Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s disease’

Communication with an Alzheimer’s Patient

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

It is a common symptom for an Alzheimer’s patient to get confused or forget words as the disease progresses. They may also speak less clearly in general. Understanding the needs of these patients can become challenging for caregivers as well as loved ones. The patient may also have difficulty interpreting the communication style of others. It is important to practice verbal and nonverbal techniques which take into consideration a patient’s unique circumstances; this can help break the communication barrier.

At the start of the conversation, identify yourself by name AND the loved one as well. This sort of to-the-point clarity can be soothing to Alzheimer’s patients as many experiences difficulty in identification of people as the disease progresses.

Always use a quiet and relaxing tone of voice when speaking to your loved one. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. When asking a question, asking ONE question at a time, insuring to use the same wording if the patient asks you to repeat. Avoid references that may be confusing to the patient such as pronouns; avoid metaphors as well since the patient might interpret as literal.

It is important to approach an Alzheimer’s patient in a way that is non-threatening. This is a basic way to improve communication between you and the patient. Simply approaching the patient from the front rather than from behind removes uncertainty the patient may have regarding you and the general environment. Try to maintain calm and peaceful surroundings with a minimal amount of background distractions; this is to help avoid disorder or chaos. When speaking to your loved one, demonstrate sincerity by talking face to face, maintaining eye contact and using facial expressions to reflect the sentiment behind your conversation. Smiling, hugging or touching is EXCELLENT non-verbal communication that is gentle and should be well-received by the patient.

While visiting with the patient, be careful not to startle him or her; move about slowly and clearly explain what you are doing. Try to be sympathetic to what your loved one is trying to say to you through words and expressions.

Caregivers and loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients sometimes feel weighed down by the extreme personality and mood changes that are affecting the patient. Effectively dealing with these changes involves being instinctive and adjusting your own communication style to accommodate the changing needs of your loved ones.

Always remember that when speaking to an Alzheimer’s patient to speak clearly and concisely and be calm.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Having a clear understanding of what Alzheimer’s disease is and how it affects your loved ones is the first step in learning to cope with the diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s disease often begins with a progressive memory loss, followed by an increase in disorganized thought and speech patterns. There is a continual deterioration in the brain and this enables the disease to progress to a point in which the person becomes helpless and is no longer able to care for themselves. The disease eventually results in death. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, though there are known genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease affects about four million people in the United States.

It is important to get medical attention for this disease AS SOON AS POSSIBLE; this helps prolong the quantity and quality of life. Finding a doctor who is familiar with Alzheimer’s disease is important although, you might want to consider a doctor who is specifically trained for treatment in the diseases of the elderly. Other doctors that can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease include neurologists and psychologists. Be aware though that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however there are medications available that can help treat and slow down the progression of the disease. It is also helpful to have a good support system. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is at times overwhelming as well as devastating. Your local Alzheimer’s Association is a good starting point. They are extremely helpful and can offer a lot of advice on caring for your loved one as well as personal coping strategies. They can also direct you to local support groups and organizations. You might want to also locate extra help with the care of your loved one if things become too consuming.

Often, it becomes too much to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.  As the disease progresses, your loved one needs more care and it can become difficult to consistently be there to care for your loved one alone. If this should happen, be sure to find an appropriate facility that is skilled at caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Research your options before it becomes necessary to that you are prepared to make an informed decision.

It’s important to remember that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is an emotionally stressful experience; you need to remember to take care of yourself as well. Take time out for a break and to meet your needs as well so that you can be at your best to deal with your loved one. There are many options such as day facilities that can care for your loved one when you need a respite. Also, educate yourself about the disease; there is a lot of information available on the internet and in libraries on Alzheimer’s disease; education will help you be better prepared of what is to come. Being prepared will help reduce the stress involved if you are better prepared.

When to Consider a Nursing Home

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The decision to consider nursing home care for your loved one is tough and making the choice between in-home care and nursing home care can be frustrating. It’s one of the most important decisions that you can make for you loved one, so take your time to make sure you are making the best possible one.

A nursing home provides round-the-clock care for those whose conditions requires nursing care and do not require intensive care like is received in a hospital setting. The nursing home provides medical care as well as personal care such as dressing, bathing or eating.

Nursing homes are available for long-term and short-term care. For patients who are recovering from an illness or injury, a nursing home can provide care until the patient is recovered and ready to go home. Long-term care is for those individuals who have more serious medical conditions. Admission to a nursing home requires a doctor’s order.

Choosing a nursing home is not easy and you might be confused as to where you need to begin. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What are your loved one’s needs? Talk to their doctor about what kind of care is required and how long they might need to be there. Ask what the patient can do for himself or herself and how intense their medical needs might be. For example, caring for someone with diabetes is much different than one with Alzheimer’s.
  • What can you afford? A few weeks or months of short-term care can be covered by Medicare, but long-term care may not be covered. Medicaid and private insurance might pay for some of the costs; however, the majority of the financial burden could fall on the family.
  • Choose nursing homes to visit. Narrow down the nursing homes in your area and research them by reading inspection reports. Also if the patient is capable of helping to make the decision, discuss options with them so that they can feel a part of the plan.
  • Visit the nursing homes. Plan to see each one you have selected and speak with the administrators and staff and even say hello to the residents. Ask to see private as well as public areas. Have a list of questions and don’t accept any vague answers.
  • Compare notes on each facility before making a final decision. Make sure you have all the answers you need before making a decision.

The best nursing home will offer medical and custodial care. It can also offer you a peace of mind. Take your time in your research so that you can make the best decision possible for your loved one.

Erectile Dysfunction

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Many men experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their life. A large percentage of these men are age 55 and over. Sadly, only a small percentage talks with their doctor about this problem.

Impotence can happen at any age, however, most men feel that it is an age-related problem and that it is normal to have an simply do not talk to their physician. And let’s face it, it’s a personal matter and embarrassing to some, so men just avoid the subject all together for the most part. In a survey of men age 60 or over, 61% reported being sexually active, and nearly half derived as much if not more benefit from their sex lives as they did in their 40s (About.com: Health Topics A-Z, 2010).

Erectile dysfunction in elderly men is more of a side effect with disease than age. Older men are more likely to have conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure than younger men. Sometimes, these conditions and/or some of their treatments (medications, etc) are in fact to blame for impotence.

There are in fact, many physical and psychological reasons that can cause brief periods of impotence; this should be considered as normal as getting a cold. To be honest, getting a cold could be a common reason that could cause temporary impotence. Most men do experience this from time to time in their life. Persistent problems should be discussed with a physician, particularly since it is treatable. It may also be a symptom of another type of problem. When in doubt, speak with your doctor (About.com: Health Topics A-Z, 2010).

Works Cited

(2010). Retrieved October 3, 2010, from About.com: Health Topics A-Z: http://adam.about.com/reports/000015_1.htm

Power of Attorney

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Caring for an elderly parent can be draining both emotionally and physically. Many times, adults are taking care of their elderly parent or parents while still trying to raise their own children.

As the parent becomes less independent and unable to care for his or her own needs, it becomes clear that you will have to take the needed steps to ensure that legal, personal, medical and financial interests are protected. One way to do this is to get a power of attorney drawn up so that you or someone you trust can act on your elderly parent’s behalf to make decisions that he or she can no longer make independently.

This is not an easy thing for an elderly parent or the child of the elderly parent. So it is very important to involve the parent in the preparations as much as possible. This leaves the parent feeling less helpless or left out of the process. Honor the parents’ wishes when possible; however, do realize that you are entrusted to act in your parent’s best interest even if the parent disagrees with you. It is also not a good idea to rely on those generic self-help legal software programs. For a delicate matter such as this, an experienced attorney to help decide what needs to be done is the better option. There are many factors that come into play with issues such as a power of attorney such as the present and long-term medical condition of the parent as well as their own personal wishes for how affairs are to be handled. Moreover, do not pressure your elderly parent into making life-changing decisions, especially when he or she is tired, hungry, restless or upset. Choose a time to talk and present the information gradually instead of all at one time. Keep everything relaxed and don’t force the issue.

Check back on Saturday, October 2, 2010 to learn the process of obtaining a power of attorney.

Pet Therapy

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

For many years, dogs have been trained to aid the blind. Now, in more recent years, animals are being trained for other medicinal purposes such as for those with seizures and the elderly.

Therapy animals are specifically chosen to visit nursing homes, senior centers, day care centers, hospitals, prisons, and children’s homes in hopes of bringing physical and emotional comfort to people. Oftentimes, these animals are just your everyday ordinary animal who has an owner who is willing and able to volunteer their time with their pet to those in need of some sort of comfort. Ideally, for an animal to be considered for an activity such as this, the animal should be sociable, gentle, friendly, not afraid, and has the ability to get along with anyone.

Many scientists and doctors alike believe that the mind-body connection is closely related. For example, those individuals who feel isolated (as many elderly do) have a tendency to give up on life. Also, people who are sick are more likely to heal and get well if they are happy and comfortable. This is where animal therapy comes in. There are many advantages of this type of non-conventional therapy, ranging from physical to emotional.

Therapy animals have been known to:

  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Increase physical motivation
  • Decrease pain
  • Encourage speech
  • Make patients more receptive to medical treatment and eating
  • Generally increase a patient’s will to live

Therapy animals affect people of all ages in a positive way. The animals bring a myriad of emotional and physical benefits to those in hospitals, nursing homes, and other places. These animals are reported to save many lives and also provide love, kindness, and comfort in the finals hours of life for many individuals.

Mental Health in the Elderly

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Mental health concerns exist for many individuals; however there are specific concerns in the area of geriatrics (pertaining to the study of elderly or the aging). Issues such as dementia, delirium, psychosis, and depression seem to rate the highest. In general, elderly folks are more sensitive to mental health medications and their side effects; especially women.

  • Dementia comes in many forms that are known to occur in elderly individuals. Alzheimer’s seems to be the most prevalent. Mental deterioration due to Alzheimer’s dementia can last 5-20 years and can occur with the following symptoms: delirium, delusions, depressed mood, and behavioral disturbances. Other symptoms such as memory loss, language difficulties, and difficulty in performing motor skills or failure to identify objects or people are all classic signs of the early stages of dementia. Dementia itself is untreatable; however, medications can be given to treat other symptoms such as depression or aggressive behavior.
  • Delirium can often be misdiagnosed and can be caused by an extreme sensitivity to surgery and anesthesia, drug toxicity and infections. Some common symptoms include inability to focus, disturbed consciousness, impaired judgment, or a decrease/increase in motor activity. Diagnosis can be made by doing an EEG (electroencephalogram) which will show slowing in brain activity. Treatment can be effective once the underlying cause can be found. Medications can be given to try to reduce the symptoms.
  • Psychosis is usually another term for schizophrenia or bipolar disorders. Schizophrenia is a group of mental disorders that involve disturbances in thinking, mood, and behavior. Bipolar disorders involve periods of depression followed by periods of mania. Mania can be accompanies by the feeling of being 10 feet tall and bullet proof, lack of sleep, and excessive activity. A well-known bipolar disorder is manic depression.
  • Depression is a common condition among elderly women. Statistics have shown that many depressed patients will go untreated due to improper diagnosis. Common symptoms include but are not limited to: disturbances in sleep, self esteem, sexual desire, appetite, energy, concentration, memory and movement, feeling guilty, thoughts of suicide (planned or attempts), or pain. Depression can be caused by several personal losses experienced in rapid sequence, which happens often with the elderly. Certain medical condtions seem to be associated with depression such as Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, CHF (congestive heart failure), diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and sexual dysfunction. Some medications are known to be associated with depression such as anticancer drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs or progesterone. Psychotherapy along with certain medications is often a good treatment route. These drugs include tricyclics (imipramine, amitryptyline), heterocyclics, SSRI’s (Prozac), or MAOIs. Along with these drugs come a list of side effects such as blurred vision, dry mouth, confusion, or sexual dysfunction to name a few.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of mental health issues in the elderly; it is merely a summary. It is the hope that information will arm you with the ability to seek out help for a loved one if needed.

Working With the Elderly

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Elderly Care -

Alzheimer’s is a devastating condition that require special care and attention being given to those afflicted. It require more from family and loved ones than many other conditions, and finding ways to help and cope are as important as preserving the value that one afflicted finds in life. When someone works closely with those who have Alzheimer’s it can take a lot out of them. Home care workers are a very caring group of people who are compassionate and caring with those that they work with. (more…)

Scientists Hopeful Over Finding Prevention for Alzheimer’s

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Foreign seeds can be caught anywhere, includin...

Flax Seeds: Rich in Omega-3

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, or many proven methods for fully reducing your risk, it isn’t a reason to give up hope. There are some preventative measures that are showing potential, but there needs to be more research done into the measures.

(more…)

Dementia Screening May Cut Later Costs

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Alzheimer’s and the others in the family of dementia is the seventh leading cause of death, it is a worrisome condition to be diagnosed with but studies are showing how important that being screened for them is.

(more…)