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Could life experience make up for some of the effects of age on the brain? According to researchers from the School of Business Administration at the University of California, Riverside, it can and does. The research group measured a person’s decision-making ability over their entire lifespan. Using two difference types of intelligence - fluid and crystallized - they found that experience and acquired knowledge from a lifetime of decision-making often offset the declining ability to learn new information. Fluid intelligence is the ability to learn and process new information. Crystallized intelligence is experience and accumulated knowledge. Read more →

Dementia 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 →

People with dementia, especially advanced dementia, often have a difficult time articulating pain. Sometimes they may not be cognitively aware that pain is the source of their distress. Therefore, it’s our responsibility, as those who provide for their care, to watch for signs of distress that may arise from pain. Read more →

Dear Carol: I’m a certified nursing assistant (CNA). My dad has been caring for my mom, who has severe lung disease as well as dementia, and he's worn out. We agreed that it would be a good idea for me to move in with my parents to help with Mom's care. Dad agreed to this arrangement because he knows that he needs help, but now that I’m here he won’t let me do anything for mom. I just want him to get some rest before he collapses, but he can’t seem to let go. He’s still up all night because Mom doesn’t sleep much, and he insists on providing nearly all of Mom’s daily care. I feel like he doesn’t trust me. What’s the solution? Terry Read more →

Whether you’re caring for someone with dementia or visiting them from time to time you’ll want to do your best to make them feel good. No one will ever hit the right note every time but knowledge helps. With that in mind, here are a few pitfalls that you can avoid in order to help make your time with a friend or loved one who has dementia less stressful. Read more →

Increasingly, stress is considered a risk factor for dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Stress is also a risk factor for stroke and heart attack as well as a trigger for many diseases from arthritis to psoriasis. Obviously, limiting stress in our lives is a good idea. But how? Simply living what we call modern life seems to make stress the norm. Read more →

...The whole procedure became so stressful that we made a mutual decision for me to care for her hair in her own home. I'll tell you upfront that I'm not good with hair. For the most part, I'm a minimalist. Alice had perms, but her hair still needed washing and a daily curling to arrange it nicely. Over time, and with lots of humor thrown in, I did learn a few things over the years. Read more →

...They may have pain issues that keep them from enjoying food, or dentures that make chewing uncomfortable. Depression can be a factor for some people, as can medication side effects. Loneliness, especially for people who have lost a spouse to a nursing home or death, can make eating seem unimportant or unattractive. Read more →

Since elders by definition have many decades of life to their credit, they will likely enjoy looking back on the past. This is especially important when people have Alzheimer’s disease because their disease prevents them from forming new memories. Nearly everyone enjoys reminiscing to some degree. To help you kick off a nice visit with the elder you intend to spend time with try bringing some props. Physical reminders should help your visit go more smoothly. Read more →

Many caregivers ask how to respond to siblings who, after being directly and distinctly asked for help, either skirt responsibility with excuses or become outright nasty if they are asked for assistance in a direct manner. Let's look at a few examples and contemplate responses. These can, perhaps, trigger ideas about how to handle your unique circumstances: Read more →