ElderCarelink Blog

Elders, Alzheimer’s and the holidays

by Carol Bursack
December 21st, 2011 at 10:19 am

Most caregivers want to give their loved ones the very best holiday possible. We tell ourselves that whether or not the care receiver can actively participate in the festivities, they should be included in the fun. I’ve seen wonderful events in private homes, assisted livings center and nursing homes, where delighted elders help caregivers decorate trees, wrap gifts, bake and do many other traditional tasks in preparation for celebrations.

However, if the person has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, what you intended to be a joyful celebration can in reality be a frustrating and confusion to the elder.

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New ways to slow Alzheimer’s progression?

by Carol Bursack
December 16th, 2011 at 10:52 am

There are, as yet, no medications that can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease. Some people do quite well with current drugs that may help slow cognitive decline, but others do not respond well, or they have negative side effects. However, there’s some good news. Science Daily recently covered a study that found mental and spiritual exercises could significantly slow cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease, without any negative side effects.

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B12, Alzheimer’s, and the symptoms of aging

by Carol Bursack
December 8th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Decades ago, my grandmother received monthly vitamin B12 shots from the home health nurse. It was common knowledge, even then, that as people age they don’t absorb vitamin B12 well. Low B12 levels can cause pernicious anemia, which was my grandmother’s problem. However, low B12 levels can cause many other illnesses, as well.

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Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt launches Alzheimer’s foundation

by Carol Bursack
November 29th, 2011 at 10:35 am

Hall of Fame basketball coach Pat Summitt has found a way to put the perfect spin on National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. She, along with her son Tyler, has created a foundation that will provide grants to nonprofit organizations that research Alzheimer’s. In August, Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. Summitt has vowed to continue coaching, both because she wants to keep doing what she loves, and because she is passionate about demonstrating to others that life isn’t over when a dementia diagnosis is received.

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Alzheimer’s and humor therapy: laughter as medicine

by Carol Bursack
November 22nd, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Although Norman Cousins made a case for laughter being the best medicine, there hasn’t been a lot of research published on how humor can affect a person with Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study brings us the welcome news that using humor to interact with our elders may improve their health. The study–conducted in Australia–found that “humor therapy” appears as effective as psychiatric drugs for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study revealed that nursing home residents who participated in two-hour “clowning-sessions,” which included mime, music and more, displayed a reduction in verbally and physically aggressive behavior. Even more surprising is this drop in agitated behavior lasted for over three months after humor therapy ended.

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