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July 2016
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September 2016

Dear Carol: Can illnesses like a bad cold, the flu, a urinary infection or other common ailment make someone with Alzheimer’s worse? My mother had been diagnosed to be in quite an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease but she still got along very well. She then developed a cold which was followed by a UTI and then pneumonia so we had to have her hospitalized. The whole experience was terrible. Mom’s physical issues were eventually taken care of by antibiotics and she seems alright physically, but she’s gotten much more confused and her short-term memory has deteriorated markedly. I’m wondering what caused this big change so quickly. The doctor said that since Alzheimer’s is progressive it’s hard to tell. He’s guiding us toward looking for a memory unit for Mom since she lives alone and I can’t quit my job to take care of her at home as progresses to the middle stages of the disease. This stage now seems much closer than a month ago before she got sick. Is this a common situation? STC Read more →


A few months ago, a gerontologist told us her story about how she coped as a family caregiver when her father developed swallowing problems (dysphagia). Considering the seriousness and frequency of these issues with aging adults, I felt that we needed further information from a specialist. I contacted speech-language pathologist Kathryn Kilpatrick who has spent four decades helping people cope with these issues. Read more →


....The question that travels hand in hand with these studies is who should start these drugs if they do prove to be effective? It’s not prudent to simply give the drugs to the whole aging population.We may soon have an answer to that question. A study that shows differences in biological aging vs. chronological aging could help us find a way to differentiate between those for whom early treatment should be considered and those who aren’t likely to require the drugs. Read more →


It’s been known for years that women are more at risk for Alzheimer’s disease than men. Now there’s even more evidence of gender differences. A new study has found that among those who've been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), women show a much faster rate of memory loss than men. Read more →


New research released at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference held in Toronto in late July suggested, among other things, that people who work closely with other people may be better able to withstand the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The data showed that a cognitively stimulating lifestyle may even counteract the negative cognitive effects of an unhealthy diet, which has been associated with memory and thinking declines in older adults. Read more →


Do brain games make a difference in staving off brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or are they just harmless fun? While studies have been all over the map on this issue during the last few years, lately they indicate that at least formal brain training may help, which indicates to me that well designed informal brain training would have at least some validity. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has this to say: Read more →


“Some people do not realize the extent of their stress and burnout, so they do not realize that they need to take action or look into things that can help them,” says Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania. “This puts those caregivers at greater risk for fatigue and depression and, ultimately, for being unable to continue their caregiving duties.” Read more →


Dear Carol: My dad has been in a nursing home for several years and, for the most part, we’re happy with the care. A problem occurred lately, though, where I’d like your thoughts. Dad has been on a medication for mental illness for years. We’re aware that this medication has side effects but we also know how miserable he is without it. Anyway, the dosage of this medication was lowered and we weren’t told. I found out about the change because of Dad’s behavior. I asked the floor nurse and she told me that an order had come through to lower the dosage. I then checked with the doctor who said he hadn’t lowered the dosage but that there was an order on Dad’s records for the change. In the end, we got the medication reinstated at the proper dose and Dad is improving. The staff knows that I have the medical Power Of Attorney for Dad's health. Am I wrong about thinking that I should have been told? KB Read more →


The type of heat exhaustion or mild dehydration that a middle aged caregiver may feel during a heat wave is uncomfortable, but the same occurrence could be deadly for an elder. Because of the seriousness of overheating, some older people take a prescription drug that helps increase blood flow to the skin which in turn helps them cool off. Read more →


One of the many clues that my mother-in-law was ready to move across the avenue from her condominium to a wonderful nursing home was her response one hot summer to an intense heat wave we had here in the Dakotas (yes it gets hot on the prairie). She would have every window shut tight and her fan and air conditioner turned off. No circulation. No cool air. Nothing but dead heat.I'd get the Ac and fan turned on - not too cool, but some air moving - before I left her from my daily visit. Sure enough, when I'd get back the next day her condo was like a hot tomb. Suffocating. Read more →