MSNBD / MSN Health
Health Tip: Seniors, Listen to Your Bodies: How to know if you've done too much
Millions of boomers are caring for parents afflicted with a disease that steals minds &
memories. What life is like when your mother doesn't know you, or her own name.
By Barbara Kantrowitz & Karen Springen
June 18, 2007 issue - A man is sitting next to her. She knows his name is Frank, but that's all she knows. She
doesn't remember that when they met, she was head cheerleader & he was considered the best-looking guy in town. She doesn't
remember that they've been married nearly 63 years & have raised 2 daughters, Michel Webb, 55 & Melinda Proza, 46.
She doesn't know that her daughters & Frank, 85, try to watch her constantly because they're terrified she will wander
off. She doesn't even know her own name.
It's Helen Erskine.
She is 81 years old & she has Alzheimer's disease - a devastating diagnosis. "Only people who have this in their family could possibly understand what we're going through," says Webb, a Dallas
banker. With other diseases, she says, "there's usually a progression, a treatment & you're hopeful for a positive end.
With Alzheimer's, there is no positive end."
That's the constant sad reality of life with Alzheimer's, the most common type of dementia. It's an emotionally wrenching journey that millions of baby boomers share now that so
many of their parents are living past 80, the age when the incidence of all types of dementia rises sharply.
Alzheimer's currently afflicts more than 5 million Americans & 70% of them live at home, where they're cared for by many millions
of daughters, sons & spouses. Caregivers can be younger or older, but demographic reality means that the weight of work
is falling largely on those born between 1946 & 1964.
As they watch
their parents' inevitable decline, boomers can't help but see a disturbing glimpse of their own potential future. By 2050, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's & other dementias could soar to 16 million. The grim prospect of impending dementia has turned many caregivers into activists urgently pushing
for research funds. "It's a coming crisis in health care," says Harry Johns, president & CEO of the Alzheimer's Association,
whose own mother had Alzheimer's & died in April.
The human cost
is crushing, says Johns: "It's emotionally, physically & financially draining."
The time between diagnosis & death can be more than a decade, with each day bringing new heartache for overwhelmed families. Although Alzheimer's is always fatal, the course of the disease is unpredictable. In some cases, decline can be sudden; a mother will be able
to recognize her daughter one day but not the next.
stay at a relatively functional level for years before deteriorating. Mary Mittelman, who runs the Alzheimer's support program at New York University, says that living with uncertainty is a major reason that "the stress is so much worse than caring for someone with another disease."
a caregiver learns in the early days, when memory loss is minor, are of "very little use" in later stages, when behavior &
physical problems become much more severe, says Mittelman. Coping with issues like incontinence or periods of screaming can undo even family members who vowed never to put their parent in
a nursing home.
Support groups can help, but many caregivers say they don't have the time or energy to participate. They're balancing their parents' needs with the ongoing demands of work & often, raising their own kids.
significant symptoms of depression as well as frequent anxiety, frustration & anger, says Stanford psychologist Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, who studies caregivers. "They tend to have recurrent negative thoughts about themselves," she says. "They don't feel they're doing a good enough job." Those emotional problems as well as the intense
physical demands of caregiving can have serious health consequences.
Caregivers are more likely to neglect their own medical care & show high levels of stress hormones & diminished immune response - all of which lead to
an increased risk of heart disease & cancer.
Even with the very best of intentions & resources, families constantly struggle. Tim Kidwell, 56, cares
for his mother, Grace, 78, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a year ago & his father, John, 80, who has leukemia.
live in an apartment near his house in St. Louis & caring for them has become so time-consuming that he recently quit
his job as creative director at an ad agency & is freelancing. "You do what you feel is most important," he says.
The strain of nursing an ailing parent often exacerbates long-simmering family tensions. Sons or daughters who
never got along with their parents are the most likely to feel trapped by their obligations.
to have a much harder time caring for somebody who never met your needs," says social worker Darby Morhardt, a professor in the Alzheimer's disease center
at Northwestern University. Sibling relationships can also fray - especially when one son or daughter lives nearby & others
are far away.
who lives far away doesn't appreciate the challenges, so they think Mom or Dad is doing better than the other sibling believes," says psychologist Elizabeth Edgerly, chief program
officer for the Alzheimer's Association in Mountain View, Calif.
Often one son or daughter shoulders the heaviest burden & that breeds resentment. In 2004, Pinky Holloway left her job in Chicago to move home to Atlanta. She wanted to care for her mother, Essie, now 78,
who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's a year earlier & was then living in a nursing home.
56, doesn't regret her decision even though she says that looking after her mother is a "24-hour-a-day job." At first, it
bothered her that she wasn't getting as much help as she wanted from her siblings.
"After a while,"
she says, "I had to start thinking in terms of 'I can change myself but I can't change anyone else.' For whatever reason,
they've chosen not to participate as much. I can't change that."
to that realization helps, she says. "I'm thinking they'll do it when they're ready."
But in many families, that's unlikely. As the disease progresses, caretaking becomes even more difficult. The common public impression of Alzheimer's & other dementias is that they're characterized
by a slow, quiet slide into permanent forgetfulness.
it's rarely a gentle fade to black. Changes can be so profound that it often seems as if an alien spirit has invaded the body. Patients frequently act out - often because
of frustration with their limitations. Caregivers, the people most likely to be nearby, are also the most common victims.
Financial issues can aggravate an already stressful situation. In almost every family, money disputes eventually
surface. Siblings frequently disagree over how a parent's assets should be used. When a mother's or father's bank account
runs low, the next generation has to kick in, and not everyone is equally willing or able.
It's not always a parent who re-quires help; some boomers find themselves looking after spouses. When Darlene
Jordan's husband, Charles, 57, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's six years ago, her old life vanished. Early-onset cases like
his are not as common as the dementia that appears in old age, but the Alzheimer's Association estimates that approximately
500,000 Americans under 65 fall into this category. Like the Jordans, many of these patients still have children living at
home. Darlene, 49, says their daughter, Lindsey, 13, initially tried to help. But about three years ago, "she got really scared
because he yelled at her, and she thought he was going to hit her." Jordan suspects that her husband was upset that his child
had to dress him and get him to the shower. Now Lindsey sticks to simpler tasks, like bringing her father a snack.
Charles Jordan's behavior has continued to deteriorate, his wife says. Early on, he compulsively stuffed batteries
in his pockets. Now he's becoming increasingly aggressive. A few weeks ago he charged at the female driver of the van taking
him to adult day care when she got out to help him. The driver ran into the Jordans' house screaming. Charles finally agreed
to get into the van but then he started hitting another patient. Darlene is so frightened that at night, she and Lindsey sleep
in the same room with the door locked to keep her husband out. "I still love him," she says, but she knows that he's no longer
"the person I married and had all those hopes and dreams with. Once you accept that, it makes it a little easier."
Acceptance may make the day-to-day challenges easier, but caregivers are also fighting back—through political activism. Entrepreneur
John Osher, 60, decided to make Alzheimer's his crusade after his 87-year-old father, Daniel, a neurosurgeon, died of the
disease in 2003. "He was like a 5-year-old," Osher says. "He had deteriorated so much." Osher began working with the Alzheimer's
Association, hunting major donors. Funding research now makes economic sense, Osher says. "It's the most expensive disease"
for families, he says. "It's so many years, and there's so much care involved. The fact that it's going to cost us so much
down the road is one of the biggest reasons we need more funding." It's estimated that by 2030, Alzheimer's will cost Medicare
$400 billion, almost as much as the entire current Medicare budget.
To increase public awareness, the Alzheimer's Association has been recruiting celebrities who have personal experience with the disease. "Frasier"
star David Hyde Pierce, 48, signed up because both his grandfather and father had Alzheimer's. When his family heard his father's
diagnosis, they were haunted by the fate of his grandfather. The last time Pierce saw him, the old man's arms were strapped
to the sides of his wheelchair. When Pierce's father died of pneumonia before the disease had progressed that far, the family
was thankful. "Having seen my grandfather go the full route of the disease, we knew Dad was lucky to have been spared that,"
Other activists are targeting lawmakers. Julie Baeza, 48, of Sterling, Ill., helps her father, Otto Null, 75,
care for her mother, Margaret, 69, who has Alzheimer's. She visits her mother every day, even though she works full time for the city of Sterling's economic-development corps &
has two high-school-age sons, including one with autism.
"It's a very,
very sad disease," Baeza says. "My mom was the memory of all of us." Now she is "this very old person who just sits there."
Baeza worries that she, too, may someday suffer her mother's fate.
of why I decided to start contacting our legislators," she says. She's trying to get support for two bills making their
way through Congress: the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act of 2007 & the Alzheimer's Family Assistance Act of 2007.
The first bill
would double funding for Alzheimer's research at the National Institutes of Health to $1.3 billion from the current $642.7 million. The Family Assistance Act
would provide tax credits for caregivers. "This legislation is so important," she says. "It's so expensive to the caregivers
to keep these families at home." Home health aides can cost more than $20 an hour & that's on top of special equipment
like wheelchairs or adjustable beds.
the ultimate goal is to uncover the cause of Alzheimer's & prevent it. A century after the disease was first described, scientists are still trying to fully understand what causes
the two hallmarks of an Alzheimer's brain - gummy brown plaques between neurons & tangles that look like bundles of tiny ropes inside cells.
available to treat Alzheimer's provide only modest, temporary relief. Researchers are currently pursuing new treatments intended to prevent formation of
A-beta (the main constituent of plaques) or remove it from the brain.
If they work,
these drugs might be able to slow the course of the disease. (Research on several of these
experimental compounds will be presented this week at the Alzheimer's Association conference in Washington.)
Scientists are also looking for ways to detect the disease early in order to start treatment sooner.
But at the moment,
the best advice for preventing dementia is to eat a heart-healthy diet & stay mentally & physically active. Unfortunately,
obesity rates are soaring - an ominous sign. "The more unhealthy things we do for our heart, the higher risk we have for both
heart disease & brain disease," says Dr. Samuel Gandy, director of the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson
University in Philadelphia.
For caregivers, the most effective therapy is an ancient one. "Be patient," says Mashy Modjdehi, 52, of Plano, Texas, who is caring for her 85-year-old mother. Maliheh Shirvanya, Modjdehi's mother,
was diagnosed with Alzheimer's more than 5 years ago, when she still lived in Iran. Modjdehi, a U.S. citizen, brought her to this country to get better
has a green card but can't become a citizen for 2 years. "I don't think she's going to make it," Modjdehi says. Shirvanya
needs diapers & can't feed herself. She takes medication to stop hallucinations & is often so anxious that she paces
she doesn't recognize her daughter. But Modjdehi isn't deterred by these obstacles. "When we were kids, they cared for us,"
she says. "Now it's our turn." That kind of love isn't just a memory.
With Anne Underwood
Discover Your Own Internal Fountain Of Youth
there was a way, you could turn back your biological clock and look as well as feel, 20 years younger? What if you didn't
have to be injected, with synthetic HGH (Human Growth Hormone), which have risky side effects? What if you could release a
substantial amount, of your body's own HGH? Well guess what! Because of an amazing, scientifically tested product, you can
now add decades to your life, have fewer health problems, look and feel a couple of decades younger and have an abundance
Being the health conscious person that I am, I have always been fascinated with, natural health medicines
and alternative treatments. So, when I was introduced to this new product called GHS-Pro(a natural HGH stimulator), I was
obsessed with digging deeper, to find out the mystery behind the priceless benefits, this product claimed to offer.
I had my own, natural health products website(NaturalHealth.4mg.com), I was truly estatic about doing as much research as
I could, on this new product. This way, I could pass this exciting, anti-aging breakthrough information, on to my viewers
I knew the best way to do this, was to first gather information, on confirmed scientific research of the
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gathered and confirmed all the scientific data, I was now ready to interview, the poster boy of "Good Health Supplements".
Good Health Supplements is the manufacturer of GHS-Pro and Mr. Ira Marxe of Sedona, Arizona (the poster boy of GHS), is also
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Mr. Marxe is 79 going on 59! He revealed to me, that around 4 years ago, when he first started
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When we think of aging, naturally we think of how
our skin will become wrinkled, we may lose our hair, lose muscle mass, have a declining sex drive, retain more fat cells and
lose the energy and vitality, we once knew in our youth. The thing is, this is not a result of ordinary wear and tear, that
our bodies endure. The process of aging, is caused by the decline of HGH, that becomes available for our body's to use, as
The continued loss of HGH, reduces our body's ability, to replace and repair damaged cells. As a result, it
shrinks the organs, our bones become more brittle and our immune systems are weakened. Between the ages of 21 and 60, the
release of HGH declines and drops an unbelievable 80%. By the age of 40, our body has lost 50% of our HGH.
process of declining HGH, is called "somatopause". The big questions is, can it be stopped? Can we actually reverse the effects
of somatopause? Is it possible to repair our metabolic functions, that have degenerated? Can our catabolic state be changed
to an anabolic state, which is necessary for the repair of damaged cells? The answer to all these questions, is YES!
path to take would be synthetic HGH injections. They not only have risky side effects, but are very expensive and out of the
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Attention Old People Of ALL Ages!
By Jan Tincher
Copyright © Jan Tincher - All Rights
Do you feel old? Do you look old? Do you think old? Does
that mean your memory is going, you feel weak or out of control every once in a while (some people more than others), your
joints hurt? You are not alone. Unfortunately.
I'm over 60, so it seems that every time I get together with certain
friends, age is inevitably discussed. I cringe inwardly and get very busy going "Cancel, Cancel!" in my mind. (The Cancel
Technique instructions are below.)
This is some of what's said:
"That's what happens when you get old." ""Especially
at your age." "Act your age, old man/lady." "I can't remember anything. Al's been visiting." "What's the matter? You got A?"
(Both are a reference to Alzheimer's Disease. It's almost an invitation for it to happen to you for real.)
each of those sentences say to your brain?
Your mind does the thinking. Your mind is in charge of your brain. Your
brain is in charge of your body. So what you think is very important to your body.
Your brain is in charge of your
nerves. If your mind tells your brain that it is getting old, your brain will relay the process of getting old to the nerves,
usually more quickly than needed. Do you want that?
Let's go back to your friends again. Now, you're sitting there
and feeling old with your best friends. They are in effect telling you how life is going to be for you. Not only for you,
but for everyone that is listening.
Of course, your response to reading the paragraph above might be, "No they aren't.
I know it doesn't have to be that way."
But it is going to be that way for you, unless you do something.
you're saying, "I don't believe that"
Very good! You're telling me, and ultimately your brain, that you don't believe
it. Isn't that terrific? You are taking control.
But that isn't how it is when you are talking to your friends, is
You're not on your guard then. You are letting everything slip through. You laugh at the jokes about Alzheimer's.
You make your own jokes about memory. "You can tell me anything and it'll be news to me." "You can tell me that joke tomorrow.
I'll bet I'll think it's funny all over again." "I can hide my own Easter eggs!" "I don't see reruns anymore."
can joke about all the infirmities that happen to "old" people. "Do you have to go to the bathroom or can you hold it? Answer:
Depends." "Do you want to go golfing or is Art visiting?" A reference to arthritis. Again, almost an invitation. Some prefer
to joke about it, "while they can." What kind of a mind set is that?
Some people accept that this happens to everyone
who grows old. That it is inevitable. NOT!
Hey, everyone grows older. When a person grows older, so do their friends,
but some in entirely different ways. By the time a person IS "old," he or she feels like they "know" what is going to happen
for the rest of their lives. Some pretty much accept it. They feel that if "this" happens, "that" happens, then when "that"
happens, "this" happens, and that's the way life is as you grow older.
If you can think, you can change
Yes, people grow old. Some grow old fighting it all the way, hating it. Some grow old gracefully and lovingly,
Unfortunately, a lot of people unwittingly encourage the reactions they think growing old causes. "I know
when so and so reached 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 years old, her body just plain broke down. She got arthritis, she had a hysterectomy,
her stomach kept getting upset, and on and on. Then almost that same thing happened to so and so and so and so and so." They
then reach what they feel is the logical conclusion that, therefore, when they turn 40 or 50 or 60 or 70, all that stuff will
happen to them too. You know the progression, you invite the progression, you encourage the progression. The progression begins
to be you. Either consciously or unconsciously.
Well, it's time to stop it, isn't it? Here's what you can do:
look at the picture you want of yourself when you are older. It's a picture of love, self-confidence, high self-esteem, flexibility,
strong bones, and prosperity in mind, body and soul. "If those words don't describe what you want, substitute the words that
Second, think of the thoughts that are going through your mind.
Take them one at a time. Does this thought
help you to BE your picture?
Third, if it does, that's terrific! Rejoice! If it doesn't, continue to the fourth step.
raise your arms and yell, "CANCEL! CANCEL!" " It's a lot like someone scratching a phonograph record. You don't want to listen
to a scratched record, your brain won't want to listen to these thoughts if they cause you to "CANCEL! CANCEL!" It's like
scratching the brain."
Fifth, immediately think of an affirmation or two that you like. They could be "I love. I am
loving. I am loved." or "I love myself and all creation." or "Every day in every way, I am better, better, and better." If
you've been reading my articles for a while, you know these are my favorite. However, you must use affirmations that YOU like.
Fill the place in your brain that used to hold negative thoughts, with positive affirmations.
There is a huge difference
between growing older and growing up. No matter what you do, if you live another year, you have grown a year older. If you
haven't gotten smarter, you haven't lived. I say, if you're alive, why not live life to the fullest?
How about programming
tomorrow to be a day to enjoy?
You can still go for coffee and enjoy your relationships, but now you show by example
that YOU don't want to think "old" thoughts. Simply don't participate in saying them.
Don't laugh when you hear them
-- a good analogy might be that that type of laughter is another nail in the coffin, your friend's or your coffin, who knows?
People will see that you have something good going here. When they are ready to learn and to change, show them this article.
When they look at you and the changes you've made in your life, they will know that it is possible. One more thing, make sure
to help them along the way on their journey. They, and their family, will thank you for it.
P.S. If you are interested in "Growing Older Gracefully", check out my new ecourse here:
source: self growth.com
Speech Dysfunctions In Parkinson's Disease
disease often affects the patient’s ability to speak clearly and this is often considered one of its worse symptoms.
For many patients, the loss of their ability to communicate clearly to others is heartbreaking. For these patients, they have
the added problem of feeling as if they have some sort of dementia. It is important to remember that a Parkinson’s patient
can hear himself just fine.
It has been estimated that between 65-90% of Parkinson's disease sufferers will ultimately
have troubles with their speech, and these problems can become apparent in explicit ways which include speaking in either
a monotone or unintelligible gibberish. At times, patients hesitate before actually speaking which can give the impression
that there is some memory impairment or dementia with the patient. At other times, the speech is faster than normal, and very
often the same words are repeated over and over. Again, this can give the impression that the patient is suffering from dementia
or memory impairment problems.
Dysarthria is another speech problem associated with Parkinson's disease. This speech
problem shows itself in ways such as a weak, soft spoken, slow or incoherent speech. As both the pitch and volume of speech
is also affected by dysarthria, eventually speech becomes unintelligible.
Dysarthria is caused by the speech muscles
weakening and becoming uncoordinated due to the Parkinson's condition. Severity can vary from one patient to the next. In
fact, some patients may have this in very severe form, while others may only have slight effects from it.
can often help with this problem for some patients. If speech therapy is carefully introduced in conjunction with medication
extremely good results can often be achieved.
Voice exercises to improve vocal cords and muscles can also improve
speech difficulties caused by Parkinson's disease. Regular voice exercises can be very effective.
Regardless of the
therapy used, a person with Parkinson's disease who is also suffering from a speech impediment should always be treated with
consideration and patience. Visitors should remember that they need time to formulate their words and then must deliver the
words through the mouth. It can frustrating for both parties, the speaker and the person listening to the Parkinson’s
sufferer, but patience and respect must win out. Trying to get the speaker to speak faster will only make the problem worse.
should keep in mind that Parkinson's disease steals many things from a person. The fact that it can also steal a person’s
ability to communicate only makes it more dreadful.
How To Keep Your Brain Healthy For a Lifetime
that some senior citizens are able to live into their eighties and nineties with their minds sharp and their bodies still
spry. Will we be among the lucky ones?
Will our brains stay mentally sharp as we age? Or will we be among those who
fill nursing homes because their minds no longer function properly?
The good news is that statistically the odds are
on your side. Most people are able to keep their cognitive faculties as they age unless they develop Alzheimer's disease,
heart disease, or diabetes.
As long as the brain itself remains healthy, older people can maintain their ability to
think and remember, although it may take them longer to think and remember than it used to.
And in some forms of mental
skills, seniors are actually able to outperform much younger people!
By studying the health habits of senior citizens
who have reached old age with their minds and bodies intact, scientists have discovered some of the factors that seem to be
associated with better mental functioning in old age.
Based on these studies, scientists believe that some of the factors
that influence whether or not you stay mentally healthy in your later years are actually under your control.
is some evidence that people who have a diet high in antioxidants have lower rates of getting Alzheimer's. Fresh fruits and
vegetables, particularly those that have strong, bright colors tend to be high in protective antioxidants.
consume greater levels of cold water fish such as salmon, tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer's. There are also vitamins,
minerals and herbal supplements that seem to have a protective effect on the brain. For example, a higher intake of Folic
acid is associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease.
Make it a priority to eat well, exercise regularly,
and get sufficient sleep.
Your brain, as well as the rest of your body will benefit from following these tips. In
addition, this strategy will improve your mood and outlook.
Learn more about which fats are good and which fats are
bad for your heart and your brain. Most North Americans eat far too much of the bad fats--those that are saturated or hydrogenated,
and they do not eat enough of the good fats their brain and body needs, particularly the Omega-3's found in such foods as
salmon and flax seed.
Try to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, especially those that are brightly
colored such as tomatoes, spinach, and berries. These foods are high in special chemicals called antioxidants, which help
protect your brain cells from damage.
A good quality vitamin and mineral supplement may help promote brain health.
Based on the results of several long term studies, the following amounts may prove helpful: 500 mg of Vitamin C, 400 IU of
Vitamin E, 400 mcg. of Folic acid, and a well balanced Vitamin B complex taken daily.
Another life factor that is very
damaging to brain cells is chronic stress. The chemical changes produced in your body when you are under chronic stress damage
every system of the body, including your brain. If your life is currently very stressful, find ways to change your life circumstances
where possible, and learn to change the way you react to these situations.
To reduce the impact of stress, practice
techniques of mind and body relaxation such as daily meditation and prayer. Burn off some of the negative effects of stress
on your body by committing to regular exercise.
Develop a circle of trusted friends and be sure to include some fun
in your life.
Although in life there are no guarantees, by following these common sense guidelines, you can increase
your chances of surviving into your senior years with your mind in good shape.