Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise, and the statistics are disconcerting. According to a recent report, there were 5.3 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In the first half of the last decade, Alzheimer’s deaths jumped an eye-popping forty six percent. Officially, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. With research, medical fees, and elderly care costs, we spend more than one hundred seventy BILLION dollars annually to fight this disease. And as we all know, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. No vaccine. No way to knowingly prevent it, because the disease is such a mystery. But what if there was a way to discover the warning signs ahead of time?
Earlier this month, researchers released a small report suggesting a blood test for Alzheimer’s could be coming very soon. If confirmed in the general public, this could eventually open the doors to letting doctors and patients get a head start on treating the disease before it fully sets in.
The study analyzed the blood from a group of senior citizens. Some were healthy. Some had Parkinsons. And some had Alzheimer’s. The test was pretty technical, of course, but in essense here’s what they did. They took blood samples from each of the patients and screened the samples with synthetic molecules peptoids. Peptoids are able to bond with human antibodies. These particular peptoids were three times more likely to bond with the antibodies in the blood of the Alzheimer’s patients than in the other’s blood. That is a weak explanation, obviously, but here is a link to the story. It explains it much better than I can.
For now, the study is not going to rock the Alzheimer’s world. But early detection in any disease can open the door to tons of new possibilities. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies love the studies, because someone who is diagnosed early is able and possibly more willing to volunteer for breakthrough research projects and drug trials. Right now, this is a difficult thing to do, because the disease takes hold so quickly, and most patients are too advanced in the disease to be able to offer much help.
So what difference does it make for Alzheimer’s patients? Right now, not much. It just suggests that there really can be future breakthroughs in fighting this terrible disease. With so many doctors and researchers on the scent, and with the possibility of early detection, we will one day be able to fight this disease. And we will find a way to beat it.
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For patients and families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease in an assisted living facility or at home, life can be immensely stressful. Not only is there the emotional strain of losing memories and relational connections, there is the new problem of sudden, unexpected, and totally inexplicable outbursts. As one Alzheimer’s expert said, “When you’ve seen one case of Alzheimer’s Disease, you’ve seen one case of Alzheimer’s Disease.” In other words, the disease is unpredictable, making emotional outbursts all the more jarring. And while the family suffers from these uncomfortable moments, the senior in their care is obviously struggling more. After all, something is bothering them and unsettling them.
Fortunately, the emotionally complex and “jumpy” nature of Alzheimer’s Disease can be tamed–or at least calmed–in some cases, by something very non-medical: pets.
Before I go into specifics here, I want to draw a parallel between seniors with Alzheimer’s and children. Both groups are unable to care for themselves. The world does not make sense to either of them. Both can be drawn into their own world by the most trivial things… And both of them seem the world through “new” eyes. So it should be no surprise that senior adults with memory ailments respond so similarly to pets as children do.
But don’t take our word for it. Check out this quote from an expert at the Mayo Clinic:
â€œA pet is a medication without side effects that has so many benefits. I can’t always explain it myself, but for years now I’ve seen how instances of having a pet is like an effective drug. It really does help people.â€
Dr. Edward Creagan
Oncologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
Quoted from DeltaSociety.org
Dr. Creagan is not alone in his perspective. Doctors and experts all over the country have noticed and written on the benefits of animals on a person’s blood pressure, stress levels, and overall sense of health and well being.
Therapy dogs, of course, help millions of seniors and disabled Americans every year. This includes seeing eye dogs, and dogs to protect the mentally challenged: people with downs syndrome, autism, and all manner of ailments that would cause a person to be more vulnerable to injury and attack. And more recently, medical professionals have begun to use therapy dogs for Alzheimer’s patients, with positive results. Many patients have a noticeable decrease in aggression, a lift in social skills, and on overall reprieve from depression that so often plagues them.
So, how can this work, exactly? Several ways. The first is for caregivers who care for a loved one at home. If the family dog or cat is still alive and still well-behaved, make sure grandma gets lots of interaction with her if the two have any kind of rapport. But these criteria will not match most people’s circumstances. So for those who sometimes put their loved one in respite care or adult day care, ask about pet therapy. Many of these facilities are employing the assistance of animal professionals for several hours per day. These can include people from the Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The nice thing about going through these types of groups is that the animals are generally going to be very well trained.
A well trained animal can be just the thing that an Alzheimer’s patient needs. Many patients come alive the minute they see their new “best friend.” Even those who are not prone to any kind of speech or purposeful expressions light up when the dog enters the room. Are they, at some subconscious level, remembering pets they used to have over the long course of their life? Perhaps they are. We will never know. But I suspect it is something simpler. I suspect that there is some instinct that is created into these animals. An instinct to protect and care for people. This is why therapy dogs work so well in so many environments. And this is also why they can put up with so much abuse (especially from kids! I could tell you stories…).
But I will leave the psychology to medical experts. I don’t know why so many seniors seem to react well to pet therapy, especially seniors who are suffering from one of the most baffling ailments out there. But they do. Many of them do! And if your loved one is suffering from any form of dementia, and all the loneliness that comes with it, you might want to look into the possibilities of pet therapy. Here is one place to start . For more info on assisted living facilities from Oregon to Florida, visit our homepage and being your search!
For many Dallas/Fort Worth senior residence, the difference between staying independent enough to live at home or needing to move into an elderly care facility may lie squarly on the shoulders of volunteers from their own community.
There are a plethera of service organizations that specifically target home-bound seniors living in the Dallas/Fortworth metroplex. Services offered vary by organization and depend on the number of qualified volunteers available, but may include transportation, housekeeping assistance, meal preparation and delivery, light maintenance, friendly visits or phone calls, respite care (particularly for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia),
People Helping People
People Helping People offers assistance to Dallas seniors age 62+ helping homeowners with minor exterior home repairs that improve the safety of the home including replacing rotted wood, scraping and painting, installing handrails, replacing ramps, steps, and porches.
Faith in Action
NSEAM Living at Home/Block Nurse Program
(817) 338-2958 ext. 15
Volunteers from this Fort Worth-based organization offer Tarrant county seniors assistance with bill paying, light household chores, friendly visits or phone calls, meal preparation, shopping, transportation, personal and respite care.
Catholic Charities of Dallas
Phone: (214) 826-8330
Catholic Charities has three locations serving Dallas residents age 60 and over. Volunteers at the three Dallas locations provide hot meals, health screenings, social events, community activities, and assistance.
Meals on Wheels
Collin County Committee on Aging (CCCoA)
CCCoA is a private nonprofit organization serving Collin County seniors by delivering about hot meals for lunch and dinner weekdays, and weekends. They also offer congregate lunches at six senior centers located in Farmersville, McKinney, Plano, Bart Peddicord Community Center, Princeton, Allen
CCCoA volunteers also provide transportation to seniors, caregiver support, benefits counseling, and case management services.
Are you or the senior you love feeling overwhelmed with housework and meal preparation? Losing track of which bill is due when? Got a fix-it list that’s been neglected? Need a ride to the doctor’s office? Could benefit from respite care? Need a grocery-getter? A friendly visit or phone call? Pick up the phone and call one of the above organizations; there are volunteers ready to help you stay as independent at home as possible.
If you’re looking for TX assisted living facilities in the Dallas, Fort Worth area, enter the city and state or zip code in the box at the top of this page as well as the type of housing you’re looking for. A list of facilities in that area will pop up on the next page.
According to a new study just released and written about in the Wall Street Journal, smokers appear to have a significantly higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s or Dementia than the average citizen.
For most people, this might not be a surprise. The effects of smoking on a person’s lungs, and the subsequent risks of developing lung cancer have been explored ad nauseum. Every one knows that smoking is bad for you. However, the fact that it appears to be able to affect a neurological disease like Alzheimer’s is very interesting.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of Dementia. Common “Senior Moments” and memory decay do not necessarily indicate Alzheimer’s. Most seniors will experience those things as a natural mark of the aging process. Alzheimer’s, however, is much more severe. It is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States, and it afflicts millions of Americans right now. Recent numbers indicate that there might be more than five million cases. Seniors are for more likely to get it than others, of course. As a form of Dementia, Alzheimer’s is a disease that decreases brain activity. It affects not only the memory, but all parts of the brain. It can severely hamper a person’s thinking processes, and even their subconscious ones. It can be catastrophic to a senior’s independence, and it can cause immense emotional hardship on the family. That is not to mention the natural damage it does physically, causing a host of problems all over the body, including the heart.
So for seniors who smoke, the news that their habit could contribute to something as difficult and daunting as Alzheimer’s could be a sufficient wakeup call.
The study, which was documented by Shirley S. Wang, says that after 20 years of research and observation, says that heavy smokers (people who smoke two or more packs a day) who continue their habit into their 50′s and 60′s are far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s and Dementia. How much more likely? Get this: 157% more likely to develop Alzheimers, and 172% more likely to get vascular dementia.
As for those who smoke less than that, from from one to two packs a day, the results were not quite as heavy, but still significant. There was a 44% greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s, and 37% greater chance of developing dementia.
One of the study’s authors, Dr Rachel Whitmer, explains how this might happen:
“We know smoking compromises the vascular system by affecting blood pressure and elevates blood-clotting factors, and we know vascular health plays a role in risk of Alzheimer’s disease,”
What This Means, Practically
Many seniors who have reached old age (especially those who have a solid family health history) often feel like they have earned the right to “coast.” And that might be true. But for heavy smokers, the danger has not disappeared just because they made it through life smoking. For them, this study really ought to sound an alarm. If Alzheimer’s really is so emotionally damaging (which it is), and if it is really so dangerous (which it is), and if it really is such a frustrating enigma that drains people’s strength, feelings, and finances (yes, it does!), then all seniors who want to smoke really ought to take heed. After all, if you want to see the family and know the grandchildren, you need to keep your mind sharp. When that goes, everything else can go, too.
Click here to read the full article
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Caring for Alzheimer’s disease is one of the least most difficult functions in the world of elderly care. Maybe that is because it is one of the most difficult ailments to understand. There are millions of families around the country who are struggling with it right now. For them, it is not just an issue of memory loss. It is an issue of perplexion and heartache.
The good news is that families no longer have to figure out how to deal with Alzheimer’s disease by themselves. There are countless ways for family caregivers to get help fighting this disease, while helping their loved ones to be comfortable and as happy as possible.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s disease is not just “common memory loss.” Yes, there is a sort of memory loss that can occur with age, but Alzheimer’s does not. Alzheimer’s is a form of Dementia. Dementia is a decrease of brain activity, not just in memory. Alzheimer’s is a particularly dangerous form of dementia. There are between 2.5 and 5 milion Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s. And unfortunately, many of these people end up dying from the disease. Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in America.
So what can a family do when their loved one shows signs of Alzheimer’s disease? Ultimately they have two choices: care for them in a home setting, or put them in a full time elder care community that specializes in memory care. It is not a good option to leave them to live alone, since Alzheimer’s causes serious problems in every day life.
Alzheimer’s Care at Home
For families who are able and willing, home care is probably the best option for dealing with Alzheimer’s. That is because it is easier for dementia patients to be around familiar settings. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s at home:
- Keep the day full of activities. Make sure to include activities which are familiar to them. If possible, make connections with skills that they used to use in their career. If they get upset, switch to a new activity.
- Form routines with those activities. Routines are extremely important for Alzheimer’s patients. If there are things your loved one would do every day, try to bring those in as well. Familiartiy is your ally.
- Communicate with gentleness, calmness and brevity. Do not complicate the issue with confusing sentences. And do not let your own frustrations come through. That does not mean you should patronize, as if you are talking to a child. Just let your kindness come through in your patience and your clarity.
- Utilize help services, for your sake and your loved ones. Cargiving is not easy in any situation, but especially when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. If you are not careful, you may end up frustrated and burned out. So be sure to check into local respite care and adult day care services. These are often linked to long term assisted living centers. They can look after your loved one for any length of time, from a few hours to a few days. Remember, if you are not well taken care of, you will not be able to take care of them.
If you are not able to care for your loved one at home, you may want to consider an Alzheimer’s Care facility, also known as Memory Care. Memory Care units will focus on building routines, providing safety, and keeping your loved one comfortable. The staff at Alzheimer’s Care facilities are well trained to deal with the intricacies of Alzheimer’s disease, and will make sure you are involved in the process as well.
Finding Alzheimer’s Care Facilities in Your City
Are you searching for elderly care to help your loved one while they are suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease? Find it right here on this site, by putting your information in the box at the top of this page. Be sure to click the “Alzheimer’s Care” box before you click your search, and if you find a facility that interests you, be sure to request “More Information.” This is a totally free service, so be sure to get information from as many faciliities as you want, with no charge.
Recently, Maria Shriver, wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and daughter of an Alzheimer’s patient, published a new edition of “The Shriver Report.” The Report focuses on how Alzheimer’s Disease is affecting Americans all over the country, and especially on how it affects women.
The primary discrepancy between men and women on this issue is not primarily about who suffers from the disease, but on who cares for those who are suffering. Women are the primary caregivers by a large number. Many of these women are caring for their parents while working full time and raising their family. It is no wonder, then, why 60 percent of them confess they are dealing with emotional stress, and half of those say it is a “level 5 out of 5″ kind of stress. If you’re doing the math, that means that one-third of these caregivers are experiencing extreme stress from their duties.
How can we deal with this? It is not as if caregivers can just drop their other duties! They can’t stop raising their children or earning bread for them. And they certainly cannot just stop loving their parents. So what are they to do?
There is no easy solutions when you are dealing with Alzheimer’s. But there are options. Many families still have not heard of elderly care services that deal with memory loss. But Alzheimer’s care facilities are becoming more and more common all throughout the United States. Alzheimer’s caregivers can get professional help from caregivers, whether that means for an afternoon, or for the foreseeable future.
Memory Care, or Alzheimer’s care can take on many forms. Many adult day care facilities specialize in memory care patients. Their facilities are safely enclosed to prevent wandering off, and the staff focus strategically on building routines, and helping their patients stay comfortable. Other assisted living communities offer entire wings of their facility as Alzheimer’s wings. They often have outdoor enclosed gardens or parks, and their living quarters are secured and monitored twenty-four hours a day.
While many women caregivers might not be ready to give their loved ones over to a memory care assisted living center, some of them just need a break. Either way, they should absolutely not feel guilty for seeking assistance. If the stress overwhelms them, then things will get really bad. They will not be able to care for themselves, their children or their parents. Then what?
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Is it a stereotype to say that all seniors love cross word puzzles? Maybe. At very least, it is a cliche, but for good reason. What kid can’t remember grandma sitting at her kitchen table with a pen and a newspaper?
Well, it turns out that crossword puzzles (along with their exotic foreign cousin, Sudoku) can actually be a wonderful help to senior citizens.
Here is how this works. Grade school teachers have been using crossword puzzles and other language aides for years to help develop their students’ vocabulary and reasoning skills. Specifically, the benefits here are broad: they start to spell better, speak better, use better grammar and understand more. And it’s not just the fact that they are dealing with complicated definitions: the challenge stretches them, intellectually. That’s the definition of a “mental exercise.”[ad#ad-1]
Now, if this works with children, it is easy to understand why it works with senior adults as well, and it might be even more important for them. Just as elderly muscles can break down and atrophy over time, their minds can do the same thing. Fortunately, just like with other muscles, the mind can stay â€œin shapeâ€ with regular exercise. Crossword puzzles fit that bill in several ways.
Crossword Puzzles Help a Seniorâ€™s Memory. Have you ever done a crossword puzzle without uttering the phrase â€œitâ€™s on the tip of my tongue…â€? Probably not. But that feeling of reaching for something that you used to know and you almost remember is a wonderful mental stretch. And as your mind gets in the habit of probing through dusty shelves of memories long past, it will learn to access those libraries more quickly. Seniors who do crosswords can see a wonderful benefit here. Considering that three out of four senior citizens have memory problems of some kind, these intellectual treasure hunts for various seven letter words can prove to be of excellent value. And consider one more thing: Studies have suggested that elderly men and women who do crosswords four times a week will have a decreased chance of acquiring Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Now thatâ€™s a good reason for opening the paper!
Crossword puzzles help challenge a seniorâ€™s discipline. How long does the average puzzle in the newspaper take to solve? A half hour? An hour? It takes some stick-to-it-iveness to read clues, write answers, read more clues, erase those answers and put in new ones, only to find out those do not work either. Puzzles carry an inherent challenge that can only be met with a level of discipline in order to give satisfaction. Seniors need challenges, and they need satisfaction.
Crossword puzzles encourage seniors to continue to explore the unknown. The excitement of youthful vigor, for many of our elders, is a distant memory. Since their bodies no longer cooperate the way they used to, it is more beneficial than ever for a senior to seek out landscapes wherever he or she can. Exploration, even if in such a mild form, is healthy and encouraging. Because if grandpa can still figure out a six letter word for Shakespearian poem, he can still solve unknown problems. He is still sharp. He does not feel useless.
As you can see, the potential benefits of crossword puzzles are broad. With regular participation can help them remember names and schedules, help them complete difficult tasks, and can help them discover and conquer landscapes they have not seen before. And when they do conquer mental mountains, they regain some confidence. In other words, it helps them stay young in the one way that probably matters the most.
Caregiving, especially family caregiving, will probably always involve some level of stress. Having a senior depending on you is a demanding job, often requiring twenty-four hour vigilance. But when Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia are involved, the stress and frustration can be magnified for any caregiver.
We have already discussed some very helpful methods of dealing with caregiver stress, and these are tips that will help in dealing with any kind of senior illness, including Alzheimer’s. But one of those tips might be more important for caregivers of memory impaired patients: The support group.
The very idea of support groups can be off putting for many people. The term conjures up images of circles of people who have to share their feelings, like at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It’s an easy picture to reject. After all, care giving is a good thing. It isn’t an illness or addiction to be worked through. And when all is said and done, you will be fine, right?
Maybe. But Alzheimer’s and Dementia are complex problems with no clear solution. Nobody knows how to perfectly navigate the issues of memory loss, or the ripple effects they can cause in a family. And because it’s so complex, many feel like they are alone. They sense their efforts are not helping, and they ultimately get so stressed out that they burn out.
Support groups can be a wonderful source of information for caregivers. They are very often part of the “pipelines” of new research and strategies for dealing with the disease. Many are linked directly with groups like the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org), which is on the forefront of research, fund raising and information on memory loss.
But the real reason people need support groups is that people need people. And not just any people will do. They need to be around people who understand what they are dealing with. People who have no emotional entanglements with their situation. People who will not judge them. Support groups provide these people. Caregivers can let their guard down and “be real” with other human beings who won’t think less of them for feeling exhausted, helpless or resentful, because they are or have been in the same situation. And if they have come through, they can offer the kind of human insight that no website or book could ever provide.
If you are a care giver for a senior with Alzheimerâ€™s or dementia, you owe it to yourself to find a support network. It will help and your family. Residents of Smith County Texas who are looking for a support group can download a list of groups and schedules at the Alzheimerâ€™s Alliance of Smith County website.
Residents of the greater Dallas area should go to this page instead. Alzheimerâ€™s support groups for all other regions in the US should go to www.alz.org/apps/findus.asp .[ad#ad-1]
Understanding Long-Term Memory Care
Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimerâ€™s have needs that other Elders do
not. Their memory impairment and frequent disorientation can be a
constant source of anxiety for their loved ones and caregivers. Memory
Care Facilities can be a huge help for these individuals. Memory Care
is offered in the form of short-term respite care or long-term
assisted living. Elder care services are increasingly recognizing
Memory Care as a necessary form of specialized care.
So how is Memory Care different than regular Assisted Living?
The most major component is the increased focus on safety. Alzheimerâ€™s
patients are especially prone to wondering around, getting lost, and
sometimes hurting themselves. Most Assisted Living facilities arenâ€™t
equipped to deal with this type of problem. Memory Care facilities
place a high priority on a safe, contained environment. Sometimes,
facilities provide an entire wing, sometimes called an Alzheimerâ€™s
wing, that is always well-staffed and keeps doors locked. That way,
the staff can keep track of potential wanderers.
But just because facilities are locked and safe doesnâ€™t mean they have
to be institutional, stifling and dull. Many Memory Care centers offer
lots of room for residents to roam and explore in total safety.
Outdoor courtyards and gardens are very common, and very helpful.
In addition, the staff of Memory Care facilities are trained to deal
with the difficult effects of memory loss. Much of this comes in the
form of routine building. Routines are an important part of any
personâ€™s life, but they become especially important for those with
There are kinds of variations in treatment and environment between
memory care facilities. If you are considering placing your loved one
in this type of assisted living facility, it is important that you
actually go to visit several in your area to compare the level and
kids of care they offer.
Dealing with Alzheimerâ€™s is never easy, and it almost always means the
end is not far away. Memory Care facilities are acutely aware of this,
and uniquely suited to help make your loved oneâ€™s final days just a
little bit more comfortable and, if possible, maybe even pleasant.
Respite Care is short-term service to provide a
break for full-time caregivers of seniors or other individuals with
Caregiving is an exhausting job. Many family members who care for
their loved one in their own home never get a break. Daily errands
which would be routine for the rest of us–shopping, going to the
bank, taking the kids to soccer practice–can become all but
impossible for a caregiver. Thatâ€™s where Respite Care come in. To give
the primary care-giver a break. It could be for just a few hours or it
could be all day. Whatever the schedule, respite care is, by
definition, part time. Respite Care-Givers are usually nurses, but
donâ€™t have to be. Some services will send their care-givers to your
home while others offer their own facilities for you to drop your
loved one off at. Adult Day Care facilities often come into play here.
Respite Care Services are often called on for loved ones who suffer
from Alzheimers or Dementia and cannot be left alone. But this is not
always the case. It can also be helpful for those who have trouble
moving around or have scheduled medication that needs to be
administered. These services are generally much more affordable than
other types of elder care. I live in Texas and have seen several Dementia
and Alzheimer’s care facilities pop up in the East Texas area. Depending on
how bad the elderly disease has become you may be able to continue to have
your loved one cared for from yours or their home.
So how do you choose a Respite Care Service? First, evaluate your
locational needs. Would it be easier for you if a caregiver looked
after your loved one at home or somewhere else? In many cases, the at-
home option would be easier for your loved one, who could stay in the
same familiar, safe environment.
But sometimes this is not an option, especially for those busy home-
makers who desperately need a quiet house for a few hours to do that
much-needed housework. And for the busy, on-the-go caregiver who has
to spend most of the day running around in town anyway, it might be
easier to drop your loved one off at a proven, safe environment, and
not have to worry about how the house looks, etc. This is also a good
option for those seniors who crave a change of scenery.
Whatever your specific needs, it might be time to look into Respite
Care. It could just help you, the caregiver, avoid burnout.
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