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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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The Challenge of Overcoming Denial to Seek Potential Dementia Diagnosis

Fog4One reason for this intense fear of Alzheimer's is obvious. While many types of cancer can be cured, most types of dementia cannot. However, another reason is that the idea of being betrayed by our brains to the point that we are essentially lost in the disease is abhorrent to most of us. This fear, unfortunately, tends to make many people less than willing to see a physician for dementia testing even when they are showing signs that point to the illness. People don’t want to hear that they have dementia.

Read more on HealthCentral about overcoming denial:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling 

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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


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


Mounting Evidence Shows Chronic Stress Increases Alzheimer's Risk

Stress_man_hand_238162The idea of chronic stress as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease isn’t new. In 2011, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich discovered that the increased release of stress hormones in rats leads to generation of abnormally phosphorylated tau protein in the brain and ultimately, memory loss. Other studies also support this theory.  

Read more on HealthCentral about how stress affects our Alzheimer's risk:

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


Early Detection of Alzheimer’s May Curtail Symptoms for a Time

Fog9Since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this time, many people with some memory issues use that as an excuse to avoid seeing a diagnostician. They really don’t want to hear what they fear will be a diagnosis of AD. Given the stigma that still accompanies many brain diseases, that’s understandable. However, a recent study has shown that early detection and treatment can be beneficial by curtailing symptoms, or at least managing them more efficiently. 

Read more on HealthCentral about the benefits of early detection:

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


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.


Difficult choices Evolve Regarding When to Stop Treating Elders' Diseases

ComfortDear Carol: My beloved mother has suffered from health problems all of her life including lung disease, cancer and eventually dementia. She was hospitalized with pneumonia several times but always came out of it. At the age of 78, while in a nursing home, she again came down with pneumonia. She didn’t seem to be improving with antibiotics and the doctor and nurses all agreed that it was time to, as they say, let her go. I reluctantly agreed, but now that she’s gone I feel guilty. I know that people ask you this a lot. Now it’s my turn. I wonder if I should have pushed to get her into the hospital once more. Maybe they could have saved her. She was my best friend and I’m having trouble coping. Maggie

Read more on Inforum about how to cope with the hard decisions of end-of-life:

Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling

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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


Accepting Risks with Aging Parents Preserves Dignity

BicycleRisk...I know only too well that watching our parents get older is difficult. Ideally, they were once our anchors. No matter how difficult life became, there was comfort in knowing that our parents were around, even if they were half way across the country. Now, when we see their joints needing replacement, their skin wrinkling, perhaps even their memory recall slowing, we cringe. Whether or not we wish to admit it, we are afraid. We know that our parents are not immortal. One day we will be without them.Acknowledging our parents’ vulnerability is painful for us, and we want to protect them. This is a noble aspiration, but we need to move carefully and respectfully, always remembering that living life well often involves taking a few risks.

Read more on Agingcare about when to back off and let our elders live their lives:

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