Dementia Patients’ Safety in Nursing Care Homes

Nursing care homes are places where the old people are can stay safe and protected from the world. This is a place where their safety is the top priority. Not only the healthy people are allowed to stay there in fact patients with some serious problems like dementia are also allowed to stay there and proper care is taken.

This is the place where people with dementia can have the opportunity to live in a home like environment with trained and expert staff who will look after them all the time.

Choosing a care home for the dementia patient

Generally, in a few cases, the primary step towards choosing and shortlisting the care homes for a person suffering from dementia would be to get a proper assessment from the social service authority. This would make things transparent to you and clear all your doubts if you have any about a particular place.

The social service authorities would be able to provide valuable information about various care homes and can also tell you whether so and so care home is suitable for a patent suffering from dementia or not.

At times, the person suffering from dementia is not likely to be eligible for the financial aid, but still it can be worth a try involving the social service authorities into the matter. That is because the information which they provide is very helpful in making the long term decisions about which care home to choose.

There are other options too which you need to consider before deciding the most important decision for a dementia patient.

Location of the place

The location of the care home is very important for the dementia patients. You might not want the place to be too far from the place where you stay as that would make it more difficult for you to visit your loved ones on a regular basis. That too if your loved one is in such a condition it is mandatory for you to visit them on a regular basis.

You would also check the other factors like leisure, shops nearby and the educational facility. You would also want your dear one to stay in a place which is peaceful and less noisy.

Other facilities

You would also check the facilities the nursing care homes have to offer. You need to see whether they provide the special needs which your loved ones need. Also, what is their contact with the community?

You need to keep interrogating the people until and unless you are not deeply satisfied and assured from the answers which you get. You need to know how well the people would take care of the patient suffering from dementia and how well will they make sure that he or she is safe from any possible dangers.

Hence, for the dementia patients you should look for nursing care homes that not only take proper care of your loved ones but also help them stay independent.

Coping With Fatal Familial Insomnia

Fatal familial insomnia is an autosomal dominant inherited prion disease of the brain and is a rare condition. Also known as the FFI sleep disorder, the disease can develop in a patient spontaneously but is most often inherited and onset is typically seen between the ages of 30 and 60. The condition follows four stages starting with insomnia and moving on to hallucinations, a complete inability to sleep and finally dementia that often results in death.

Initially patients typically exhibit mild symptoms of increasing insomnia. A growing lack of sleep however leads many patients to experience panic attacks and phobias which can develop to the point where they feel unsafe and are unable to cope with their normal daily routine. They then start to hallucinate and the overwhelming stress they feel makes it even more difficult to sleep and locks them into a vicious cycle.

At this point it is common for patients to be prescribed sleeping pills but, in many cases, sleeping pills are not the answer and can in fact make the condition worse. The problem here is that this condition is so rare that it is often not diagnosed correctly in its initial stages and there are only a very few treatments available which will work to a greater of lesser degree depending upon the individual patient. Once the third stage of the disease is reached and the patient is experiencing an almost complete inability to sleep rapid weight loss usually occurs and dementia sets in within three months or less.

There is no cure for the disease but there are some effective treatments available which can help offer relief to patients. With treatment patients are often able to live a relatively normal life and avoid depression and the final state of dementia.

If you believe that you may be suffering from fatal familial insomnia then you should talk to your doctor without delay because the disease can progress rapidly and, once in its final stages, there is often no effective treatment. Although it must be taken seriously, you should not automatically assume that this disease is terminal and proper treatment can relieve its symptoms and, at the very least, improve your quality of life and buy you time. However, because the condition can progress very rapidly, and run through all four stages in some patients in a little over six months, you should not delay in seeking medical attention.

Finally, it should be remembered that fatal familial insomnia sufferers are aware of what is going on around them throughout all but the very final days of the disease and that it is important that have the love and support of their family and friends.

9 Things You Have To Know About Dementia Symptoms

People often mistake that forgetfulness is common with old age. And memory impairment is associated with dementia. You may ask:

So, what is dementia? Or what leads to the disease?

Dementia is basically the condition that includes multiple cognitive impairments caused by damaged brain cells as an aftermath of a physical medical condition. It is also a common cause of Alzheimer’s disease. This occurs when a person is unable to complete normal tasks like bathing and dressing.

Here are 9 Things You Have To Know About Dementia Symptoms:

• Short-Term Memory Loss – this is one of the indicators of dementia. Short-term memory loss is when the patient has the inability to remember things that happened recently but remembers things and people from years ago.

• Confusion – a patient of the disease becomes “estranged” from others and be unpredictable. This is one of the symptoms of senile dementia. They often fail to comprehend their actions, forget the current time and get lost in familiar places. This can occur suddenly and limited in time.

• Rapid Mood Swings – another symptom of people with dementia is they become extremely moody. Due to their confusion and memory loss, they tend to be suspicious of others around them and show less emotion than they used to do.

• Disorientation – people suffering from the disease becomes disoriented in time and space, as a result of confusion that is caused by changes in the brain. Patients may suddenly begin to wonder how they land up to that particular place, or really think they have gone for hours when they were just out for five minutes.

• Repetitive Behavior – this symptom affects the person’s ability to remember what just happened and this often leads to repetitive behavior. For instance, they may continuously repeat motions like tapping fingers or pacing. Repetitive behavior is common in Frontotemporal dementia. This signs should be taken with caution as repeating behavior may harm the patient.

• Misplace Belongings – anyone can temporarily misplace things. But in the early stage of the disease, a person may misplace their belongings in unusual places such as a key in the sugar bowl or a ring in the fridge.

• Difficulty with Abstract Thinking – this is a sign of dementia where an affected person obtains difficulty in performing mental tasks, such as organizing, planning and making decisions. Lack of judgment can also be an early sign of the disease.

• Language Difficulties – patients have a hard time following the logic of moderately complex sentences. They may also forget certain words as part of speech and replace them with words they remember – which leads to formed sentences to make sense or not. People with dementia may also not understand their own sentences and have difficulty forming thoughts into words.

• Loss of Initiative – this symptom makes a person become very passive, and may include a complete loss of drive to perform any activities they used to enjoy. They could just sit in front of the TV for hours, sleep more than the usual, prompted to eat food and lose interest in their hobbies.

Dementia makes it difficult for people to remember and communicate and it can be both overwhelming to the people who have it, as well to their loved-ones. So, if anyone you know show all or some of these symptoms, it would be best to seek medical advice from the experts to have the afflicted receive the necessary treatment for their condition at the earliest.

A Book Review: The Calcium Lie II – What Your Doctor Still Doesn’t Know

In 2008, the authors published the first edition, The Calcium Lie – What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Could Kill You. Then in 2013, they updated the information in The Calcium Lie – What Your Doctor Still Doesn’t Know. In this review we will look at the revised edition.

Dr. Robert Thompson, MD who maintains a medical practice in Alaska, at one time did not know what he lays out in this book. He, like most well-meaning health professionals, treated patients according to what he had learned in medical school for many years. Kathleen Barnes, a health journalist and author, lives in North Carolina. Dr. Thompson says that Kathleen helps him communicate in terms that his readers will understand.

This reviewer has administered numerous home school assessments over the years in which the General Information section of the tool she uses includes a question: “What mineral is most necessary to make bones hard?” Many have answered correctly, according to what they have learned and according to the assessment tool, “Calcium.”

Our authors would have us remember that the exam that determines whether a patient has osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia is the dexa MINERAL bone scan test. This name should help us remember that bones are made up of many minerals, one of which is calcium. By supplementing calcium alone, we actually harden more than our bones – calcification can occur in arteries, kidneys and other places in our bodies. Dr. Thompson reminds us throughout the book that “Calcium hardens concrete!”

Having gone into medicine with “altruistic” ideas, Dr. Thompson had become disenchanted with his profession, ready to quit. He reconsidered when in 1996 a peer-reviewed directory chose him as one of the “Best Doctors in America.” Encouraged, he decided to continue to make a difference.

Minerally Bankrupt (Chapter 1) – This foundational chapter states that bones consist of at least 12 minerals. “Excess calcium can cause:

• Kidney and gallstones

• Arterial plaque (and heart disease)

• Bone spurs (joints / osteoarthritis)

• Calcium deposits in tissues other than bones

• Brain cell dysfunction, brain shrinkage and dementia.” (p. 9)

• Cataracts

• Cancer

• Diabetes

• Hypothyroidism

• Hypertension (p. 29)

• Obesity (p. 39)

• Migraines (p. 43)

“Too much calcium causes the adrenal glands to be suppressed in order for the kidneys to hold on to the necessary magnesium in an attempt to keep these two minerals in balance.” (p. 19)

Before the invention of refrigeration, our forefathers used sea or rock salt to preserve food. Our natural balance of minerals left with this change. “Because a mineral ‘footprint’ is passed from mother to child, each generation has become progressively more deficient in these essential minerals.” (p. 12)

To add more injury to our systems, when the use of iodine in making bread and canned goods was exchanged with cheaper bromine, we began to see an increase in “thyroid disease and cancer, breast cysts, fibrous changes, cyclic tenderness and cancer, prostrate inflammation and cancer, and ovarian hormonal dysfunction, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and ovarian cancer.” (p. 13)

Table salt destroys health and the best mineral supplement is unrefined rock or sea salt. Dr. Thompson explains that the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HMTA) gives the best possible analysis of the mineral levels and guides the medical practitioner in properly supplementing. He recommends only Trace Minerals, Inc. for doing the test.

Throughout the book, Dr. Thompson gives mini lessons on biochemistry that all doctors study in medical school. Amazingly, most doctors have forgotten their biochemistry and continue to follow the “Calcium Lie,” “The Calcium Myth” (chapter 2), and “The Vitamin Lie” (chapter 7).

Our authors devote chapters to the following health conditions and how they relate to calcium:

• Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Calcium (chapter 3)

• Digestive Dilemmas: Poor Protein Digestion, Sodium Deficiency and Cell Membrane Dysfunction (chapter 4)

• Metabolic Failure How Excess Calcium Causes Weight Gain, Thyroid and Adrenal Malfunctions and Five Types of Hypothyroidism (chapter 5)

• Women’s Issues: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Menopause (chapter 6)

Stress plays a key role in our heath. Thompson and Barnes address this issue and its relationship to Calcium (chapter 8). They emphasize that “stress management must be a regular part of a healthy life style.” (p. 176)

In chapter 9, The Road Back to Health they give their readers the following steps:

1. Drink pure water.

2. Take ionic sea salt – derived supplements.

3. Whole food vitamins.

4. Essential Fatty Acids

5. Eat raw nuts and/or seeds daily.

6. Eat high quality protein.

7. Get essential monosaccharides. (p. 184-195)

The Calcium Lie II closes with chapter 10, “Doctor to Doctor: An Impassioned Plea.” He encourages his readers to copy this chapter and take to their doctors or better yet to purchase a copy of the book for their doctors.

Dr. Thompson and Kathleen Barnes present the facts behind their claims. Reading and following their guidance will improve our health.

Massage And Dementia: A Simple Touch To Showing Great Care For Dementia Patients

Massage therapists say that being able to help and interact with people who are afflicted with dementia is their most rewarding experience.

Massage sessions from skilled physical therapists are beneficial to clients afflicted with dementia, especially since our ageing population is having a major impact on hospitals and nursing homes, and we all know that a huge number of people afflicted by dementia are the elderly.

Massage is a powerful, yet under-utilized means that can provide solution to the increasing and urgent need of finding alternatives in curing behavioral symptoms common to dementia. Massage and dementia may seem like it’s an odd paring, however, numerous studies indicate that patients with dementia especially the elderly, can benefit from massage therapy.

Massage has different forms. Some are evidence-based, relationship-centered, practical and pro-active. With the right utilization, this can be a perfect tool that can help establish holistic dementia care while helping providers meet regulatory requirements.

Experts in geriatric care and in the field studying dementia have been encouraging caregivers and facilities to avoid unnecessary use of anti-psychotic medications in favor of non-pharmacological approaches to which massage therapy belongs.

This is also the reason why most massage therapist have started to further their repertoire of skills and specializations by enrolling in a short but rewarding course of taking care if people with dementia. Massage courses that specializes in treating people with dementia is also beneficial for individuals who are interested in learning the procedure for their loved ones..

There are institutions that offer these ground-breaking 1-day training course which will give you the tools to set up a positive relationship with a client who has dementia. Since massage therapy has been known to be a key solution in this context due to the fact that it prioritizes human interaction and caring for dementia patients stems from strong relationship-building, the lack of human touch which is a major problem for frail or ill elderly can be easily solved.

These kinds of courses will help you dispel the myths around dementia as well as equip you with the proper techniques to give them a massage treatment that will surely benefit your patients. Specialized institution also offer exciting, unique, and fun opportunities for aspiring therapist to learn and experience a training day that combines advanced techniques to help enable people with dementia to feel more comfortable about touch. This is an excellent opportunity not only for professionals but also for people who have a member of their family suffering from such conditions.

Alzheimer Patients and Reborn Dolls

Placing a reborn doll in the arms of an Alzheimer’s patient can calm them to the point of being able to communicate and take instruction. It is a really positive niche for the reborn artist.

At Ashcroft Care Home based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK, they have reported that reborn doll therapy has cut the number of patients using psychotropic drugs from 92 per cent at the start of 2008 to 28 percent.

Reborn dolls in particular seem to have the best effect with these patients, as they are so much more lifelike than traditional dolls. The dementia area is a large market that is reasonably untapped for reborn doll artists. In my research I visited a website that showed the most touching photographs of Alzheimer’s patients holding their dolls. They appeared happy and calm.

Many dementia patients suffer from agitation and distress, doll therapy can alleviate this. Dementia patients can be withdrawn and communication between patients and carers difficult, reborn dolls have been shown to vastly help in these areas. The British Psychological Society Conference presented this research into reborn doll therapy.

Reborn doll therapy seems to work extremely well with female patients as it takes them back to a time when they were housewives and highly productive. Due to effects of dementia many of these patients still believe they are young, so when they adopt a reborn doll, it brings back happy memories of parenthood. Having a doll can reawaken positive memories of being useful and needed; being loved and of loving.

Doll Therapy is best introduced in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s. In the early stages the patient may know the reborn doll is not real but will enjoy the pleasures of naming it and constantly changing it’s clothes. Women in the middle stages of the disease are likely to communicate with the doll; The Alzheimer patient may communicate with the doll through singing, talking and cuddling. They start to become extremely attached to their doll and keep it with them for many hours of the day.

Introducing a doll in the late stages of Alzheimer’s is not quite as effective as in the early stages. Introducing a doll in the early stages will allow the owner to become used to it and as the disease progresses the bond is set and the patient will be able to get comfort from the doll well into the later stages.

Reborn dolls however, are not a cure and the sufferer will not suddenly transform back to their former self because of a reborn doll but it is the comfort the patient feels that is the real benefit of reborn doll therapy.

“I have worked with people with Alzheimer’s disease for 12 years and if you ever witnessed one of my residents singing, cooing, interacting with the life-like doll, you would know that it does work. Many of our ladies were homemakers and their number one priorities were family. It was a time in their life when they were useful and had a sense of purpose. A reborn doll can bring a patient back to a time in their life where they felt secure and in control. We must join them on their journey, not ours!” (A quote from a discussion forum for Alzheimer’s patients).

If you are touched by the above story and feel this may be your niche for making reborn dolls, we suggest you first visit your local nursing homes to get a better idea of what is needed. Nursing homes do not always have the finances to buy full priced reborn dolls so you may need to get in touch with the family members of patients. The positive effects of dolls needs to be demonstrated to the nursing home for them to get behind doll therapy.

Take some evidence to the homes with you about the positive effects of reborn dolls on Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.

This is a very rewarding market to be in. To help the elderly live out their years feeling more comfortable and in control is a great gift that your reborn dolls can give to society.

We wish you luck. Fran and Nicola

Neurofeedback – A Revolutionary New Therapy For Dementia?

More than five million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease. Medical doctors and scientists are now estimating that by 2011, close to one million new cases will be identified every year. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and the fifth cause of death for people ages 65 and up. In its early stages, Alzheimer’s disease is often referred to as dementia.

Dementia seems to involve abnormal proteins known as ‘alpha synuclein’, developing and being deposited within nerve cells of the brain called ‘Lewy bodies’. When a person begins to experience the symptoms of dementia, they may be faced with several changes in mental function, including:

– Poor judgment

– Memory problems

– Confusion

– Extreme daytime sleepiness

– Hallucinations

– Low levels of alertness

– Difficulty with walking and balance

Many families dealing with Alzheimer’s have watched a family member ‘drift away’ mentally; further and further away, until suddenly, it seems that all that is left is a shell that bears little resemblance to the once vibrant human being who once resided within.

The problem with treating dementia is that currently, the US Food and Drug Administration has not been able to identify an effective treatment. While a drug called cholinesterase inhibitor has shown some usefulness, its effectiveness is limited. However, alternative therapies are providing hope for people with dementia. One form of therapy is a form of brain biofeedback known as neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback therapy is a natural, non-invasive therapy that can actually change how a person’s brain functions, retraining it to work within different wavelengths. This is why neurofeedback may work extremely well for controlling dementia, keeping new symptoms from developing, and preventing other symptoms from worsening.

Numerous studies have been conducted specific to biofeedback and neurofeedback for people with dementia, and the results have all been very similar. Significant improvements in overall memory were seen, as well as improvement in verbal memory, verbal fluency, behavioral inhibition, and visual memory. Obviously, the information coming from new studies is providing people with dementia hope for the future: thanks to neurofeedback.

If you or someone you love has been showing signs of dementia or has been given a confirmed diagnosis, you may want to ask your doctor about the option of neurofeedback therapy. Bear in mind, however, that some medical doctors are not thoroughly familiar with the methods and benefits associated with alternative therapies.

This is largely because most healthcare providers are very busy. It can be challenging just to stay current with all of the changes in their field. Your health care provider may not be aware of how quickly neurofeedback has evolved, and of the mounting research that continues to suggest that it should be considered for many different problems.

With the exciting and compelling results of recent research on neurofeedback, it is becoming very hard for even the most skeptical and resistant people to ignore. As the awareness of neurofeedback continues to grow, it may become more and more mainstream, and be used by more and more health care providers, until one day, it is as common as aspirin. Currently, using neurofeedback therapy offers dementia patients the possibility to live a more normal life.

Think About Brain Health

Although it is mainly older people that are concerned with brain exercises, new research suggests that we should pay more attention to brain health from an early age.

One in ten people over the age of 65 have dementia, after the age of 85 it is one in three. One research scientist has likened it to superannuation, in as much as you should start investing in the health of your brain as early as possible.

The decline in brain function can take decades meaning that lifestyle in the early years will impact on the brain as we age.

Brain exercises are now considered perfectly normal. It seems that everywhere you go these days you will come across people doing crosswords, Sudoku and various types of activities to keep the brain in shape but not so long ago the idea that the brain needed exercising would have met with derision or scepticism.

My husband Chris and I have always believed in holistic health and back in the eighties we were becoming interested in a new form of eye exercise. When we mentioned it among a group of friends and family they thought we had lost the plot. One can only imagine what they would have said about brain exercises.

Whilst it is obvious that most people want to keep everything in good working order for as long as possible, it is no secret that, fear of dementia as we age is a driving force behind the brain exercise explosion. Baby boomers, of which I am one, expect to live for a long time and they expect to accomplish more than their parents and grandparents did.

People want to be fit and healthy to enjoy the latter part of their lives so brain health is becoming an accepted part of our health and fitness regime.

A healthy lifestyle has the potential to prevent around a third of all dementia. Even people in the early stages of the disease can still make a difference if they make changes beneficial to the health of their brain. Although it is not by any means conclusive, medical science and research have proved that a healthy lifestyle makes a difference to the health of our brain.

Some of the key factors that may help to lessen the impact of dementia are pretty well known to most people by now but it is worth reiterating them.

Avoid Smoking. Not smoking helps to prevent the onset of dementia. It also lowers the risk of several other smoker related diseases. Passive smoking can still be a problem but has been greatly reduced by introduction of smoking bans in the workplace and public areas.

It is a known fact that when you stop smoking the body starts repairing itself straightaway regardless of how long you have been a smoker. When the body is well maintained and cared for it will run efficiently well into old age.

Alcohol Consumption. No-one can dictate just how much alcohol another person should drink but the standard drinks rule does set guidelines for responsible drinking. Alcohol just like smoking has a whole raft of associated diseases that are well documented.

Physical Exercise. Obesity is now looming as the next health related catastrophe; this is shocking when you think that it is a preventable disease. Walking, cycling or cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart and the blood vessels to the brain. Apart from keeping you physically fit, it helps the brain to become sharper and more alert.

Adequate Sleep. A solid night’s sleep is critical for good health. This is the only time the body is able to heal and rejuvenate itself. While it is possible to get by on minimal sleep in the short term it is not wise to do it on a regular basis.

Over time sleep deprivation can cause major health problems. And researchers are now studying the effect that lack of sleep can have on the brain. They have proved that in the short term it can affect judgement, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information.

Lack of sleep can also disrupt the immune system and long term it can lead to diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Healthy Eating Habits. A healthy diet should include fresh wholesome food and little or no processed food. Keep your fluid levels topped up with water rather than soft drinks or sweet juices.

The whole diet issue can be a bit of a minefield, it just isn’t possible to prescribe an eating plan that suits everyone. Do your research, don’t get taken in by fancy marketing and remember that supplements are just that; they are to supplement a diet that is deficient of a particular vitamin or mineral. They can’t totally compensate for the lack of a balanced diet.

Try not eating on the run, chew food thoroughly and if possible eat at a table in a comfortable position. It is never too late to make changes to your lifestyle.

Lifestyle Changes.

The good thing about exercising the brain is the sheer number of exercises or activities that are available. However it is important to vary exercises so that they don’t become rote.

Of course brain exercises don’t have to be exercises in the strictest terms, any activity that involves thinking is an exercise in itself.

An activity which involves learning something new is good for the brain, even a simple task being done for the first time engages the brain into thinking mode.

Problem solving is a form of brain exercise, especially complex problems with multiple solutions.

It could be argued that people who work or lead a busy life don’t need to do brain exercises but it depends on how much they actually stretch the brain. Tasks which in the beginning may have seemed complex become easier so the brain doesn’t work so hard.

Anyone who has ever learnt to drive can relate to this. At first it is scary trying to remember all the moves, especially if it is a manual drive. However it soon becomes so natural that you hardly need to think about it, it is a bit like being on automatic pilot. It is almost as if the brain is saying “Wake me when something happens”. The old saying “Use it or lose it” has plenty of merit where the brain is concerned, so exercising it make sense.

Although many people think about brain exercises in terms of Sudoku, scrabble or chess it is a much broader subject altogether. For anyone thinking of doing these types of exercises and wondering what would be best here is a brief overview that may help.

First of all the exercises can be grouped into three main categories.

1) Games. Brain exercises that are just that brain exercises, and nothing more.

Games such as scrabble, Sudoku, chess and similar are ideal because apart from exercising the brain they are a form of enjoyment or relaxation.

They are portable and can be done anywhere at any time, ideal in situations like travel when one has to wait around. Mobile platforms now make it easier than ever, I could never get anyone to play scrabble with me but nowadays I play against the computer whenever I want.

Of course if any of these games are notched up to competition level that involves a bigger workout for the brain.

2) Brain exercises as a by product.

This occurs when you take up a new interest that has a learning curve. If for instance you became interested in astronomy and wanted to learn all about it your brain would have to process all the new information. This is a great way to exercise the brain naturally.

As our life becomes more dominated by technology it is crucial to acquire skills which allow us to take advantage of the electronic age. Since computer technology is complex it involves a big learning curve.

Chris has always been into computers but I put off using one for years because it all seemed too hard. Fortunately it is never too late and now I have one of my own and don’t know what I would do without it!

3) Brain exercises with a purpose.

This happens when you undertake a task with an end goal in mind. You might do a university course to get a degree or learn a language to go travelling. Maybe you want a complete change of career and need to learn a new set of skills.

These types of activities appeal to people who like a challenge or who are looking to make changes in their life. Increasing numbers of older people or retirees are moving in this direction because they feel they want more out of life than to sit around doing puzzles on a permanent basis.

In his book “The brain that changes itself” Norman Doidge M.D. Cites the case of Dr Stanley Karansky who practised as an anaesthesiologist until he retired at age 70. Retirement didn’t suit him so he retrained himself as a family doctor and worked until he was 80.

Not so many years ago the “Masters Games” were introduced because so many older people were participating in competitive sport. Watching entrants aged in the nineties competing in marathons and swimming races would have seemed impossible to our parents and grandparents. We now accept it as normal and as we learn more about what the brain is capable of who knows what the future will bring.

Brain health isn’t just a fad it is here to stay and no-one will question the fact that our brain, like the rest of our body needs regular exercise and a good diet.

Dementia – The Silent Killer

Dementia is a thief that robs elderly citizens of their ability to communicate effectively and carry out routine daily activities such as dressing, feeding, and bathing. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, but there are approximately 50 different disorders that can cause dementia including strokes, infections, and medication irregularities. There are many different behaviors manifested in Alzheimer’s patients ranging from forgetfulness to aggressiveness to inappropriate sexual conduct. While it is truly sad to see any person impacted in such a negative manner from a cognitive and physical standpoint, we must realize this disease also effects families and not just the individual. In most cases a family member cares for a loved one with Alzheimer’s at home with a minimal amount of support. Since the disease gets progressively worse as time goes on, the intensity of care also increases proportionately until keeping the person effected at home is no longer a realistic option.

The physical demands can become so overwhelming that the results can be chronic fatigue, ill health, or even hospitalization for the caretaker or family member. This only exacerbates an already volatile situation and ultimately neither the person with Alzheimer’s or the caretaker benefits. In addition, the emotional toll on family members can also become a tremendous burden if not addressed in a healthy and open manner. Support groups are a popular form of encouragement and education for family members who are also serving as the primary caretaker. These groups allow members to share experiences, and even more important, provide an outlet to socialize with others in similar circumstances.

It is somewhat disappointing that more information regarding Alzheimer’s is not in the mainstream media. While millions of families suffer in silence, the numbers continue to increase as more people continue to be diagnosed with this insidious disease. Moreover, the number of younger patients with early onset Alzheimer’s is also on the rise. While the typical age for diagnosing Alzheimer’s is 80 years old, today doctors are seeing people as young as 45 with early signs of dementia. The potential costs to society are enormous, as more and more young adults are being diagnosed during their most productive years. The impact on families and communities could have far reaching consequences resulting in increased health care costs over longer periods of time. For families with minor children still living at home, having a parent diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s effects social and emotional development and places family dynamics under an incredible amount of stress. Given aging populations worldwide, continued research and commitment towards the treatment, and ultimately a cure, for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are essential.

What is Alzheimer’s Dementia and What Can Family Members Expect?

What is Alzheimer’s dementia is a common question. Once the diagnosis is given, many family members feel a sense of relief that there is a name for what is happening to the aging senior in their life.

Once a diagnosis is given, that is when the medical or health care delivery system really fails their patients and family members. Over time, family caregivers will feel a sense of disappointment and disconnect from the health care professionals. While the health care professionals are able to diagnose and prescribe medications, they are not seeing and experiencing what you are at home.

I cannot tell you how many times family caregivers have been overwhelmed and frustrated with a situation and behaviors exhibited at home, only to be told that is part of the disease. There was no offer of a solution or a referral to a community resource made that would be beneficial.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive form of dementia. It is the most common of all dementias. Although there it is not understood what causes Alzheimer’s, scientists have found that this disease causes severe damage to the brain cells.

There are two types of brain cell damage that occurs in individuals with this dreadful disease. Plaque build up, of a normally harmless protein, interferes with the brain cells communications resulting in cell death.

Unnatural tangles of the brain cells occur causing them to become twisted and die. As the disease progresses, and the brain cell death increases, the behaviors and physical abilities as described in the stages of Alzheimer’s occur.

More on what is Alzheimer’s Dementia? We have a diagnosis, what do we do now?

The progression of this disease gives families time to educate and prepare for what lies ahead when a diagnosis is made. There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s. These stages are based on the behavioral, physical and cognitive changes that may be exhibited as the disease progresses.

It is important to understand that while the stages have behaviors and physical changes that occur at each level, every individual is different and will not exhibit a clear cut pattern specific that is specific to each stage.

What I mean, is a person will not display all the behaviors or physical changes listed. Nor will an individual consistently go by the book, as far being in one stage at a time. Many individuals will display a range of behaviors in two or three stages at a time.

There are times when an individual will stay in one stage and stabilize for a long period of time. Other times, there may be a rapid deterioration that occurs and an individual may appear to skip a stage.

It is important to start preparing for the future care needs of the aging senior with Alzheimer’s as well as for the family care givers.

In most situations, I find that there is one primary care giver, a spouse or an adult child that carries the responsibility of providing the care for the aging senior. The family caregiver often does not initially realize that this care giving journey could last as long as 20 years or be as short as 3 years.

So it is very important that the family caregiver become the primary focus along with their aging family member with Alzheimer’s dementia. The emotions of care giving will encompass chronic grief, depression, anger, frustration and social isolation. Care giver stress is very real and has severe health consequences, when left untreated, for the care giver.

It is never easy when you receive the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia. It is important that when you or a family member does receive that diagnosis, you immediately take action and make plans for future care needs.

That would include the family care giver learning as much as they can about the disease, the exploring and joining the support systems such as the Alzheimer’s organization to help guide and prepare you for this unknown journey.