Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

Health And Safety Tips For Seniors Living With Dementia

October 24th, 2016 by Doris Bersing

Managing DementiaDementia can affect a person in any number of ways, so it’s important to take care of the mind, body, and spirit in equal measure after a diagnosis of the disease. Although it is associated most closely with memory loss, there are physical and emotional tolls as well. It is most commonly caused by changes in the brain brought on by Alzheimer’s disease or more than one stroke and can bring on violent behavior, problems with language skills, and trouble with day-to-day activities.

For individuals who have not been placed in assisted living but need help in their day-to-day, there are many things for loved ones to think about concerning their safety and wellbeing. It’s helpful to go around their living space and assess any possible dangers or hazards; upgrades may need to be made in order to keep them comfortable, happy, and safe. Jim Vogel, offers here few of the best tips on how to do just that.

Encourage cognition: It’s important for sufferers of dementia to keep their minds active, so encourage them to play word games or simply tell stories about their life. Remembrance is a good thing, even when it involves a sad memory, because it keeps the individual in the present and helps them focus.

Keep them social: Loneliness can quickly lead to depression, so it’s important to make sure your loved one stays active and social. Help them find a group activity or club to join, such as a book group that meets once a week. Finding something they love and can stay active in will help immensely with mood and cognition, and it will give them a goal as well as something to look forward to.

Daily exercise is a must: Daily exercise is great for the body, but it’s good for the mind and mood, too. Activity can boost brain function and help stimulate positive feelings, so help your loved one get out and get moving. Daily walks in sturdy shoes are perfect, as is swimming, golfing, gardening, and anything else they might enjoy that won’t put a strain on them physically.

Safety measures: It’s important to know what your loved one’s specific needs are before assessing their living space. If dementia has progressed to a certain point, you might consider implementing safety measures such as door alarms and personal emergency alarms. Look around every room and check for properly installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, adequate lighting, and trip hazards such as slippery rugs, clutter, or furniture. Bathrooms will need to be checked for safety hazards as well; non-slip rubber mats should be placed on the floor and in the tub, and handrails or shower seats are always advisable. And if you’re loved one takes any medication, take control of their daily doses. Doing so will help them avoid becoming addicted to medications, such as opioids, and dangerous side effects from incorrect dosage.

If the dementia diagnosis is linked to Alzheimer’s, it’s important to understand the side effects of both, as they may differ from person to person. Alzheimer’s can cause physical issues such as vision loss and balance problems, so it’s imperative to make sure your loved one’s home can accommodate them safely. Stairs may be a problem to navigate; make sure the handrails are in good shape and the stairwell is well lit.

Lastly, keep up good communication with your loved one and make sure they know you’re there for them. Help them keep in touch with other family members and friends and offer to assist them with doctor appointments; every little thing helps.

 

Presentation – Dementia: Legal and Medical Aspects

October 15th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Elizabeth Krivatsy, Esq. and Elizabeth Landsverk, MD

Dementias of all kinds are wreaking havoc with the lives of individuals and families today. The more you know about the medical and legal repercussions involving the diagnoses of Dementia, and the sooner planning begins, the stronger the safety net we can create for our loved one, ourselves and our families.

Elizabeth Krivatsy, Esq. is an estate planning and elder law attorney, who is passionate about helping people plan for the best possible future, preparing for personal care and financial management during times of incapacity, and choosing their life in retirement. A graduate of the UC Hastings College of the Law, Elizabeth has served clients in the San Francisco Bay Area for 23 years.
www.krivatsylaw.com

Elizabeth Landsverk, MD. Dr. Landsverk has over twenty years of experience in providing medical care to the elderly. She is board-certified in Internal, Geriatric, and Palliative Care Medicine. As a House Calls Geriatrician, she collaborates with local physicians to address the needs of complicated vulnerable elders to alleviate pain, agitation and discomfort. Dr. Landsverk is a graduate of Stanford University and trained at Cambridge Hospital, Harvard University.
www.elderconsult.com

Date/Time
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Location
Mill Valley Recreation Center
180 Camino Alto
Mill Valley, CA 94941
RSVP
Limited seating, please call 1-800-805-7104 to reserve a space.

4 Ways to Help a Loved One Adjust After a Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

September 29th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Prepared for Living Well Assisted Living at Home by Patricia Sarmiento (*)

Alzheimer’s disease is a diagnosis that has heartbreaking impact on sufferers and their loved ones. Symptoms increase in severity as the disease progresses, from mild memory loss in the early stages of the illness to extreme confusion and even loss of identity as time goes on. Although Alzheimer’s changes the way those ailing from it live day to day, there are many ways caregivers, family members, and friends can make the transition a little easier. Here are a few ways to help a loved one adjust after receiving this diagnosis:

 

Make necessary home modifications.

Identifying issues that your loved one may have immediately or sometime down the road can prevent stress for everyone by helping to reduce the risk of injury or confusion. The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation has a list on tweaks you can make around the home to help with safety issues and daily tasks. For example, installing hand rails and eliminating clutter will help prevent falls, while labeling the contents of drawers and cabinets can make daily tasks more manageable.

 

Plan ahead.

There may come a point when Alzheimer’s sufferers can no longer care for themselves, or even make decisions regarding finances or healthcare. Taking care of these details before an individual becomes severely impaired will prevent their loved ones from burden. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests updating legal documents like living wills, trusts and power of attorney documents, as well as having a plan for future living assistance needs.

 

Consider a fuzzy companion.

Most people have heard of service dogs for the blind and deaf, but man’s best friend is now taking on a new role by providing support to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. These four-legged assistants are trained to prevent patients from wandering off and having panic episodes that result from disorientation and confusion, and even to bring medication in bite-proof packaging at the same time each day.This guide provides information on the many benefits of Alzheimer’s service dogs, as well as resources for bringing one home.

 

Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes.

Alzheimer’s is a complex degenerative cognitive disease, and it’s nearly impossible for those not suffering from it to completely understand what these individuals go through every day. As caregivers, trying our best to empathize with the struggles of Alzheimer’s patients can help us remain calm in frustrating situations. This video from ABC News sheds light on just how much this illness can affect an individual by creating an Alzheimer’s experience for two people without the disease.

 

Alzheimer’s is indeed a disease that impacts not only those with the diagnosis, but also those closest to them. That’s why it’s so important that we do all we can to show our support to our ailing loved ones by helping to simplify daily life as much as possible for them. Making the adjustment to life post-diagnosis benefits everyone, and allows us to focus our time making the most of each day.

 

(*) Patricia Sarmiento loves swimming and running. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.

A Cure for Alzheimer’s? The Noise Around Coconut Oil

July 29th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

12353888_mIt is common to hear of new ‘miracle cures’ being discovered, this is particularly true now that the internet is capable of spreading any story around the world in mere moments. Of course, many of these miraculous cures turn out to be impossible to confirm using current medical science.

One such claim was made by Dr. Mary Newport who seemed to have reversed the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in her husband by simply adding coconut oil to his diet for two weeks. The difference with this claim is that subsequent research appears to confirm this finding. (see an interview with Dr. Newport). It is true that MCT fats and their power to boost brain function

The majority of fats you consume are processed through the lymphatic system; however MCT fats are not, they go directly to the liver and are converted into energy which is instantly usable by the body. These MCT fats have been found to improve brain function after just one dose.

Neurodegenerative conditions

Alzheimer’s is one of several diseases which slowly destroy the neurological functions of the body, and in particular, the brain. The research conducted by the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada focused on the effects of coconut oil and the survival of neurons in the body. Coconut oil was found to be incredibly good at protecting these neurons from destruction and that the neurons were healthier with better mitochondria function than before the treatment. This was an essential finding as mitochondria function has been shown to be compromised in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

It is understood that this is possible as the MCT fats provide an alternative energy source to for these neurons. This allows them to function when they would otherwise die as they are unable to access the normal, glucose based energy available in the body. More research is planned to investigate and substantiate these findings further.

Rescuing the Brain

Coconut oil works by addressing the metabolic derangement in the brain, it provides an alternative energy source which allows the cells to heal and function normally again. The derangement of the brain is also known as Type 3 Diabetes. This is the naturally occurring resistance to insulin which makes the brain incapable of absorbing glucose properly. As the brain require a huge amount of energy on a daily basis an inability to obtain enough of this will have a detrimental effect on the brain cells; starting with the less vital ones.

Coconut oil appears to not only provide instantly usable energy to the brain but it can also provide the basis of new brain cells allowing the brain not only to repair itself but to grow and accept new information. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and have taken coconut oil have shown significant improvement in cognitive function and memory.

Poetic license

Alongside the research and gradual increase in positive results from this natural substance it may be of interest to note that the coconut is actually composed in a similar way to the human head. A coconut has an extremely hard outer shell, much like the human skull. Inside is a fatty acid-rich ‘meat’, this is the food source for the organ (brain) that they resemble. Walnuts have a similar look and have also been attributed with a variety of health benefits. It suggests that Mother Nature is prompting the use of coconuts and other natural foods by associating them with the part of the body they help.

Of course, this is subjective and it will probably take many years and many millions or billions of dollars before this is proved by scientists. In the meantime you will need to draw your own conclusions as to whether to incorporate this ‘food as medicine’ approach to health. Many would say that coconut oil for Alzheimer’s is a holistic type of treatment. Even though actual physicians managed to connect the oil to the diseases, numerous other related studies are still trying to prove that the connection is real, and that coconut could stop the formation of plaques in Alzheimer’s.

As Edward Francis from Supplemented.co.uk  says “…there’s no cure for dementia. Nevertheless, scientists are not losing hope…Dr. Newport was determined to help her husband, and apparently she managed to reserve the severe symptoms with coconut oil…” It is important though to ask the advice of a professional in the domain before starting a treatment. We will continue trying anything that can be of help to alleviate if not to stop such a cruel disease.

Living at Home and Understanding Dementia Symptoms

April 23rd, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Understanding DementiaHaving a loved one diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s,  is a very hard circumstance and can be very challenging. Most of the times you want to keep them living at home, and provide the home care for the dementia or Alzheimer’s care they need. However, people get distanced from the one suffering from Dementia since they can barely recognize you; thus it is important to understand the symptoms of dementia and become a step closer to your elderly parents.

Nobody wants to see their aging parent struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sadly, there are things in life we can’t control, like incurable diseases that could materialize after a certain age. When someone gets dementia, their relationships, priorities, and perceptions on life take an unexpected turn. Nevertheless, certain forms of dementia can be kept under control, reversed and even treated if caught on time. If you have an aging parent, it’s only natural to become concerned with their wellbeing. Are they eating right? Are they becoming more forgetful? Are they in pain? These are questions most concerned children ask themselves on a daily basis.

A 70-year old parent may forget things from time to time, but if you notice that their memory loss becomes intense, then it might be a cause of cognitive decline. Dementia can be identified in many ways. First, you must understand the disease. The more you know the higher chances you have to save your parent and stop the health condition from advancing.

Understanding symptoms of dementia

Dementia is not a sole health condition but a collection of numerous symptoms, and some of the most common are changes in personality, memory loss, and impaired intellectual functions that could result from trauma or disease to the brain. These changes are not normal aging signs, and their side effects are severe enough to impact someone’s daily living, relationships and independence forever. Even though Alzheimer’s is one of the most widespread forms of dementia, there are many others, including mixed and vascular dementia.

If you suspect that your parent may suffer from this dreadful illness, then some of the changes will be noticeable. Remembering, communication, learning and problem solving will become difficult endeavors to accomplish. These are changes that can happen fast, or develop slowly in time. The outcome and progression of dementia differ, but are mainly determined by the form of dementia suffered and side of the brain affected. A specialist in the medical field will provide a complete diagnosis after the patient has undergone a series of tests, clinical exams, and brain scans.

What triggers dementia?

A healthy brain’s mass begins to decline in adulthood. However, this fascinating organ-machine of ours keeps forming vital connections even if we age, thus keeping us sane. When these connections are misplaced because of injury, inflammation, or disease, brain neurons begin to die. The result – dementia; it’s certainly traumatic to see a loved one go through such a horrifying disease. This is why it is important for adults to interfere as soon as the first signs materialize in their aging parent. The faster a doctor understands the cause, the better chances he has to recommend a treatment.

Caring for a parent with dementia

In the United States, there are roughly 10 million people who take care of a parent with dementia. Most of these at-home caregivers are women. It’s tough to do this job and at the same time have a family on your own. But since we’re talking about a parent, you wouldn’t want anyone else to take care of them.

Becoming a caregiver to a sick parent is tough. If you’re an adult and you have kids, you must accept that your aging parent may also have the behavior of a 5-year old. Given that dementia affects the brain, memory loss is not the only disturbing symptom. Many adults don’t want to move their loved one to a nursing home. In general, it’s not because they can’t afford the costs but because they’ve over protective.

Professional care can be good for an elderly suffering from dementia

The option of Home care or aging in pace and caring at home for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s is still an option for some. However, one size does not fit all. Living Well Assisted Living at Home in San Francisco and Marin County recognizes that home care for senior with dementia is an alternative but also, believe it or not, today’s healthcare facilities and nursing homes are no longer what they used to be. Some of these hospices provide exceptional comfort. They also feature all kinds of activities for patients, and they have professional personal taking care of your loved one 24/7. Making the decision and moving your parent to a facility is not something you want to do. But it is necessary.

Only an equipped facility can offer the best care for your loved one. At-home caregiving is great, but it’s still not enough to make the patient feel appreciated. A specialized facility comes with lots of programs, socializing sessions, and other therapies meant to stimulate your parent’s brain and ensure he remains in good physical health for as long as possible.

In collaboration with  Edward Francis and Foresthc.com!

Dementia care: Truths that must be known

November 21st, 2014 by Doris Bersing

Dementia CareDementia care posits many challenges to the individual with dementia as well as to the people caring for her/his. Given that there are different types of dementia, and every person is unique, we have as many behaviors as many types of dementia and/or personalities.

Knowing the differences among the different types of dementia and its behavioral and physiological characteristics and impact on the person suffering the disease is important. The most well-known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there numerous other types, say Edward Francis and Foresthc.com. Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s with dementia, and FTD (fronto-temporal dementia), and some of the most widespread forms. Therefore, it is important to have your sick loved one checked by an expert physician in the domain. A qualified medical practitioner won’t just observe the form of dementia; he will also be able to recommend the most appropriate treatment. For a better understanding of the disease, you might want to document yourself, too. Read about dementia and you’ll have the capacity of caring for your relative with a lot more compassion, love and understanding. Here are some truths about dementia every caregiver should know.

Flexibility is paramount

If your loved one suffers from dementia, you must learn to be flexible and understanding. Be prepared for mood daily swings, and have patience. If there’s one thing about dementia we can’t deny is this – there’s no going back, so it’s important to find a way and help your relative cope with the disease. Look for patterns and keep in mind that some days will be really bad, and others not so bad.

Be ok with advice from others

Those who can’t understand what caregiving actually means will probably come with all sorts of recommendations on how to care for a relative with dementia. Because they’re not in your shoes, making guesses is a lot easier for them. Don’t take it personal and try to relax; breathe, smile and let them say whatever they want because in the end, their sole intention is to help out even if they have no idea what they’re implying.

Detachment is necessary for the mental health of the caregiver

At first, this will be difficult. Unfortunately, it’s something you must do if you don’t want to go insane. A care giver must not allow his/her patient define their whole lives. If you have the misfortune of caring for a cranky, controlling senior, try not to allow their behavior soak up your sense of self and make you feel guilty and miserable. You’re not responsible for their dementia, so get over it and move on with your life while also helping them to the best of your abilities.

Empathy is required in order to feel compassionate

Let’s not confuse empathy with sympathy, because they’re totally different. Although we are compelled to detach ourselves from our dementia patients in order to stay sane, it is important to be sympathetic and feel their pain, too. They’re lost in their confusion and they can’t find their way back to reality. This means that as a caregiver, you must relate to their state of mind. Put yourself in their shoes for a second the next time your mother screams at you for 20 minutes. How would she react if things were different?

Don’t be judgmental towards your care receiver

Dementia patients will have good days and bad days. On those bad days, they might insult you. Don’t beat yourself up as you are doing everything you can to make their lives easier and more pleasant. Educate yourself on how to deal with bad behavior and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance in case you truly need it. Think about the good days and try to replicate those days; your patient could respond positively and even change his/her behavior instantly.

Ask for assistance and understand your limitations

Almost everyone trying to care for a patient with dementia eventually ends up needing help. You shouldn’t be compelled to look after a relative by yourself; ask for assistance from your siblings and make them understand that caregiving has to be a team effort. In special circumstances, you might consider hiring an in-home caregiver or place your loved one in an assisted living facility. One thing’s for sure – dementia is a serious illness that gets worse with time; this means that sooner or later, you will need professional assistance.

Certain truths are crystal-clear and just can’t be denied. Dementia caregiving implies more than visiting a relative once a week or helping around the house. You will have to make a full commitment, and provide the best assistance that you can in order to make the lifestyle of a loved one easier, and more fulfilling.

 

How Families Can Prepare to Care for A Loved One Dealing with a Memory Loss Condition

November 6th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

CaregiverIn recognition of November being National Family Caregivers Month,  US President Barack Obama issue a proclamation recognizing November as the National Family caregiver month. President Obama stresses the fact “…In the United States, more than 60 million caregivers provide invaluable strength and assistance to their family members, and as the number of older Americans rises, so will the number of caregivers. Many of these dedicated people work full time and raise children of their own while also caring for the needs of their loved ones. Caregivers support the independence of their family members and enable them to more fully participate in their communities, and as a Nation, we have an obligation to empower these selfless individuals.

Private institutions like The Brentwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Danvers, MA shared some advice for family caregivers whose loved ones have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

Family Caregivers provide many aspects of emotions, finances, nursing, and homemaking to allow for their loved ones to stay in their own homes comfortably. National Family Caregivers Month allows us to recognize those that put hard work into supporting their loved ones throughout difficult times.  Here are a few pieces of advice for those who are caregivers to loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia:

Become Well Informed
There are programs and classes that caregivers can take to learn more about Memory Loss Conditions. Also, completing your own research to gain as much knowledge about the diseases can help. There is a ton of information which can help you to prepare for the future and what you are going to encounter as your loved ones progress.

Develop a Strong Support Network of Family and Friends
Having a strong support network around you is extremely important as you become a caregiver. Keeping a support system of people you can talk to, get away for a bit with, or a shoulder to lean on helps for caregivers to handle the stress of caring for a loved one who is dealing with memory loss conditions.

Join a Support Group
Caregivers sometimes need to realize, they are not the only ones who are in this type of situation. By joining local support groups, you can gain a trusted support system, talk about your issues, and gain valuable advice about how others have coped with bringing in a loved one with medical issues.

Develop Family Roles
Many times, there are multiple people in the same house acting as caregivers for a loved one. It is important to set family roles so that everyone knows their part and what they are responsible for doing. Someone may be the driver to doctor’s appointments whereas another makes their meals and another could be responsible for their medication. It is important that everyone in the household is on the same page to decrease tension and make sure their loved one is getting the proper care necessary.

Evaluate Finances
Bringing in a loved one will create added costs to your monthly budget. Sit down with your past budget and you will realize you may need to readjust. You will have one more mouth to feed, one more person to drive, medications to order, new furniture or safety accessories to add to your house. Before you bring your loved one into your home it is important to realize what the added costs will be to understand the expenses you will face.

Plan for the Future
From the beginning caregivers have to understand that their loved ones may not be able to stay with them forever. Families need to sit down and discuss what the plans are for the future. Whether that includes part time at home nursing care, part time living situations between different members of the family, or eventually looking into care facilities for your loved ones, it is important for these decisions to be set from the beginning.

Take Care of Yourself
Finally, caregivers need to take a step back and make sure they are caring for themselves. Being active will help keep a caregiver physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. Taking time for yourself is important to release the burdens and stresses that come with care giving. Allowing yourself “me time” will keep you fresh and allow you to be a better caregiver.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia are extremely life-changing diseases for both those diagnosed and their loved ones. Those who take on the care giving responsibilities will be taking on a lot in the future, but the patients will benefit from their love and support.

Finally, thank you to all the wonderful caregivers out there, we appreciate all that you do!