May 4, 2015

Diet and Dementia

Image result for nature photos flowers
"Researchers have successfully tested a special diet that they designed that appears to reduce the risk for developing dementia." NY Times, April 21, 2015

The researchers found the MIND diet, the Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on brain-healthy foods, like berries and green leafy vegetables, lessened the occurrence of dementia, even when it was not strictly adhered to.  The diet is largely plant based, but does not contain much fruit, except berries, especially blue berries.  It recommends eating berries two times a week, one serving a day of leafy greens, and one to two servings of some other vegetable per day.  Nuts, whole grains, olive oil and one glass of wine a day are also recommended.  In their research, people who ate 1-2 servings a day of green vegetables had a "dramatic decrease in cognitive decline".  This diet would be a good idea for all of us caregivers, and has even had some impact on those with beginning dementia.  

May 3, 2015

A Race for Medicare Dollars

Image result for nature photos flowers
"Competition for short-term rehab patients has become intense because Medicare, the health insurance program for older adults, pays 84% more for short-term patients than nursing homes typically get from Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, for long-term residents."
 NY Times April 15, 2015

I certainly found that to be a problem when I was looking for a suitable facility for my loved one.  A number of the facilities I would have considered were taking no long-term care residents, because they were entirely focused on the short-term, rehab patients for whom they get more pay.  This was true even though we were private pay and not Medicaid.  In his current care facility I see patients come and go -- they are the ones in for rehab after some kind of surgery.  If you are looking for a care facility, this will be something to keep in mind.  This article also cautions us to consider if the care for our long-term loved one is not marginalized because of the facility emphasis on the higher-paying rehab patients.  Something to watch.  

May 2, 2015

Apnea and Dementia

Image result for nature photos flowers
"Breathing problems during sleep may be linked to early mental decline and dementia, a new study suggests." Nicholas Bakalar

According to this study of 2,470 people with average age 74 there was a correlation between breathing problems, such as apnea, and dementia.  The good news is that a positive airway pressure machine delayed the onset of dementia.  Those people with breathing problems experienced cognitive impairment ten years sooner than people who did not have breathing problems, but this was not true for those with breathing problems who used breathing machines at night.  If you snore loudly at night and/or are fatigued during the day in spite of spending enough time in bed, you may want to be checked for a sleep disorder. 

May 1, 2015

Being Grateful

Image result for nature photos
"Nothing new can enter your life without gratitude." Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith

So many of us humans are prisoners of our thinking.  How many times have you known you were "lost in thought"?  Do we realize that being lost in thought is truly being lost?  Let us begin to control our thoughts, rather than letting them control us.  We can choose our thoughts, and we can choose thoughts of gratitude.  Focusing our lives on gratitude will change the quality of our lives.  What are you grateful for this first day of May?  I am grateful for the green grass emerging, and the flowers.  I am grateful for the bits of real conversation I sometimes can still have with my loved one.  I am grateful for family and friends to love and who love me.  For what are you grateful?

Apr 30, 2015

Seeing The Whole Picture

Image result for nature photos
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. King was speaking of the civil rights, and we are dealing with dementia and all the responsibilities of our own and our loved one's life, but - still - this quote can offer us hope.  Our loved one has a terminal, progressive disease, that's true.  But, isn't it also true that we all have that?  Certainly, our loved one has more finite life left than we may have, but we all have a terminal condition.  So, let us not lose hope.  If you believe in some existence after this one, you have hope.  If you don't believe in another existence, you can still have hope.  Hope that comes from living your life the very best way you know how.  

Apr 29, 2015

When To Intervene In Hallucinations

Image result for nature photos
"Visual hallucinations are a symptom of Lewy Bodies Dementia." Mayo Clinic

I try never to intervene with my loved one's hallucinations; however, sometimes it is best to do so.  Yesterday he was very agitated and told me his mother had called on the phone, told him to go immediately to the State Theater in North Dakota, to not question it and to go right now.  He was obviously very agitated, said he was confused and wondered if he should go.  I gently reminded him his mother was dead and that he sometimes experienced things that were not real.  We talked about going to his mother's funeral, which he remembered.  He was significantly less agitated after this discussion, and I told him he could always bring up to me anything that was confusing to him.  I think it is good for us to remember that the visual hallucinations are as real to our loved one as we sitting there is real.  The hallucinations are so real that they circumvent what he knows to be true -- that his mother is dead.  Sometimes it is better to bring our loved one back to reality as we know it.

Apr 28, 2015

Trust Yourself

Image result for nature photos
"Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live." Goethe

Some how it seems, we all are victims of unwanted and unsolicited advice.  I met with a couple recently who were questioning their parenting because so many people felt it was their business to tell them how to do it -- and to do it differently from what they were currently.  The same is true for caregiving, we will have people who have the audacity to tell us how we should be doing the caregiving; and it seems these are always people who are not willing to help with the caregiving in any way.  Let us trust ourselves.  We will know what it right for us.  When we have a decision to make, let us get the advice of a few, true friends or experts, and let us not pay heed to the advice that is not solicited and is not helpful or true for us.