Alzheimers Care

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

GPS, A-GPS, and RFID Devices May Make “Silver Alerts” a Thing of the Past

 

Advances in technology are creating a world in which ‘Aging in Place’, as an alternative to entering a nursing home or assisted living facility, is moving from the realm of Idea to that of Reality for many.

Technologies designed with the elderly and their caregivers in mind abound and are continually making it easier for people to remain in the comfort of their own homes, confidently. GPS, A-GPS and RFID location devices, for example, can help families and caregivers who look after those who may be prone to wandering off and/or becoming disoriented, those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other related diseases, by providing real-time coordinates of a loved one’s whereabouts in the event of a Silver Alert. Many such devices are available on the market now and work in conjunction with apps that can be downloaded directly to smartphones, tablets, personal computers, and the like. Small and discreet, they can be attached to personal affects, clipped to clothing, or even carried in a pocket. Some can even be inserted into shoes. Prices range from around $300.00 to $600.00.

A bit of science: while autonomous GPS (Global Positioning System) utilizes radio signals from satellites alone, A-GPS (Assisted Global Positioning System) additionally can use network resources (like cellphone towers) to calculate position. In places where there may be interference from physical features like trees and buildings, this can help to fix a person’s position more quickly. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify a carrier. If more information in this area is desired, comparisons and contrasts pertaining to accuracy, reliability and battery life are easily found online by doing a quick keyword search.

All of the available devices, however, target one purpose: contributing to the overall safety and well-being of the aging population.

Not all who wander are lost… anymore. Or at least they don’t have to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Light Spatial

Alzheimer’s Patients Benefit from “Daylight” Therapy

A study conducted by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY brings into focus the positive effects of regular exposure to bluish light on those suffering from Alzheimer’s. For practitioners of Active Alzheimer’s Care, as well as for those who are committed to the idea of aging in place, this is exciting news.

NPR’s Robert Siegel recently spoke with geriatric psychiatrist Guerman Ermolenko and researcher Mariana Figueiro about their experiences and findings in the world of light. It appears that bluish light may help restore balance to the Circadian system, the body’s “internal clock” which helps us to distinguish night from day, and which is frequently out of sync in Alzheimer’s patients.

The thought is that the Circadian system takes its cues from the visual system. To quote Dr. Figueiro, “The Circadian system is what we call a blue-sky detector. It’s looking for blue light when it comes to synchronizing the Circadian system to solar day.” In other words, the blue of the sky, and utilizing lighting that emanates this spectrum of color (frequently referred to now as “daylight” in your local hardware store and sold in the form of compact fluorescents and LEDs) is telling the body to “wake up” and can produce results in patients that lead to greater safety and well-being. Staying awake during the day means sleeping through the night, and that equals less roaming around in the dark, less confusion and disorientation, fewer injuries resulting from falls.

At the Albany County Nursing Home Dr. Figueiro has found a way of integrating this light into daily routines. She and Dr. Ermolenko showed Siegel a table that she designed for those who weren’t able to sit in front of a light box for any length of time. The surface of the table is a flat-screen TV that glows bright blue. Just by sitting at it during the day the Circadian system is being realigned to its natural rhythms. Dr. Ermolenko noted that two of the women who sat at the table the most seemed to be less irritable, especially during hands-on care, and that now “we do see that they’re pretty calm and happy.” He does acknowledge, however, that for some of their patients the light doesn’t work as well, that it may be too stimulating, and for them they have decreased the amount of light.

But he is optimistic, looking for new ways to increase light therapy at this and other facilities. In one, for example, not tables but lamps in bedrooms are being used, and the results so far are encouraging.

Ultimately the goal, to paraphrase Dr. Figueiro, is to show that this kind of lighting works in achieving positive results and to design buildings from the start so that they are lit accordingly, “then everyone can get the benefit of having that kind of light.”

It probably goes without saying now that if you like to read yourself to sleep it’s probably best to stick with soft yellows and real pages, or at least a screen that doesn’t mimic the sky.

And finally, this came up in the comments under the transcript of the interview on NPR, the very reasonable question, “Why not just go outside, then?” The answer is that aside from climates which may limit the amount of time we can comfortably spend outside, physical strength and mobility are also issues which have to be taken into account, especially with those who require around-the-clock care. No one would argue that manufactured bluish light is better than actual blue sky, but this is one way that we may be able to improve the quality of life for our loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other related diseases. It’s a big step in the right direction.

 

Anemia and Dementia

Although Alzheimer’s disease gets a lion’s share of the news about dementia, we know that Alzheimer’s is but one form of the condition. Now, a recently reported study has identified a link between anemia and dementia.

The body experiences anemia when there are not enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout. When the brain is not getting enough oxygen, cognitive abilities decline. Lack of proper nutrition, kidney disease, blood disorders and cancer are some of the conditions that can cause anemia.

Medicare Skilled Nursing and Therapy Services Expanded

Attorneys from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Vermont Legal Aid and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have agreed to settle the “Improvement Standard” case, Jimmo v. Sebelius. The proposed agreement was filed in federal District Court on October 16, 2012. When the judge approves the proposed agreement, CMS will revise its guidance to clearly state that skilled nursing and therapy services to maintain a person’s condition can be covered. Previous interpretations of the rule suggested that in order to continue receiving Medicare payments, the providers had to be able to demonstrate continued improvement.

Latest Dementia Statistics from the World Health Organization

WHO reports that within the next 18 years, the number of people, worldwide, suffering from dementia will likely double to 65.7 million and triple by 2050, due to people living longer. The organization has determined that there are around 35.6 million sufferers today, costing over $600 billion a year for care and treatment.

For the U.S., results from the 2007 Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS), funded by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, found that about 3.4 million Americans aged 71 years and older — almost 14% — have dementia, and 2.4 million (9.7%) have Alzheimer’s disease. ADAMS was the first population-based study of dementia to include people from all regions of the country.

Smell and Dementia

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh laundry or the air after a good cleansing rain. Realtors recommend baking cookies before a potential buyer visits the seller’s home; thereby giving the house a homey feel. The list could go on, as those smells take us back in time or give us comfort. But what does it mean for those that can no longer smell?

The olfactory system, being one of the oldest sensory systems, is the first to be affected with the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. US researchers have created a list of scents used to help make the determination. These smells include cheese, clove, fruit punch, leather, lemon, lilac, lime, menthol, orange, pineapple, smoke and strawberry. If an individual cannot recognize three of the ten given, then they are five times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Disease: The Talk Goes On

This year marks the 106th anniversary of the discovery of Alzheimer’s disease.

Having a conversation with a person with Alzheimer’s disease can be quite difficult. Some people with Alzheimer’s disease can speak but not understand and others can understand but are unable to speak. You may need non-verbal cues using prompts, gestures and smiles. Lots of smiles! It is important that one continue to speak with a person with Alzheimer’s even if they cannot speak. A patient, gentle communicator shows care and can be a comfort.

Care for You Launches New Web Site

Care for You is pleased to announce the launch of our new Web site. Established in 1996 and headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Company provides a wide range of home care, senior companion and family support services throughout the greater Washington, DC area. Over the years, the Company has established a reputation for “doing whatever it takes” to make it possible for people remain in their own home and maintain their independence as they age.

The Company’s Client Services start with Companions who perform basic chore and errand services such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, and transportation. Services are available from a minimum of four hours per episode to 24/7/365 coverage.

Studies on a Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

Continuing research suggests that diabetes is linked to Alzheimer’s.  The former can lead to strokes and heart attacks. But recent research has added to that list; Diabetics are at twice the risk of Alzheimer’s and are 1.75 times more likely to suffer from dementia of any form.

In an article at Health.com , Dr. David Geldmacher, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, states that “having high glucose is a stressor to the nervous system and the blood vessels. The emerging information on Alzheimer’s disease and glucose shows us that we do need to remain vigilant on blood sugar levels as we grow older.”

Emergency Contact Information Benefits More Than Seniors

Last month, the  Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) announced it has added an emergency contact option to Maryland driver’s licenses.

“Maryland drivers can now add three emergency contacts to their driver’s license so police will know who to call if an accident occurs. The emergency contact information is stored electronically on an individual’s driver’s license and will be available only to authorized law enforcement personnel. You can go to MVA’s website at www.mva.maryland.gov <http://www.mva.maryland.gov/>  and add your three emergency contacts in just a few minutes. Go to the website, click “On-line Transactions, then click “More” and then click “Emergency Contacts” to add your emergency contacts.”