Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s help’

Misdiagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

June 16, 2012

Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose, even by well-meaning doctors. There is no blood test, no telltale brain scan. Even the brain anomalies common in Alzheimer’s patients are shared by those who have no symptoms at all. It is no surprise that researchers are finding as many as one-third of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are incorrect.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is about ruling out other problems, such as an undetected stroke or brain tumor, and relying on changes observed over time. Health issues such as a common urinary tract infection, a sudden change in blood pressure or depression can quickly short circuit the brain. Additional possible culprits include overmedication, reaction to medications or vitamin deficiencies. The result is acute confusion or delirium that could mistakenly be perceived as Alzheimer’s.

Some things to look for:

Delirium—This is a temporary but acute mental confusion. It involves sudden onset of symptoms such as anxiety, disorientation, tremors, hallucinations and incoherence.

Dementia—Dementia is a more permanent medical condition that disrupts brain function. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It proceeds in stages over months or years and gradually destroys memory, reason, judgment, language and the ability to carry out simple tasks.

There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s. While physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, it may be difficult to determine the exact cause. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires careful medical evaluation, including:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Mental status testing
  • Tests (such as blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms
  • An expert evaluation by an interdisciplinary team that includes a geriatrician and neurologist

If you are concerned about your cognitive skills as you get older, check out Optiminds’ brain fitness programs, designed to take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, and improving cognitive and concentration power.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Detroit Institute of Arts offers Program for People with Early Stage Dementia

April 20, 2012

“People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are often isolated and have few opportunities to interact socially or remain involved in the community,” according to Jennifer Czajkowski, executive director of the Learning and Interpretation department at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). That’s why the DIA is now offering “Meet Me at the DIA: A Program for People with Early Stage Dementia and Their Caregivers.”

The program provides a safe, inspiring environment for social engagement and intellectual stimulation, where participants will feel welcome and comfortable. People with early stage dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and their caregivers are invited to participate in gallery discussions about art led by DIA staff and volunteers with expertise in this area.

All participants, including caregivers, are encouraged to contribute to the discussions, which are based on the observations and connections made by the group. Each person will receive a small print of a DIA artwork so conversations can be continued after leaving the museum.

The goal of the program is to enhance Alzheimer’s patients’ quality of life through mental stimulation, communication, personal growth and social engagement. Similar programs have been shown to increase the mood and self-esteem of dementia patients and their caregivers immediately following their visit and for days afterward. For more information, call 313-833-4005 or click http://bit.ly/meetmeatthedia.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Alzheimer’s Update

April 15, 2012

In the United States, some 5.4 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Of the ten deadliest diseases in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the only one “without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

At the same time, there have been great advances in understanding the disease and national policy has begun to move forward as well. In 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act mandated a national plan to coordinate research efforts to fight the disease which is predicted to impact 16 million by mid-century.

Also in 2011, new guidelines were issued for diagnosing the disease for the first time since 1984. Highlights include the following points:

  • Alzheimer’s must be viewed in three stages, with the first stage beginning long before the initial symptoms are recognized.
  • Diagnosis ultimately will include cognitive testing and general neurological assessments, along with medical tests that show changes in the brain—as opposed to relying largely  on a doctor’s judgment and reports from the patient and loved ones.

Cognitive skills are the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn. They allow us to process the huge influx of information we receive each and every day at work, at school and in life. Cognitive skills include a wide variety of abilities that are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Holiday Tips for Alzheimer’s Families

December 13, 2011

For families living with Alzheimer’s, a little planning and some adjusted expectations can help make the holidays more enjoyable–for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers alike. Following are some suggestions that might prove helpful this holiday season:

Suggestions for families and caregivers:

  • Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage
  • Choose holiday activities and traditions that are most important to you
  • Host a small family dinner instead of a throwing a big holiday party
  • Consider serving a catered or takeout holiday meal. Many grocery stores and restaurants offer meals to go.
  • Start a new tradition. Have a potluck dinner where family or friends each bring a dish

Activities you can do with the person with Alzheimer’s:

  • Wrap gifts
  • Bake favorite holiday recipes together. The person can stir batter or decorate cookies.
  • Set the table. Avoid centerpieces with candles and artificial fruits and berries that could be mistaken for edible snacks.
  • Talk about events to include in a holiday letter
  • Prepare simple foods such as appetizers
  • Read cards you receive together
  • Look through photo albums or scrapbooks. Reminisce about people in the pictures and past events.
  • Watch a favorite holiday movie
  • Sing favorite carols or read biblical passages

When the person lives in a care facility:

  • Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
  • Bring a favorite holiday food to share
  • Sing holiday songs. Ask if other residents can join in.
  • Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.


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