Thursday, 28 August 2008

Creating A Personal Health Record

(Source: American Health Information Management Association, 2005.)

A personal Health Record (PHR) is a regularly updated collection of important health information.  If you have Alzheimer's/Dementia or are caring for someone with Alzheimer's/Dementia, a PHR will help you work with your Care Tam.

A PHR should include: 

Personal identification, including name, birth date and social security number

  • People to contact in case of emergency.
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of your Physician, Dentist and other Specialists.
  • Health insurance information.
  • Living wills and advance directives.
  • Organ donor authorization.
  • A list and dates of significant illnesses and surgeries.
  • Current medications and dosages.
  • Immunizations and their dates.
  • Allergies.
  • Important events, dates and hereditary conditions in your family history.
  • Results of a recent physical examination.
  • Opinions of Specialists.
  • Important tests results.
  • Eye and Dental Records.
  • Correspondences with insurance provider(s).
  • Permission forms for release of information, operations and other medical procedures.
  • Exercise regimen.
  • Use of herbal medications.
  • Record  of mental health care or counselling .

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Talking with the Doctor



See the doctor every six months, or immediately if a sudden change occurs. Close communication with the doctor will mean the best medical care for you and your family.



At each visit, the doctor will note the patient's progress. Between visits, keep a list of questions, concerns, and changes in behaviour and routine.



The doctor may prescribe medication or other treatments. Keep track of how well things are working by noting what has improved, what has gotten worse, any medication side effects and any new problems that may need treatment.


Call the doctor right away if the person:


·       becomes suddenly more confused.

·       has a major change in memory or mood.

·       has a blackout, faints or falls.

·       is suddenly unable to speak or move any part of the body.

·       develops a fever.

·       starts having accidents, including wetting the bed.




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Tips for Family Communication



Everyone needs to communicate. But Alzheimer's disease and other dementias disturb communication. As time passes, people with dementia develop problems saying what they think and feel.They also have more trouble understanding others.


You may notice many changes, including:


    * trouble finding the right words

    * using familiar words over and over

    * inventing new words to describe things

    * losing a train of thought

    * having trouble putting words together

    * speaking in a childhood language

    * using curse words

    * speaking less often

    * using hand motions instead of speaking


If you're talking to a person with dementia, you can improve communication by:


    * staying calm and supportive

    * focusing on feelings, not facts

    * paying attention to tone

    * addressing the person by name

    * talking to, not about, the person

    * speaking slowly

    * using short, simple words

    * asking one question at a time

    * being specific

    * using gestures such as pointing

    * avoiding arguments


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Stigma Cited As Top Concern For People Living With Alzheimer's Disease

New Report Summarizes Issues Voiced By Those Living In The Early Stage Of Alzheimer's Disease




Hundreds of people living in the early stage of Alzheimer's stated that the stigma associated with the disease is one of their top concerns during town hall meetings that the Alzheimer's Association held across the nation. The Alzheimer's Association released "Voices of Alzheimer's Disease: Summary Report on the Nationwide Town Hall Meetings for People with Early Stage Dementia" at the 16th Annual Dementia Care Conference. The report is a qualitative analysis based on the first dialogue of more than 300 people living in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease at regional town hall meetings and virtual town meetings held online at


"People in the early stage of Alzheimer's have a unique opportunity, prior to the truly debilitating effects of the disease, to play a role in decision-making and participate in planning their experience with the disease," said Peter Reed, Ph.D., Senior Director of Programs for the Alzheimer's Association. "Those with early stage Alzheimer's seek to be defined not by the memory loss and functional decline they have experienced, but rather by their remaining abilities."


"Voices of Alzheimer's Disease" illuminates the experiences those in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease and shares their perspectives on how they wish to be viewed, respected, engaged and treated by the larger field of Alzheimer's professionals and researchers as well as the public at large. Common themes include:


The Stigma of Alzheimer's and Its Impact on Relationships:

The overriding theme influencing much of the discussion is that people in the early stage of Alzheimer's are misunderstood because of myths and misconceptions about the disease and that this misunderstanding leads to a dominant negative stigma associated with having the condition. People with early stage Alzheimer's repeatedly point out that they are living with Alzheimer's, not dying from it. 


Dissatisfying interactions with the medical community:
People with early stage Alzheimer's report significant challenges in effectively navigating the diagnostic process as well as the follow-up treatment and care. They express difficulty securing a valid and timely diagnosis, particularly those with early onset Alzheimer's, and describe a severe burden associated with experiencing the current diagnostic testing. Once identified, they seek more complete information about what to expect and the steps that can be taken to enhance their quality of life, both in terms of available medications and community resources.

There is a strong desire to participate in research and make contributions to the larger field of scientific inquiry to gain both potential benefit for themselves and aid future generations. People in the early stage of Alzheimer's outline potential barriers to this contribution, specifically critiquing the present eligibility criteria for inclusion in research.


Uncertainty About Availability of Support Services:

A lack of knowledge about accessible and appropriate support services available in communities was expressed.  Meanwhile, people in the early stage of Alzheimer's acknowledge the benefit of the services that do exist, and in which they have participated.  Specifically, they highlight the importance of securing appropriate support, and seek support groups that are offered in various modalities to connect with others that have a shared understanding of their experience.


Sources of Major Concern in Daily Life:

People with early stage Alzheimer's recognize the changes that are taking place in their own independence and functional ability.  A major fear expressed in this discussion is the continued decline in independence and the prospect of becoming increasing reliant on loved ones and other care providers. 

In particular, a major fear was expressed about the impact on their ability to continue driving. Viewed as a proxy for overall independence, there is a hope to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible. People in the early stage of Alzheimer's propose and seek solutions that will enable them to meet this need over time in a manner that preserves their safety.


Desire to Stay Involved and Make A Difference:

Perhaps above all else, people in the early stage of Alzheimer's demand to be heard and fight to remain engaged as contributing members of their community. They wish to be included in everyday activities and remain social.  They hope to have the opportunity to take advantage of the abilities they retain to make a difference by raising awareness among the public and advocating for change. 

According to the 2008 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, as many as 5.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease and approximately half of those are in the early stage of the when they still retain many abilities and can contribute in the planning of their own care and future. In addition to the 10 million baby boomers who will develop Alzheimer's, increased awareness and advancement in diagnostics and treatments will contribute to escalated numbers among those in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease � dramatically changing the present landscape of the disease.


The Alzheimer's Association 16th Annual 2008 Dementia Care Conference provides care professionals the opportunity to connect with peers from around the country; learn from renowned aging experts; and participate in educational programs tailored to address the unique needs and demands of the profession. 


Friday, 1 August 2008

2008 ICAD Report: New MRI Technologies May Lead to Earlier Diagnosis

The 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD) is under way in Chicago. Organized by the Alzheimer's Association, the event has brought together over 5,000 researchers from around the world to report on current advances in Alzheimer's research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.


The presentations on 27 July 2008 included reports on the latest MRI Technologies. In one study at the Roberts Research Institute and University of Western Ontario in Canada, Scientists customized a clinical strength MRI Scanner to detect amyloid plaques in live rabbits showing Alzheimer's disease pathology. This is significant because in the past, only high-powered MRIs and PET Scanners with Chemical Markers have been able to do this. Conventional MRI Scanners like the one used in the present study are more affordable and available; they also do not expose the subject to radiation like some other methods.


In addition to this study, two other ICAD presentations focused on improvements in MRI Technology.


This is exciting because better imaging procedures could mean earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's and other kinds of dementia, perhaps even before symptoms appear.




The Truth Behind Senior Moments

What Causes Senior Moments and How To Manage Them


If you've ever experienced senior moments — a nonmedical term for mental glitches — you're not alone.


A few years ago, I was buying groceries and had just swiped my debit card. The machine asked me for my PIN, which I had entered hundreds of times before, and I froze. I couldn't remember it for the life of me. As the cashier peered at me as if I was a possible identify thief, I quickly cancelled the transaction and switched to a credit card that required no PIN.


My grandmother died of Alzheimer's disease. So did her mother. My father is 70 and shows no signs of the disease, but his mother and grandmother didn't develop it until their late 80s. We don't know yet whether the disease will strike three or more generations in a row.


Even though I was in my mid-30s when I blanked on my debit PIN, I couldn't help but wonder if there was something really wrong with me. I guess I was too young to call what happened a senior moment, but in reality, that's all it was.


I was sleep-deprived and stressed that day — two things that can bring on those dreaded senior moments. A few weeks later, I returned to the store, but this time I was calm and rested. I remembered my PIN without a hitch.


Over time, the brain often experiences some normal age-related memory loss. This happens for many reasons, such as decreases in neurotransmitters and brain size, which can make it harder to pay attention and process information. People with normal age-related memory loss, though, are usually able to compensate for these changes by using lists and other memory aids. In other words, the senior moments don't generally impair daily functioning.


A common type of senior moment does have a scientific name: literal paraphasia. This is when we mix up similar words, such as "here" and "hear." Temporarily forgetting names, phone numbers or why you went upstairs ("What was I going to get?") are also common senior moments.


When senior moments make it hard to manage daily affairs, they may be early warning signs of Alzheimer's disease or another dementia. If you think your senior moments go beyond the realm of minor annoyances and occasional slips, be sure to see a doctor so your symptoms can be evaluated. There could be many causes for your symptoms, but the only way to find out what's happening is to have a thorough diagnostic workup.


What's troubling is that it's hard to know whether senior moments will never progress beyond what's normal or whether the senior moments are the beginning of something worse. There's also the possibility that those senior moments are signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a middle ground between normal age-related memory loss and dementia. That's why it's important to make note of senior moments over time and also ask others to tell you if they've noticed that the moments are becoming more frequent.


Our fast-paced society probably increases the chances of having senior moments. Multitasking makes it harder to retain facts, because we're not giving any one piece of information our undivided attention. Also, the fatigue and stress that many of us experience because we're overworked, reduce our ability to concentrate and pay attention to details.


Here are some tips to reduce the incidence of senior moments:


·       Do one thing at a time.

·       Notice how things look, smell, taste and feel, as well as what's happening, in order to remember something in multiple ways.

·       Replay memories in your mind to reinforce them.

·       Get enough sleep.

·       Learn stress management techniques.

·       Reduce mental clutter by using calendars, lists and gadgets such as personal digital assistants (PDAs)


Senior moments can be scary, but most of the time they're just a result of the brain's normal aging process. Unless they're interfering with your ability to manage day-to-day activities, a few lifestyle changes should help you turn your senior moments into just occasional annoyances.