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Dear Carol: My mother has had bipolar disorder for most of her life, though medications have helped her stay fairly balanced. She also has diabetes and severe breathing problems so she’s recently entered a nursing home. Mom knew that the move was necessary for her safety and started out quite happy. The staff is great and the home offers a lot of activities for when she’s felt up to it. Lately, though, she’s been so lethargic that I’ve inquired about her medications. It seems that the doctor, who is a geriatrician, has changed them significantly. I realize that Mom has a tricky combination of health problems that require medicating, but I’m wondering if they are purposely overmedicating Mom to make her easier to care for. I don’t like being suspicious, but I’ve read so much about this. What’s your take? - Rob Read more →

When dementia symptoms appear it’s natural to fear that the person affected has an incurable form of dementia. Rather than reacting with panic, however, it’s far better to try to remain calm and have a specialist make the determination. Many forms of dementia are incurable, of course, but other conditions can present symptoms that resemble those of dementia but are in fact reversible. Read more →

Summer is a time when it’s generally easier for elders to be out and about than when snow and ice are an issue. Even if our loved ones have dementia, severe arthritis, lung issues or a combination of ailments, there are things we, their caregivers, can do to relieve a sense of being left out of life that can affect people in their situation Read more →

Finding activities for people with dementia can be challenging. For example, my dad’s dementia was caused by failed surgery during his 70s. He was always interested in archaeology, science of any type, space exploration and a variety of human cultures. I focused his activities on those things he loved. The music of his youth was another priceless tool to help him get through the days. What activities or topic of interest would work for your loved one? Read more →

In my view, everyone over the age of 18 ought to have appropriate health care and financial documents that will assign a trusted person to speak for them should they, for whatever reason, be unable to speak for themselves. But most people wait until they’re well into middle age before taking care of this important legal work. For those who die young, or are disabled because of an unexpected event such as a car accident or ill-fated dive into an unfamiliar lake, it’s too late. Their families may have to fight in the courts and in hospital wards in order to carry through with the decisions that they believe this young person would have wanted them to make. Read more →

Loneliness as a dementia risk, particularly Alzheimer’s disease (AD), has long been considered solid science. It’s hard to quantify loneliness, as it’s not as simple as whether a person has opportunities to interact with others. Yet, the difficulty of defining loneliness has not kept researchers from studying its impact on health. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports study results showing that "After adjustment for other risk factors, older persons with feelings of loneliness were more likely to develop dementia” than people without such feelings. Read more →

“There is a great deal of focus today on nutrition and eating well,” says Kim English, BScN, MN, professor at the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing in Peterborough, Ontario. “We hear about no carb vs. whole carb, low fat vs. full fat, and ketogenic diets vs. paleo diets. However, what is often missing from this discussion is the necessity of vitamins in our body, particularly as we age.” Read more →

Dear Carol: My mother, who was in her early 80s, was doing well, except for arthritis and high blood pressure. Then she fell and broke her hip. After surgery, she seemed not just foggy but completely irrational. The doctor said that this wasn’t unusual for someone her age considering what she’d been through and that she’d get better. Mom spent several days in the hospital and was then moved to a nursing home to recover and receive physical therapy. The staff was terrific with Mom. When I asked them if Mom would recover mentally, they were non-committal. They didn’t want to say that she wouldn’t but they seemed less sure than the doctor. As the weeks went by she didn’t improve mentally, though she was doing fairly well physically. Then, five weeks after the surgery, she suddenly died. It’s hard to accept. How common is this? – Terri Read more →

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), older adults represent the majority of the visually impaired population, with visual impairment included among the 10 most prevalent causes of disability in the U.S. Read more →

...Now her parents are getting frail. Nancy had been through a lot of therapy so she could learn to cope with her childhood issues. She's come to terms with the fact that her father did what he thought he was supposed to do. She rightly felt, as a child, that he should recognize and stop the abuse her mother was doling out. Through therapy, she has learned to forgive her father for his lack of involvement and the fact that he didn't stop the abuse. Read more →