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Study Links Hearing Loss And Dementia

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

According to a new study from John Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging, adults with significant hearing loss are at a much greater risk of developing dementia. The study followed 639 dementia-free adults ages 36 to 90. The participants in the study were tested for hearing loss and dementia every two years for nearly two decades. The researchers found that those with hearing loss at the beginning of the study were much more likely to develop dementia by the end, even after taking into account age and other risk factors. The risk of dementia only began to rise once hearing loss began to interfere with the ability to communicate, for example, in a noisy restaurant. The study also found that hearing loss increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but the two were not as strongly linked as hearing loss and other forms of dementia. Frank Lin, M.D., assistant professor of Otology at John Hopkins University and an author of the study says the research is the first major study that connects hearing loss to the development of dementia and could lead to additional research on the subject.

Lin says it may be that whatever causes dementia also causes hearing loss, but there is no clear evidence. He thinks it is more likely that the neurological stress of dealing with hearing loss contributes to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. “If you are out to dinner with friends at a busy restaurant and it’s very, very loud, by the time you get home you’re exhausted, because you spend so much time trying to think about the words people are saying, to decipher everything,” he says. Dementia, the insidious loss of memory, logic and language that interferes with daily living is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and carries a heavy societal burden. After age 85, nearly half of all seniors will have some level of cognitive impairment or dementia. Without proper care, people with dementia may eat poorly and irregularly and ignore exercise and social activity, all activities that could likely improve their health.  Family caregivers are usually the first to recognize that dementia may be developing and should seek medical evaluation as soon as the symptoms are noticed.Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, afflicting about 5 percent of seniors between sixty-five and seventy-four. However, nearly half of those over the age of eighty-five are affected.  Vascular dementia is considered the second most common form of dementia.

This type of dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to parts of the brain. One type of vascular dementia can occur after a single stroke blocks the flow of blood to a large part of the brain.  In another type of vascular dementia, a series of very small strokes block small arteries. Singularly, these strokes are small enough not to cause major symptoms, but over time, their combined effect becomes noticeable. Symptoms of vascular dementia can be similar to Alzheimer’s disease. They include problems with memory, confusion and difficulty following instructions. In some cases, the impairment associated with vascular dementia can be more rapid and marked. Alzheimer’s advances slowly, gradually causing crippling brain damage with symptoms that can include paranoia.
Although the reason for the link between hearing loss and dementia is unknown, the researchers in the study suggest that a common pathology may underlie both or that the strain of decoding sounds over the years may overwhelm the brains of people with hearing loss, leaving them more vulnerable to dementia. They also speculate that hearing loss could lead to dementia by making individuals more socially isolated, a known risk factor for dementia and other cognitive disorders. Whatever the cause, the scientists report their findings may offer a starting point for interventions even as simple as hearing aids that could delay or prevent dementia by improving patients’ hearing.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care San Antonio, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Facilities and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

New Alzheimer’s Scan For Early Diagnoses

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a brain disorder that primarily affects the elderly. It is named after a German doctor, Alois Alzheimer, who in 1996 noticed anomalies in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of a strange mental illness. There were abnormal clumps called amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fibers, both of which are the most common signs of Alzheimer’s. Other brain changes can occur as well. Nerve cells die in areas of the brain vital to memory and other mental abilities, and the connections between nerve cells are disrupted, impairing thinking and memory. The disease is slow moving and in its earliest stages, may merely appear to be mild forgetfulness and be confused with age-related memory change. There may be problems remembering recent events or activities, or the names of familiar people or objects. As the disease progresses, the forgetfulness becomes more severe, interfering with daily activities, such as brushing one’s teeth. There are problems speaking, understanding, reading or writing, and eventually the brain damage becomes so severe as to require total care.

In January, the FDA’s Drug Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of a new imaging agent to detect early Alzheimer’s disease. The agent, florbetapir, is produced by Eli Lilly and Company under the name Amyvid. Amyvid would be injected into the patient and used in conjunction with PET (positron emission tomography) scans to illuminate and detect the beta amyloid plaques in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease. PET scans performed with Amyvid would allow physicians to provide prognostic information to patients and their families even at a time of limited therapeutic approaches to treat Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the availability of imaging agents that can reliably detect amyloid plaques will be an absolute prerequisite to select patients that may benefit from future specific anti-amyloid based Alzheimer therapies. Experts agree the test could become a critical part of detecting Alzheimer’s before symptoms take hold, but a clinical reality is far from imminent.  Although years away, researchers envision the amyloid PET scan could join the ranks of other routine mid-life surveillance tests such as colonoscopy and mammography for early detection. Before FDA approval, manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company must demonstrate that standards for interpreting brain scans can be made consistent enough to routinely guarantee an accurate diagnosis.

Because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, Dr. Sam Gandy, the Mount Sinai Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research in NYC acknowledges the test may not be considered worth the cost even if the FDA approves the recommendation. He added that, “”Medicare may decide that the added value does not merit reimbursement without a meaningful intervention.” Since 2007, molecular imaging has been utilized in improving diagnoses of Alzheimer’s and other dementias with PET scans using other imaging agents such as FDG. FDG stands for fluorodeoxyglucose, a short-lived radioactive form of sugar injected into people during PET scans to show activity levels in different parts of the brain. In Alzheimer’s, low activity is mostly in the back part of the brain; while frontal lobe dementia occurs in the front. In 2008, researchers in France developed an automated system for measuring brain tissue loss using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to help doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. In Alzheimer’s disease, the buildup of certain proteins in the brain leads to brain cell and brain tissue death; the hardest-hit part of the brain is the hippocampus, which affects memory.The automated MRI system helps in diagnosing Alzheimer’s by speeding up the process of visually measuring shrinkage in the hippocampus consistent with the disease.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care Philadelphia, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Facilities and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Napping In The Afternoon Can Improve Learning & Memory For Seniors

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Napoleon Bonaparte napped because he had chronic insomnia and could only sleep about three hours a night.
Thomas Edison napped in lieu of sleeping at night. He believed that sleeping was a waste of time, “a deplorable regression to the primitive state of a caveman,” but he napped frequently and for long periods. Albert Einstein felt that his daily naps “refreshed the mind” and made him more creative. During World War II, Winston Churchill scheduled his cabinet meetings around his daily catnaps. Salvador Dali napped in his armchair, holding a spoon over a metal pan on the floor below. When Dali hit REM sleep and lost muscle control, the spoon would fall from his grip, bang the metal pan and awaken him. Studies show that taking a nap is a great way to increase alertness and reaction times, improve mood, and reduce accidents. For many people, napping is also a highly pleasurable experience.

Although most assisted living communities have activity-packed calendars, many seem to leave a couple of hours open in the afternoons so residents can rest or simply have free time. Recent research is providing evidence that a well-timed afternoon nap may be the best way to combat sleepiness, improve performance, and overcome the late day grogginess commonly known as the “midday dip.” Gregory Belenky, MD, Research Professor and Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, says, “A large number of the world’s people divide their sleep into two blocks, with the afternoon sleep called a siesta in most Spanish speaking countries. Mediterranean countries have always kept attuned to the biorhythms that American culture tries to ignore, and they’ve found a way to work around the body’s internal clock. It’s called the riposo in Italy.

Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece traditionally observe an early afternoon shutdown that begins at noon to 1:30pm and runs until 2:30 to 4pm.  Museums, most churches, shops, businesses, just about everything except restaurants, lower the shutters and lock the doors so that proprietors can either go home or head to a local trattoria for a long lunch and perhaps a snooze during the day’s hottest hours. There are a variety of studies that prove that nighttime sleep improves learning. The idea is that newly learned knowledge or skills are integrated in the brain during sleep. But do naps serve the same role? A new study by researchers at Harvard University has provided strong evidence that it does. The Harvard researchers found that taking a 45 minute nap helps improve learning and memory and has a benefit similar to that of nighttime sleep.

Combining nighttime sleep with napping has twice the positive effect. It is even possible that divided sleep is more recuperative than sleep taken in a single block. Author, Cathleen Schine, romantically describes her families’ love affair with the art of napping when she writes, “naps float, weightless and temporal, they are nature’s whim.” Although appreciative of the Harvard research, when describing her son’s early inability to sleep, she said, “I was even more grateful for a family legacy that taught me, and allowed me to teach him, that not everything has to be useful, not everything has to lead to something more.” She adds that, “Sometimes, for no reason and with no purpose, you can just curl up on the couch, feel the soft breeze, and drift into a soft, delicious sleep that leads to nowhere in particular, and back again.” When fatigue sets in, a quick nap can do wonders for your mental and physical stamina.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care Chicago, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Facilities and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Creativity & Alzheimer’s Disease

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Alzheimer’s disease leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. Over time, the brain shrinks dramatically, affecting nearly all of its functions. Alzheimer’s ultimately affects all parts of the brain but each person is affected differently as the disease progresses. In part, this is due to the nature and extent of damage being caused to different areas of the brain. Each section of the brain is known as a lobe; a lobe simply means a part of an organ. Because the portion of the brain that deals with creativity is often one of the last portions of the brain that is affected by Alzheimer’s disease, providing creative outlets for those affected in an important activity. In the earliest stages, before symptoms can be detected with testing, plaques and tangles, which are the hallmarks of the disease, begin to form in brain areas involved in:

Learning and memory
Thinking and planning

In the mild to moderate stages, brain regions develop more plaques and tangles than were present in early stages. As a result, individuals develop problems with memory or thinking serious enough to interfere with work or daily life. They may also get confused and have trouble handling money, expressing themselves and organizing their thoughts. Many people with Alzheimer’s disease are first diagnosed in this stage.

Plaques and tangles also spread to areas involved in:
Speaking and understanding speech
Sense of where your body is in relation to objects

In the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, most of the cortex is seriously damaged. The cerebral cortex is a sheet of neural tissue that is the outermost part of the brain. It plays a key role in memory, attention, perception, thought, language and consciousness. During this stage of the disease, the brain shrinks dramatically due to widespread cell death. Individuals lose their ability to communicate, to recognize family and loved ones and to care for themselves. The right hemisphere of the brain is associated with the creative process. It conveys feeling, imagination, symbols and images in the present and future. It processes philosophical & religious beliefs, special perception, form and abstract thoughts. Alzheimer’s disease has a profound impact on creativity. Alzheimer’s disease attacks the right posterior part of the brain, which enables people to retrieve internal imagery and copy images. Alzheimer’s disease patients may lose the ability to copy images entirely. However, people with Alzheimer’s disease can continue to produce art by using their remaining strengths, such as color or composition instead of shapes or realism.

Dr. Luis Fornazzari, a researcher from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto and clinical director of the Multilingual/Multicultural Memory Clinic believes the association between creativity and mental illness is an area worth exploring.
As part of his research, Dr. Fornazzari began studying the life of an artist who is suffering from  Alzheimer’s disease. Danae Chambers was commissioned to paint portraits of dignitaries around Canada and abroad. Her artwork has been shown in galleries around the world. Because of her disease, Ms. Chambers had a dramatic deterioration of communication, memory and life skills, but she could still paint beautifully. Traditionally, the approach in treating Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias focused on what is not functioning in the patient, such as memory loss and difficulties with daily life and communication. By focusing on abilities instead of cognitive deficits, Dr. Fornazzari is pioneering a new approach in the treatment of Alzheimer disease and related dementia.  “The distinctiveness of Danae Chambers’ story is that while examining her, we concentrated on the positive aspects of what was still functioning in her brain, such as her creative ability,” says Dr. Fornazzari. Many times patients in the advanced stages of the disease are isolated and have no means of any form of communication. The study suggests that quality of life is improved when patients are given the opportunity to express themselves in any form and it provides scientists an avenue to explore brain function.

The artists’ cognitive abilities were evaluated at four years, two years before and two years after the time she was admitted to a long term care facility in Toronto. Dr. Fornazzari monitored how her creativity emerged during the progressive course of the disease, while her other cognitive functions such as attention, working memory, and language ability increasingly deteriorated.  “Ms. Chambers’ case clearly demonstrates that the brain uses separate neural pathways for creative expression compared to neural networks used for speech, memory and attention,” says Dr. Fornazzari. “This is of profound importance to further understand and explore why Alzheimer’s disease preferentially attacks one neural pathway over the other.”  Dr. Fornazzari strongly advocates that creativity in any of its forms, either visual, musical, literary or performing arts should be actively explored in relation to patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, especially when their other cognitive functions do not allow caregivers and specialists to communicate with sufferers of the disease. This effort to focus on the preserved creative functions, instead of deficits of the patient, will improve their quality of life and is a rewarding way for caregivers to communicate with them. The findings of this scientific case study are published in the June issue of European Journal of Neurology.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care Dallas, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Facilities and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Alzheimer’s Disease Is It Hereditary?

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

There are approximately 5.3 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the United States. Imagine the children and grandchildren of those sufferers who face the terrifying possibility of inheriting a predisposition to the disease. Now that there are tests in the works for early detection of brain injury due to Alzheimer’s, as well as other biological markers of the disease, the question becomes: Would you want to know? Many individuals with a family history of Alzheimer’s said they would definitely want to know if their brains already have signs of the disease. Greg Kalkwarf, whose grandfather died of complications from Alzheimer’s and his mother, 65, now has it, said, “Wouldn’t you want to know that, if you do only have X number of years left, that, shoot, maybe I should not go to that luncheon and instead go spend time with my family?”

At the 2010 Alzheimer’s Association Conference, experts suggested that using biomarkers of the disease, such as plaques and specific proteins in the brain may help in early diagnoses of the disease. The biomarkers can be discovered through MRI scans, PET imaging and testing of cerebrospinal fluid. Memory or other cognitive tests are also indicators of risk for potential development of the disease. Drugs currently being used for treating people in the late stages of the disease do not cure or slow the progression of the disease. Although there are no proven treatments for preventing or curing Alzheimer’s, scientists believe that identifying the early signs of the disease through research will help them develop methods for addressing the early stages. Planning, medical and social intervention can help ease the burden on both patients and family members. Exercise, good nutrition and stimulating activities are important.

Although you cannot change your inherited genes, ethnicity, gender, or age, you can address certain risk factors. Scientists believe that certain conditions and behaviors are more likely to put you at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease:
Smoking after age 65 increases your chances of developing Alzheimer’s by 79%.
Obesity in midlife makes you 3 ½ times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Genetics account for only 25% of Alzheimer’s cases.
Chronic stress may quadruple your risk.
Hypertension , high cholesterol, heart disease, poor quality or insufficient sleep, sedentary lifestyle, liver and kidney disease, alcohol and drug use and head injury are also risk factors.

800Seniors is a distinguished nationwide Senior Healthcare referral service. They are based in Southern California, located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors offers seniors citizens a range of different health care options. Based upon their needs they can opt for Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Care Homes Houston and Assisted Living nationwide. 800Seniors makes life easier by taking away the confusion and hassle. For more information about 800Seniors call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

Alzheimer’s: Not Just About Memory But Ability To Plan, Organize And Reason

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Most of us notice subtle signs of change when our parents begin to age. It is expected they begin to move more slowly, have less strength, dexterity and energy. It is also normal to have reduced hearing and vision issues or possible problems with incontinence. Even some memory changes are a normal part of the aging process. Beginning as early as our 30’s, the brain’s weight, size of its nerve network, and its blood flow can begin to decrease. It is fairly common to have less recall of recent memories and to be slower remembering names and details.

Many elderly people are experiencing some or all of the above symptoms of aging but most of them still live at home, drive their cars, do their own shopping, cooking and participate in social activities. So when are friends or adult children of an elderly parent supposed to realize that something is wrong? One can find the answer from WCBS medical correspondent Dr. Max Gomez and countless others in the elderly healthcare industry. Those who suddenly find themselves dealing with a parent or loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will be looking for answers and a way to cope. Many turn to Skilled Nursing Facilities to ease the burden of caring for their loved ones.  Often the very functionality of a parent, albeit somewhat compromised by age, can mask symptoms of disease or serious problems that can easily be overlooked.


The Phantoms of the Brain by ~richworks on deviantART

Even with his medical training, Dr. Gomez says he missed the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease until three years ago, when he discovered his father had lost every dollar he’d earned. His father retired OB/GYN Dr. Max Gomez, Sr., admittedly was poor with money management, but Dr. Gomez suffered more than a few bad investments. He is now penniless, living in a care facility paid for by Medicaid. Although no longer practicing medicine, Dr. Gomez still had the title of medical director at a clinic. The clinic named him legally responsible for multiple commercial loans, and took out mortgages in his name. The FBI began investigating the situation when Dr. Gomez’s identification was found to have been used to file millions in false Medicare claims. It was also discovered that a former girlfriend had been writing checks worth thousands of dollars against his savings account.

In Alzheimer’s disease, nerve cells die in key brain regions. One of the first is the hippocampus. Damage to the hippocampus, and later the frontal lobe, affect the ability to plan, organize and reason, both crucial aspects for managing money. “You can’t retain the facts because of memory, and you can’t utilize the facts efficiently,” explained, Mony Jon de Leon, director of the NYU Center for Brain Health. “It’s very hard – as people become deteriorated – to manage finances.” In conclusion, even though an elderly parent is functional, lucid and appears to be in control, taking an inventory of sorts of their financial situation and how they are handling their money, may be a good safeguard. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia it might be a good idea to get a consultant from an Assisted Living Dementiafacility to help assess their condition.

A Few Early Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease:

  • Challenges in ability to plan or solve problems
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work, family or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Memory problems that affect behavior and reasoning.

For example, losing or misplacing an item with the inability to retrace steps and actions to locate it.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for independent accommodations such as Assisted Living Facilities Los Angeles, Care Homes, Skilled Nursing Facilities, as well as a variety of Home Healthcare services nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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