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Posts Tagged ‘ill’

New Alzheimer’s Test

Friday, August 13th, 2010

On Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 a study was published in the Annals of Neurology which reported that a spinal tap test could successfully detect Alzheimer’s – with high accuracy – many years prior to any noticeable symptoms of the disease.

How is Alzheimer’s Perceived to Develop?

For those with Alzheimer’s, it is likely that brain changes occur at least 10 years before memory loss.  Two proteins located in the brain called Amyloid and Tau are thought to compromise communication between nerve cells and destroy brain tissue.  This spinal tap test can detect certain combinations of these two proteins which are typical of Alzheimer’s Disease.

This study found these signs, or ‘biomarkers’, of the disease in 90% of Alzheimer’s patients; in 72% of people with ‘mild cognitive impairment’; and in 36% of people who were thought to be ‘normal’.

In order to use these findings productively moving forward, specialists can conduct the test on patients in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s to then test current treatments.  Up until now, various medications have been used on many patients with moderate to advanced levels of Alzheimer’s with little to no positive results.  This research suggests that current treatments may be more effective if introduced to patients with only the very beginnings of Alzheimer’s in their brains.

Would You Want To Be Tested?

Given the fact that presently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, for many people this test may seem pointless.  If there is no way to stop it, why would we want to know that years down the road we will have this mind-crippling disease?

For others, knowing that Alzheimer’s is a definite reality in their future may offer a sense of control.  Having such knowledge may:

•    Help you make certain lifestyle decisions in the interim
•    Plan for the future in terms of living arrangements, finances, or your estate
•    Urge you to participate in upcoming clinical trials for possible treatments or even cures for the disease
•    Make you realize and value what is most important to you

What This Means for the Future

These latest research developments may bring us closer to what will hopefully be a cure in the future.  Before a cure is possible, there must be a way to detect the diagnosis early.  New or even existing treatments can be attempted on those will little to no symptoms.  It will be interesting to see if effective rises when implemented at a premature stage of the disease.  The hope we all share, is that successful treatments will eventually lead to a cure for this sad and unfortunate disease of the brain.

Information gathered from:  CBS News, CBC News, and The New Republic.

Are You Playing The Parent Role For Your Own Parents?

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Many baby boomers have parents and elderly loved ones who are aging quickly and who are now in demand of help and regular care.  Boomers are finding themselves caring for their mothers and fathers as they simultaneously attend full time jobs and hold a responsibility to care for their own children.

Parenting, whether for your parents or your offspring, is exhausting and time consuming.  Boomers who take on the role of parent to their elderly mother or father find themselves shopping, driving to appointments, acting as a regular companion, cooking, cleaning, and fixing items around the house.

  Studies show that many family caregivers are married women who work full time.  The stresses of such a role don’t stop with the caregiving tasks themselves, because for most, caring for an elderly parent is also extremely taxing on their emotions.

Many family caregivers deal with resistance, anger and frustration from their parents when they try to help.  In the eyes of your parents, you’ll always be their child, and for many boomers’ elderly parents, this is a life phenomenon they didn’t experience firsthand – making it that much more difficult for them to understand what you’re going through.

You Can’t Do It All

Don’t be afraid to come to the realization that you can’t do everything on your own.  It is important for you to accept this so that you don’t find your life run by elderly loved ones who are unaware of the implications of the situation.  Consider hiring help wherever you can.  A house cleaning service, yard work professional, or grocery delivery service could take some of the workload off your shoulders.

Talk to Your Siblings

Discuss the circumstances with your siblings.  If you find you are accepting responsibility for too much of the burden, address the situation with others in the family.  Find out how they can help.  Even the smallest of gestures can make a difference.


The more you set the stage for open communication, the more comfortable your parents will feel talking to you about the changes they are experiencing.  Unfortunately, many seniors keep quiet about the help they need because they are embarrassed, scared, or don’t want to be a burden on you.  

By keeping the lines of communication open at all times, you will encourage open and honest conversation so that you can understand the troubles they face on a day-to-day basis.

Keeping Your Parents’ Home Safe

One of the biggest concerns among baby boomer caregivers is the safety of their parents in their own homes.  Elderly parents become forgetful, absentminded and disoriented.  They want to do everything they can to stay in their homes, but yet they will not take proactive measures to ensure their own safety.  This is up to you.  Look into assistive devices, safety electronics and elderly emergency systems on the market to help your parents stay safe in their homes.

Plan for the Future

Have a plan in place for future living arrangements your parents may need.  Sometimes the rate of deterioration can be fast, so when you begin to see physical or mental weakening in your elderly loved ones, it is important that you are prepared for the day when adjustments need to be made quickly.

If you are the person your elderly parents rely on for help, it is important that you are also prepared for any unexpected emergencies.  Will you be able to help them whenever they call?  Will it be possible for you to take time off work?  In the case of an emergency, will you be available on a moment’s notice?

Take Care of Yourself Too!

Do everything you can not to forget about yourself.  Eat well, exercise on a regular basis and get plenty of sleep.  The healthier you are and the better you feel, the more you’ll be able to help the loved ones who need you.

  Don’t hesitate to seek support.  There are many resources available to help you cope with the stresses of caring for your elderly parents.  Research your community to find support groups, respite services and other useful information that may be of great value to you.

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