New Hope for Alzheimers Disease

Posted on

Jul 19, 2012

Book/Edition

Utah - Utah

Share This
Older adults fear the possibility of developing Alzheimer's disease even more than death and with good reason: five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, approximately 350,000 are diagnosed with the condition each year and it leads to death more often than heart disease, stroke, HIV and breast and prostate cancers combined! In the next 13 years, the number of Utahans with Alzheimer's disease will increase 127 percent making it the state with the fastest growing incidence of Alzheimer's.
These startling statistics lead one to ask: Can Alzheimer's disease be prevented or delayed? Here is the good news yes. A new study shows that half of the cases might be caused by factors people can control: exercise, smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Additionally, advanced imaging techniques now can diagnose Alzheimer's years before symptoms are noticed giving people a jump start on a treatment plan.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that causes dementia. Dementia is the deterioration of memory, language, personality and the ability to process information. Other conditions that also lead to dementia include stroke, chronic alcohol abuse, vitamin deficiencies, and Parkinson's disease.
What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?
When we are younger, the body makes amyloid plaques (clumps of protein, like a goo) that surround the brain cells but the brain is able to clear it out. As we grow older, oxidative stress on the brain cells increases inflammation which contributes to making too much amyloid plaques and to the inability to clear it away. Additionally, patients develop neurofibrillary tangles (nerve cells that become tangled and dysfunctional). The tangles and goo prevent brain cells from communicating with each other which creates the forgetting in Alzheimer's.
What are the symptoms?
Alzheimer's disease usually comes on slowly, with a gradual loss of memory and difficulty learning new information. The patient develops problems in carrying out familiar tasks, understanding concepts, and taking care of grooming and household chores. Depression may also be one of the early symptoms. Personality changes, restlessness, and disorientation may also occur, and as the disease progresses, these symptoms become more pronounced. In later stages, there is a characteristic lack of concern for appearance or body function, significant sleep disturbances, extreme irritability, and loss of the ability to speak. Gradually, the patient stops eating or drinking regularly.
What Can Be Done?
The closest we have to a cure for Alzheimer's is prevention. But this is good news. This means that people have control over their chances of developing this deadly disease with exercise, a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids, colorful fruits and vegetables, spices such as turmeric, oregano and garlic, vanilla beans, and a moderate amount of caffeine. New imaging technology now allows people to get screened decades before any symptoms begin, enabling early intervention to protect the healthy brain and a delay in the onset of the disease. Drugs are being tested that may someday offer even more hope for patients and families, especially for the one percent that may be genetically at greater risk.
Editors Note: This article was submitted by Denae Bybee, LPN and owner of Senior Helpers Utah and may be reached at 801-912-8400 or by e-mail at dbybee@seniorhelpers.com. For more information visit www.seniorhelpersutah.com.



Other Articles You May Like

Transitioning Alzheimers Patients to Hospice

Transitioning Alzheimers Patients to HospiceMaking the Transition to Hospice with Alzheimers and Other Forms of DementiaAlzheimers disease and other forms of dementia are progressive diseases that eventually lead to end of life for those suffering. When your loved one reaches more challenging stages of dementia, hospice care is extremely valuable.  Hospice is a specialized type of care that focuses on comfort and quality of life for patients who are terminally illwith a prognosis of six months or less if their disease runs its normal course.How to Transition to Hospice Care with Ease and Peace of MindTransitioning to hospice care can be a difficult decision, but it can also be a relief for both patients and caregivers. Hospice care can provide your loved one with the support and care they need during their final months of life.  You do not need to wait until the very end to initiate hospicewhich is a common misconception. To transition to hospice care with ease and peace of mind, here are a few tips:Talk to your loved ones Primary Care Physician (PCP). If your loved one does not have a Primary Care Physician, we can help you obtain an order for hospice care.  The PCP will write an order to initiate hospice.  This is step one.Get to know the hospice team.Once you meet with us, you will be assigned a team of caregivers who will work with you to create a care plan for your loved one. The hospice team will include nurses, social workers, aides, and other professionals who are skilled in caring for people with dementia.Let us take care of the rest!We will bring in all necessary supplies and durable medical equipment (DME) that your loved one will need to be safe and comfortable in the place they call home.More Ways We Can HelpOur Hospice agency can provide a variety of services to help you and your loved one transition to hospice care. These services may include:Caregiver support. Hospice offer a variety of support services for caregivers, such as respite care, support groups, and counseling.Symptom management. Hospice will help manage your loved ones symptoms, such as pain, nausea, and anxiety.Spiritual support. Hospice offers spiritual support for patients and their families, regardless of their religious beliefs.Volunteers.  Hospice volunteers are a vital part of our program and offer a variety of services to you and your loved one.If you are considering hospice care for your loved one with Alzheimers or another form of dementia, please contact us today. We make the process simple, letting you focus on what matters most!

Navigating the Journey: How Home Care Can Positively Impact Your Loved One Living with Dementia

Caring for a loved one living with dementia poses unique challenges, and families often find themselves seeking solutions that prioritize comfort, familiarity, and personalized care. Home care emerges as a beacon of support in these situations, offering a tailored approach that fosters a sense of security for individuals navigating the complexities of dementia. In this comprehensive article, we'll explore the ways in which home care can make a positive impact on your loved one's life, enhancing their quality of life and providing valuable support for both the individual and their caregivers.Creating a Familiar Environment:Home care allows individuals with dementia to remain in a familiar environment, surrounded by cherished memories and personal belongings. This continuity in surroundings can alleviate confusion and contribute to a sense of security. Home care providers work to adapt the home setting to accommodate the specific needs of someone living with dementia.Personalized Care Plans:One of the key advantages of home care for individuals with dementia is the creation of personalized care plans. These plans take into account the unique challenges and preferences of the individual, addressing their physical, emotional, and cognitive needs. This personalized approach ensures that the care provided is tailored to the individual's specific requirements.Routine and Consistency:Establishing a consistent routine is crucial for individuals with dementia. Home care providers work closely with families to develop and maintain a daily schedule that offers stability. Consistency in activities, meals, and sleep patterns can help reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being.Specialized Dementia Care Training:Home care providers often undergo specialized training to better understand the unique challenges associated with dementia. This expertise allows caregivers to employ effective communication strategies, manage behavioral changes, and create a safe and supportive environment for individuals with dementia.Emotional Support and Companionship:Dementia can be isolating, but home care providers offer more than just practical assistance. They provide emotional support and companionship, engaging individuals in meaningful activities and fostering a sense of connection. This emotional well-being is integral to maintaining a high quality of life.Medication Management:Individuals with dementia often require medication management to ensure they receive the right dosage at the right time. Home care providers can assist in medication organization and administration, working in coordination with healthcare professionals to optimize the individual's medical care.Safety Measures at Home:Home care professionals assess the home environment to identify potential safety hazards. They implement necessary modifications, such as installing handrails or removing tripping hazards, to create a secure living space for individuals with dementia, minimizing the risk of accidents.Engaging Cognitive Activities:Keeping the mind active is crucial for individuals living with dementia. Home care providers incorporate engaging cognitive activities into daily routines, stimulating memory and cognitive function. These activities can include puzzles, reminiscence therapy, and other personalized exercises.Respite for Family Caregivers:Caring for a loved one with dementia is emotionally and physically demanding. Home care services provide respite for family caregivers, offering them the opportunity to recharge and attend to their own well-being while ensuring their loved one continues to receive compassionate care.Transition Assistance and End-of-Life Support:Home care can offer invaluable assistance during transitions in the progression of dementia. As the needs evolve, caregivers can adapt the care plan accordingly, providing support not only for the individual but also for the family during challenging stages, including end-of-life care.In navigating the journey with a loved one living with dementia, home care emerges as a holistic and compassionate solution. By creating a familiar environment, providing personalized care, and addressing the unique challenges associated with dementia, home care offers a pathway to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and their families. The positive impact of home care extends beyond practical assistance, fostering emotional well-being, and creating a supportive atmosphere that embraces the dignity and individuality of those living with dementia. Contact us at Rita's Home Care Agency, we can help.

What Caregivers Need to Know About Estate Planning for a Loved One with Dementia

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenge that millions of families undertake each year. As a caregiver, understanding how a dementia diagnosis affects your loved ones legal decision-making is crucial to ensuring their wishes are honored and that you are providing them with the best possible care.In this blog, we'll explore the importance of estate planning, even after a dementia diagnosis, as the best method to ensure the wishes and rights of your loved one are protected.Understanding IncapacityDementia is a progressive condition that affects memory, cognition, and daily functioning. As dementia causes your loved one's cognitive abilities to decline, there may come a time when they are no longer able to make sound decisions about their finances, healthcare, and overall well-being. When the effects of dementia make it difficult for a person to understand information and make sound decisions, that person is considered to be incapacitated, which means they can no longer legally make healthcare or financial decisions for themselves. This change in their memory and cognition can be emotionally overwhelming for both your loved one and your whole family, and without proper planning, can require court involvement.But, theres still some good news. Thoughtful estate planning can ensure that your loved one is cared for by the people they know and trust if they can no longer care for themselves, and even if youre loved one has already been diagnosed with dementia, it is still possible for them to create a legally-binding estate plan during the early stages of the disease.Estate Planning In The Early Stages of DementiaEvery adult should create certain legal documents to protect their rights and wishes, and this is no different for a loved one with a dementia diagnosis. What is important to remember is that in order to create a legal document, you need to have mental capacity meaning you need to be fully aware of what you are doing and what the consequences of your choices will be.Thankfully, a person does not need to constantly be in a state of capacity to create an estate plan. As long as your loved one has the mental capacity at the moment they sign their estate plan documents, the documents will be valid, even if they regress into a state of incapacity afterward.In the early stages of dementia, and ideally long before any health problems surface, your loved one should create the following estate planning documents:General Durable Power of AttorneyA General Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal tool that allows your loved one to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf. Their POA can write checks, pay bills, maintain their home, and manage their financial assets. This document becomes especially significant as dementia progresses. Encourage your loved one to designate a trusted individual as their Power of Attorney while they are still able to make such decisions. A Revocable Living TrustA General Durable Power of Attorney is an important tool, but many financial institutions place constraints on the use of a POA or dont acknowledge their authority at all. To make sure your loved one has complete protection of their financial wishes, encourage them to establish a Revocable Living Trust and move their assets into the name of the Trust. As part of creating a Trust, your loved one will name the person they want to manage their assets, called the Trustee. The Trustee and Power of Attorney are usually the same person, but not always. By having these two estate planning tools in place, you can rest assured that the people your loved one knows and loves will be able to manage their assets for them as their dementia progresses. Power of Attorney for HealthcareSimilar to a General Durable POA, a Power of Attorney for Healthcare (HPOA) appoints someone to make medical decisions on behalf of your loved one when they are unable to do so for themselves. Discussing and establishing a Healthcare Power of Attorney early on allows your loved one to express their medical preferences and ensures their wishes are honored. Their Power of Attorney for Healthcare should also include a Declaration to Physicians, also called a Living Will, that outlines their desires regarding medical treatment, life support, and end-of-life care. Creating a Declaration to Physicians and discussing their wishes with you ensures that their preferences regarding life-sustaining treatment, resuscitation, and other medical interventions are documented and respected.Plan As Early As PossibleOne of the most crucial steps in preparing for the challenges of dementia is to help your loved one complete their estate planning while they still have the capacity to do so. Waiting until the later stages of the disease can limit their options and increase stress for everyone involved. By addressing legal matters early on, you can ensure that your loved one's wishes are respected, and their affairs are managed.As dementia progresses, estate planning must become more proactive and strategic than ever to avoid court and conflict over your loved ones wishes in the future. If dementia becomes too advanced before planning is complete, the question of who will manage your loved ones assets and care will be left to a judge who doesnt know your loved one or their wishes.  Keep reading to learn what steps need to be considered when estate planning for someone with more advanced dementia.Seek a Cognitive EvaluationIf your loved ones cognitive capacity is in question, seeking a professional evaluation is a prudent and proactive step in the estate planning process. Schedule an appointment with your loved one's primary care physician or a specialist in dementia care to assess their mental state and make a recommendation on your loved ones ability to make estate planning decisions.During this evaluation, the medical professional will talk to your loved one and ask them questions about their everyday life, how aware they are of their circumstances, and what they would do in certain situations, such as if a stranger came to the door or if a pipe burst in their home. Your loved one doesnt need to remember every detail about their life for the evaluation to be beneficial. The professional will be most concerned with your loved ones ability to analyze a scenario and make a thoughtful decision on how to respond. For example, your loved one may not remember what day of the week it is but may remember they shouldnt open the door for a stranger.Receiving a report from your loved ones doctor stating they have the cognitive ability to make estate planning decisions (at least when they are in a lucid state) protects their ability to make decisions for their finances and healthcare, and dissuades any future debate from third parties as to whether your loved one had the ability to make a plan in the first place.Encourage Private Meetings Between Your Loved One and Their LawyerIt may be second nature to help your loved one with appointments, especially if hearing and memory troubles make it difficult for your loved one to follow along. But as much as possible, allow your loved one to meet with their lawyer independently. A private meeting between your loved one and their lawyer will provide them with the opportunity to express their wishes without external influence. Even if you have your loved ones best intentions at heart and they would prefer to have you present during the meetings, encouraging your loved one to have private conversations with their lawyer when possible helps avoid questions about whether or not you influenced their estate planning decisions.If it isnt feasible for your loved one to have an entire meeting with their lawyer alone, make sure they at least have opportunities to talk to their attorney in private by leaving the room while your attorney confirms their wishes.Be sure to document every time your loved one meets alone with their lawyer and ask their lawyer to document it as well. Make Sure Their Estate Plan Is Executed CarefullyUnfortunately, errors that occur at the time an estate plan is signed are common. Every state has different laws for how estate planning documents are executed, how they can be signed, and what witnesses or notaries are required to make the document binding. If your loved ones plan isnt executed properly, it can result in your family needing to involve a judge to determine whether the estate plan is still valid. This also creates an opportunity for family members to question whether your loved one had the mental capacity to create the plan at all.Its also essential to document your loved ones capacity at the time the estate plan documents are signed. Make sure that their lawyer reviews the documents carefully with your loved one before they sign them, that the documents reflect your loved ones wishes, and that your loved one is creating the plan of their own free will.If you have any concerns about other family members questioning your loved ones estate planning decisions or mental state at the time, ask your loved one and their attorney if they could record the signing meeting to dispel any claims that your loved one was coerced into planning or didnt know what they were signing. ConclusionIf your loved one received a dementia diagnosis and hasnt addressed their legal matters, don't despair - but act fast. Even in the advanced stages of dementia, individuals may have moments when they can participate in decision-making and estate planning. But, due to the progressive nature of dementia, time is of the essence for your loved one to create an estate plan, and the sooner they plan, the easier it will be for them to get the help they need as their condition progresses.In cases where your loved ones capacity is severely diminished and estate planning hasnt been completed, your family will need to pursue a court guardianship. This legal arrangement involves a court appointing a legal guardian who assumes responsibility for making decisions on behalf of the person with dementia. This process can be stressful, and its possible the court will appoint someone your loved one never would have wanted to manage their assets or healthcare decisions. Contact Entrusted Legacy Law at 412-347-1731 to schedule a complimentary 15-Minute call.