Category Archives: Memory Care

Good News! Recent Study Shows Fewer Seniors Are Developing Dementia

Dementia sufferers are also developing the disease at older ages

For years we’ve heard dire predictions that dementia rates would skyrocket as the population ages, grows increasingly overweight, and develops more diabetes and high blood pressure. But a recent data analysis published in the January 2017 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine has found that the prevalence of dementia is actually decreasing.

The nationally representative report showed that adults 65 and older with dementia dropped from 11.6 percent in the year 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. Those results support another, smaller-scale study released in 2016, which found that dementia rates dropped by 44 percent since the late 1970s through 2008.28

The New York Times reported that the downward trend is “statistically significant and impressive,” according to Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania who was not associated with the study.

Further, in 2000, people received a diagnosis of dementia at an average age of 80.7; in 2012, the average age was 82.4—indicating that the disease is starting at older ages.

Researchers are analyzing the data to determine the causes for the lower dementia rates. Currently, medical experts are looking at two factors: education and heart health. Researchers have found that seniors with more education are less likely to develop dementia than seniors who didn’t finish high school.

Scientists theorize that further education enhances brain development and gives people “cognitive reserve” that allows them to lose cognitive function to aging without developing full-blown dementia, or delays the onset of impairment.

Many doctors believe that the biggest reason for the decline is improved heart and circulatory health. Vascular dementias decreased the most in the study, likely because of better treatments for stroke, heart disease, and blood-vessel disorders. Regular exercise can bolster cardiovascular health at any age, which may help stave off or lessen age-related cognitive decline. Doctors advise people who already have heart health issues or chronic conditions like diabetes to carefully follow their treatment plans to reduce risk of dementia and other disorders.

 

Walk to End Alzheimer’s Raises Awareness and Funds For Alzheimer’s Care, Support, and Research

September events spotlight Alzheimer’s and other dementias 

The month of September has become a special time for focusing on research, awareness, and fundraising for Alzheimer’s disease nationwide and throughout the world.

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) sponsors the fifth global World Alzheimer’s Month (https://www.alz.co.uk/world-alzheimers-month) in September to educate about the disease and challenge stigma. Worldwide, 35 million people and their families are affected by dementia. This year’s theme is “Remember Me,” for which ADI asks everyone to get involved by sharing their own favorite memories, or memories of a loved one, on social media during September with the hashtags #RememberMe #WAM2016.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, is the world’s largest fundraising and awareness event for Alzheimer’s. In fact many ISL communities take part in these walks. Participants of all ages and abilities gather for these local 2- to 3-mile walks, most of which are held on a day in September. To find a walk near you, go to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website (https://act.alz.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=walk_homepage) and type in your zip code.

HBO Documentary Tells Real-Life Stories About Five Alzheimer’s In-Home Caregivers

Caregivers, an inspiring HBO documentary about the lives of five family caregivers who are caring for spouses or parents with Alzheimer’s disease, is available to watch for free at HBO’s The Alzheimer’s Project website (http://www.hbo.com/alzheimers/caregivers.html).

The film shows five men and women caregivers openly discussing the challenges of dealing with changes in their loved ones, their own health concerns, and their feelings of loss and frustration. They also share the ways they cope, and how they find joy by staying in the present and savoring small, everyday moments.

Two seniors with Alzheimer’s are also featured, talking about changes in their brain functions, and how they adapt and stay positive.

The 48-minute film is one of four documentaries produced for The Alzheimer’s Project, a collaboration of HBO Documentary Films and the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, along with the Alzheimer’s Association and two national charitable gift funds.

One of the most devastating forms of memory loss is Alzheimer’s disease, says The Alzheimer’s Project at its website. Alzheimer’s is estimated to affect as many as 5 million Americans—a number that could rise to more than 11 million as the baby boom generation moves through retirement.

While there is no cure for the disease, The Alzheimer’s Project shows there is now reason for optimism about the future. The documentary series looks at groundbreaking discoveries made by leading scientists, as well as the effects of this debilitating condition on those with Alzheimer’s and their families.

When to Take the Car Keys Away from Older Drivers

Signs that the time has come for seniors to stop driving 

The hardest conversation for adult children to have with elderly parents is talking about giving up driving, according to a recent study and confirmed by many adult children’s experiences. Adult children would often rather talk about finances or end-of-life issues (such as final wishes or wills) than bring up the topic of retiring the car keys.

Families gave two major reasons for avoiding the topic of giving up driving. Taking away the independence, freedom, and access of driving is not an easy thing to do to anyone, especially someone you care about. Additionally, families worry that their loved one would never forgive them for intervening.

Experts say that it’s important not to urge a family member to stop driving unless you’re convinced he or she is a danger behind the wheel. Age alone is not a predictor for poor driving skills. Many seniors are able to drive safely in their 80s and early 90s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Older Driver Research Program reports that older drivers cause fewer motorist and pedestrian deaths than younger drivers, they’re more likely to wear seatbelts, and less likely to drink and drive. Also, seniors drive less frequently than younger people, so the total number of accidents is lower.

Still, if you have growing concerns about a family member’s driving ability, don’t push aside these concerns. What are the signs that a senior’s driving is becoming risky?

  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Forgetting where he or she is going
  • Slow reaction or confusion in unexpected situations
  • Difficulty staying in one lane
  • Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign
  • Dents or scrapes on the car, garage or mailbox
  • Bad judgment when making left turns
  • Traffic tickets or warnings

Also watch for these factors that can elevate risk by compromising driving ability and judgment:

  • Physical and mental impairments such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia
  • Vision impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Prescription drug use and drug interactions
  • Alcohol abuse

The process of easing a senior through the transition away from driving can be smoother if you bring up the subject before it becomes a problem. Establish an open dialogue and give your loved one time to evaluate his or her own skills and think about other methods of transportation. Encourage your loved one to be an active participant in the transition to a new way of getting out and about.

Brain Exercise in the Winter

Taking part in an activity that is fun and thought provoking improves a senior’s quality of life. Many studies support the connection between lifestyle and dementia risk- finding that following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing regular, targeted brain exercises can also increase a brain’s cognitive reserve.

In the cold often dreary days of winter getting some good mental stimulation can often mean indoor activity- and that means for many crossword puzzles! Solid research supports that doing crosswords puzzles helps in many ways including:

  1. Prevent Dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends picking up the crossword habit to help stave off dementia.
  2. Verbal Skills Improve
  3. Solve Problems with Practice
  4. Identify Patterns
  5. Trivia Buffs- get happy

Here is a link to a website with free large print crossword puzzles older adults will appreciate.  http://www.qets.com/crossword_puzzles.htm.

Of course there are also crossword puzzles found in daily newspapers and countless books that are all about crossword puzzles. If the senior in your life loves a good brain challenge, engage with them in good crossword puzzles!

ENJOY!

Alzheimer’s Update

With several promising Phase 3 trials going on in research and increased funding 2016 is poised to be a good year in the search to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

  • Forbes Magazine has gone out on a limb and predicted that a breakthrough drug in the search to conquer Alzheimer’s may be on the way in 2016. Unlike the five existing therapies to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease this drug looks cure it.   Eli Lilly’s solanezumab has been in development for 15 years.  Currently in Phase 3 studies, this experimental drug could be the first marketed treatment to slow the worsening of Alzheimer’s.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association, the leading advocate for federal Alzheimer’s disease research funding and caregiver support, highlighted the historic $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research funding in the FY2016 budget, signed into law on December 18, 2015 by President Barack Obama. This marks the largest increase ever for federal Alzheimer’s research funding. The bill includes $350 million in new spending for Alzheimer’s disease research, a 60% increase over the 2015 amount and well above the president’s request of $51 million. This brings total funding to $936 million. Alzheimer’s researchers hailed the news. “This sends a positive message to younger scientists, who have been leaving the field in droves, that they can initiate and sustain their research careers investigating this disease … I am grateful to Congress for finally seeing the necessity of this action,” Gary Landreth at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, wrote to Alzforum.

The New Year is a Good Time to Explore New Living Options

We in the senior living industry always see an increase of inquires in the beginning of the New Year.  Why? The answer is really quite simple.  Over the holiday’s the reality of where a seniors loved ones mental and physical health is currently at becomes apparent when children or loved ones are home for the holidays and spending more time together.  We often find that if you are starting to ask the question ‘is assistance needed?’ then it may be time to begin inquiring into senior living options.

It is best to begin the search into senior living options, earlier rather than later so that all involved have the time and the best choices available to make the right decisions for a loved one.

Consider these questions when deciding whether it is time to inquire into senior living community options:

  • Emotions: How are they emotionally? Are there changes in their activity level and mood? Are they seeing friends and partaking in activities they have loved for years?
  • Health: Are they taking their medications correctly? Has there been significant weight loss? Unexplained weight loss could indicate a major health problem.
  • Home: What shape is the home in? If the home is in need of repair and un-kept, these can be signs that more help is needed.
  • Hygiene: Neglecting personal hygiene and cleanliness can be a sign that help is needed. Are they taking care of themselves physically? Look to see if they are keeping up with basic daily routines such as bathing, brushing teeth and wearing clean clothes.
  • Mobility: Are they having difficulty moving around their home? Having trouble walking or being unsteady on their feet puts them at risk for falling and injuring themselves.
  • Memory: Are you noticing changes in their personality? Memory loss, difficulty in performing familiar tasks, poor judgment, misplacing items, disorientation, rapid mood swings, increased apathy or passiveness are all early warning signs of Alzheimer’s. A doctor’s evaluation can help determine the cause and treatment of these symptoms.
  • Money: How are the finances? Any mishandled finances to cause concern?
  • Transportation Do you see any dents in a car? This may indicate erratic or unsafe driving.

There are different types of senior living communities to accommodate the varying needs of seniors. The three most common types of senior living options are:

  • Independent Living communities are for active older adults who require little or no assistance from others. They enjoy private dwellings, control over their own schedules, and freedom to come and go as they choose. Social networking, optional events, special interest clubs, and conveniently located services may be offered onsite as well as resort-like amenities with all the comforts of home.
  • An Assisted Living residence is a combination of housing, services, personalized assistance and care tailored to the individual needs of those who require help with activities of daily living
  • Memory Care is designed especially for residents with memory loss including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Many independent and assisted living communities offer memory care areas within their communities. Residents live in a secured space and enjoy an environment and activities coordinated by staff members trained specifically for caring for those with memory impairment.

Thankfully there are many wonderful options in the 21st century for seniors. Check with us about the many senior living opportunities available today!

The Benefits of Music for People with Memory Loss

Recent research strongly suggests that listening to, dancing to, and singing music can lift the spirits of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Neurologist Jonathan Graff-Radford, in an article in the Mayo Clinic’s blog, says that “musical memories” tend to be preserved in Alzheimer’s because the disease leaves key brain areas relatively unaffected.

Studies have shown that exposure to music can relieve stress, lessen anxiety and depression, and reduce agitation in people with Alzheimer’s and related memory-loss conditions.

Playing music can also bring relief and joy to caregivers by lightening the mood—thereby lowering anxiety and stress—and helping caregivers connect with loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, especially those who have trouble communicating.

How can you use music to help relieve the symptoms of a loved one with Alzheimer’s and to foster connection? Consider putting their favorite music on an iPod (making sure that caregivers know how to turn it on and use it) or get them a portable CD player and CD’s.

What kind of music does your loved one respond to? The power of music may be understood because implicit memories are relatively well preserved in people living with dementia. Implicit memory is associated with routines and repetitive activities. All of us tend to listen repeatedly to music we like. Because Alzheimer’s affects the ability to form new memories, music we once loved remains accessible in the brain.

Music can calm or stimulate. To relax your loved one during meals or a hygiene routine, play music or sing a song that’s soothing. To boost the mood, choose faster-paced tunes. 

Avoid overstimulation. Eliminate competing noise. Turn off the TV. Shut the door. Set the music volume for your loved one’s hearing ability. Choose uninterrupted music (no commercials), which can cause confusion.

Get moving! Encourage loved ones to clap with the song or tap their feet to the beat. Dance along!

Sing out loud. Singing along can boost the mood and enhance your relationship. Some early studies suggest musical memory functions differently from other types of memory, and singing can help stimulate unique memories.

Pay attention. If your loved one enjoys particular songs, play them often. If he or she reacts negatively, play something else.

Many ISL communities offer Memory Care

The month of November raises our awareness of Alzheimer’s as we celebrate National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month. Alzheimer’s disease is readily becoming an all to familiar term to millions of Americans. It is estimated that 5.2 million people in this country alone have been diagnosed with the disease, and as the population grows older so to the number of people it will affect. In fact, the number is expected to triple by mid-century. Fortunately when trends such as these are rising so do the resources. Today there is more information and support, providing a better understanding of the disease and how to live with it. One area in particular that is expanding is the development of new residential care programs designed for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia, called Memory Care.

At ISL, our memory care is something you can feel good about for many different reasons. At our communities that offer memory care, we encourage residents to participate in activities; enhance their joy, sense of accomplishment and satisfaction; and promotes their physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being.

With specially designed and dedicated Alzheimer’s and memory care accommodations, memory care communities ensure the comfort and security of our residents. Often each resident room has a personal emergency call system that ensures help is just the touch of a button away. And our on-site resident care professionals are there to oversee the administration of medications, as well as other basic care needs.

Our memory care staff are dedicated to caring for each resident as an individual. We take the time to learn about your loved ones past life experiences, favorite activities, and daily routine. This enables us to encourage independence, support the resident’s strengths and capabilities, and assist them with their needs in a loving and dignified manner.

At ISL, we are constantly striving to find new and better ways to make life better for our residents who have Alzheimer’s disease. We look to ourselves to be more creative, compassionate and flexible, giving us the ability to move beyond traditional care and find breakthrough treatments that make a difference in resident’s daily lives. While there is no cure, significant strides have been made to better understand the disease and identify innovative treatments and programs that make a real difference.  We believe wonderful that we dedicate a month to help raise awareness of this disease because with awareness comes action and hopefully eventually a cure.

November Is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

 Surprising Facts You Might Not Know

Although Alzheimer’s affects approximately 1 in every 2 families in the U.S., and has been extensively covered in the media, there’s still quite a bit of information about Alzheimer’s that you might not be aware of.

Dennis Fortier, president and CEO of Medical Care Corporation, which specializes in helping physicians evaluate patients’ memory and cognitive functions, writes in Caring.com, an online resource for caregivers of older adults, that there are numerous vital facts about Alzheimer’s that you might not know—and that might surprise you. Here is a summary:

Alzheimer’s is usually detected at the end-stage of the disease. On average, Alzheimer’s follows a 14-year course from the onset symptoms until death. Surprisingly, we usually diagnose Alzheimer’s in years 8-10 of the disease course. We diagnose Alzheimer’s disease far too late to optimize the effects of available treatments.

Memory loss is not a part of normal aging. Many patients with symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease do not seek treatment—partly because they dismiss those symptoms are being the normal and untreatable effects of aging. A startling number of doctors incorrectly believe that memory loss is inevitable with age. Be aware that memory loss is not a part of normal aging and timely medical intervention is critical. 

Current Alzheimer’s drugs may be more effective than you think. One reason that current treatments are often deemed ineffective is that they are prescribed for patients with end-stage disease and massive brain damage. With earlier intervention, treatment can be given to patients with healthier brains, who will likely respond more vigorously. A great start would be to intervene earlier with the treatments we have.  

Alzheimer’s disease can be treated. With a good diet, physical exercise, social engagement, and certain drugs, many patients (especially those detected at an early stage) can meaningfully alter the course of Alzheimer’s and preserve their quality of life. Be aware that “we have no cure” does not mean “there is no treatment.” 

Better drug treatments for Alzheimer’s are on the way. Some very promising drugs, based on sound theoretical approaches, are in FDA clinical trials right now. It is possible that an effective agent is already in the pipeline.

Taking care of your heart will help your brain stay healthy. Brain health is very closely tied to the health of your body, particularly your heart. Researchers have shown that high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity contribute to greater risk for cognitive decline. Be aware that maintaining good vascular health will help you age with cognitive vitality. 

Managing risk factors may delay or prevent cognitive decline. Well-identified risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include diabetes, head injuries, smoking, poor diet, lethargy, and isolation. All of these risks are manageable, and publicizing them is one purpose of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Be aware that many risk factors for Alzheimer’s can be actively managed to reduce the likelihood of cognitive problems as you age.