Category Archives: Alzheimer’s disease

How to create meaning in dementia care

Everyone deserves to feel needed and have a sense of purpose

By Mike Good for Next Avenue

Photo credit: iStock

Photo credit: iStock

One of the most important things to a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s is to know their loved one is happy. However, they are often so overwhelmed by the responsibility of caregiving, that the fun of being together is lost.

All engagement tends to be for survival and not for enrichment. This often results in a negative atmosphere affecting the mood of everyone, including the person with Alzheimer’s. Left unchecked, the resulting tensions will often lead to behavioral issues from both individuals. read more

Why the Arts Are Key to Dementia Care

This form of communication can engage intuition and imagination

By Anne Basting for Next Avenue

Why the Arts Are Key to Dementia Care

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When you receive a serious medical diagnosis, it can feel as though that diagnosis replaces your identity. I am no longer myself — instead, now I am cancer, or heart attack or dementia.

But even when we carry a diagnosis, we also continue to live our lives. We are more than our diseases and care plans.

People can live as long as 20 years with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Family and professional caregivers, as well as community members, need tools to ensure that people with Alzheimer’s can be more than their disease. But how? Conversation can be challenging, in person and by phone. How can we stay connected and foster what has come to be called the “personhood” of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s? read more

How Sharing a Life Story Helps Dementia Caregivers

LifeStory

If you’re the primary caregiver of a person with dementia, you know your loved one’s likes and dislikes. You can read their moods. You know their routines and the people in their world. Nobody can care for them the same way you do. But the act of sharing your loved one’s life story empowers others to better understand his or her traits, to connect and to provide better dementia care. In turn, you receive peace of mind when you take time for yourself.

Conveying personal info lets others connect with your loved one

By Mike Good for Next Avenue

One day while I was volunteering at a local adult day care, we had a new visitor who was confused and very unhappy that her daughter had left her there with us. She was agitated and was trying to leave.

Luckily, when they first arrived, her daughter had handed us a one-page life story about her mother who had dementia. After reading it, I was able to more easily connect with the lady.

Sharing Your Knowledge

As we discussed her career as a teacher, her agitation slipped away and we ended up having a very nice conversation. Without that knowledge, things would have been more difficult for both of us. read more

Quick Study: The Latest on Vitamin D and Dementia

New research shows a clear link, plus 3 ways to get more D

By Laine Bergeson for Next Avenue 

VitaminDandDementia

Thinkstock

Older adults who are severely vitamin D deficient have a 122 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, according to a new study published in the journal Neurology.

The research team, lead by Dr. David Llewellyn at the University of Exeter Medical School, anticipated a link between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive problems (previous research has shown a general correlation). But they were surprised by how high the risk was.

“The association was twice as strong as we anticipated,” Llewellyn says. read more

Are Your Loved One’s Dementia Symptoms Reversible?

Too often, doctors and caregivers see symptoms of dementia as permanent when the problem may be a simple infection

By Gary Drevitch for Next Avenue

DementiaReversible

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Among the myriad ways my kids have it better than me: As a child, I had only two grandparents, one of whom died when I was still very young. But my kids, at least the older two, were born with a full complement of grandmas and grandpas, plus a great-grandmother, and while the ranks of grandparents have thinned somewhat in recent years, that 98-year-old “Nanny,” my wife’s grandmother, endures.

In fact, Nanny continues to live on her own, in an Upper Manhattan apartment, with the support of her walker, a daytime home-care aide, and a delightful pet cat. She manages her finances and keeps up with her large extended family, limited in conversation only by her somewhat impaired hearing. read more

When Should You Seek More Family Help?

Primary caregivers may need to call in the cavalry. Here’s what to do.

By Eileen Beal of Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging for Next Avenue 

whenshouldyouseekmorefamilyhelp

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If you are like most caregivers, the tasks and responsibilities that come with caring for an aging parent or loved one — running errands, odd jobs around the house, transportation to social events or doctor’s appointments, paying bills, being on call 24/7 — creep up on you as the person’s health and well-being change over time.

It’s important to step back frequently and think about those changes and what they mean. One of the most significant pieces to watch is behavior. read more

Lifestyle changes hold the key to preventing Alzheimer’s

We now have a prescription that researchers think can delay or prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not a pill, it’s a list of lifestyle choices. Results from a landmark study announced this summer show that having a healthy lifestyle may be the key. It’s a recipe, or cocktail, of several factors.

“It’s the first time we have been able to give people a kind of recipe for what is useful,” said Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association. read more

Learning keeps your mind sharp

When you learn things, read or pursue a hobby, you’re not just having fun, you’re protecting your brain from the effects of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. “The research found that people who participated in mentally stimulating activities both early and late in life had a slower rate of decline in memory compared to those who did not,” according to the American Academy of Neurology.

The rate of mental decline in people participating in the research was reduced by 32 percent in mentally active seniors, while the rate of decline was 48 percent higher in those with infrequent activity. read more