Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

New Alzheimer’s Stats: More caregivers, higher costs, higher death rate, growing prevalence

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The United States is entering a time of significant growth in Alzheimer’s Disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

15 million people provide care for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease – a 37% increase from last year.

5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s Disease.

Every 69 seconds someone new develops Alzheimer’s, which will increase to every 33 seconds by 2050.

The amount spent on Alzheimer’s (and other related dementias) is $183 billion, and $11 billion increase over 2010.

Most caregivers are family members, who give financially, emotionally, physically. 80% of care provided in the home is by unpaid caregivers. The personal toll of this disease is

Alzheimer’s is the only top 10 cause of death that has no effective prevention or cure.

Making early financial and long term care decisions can help families deal with the details of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Geriatric Care Managers can assist with assessment, planning, education, referrals and support. They are your trusted ally, and can help decrease the stresses associated with caring for someone with dementia.


Clearing the Fog of Dementia Drugs

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Most of us agree that nursing home reform is a critical need in the United States. Many times, difficult behavior from people with dementia is managed by giving them more psychotropic drugs. As a result of these drugs, sometimes people go into a “fog” including lethargy, seem detached from the world,  stop speaking and other negative side effects.

This is a great article about Clearing the Fog at Nursing Homes – how behavioral interventions (and hands-on caring) changed residents from zombies to engaged adults at one nursing home in Two Harbors, Minn.  http://tinyurl.com/4oxw9kv

As the article states, behavioral interventions can be more costly to implement than prescribing, yet in the long run it can save money – not to mention the increased quality of life for the residents and families.

Even if your loved one with dementia is not in a nursing home, there are behavioral modifications you can use at home that might help them live a better life. Caring, and a loving touch can make a bigger difference than you might think.

Shriver Report – Alzheimer’s Impact on Women: Aging Pro’s Answers

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

The Shriver Report: A Women’s Nation Take on Alzheimer’s was just released. The Report is a collaboration between Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer’s Association, exposing the epidemic’s effect on women as caregivers, advocates and people with the disease. Maria is getting people talking about Alzhiemer’s disease!

Alzheimer’s is a women’s issue. According to the report, women make up two-thirds of the people with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and account for 60 percent of the unpaid caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s. This means that 10 million women either have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. 40 percent of the caregivers interviewed said they felt like they had no choice in assuming the caregiving role. These numbers continue to grow, daily.

Alzheimer’s disease is costly. Governments, businesses and families spend $300 billion a year on Alzheimer’s disease. Yearly, it costs about $56,000 to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, which is typically paid for by families. Daughters, sons, spouses will give up their jobs, savings, time, health, and sanity to help care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

A woman with Alzheimer’s has unique challenges. Since women tend to live longer, they are more often widows who may not have a spouse to care for them as the disease progresses. She may be caring for other family or friends, so as she declines the others will need to find different caregivers. Women tend to be the “glue” in the family, and as her disease progresses her family may no longer remain as cohesive.

A woman as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s experiences challenges as well. She is more likely to be depressed, and according the Report, 68 percent of women who were caregivers experienced emotional stress, and 51 percent of them said they suffered from physical stress. Most caregivers don’t self-identify as caregivers. They just think a loved one needs help and they are going to help. They don’t know they need to ask for help, and don’t realize what a toll caregiving is taking on their lives and health. Caregivers often put aside their own needs and dreams to take care of their loved ones. Daughters experience a role reversal, now needing to take an in-charge position with their parents.

The Shriver reports asks some questions, and I have the following answers:

How can we relieve the emotional stress on families? Caregivers need support, education and resources. The needed resources are often available, but it’s very difficult to find them when you need them. Lack of information promotes fear. That is why I launched www.AgingPro.com. It brings all the resources, professionals, education and support for eldercare to one place. Care coordination is also crucial, and part of the Healthcare reform legislation. Certified Geriatric Care Managers provide an invaluable communication link between doctors, community care providers, persons with Alzheimer’s and their family. Care Managers are invaluable, yet for some are not affordable. Pilot community care coordination programs do exist, and we need more. We need more support groups, both in-person and online. Adult day respite programs need to focus on early and moderate stage memory loss, not just later stages.

How can we prepare for Alzheimer’s possibly hitting our own family? Few want to talk about it. Some don’t even want to say the word. Yet it’s a natural part of life and will affect all of us in one way or another. I’m referring to Aging. Aging has become a taboo subject in our American culture, something we pretend isn’t there. If you read the paper, watch TV, or go on the Web, you mostly see images of youth, thinness, wealth and beauty. However, we are beginning to realize our population is aging – and so are we.
I’m here to tell you that getting older can be a positive experience and have its own unique rewards. Contrary to the whispered implications, it doesn’t have to be a time of withering away and going to a nursing home. Fun, happiness, success and fulfillment aren’t just the things of youth; they can be enjoyed abundantly throughout life. Older adults can stay independent, active and vital as they age. Getting older CAN mean getting better, if you have the right attitude, information and resources.
So first, we need to be willing to have discussions about aging, starting in our families and communities. Ask each other – when you get older, where do you want to live? What is your ideal vision? It is very helpful to create a “Plan B.” Just as we would prepare for an earthquake, we prepare for the potential of Alzheimer’s in the family. Plan A is what you’d like to happen, Plan B is what you will do if Alzheimer’s strikes you or your family. Plan B is created by: educating yourselves about the signs and symptoms of the disease; pre-planning your legal matters (creating a will, trust and durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances); saving money for your long-term-care, or purchasing long-term-care insurance; educating yourselves about the choices of housing and care; and locating the professionals and resources available to help out along the journey.

How can government, business, nonprofits and the press effectively call attention to the threat of Alzheimer’s and implement solutions? More education and awareness campaigns can be created – public service announcements, television series on different eldercare topics (similar to the new “Hoarders” series), celebrity involvement – to help shift the old negative stereotypes of aging and eldercare, and to help the millions of caregivers that don’t know how to access the services or find the support they need. Maria Shriver, the aging field needs your voice!

An example of a creative television show might be Extreme Makeover, Grandma Edition. Make over the home of an older person  –  repairing and/or modifying their homes so they can continue to live independently. There are many inspiring stories of need and courage among caregivers and elders!

Businesses can provide eldercare services, counseling and care coordination as part of their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Non-profits can provide more grant money to elder care topics. Solutions to Alzheimer’s now include: information, support and best practice guidelines.

The topic of Women and Alzheimer’s is so important. It is where the pain points of love, guilt, money and time intersect – a perfect fit for government, the press and business to join in the cause.

The issues of women, Alzheimer’s and eldercare are many-faceted and deeply layered. More money for Alzheimer’s research is needed. More support and education are also needed on all eldercare topics. Most family caregivers for the elderly are trying to do what’s best for their loved ones. They don’t know where to turn to get help. The stress of caregiving affects their work, finances, and physical and mental health. Caregivers  need a place to connect, to learn, be inspired and empowered. AgingPro.com is that place, the “Waiting for Superwoman, Caregiver Edition.”

Exercise can protect those at high risk of Alzheimer’s

Thursday, September 9th, 2010
In a study of individuals who carried a high-risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found that those who exercised showed greater brain activity in memory-related regions than those who were sedentary. Exercising may help to protect them against cognitive decline.
For those at high risk for Alzheimer’s, this study adds to the evidence that lifestyle choices may slow down the damaging effects of the disease. Exercise may build up the cognitive reserve in the brain, allowing people with the risk of Alzhiemer’s to remain at a higher level of functioning for a longer time.

Achieving Goals Empowers People With Dementia

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

(Source: Alzheimer’s Society – UK)

“Achieving personal goals can help people in the early stages of dementia manage their condition, Alzheimer’s Society research has found.

Researchers at Bangor University, Wales found that people who received cognitive rehabilitation felt their performance of daily activities improved. Carers of those receiving the treatment also noted an improvement in their own quality of life.

Cognitive rehabilitation is a treatment where people with dementia work with health professionals to identify personal goals and develop strategies for achieving them. Goals were tailored to the participants’ specific needs and included things such as remembering details of jobs to be done around the house, maintaining concentration when cooking, learning to use a mobile phone and remembering the names of people at an exercise class. The cognitive rehabilitation group said they saw an improvement in their ability to carry out all of the chosen activities.”

Read the full story here

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with dementia, you might consider setting some short term goals – that can be measured and realistically completed.  Small steps works best!

Spinal-Fluid Test Is Found to Predict Alzheimer’s

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Alzheimer’s Disease promising new research: The presence of three specific proteins in spinal fluid may accurately predict Alzheimer’s disease (AD) prior to the onset of any symptoms:  Read the whole story here or here

This is NOT a cure – this is a way to predict if you might get or have AD.

The question then is: What do you do if the test reveals you have AD or may get it? There are some medications out now that MAY slow the progression of the disease, but much more research is needed in this area. Some people will not want to know if they may get AD.

Good brain health through physical exercise, brain exercises, and healthy diet may be beneficial in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Take good care!