’s being stubborn. If not that, then maybe he’s depressed. How do I get him to do more?  Darlene

Read more on Inforum about coping after a stroke:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

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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Glaucoma Awareness Month: You Could Have Glaucoma and Not Know It

GlaucomaBelow is an important article from the NIH about your site or your loved one's site. This is vital information for all of us, but especially those with a family history of the disease. - Carol

As you plan for a healthier 2016, why not add this sight-saving exercise to your list of resolutions: Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam. It’s the only way to find out for sure whether you have glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in America. 


An eye disease that can rob you of your vision, glaucoma often comes with no early warning. No pain. No discomfort. No blurry vision. Nearly 3 million people have glaucoma, yet half don’t know they have it.

Glaucoma starts with a buildup of fluid that increases the pressure in your eye and can cause damage to the optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers that transfers visual images to your brain. Glaucoma first affects your peripheral, or side, vision. As the disease advances, more noticeable vision loss will occur, and if not controlled, the disease can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness.

You can take action to protect yourself from glaucoma.

“If glaucoma is detected in its early stages, pressure can be
controlled through medication or surgery, and the progression
of the disease can be delayed,” says Dr. Paul Sieving, director
of the National Eye Institute (NEI). “Early detection by having a
comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years is key
to protecting vision, especially if you are at higher risk.”

Are you at higher risk for glaucoma? You could be if you:

  • Are African American and age 40 or older
  • Are over age 60, especially if you are Hispanic/Latino
  • Have a family history of the disease

Everyone at higher risk should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam, which is different from the basic eye exam for glasses. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a procedure in which an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupil and looks at the optic nerve for signs of the disease.

This year, make a resolution for healthier vision. Make sure your eyes are healthy and you are seeing your best in 2016. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam and encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. 

To learn more about glaucoma, view this animated video. For tips on finding an eye care professional and for information on financial assistance, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma or call NEI at 301–496–5248.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and address the special needs of people with vision loss. For more information, visit www.nei.nih.gov.


Elders’ Need To Control Part of Coping With Loss

FamilyDear Carol: I try to be understanding with my aging parents but sometimes the little things get to me. They are still in their condominium. They go to church, watch TV, and see friends occasionally. My sister and I stop in at least twice a week, on different days. When I’m there, my mother wants me to do the laundry, which I’m happy to do, but I have to do everything the way she always has. My sister does some light cleaning and my mother supervises every move. Dad has clocks everywhere and he and mom both wear watches. If a battery dies on his watch, Dad is upset until we replace it. Really upset. A new watch won’t work either, so we have to keep this one going. I know that these are little things, but can’t they loosen up a little? We’re trying to help, but they micromanage everything. Michelle

Read more on Inforum about elders' need to control:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

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