Previous month:
September 2018
Next month:
November 2018

Start with body language: The factor that allowed us to finally understand that my dad was ready for hospice care was when he’d prop himself up on one arm and repeatedly slam his fist into the opposing palm, with a grimace on his face as if he was trying to pound out the pain. Body language is a powerful means of expression – and often the only means for expression – for those who cannot express feelings. 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 new 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 →


Stress has long been considered a major risk for developing Alzheimer’s, but there hasn’t been any real understanding as to why this is so. Now, researchers at the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Florida think that they’ve come closer to discovering the connection. Dr. Todd Golde, director of the Center, and his team have found how a hormone released by the brain in response to the body’s stress increases production of a protein associated with Alzheimer's development. Read more →


Dear Carol: My 96-year-old mother has moderate signs of dementia and lives in an assisted living facility (ALF). Mom can feed herself but she needs assistance with most other activities including transferring from her bed to her lift-chair or wheelchair, but she won’t use her call-light to get help. Last evening, Mom had tried to move from the lift chair to the wheelchair and an aide found her on the floor. Mom wasn’t injured this time but what about the next time? The facility says they cannot use any alarms to alert staff that she is trying to get out of her bed or chair because these alarms are considered illegal restraints. Do you have any suggestions? Read more →


A report by the Mental Health Foundation (UK) is calling for dementia to be treated as a disability. They said, correctly, that dementia is seen as a disease like many others in that it should be curable. Tragically, only when dementia is caused by medications, infections or some rare, operable situation is it curable. Instead, it is a relentlessly progressive, destructive disease with which the affected must live until they eventually die. The Foundation says that it is also crucial that people with dementia have their rights respected and upheld.  Read more →


For most anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia, or has loved someone with a type of dementia, the formal diagnosis was a moment frozen in time. A moment where the thought of possibly having a brain-destroying disease became a confirmed reality. That pivotal moment is life-changing, however, people can move beyond that moment in time and learn to live with dementia. For our family, that moment arrived after my dad came out of a surgery that was supposed to repair damage caused by a World War II brain injury. 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 →


Can people find happiness – even joy – while living with dementia? That depends, of course, on one’s definition of happiness and joy. But I do believe that there can be satisfying moments for people with dementia and their caregivers. World War II left my dad with a brain injury. He was in a coma for six weeks and had to learn to walk and talk again. This he did. He went on to live a successful life, at least until he was in his 70s and fluid started building up behind the scar tissue in his brain. Read more →


It’s difficult to watch our parents age. As their hair grays, wrinkles form and age spots multiply, we adult children can find ourselves feeling protective. We want to keep them healthy. We want to know that they are safely at home when there’s the slightest risk of bad weather. We don’t want them taking risks that could result in an injury. That’s love, after all, and parents appreciate being loved. It’s a mistake, however, to make yourself the director of your parents’ lives simply because they are piling on years. Think about it. Barring dementia – and as much as we hear about dementia, not everyone over 65 has become unable to make decisions... Read more →


Our culture is steeped in language that makes accepting the terminal diagnosis of ourselves or a loved one more difficult to accept than it needs to be. Doctors say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do. You might want to look into hospice care.” Patients tell their doctors that they want “aggressive treatment,” until there is nothing else that can be done, then they will go on hospice care. The crux of these conversations is that medicine will do everything possible and then when you give up you will go on hospice care. That is a mistake. Read more →