How Much Longer Do Hemorrhoids Last?

The human body has very advanced and rather efficient methods of healing itself, and the natural body healing process if one of these wonders.

The parts of your body that appears after the sudden reaction to an irritation or an injury is called the immune system, even though it’s quite a vague system that doesn’t precisely sit in one location like the digestive system does.

Since the immune system is composed of the white blood cells, and also a lympathic system of nodes, it roams around the body, where the action is.

When a region is damaged, the cellular component of that area regulates various chemicals to the ones they regularly regulate, a kind of alarm system.

This alarm system pulls cellular members of the immune system as well as transforming the properties of the tissue lining near the damaged area, commonly in ways that permit the white blood cells to get there at an increased rate.

Using this mechanism, the body protects your rectal lining when you have hemorrhoids. All that searing sensation, inflammation, and pain is your body’s natural way of alarming you that there is a problem with your bottom.

The injury in hemorrhoids is resulted when the blood vessels in the anus gets engorged out of its normal size and shape from deep within by having too much blood for a prolonged time, blood that is forced in when you are straining during a bowel movement, or blood pushed inside during pregnancy or portal hypertension.

When the injury is done, you body can repair it but it will take a while, usually several months because the blood vessels cannot completely shut down to repair the affected blood vessels.

Similar to a hectic railway, if you totally close it for repair, you can acquire more serious problems that you will gain.

It’s not a choice for blood flow; you cannot cut it off without having gangrene.

Tension is one such signal – if something, like an inflammation, presses against the skin underneath, it will develop to carry that pressure.

That is why some hemorrhoids are covered with skin. Your body is eager to guard the hemorrhoid from the outside environment.

You should remember that the injury has been a result to the blood vessel by something else, and if you can eliminate the origin, your hemorrhoids will begin to heal.

Hemorrhoids are not like bruises or wounds; you cannot ignore them and let your body get rid of them. A clinical diagnosis is recommended to determine if it is really hemorrhoids, or a warning indicator of a more serious threat, such as colon cancer.

You should be aware that all these medications will work at varied degrees on various individuals. There are no precise answers or warranties when it comes to how speedy your system can recuperate itself with or without the assistance of artificial medications. Even though, the symptoms of hemorrhoids are generalized, each patient has its own unique case.

Furthermore, you should carefully read the instructions and the labels of any prescribed medications. They are not suggestion as to how you will treat your hemorrhoids – they are the instructions.

Reminiscence Therapy and Dementia

clipped from www.cochrane.org

Reminiscence Therapy (RT) involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences with another person or group of people, usually with the aid of tangible prompts such as photographs, household and other familiar items from the past, music and archive sound recordings. Reminiscence groups typically involve group meetings in which participants are encouraged to talk about past events at least once a week. Life review typically involves individual sessions, in which the person is guided chronologically through life experiences, encouraged to evaluate them, and may produce a life story book. Family care-givers are increasingly involved in reminiscence therapy.

Reminiscence therapy is one of the most popular psychosocial interventions in dementia care, and is highly rated by staff and participants. There is some evidence to suggest it is effective in improving mood in older people without dementia. Its effects on mood, cognition and well-being in dementia are less well understood

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Eight Types of Dementia Defined

Dementia is a clinical syndrome of loss or decline in memory and other cognitive abilities. It is caused by various diseases and conditions that result in damaged brain cells.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Alzheimer

This section provides information about the definition of dementia, the characteristics of specific types of dementia and the symptoms, risk factors for and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia: Definition and Specific Types

Dementia is a clinical syndrome of loss or decline in memory and other cognitive abilities. It is caused by various diseases and conditions that result in damaged brain cells. To be classified as dementia, the syndrome must meet the following criteria:

• It must include decline in memory and in at least one of the following cognitive abilities:

1. Ability to generate coherent speech and understand spoken or written language;

2. Ability to recognize or identify objects, assuming intact sensory function;

3. Ability to execute motor activities, assuming intact motor abilities, sensory function and comprehension
of the required task; and

4. Ability to think abstractly, make sound judgments and plan and carry out complex tasks.


• The decline in cognitive abilities must be severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Diff erent types of dementia have been associated with distinct symptom patterns and distinguishing microscopic brain abnormalities. Increasing evidence from long-term epidemiological observation and autopsy studies suggests that many people have microscopic brain abnormalities associated with more than one type of dementia. The symptoms of diff erent types of dementia also overlap and can be further complicated by coexisting medical
conditions.

Table 1 provides information about the most common types of dementia.

Table 1: Common Types of Dementia and Their Typical Characteristics

Type of Dementia Characteristics

Alzheimer’s disease. Most common type of dementia; accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Difficulty remembering names and recent events is often an early clinical
symptom; later symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion,
behavior changes and trouble speaking, swallowing and walking.

Hallmark abnormalities are deposits of the protein fragment beta-amyloid
(plaques) and twisted strands of the protein tau (tangles).

Vascular dementia. Considered the second-most-common type of dementia.

Impairment is caused by decreased blood fl ow to parts of the brain, often due
to a series of small strokes that block arteries.

Symptoms often overlap with those of Alzheimer’s, although memory may not
be as seriously aff ected.

Mixed dementia. Characterized by the presence of the hallmark abnormalities of Alzheimer’s
and another type of dementia, most commonly vascular dementia, but also
other types, such as dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and
normal pressure hydrocephalus.

Dementia with Lewy bodies. Pattern of decline may be similar to Alzheimer’s, including problems with memory, judgment and behavior changes.

Alertness and severity of cognitive symptoms may fluctuate daily.

Visual hallucinations, muscle rigidity and tremors are common.

Hallmarks include Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of the protein alphasynuclein)
that form inside nerve cells in the brain.

Parkinson’s disease. Many people who have Parkinson’s disease develop dementia in the later stages of the disease.

The hallmark abnormality is Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of the protein
alpha-synuclein) that form inside nerve cells in the brain.

Frontotemporal dementia. Involves damage to brain cells, especially in the front and side regions
of the brain.

Typical symptoms include changes in personality and behavior and diffi culty
with language.

No distinguishing microscopic abnormality is linked to all cases.

Pick’s disease, characterized by “Pick’s bodies,” is one type of frontotemporal
dementia.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Rapidly fatal disorder that impairs memory and coordination and causes behavior changes.

“Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease” is believed to be caused by consumption of
products from cattle affected by “mad cow disease.”

Caused by the misfolding of prion protein throughout the brain.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus. Caused by the buildup of fl uid in the brain.
Symptoms include difficulty walking, memory loss and inability to control urine.

Can sometimes be corrected with surgical installation of a shunt in the brain to
drain excess fluid.

Mild cognitive impairment is a condition in which a person has problems with memory, language or another essential cognitive function that are severe enough to be noticeable to others and show up on tests, but not severe enough to interfere with daily life. Some people with mild cognitive impairment go on to develop dementia. For others, the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment do not progress to dementia, and some people who have mild cognitive impairment at one point in time later revert to normal cognitive status.

Reducing the biological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease

“We have plenty of epidemiological evidence connecting activity, exercise and education with later onset of Alzheimer’s, but it has never been clear which came first…Did the active lifestyle delay disease, or was there something inherent in a disease-resistant brain that led to a mentally and physically active lifestyle?”

Enriched environment delays onset of Alzheimer’s in mice

A research group based at the University of Chicago has found that an enriched environment — in this case more chances to exercise, explore and interact with others — can dramatically reduce the biological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease in mice that are genetically predisposed to the disorder.

In the 11 March 2005 issue of Cell, the researchers show that mice raised in a deluxe setting – large cages filled with running wheels, colored tunnels and multiple toys — had much less of the beta-amyloid peptides that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease deposited in their brains than genetically similar mice raised in a standard environment. Mice from enriched settings also had more of an enzyme that breaks down amyloid as well as increased activity of several genes involved in learning and memory, brain cell survival and the growth of new blood vessels.

“We have plenty of epidemiological evidence connecting activity, exercise and education with later onset of Alzheimer’s, but it has never been clear which came first,” said study-author Sangram Sisodia, PhD, professor of neurobiology, pharmacology and physiology at the University of Chicago. “Did the active lifestyle delay disease, or was there something inherent in a disease-resistant brain that led to a mentally and physically active lifestyle?”

“This is the first demonstration,” he said, “in a genetically clean, carefully controlled animal model showing that an enhanced environment can have such a tremendously beneficial impact, protecting the brain from the pathological hallmarks of this insidious disease.”

These findings support a “potentially causal inverse relationship between a more engaging, enriched life and AD progression,” note Stanislav Karsten and Daniel Geschwind of UCLA in an accompanying editorial. They also provide “clear initial directions for exploring the role of the environment and the molecular pathways perturbed in AD and other neurodegenerative disorders.”

Sisodia, and colleagues from his lab — Orly Lazarov, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, pharmacology & physiology and lead author of the study, and John Robinson, senior research technician — studied mice carrying two mutated genes (amyloid precursor protein and presenilin-1) that predispose the animals to develop Alzheimer’s disease early in life.

At one month of age, nine of these mice were placed in the enriched environment and seven in standard housing. After five months, the researchers began to search for the pathological signs of AD in the mice’s brains.

They found that mice from the enriched environment had a dramatic reduction of amyloid deposits in their brains, including less than half the volume of amyloid deposits in the hippocampus and cortex, regions involved in memory and reasoning.

The researchers also looked for genes that were activated at different levels in brains of mice from enriched versus standard housing. They identified 41 such genes, many of them already known to protect nerve cells. One of them was the gene for an enzyme that degrades beta-amyloid called neprilysin, which was at significantly higher levels in mice from the enhanced setting.

These mice also showed greater activity for several other genes involved in memory and learning, the growth of new nerve cells, cell survival, and the growth of new blood vessels within the brain.

The researchers also noted one “personality” difference among the mice in the enriched environment that influenced amyloid levels. Some of these mice were extremely active, frequently exploring their cages or running on the wheel. Others, the couch-potato mice, had the same opportunities for exercise but chose much less activity.

The most active mice had the least beta-amyloid. Less active mice from the enriched environment had more and those from the standard housing, who got the least exercise, had the most.

A lot of the process involves simple plumbing, Sisodia suspects, delivering blood to the brain and carrying harmful substances away. “It may be all about blood flow,” he suggested. Exercise and mental activity can stimulate growth of new vessels while they help keep existing vessels in the brain open and functional, just like in the heart.

“Whenever we find amyloid deposits in the brain we also see them in the vessels,” he said. “We suspect a large part of this process is the growing inability of mice, or people, who are developing Alzheimer’s to get rid of the substances that comprise amyloid deposits, to slice up the peptides, sweep them into the blood stream and ship them out of the brain.”

The take home message for humans, he said, is use it or lose it. “Activity helps, physical activity helps and mental activity helps,” he said, “and the earlier you begin the better, a troubling notion in an increasingly inactive society. This is prevention, not therapy.”

About 4.5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, including about five percent of those aged 65 to 74. Risk increases with age.

The National Institutes of Health, the Ellison Medical Research Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association funded this study. Additional authors include first author Orly Lazarov, John Robinson and Ya-Ping Tang of the University of Chicago; Ilana Hairston and Robert Sapolsky of Stanford; Zeljka Korade-Mirnics and Karoly Mirnics of the University of Pittsburgh; Virginia Lee of the University of Pennsylvania; and Lou Hersh of the University of Kentucky.


Dementia Factsheet (Alzheimer’s Disease)

Dementia

What is it 

Dementia is the gradual deterioration of mental functioning, such as concentration, memory, and judgment, which affects a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.

Who gets it?

Dementia occurs primarily in people who are over the age of 65, or in those with an injury or disease that affects brain function. While dementia is most commonly seen in the elderly, it is not a normal consequence of the aging process.

What causes it?

Dementia is caused by the death of brain cells. Brain cells can be destroyed by brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or strokes (called vascular or multi-infarct dementia), which decrease blood flow to the brain. Lewy body dementia is another common cause attributed to changes in brain tissue. Other causes can include AIDS, high fever, dehydration, hydrocephalus, systemic lupus erythematosus, Lyme disease, long-term drug or alcohol abuse, vitamin deficiencies/poor nutrition, hypothyroidism or hypercalcemia, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, or diseases such as Pick’s, Parkinson’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or Huntington’s. Dementia can also result from a head injury that causes hemorrhaging in the brain or a reaction to a medication.

What are the symptoms?

In most cases, the symptoms of dementia occur gradually, over a period of years. Symptoms of dementia caused by injury or stroke occur more abruptly. Difficulties often begin with memory, progressing from simple forgetfulness to the inability to remember directions, recent events, and familiar faces and names. Other symptoms include difficulty with spoken communication, personality changes, problems with abstract thinking, poor personal hygiene, trouble sleeping, and poor judgment and decision making. Dementia is extremely frustrating for the patient, especially in the early stages when he or she is aware of the deficiencies it causes. People with dementia are likely to lash out at those around them, either out of frustration or because their difficulty with understanding makes them misinterpret the actions of others. They become extremely confused and anxious when in unfamiliar surroundings or with any change in routine. They may begin a task, such as cooking, then wander away aimlessly and completely forget what they had been doing. Dementia is often accompanied by depression and delirium, which is characterized by an inability to pay attention, fluctuating consciousness, hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. People in advanced stages of dementia lose all control of bodily functions and are completely dependent upon others.

How is it diagnosed?

Dementia is diagnosed through a study of the patient’s medical history and a complete physical and neurological exam. The doctor will speak with those close to the patient to document a pattern of behavior. He or she will also evaluate the patient’s mental functioning with tests of mental status, such as those that require the patient to recall words, lists of objects, names of objects, and recent events. Diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, x-rays, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), or computed tomography (CT) scans, can help determine the cause of the dementia.

What is the treatment?

In some instances, treating the cause of dementia may successfully reverse some or all of the symptoms. This is the case when the cause is related to a vitamin/nutritional deficiency, tumor, alcohol or drug abuse, reaction to a medication, or hormonal disorder. When dementia is related to an irreversible destruction of brain tissue, such as with Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, or multiple strokes, treatment involves improving the patient’s quality of life as much as possible. This includes maintaining a stable, safe, supportive environment and providing constant supervision. While this may be done in the home, people in the advanced stages of dementia may require round-the-clock care in a long-term healthcare facility. It is important to provide the patient with structured activities and avoid disruptions to his or her daily routine. Many patients enjoy therapeutic activities, such as crafts or games, designed specifically for people with dementia. Some medications, such as donepezil and tacrine, have been effective in improving the mental functions of those in the beginning stages of dementia. Patients with hallucinations and delusions may also be treated with antipsychotic drugs, while antidepressant medications are used to treat depression.

Self-care tips

There is currently no known way to prevent dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease. You can decrease your risk of dementia associated with stroke by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following a heart-healthy diet, and controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Healthy lifestyles, including not smoking and not abusing drugs and alcohol, go a long way in keeping most people in good health. Caring for a person with dementia is stressful. It is important to learn all you can about the disease, seek the help of support groups, and find a responsible caregiver who can give you a break when needed. There are daycare programs specifically designed for patients with dementia that are good for the patient and the family.

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This information has been designed as a comprehensive and quick reference guide written by our health care reviewers. The health information written by our authors is intended to be a supplement to the care provided by your physician. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

What is Visceral Fat

A recent article about belly fat and dementia is all over the news. The article refers specifically to “visceral fat” that surrounds the internal organs. This type of fat can be life threatening.

My 91 year old mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and has large deposits of visceral fat. This occurred late in her life and is due to bad eating habits and her loss of desire to move around or stay active.

Visceral fat is different from other body fat. Visceral fat, also called intra-abdominal fat, refers to the fat that surrounds the internal organs. Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is body fat that is close to the skin’s surface and is considered less dangerous, and easier to lose, than visceral fat.

Studies have shown that those with visceral fat are more susceptible to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension. Sedentary people, smokers and drinkers have been shown to have more intra-abdominal fat, or visceral fat, than active people who are non-smokers and non-drinkers. Stress may also be a factor in the storage of visceral fat on the body.

Visceral fat is harder to lose than subcutaneous fat because it is more deeply embedded in the body’s tissues. Visceral fat is only measured accurately by an imaging machine that can see how much of the abdomen is made up of visceral fat. A person may be within a healthy weight range, but still have too much intra-abdominal fat around the internal organs.

The liver metabolizes visceral fat and releases it into the bloodstream as cholesterol. Harmful, or “bad” cholesterol, which is Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), builds up into a plaque that blocks the arteries. Losing weight through proper diet and effective exercise can help reduce visceral fat. How much fat a person eats does matter as studies have shown that those who eat 30% or more of their diets as fat usually have high amounts of visceral fat.

Walking is considered by many health and fitness experts to be a much better way of helping to control visceral fat than by doing exercises such as swimming where gravity keeps the body afloat. Walking at a fairly fast pace for a half an hour six days a week has been shown to help reduce visceral fat, while walking only three days a week has not been shown to have much affect on the reduction of visceral fat. However, doing no exercise at all has shown to increase the amount of visceral fat in the body.

 

What is Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a physical illness that causes radical changes in the brain. As healthy brain tissues degenerate persons suffering from Alzheimer’s experience a steady decline in memory and the ability to use their brain to perform tasks.

 

In order to be an effective Alzheimer’s caregiver or to communicate with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, you must understand Alzheimer’s disease. A solid understanding of Alzheimer’s is an essential part of the foundation.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

 

How is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed

clipped from www.nia.nih.gov

Today, the only definite way to diagnose AD is to find out whether there are plaques and tangles in brain tissue.

At specialized centers, doctors can diagnose AD correctly up to 90 percent of the time. Doctors use several tools to diagnose “probable” AD, including:

  • questions about the person’s general health, past medical problems, and ability to carry out daily activities;
  • tests to measure memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language;
  • medical tests – such as tests of blood, urine, or spinal fluid; and
  • brain scans.
Why is early diagnosis important?

An early, accurate diagnosis of AD helps patients and their families plan for the future. It gives them time to discuss care options while the patient can still take part in making decisions. Early diagnosis also offers the best chance to treat the symptoms of the disease.

The course the disease takes and how fast changes occur vary from person to person.

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Caring for your Parents on PBS

clipped from www.pbs.org

As the population ages, many adult children are grappling with an unprecedented social, cultural, economic, and personal revolution as they transition into the primary caregiver role for their aging parents. Produced, written, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael Kirk, Caring for Your Parents is a moving two-hour special that draws much-needed attention to this universal reality.

Image of father and son

The first 90-minutes of Caring for Your Parents underscores today’s struggle to keep parents at home

Immediately after the 90-minute broadcast, medical correspondent Dr. Art Ulene leads “A Conversation About Caring.” This half-hour panel discussion offers concrete advice and guidance on how to start the conversation‒often the most difficult step in caregiving.

Caring for Your Parents is a Kirk Documentary Group, Ltd. Production for WGBH Boston.

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With Alzheimer’s, the Caregiver Is a Patient, Too

This is an interesting and thought provoking article that highlights the problems of Alzheimer’s caregivers.

With Alzheimer’s, the Caregiver Is a Patient, Too

Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia do not affect just the patient. These diseases gradually rob patients of memory and other intellectual abilities, leaving them unable to perform routine tasks. As the disease continues to destroy brain cells, patients increasingly depend on family members or others to carry out simple tasks like shopping and getting dressed. Ultimately, most patients will need complete care, adding to the caregiver’s burden.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 4 million Americans – and untold millions of family members and others who care for them. Physicians now recognize that Alzheimer’s caregivers themselves often require care and attention, says Diana R. Kerwin, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

“What we’re seeing is that Alzheimer’s is not a typical disease model,” she says, “precisely because the health and well-being of the caretaker is affected as well as the patient. I know when I assume the care of an Alzheimer’s patient, I am also caring for the caregiver.”

Caregivers who accompany patients to the Froedtert Senior Health Program’s Geriatric Evaluation Clinic, where Dr. Kerwin practices, are screened for “caregiver stress” and see a gerontologic nurse and social worker who will answer their questions, provide information and help create a plan for care of the patient. Caregivers are given a kit with information about support groups and community services, including adult day care, home care agencies, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities and respite care.

Stress, Depression Are Common
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 80% of Alzheimer caregivers report that they frequently experience high levels of stress, and nearly half say they suffer from depression. It’s not difficult to see why.

The national Family Caregiver Alliance terms caregiver depression “one of today’s all-too-silent health crises.” The alliance estimates that caregiving spouses between the ages of 66 and 96 who are experiencing mental or emotional strain have a 63% higher risk of dying than people the same age who are not caregivers.

“Alzheimer’s causes progressive memory loss, and in the later stages patients can develop behavior problems,” Dr. Kerwin says. “It’s distressing for the caregiver to suddenly have to cope with their loved one’s anger, hallucinations, paranoia, aggression or inappropriate conduct in public. It’s upsetting when, as the disease progresses, the patient no longer recognizes the spouse or loved one.”

Caregivers often experience feelings of guilt, believing they are not doing enough to help, she adds. Spouses and adult children feel grief and loss, not unlike a death in the family – except that instead of being sudden, it’s spread out over years. Alzheimer’s is a progressively worsening disease, but the rate of progression from mild to advanced can vary widely, from three to 20 years. As Alzheimer’s progresses, the loss of brain function itself will cause death unless the patient has one or more other serious illness.

When the Child Becomes the Parent
For an adult child who cares for a parent with dementia, taking on the role of caregiver is a role reversal and takes some adjustment. “It can be a difficult transition for a child to take on the role of ‘parent’ and decision-maker,” Dr. Kerwin says. “The child often needs to be empowered to step in and begin caring for their ailing parent – making sure their parent takes his or her medication, for instance, or telling their parent they should not drive, and making difficult decisions about when the parent is no longer able to safely live alone.”

Those caregivers are often already juggling multiple responsibilities with their own spouses, children and careers. In some cases, adult-child caregivers with siblings feel resentful if they must bear the brunt of their parent’s care, Dr. Kerwin says. If the adult-child caregiver is the only sibling living in the same city as the parent he or she often feels isolated, overwhelmed and underappreciated.

And sometimes, whether the caregiver is a spouse or an adult sibling, out-of-town siblings or other family members who see the parent infrequently may think the caregiver is exaggerating the extent of the Alzheimer’s patient’s decline. The out-of-town family members may feel guilty about not being able to help from a distance, and when they do visit, they may criticize or ask to change the care their parent is receiving.

Caregivers are often fatigued from carrying out their new responsibilities, Dr. Kerwin says. “I see them neglecting their own health. It’s not unusual for caregivers to suffer not only depression but also higher levels of hypertension. We recommend they have annual physicals, during which they should be sure to tell their primary care physician that they are caregivers. We also recommend they participate in support groups and learn about the community resources available.”

Other concerns caregivers regularly express are loss of concentration due to their caregiving responsibilities and fear that they themselves might eventually get the disease.

Warning Signs for Caregivers What are some warning signs of caregiver stress? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, they include:

Anger
Anxiety
Denial
Depression
Exhaustion
Health problems
Irritability
Lack of concentration
Sleeplessness
Social withdrawal
Caregivers who regularly experience these conditions should seek help from their physician, says the Alzheimer’s Association.

Financial Strain Heightens Burden
In some families, the presence of Alzheimer’s disease also brings financial problems that can add to stress and depression. Caregivers sometimes give up paying jobs for the unpaid one of caring for a loved one. They often find additional responsibilities are thrust on them, such as overseeing medications for their patient, knowing if or when the patient’s care should be transferred to a nursing home, and taking on power of attorney duties along with living wills and advanced directives that specify whether terminal patients should undergo extreme measures to keep them alive.

The national Family Caregiver Alliance estimates that approximately 80% of the long-term care in the United States is provided without compensation, sometimes around the clock.

“The responsibilities are vast,” Dr. Kerwin notes. “It’s important for caregivers to regularly take some time for themselves, away from their caring responsibilities.”

Barbara Abel
HealthLink Contributing Writer

The Medical College’s Center for Healthy Communities, along with the local non-profit organization Community Care for the Elderly Partnership, has developed a Caring for Caregivers Program to support Medicaid- and Medicare-eligible residents in the community who care for frail relatives, often those with dementia. For more information, contact Tovah H. Bates, PhD, Assistant Professor,