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.
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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.
We have written a lot of articles on this site about the many different forms that elderly care can take. In the past twenty years, the assisted living model has gained incredible momentum and popularity, partly because nursing homes did not fit every senior. It wasn’t a good fit.
Today, there is a new form of elder care that is gaining traction quickly all around the country for the same reason: the traditional assisted living model does not fit everybody. That model includes a large number of seniors living in a complex of some sort, and spending lots of time together. But what if your loved one is not one for crowds? What if he or she is shy? How can this possibly be a good fit? That is where residential senior homes come in to save the day.
What is Residential Care?
Residential care homes represent a new wave in elder care, ant they provide all that traditional assisted living provides in terms of care, but they give it in a family type setting. What could be more natural for a person who has spent his whole life in a residential home?
How does it work? It is pretty simple, really. It starts when a person or a family decides to open up their home to seniors who need full time care. The caregivers often include a registered nurse, but not always. These caregivers can help the resident with whatever needs he or she has: nutrition, laundry, mobility, you name it.
Caregivers have to be licensed by the state, of course, in order to run a residential senior home. But it still pays for you to do your homework and get references if you want to put your loved one in this type of setting. Prices will nearly always be cheaper than a traditional assisted living environment, thankfully, because some of the more expensive amenities will not be there. There is no cafeteria or ball room… no community garden, and no knitting classes. All of those are things that appeal to many seniors, but they also completely turn off others.
If your loved one needs specialized care for Alzheimer’s or dementia, make sure you look into that, because some residential caregivers specialize in memory care. Just be prepared to pay a lot more money for this. Memory care requires a constant level of oversight that most seniors simply do not need. But the point is this: the kinds of care in residential living will depend on the caregiver. So if your loved one has some sort of unique medical needs, make sure you look around, and you can probably find someone who will be able to meet that need in this setting.
Does Medicare cover residential care? Sometimes. But some caregivers ask families to pay without medicare, at least for the first couple years of care.
If you are choosing elderly care in Dallas, TX, you are in luck. There are dozens of excellent facilities around the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex. These facilities offer many different levels of senior care at many different prices. In fact, there are so many different choices in North Texas that it can be an overwhelming task to just look at a list of them and determine which would be best for you or your loved one.
In order to make the task simpler, here are a few easy steps to making an Assisted Living Decision in North Texas.
1.) Determine a Location
You might think this should be a secondary concern, but I believe location might be the single most important factor in helping your loved one make a senior housing decision. Is the family relationally tight knit? If so, make sure you find a facility that is close to home. If you live in Terrel, please don’t, for heaven’s sake choose an Assisted Living facility in Fort Worth. Sure, you might have the best intentions to go and visit every weekend. But the length of the drive will catch up to you, and you will start going less and less. So if at all possible, make sure you keep your elderly loved one close.
In addition to family locale, be sure that your parent or grandparent is close to things that he or she is able to enjoy. For example, if they are still active and like to go shopping, keep them near shopping centers. Don’t send them out into the prairies. Is grandpa a sports fan? See if you can find a place that is relatively close to the Ballpark in Arlington. Day trips like baseball games might just prove to be some of the most precious times he will have.
2.) Kind of Care that is Offered
The specific kind of care that is offered by a Dallas Elerly Care facility will be tied to the resident’s medical condition, of course. This is obvious. But did you know that many Assisted Living facilities will specialize and adapt to your loved one’s medical condition? It’s true. In the past, there was pretty much just one level of professional elder care. People would either live at home, with family, or go to a nursing home. But that just isn’t true anymore. Today, Texas seniors can, like other seniors around the country, choose to live in a nursing home or a retirement center that will cater to their level of activity.
So, ask yourself: is grandpa able to care for himself? If so, how much? Does he require weekly medical checkups? Does he need help cooking meals or dong housework? Can he drive? Or better yet: should he be driving?
The answers to these questions are very important. Today, Assisted Living facilities can help out with all of those things. They can let seniors live alone (not like a nursing home at all) in an apartment or a townhome, while keeping medical staff right on hand, should anyone need care. Their staff is often very involved in the lives of senior residents. They help deliver meals and do laundry. They organize social events onsite. They organize transportation for shopping ventures, sporting events, or anything that drums up interest.
But of course, situations are not always so positive. What if your loved one is suffering from memory loss? From Alzheimers or another kind of Dementia? This can be a scary thing for a family member. But many Assisted Living facilities offer entire wings that are dedicated to caring for patients with memory loss. These environments are generally sealed off to prevent wandering, and are full of natural settings where your loved one can relax and enjoy life. Staff can help emphasize daily routines and help to stimulate brain activity.
So there is care for your loved one whether he’s in perfect health or needing end of life care. No matter what kind of care your loved one needs, rest assured: you can probably find a good fit in the Dallas area.
3.) Figure out Your Budget
Finally, costs will vary greatly for Assisted Living facilities. Lots of factors make the price fluctuate: Amenities, size of the apartment, location, etc. Generally (not all the time), Medicare will not cover most senior housing. Assisted Living facilities can be quite pricey. However, if you consider how much your loved one usually pays per month right now (mortgage, groceries, utilities, etc.), and subtract that from the monthly cost or the facility in question (or vice versa), I think you’ll find it much more evened out. Some retiring seniors even choose to sell their home when they move into and Assisted Living center, and that frees them up quite a bit to live without concern.
So, those are the three primary considerations for a person (or family) considering Assisted Living around the Dallas area: location, level of care, and cost. If you take these one at a time, I’m sure you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for very soon.
According to recent studies, seven out of ten elderly citizens have problems sleeping. Whether it is just natural stress or something else, some elderly sleep disorder, will vary on the person, of course. But whatever the cause, one thing is for sure: Sleep deprivation should not be ignored. Many seniors are apt to shrug and insist “it’s no big deal. I don’t need that much sleep anyway.” But this is simply not true.
Sleep is one of the most essential elements to our lives no matter what our age. For seniors, sleep is a key ingredient to good health. When a senior lacks rest, he or she cannot concentrate well and will be physically worn down. In other words, sleep fuels mental and physical wellness. Take away the fuel, and you will see the negative results. Elderly citizens are already struggling with muscular decay and a dulling of mental faculties often leading memory problems like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you add a sleep disorders to the mix, the decline could happen even more rapidly.
There are two separate issues at hand: having trouble falling asleep and having trouble staying asleep. The first problem is, perhaps, more easily solved than the second. Seniors often have trouble falling asleep for the same reasons the rest of us do: caffeine, ill-timed napping, and overstimulation. For many, the solution is simply a matter of a change in lifestyle. If your elderly loved one is a coffee drinker, encourage them to cut down, starting in the afternoon. It might not be enough to just eliminate coffee after 5 pm. Caffeine can stay in your system and keep you jittery for hours. For others, the problem might lie in their afternoon nap routines. Naps, for many seniors, are a treasured luxury that has finally come after years of working nine to five. But if that afternoon snooze is causing an evening of restlessness, it might be counter productive. They might end up playing catch up every day, and never feel really rested.
In addition to lifestyle adjustments, natural sleep aides can be a real help. Exercise might be the best aid of all, since it encourages a natural tiredness relaxing of muscles, which can quickly lead to sleep. But a melatonin pill can be just as effective. Melatonin might not help for a person who is up and around at midnight and not tired, but it will help those who are already relaxed, in bed, and tired, but can’t sleep, for whatever reason.
The insomnia problem (the problem of not being able to stay asleep through the night) is generally more complicated. All sorts of things can wake a person up. For seniors, bladder issues often come into play, and of course, this cannot be remedied by an adjustment of a nap or cup of coffee here or there. For seniors who suffer insomnia, there is a simple step they need to take: go and see the doctor. Yes, I know, many seniors hate going to the doctor, and they consider it completely unnecessary for something as simple as sleep deprivation, but they are wrong. Sleep deprivation is already affecting their moods, their energy level, and their general quality of life.
In short, if you are an elder caregiver of are just worried about your senior, be sure to take elderly sleep disorders seriously. They might not think it is important, but now you know better.
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.
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.
Do your mother and/or father need to be moved from home to an assisted living? Do they need to be moved from an assisted living to a nursing home? Or are they at a facility that you are not happy with? Moving your parents can be the best thing that you can do for them, but it can also be the worst thing.
Moving is a dramatic change for an elderly person, especially one with Alzheimerâ€™s disease. A move from home to a nursing home may be the best option but look into getting care at home. Moving can confuse and depress an elderly person. If your mother or father is able to, let him or her be a part of the decision.
When an elderly person is familiar with a facility or the staff at one assisted living or nursing home itâ€™s usually best to keep him there. An elderly person is more likely to willingly receive care and feel comfortable with care attendants and nurses that he or she knows as opposed to a stranger. Also when elderly people are familiar with a facility, such as knowing where the dining room, medicine, activities, and their apartment is, they are usually emotionally stable longer than if they are moved from facility to facility and getting disoriented and confused.
However, when you see your loved one needing more care than what the facility gives, you need to act quickly. There are nurses that come to where your parent is and give care to him. Some facilities have care packages that start at minimal care (such as reminders to come to meals and take medicine) and maximum care packages (such as bathing, transferring from bed to wheelchair and feeding). If the facility that your loved one is does not offer more care and getting a nurse to come and care for him or her is not an option you should not leave him or her there, moving would be a must in that situation.
If your parents are at a facility and you are not happy with the care that they are receiving, talk to the management about your complaints. They may not be aware that your parent is being neglected. Also talk with the care staff and let them know that you care about your parents and want the best care for them. Politely tell the care staff your complaints (i.e. moms hair needs to be brushed, I noticed dad lost his dentures). Visit your parents often. Keep the care staff accountable by making visits at different times of the day or maybe spend a night there if possible. If the quality of care still does not improve make a complaint to DADS (Department of Aging and Disabilities Services) and move your parents to a more quality facility.
Most importantly make sure your parent is taken good care of and is happy.
U.S. News and World ReportÂ researched and found that men that were diagnosed with diabetes in middle age were at a higher risk for alzheimers. They found that low levels of insulin caused damage to blood vesels in the brain.
If you or a loved one has low insulin levels be sure to follow doctors orders and get proper medication. Remember to get enough exercise to keep a healthy circulation and healthy weight.
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