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Study shows stress hormones likely increase Alzheimer’s risk

If we’re alive, we are coping with a significant amount of stress. Yet stress hormones have been shown to have a negative effect on our health. Now, the recent article, "Stress may increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease: Stress hormones lead to Alzheimer-like protein modifications Read more →

FDA gives approval for more research into deep brain stimulation for Alzheimer’s

There’s good news on several fronts involving the promise of deep brain stimulation as a way to halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease and improve memory. It’s done by implanting electrodes that send pulses of electricity into the brain's memory system delivering small, rhythmic shocks. Read more →

Daughter asks, “When should we call hospice?”

Dear Carol: My 87-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s disease. She came down with shingles a few weeks ago, which is being treated, but she’s still in terrible pain. She also has COPD and diabetes. Since the shingles attack, she has gotten very weak and just wants to sleep. She only eats if we feed her, and then she has to be coaxed to eat even a small amount. The family has been taking turns staying with her, but she mainly wants to sleep. Should we call hospice? When do people decide it’s the right time to call? Does the doctor contact hospice or do we? Her doctor hasn’t mentioned hospice, but he says she likely will continue to get weaker. -Melanie Read more →

Transportation for elders can ease driving transition

Most of us with aging relatives will eventually face the “how do we stop them from driving” problem. To many people, driving a car equals independence. One reason for that is the lack of convenient public transportation in much of our country. Very large American cities such as New York, plus most of Europe’s large cities, generally have good public transportation, so people who don’t drive aren’t stranded. But across the country, accessible public transportation for elders is hard to come by. Read more →

Having the end-of-life discussion with your parents: how to begin?

I've found in my experience that it isn't always the elders who shy away from end-of-life talks. Some do, of course, but many would like to discuss the arrangements they've made for finances, as well as their opinions about what measures they would want taken if they needed someone to make their decisions if they can't, however the adult children often find excuses to put off that particular "talk." Read more →

Incontinence is a difficult situation for both elders and their caregivers: some tips

Incontinence can be an embarrassing problem for an elder, thus making coping with it emotional and sometimes a battlefield between generations. Some elders deny their incontinence and refuse to wear briefs to protect their clothing and furniture from accidents. This often leads to very frustrated adult children who can’t understand why their parent is so stubborn on this issue. Read more →

The challenge of caring for multiple elders with different needs

Many people are trying to care for two or more elders in varying locations, with each elder needing significant care. It's a situation that I know well. During my busiest eldercare years, I was the primary caregiver for five elders in three different living situations. I continually struggled to compassionately and efficiently divide my time in a way the best covered their needs. Read more →

How do adult children cope with "nursing home guilt"?

Of course, we don't always make the right call regarding every circumstance. But we do our best. I'd hazard a guess that the most painful decision for most of us to make is whether or not it's in our loved one's best interests to place him or her in a nursing home. If it is also in our best interest, then the guilt looms even larger. Read more →

Convincing an incontinent elder to wear protection can be challenging

Our parents changed our diapers when we were babies. As we grew into toddlers we were “potty trained,” and from that time on we were expected to control our bodily functions. Is it any wonder that elders who have been rendered incontinent by a medical problem or disease often deny their incontinence and refuse, even in the face of evidence, to wear protection? They equate incontinence protection with diapers and diapers with babies. They feel humiliated. Read more →

What are the stages of Alzheimer’s and how long do people live?

Dear Carol: My mother was diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease last fall. The doctor prescribed Aricept for her, but she refuses to take it. We give her a regular vitamin pill, but I’m wondering if there are any special vitamins she should take, and also if “brain game” activities really help. I’d also like to know what stages we should watch for and how long people can live with Alzheimer’s. - Karen Read more →