Nutrition and Alzheimer’s

If you’re the caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient, read this article from the Fort Myers News-Press by Florida dietitian Elaine Hastings. She explains why maintaining proper nutrition — and even eating, itself — can be a challenge for Alzheimer’s patients and offers some good ideas on overcoming the challenge.

It’s highly likely that you know someone who has or is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease; it’s the most common type of dementia. Four million Americans have the disease; most are over 65. The loss of mental function has a direct bearing on the nutrition of the individual who has the disease.

In early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to feed himself but cannot eat in a setting that’s not familiar. In this situation, verbal cues are important for reassurance, so that proper nutrition is maintained.

As the disease progresses, however, the issues become more serious. Loved ones may forget how to perform certain functions relevant to eating, such as how to hold silverware, how to chew, when to swallow – all of which can mandate the need for mealtime coaching.

via Nutrition Notes: Eating tough for those who have Alzheimer’s | news-press.com | The News-Press.

Apple juice improves behavior but not cognition in Alzheimer’s patients

Apple juice can be a useful supplement for calming the declining moods that are part of the normal progression of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), according to a study in American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias (AJADD), published by SAGE.

In the AJADD study, after institutionalized AD patients consumed two 4-oz glasses of apple juice a day for a month, their caregivers reported no change in the patients’ Dementia Rating Scale or their day-to-day abilities. What did change, however, was the behavioral and psychotic symptoms associated with their dementia (as quantified by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory), with approximately 27% improvement, mostly in the areas related to anxiety, agitation, and delusion.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a progressive loss of memory, decline in cognitive function, behavioral changes, and the loss in ability to do daily activities, all of which causes a significant caregiver burden and increased health care costs. While pharmacological treatments can provide temporary reduction in AD symptoms, they’re costly and cannot prevent the ultimate decline in cognitive and behavioral function. That’s why the authors considered it important to discover any possible nutritional interventions.

“The modest, but statistically significant, impact of apple juice on the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia in this study adds to the body of evidence supporting the usefulness of nutritional approaches, including fruit and vegetable juices, in delaying the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, even in the face of known genetic risk factors,” write the authors, Ruth Remington, RN, PhD, Amy Chan, PhD, Alicia Lepore, MS, Elizabeth Kotlya, MS, and Thomas B. Shea, PhD, “As in prior studies with vitamin supplements, it indicates that nutritional supplementation can be effective even during the late stages of AD.”

via Apple juice improves behavior but not cognition in Alzheimer’s patients.

10 Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caregiving is stressful, and sometimes that stress sneaks up on you. Here, the blogger at Sunflower Ranch has a useful list of 10 Signs of Caregiver Stress. Read the list and watch for the signs. Caregiver stress is bad for your health!

Caregiving is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have. Many are called to perform these duties — but few people want to do them. No one wants to see a loved one slip away physically and/or mentally. Certainly the loved one does not want to be put into the situation. I know, I’ve been there as a caregiver. And it’s not easy. But what can happen to the caregiver is like the storm on the horizon — a tremendous potential for danger and long-lasting effects.

I wish I’d had this list when we started caring for my Dad. He’s been gone now for almost two years, but the feelings can linger long after the whole episode is finished. This list and the links below are very helpful in understanding just how tough caregiving can be.

via Sunflower Ranch: 10 Signs of Caregiver Stress.

Founder of ministry for special needs children says his own kids opened his eyes

The newest member of the Smale family wouldn’t stop smiling.

At home in Goshen the other day, 11-year-old Bronté’s face lit up as she posed for a picture with her parents and sisters. She wore the same happy expression while swaying back and forth on a tree swing and riding a three-wheel bicycle in the driveway.

“Mollie’s my new mom,” the girl said, hugging Mollie Smale, who is 50. Then, she hugged her new father, Jeffrey Smale, 51, the pastor of Madeira Baptist Church.

The Smales adopted Bronté, who has Down syndrome, from a Colorado foster home last month, bringing the number of children in their family to seven.

via Couple’s children opened their eyes | cincinnati.com | Cincinnati.Com.

When boomers get dementia; Caregiving, stress and other costs

The New York Times’ Room for Debate blog looks at dementia, Alzheimer’s and caregiving this week with interesting views from experts on aging and health care. Read on:

But as the United States population ages, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to double from the current 5.3 million in the next few decades. Who will provide the care? What social policies might be needed to help the U.S. deal with growing numbers of older patients?

via When Boomers Get Dementia – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com.

CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen writes about caregiving, early-onset Alzheimer’s

Emmy Award-winning CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen shares his journey into life as a caregiver to his wife, Jan, diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 55 in Jan’s Story: Love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s.

via YouTube – Jan’s Story: Love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s..

Informed caregivers can improve quality of life of Alzheimer’s residents

Why are people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, not being cared for the way they should be? We wanted to find a way to improve the quality of life (“QoL”) of the resident with Alzheimer’s living with a debilitating disease.

This idea formed the basis of a research study at Signature HealthCARE LLC that revealed a direct correlation between the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

via Informed caregivers can improve quality of life of Alzheimer’s residents – McKnight’s Long Term Care News.

‘Sandwich generation’ stressed over looking after kids and aging parents

OTTAWA — Kathyrn Harrison was watching her mother tear pages out of magazines to make collages when it hit her.

Bonnie Harrison was a former real-estate agent. She’d run an inn with her husband, Now, in the throes of dementia, she was participating in art therapy that often saw her filling in colouring books.

“My mom wasn’t even aware that there was something wrong with her,” said Harrison, a 41-year-old from Toronto.”I started crying,” she recalled. “She came over and hugged me.”

Harrison is part of a group of Canadians that has been dubbed the Sandwich Generation, because they are caught between the needs of their own families and children, and the needs of their aging parents.

via ‘Sandwich generation’ stressed over looking after kids and aging parents.

Traveling with an Alzheimer’s patient

Here’s some great advice from Alzlibrary’s Blog on traveling with an Alzheimer’s patient. You may think it goes without saying, but we see news stories far too often about people getting lost while traveling: No one with a cognitive deficit should travel alone. There are some other good practical tips here, so if you are wondering if your loved one (or you!) are up to a trip – read on:

Caregivers often ask if an Alzheimer’s patient can travel — to go on vacation, to attend a family gathering, or to relocate. If your loved one is still in the earlier stages, the two of you may still be able to enjoy traveling together, but you will need to take some basic precautions. Whether the trip will be a success depends on the patient himself — how far his Alzheimer’s has progressed, and how easily he becomes agitated or anxious — and on how well the caregiver plans ahead.

via Traveling with an Alzheimer’s Patient « Alzlibrary’s Blog.

Many Alzheimer’s Patients Find Comfort in Books

Familiar music can engage those with Alzheimer’s when almost nothing else can, researchers have shown. Now it appears that books written for these patients may have a similar effect.

Researchers have found in a number of studies that reading can improve a patient’s quality of life. The meanings of written sentences can be understood by — and prompt cogent responses from — even those who have difficulty handling verbal exchanges.

via Many Alzheimer’s Patients Find Comfort in Books – The New Old Age Blog – NYTimes.com.