A Toolkit for Promoting Positive Behavior in Dementia Patients

Toolkit for dealing with dementia

About 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease and 90% of those are abusive.  This is important because this situation puts these patients at higher risk for institutionalization, greater functional decline and domestic abuse.  Up to this point, the preferred method for managing the Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) has been to prescribe medication to control it.  However, adding to the already hefty arsenal of drugs currently taken by most senior citizens is not to be entered into lightly since they are often accompanied by significant and dangerous side effects.  Clearly, we need better mechanisms for handling these patients.

An article in January/February 2014 issue of Geriatric Nursing entitled “Promoting Positive Behavioral Health:  A Non-Pharmacological Toolkit for Senior Living Communities” unearths a great find:  a toolkit which was peer reviewed and endorsed by experts and designed to centralize the most up to date best practices for handling these challenging situations.  A team of clinicians assembled data on how to deal with BPSD beyond the parameters of the antipsychotic medications normally prescribed.  The goal is for these methods to be the first course of action in treating dementia.  The toolkit can be accessed at http://www.nursinghometoolkit.com/ and you can navigate through the tabs on top and get to an area of interest.  Searching through the site will yield a plethora of information including non-pharmacological approaches to dealing with dementia. A helpful graph of approaches can be found in a document entitled “Review of Non-pharmacological Approaches for Treating Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia“.

This meshes with a program which began in March 2012 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the “Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health and Reduce Antipsychotic Use in Nursing Homes” where it partnered with associations such as the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA)  for a comprehensive approach for limiting the use of dementia controlling medications in this population as part of their overall “Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes”.

We owe it to our seniors and their loved one and caregivers to explore any adjunct or replacement treatments to alleviate the often devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  This handy tool is worth a look.

 

New Alzheimer’s Disease Test Aims for Earlier Detection, Earlier Intervention

Alzheimer's Disease

The Alzheimer’s Association calculates that more than 5 million American are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, killing an estimated 500,000 people each year. But many of these patients are not diagnosed until the symptoms of the disease have already become apparent. Currently, the available medical technology cannot diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest non-symptomatic stages.

One of the most challenging aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease is actually diagnosing the condition. Cognitive disorders can take many forms, and some of them can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s. However, an Israeli biotechnology firm, NeuroQuest, aims to improve on the diagnostic methods for the disease with a new test that it is currently making its way through clinical trials. The company says that its test could be used for early detection of Alzheimer’s, according to the Jewish Press.

The standard test for detecting Alzheimer’s disease is a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, an expensive test that is used to identify the plaque in the brain that is indicative of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

NeuroQuest is developing its technology that  is a less expensive and less invasive alternative where biomarkers in the blood are tested for molecular signatures that are indicative of a disease. The company says that in clinical trials in Israel, the test was shown to be 87 percent accurate in detecting Alzheimer’s disease, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

NeuroQuest still needs to prove its technology in further human tests. The company will be conducting U.S. clinical trials in 2016 and 2017. The company has already entered into a service agreement with the University of California, San Diego to collect and process 700 blood samples for the trials.

If the NeuroQuest Alzheimer’s diagnostic wins the approval of the Food and Drug Administration, the technology could offer means for earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease and earlier treatment for the condition. The NeuroQuest diagnostic still needs to conduct clinical trials, which could take years, but the potential for this new technology is very promising.

At David York Agency, we understand the fears and challenges that Alzheimer’s disease can bring, not just for the person diagnosed, but for everyone in their life. We provide families with the support and care they need during this particularly difficult time.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Halting Alzheimer’s Disease: How Controlling Inflammation Could Be the Key

Alzheimer's Disease

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that approximately 5.3 million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, one in three seniors will die from Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Such staggering statistics may seem dismal, but there is hope on the horizon with recent research findings.

Researchers from the University of Southampton in England have been working with a chemical that reduces neuroinflammation in the brain. This chemical may help protect against the memory and behavioral changes associated with Alzheimer’s.

How Inflammation Plays a Part in Alzheimer’s

It is theorized that an overactive immune system causes chronic inflammation in the brain. Though researchers are not sure, they suspect that the inflammation is a catalyst for the disease rather than the other way around.  Scientists have linked that inflammation to Alzheimer’s in several clinical studies where they have looked at the tissue of a healthy brain versus one afflicted by Alzheimer’s. The brains that suffered from Alzheimer’s showed high levels of immune cells (microglia) and the concentration of these cells were greater as the disease increased in severity thereby suggesting chronic brain inflammation in Alzheimer’s sufferers. The molecules that regulate the number of immune cells clearly became more active as the severity of Alzheimer’s in the brains increased clustering around the amyloid plaques in the brain associated with the disease. The inflammation is believed to not be a result of the Alzheimer’s disease but a key driver of the disease, states a report done by the Huffington Post.

The National Health Service (NHS) reports that mice suffering from symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s experienced improvement when given a drug with the chemical GW2580, which blocked the production of the microglial immune cells that caused brain inflammation. However, the prevalence of amyloid plaques was not diminished.  Research in the mice showed an improvement in the cognitive and behavioral symptoms relating to Alzheimer’s when fed GW2580 thereby inhibiting immune cell production and reducing the inflammation within the brain.

Currently, researchers are very hopeful that controlling inflammation in the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferers, through the use of medication, diet and lifestyle changes, has the potential to significantly reduce memory loss caused by the disease, along with a variety of other Alzheimer’s symptoms.

At David York Agency, we understand the fears and challenges that Alzheimer’s disease can bring, not just for the person diagnosed, but for everyone in their life. We hope to provide families with the support and care they need during this particularly difficult time.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

New Hope in Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, we really can’t overstate the importance of early detection. However, despite the need for and value of diagnosing this disease before symptoms actually start to appear, researchers have struggled to find a reliable method of doing so — until now.

Thanks to Henrik Zetterberg and Kaj Blennow of Gothenburg University’s Sahlgrenska Academy, there is now hope in a test that measures beta-amyloid proteins in cerebrospinal fluid for early detection of Alzheimer’s. The two scientists recently developed a way to detect Alzheimer’s up to thirty years before any symptoms start to show by measuring this specific protein in the spinal fluid.

Alzheimer's Disease

“If the concentration of beta-amyloid in the spinal fluid is abnormally low, it indicates that the protein is sticking in the brain, which is the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

In a healthy person, beta amyloid collects in the brain and immediately goes into the blood and spinal fluid. But with Alzheimer’s patients, a protein called GPR3 is believed to be the reason that beta amyloid plaques develop and stick to the brain. These plaques cause brain and nerve cells to die. This beta amyloid buildup can happen as early as middle age and can easily go unnoticed for years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease start to appear. At this point, the disease is too advanced to respond to any type of treatment.

With advanced degrees in gerontological administration, our director, along with our team of medical professionals who have extensive hands-on patient care experience, is fully able to understand and assist with every aspect of care faced by the aged and infirmed.

At David York Agency, we consider every one of our clients family. We understand how life-changing and scary an Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis can be, not just for the person diagnosed, but for everyone in their life. We hope to provide families with the support and care they need during this particularly difficult time.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

A Compassionate Caregiver Provides the Help You Need to Keep Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s Safe

“Where’s Dad?” Panic sets in when you realize your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease has wandered off alone.  Dealing with a loved one with this dreaded disease can be very challenging at times, if not downright terrifying.  

compassionate caregiverAn Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis can put a lot of stress on a family. While at first it may seem manageable, unsafe situations can arise, such as the loved one getting lost and not being able to recall where he lives or what his name is, or leaving the fire on the stove lit for hours after forgetting they were simply boiling an egg. These events are alarming for family members who feel helpless in the face of this disease. Furthermore, having to make decisions about that loved one’s ongoing care can catapult the family into uncharted territory. The decreased function and changed behavior of the Alzheimer’s patient is a huge adjustment that must be accounted for.

If the thought of a residential facility doesn’t sit well with you, a compassionate caregiver might be the solution. While many nursing homes are more than capable of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, keeping your loved one at home has many advantages. A familiar setting often keeps their precious long-term memories close at hand, possibly slowing the rapid progression of the disease. Additionally, moving a patient out of their home can sometimes cause great anxiety which, in and of itself, can speed the progression of dementia.

If you’ve decided you want to keep your loved one home, but you can’t be there 24 hours a day, you will need to set up a situation where they can be both safe and happy. Elderproofing, much as you would for a baby, will be necessary. You will have to keep doors locked with elder-proof devices. You will need kitchen safety knobs on the stove and latches on the ovens. You will need to make sure the bathroom is safe from fall hazards and that the temperature on the hot water tank is set low enough not to burn. You may also want to put a GPS tracking device on your loved one, in case they get out unescorted. The National Institute of Aging has a comprehensive home safety booklet for Alzheimer’s patients that you might find extremely useful.  

In terms of their day to day care, it might be prudent for you to turn to an in-home caregiver, such as a certified home health aide, to help with tasks you cannot manage.  An experienced, compassionate person can come in to help your family member with meals, hygiene assistance, household tasks or simply to offer a little companionship. When your loved one lives far away, this becomes especially essential. However, even when they are close by, a professional caregiver can ensure that family members are not too taxed and that everyone can go on with their normal routine as much as possible.  

If you think an in-home caregiver is financially unfeasible, it’s important to know your options. If your loved one had the foresight to purchase long-term care insurance, then many of our services are covered under those policies. Also, some of the elderly qualify for Medicaid after their assets have declined.

If you live in the New York City area, the David York Agency offers highly-personalized home health care services so that your family member can stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own home, while all of you deal with the stress of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Our health care professionals are highly-trained and capable of handling not only medical situations but also the day-to-day running of the home. Many of the families we serve come to see our providers as family members, as they become integrated into the everyday lives of the household.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might help you and your loved ones. To hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For any of your questions concerning elder care, contact us.

Recognizing the Signs of Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

It is important to recognize the signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as early as possible. It affords family members plenty of time for planning, ensures that a safe living arrangement is set in place and enables the elderly to take advantage of all current and cutting edge treatments available. Unfortunately, both the elderly and their loved ones are ignorant of the signs and can be in a state of denial.

It’s easy to try to deny signs of dementia in oneself and a loved one. It is terrifying for the former and painful for the latter. Often denials sound like this:

  1. Getting confused is just part of getting older.
  2. The irrationality is just part of a mid-life crisis.
  3. Stress and sleep deprivation is causing the forgetfulness.
  4. Everyone forgets things.
  5. Depression is causing the lack of focus.

Then again, you could be experiencing early signs of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is a great resource and has compiled the following list:

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality.

If you have a suspicion that the forgetfulness is something more serious, it is time to go see a doctor. The best to find out if any of these signs and symptoms is indicative of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is to get a complete medical evaluation.

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is naturally extremely stressful to all concerned. Anticipating and planning for the eventual outcome of the disease is not easy, but David York Home Healthcare Agency can help. When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly and infirm in their home. A nurse is always standing by and would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

Ultrasound Treatment May Improve Cognition in Alzheimer’s Patients

Ultrasound wave treatments given to mice with Alzheimer’s disease resulted in better performance on memory tests and less of the amyloid braid plaque that is typical of Alzheimer’s patients. Though studies in mice are tough to replicate in humans, it does give cause for hope, especially since drugs now in trial have not been successful in improving cognition.

What is new here is that the ultThinkstockPhotos-178438513rasound seems to temporarily open up the blood-brain barrier, not easily penetrated, allowing the protein albumin in to boost the work of the microglia cells that remove toxins from the brain. They can eat up the amyloid proteins that form the plaques on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

If successful, this has the potential to be much less expensive than many drugs on the market. At the moment, drugs used in treating Alzheimer’s disease can clear amyloid plaques, but have not reversed the debilitating symptoms or the cognitive deficits that wreak havoc on the sufferer’s improving quality of life for seniors .

Since the human skull is much thicker, it might be harder to penetrate with ultrasound waves than those of mice. So, the next step is to test the treatment in larger animals like sheep. This approach was tested as a stand alone, without any drugs.

David York Home Healthcare Agency is well versed in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly and our home health aides and home healthcare team are adept at in home senior care. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 where a nurse is waiting to take your call. You can also visit us at our website www.davidyorkagency.com for more information about our elder care services. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

New Blood Test for the Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

There is exciting news in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research with the advent of a new blood test which can determine the presence of a key marker, brain amyloidosis, the buildup of amyloid proteins in the brain, as well as other blood proteins known to be associated with AD. Early detection of the disease can have implications in terms of benefitting from any current and new treatments, joining research trials underway and taking advantage earlier of any support services available.

T181985743he blood test can be administered after a clinical examination uncovers symptoms of Alzheimerhttp://www.alz.org/’s disease including cognitive impairment such as dementia. This new blood test is safe, affordable and easy to administer in a variety of settings. Currently, the only definitive tests for the presence of AD either have major drawbacks associated with them or can only be done post mortem. The first method of extracting cerebrospinal fluid requires an invasive spinal tap and carries the risk of nerve damage. The second is a PET scan testing for amyloids in the brain exposes the patient to radiation, is not usually covered by insurance and few centers have the technology. Autopsies can reveal brain beta amyloid proteins in the brain, a hallmark sign of AD, but, obviously, has no benefit to the sufferer at that time.

This new test also has the benefit of reducing the stress of not knowing for the patient and their loved ones. An important byproduct of the test is enhancing the integrity of research by ensuring that only true AD patients are included in any treatment trials which currently have an error rate of about 25% of non-AD patient inclusion.

Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is naturally extremely stressful to all concerned. Anticipating and planning for the eventual outcome of the disease is not easy, but David York Home Healthcare Agency can help. When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly and infirm in their home. We would be happy to discuss your case with you. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

Turmeric and Preventing Dementia

Turmeric is a spice that has been the subject of many studies with respect to easing one of the most debilitating aspects of old age – dementia. It contains a powerful antioxidant called curcumin and is used widely in India where some of the lowest rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease occur. Dementia from Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and those with diabetes and blood pressure issues are at higher risk for dementia as well. Given that the rates of diabetes and hypertension worldwide are rising rapidly, exploring new forms of treatment and prevention of dementia is critical.

Turmeric with its anti-inflammatory effects may well have a role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s patients are distinguished by their buildup of beta-amyloid plaques of protein in their brains. In a study cited in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, mice with Alzheimer’s disease decreased their levels of plaque by 40% when given low doses of curcumin (turmeric) vs. the mice not treated with the curcumin. Curcumin was also seen to increase the activity of macrophages whose function is to clear foreign proteins from the body.487127683

Help in early stages of diabetes: A study out of Taiwan and reported in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested the working memory of men and women aged 60 and over with untreated pre-diabetes. They gave each subject either one gram of turmeric or a placebo at breakfast. The test group showed better cognition in the following 6 hour period.

Anything that could strengthen the heart is also a good hedge against dementia. Many older people experience multi-infarct dementia resulting from mini-strokes which are due to problems with blood circulation. When blood flow is impeded damage to the brain and heart occurs. The cumulative effects of these strokes could lead to serious health issues and a spiraling decline that could be fatal. As an antioxidant inhibiting the formation of free radicals, turmeric or curcumin could be a measure toward increasing heart health.

One study showed that fruit flies that consume turmeric extended their longevity and had their mobility longer than fruit flies that did not. Turmeric also has cleansing effects and is available in supplement form, but since it does interact with some drugs, discuss its use and the use of any supplement with your doctor.

When home healthcare becomes necessary, David York Home Healthcare Agency provides skilled home health aide services for home healthcare. At David York Agency, we pride ourselves as a resource for managing the total care of your senior loved one and are abreast of all the latest guidelines for the elderly.

David York Agency provides high quality skilled home health aide services for the elderly and infirm with the highest degree of personal service. We can provide full-time or part-time professionals depending on your needs. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit us on our website www.davidyorkagency.com to become acquainted with all we offer. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

 

Signs of Normal Memory Loss

They’re quips we hear often enough—when a companion forgets a well-known name, for instance, or when you’ve forgotten where you left your keys: “I’m having a senior moment,” or, “My Alzheimer’s is setting in!” The lapse in memory in itself may be disquieting—no one likes to forget things, after all—but while jests of this nature can be rooted in truth, memory loss ranges from what’s perfectly normal to an underlying condition that may indicate a more serious concern.

normal memory lossOver the past several years, scientists have come to more fully understand which types of memory loss are normal and which may be a warning bell. Age plays a normal role in contributing to memory loss.  As we age, the body changes, including the composition of the brain. We know that children learn at an incredibly fast rate; conversely, adults learn more slowly and do not remember information as well, and the elderly are often prone to mild forgetfulness which does not necessarily indicate serious memory problems.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), older adults may find they don't do as well as younger people on complex memory or learning tests. Given enough time, however, studies show that healthy older people can do as well as younger people do on these tests. In fact, as they age, healthy adults usually improve in areas of mental ability such as vocabulary.

Memory problems may be related to treatable health issues. Chronic alcoholism, thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders, tumors, infections, or blood clots in the brain may cause memory loss or dementia. Additionally, side effects from medication can be a cause, as can certain vitamin deficiencies. Emotional problems like stress, anxiety, or depression, can leave a person feeling distracted, making them appear more forgetful. This confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions is usually temporary.

For some older people, memory problems are a sign of a more serious problem, such as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or vascular dementia. For those whose memory loss seems excessive, it’s important to consult a doctor, as conducting a thorough health evaluation—including review of medical history, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, and general health—is necessary to getting to the root of the problem.

When memory problems make daily living too challenging or unsafe, David York Agency can assist you with senior care planning.  Contact us at 718-376-7755, or visit us online at davidyorkhomehealthcare.com. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.