vol. 13

Caregiving Now!

Research, Trends, and Products

By Erin Hansen


10 Signs of Alzheimer’s

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the 10 signs, please see a doctor. Early diagnosis gives you a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What’s typical? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

Challenges in planning or solving problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s typical? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s typical? Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show

Confusion with time or place
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.

What’s typical? Vision changes related to cataracts.

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.

What’s typical? Vision changes related to cataracts.

New problems with words in speaking or writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

What’s typical? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What’s typical? Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

Decreased or poor judgment
People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What’s typical? Making a bad decision once in a while.

Withdrawal from work or social activities
A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

What’s typical? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

Changes in mood and personality
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

What’s typical? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

Resource: www.alz.org

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EldercareABC

A couple who had cared for both their parents and had subsequently experienced their loss began EldercareABC as an idea based on empathy and community. The memory of how challenging the time had been fueled their desire to encourage others to share what their own experiences had been; EldercareABCBlog.com is their response to the many emotions and questions surrounding the caring for and loss of one’s parents and is chock full of valuable resources:

• Insightful and informative blog posts

• Library of articles and resources

• Teleclasses around the most pressing issues

• Interviews with experts / authors

• Special community events

• Group “chat sessions”

• Product reviews

Visit www.EldercareABC.com to join!


Aphasia & the Impact of Music Therapy

on the Elderly Patient

For the aging population, there is a loss of function and independence when communication complications set in. For many senior adults, the loss of communication often comes with a cognitive impairment that complicates speech and language expression. Most notably, the risks of aphasia associated with dementia are quite common.

Aphasia is a complex speech and language complication that results in loss of communication skills. When aphasia is diagnosed, often, your loved one will require the services of a speech and language therapist who can provide aggressive treatment in managing the impairment. While some forms of aphasia are irreversible, there are some that can be slowed, ceased or reversed, depending upon the underlying cause and origin.
As an alternative approach to treating aphasia in the elderly population, some patients are utilizing unique music therapy approaches. Because aphasia is specifically a disorder that involves a loss of language recognition and retrieval, music therapy can provide a unique option in treatment. Using music and songs that are familiar to the elderly patient, areas of the brain that store language retrieval and language recognition capabilities, can be strengthened. Because many songs utilize short phrases, the use of familiar lyrics can provide for a language recognition exercise in music therapy programs.

In some elderly adults, the use of music therapy may simply conjure a recollection of lyrics but, unfortunately, this recollection of lyrics does not imply the meaning of the language spoken is understood. That is to say, the language retrieval process may work perfectly, but the language recognition may not function as planned. The only way to determine what is most beneficial is to utilize music therapy for several sessions to determine if the aphasia is, at least, slowed in progression.

When considering music therapy for a loved one who is experiencing aphasia, it is important to understand that, often, the development of aphasia leads to the early detection of dementia. While in the early stages of aphasia, the mental faculties of your loved one may very well be in place. As a result, when music therapy does not produce the results needed, your loved one may become extremely frustrated and further distressed. For this reason, when considering music therapy as a form of treatment for aphasia, approach the therapy as a fun and engaging experience rather than a treatment that must work to be successful.

As with any form of language complication, it is important to seek medical attention early. While in many senior adults the complications with language retrieval and language recognition can be slowed with age, there are some who will experience such a complication in connection with aphasia and the early onset of dementia. When symptoms of aphasia are confirmed, seek forms of therapy, including the use of music therapy as a viable option for treatment.

Thanks to www.associatedcontent.com

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