Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Filed under Health & Wellness

(ARA) – More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and, by 2050, approximately 16 million will have the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia and gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. People with the disease experience difficulties in memory severe enough to have an impact on their work, social activities and family life. While there is no cure for AD, early diagnosis and treatment with approved medications can help slow symptom progression.

A new online survey of 1,040 adults age 55 and over titled, “Alzheimer’s Disease: Current Attitudes, Perceptions and Knowledge,” shows that despite overwhelming support for early AD screening and detection, there are striking differences between intentions and behavior. Nearly 95 percent agree that they would encourage a loved one to seek early diagnosis upon suspecting signs of AD, but of the 34 percent who previously thought a loved one had the disease, only about one-quarter prompted that person to take an AD screener and less than 40 percent encouraged initiating a conversation with his or her doctor.

This survey was commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Disease Screening Discussion Group (ADSDG), a consortium of multi-disciplinary experts. The survey and ADSDG were sponsored by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

“About half of AD patients in the U.S. are diagnosed and of those, only half receive treatment. To help patients and their loved ones better manage this disease, we need to increase diagnoses,” says Dr. Richard Stefanacci, founding executive director, Geriatric Health Program, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, survey co-chair and a member of the AD Screening Discussion Group. “One way to do this is to educate and motivate those closest to the patients to take action by seeing a doctor as soon as symptoms are suspected,” advises Dr. Stefanacci.

The survey also shows that although AD impacts most Americans age 55 and over, the majority have little knowledge of the disease and are confused about its symptoms. In fact, although 78 percent say they could notice signs of AD in themselves or a loved one, more than 90 percent could not distinguish early disease symptoms from late disease symptoms or symptoms unrelated to AD.

“These results are troubling because AD symptoms are typically detected by a close friend or relative, and without the ability to do so, patients don’t get diagnosed until symptoms are far along. Not only can early treatment slow the progression of disease symptoms, but an early diagnosis also gives the patient and their loved ones more time to adjust to the news and make important legal, financial and medical decisions together before the disease advances,” comments Dr. Paul R. Solomon, professor, department of psychology and program in neuroscience, Williams College; clinical director, The Memory Clinic in Bennington, VT; survey co-chair and member of the AD Screening Discussion Group.

To ensure Americans are best prepared to deal with this growing health issue, the AD Screening Discussion Group encourages everyone with a loved one age 55 and over to visit to learn more about the disease, its signs and symptoms, and complete an online memory screener on behalf of a loved one if symptoms are suspected.

The list below can help distinguish between normal signs of aging and others signs that might indicate something more serious.

Normal Aging
Forgetting names of people you rarely see
Briefly forgetting part of an experience
Occasionally misplacing something
Mood changes due to an appropriate cause
Changes in your interests

Potential Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Forgetting the names of people close to you
Forgetting a recent experience
Not being able to find important things
Having unpredictable mood changes
Decreased interest in outside activities

Always speak with a doctor if you suspect you or someone close to you may be experiencing memory loss or changes in cognitive ability that may indicate AD. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of early disease and speaking with a doctor about a medical diagnosis, you can get your loved one the help he or she needs. Early treatment with approved AD medications can slow symptom progression. Visit for more information.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

Why We Fear Symptoms of Dementia in Seniors

Filed under Health & Wellness

Why fear symptoms of dementia? It has been projected that of the 35 million adults 65 years of age and older in the United States, there will be at least 140,000 older adults diagnosed with some form of cognitive impairment. For many, it is a hard realization that the parent that once cared for us, now has been diagnosed with “dementia”. Dementia is used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses, in which brain cells shrink or disappear. It is a progressive decline in the ability to remember, to think, and to learn and make judgments.

As the disease affects different areas of the brain, different functions and abilities are lost. Each individual is uniquely affected and at widely varying rates of progression. As a result, there must be an individualized approach to the care of each individual exhibiting symptoms of dementia.

There is no cure for dementia at this time and it is currently not possible to restore brain cells affected by the disease. However, there are treatments to help caregivers and the aging adult cope with the challenges they face. A patient with symptoms of dementia can still experience love, joy and sadness. Effective and individualized care combined with emotional support can improve the quality and richness of a patient’s life.

Many aging adults and family members want to age in their home or remain in familiar surroundings as long as possible. The benefits of remaining in familiar surroundings has been shown to allow the aging adult to have a better quality of life and reduce or avoid admission to an institutional setting.

The first step to this process is planning ahead. Involve your parents in as many aspects of the planning as possible. Work together to get organized. Address issues, such as durable power of attorney for health and finances. It is also important to put an Advanced Directive in place now. Five Wishes is a form of an Advanced Directive that is easy to use and comprehensive approach to addressing end of life issues. Identify where the important legal and financial documents are kept and who are their professional advisers. Review medical/health insurance, long term care policies. Be prepared should a crisis occur. If your parent is uncommunicative, consult a legal or financial professional on your own to learn your options.

Addressing symptoms of dementia in your home

Assess the home environment and make the necessary changes to the home as the senile dementia disease progresses. Safety is the ultimate concern. You may have to curtail activities that pose a safety risk, such as cooking, driving, operating machinery.

Educate yourself about resources in the community; talk to professionals early on to learn what options, such as in-home support, adult day care, home visiting physicians, and behavioral specialists that are available in your area. Bring in a professional, such as a care manager or elder care consultant to assist you in maneuvering the health care delivery system and coordinating care.

If you are making the decision to maintain your aging loved one with symptoms of dementia at home, there are classes that educate on how to approach the aging adult when they exhibit such behaviors such as agitation, hoarding, disrobing. They will also teach you how to respond to those behaviors or even prevent such behaviors. Psycho education, includes teaching coping strategies and problem-solving skills to families, friends, and/or caregivers to help them deal more effectively with dementia in the elderly.

Be proactive and take the time to receive individualized, specific education and training. Knowing how to understand and manage disruptive and depressive behaviors before they occur can decrease the stress level of the caregiver.

Find a support group, whether at work, through a local hospital, or on the Internet. Even listening can be enlightening and comforting.

Use the Internet to educate yourself about a particular condition or disease, and network with professionals and other caregivers on-line. Investigate online skill training. With outside support and understanding, the situation can be greatly improved, and can allow for a better quality of life for everyone involved.

There are some significant steps needed to ease the stress on caregivers as well. One large part is to make sure that all siblings and family members are getting involved. They may not realize how much work is actually required and must be reminded that their help is needed. If other siblings live far away, they can still participate in other ways, such as financially or providing support through phone calls. It is crucial for the caregiver not to feel alone or as if there is not anyone to fall back on. It is important for the caregiver to take care of themselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Utilizing community services, such as adult day care, family counseling or individual counseling, and home care services can empower the caregiver to maintain a positive attitude, lead a healthier life and maintain social contacts to avoid isolation and decrease stress.

Article by Diane Carbo RN

How to Know When it’s Time For Long Term Care

Filed under Health & Wellness

(ARA) – When Jody found her grandmother Florence, a strong, 77-year-old woman affectionately called “Mama”, vacuuming the front lawn one day, Jody finally decided it was time to move her to a dependent care facility. The decision was not easy. Having seen her grandmother gradually slip away, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the family struggled with the decision of when to seek full-time nursing care for Florence.

It’s a scenario that more baby boomer children are facing every day. With the U.S. population of people age 65 years and older expected to increase threefold within the next 20 years, it’s a decision that a wave of boomers will be forced to consider in the years to come.

What are the signs that a loved one may be starting to fail? How do you know who to trust? Who do you listen to? Where do you start when you suspect some changes may have to be made for an older loved one?

Janet Louise Gibson faced this decision as her mother, Marjorie, suffered from a terminal disease. Unable to find a single source to guide her through the ordeal, Gibson compiled a book that would help other boomers facing the painful emotional and financial decisions around finding long-term care for an aging parent or loved one.

Gibson shares some signs that your loved one may require care from her new book, “The Complete Guide to Senior Care,” recently published by Wise Life Press ( These signs include:

• Your loved one has had a stroke or heart attack, has fallen, been severely injured or has been diagnosed with a fatal disease;

• Sudden or dramatic weight loss;

• Memory lapses, decreased judgment or increased forgetfulness;

• Difficulty in taking medications or remembering to take medications;

• Avoiding, ignoring or forgetting responsibilities including neglecting household duties and basic hygiene;

• Unexplained bruising;

• Withdrawal from social activities and from wanting to be with other people; .

• Mood changes, unsuitable behavior, speech or appearance; and

• Wandering. If you recognize these or other disturbing changes in your aging parent or loved one, Gibson recommends taking these steps:

• Start by speaking with your loved one. Ask questions to help assess the situation.

• Speak with your family. If you haven’t already, put a legal, financial and health action plan into place.

• Talk to your loved one’s friends and neighbors. They may see your loved one more frequently and at different times of the day.

• Consult with your loved one’s physicians and other legal and financial professionals. While they may not be able to legally discuss specific information without your loved one’s consent, they can provide advice.

As the caregiver for your aging parent, this is the time when you must become the advocate. After assessing available input and information, you are ultimately the best judge of your loved one’s well being.

For more information or to purchase a copy of “The Complete Guide to Senior Care,” visit

Article courtesy of ARA Content

Bringing Your Winter Workout Indoors

Filed under Health & Wellness

For all those who enjoy layering up and braving the winter elements for a brisk morning run, there are countless others who find the process of exercising outdoors daunting, to say the least. And for those who aren’t hard-core fitness fanatics, it may mean the difference between continuing a workout regimen and abandoning all physical activity until the first thaw of spring.

Studies have found that the average person gains from five to seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. While some of that can be attributed to overindulging in stuffing, cookies and eggnog, some can also be credited to under-indulging in movement. Walking to the pantry to restock on chips and dip during halftime, for example, just isn’t enough to negate the caloric impact of those tasty treats.

“People who enjoy being physically active, or who use it as a way to manage stress, typically aren’t influenced by adverse weather conditions,” says Kwan Lin, owner and manager of Sports Hoop, Inc. who provides custom-weighted sports hoops. “Others might use cold temperatures or freezing winds as an excuse to skip a workout, and soon one day spirals into a week or more of missed exercise opportunities.

“The key is to find alternative workouts to your usual routine that are fun, invigorating and give you the same endorphin rush, cardiovascular boost and toning benefit,” adds Lin. “All it takes is a little imagination and a desire to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.”

So head indoors and check out the following activities that the whole family can enjoy:

• Swimming. An activity that can be done year-round, lap swimming offers numerous health benefits, according to the U.S. Water Fitness Association. Improved strength and flexibility, better muscular endurance and balance, improved circulation, and a stronger heart are but a few. Plus, it’s a terrific calorie burner at 563 calories per hour for a 155-pound person, when swimming freestyle using light-to-moderate effort.

• Ice-Skating. Many runners find ice-skating to be a lower-impact, yet equally effective, way to keep fit during the winter months. It works the legs, inner thighs, abductors, hamstrings and gluteal muscles – even arms, waist and abdomen – while being kinder on joints. The American College of Sports Medicine states that a 150-pound person burns approximately 600 calories for every hour of continuous skating, equivalent to running five miles an hour.

• Bowling. Although not normally perceived as a highly aerobic workout, bowling is a surprisingly good way to keep fit. According to a study reported in the California Bowling News, a Penn State nutritionist estimated that bowling can burn 100 calories for every 20 minutes of bowling – or 300 calories an hour. It also works muscles and joints, and keeps tendons and ligaments limber.

• Sports Hoops. Since the plastic Hula Hoop was first introduced in 1958, it has evolved into a popular, easily accessible and innovative form of exercise. When swiveled for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, weighted sports hoops can provide cardiovascular benefits, help tone muscles, burn calories and fat, and facilitate weight loss. Another plus is that they can be used in the privacy of your own home, while listening to music or watching your favorite television shows.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

A Personal Health Record Can Benefit Everyone

Filed under Health & Wellness

A personal health record  is more than just a compilation of your medical records. While medical records are created and maintained by doctors, hospitals or other healthcare providers, a PHR is created and maintained by you. It is an ongoing, personalized compilation of important personal and health related information about you or someone you’re caring for.

“Many people think that if they’re healthy they don’t need a personal health record,” says Denise Pozen, attorney and creator of So Tell Me… personal health organizers. “But a PHR can be beneficial to almost everyone, regardless of their health. Personal health records should contain four types of information: Personal — such as name, address, contact information; medical — doctor visits, ER visits, diagnostic tests and surgeries; medicinal — your prescriptions and supplements; and observational — such as notes from doctor visits, diet or exercise records, reactions to medications, research notes, etc. While medical and medicinal information comes from doctors and pharmacists, personal and observational information has to come from you.”

People in the following situations can benefit from keeping a personal health record:

• ICE 1: In case of emergency — The stress of an emergency can make it hard to remember critical information. A PHR will give you the information you need when you need it.

• ICE 2: In case of evacuation — If hurricane, flood or fire forces you to temporarily relocate, you may not be able to visit your regular doctor. A PHR will provide background information that might otherwise not be available.

• As a backup to your doctors’ records — Records can be destroyed by floods, fires, earthquakes, or broken water pipes. Old records can also be destroyed as part of normal file retention policy. A PHR ensures that your historical information will be available.

• If you are a caregiver — You want to focus your attention and energy on the person you care for, rather than trying to remember details of their health history. A PHR will provide the tool to do that.

* If you are a parent — You can track growth and developmental milestones, record immunizations, and keep copies of school and sports physicals.

•If you are newly (or soon to be) wed — Creating a PHR will provide background health and medical information that your spouse might not otherwise know.

• If you are a “snowbird” or have a second home — You may be seeing a doctor in more than one city. Maintaining a PHR will keep each of your doctors up-to-date on your health.

* If you are proactive about your health — A PHR provides a place to record the results of diagnostic tests such as cholesterol levels, mammograms and bone density, as well as well as information about vitamins and supplements, and diet and exercise.

To start your PHR, Pozen suggests talking to your healthcare providers (primary care doctor, dentist, eye doctor and specialists) about how you can get pertinent information from your medical records, and asking your pharmacist for information regarding your prescriptions. Then write down emergency contact information and insurance information, and make a copy of any medical directive, preferences or living will.

All the information that makes up a PHR should be centralized and easily accessible. Because not all information is available in electronic format, one or more file folders or a three-ring binder is a good way to store your information. For many, a paper-based system such as the So Tell Me… personal health organizer is the best way to start. The question and answer format and pre-printed tabs and forms make it easy to get started with tracking family history, past and future appointments, medications, tests, treatments and more. (See for details.)

Once you start your PHR, it is important to keep the information current, make sure others know where it is kept, and take it with you to each new healthcare visit. Whether for a scheduled doctor’s visit or a trip to the Emergency Room for yourself or someone you care for, the more prepared you are and the more easily you can communicate pertinent health information, the more helpful and effective your healthcare visits will be.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

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