Mom keeps misplacing her keys and dad needs to ask you the same question three or four times before the answer seems to sink in. Is this the beginning of dementia or just a normal part of the changes that come with aging? Here are 5 signs to watch for to get a sense of whether you should be concerned. 1. Forgetfulness. We can all be forgetful from time to time, but it doesn’t mean we’re developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s normal for mom or dad to forget someone’s name if they don’t see them that often or to misplace the TV remote. The key to knowing whether or not it’s dementia is the severity. Knowing how your loved one usually acts, does the forgetfulness seem unusual? For example, few of us would forget about a conversation that happened just 15 minutes ago. Another thing to keep in mind is that those in the early stages of dementia have trouble with short-term memory. If mom can’t seem to keep new information in her head, that may be a sign. 2. Lack of focus. Does dad forget where he is or is he taking longer to do familiar tasks? That may be a sign of dementia, as is having trouble with time and place in general. Look out for confusion between the past and the present, not understanding how time is passing and being unable to explain how they got somewhere. 3. Misplacing things. Just as with being forgetful, we all sometimes put something down and then lose it. However, a person with dementia will be unable to think back through their day to where they may have lost the object. They may also put things in unusual places: for example, mom’s glasses will turn up in the microwave. Those with dementia are often convinced that they remember where they put something, and may accuse someone of moving or even stealing it. 4. Trouble with everyday tasks. Dementia can result in a person forgetting how to do familiar things. Can mom no longer make her famous lemon meringue pie? Is dad forgetting the rules to bridge? Keep an eye out for your loved one asking someone else to do favorite tasks for him or her. 5. Trouble with words. Dementia patients often cannot think of the correct word to use, even for basic objects like a pair of glasses or a watch. They may use a placeholder instead such as “thingy” or something even stranger such as calling the refrigerator the “cold closet.” The only person who can really give you a definitive answer about whether your loved one has dementia is their doctor. Dementia patients suffer a range of symptoms, and only a trained professional can make sense of what your loved one is experiencing. So if you suspect that dementia is the culprit behind new behaviors, talk to your parent about making an appointment together.
Dementias are degenerative disorders that develop primarily in the nervous system and selectively damage particular areas of the brain. Some dementias, like Alzheimer’s disease affect all areas of the brain simultaneously, while others, such as frontotemporal dementia, affect the parts of the brain involved in controlling one’s communications and emotions. Still others are caused by vascular disease, brain trauma, or chronic alcohol abuse (Korsakoff’s syndrome) By 2030, 20% of U.S. population will be older than 65 years of age – about 50 million people. Dementia affects 1% to 6% of those older than 65, and between 10% and 20% of those older than 80 years of age. In the next 30 years, estimated 10-20 million seniors in U.S. will have mild to severe forms of dementia. Seniors with history of moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) have a 2-3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease – those with a severe TBI have a 4-5 times greater risk. Even healthy seniors are at risk for falls and head trauma, so any fall to the head, however minor, should be seen by a medical professional and documented. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 65% of all dementias. There is no direct diagnosis of Alzheimer’s – and while PET scans and other imaging techniques are being studied, none have yet been able to show the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s onset often surprises families because vision, movement, and sensation remain untouched while a senior’s memories begin to slowly decrease. Recent memories are affected first, leading to “senior moments” that appear innocent because all other memories, including those from decades ago, remain intact. Eventually those remote memories begin to fade, and lastly the senior’s “crystallized” memories, such as family member’s names and faces, are compromised.   By David L. Raffle, PhD Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist
There are creative and effective ways to help an aging parent, family member or loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia cope with the loss of their spouse, according to a new survey of aging experts released this week by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). Remembering that there are different stages and types of dementia, making sure the surviving spouse does not become socially isolated and not rushing other major changes in their lives are among the top expert recommendations. Americans are increasingly challenged by the need to communicate difficult information to aging family members with dementia. According to the National Institutes of Health as many as 5 million of the 43 million Americans age 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s disease and another 1.8 million people have some other form of dementia. And, according to the the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will escalate rapidly in coming years as baby boomers age. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. NAPGCM is releasing the results of its latest survey to help American families facing one of the most difficult of these challenges. NAPGCM polled 288 professional geriatric care managers in Los Angeles, CA and across the country asking them to identify the most effective strategies for helping a loved one with dementia cope with the loss of their spouse. The top six strategies identified by the aging experts are: 1. Remember there are many different stages of dementia. Your loved one’s capacity for understanding, coping and grieving can be very different depending on their stage of dementia. (Identified by 96% of survey respondents) 2. If your loved one’s response to reminiscing about their spouse is positive, share old photos and memories. (88 %) 3. Make sure the surviving spouse is not socially isolated. Schedule visitors on a regular basis and help them keep up with any normal social routines they have. (85%) 4. Reassure them there are people who care about them and will care for them. (84%) 5. Don’t rush big changes. It may make sense for them at some point to move to a facility, or closer to family. But, if possible, give them time to adapt so there aren’t too many major life changes at once. (81%) 6. If they choose to be included in mourning rituals for their spouse, make sure there is someone overseeing this so if the situation becomes too stressful they can leave. (78%) “With the rising rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in our community, we often see families who face such challenging situations,” said Trina Duke, Gerontologist and Care Manager, Los Angeles, CA. “Our survey findings offer some sound expert advice for families.” The Alzheimer’s Association is a leading resource for families seeking information on the diagnosis, treatment, and stages of the disease. Their website provides information on living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, tips for caregivers, and financial and legal planning. Go to Help is only a phone call away on their 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. Local chapters provide educational programs, community support groups, and creative workshops for persons with dementia and their caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association California Southland Chapter assists people with Alzheimer’s and their families and educates the public about Alzheimer’s disease. The chapter offers a variety of diverse programs and services. It serves the diverse counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Inyo, Kings, Mono and Tulare.
lewy body dementiaLewy body dementia is a particular form of dementia, characterized by abnormal brain cells called Lewy bodies. The disease gets its unusual name from its discoverer, Dr. Levi of Germany, who uncovered the disease in 1912. “Levi” was changed to “Lewy” in the English translation. Lewy body dementia is one of the most common forms of dementia, occurring in 15% or more of all cases. However, the general public and even some health professionals are not as familiar with the disease as they are with better-known dementias like Alzheimer’s. Researchers at this time don’t know why Lewy bodies form. They are made up of alpha-synuclein protein, which is also connected to Parkinson’s disease and other disorders. Indeed, Parkinson’s disease patients and Lewy Body dementia sufferers display similar symptoms, especially in later stages of the disease. Lewy bodies collect in the nuclei of the neurons that help manage motor control and memory. They can accumulate by themselves, but they also sometimes appear in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s. Because it is easily confused with similar diseases, Lewy Body dementia is under-diagnosed. However, seeking a diagnosis is critical, as it can lead to proper care that will make a real difference in quality of life and the length of time the patient is able to maintain their independence. Unlike Alzheimer’s, in which the disease eventually kills most of the victim’s neurons, in Lewy Body dementia the patient only loses 10 to 15% of neurons, though other areas of the brain are damaged as well. Lewy Body dementia tends to affect different areas of the brain than Alzheimer’s does. The disease interferes with language, memory, and higher-level mental functions. Lewy body dementia also often occurs in connection with anxiety and depression. As with other forms of dementia, there is no cure currently available. Doctors will prescribe various medications to treat the different symptoms, however. Drugs like rivastigmine and donepezil are used to treat cognitive problems, and may also help with motor control and psychiatric issues. Motor control can also be helped by levodopa. Drugs that treat hallucinations however usually are not used since there’s the possibility they could make motor control issues worse. The life expectancy for someone with the disease is about eight years. Lewy body dementia is an area of active government-funded research, with the immediate goal of better understanding what causes the disease. Scientists hope to eventually discover ways to treat it, prevent it and cure it.
Alzheimer's introductionIf you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you probably have a lot of questions. This article is intended to address some of the most basic facts and get you started in the learning process. Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, is a problem with the brain and affects a patient’s behavior, thought processes, and memory. The symptoms are fairly minor to start, and then gradually get worse to the point where they drastically affect the individual’s everyday life and they need other people to help them complete even basic functions. There are several million people in the US who have Alzheimer’s disease. It usually starts sometime after 65 years of age, and becomes more likely the older a person gets. Among those people older than 85, some estimate that half have Alzheimer’s. One of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease is problems with thinking skills, especially memory, and behavior alterations. The person may be moody, restless, or confused. They may display uncharacteristically poor judgment or have trouble processing visual information. They may also experience difficulties communicating and using language. Alzheimer’s can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can easily seem like the normal effects of aging. The disease is frequently ignored in the early stages. How can you know the difference? When you see the doctor for a diagnosis, he or she will run a variety of tests designed to measure cognitive functioning and behavior. The only way anyone can know for sure that a person has Alzheimer’s, though, is to see if there is plaque in their brain tissue. This usually isn’t possible until after the patient has passed away and an autopsy is performed. The disease may take anywhere from around 5 to 20 years to run its course. Because it damages the brain, it can cause a person to have trouble with basic physical functions such as swallowing, which can in turn lead to death. Alzheimer’s patients are also more likely to get an infection. As of yet, no cure has been found for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments available that can lessen some of the negative effects of the disease on patients and caregivers, as well as slow its progression. To learn more about this disease, see the articles below: How to Choose a Memory Care Facility When Your Parent Forgets Who You Are Three Big Questions to Consider After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
Our assisted living facilities, Los Angeles feel like home. Raya’s Paradise was featured in the Beverly Hills Courier, November 9, 2102: Most people do not know the difference between a large assisted-living facility that may house 150 or more residents and a smaller board-and-care home. Larger facilities are usually for more active residents able to enjoy all the community activities offered; and for those who can manage getting to and from the building’s dining room and common areas on their own. These large facilities carry the same license as the smaller board- and-care homes. In California in the early 1970s, the residential care system was established to provide non-skilled nursing-based services to the elderly. These homes are referred to as “Board & Care” or “Residential Care Homes for the Elderly (RCFE’s).” The governing body is the State of California, Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing. These homes are not allowed to provide medical services. They can, however, provide assistance with all activities of daily living (ADL’s). Board & care homes are smaller residential homes that afford a safe home-like atmosphere and comfortable and dignified care where residents can enjoy the living room, backyard, kitchen/dining services, homemade meals, personal attention and social interaction. For those elderly who suffer from dementia, the small residential home can be an ideal setting because of the consistency in staff and constant super vision. Residents adjust faster and often do better than in the larger Assisted Living Facilities. Such a place is Raya’s Paradise, a residential care facility with five locations in L.A. and West Hollywood with 6-11 residents each. “We make sure your loved one feels at home away from home,” says Moti Michael Gamburd, executive director. “Our caring staff—many of which have been with the company for more than 18 years—provides personalized attention to each individual,” says Gamburd adding that the caregiver to patient ratio is 1:3. While all are welcome at Raya’s Paradise, the company is known for its care of those with Alzheimer’s, other memory disorders and those who’ve suffered strokes. “We offer a new approach to dementia and Alzheimer’s care,” says Gamburd “Our environment is designed especially for our resident’s to thrive. “The activities they do together create opportunities to experience and feel accomplishment and satisfaction for completion of a job,” adds Gamburd. “This team approach gives the security of knowing there is always a helping hand ready when they need it.” The daily routine has residents up for showers in easily accessible bath- rooms, followed by breakfast and a morning activity. Since some of the homes are near parks there are visits for those want ing to go by foot or wheelchair. Afternoons often see musical entertainment, like an accordion player and all holidays and birthdays are celebrated. “We try to keep it as homey as possible,” Gamburd says. “There’s always something to do,” Gamburd adds, “like cards, puzzles, reminiscing, big band music or bingo.” More alert residents often help set the table or help with the home’s laundry to keep them engaged. For an RCFE to accept a resident with dementia it must have a “waiver” from Community Care Licensing, as the Raya’s facilities do. The waiver means a variance to a specific regulation based on a facility-wide need or circumstances which is not typically tied to a specific resident or staff person. Raya’s Paradise also has waivers to care for bedridden residents—”the building has to meet certain licensing criteria,” Gamburd reports. Gamburd advises those seeking a board-and care home for their loved one to ask questions: • If you are placing your loved one with dementia into an RCFE, you should be asking the administrator for a copy of their waiver for dementia care. This will give you peace of mind knowing that this RCFE has the proper staffing, wander guards or other means to keep residents from wandering; and knowledge of how to manage their residents with dementia. • Does this RCFE provide 24 hour “awake” staff? Falls usually occur in the evening; and it is important that staff is awake and ready to help residents get to and from the restroom at night. Many small board-and-care homes or RCFE’s, do not have a 24-hour awake staff. They may have a hus- band and wife who live in the home and are working 24/7. Working that many hours is a daunting job and it is important that staffing is “fresh” and that they are going home to rest before returning to work. Night staff should not be working somewhere else during the day and then coming to work at night at your RCFE. Raya’s homes have separate day and night staffs to provide compassionate, committed care. Raya’s also caters to those not yet ready to move with its CARE (Caring, Assisting, Respecting Elders) program that provides in-home caregivers. View or download the published article here: Beverly Hills Courier Full page 11-09-12
Raya’s Paradise in conjunction with Care HomeCare is grateful to be a part of the Alzheimer’s Associations “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” this year. We are proud to be a Sponsor of this event in the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future of millions. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s disease, the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. You can come join us in support of your family, friends and coworkers. The following is information on how to sign up and when and where the walk will take place. The 2012 Alzheimer’s Walk will take place on Sunday November 4th, 2012 at Century Park located at 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, Ca. Registration & Check-In will begin at 7:00 a.m.; Opening Ceremonies are at 8:30 a.m. and at 9:00 a.m., the Walk Kicks Off ! For more information Contact: Kim Sims 213.300.5280 or Julie Hansen at 310.487.7112. All of our Raya’s Paradise and Care HomeCare participants will receive our Logo T-Shirt, Logo Cap and Water Bottle. Please join us for a fun and memorable day!!