« January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

Use of atypical antipsychotics for dementia patients declines according to study

Nearly fifteen years ago, a surgeon inserted a shunt into my dad’s brain to drain fluid that was building up behind scar tissue left from a World War II brain injury. This type of surgery is fairly safe and effective, if any brain surgery falls into that category. However, for Dad, something went wrong. He came out of surgery with severe dementia. Read more →

Should We Take a Person with Severe Dementia to the Funeral of a Loved one?

A common and heart-breaking question I receive in forums and in e-mail notes is, "Should I take my parent to their spouse's funeral?" When someone is in the later stages of dementia and there seems to be no real memory left, people often feel that to take the person to the funeral of a spouse or other loved one may be at best, a waste of time, and at worst, cruel. Read more →

End-of-life decisions never easy

Dear Carol: My mother is 94 and has stage seven Alzheimer’s disease. She recognizes no one and for the most part simply dozes. Her doctor has diagnosed her with pneumonia, for the third time in a year. He said antibiotics may bring her out of it, but he seems to feel that the time has come to let her go. Read more →

Heart health: what’s good for the heart is good for the brain

February is Healthy Heart month, which, considering Valentine's Day is February 14th, is fitting. The most wonderful Valentine's Day gift we can receive from someone we love is that they stay healthy and vibrant. That also means that the most valuable Valentine's Day gift we can give our loved ones is to keep ourselves healthy. Read more →

Depression, mental illness and Alzheimer’s still carry stigma

People who have depression, dementia and other illnesses that affect the brain still suffer from social stigma. We, as a population, like to think that we are more enlightened than this, but most of us don’t need to follow a study to see this sigma in action. Read more →

“Ten Glorious Seconds” tender and real

Many of us who have loved someone with dementia have experienced what I call “moments of clarity,” during which the person who seems lost to dementia suddenly “comes back,” if only for a few seconds. I experienced several of these episodes with my dad, who had dementia due to a failed brain surgery, and they remain some of my most precious memories. Read more →

“Families on the Brink” and Eldercarelink.com: talking with our elders about choices

Since the oldest baby boomers started turning 65, we’ve had a blizzard of newspaper articles and TV shows about what is popularly called the “Silver Tsunami.” These news features seem to lean in one of two directions – that of improving our own health, if we are in the older group of boomers, or that of “what to do about our aging parents,” if we are belong to the younger group of boomers. Read more →

Grief and Relief Mix of Emotions After a Death Can Foster Guilt

When a family member has witnessed a long, slow decline in a spouse or elder prior to the elder's death, the death often brings mixed emotions. While grief is expected, relief that ordeal is over often is a surprise. This feeling of relief is something many people are afraid to make known to others, as they feel guilty having such feelings. Read more →

CMS “Ask Medicare” site helpful

Is this (fill in the blank) covered by Medicare? Questions about Medicare coverage come my way daily. Generally, the question is about in-home agency care, assisted living or nursing home care. I can give people a general idea of what Medicare may or may not cover, but Medicare, and Medicaid coverage depends on many variables, sometimes including what state you live in. Read more →