Depression in the elderly is not unusual, and can be brought on by any number of factors, ranging from physical issues or cognitive issues to life events. Spouses, adult children, and friends can take steps to help. These steps include:
View slide show in HealthCentral about depression in elders:
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems have found evidence that long-term testing starting well before any signs of Alzheimer’s symptoms are evident could be a valuable tool in detecting which people will need intervention with therapeutic drugs that are now in clinical trials. This type of intervention could possibly halt or even reverse cognitive damage while the patient is still symptom-free. The long-term testing would be done in conjunction with brain scans.
Dear Carol: My father-in-law has had two strokes. Even though doctors have cleared his health he seems insecure on his own so we moved him in with us. We have a great setup since our kids have left home so he has a nice area all to himself. What’s happened, though, is that the easy back and forth we’d planned on has turned into Dad being my shadow. I love him and am glad to have him join us for meals and for many evenings, but my husband and I have no time alone. My husband won’t say anything for fear of upsetting Dad. I’ve gently suggested to Dad that he may want to watch different programs on his TV than those we watch. I’ve also tried to help him find ways to amuse himself at least a couple of evenings a week but he isn't interested. This situation is grating on me and I’m afraid I’ll start resenting Dad. Am I selfish? DV
Fear and anxiety are two disturbing symptoms exhibited by many people with Alzheimer’s disease. These symptoms are completely understandable, considering the fact that people with dementia are often confused about their surroundings. Confusion that won’t go away leads to fear and fearful people tend to be anxious. This need to calm anxiety and feel safe can lead people with Alzheimer’s to a behavior called shadowing.
...There are countless products on the market right now to help improve gut health and immune function, but do any of these actually work? Which options are best for a senior’s unique issues? I contacted Woodson Merrell, MD, ScD (hc), to get some answers on how to maintain gut health as we age.
Who doesn’t know someone – or a lot of people – who informally use music for therapy? A friend of mine has a plaque on his kitchen wall near where his daughter who has severe disabilities often sits to use her switch activated devices and toys. The plaque is homey and simple but the words are powerful. It reads: Where Words Fail Music Speaks. My friend discovered years ago that playing his guitar for his daughter could connect them on a very basic level as well as bring both of them joy.
Most people are aware that transition to facility care may be hard on elders but many don’t realize that it can be hard on caregivers, too. We’ve tried our best but our best is no longer enough. Irrational as it may seem to others, at this stage we may feel like we’ve failed.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a collection of cells and cellular components that line the walls of blood vessels in the brain. This barrier is an important part of brain health because it separates the brain from circulating blood. A study led by Walter H. Backes, Ph.D., a professor in medical physics at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, has found that the blood-brain barrier was leakier in a group of people with Alzheimer's disease than in those without the disease.
Dear Carol: My family is having a serious disagreement over signing papers for our mom who has just entered a nursing home. I have Power Of Attorney and am favor of signing a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form for Mom. She has always told us she didn’t want to linger when her time came. While she is going into the nursing home for physical, she is showing some signs of early stage dementia so it’s important that we get this done. My brother and sister both think that a DNR is cruel and that it’s like killing Mom. They think that everything should be done to keep her alive as long as possible. Her POA even states that she doesn’t want to be kept alive at all cost. Because of this, I think I can push through the DNR, but I feel bad because my siblings are upset. I know that they don’t want to see Mom suffer unnecessarily but they feel guilty taking this formal step. How do I get through to them that there’s a point where people allowed to go? CD
Whether you’re caring for someone with dementia or visiting them from time to time you’ll want to do your best to make them feel good. No one will ever hit the right note every time but knowledge helps. With that in mind, here are a few pitfalls that you can avoid in order to help make your time with a friend or loved one who has dementia less stressful.