Friday, December 15, 2017

Being Grateful - Can Change Your Life


The concept of keeping a gratitude journal has gained attention as a focal point for brain writings and research. Forbes published an article within recent years that explored the value of keeping a gratitude journal.  

Something happens neurologically when we reflect on our choices, relationships and special events in our lives. Actively reflecting starts to hardwire neurological changes in the brain. If you’re constantly focusing on emotions that make you fearful, angry and resentful, they eventually get hardwired into your brain. The opposite outcome holds true for gratitude.  

Research has found that keeping a gratitude journal can help pull you out of negative patterns, and start you on a course that leads to positive thoughts and actions. Gratitude journals have been shown to be even more effective than simply focusing on having positive thoughts in your day.  

Keeping one has many different benefits:  

One of the biggest improvements comes with the ability to open up new relationships, or to communicate better in your current relationships. Reflecting and being grateful for the people that help you in life expands your empathy, and empathy is one of the cornerstones of healthy relationships.  

It also improves physical health. Research, published in 2012 in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, found that people stuck in negative emotional patterns feel pain more intensely than people who practice gratitude and positive thinking on a daily basis.  

Keeping a gratitude journal also helps people manage depression and feelings of aggression.  

A study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people who wrote in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes at night before going to bed experienced better quality of sleep on a regular basis.  

It also has a positive impact on self-esteem. Sitting down to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you’re grateful for ingrains the value of the experience in your memory. This also helps to reduce social comparisons, because focusing on what you appreciate about yourself impedes the negative impulse to judge others.  

Gratitude journaling has also been shown to be a therapeutic tool that can help people deal with conditions like PTSD and other stress-related disorders.  

It costs little more than a cheap composition notebook or simply maintaining a special file on your computer’s hard drive. I think you’ll find if you take the time to reflect on your life and the things you’re grateful for, results will be nothing short of amazing.  

Contributor: Dr. Michael Trayford is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Founder of APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC. 

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society of America does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Hazards of Paying the Bills and all that Paper!


Paper may seem innocuous. It arrives our homes daily in the form of mail, magazines and newspapers, and it piles up often in a haphazard manner. We usually don’t give it too much thought. But for many people, especially seniors, and those living with Dementia (or as a caregiver), bills and personal papers can lead to identity theft and fraud.

The best practice for managing monthly bills is to shred all documents that contain personal information. It is recommended that documents be shredded, because thieves have gone so far as to steal garbage to obtain innocent victims’ personal financial information. Many banks and community service organizations offer a free "shredding day," and it's worth packing up a couple of file boxes, worst case, once or twice year, if you don't yet have or can't afford a personal/home shredder.

So, if you are receiving monthly bills in the mail, they should be shredded after paying them, or as soon as possible. Documents that are necessary for tax or other important purposes should be maintained for a period of time specified by your lawyer and accountant. However, such documents should be kept in a small locked, waterproof, fireproof filing cabinet so they can only be accessed by authorized parties.

In February 2016, the New York Times published an article about a scam artist who was able to steal many tens of thousands of dollars from a victim, simply by stealing a check that the victim had placed in the mailbox.

Once the criminal stole the check, he was able to empty significant amounts of funds from the victim’s account, because he had the bank’s routing number and the account number. This incident highlights another opportunity for criminal activity based on unsecured documents:  mail theft.  If you or a loved one are not using online bill paying, consider mailing checks in a secure U.S. Post Office mailbox rather than leaving the envelopes to be picked up in a personal mailbox attached to the house, apartment or out at the end of your driveway.

If you need assistance with bill paying, consider using a service. There are a number of services available throughout the country like the one I founded called, SilverBills. We receive, scrutinize and ensure that your bills are paid accurately and on-time. You no longer need to open envelopes, write checks or remember deadlines. Once enrolled in this type of service, you will likely receive a lot less paper in the mail and that will further decrease the potential for theft and fraud.

A last reminder: securely keep, and don't shred important paper documents like your social security card (which is not really a card - it's more like a piece of thick paper), certain tax, financial, legal, insurance and healthcare documents. Shredding is pretty permanent, so if ever in doubt, ask your attorney, insurance agent, banker or financial professional before shredding.

Contributor: Marci Lobel-Esrig founded SilverBills after witnessing the challenges faced by her elderly relative paying bills on time and correctly. Marci has been a practicing attorney for more than 20 years. Marci received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. degree Magna Cum Laude from Columbia College, Columbia University.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Finding Ways to Reduce the Stress of Caregiving


Family caregivers often feel stressed, exhausted, anxious, sad, angry, and sometimes hostile. However, caring for a person who has Dementia does more than affect behavior.

According to psychiatrist Dr. Linda Mah and colleagues, unrelenting stress and anxiety compromises health as well as contributes to increased risk for depression and Dementia. Many of their findings are sobering. Their discovery that unrelenting anxiety and stress damages areas of the brain that regulate emotional responses, thinking, and memory, is particularly relevant. They conclude that some treatments relieving depression may aid in repairing the damage created by caregiving stresses.

But don't let Dr. Mah’s findings be another reason to cause worry in your already stress-filled life. Having risk factors does not mean you are predestined to develop Dementia. Risk factors do not cause the disease; risk factors increase the probability of (someday) having the disease.

There are many reasons why it is important for family caregivers to get relief from the months and years of doing more than their abilities, circumstances, and resources would normally withstand. 

Caregivers have several options available to them in order to reduce their stress. One of them is to look closely at their own behavior. Some family caregivers feel they are the only person who can give their loved-one the proper care. Usually, this is not true. Often family members and friends can step up as good substitute caregivers and will volunteer to help if the primary caregiver appears interested or receptive.

In addition to family and friends, community and faith-based organizations provide affordable respite care. Local nonprofit support groups, as well as the U.S. Administration on Aging, are examples of community resources. The Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Service are examples of faith-based, nonprofit organizations that, regardless of ethnicity or religion, can give the primary caregiver time away from his or her full-time care commitment.

Adult daycare is another possibility. Located in community senior centers, nursing homes, churches, synagogues, hospitals, and schools, adult daycare provides stimulation and companionship for seniors who need medical assistance and other kinds of supervision.  Usually open during business hours, adult daycare centers give the family caregiver time to go to work, to attend to personal business, or to relax while knowing their loved-one is safe.

Family caregivers use respite time in different ways. Some sleep, while others go shopping, spend time with friends, read, walk, or take time to participate in a favorite hobby or sport. Make an effort to set aside time for a daily 15- to 30-minute break for an enjoyable physical activity such as walking. Good times to grab these important moments are when your loved-one is asleep, is in the doctor’s office, or when a friend or relative pays a visit

Schedule longer respite breaks for the same time each week. Plan ahead so you will know how you will spend that precious time. That way, even on a difficult day you will always have something to look forward to doing. But whatever you decide, make respite a priority before feelings of exhaustion, isolation, and resentment take over.  

Janet Yagoda Shagam, PhD, is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through Amazon.  

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society of America does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hearing Test Protocol For Those With Dementia


For most of us, we are busy with our daily lives engulfed with family activities, work, education, and all the things that consume our time. We never give it a thought and often take it for granted how our senses keep us connected with our world.

As we age there are changes confronting us in the realm of our health and quality of life. These changes are age-related and present a disability to be addressed and remedied. Most of these are hearing, vision, speaking, various motor skills, and cognition. Hearing loss is estimated to affect some 39 to 50 million Americans.  

Research has indicated that almost three out of every four individuals age 80 and above will have at least one disability to deal with. Most often, hearing loss is most common. Dr. Frank R. Lin, MD of Johns Hopkins University has been one of the leading researchers over the past ten years to make the connection with untreated hearing loss being a provocateur in the area of Dementia.

Our loved ones and senior friends impacted with hearing loss and some type of Dementia are especially at risk for decreased quality of life. Often these people require special care in a licensed facility with a professional medical staff 24/7.

Ideally, I recommend to every one of my patients to have a complete audiological evaluation on an annual basis. Following this guideline as an associated part of having an annual physical by their family physician, enables the audiologist to detect and monitor adverse changes in hearing acuity, abnormalities, and other medical issues to be addressed.  

This evaluation provides the baseline and documentation on future tests that help the patient later in life. The protocol includes, but is not limited to: case history, otoscopic inspection, pure tone (air & bone) audiometry, speech audiometry, tone decay, tympanometry, acoustic stapedial reflexes, and distortion product otoacoustic emissions testing.

One avenue where this documentation will be critical is in handling hearing health care for those requiring amplification and knowing what the previous status was for Dementia-affected patients.

For the reader of this article, you would undoubtedly be able to participate in and complete an audiological evaluation administered by an audiologist. For a person with advancing Dementia, in a facility such as a nursing home or special care unit, it may that up to 95% cannot complete or tolerate the standard evaluation. Even though Congress in 1987 mandated a Minimum Data Set for a required evaluation of incoming residents to a facility, it does not guarantee a successful finding, in hearing, comprehending speech, and producing language.

For those people with mid to later stages of Dementia, alterations in testing protocol could be required. Behavioral tests are mostly eliminated from the battery.

There are many considerations in handling hearing loss, amplification, and proper examination and assessment for the person with Dementia. Since much of the protocol below is rather scientific-sounding and not easily expressed in lay terms, please print out this blog post and/or bring the information to your doctor to get the process underway.

A suggested protocol may include:


  • Case history – Since the patient may not be able to provide complete and accurate information, a family member or friend should be queried. This step will require a review of previous audiologic studies.
  • Otoscopic inspection – The audiologist will utilize an otoscope to examine the outer ear canals and visually assess for any apparent abnormalities.
  • Audiometry for pure tone and speech stimuli – This component requires participation by the patient and test reliability in subjective responses. There will be some that may not tolerate the headset or canal inserts nor provide reliable information.  Research has shown that only 5% may be able to complete this step.
  • Tympanometry and acoustic stapedial reflexes; impedence testing – This assessment will show whether a perforation, abnormal middle ear pressure, or fluid is present and requiring otologic intervention.
  • Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing – This is a truly objective test to determine the status of the outer hair cells of the cochlea.  Normal responses are seen in threshold level up to 35 dBHL. The frequency range of DPOAE is 1500 to 6000 Hz.
  • Amplification check – The doctor of audiology will clean, check, repair as needed, readjust, and refit the patient’s amplification if they are a current wearer. If replacement is indicated, this will be noted.  As for a new fitting to a patient who has not previously been fitted, it will not be advised due to issues involving reliability of the assessment and tolerance of fitting.

If you wish to explore this subject further, please contact a board certified & licensed private practice doctor of audiology today. 

Hearing loss, once addressed, may result in a much richer and more meaningful quality of life for all those affected!

Contributing Author: 
Dr. Patrick M. Murphy, Au.D., M.Ed., CCC-A, FAAA
http://www.murphyhearingservices.com/

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org

Friday, September 15, 2017

Alzheimer's Disease-Type Dementia



Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is thought to be the most common kind of Dementia. Researchers estimate that as many as 5.4 million people living in the United States have this type of Dementia.¹ 
Whereas, when you combine all forms of Dementia together, it is estimated to affect 9 million or more people in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer's Disease is the fifth most frequent cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older.² Further, in high-economic countries³  like the U.S. and Canada, when considering the larger domain - that includes of all types of Dementia - Dementia is thought to rank even higher as the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease as number 1 and stroke as number 2.

While it is hard to say what actually causes Alzheimer's Disease, we do know the deposition and accumulation of fibrous proteins accompanies irreversible brain damage. It is thought that these insoluble proteins form β-amyloid plaques that disrupt brain architecture alter how brain cells use energy, and promote cell death. The second hallmark of AD, also seen by Dr. Alois Alzheimer over 100 years ago under a microscope, are the neurofibrillary tangles of dead and dying neurons seemingly connected to Tau, another type of protein. That's why medical professionals will often speak of the "plaques and tangles" of AD.


The result is a slow and progressive decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Eventually people lose the ability to swallow and breathe in a coordinated fashion. Even in the absence of other catastrophic diseases such as kidney failure and cancer, Alzheimer's Disease is a terminal illness.

Alzheimer's Disease comprises a spectrum rather than a defined set of signs and symptoms. Slow progression, rather than sudden change, is often the key to differentiating Alzheimer's behaviors from those associated with other kinds of Dementia. Life expectancy after an Alzheimer's diagnosis can be anywhere from four to 20 years. People who have Dementia often die from other causes such as cancer, kidney failure, and cardiovascular disease.

The Alzheimer's Association lists the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease – the first of which is memory loss. After reading the list you might think, How are these behaviors different from what everybody does at one time or another? The difference is the frequency and the ability to make self-corrections.

Healthcare providers often use staging to describe the progression and severity of diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, and Dementia. The following staging criteria will help you understand your loved-one’s condition and plan for future caregiving needs.

Mild or Early-stage Alzheimer's Disease

In this first stage, people experience memory loss, difficulty remembering newly learned information, and have trouble completing complex tasks such as planning a family event. Personality changes such as uncharacteristic anger and increasing difficulty in finding the right words, getting lost, or misplacing items are other common signs. With help, your parent, spouse, or sibling may still be capable of independent living.

Moderate or Mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease

During this phase people may confuse family members with close friends, forget personal history details such as where they went to school or where they were born, and need help with dressing and personal hygiene. Some people may become restless, suspicious of others, and confrontational. At this stage, your relative will need close supervision and assistance during the day and perhaps a caregiver during the night.

Severe or Late-stage Alzheimer's Disease

In the course of this last stage, people who have Dementia lose the ability to speak coherently, need help with eating, dressing, using the bathroom, and walking. Eventually, Late-stage Alzheimer's patients lose the ability to swallow and control their bladder and bowels. During this final stage, your loved-one will need 24-hour care, either at home or in a Dementia care facility.

Janet Yagoda Shagam, PhD, is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through Amazon.


The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

References

1. 2017 Facts and Figures: Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, 
Download source here: 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. (accessed September 18, 2017). 


2. ibid


3. 2017 World Health Organization Factsheet Download source here: 2017 World Health Organization Factsheet.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Symptoms for Vascular Dementia can Vary Widely


Vascular Dementia may account for 12 to 20 percent of all Dementias, and is the second most common age-related Dementia.1 Unlike the gradual progression of Alzheimer's disease, the onset of Vascular Dementia symptoms is often abrupt and occurs when a heart attack or a stroke dramatically reduces blood flow to or through the brain. Hallucinations, rather than the memory loss associated with early-stage Alzheimer's disease, is another indicator of Vascular Dementia. 

Vascular Dementia can also have a slow progression. This happens when the accumulative damage of transient ischemic attacks – often called TIAs – cause many small areas of brain damage and, eventually, noticeable symptoms. The descriptive name “multi-infarct Dementia” is the term healthcare providers use to describe this kind of Vascular Dementia. Infarcts refer to the many (multiple) areas of non-functioning brain tissue that accumulate over time. Multi-infarct Dementia is the most common type of Vascular Dementia.1  

Depending on the location within the brain, multi-infarct Dementia produces a spectrum of physical, behavioral and emotional changes. An example of a physical change is shuffling or walking with small rapid steps. Behavioral symptoms can include slurred speech, getting lost in familiar surroundings, and difficulty in following instructions. Sometimes people cry or laugh at inappropriate times. 

As you can now appreciate, telling the difference between Alzheimer's disease and Vascular Dementia can be difficult. If the changes appear rapidly, Vascular Dementia, resulting from a stroke or heart attack, is the likely culprit. To make things even more complicated, many people have both Alzheimer's disease and Vascular Dementia.

There several ways you can reduce risk for Vascular Dementia. Some of these include: maintaining a healthy blood pressure; eating a healthy, low-fat diet; maintaining a healthy weight; regular exercise; and to refrain from or stop smoking.2 It is well worth noting that all of these modifiable conditions and behaviors are ones that affect the cardiovascular system and blood flow to the brain. 

#VascularDementia #MultiInfarct #KnowDementia

Janet Yagoda Shagam, PhD, is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of  “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through Amazon.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts - that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.  

References
Source 1, accessed March 4, 2016
Source 2, accessed March 4, 2016

Friday, July 14, 2017

How to Distinguish Dementia with Lewy Bodies From Other Types

 
Lewy Body Dementia (named after Frederich Heinrich Lewy, who in 1912 described the disease) is a spectrum disorder described by a rapid decline in the patient’s cognition and behavior. Hallucinations and delusions, as well as alterations in sleep, heart rate, and digestion are other Dementia with Lewy body characteristics. Certain subtypes of Dementia with Lewy Bodies cause people to experience shaking, rigidity, and balance difficulties.

The presence of Lewy bodies – abnormal brain deposits composed of several proteins located throughout the brain, is the post-mortem diagnostic hallmark. Dementia with Lewy bodies is a rapidly progressing disease. Death usually occurs within five to seven years of diagnosis.

Unlike Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies does not have predictable stages. Early symptoms of the disease vary. Some people first experience cognitive and memory changes similar to those associated with early Alzheimer's Disease. For other people, first symptoms may include shaking and a shuffling gait. Sometimes hallucinations are a first symptom. Therefore, a thorough medical exam plays an important role in ruling out other causes such as Parkinson's Disease or the side effects of medications used to treat other illnesses and conditions.

Responses to the medications used to treat or reduce the severity of hallucinations can inadvertently confirm a diagnosis of Dementia with Lewy bodies. Unlike people who have Alzheimer's Disease, people who have symptoms commonly associated with Dementia with Lewy bodies can have dangerous, and sometimes fatal reactions to antipsychotic medications such as haloperidol (Haldol) and risperidone (Risperdal). (See References 1 and 2 below.) This finding points to the importance of keeping detailed medical history notes and prescription records. This is especially true for first-time appointments and in the emergency room.

Lewy bodies are also found in other brain disorders such as Parkinson's Disease. Many people who have Parkinson's Disease eventually develop the thinking and reasoning difficulties associated with Dementia with Lewy bodies. Conversely, many people who have Dementia with Lewy bodies experience the shaking and shuffling gait associated with Parkinson's Disease. The overlap in symptoms and other evidence suggest that Dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson's Disease and Parkinson's Disease Dementia may share underlying abnormalities.

#lewybodydementia #unpredictable #earlysymptomsvary

Janet Yagoda Shagam, PhD, is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through Amazon.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts - that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

Source 1, accessed March 6th, 2016

Source 2, accessed March 15th, 2016

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Identifying Frontotemporal Dementia


In 1892, the German neurologist and psychiatrist Arnold Pick described a case involving an elderly patient with progressive loss of speech and Dementia. Later, when the patient had died, the autopsy showed that certain parts of the brain had shriveled. Unlike the widespread shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, this type of Dementia appeared to target the frontal and temporal lobes.

The two frontal lobes, located on the front of each half of the brain, contain the structures that control our executive functions such as planning, organizing, and solving problems. The frontal lobes also control behavior, emotions, and personality.

The two temporal lobes, located on each side of the brain just above the ear, give us the ability to perceive and recognize faces and objects and transfer short-term memories into our long-term memory banks.

It is not surprising to discover that people who have Frontotemporal Dementia may no longer seem like the people we once knew. A parent who was once friendly, polite, and careful about their appearance may say and do socially unacceptable things. Emotional blunting, or the inability to express verbal and non-verbal feelings, is another characteristic of this type of Dementia.

Another clue that can indicate Frontotemporal Dementia is difficulty in using and understanding spoken and written language. Language difficulties include repeated mispronunciations, and the inability to make appropriate associations between objects and their name. Frontotemporal lobe patients may use words and phrases like “this,” “that” and “over there” in the place of specific nouns and descriptions. People who have Frontotemporal Dementia are not aware of how they have changed.

Scientists do not know the cause of Frontotemporal Dementia. However, research demonstrates that genetics often plays a role in its development. Some studies show alterations in genes that code for specific brain proteins in nearly 45 percent of people who have family members who have certain types of Frontotemporal Dementia.1 These altered proteins form insoluble deposits in brain neurons. The deposition of the proteins causes the neurons to swell, burst open and die.2

It appears that genes play a role in nearly 45 percent of people who have Frontotemporal Dementia.1 However, it is also important to remember that for more than in 50 percent of Frontotemporal Dementia families, genetics either does not play a role or is not yet an understood factor.

Tests are available to determine if the Frontotemporal Dementia that you, or another family member, have is genetic in origin. Making the decision to undergo testing is not always easy. It is important to consider how you and other family members might feel if you should receive positive results. Will knowing make you anxious, relieved, or empowered? Will other family members also want testing? How might this information affect family planning for you or your adult children? Will having a positive test influence your employer or make it more difficult to receive health or life insurance?


Anybody would find these and many other questions difficult to answer. Often, people find talking with a genetic counselor can make the decision to test – or not – easier. The genetic counselor, by explaining the technical and emotional issues associated with genetic testing, can help you make a comfortable decision. Afterwards, the genetic counselor can explain the test results to you and guide discussion about any further steps you may want to take. 




Janet Yagoda Shagam, PhD, is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through




The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org.

#frontotemporaldementia #emotionalblunting #genetictesting #dementiasocietyBLOG


References:
1.     HS Kirshner, “Frontotemporal lobe dementia: Genetic Distribution and Variation,” http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1135164-overview#aw2aab6b4 (accessed March 5, 2016).
2.     W Leonard, MpH“Causes of Dementia,” http://www.healthline.com/health/dementia (accessed March 6, 2016).



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What is Your Compass Rose?


Have you ever taken a cruise, or even thought about doing so? Getting aboard a cruise ship for the first time and not knowing what is coming next might create a bit of fear. Fear that may have kept you from booking the trip for months, and maybe from doing it at all. Not being able to “see land,” or the destination, can sometimes lead to anxiety. But turn that understanding around, once experienced, you may not be able to imagine a life without the joy of meeting new people and exploring new cultures. But even well-worn ship captains use tools on every voyage, to safely navigate and make steady progress, a map and a compass. Not knowing what’s coming next can be frustrating and even disastrous, but with guidance and the right information, there can be a steady calm in the midst of the stormiest weather.

Dementia, like cancer, is a term often fraught with an enormous amount of fear and anger stemming in large part, from a shortage of information, or sometimes, too much. It's not uncommon for someone who has lived with a chronic and/or life-threatening illness, or who has acted as a caregiver, upon hearing the topic of a specific disease feels so much pain that they do not wish to revisit the experience in any way, shape or form. Repeated exposure may help dampen the immediate response, but deep down, without an ability to process the unpleasant feelings, and without the right tools, it can remain painful for some time.

In the case of Dementia, knowing is hard, but good. It's hard because we basically understand the nature of what it is, a gradual loss of cognitive abilities. But it's also good, and valuable, because the act of “knowing more” can actually relieve at least some of the anxiety. Having a map and a compass allows you to plan your actions and enhance your responses as you cross the sea of life.

Without a doubt, if you believe you or a loved one or friend is experiencing one or more cognitive challenges, it is imperative to sort through what's going on and begin to understand the possible causes, progression (if, in fact, it's Dementia), care or interventions that make the most sense given whatever you learn. Neurologists (brain specialists), and particularly those who specialize in Dementia, are the current “Ship Captains” for a full cognitive work-up. 

That's not to say that primary care physicians don't play an important role, they do. Even trained social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and many other types of healthcare professionals can lend a hand with identifying issues which need more insight and testing. Don't walk out of an annual check-up and say “everything's okay,” if you know in your heart-of-hearts it isn't, or if others you respect and love say that there's something “still going on.” Dig deeper. Get a check-up from the neck-up, as Zig Ziglar used to say. Having a “neuropsych” examination, as well as blood tests, a nutritional evaluation and maybe even certain scans or more advanced tests are often the right thing to do. Eliminate all possible causes, even reversible forms, of cognitive difficulty and as with most major health issues, seek second opinions as necessary.

Over the next four months we're going to more closely explore the following leading forms of Dementia: Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia and Frontotemporal Dementia. Then we will follow with lesser known types of Dementia which may result from traumatic brain injury (TBI), repetitive concussions (CTE), infections/viruses (CJD and HIV), alcoholism and others. Knowledge is like a compass rose, always pointing north, it can guide, empower, and reduce anxiety. Like a ship setting sail to a new port of call, with a good map and a reliable compass, having "knowledge" tools enable you to chart a course towards your best possible tomorrows.

Author: Kevin Jameson, Volunteer | President | Chairman, Dementia Society of America. 

Dementia Society, Inc. does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

Learn more at www.dementiasociety.org.

#KnowDementia #DementiaSociety #CompassRose

Monday, April 17, 2017

Special Needs Trust Planning for the Future


Dementia is costly, both financially and emotionally. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Dementia, you are probably overwhelmed with the prospect of how to financially plan for the future. A trusted partner at a time of need can be welcome help.

One option for managing finances is a pooled special needs trust (SNT). A pooled SNT is administered by a nonprofit organization. The organization makes decisions on how funds from the trust are disbursed on behalf of the trust Beneficiary, makes decisions on who invests the funds, fulfills reporting requirements to government agencies and stays abreast of changing regulations so that means-tested government benefits (like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)) are not jeopardized.

Each Beneficiary’s funds are placed in an individual sub account. The cash assets from all sub accounts are then “pooled” together and invested as a group. Earnings based on the Beneficiary’s share of the principal are reinvested into each sub account. A financial record is maintained for each sub account that reflects all the activity in the account. Each beneficiary or their advocate has access to the financial information either electronically or by mail.

Most pooled trusts offer both First Party and Third Party SNTs. A First Party SNT is established with the Beneficiary’s own funds. A Third Party SNT is funded by a third party for the benefit of the individual with dementia or a family member with special needs.
A pooled special needs trust makes sense for multiple reasons. It allows one the opportunity to set aside funds that will enrich the quality of life for the Beneficiary. The Beneficiary can benefit from trust administration services including investment and management. All disbursements are for the sole benefit of the Beneficiary. 

Pooling the funds reduces administrative fees and increases the principal for investment purposes. A pooled SNT will also protect eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income in many instances; however, special planning is required for Beneficiaries over the age of 64 for whom Medicaid Long-term Care benefits may be needed.

It is strongly recommended that you consult with a Trust and Estates Attorney or Elder Law Attorney who can advise you on how a pooled special needs trust can benefit your situation. When appropriate, a SNT can give you a sense of well-being regarding your own, or your loved one’s, financial future while continuing to live life with quality and dignity.

Authored by Joanne Marcus, MSW, Executive Director, Commonwealth Community Trust (CCT). CCT is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization that administers affordable and efficient pooled special needs trusts. CCT was founded in 1990 and is managed by a Board of Directors who serve with a caring heart and without compensation. With years of experience, CCT has a proven reputation as a prudent steward and administrator. For more information about CCT, contact Joanne Marcus, MSW, Executive Director at jmarcus@trustcct.org or 804-740-6930. Visit our website at www.trustCCT.org for access to information and additional resources.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org.

#helpinghand #lifeisspecial #specialneedstrust #dementiasociety



Saturday, April 15, 2017

Delegate Responsibilities So You Can Focus on the Most Important Ones


Delegating or outsourcing tasks to other people can be an effective stress management tool. Taking proactive steps to manage stress protects one's own brain health, keeps you from overloading your "circuits," and allows others to feel more engaged in the process. It also lets you focus on your own productive strengths.

Some people are too proud or stubborn to let someone else take on a task. Most people aren’t going to do things exactly the way you would do it yourself. Sometimes you just have to be patient and accept that it’s not going to be delivered to your complete satisfaction on the first couple of attempts – if ever! In time you’ll refine the process and develop more tolerance.

In a business setting it often helps to hold a meeting where people can discuss their strengths and weaknesses. The goal is not to look at it as an exercise for critique, but to identify who is strong at a skill at which you might be weak. This way you’ll know the prime candidates for certain tasks.

When these people get to take on these other tasks, they get engaged in the problem-solving and it makes them feel empowered. When people get the chance to be a part of the process, it can be quite liberating for all. If delegating can be done in that fashion, then you should absolutely go for it. This naturally carries over from business to family life, and can be practiced with as few as two people.

This same philosophy extends to outsourcing or hiring a specialist to manage a project. Maybe it’s a home improvement project that you have the ability to do, but it’s taking time away from your business or family. When you hire someone else to do it, you can focus on your important tasks or simply spend quality time with your loved ones.

#brainhealth #findtimebydelegating #empowermentbyproblemsolving

Dr. Michael Trayford is a Board-Certified
Chiropractic Neurologist and Founder of APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC. For more information, please visit
www.ApexBrainCenters.com/memory.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Drinking and Dementia: What is the Connection?



The health benefits that various foods and diets to improve overall health or lower risk for disease is a newsworthy topic. Some articles promote that eating fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps us to maintain a healthy weight, as well as lowering our risk for colon cancer. Others assert the Mediterranean diet – one which encourages replacing red meat for fish and chicken, saturated fats with olive oil, and refined carbohydrates with whole grains – reduces risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.

There are many research studies touting the benefits of red wine on lowering cholesterol blood levels and thereby reducing risk for heart disease, strokes, cataracts, and colon cancer. Though a controversial area of research, some studies indicate drinking moderate amounts of red wine may slow declines in brain function. With respect to consuming wine and other alcoholic beverages, moderation is the key word. However, most people are unsure of how much a moderate amount is.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a low to moderate alcohol consumption is no more than one drink a day for women and older adults, and two for men. One drink is usually 1 1/2 ounce or 15 grams of alcohol, which equals approximately 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. (See Note 1 below.)

These dietary guidelines refer to the amount consumed on any single day and not as an average over several days. In other words: Do not save your daily allocation for a weekend binge. Alcohol-related brain damage, (ARBD) conditions that include Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and alcoholic Dementia, is the result of drinking too much alcohol over the course of several years.

Though both types of ARBD exhibit dementia-like symptoms, neither condition is true dementia. The difference between ARBD and a Dementia such as Vascular, Lewy body or Alzheimer’s disease is in the ability to treat or stop the progression of symptoms.

Consuming more than the recommended amounts of alcohol does increase the likelihood for developing Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular Dementia later in life. However, researchers have yet to establish the numerical relationship between alcohol consumption and risk for Dementia.

The reasons are many and include research entirely dependent on reported observations and evaluating the variables that, in combination with alcohol consumption, affect the long-term risk for Dementia. However, one can state with certainty the more you drink the greater the likelihood for developing dementia later in life. High alcohol consumption also increases risk for stroke, heart and liver disease, and depression – all of which are well-known dementia risk factors.

Note:
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015. 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition, Washington, DC; 2015, (accessed June 15, 2015).

Janet Yagoda Shagam, PhD, is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.”Available through Amazon.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts- that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Getting the Caregiving Help You Need From Family and Friends


"We need to make it right before it goes wrong."

What a wonderful expression! The phrase gives you permission to say, "I need your help."

Yes, it is true that some people, even without your asking, will be more than happy to volunteer their time. However, an uncommitted "Call if you need anything" is not the same as "What do you need? Tell me what I can do to help you."

Many family and friends, perhaps not understanding the responsibilities and challenges you face, will require a little prodding. A good approach is to organize an informal gathering with your family and perhaps a few friends. Lunch or light refreshments may prevent conversation from becoming confrontational. Use video conferencing to include, and to the get input from, those family members who do not live nearby. 


Give examples of what they can do for you and for the loved one you have in common. A request for respite – just a few hours per week – is a good place to start. Explain you need time to relax, to take care of your health and well-being, to socialize with friends, to enjoy a little solitude as well as time to catch-up on lost sleep. 

While you will appreciate their gift of time, there are many other ways your family can make things easier for you. A sibling who does not live nearby can manage your loved one’s finances. Family, friends, and even nearby neighbors can buy groceries, do the laundry, or take responsibility for such things as car, house, or yard maintenance. 


Ask that a family member or a friend accompany you and your loved one to doctor appointments or other places where you anticipate having behavioral difficulties. A promise of going out to lunch after his or her doctor appointment can improve everyone’s mood. 


Use a calendar and sign-up sheet to free yourself from having to think about day-to-day management details. Exchange contact information to make communication as easy as possible. Consider designating a person to be the point of contact. Think about using an online app or website like www.lotsahelpinghands.com.


A few words to caregivers – don’t be a stoic. Accept help! Promises aside, it’s more important to be a good caregiver and not an irritable, exhausted, and burnt-out caregiver.

A few words to family members – don’t assume one person can shoulder all the responsibilities and challenges of caring for the loved one you have in common. It’s unfair and will create ill feelings. Make yourself available even if he or she claims they neither need nor want your assistance. It’s also important that you tell your family member that you appreciate his or her efforts – a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or for a rejuvenating massage is another way to express your gratitude. Call or e-mail often - but
not too often or at inconvenient times. In addition to inquiring about your loved one, be sure to ask your family member about their general well-being. Be an empathetic and supportive listener. 


And to caregivers, family members and friends - the most important words you can say to one another are "Thank you."


Janet Yagoda Shagam, PhD, is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through Amazon

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org



 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Exercise with Someone for Good Brain Health



Exercising with someone might sound simple enough, but there are profound benefits from having an exercise partner that are worth exploring.

Some people just go the gym, hop on the treadmill, throw in their earbuds, and do their thing. Others like to take a power hike or mountain bike trip alone in nature. Sometimes that meditative experience is important and they don’t want to necessarily share that special time in their mind with someone else. There are certain martial arts traditions that encourage you to work out alone just for the meditative quality of the experience.

If your workout time isn’t engaged in some meditative aspect, you should strongly consider and seek out someone to work out with you.

One of the biggest benefits of having a workout partner simply boils down to having another person offering you encouragement. There are days when it’s really easy to just stay in bed and you don’t want to get up and put in your workout. If you have somebody you’re meeting up with, it holds you to a higher degree of accountability and a certain amount of social peer pressure.

For some people there’s also an element of friendly competition. People can push each other, in a well-intended manner, to go that extra tenth of a mile, or an extra 10 miles.

There could also be an element of safety involved. People that lift weights routinely need another person to spot them during a wide variety of exercises. It allows them to safely lift a little bit more weight and push a little bit further through the wall than they are used to pushing. Many martial arts involve doing forms to master routine movements. Some of them, like aikido, are greatly improved by having another person relate to the form or even to provide added dynamic motion.

There is a social aspect to it as well. Talking to someone through the course of your workout is in itself added stimulation. Just be smart about it and make sure that your conversation isn’t taking away from actually completing your workout in a timely and effective manner.

Social interaction is critical to brain health and development. When you combine this with other activities like exercise, the compound benefits are something we can’t even measure, but are incredibly helpful to the brain.


#brainhealth #exercise #lovemyrunningbuddy

Contributor Author: Dr. Michael Trayford is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Founder of APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC. For more information, please visit www.ApexBrainCenters.com/memory.

Posted by Sandra DeHaven, DSA Board Member aka "The Sandstriss." 
Sandy is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She has more than 35 years experience in the writing and public relations fields, working recently for newspapers and online news services. During her news tenure, she earned a handful of Keystone Press Awards presented by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice, please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org