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Putting a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision regardless of the circumstances. In the case of Alzheimer’s, most research shows that at some point in the progression of the disease a nursing home becomes the right decision for the family in Butler. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there are nearly 2 million people currently living in some form of nursing home. Over 90% of these residents are over 65 years old and most require 24 hour supervision due to some physical limitation or dementia.

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Alzheimer’s disease is an extremely sad and difficult condition to work with. This disease is very difficult on the family members in Butler. Just thinking that as the days slip by your aging loved one will soon become more and more distant. This can be very depressing and an emotional time for most family caregivers. Besides the common emotion of depression, most family members often feel angry, frustrated, and even at a loss for words.

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Caring For Alzheimer's - Take Care of Yourself, Too!

CRS is, of course, an acronym for can't remember stuff. Memory is the second thing to go when we age; I used to know what the first one was, but I can't think of it right now. As a practitioner you have no doubt run across older patients who have problems with memory and concentration; and some who have actual dementia.

Mark Goodman Ph.D. believes that many patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease actually have dementia caused by a lack of vitamin B12. Dr. Goodman has an accredited Ph.D. in behavioral medicine (with a specialization in clinical neuropsychology) from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Dr. Goodman is quoted in an interview by Kirk Hamilton that appeared in Clinical Pearls. Dr. Goodman says, " I initially suspected vitamin B12 limits were too low, when I encountered on consultation, geriatric patients admitted with Alzheimer's diagnosis whose frontal lobe functioning was obviously intact. This is inconsistent with Alzheimer's diagnosis. They were exhibiting other global neuropsychological deficits with a systemic/metabolic profile. They were all following cardiac lipid- lowering diets."

He went on to say that he believed that there are many elderly individuals who are sub clinically B12 deficient. Many times these patients have normal blood levels of B12. He points out that people who are B12 deficient experience neurological changes before there is changes in their blood count (pernicious anemia) and that a good dietary history is an important part of the evaluation. According to Dr. Goodman, "In the convalescent facility diet there is little red meat due to expense and the desire to have residents on a lipid lowering regime. Also, there is a normal increase in gastric atrophy in the elderly which reduces vitamin B12 absorption. Thirdly, there is a down-regulation of the enzymes required for the formation and the manufacture of vitamin B12 when less vitamin B12 is consumed." Dr. Goodman points out that if there is no frontal lobe degeneration, the dementia is not Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Goodman says that high doses of vitamin B12 are without any serious adverse side-effects. Some reports of reversible symptoms of diarrhea, cutaneous rash, polycythemia and possibly peripheral vascular thrombosis, but these are minor and reversible.

Curcumin is an antioxidant found in turmeric. Turmeric is a perennial plant, botanically related to ginger that is native to India, China and Indonesia. It is a component of curry powder and prepared mustard. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Indian (Ayurvedic) medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. The lowest incidence of Alzheimer's disease in the world is in villages in India. Only about 1% of Indians over the age of 65 get the disease. So, perhaps the consumption of curry may be the reason that there are so few cases of Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin, found in turmeric, has been shown to fight the build up of the amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Sally Frautschy, of the University of California, Los Angeles, presented these findings at the 2005 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California. Her paper was entitled: Curcumin Reduces Oxidative Damage and Amyloid Pathology in an Alzheimer Transgenic Mouse.

So the things that work for keeping the mind sharp are the same things that work for everything else. You need fresh produce as a source of natural antioxidants, good essential fatty acids, avoid trans fats, exercise and eliminate toxins.

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Alzheimer's Disease robs its victims of many of life's most important things and leaves the one suffering with the disease in an extremely vulnerable position. The inability to protect themselves must then fall on the shoulders of someone the victim trusts. For that reason it is imperative that those responsible for the care of Alzheimer's victims be very aware of every possible threat their loved one might face. Recognizing most of the risks will be easy, but others are not so obvious.

During our journey into Alzheimer's we have learned some of the greatest risks come from the most unexpected places, including from within the family of the one suffering with the disease. This is an unfortunate and even disturbing reality that most of us don't want to believe. Wishing it were not true does not make the reality less true.

Our experiences have revealed that families behaving badly are sometimes more common than families behaving well when money is involved. So how can you protect your loved one in these circumstances? Here are several suggestions.

Our loved one's condition deteriorated quickly and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's shortly thereafter. Once we realized what had happened with the money we confronted the relative. At that time he insisted that the money was a gift. She was still able to say that it was her money, but there was no legal recourse to force him to return it to her.

Do you know how much Alzheimer's care costs? That money should have been used for her care. Instead the relative used it for his personal pleasure. Did we ever imagine he would take advantage of our loved one in such a way? Absolutely not, but he did and the money is gone.

Do not think something like this could not happen to your loved one, too. It's ugly, but it happens. Learn from the experiences of others. Be proactive, not reactive, to protect your loved one with Alzheimer's. As an Alzheimer's caregiver, it is an important part of your job.


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