Ultra sound for Alzheimer’s?

There is some interesting evolving research that might show some promise in treating Alzheimer's disease.

Is it possible: ultra sound for Alzheimer's?

Read this recent CTV News story of what is being done in Canada here: www.ctvnews.ca/health/alzheimer-s-patients-treated-with-ultrasound-to-open-the-blood-brain-barrier-1.3394807

Video: Dealing with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Parenting Your Parents co-author Dr. Michael Gordon was a recent guest on the national Canadian network show, Canada AM.

Here is a clip of that segment, which includes two other prominent guests who are dealing with parents who have advancing Alzheimer's and dementia.

We think you'll find it interesting and informative.

Canada AM: Dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia









Alzheimer’s impacts more than we thought

Here is an interesting article from the Washington Post about the impact of the dreaded Alzeheimer's disease well worth reading and thinking about, as in my affect our aging parents and perhaps us next: http://m.washingtonpost.com/local/new-study-ranks-alzheimers-as-third-leading-cause-of-death-after-heart-disease-and-cancer/2014/03/05/8097a452-a48a-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html

Some thoughts for Alzheimer’s Month: the scoop on dementia

Dementia Care Cost Is Projected to Double by 2040— the headline was very dramatic and from the trusted New York Times (April 3, 2013). Similar articles have appeared in Canada’s main newspapers as well.

The implications were potentially enormous in terms of costs to society and challenges to caregivers and family members.  

During the past few years there have been doom and gloom predictions have flooded the media about the negative impact of the increasingly aged population, and that would include vast numbers of those living with dementia. This is so much the case that when it comes to creating public policy, one often hears various government representatives and those in charge of health and finance portfolios prepare the population for drastic changes in funding because of the hysterically classified “tsunami of dementia”.

So it was with a sigh of great relief that The New York Times carried the following headline on July 16, 2013: Dementia Rate Is Found to Drop Sharply, as Forecast leading an article written by Gina Kolata. The essential message from the article was, “A new study has found that dementia rates among people 65 and older in England and Wales have plummeted by 25 percent over the past two decades, to 6.2 percent from 8.3 percent, a trend that researchers say is probably occurring across developed countries and that could have major social and economic implications for families and societies”.

So while the researchers are looking for pharmaceutical or dietary curative or preventive “magic bullets” and the pharmaceutical industry is supporting their efforts, with a focus on early diagnosis, everyone can already take the known steps to promote their own brain health by eliminating smoking, exercising, decreasing blood pressure levels and lipid levels, and eating as healthy a diet as reasonably possible and keep their brains as active as possible. That is all we can do while the saga of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia unfold.

Music can help with an aging loved one

A few years ago as my mother was sliding slowly but surely into her own mind’s dark spaces, engaging her become more and more difficult.

She’d more or less stopped talking in sentences and for periods of time barely spoke more than two or three connected words. She’d begun to eat less at most meals, and had stopped using utensils. When she fed herself at all, it was using her fingers.

Sleep was more often than not the activity of the day.

A few of my friends in the field of geriatrics suggested I play music for my mother. Figuring I had nothing to lose by trying, I bought a small CD player with a good quality headset. I remembered that she really used to like the Viennese waltzes and that she also liked the 1920s and 1930s musicals, which we used to play on an old ’78 record player when I was young.

Music made her day

The first time I showed her what I bought she shook her head, almost violently. So with great caution and very slowly and methodically, I organized the play and one of the CDs. I first put the headset on my ears to show her how it worked and that it was okay.

Then I applied the headset to her ears and hit the play button for the waltz CD. For about two minutes there was absolutely no reaction whatsoever. And then there was the hint of a little smile. A moment or two later, my mother’s eyes, which had be almost wildly open, slowly receded almost entirely from view as her eyelids became small slits.

She liked the music. She liked listening to the music.

What I discovered from a number of other like-minded children of aging parents at her nursing home was that indeed, soothing, known and liked music was calming and welcomed.

And the more I asked around, the more I found that the right kinds of music seemed to be just about as good as some of the prescription mood management drugs were… and with a lot less potential negative interactions with yet other drugs.

Even musicals and music shows on the communal television set seemed to make my mother more engaged.

Miss the music

One of the part time helpers I’d retained to spend time with my mother on weekends decided my mother actually didn’t really want to listen to music. It never registered on me until weeks later that when I’d go visit my mother on weekends she seemed more withdrawn and even more agitated.

I was baffled until one Saturday it dawned on me that there was no music. I asked the helper where the music was. She said my mother didn’t need it, that it made no difference. So I found the CD player, flipped in a CD, put the headset on my mother’s ears and upped the volume a bit. She liked the music.

That’s when I suggested to the helper that if she failed to ensure my mother had her music at least a couple of hours a day, she’d be looking for another job.

Diversions, distractions, pacifiers

The past years, I’ve spoken with many personal support workers, health care professionals and families; I’ve read reports and medical journal articles.

All suggest that music, pets, children, plants… whatever the diversion, distraction, pacifier might be… seem to help refocus the elderly, especially those with some form of dementia, to some kind of better, gentler, nicer personal place.

I suppose there are no guarantees, but there’s nothing to lose by trying the right kind of music or other mental pacifiers with your aging loved ones. Just remember, the first time may not work; it may take a few efforts before there is a benefit.