Friday, December 6, 2013

The Great Unlearning Which is Alzheimer's

 I found this article about deep philosophical and spiritual questions related to Alzheimer's Disease to be very comforting. I see the importance in emotional processing and life review in various elderly people, not just Alzheimer's patients. Lots of examples and ideas in this:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Purpose in Life Wards Off the Effects of Alzheimer's Disease

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry Division shows that people who score high on tests measuring one's feeling of having a purpose in life are less likely to get Alzheimer's Disease and are far less likely to exhibit cognitive signs of the disease even when the telltale physical changes associated with Alzheimer's are present. Previous studies have indicated similar things (the famous Nun study, for instance), but specifically studying purpose in life is new and noteworthy.

Add that to studies that show that feeling isolated, lonely and unloved tremendously increases the likelihood of Alzheimer's, and those that show correlations between the disease and depression, and I think we're starting to get a much clearer picture of how Alzheimer's Disease manifests in the elderly population. I imagine this is especially true in Western culture of the current generation!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Let People Know How To Manage Your Care If Unable To Speak for Yourself!

If something should happen to you and you are unable to speak for yourself does your family know your wishes as to how to manage your care? And will they have the legal right to act on your behalf? Are you thinking about whether you may be called on to do that for someone else? You can do something about that. Fill out Health Care Proxies, print them out, and make sure everyone who might need to be involved has their own copies.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More on Alzheimer's and Type 3 Diabetes

I'm not in the field of dementia care anymore but two close family members with these symptoms keep me needing to pay attention. My dad is in a nursing home right now, and my mother reports that all the patients seem to want to eat is sugar. The family caregivers I used to work with would report the same thing. Long before the scientific evidence started to pile up, those of us working in the field knew there had to be some correlation between memory loss and confusion and these bizarre sugar cravings. Patients lose their appetites for anything else. It is now thought that a lot of what we call Alzheimer's Disease is most likely insulin resistance in the brain caused by excessive sugar consumption, lack of exercise and — this is something scientists do not say — whatever it is that causes people to substitute sweets for what the rest of us consider to be the "sweetness" in life.

I feel I must go out on a limb with this a bit. Too many Alzheimer's patients have spent many years being isolated and lonely, have suffered the trauma of losing their spouse or significant other, have few if any hobbies, or otherwise feel like they have little to live for except watching endless amounts of TV with a bowl of ice cream or plate of cookies close at hand.

There is also sufficient evidence to suggest that early stage Type 3 Diabetes (and therefore most Alzheimer's Disease) can be easily reversed if caught soon enough with exercise, insulin and more moderate sugar consumption. Going for a walk three times a week is enough to make a big difference in someone who is excessively sedentary. Making it a rule never to eat sugar on an empty stomach or substituting more protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates can make a big difference right away regardless of the amount of exercise. And try arranging it so your loved one takes that walk and eats that meal with someone who loves them! That could make the biggest difference in quality of life for both the patient and all concerned.

Scientific articles:

Layman's articles: