dementia

Common Medications Can Masquerade As Dementia In Seniors

Jul 18, 2019
Elderly patient holds prescription pill bottle.
Heidi de Marco/KHN

By Judith Graham / Kaiser Health News

By all accounts the woman, in her late 60s, appeared to have severe dementia. She was largely incoherent. Her short-term memory was terrible. She couldn’t focus on questions that medical professionals asked her. 

On a warm early summer day, Bella Doolittle sits on the doorstep of her house feeding biscuits to her dog Pepper. Bella was in her mid-50s when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. That was two years ago and the symptoms are advancing, with more memory loss and a new painful anxiety.

"Have you ever watched a really terrible horror movie where you know any moment now someone's going to get torn to pieces in a very evil, painful way?" she says, describing the tension she often feels.

In the U.S., older people with dementia are usually told they have Alzheimer's disease.

But a range of other brain diseases can also impair thinking and memory and judgment, according to scientists attending a summit on dementias held Thursday and Friday at the National Institutes of Health.

These include strokes, a form of Parkinson's disease and a disease that damages brain areas that regulate emotion and behavior.

DeSantis Steps Up Alzheimer’s Efforts

Mar 15, 2019
Gov. DeSantis speaking at an event
Governor's Press Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis is directing the state Department of Health to add Alzheimer’s disease and related types of dementia as a priority in the State Health Improvement Plan. 

BrainHQ

Researchers at the University of South Florida say reducing your risk of dementia can be a mouse click away.  

Older hand holding another hand
NPR

A third Florida nursing home employee is charged with using duct tape to restrain a patient with dementia.

National Cancer Institute

Lowering blood pressure more than usually recommended not only helps prevent heart problems, it also cuts the risk of mental decline that often leads to Alzheimer's disease, a major study finds.

It's the first time a single step has been clearly shown to help prevent a dreaded condition that has had people trying crossword puzzles, diet supplements and a host of other things in hope of keeping their mind sharp.

Wikimedia Commons

Decades ago, hundreds of nuns and priests made an extraordinary decision: They agreed to donate their brains upon death to science, hoping to help solve mysteries about Alzheimer's and other diseases. Now, a study that used their gifts is giving some clues. It reveals that high blood pressure late in life might harm the brain.

Older hand holding another hand
NPR

Pharmaceutical companies have for the past 20 years barraged the public with commercials about pills that help people lose weight, control cholesterol or soothe irritable bowels.

Caring for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia is always a daunting task. Those caregivers will be getting some much needed help during an upcoming conference in Tallahassee on Saturday, June 30.

The conference is hosted by the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association where David Huckabee is the vice president of programs.

"The Alzheimer's Association provides care and support for people affected by Alzheimer's and when we say 'affected,' we paint that with a really broad brushstroke."

A large study offers more evidence of a link between traumatic brain injuries and dementia later in life, with repeated injuries and severe ones posing the greatest danger.

Treading into ethically and legally uncertain territory, a New York end-of-life agency has approved a new document that lets people stipulate in advance that they don't want food or water if they develop severe dementia.

The directive, finalized this month by the board for End Of Life Choices New York, aims to provide patients a way to hasten death in late-stage dementia, if they choose.

A study published Monday by Human Rights Watch finds that about 179,000 nursing home residents are being given antipsychotic drugs, even though they don't have schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses that those drugs are designed to treat.

A missing Citrus County woman with dementia was recently rescued with the help of something called a scent preservation kit.

In nursing homes and residential facilities around the world, health care workers are increasingly asking dementia patients questions: What are your interests? How do you want to address us? What should we do to celebrate the life of a friend who has passed away?

The questions are part of an approach to care aimed at giving people with memory loss and other cognitive problems a greater sense of control and independence. At its core is the idea that an individual with dementia should be treated as a whole person and not "just" a patient.

Harsh life experiences appear to leave African-Americans vulnerable to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, researchers reported Sunday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London.

Several teams presented evidence that poverty, disadvantage and stressful life events are strongly associated with cognitive problems in middle age and dementia later in life among African-Americans.

Appeals Court Overturns Sentence In Dementia Case

May 18, 2017
mnfoundations / Flickr

A state appeals court Wednesday overturned a sentence that would have allowed a woman to stay out prison after being convicted of taking $1.6 million from investment accounts of her dementia-suffering stepfather.

In a series of recent interviews, President Donald Trump's longtime personal physician Dr. Harold N. Bornstein told The New York Times that our new commander in chief has what amounts to a pretty unremarkable medical chart.

Some encouraging news in the battle against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia: The rate at which older Americans are getting these conditions is declining. That's according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers say one reason for the improved outlook is an increase in education.

The construction of the Florida Holocaust Memorial is one step closer to becoming reality. That's among 20 bills Governor Rick Scott signed into law Wednesday.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs recently announced the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative to spread public awareness about dementia and to help make Florida communities more dementia-friendly.


Sticky plaque gets the most attention, but now healthy seniors at risk of Alzheimer’s are letting scientists peek into their brains to see if another culprit is lurking.

No one knows what actually causes Alzheimer’s, but the suspects are its two hallmarks — the gunky amyloid in those brain plaques or tangles of a protein named tau that clog dying brain cells. New imaging can spot those tangles in living brains, providing a chance to finally better understand what triggers dementia.

Flickr Creative Commons

While more than a dozen nursing homes in Florida have stopped prescribing antipsychotic medications to dementia patients, and the percentage of nursing home residents in Florida being prescribed the risky, mood altering drugs has fallen to 21.2 percent, doctors at nursing homes in Volusia and Flagler counties continue to prescribe the drugs at high rates, an investigation by the Daytona Beach News-Journal reveals. 

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is emotionally demanding but also is increasingly expensive, according to a Fort Myers News-Press analysis of 10 years of records from state agencies, nursing homes and hospitals.

Florida designed its guardianship program to help vulnerable elders, but critics say the cobbled-together, rapidly expanding system instead is ignoring the rights of the helpless, a series in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reveals.

Reporter Barbara Peters Smith found that the guardianship system -- administered in Florida probate court -- often takes place in closed hearings. And documents are hard to track, as individual Clerk of Courts handle the records differently.

It's one of the worst fears we have for our parents or for ourselves: that we, or they, will end up in a nursing home, drugged into a stupor. And that fear is not entirely unreasonable. Almost 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs, usually to suppress the anxiety or aggression that can go with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia. You can check NPR's interactive database to see the history of antipsychotic drug usage at nursing homes in your area and how they compare to national and state averages. In Florida, the average is 21.7 percent.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, affects about 5.1 million Americans, many of whom live alone.  The disease, which typically takes eight to twelve years to progress, destroys memory and cognitive skills, eventually leading to a vegetative state.  This is where a proactive family and the holidays come in, according to the Miami Herald.

Thomas Bender / Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A Sarasota retirement community has a special room set up to help ease depression and anxiety for dementia and memory care patients.  As the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports, the treatment relies on sensory stimulation and not the use of heavy drugs. 

Studies have shown a daily 20-minute walk can cut the risk of dementia by 40 percent; now a Mayo Clinic - Jacksonville neurologist will study whether the benefits accrue to Parkinson's disease patients.

Lori Stanton’s 89-year-old mother, Elli, has a neurological disorder where fluid builds up in the brain. In many cases, including Elli’s, it’s accompanied by severe dementia. Until recently, Stanton cared for her mom in her New Tampa home.

“It’s all-consuming, it’s morning to bedtime and then all night,” Stanton said.

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