Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is Lou Gehrig's (ALS) Disease?

Last year, a colleague and good friend succumbed to ALS* (AKA Lou Gehrig's Disease) after a long, courageous battle. He wasn't the first person I've known to have this terrible disease, and I often wondered what these people were feeling and thinking when first diagnosed, and during each stage of the downhill progression of the illness.

Recently, I came across a blog that tells the story of the journey with eloquence and compassion. Called Ray's Little Ride, Ray Spooner, a nurse midwife, entitles his story as a "Journey."

After diagnosis, Ray biked more than 3000 miles across the USA in a successful campaign to fund raise for ALS* research. The blog post referred to above was written in the later stages of the disease and, with a nurse's clinical perspective, shares with the reader his innermost thoughts and feelings. 

It is a journey of courage and bravery and I recommend the blog to my readers.

Robert Tell, Author

*According to the ALS Association, "ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a neurodegenerative disease. This fatal disease affects the nerve cells (motor neurons) that control a person’s muscles. As the disease causes these motor neurons to deteriorate, the brain loses the ability to start and control voluntary muscle movement. This is why people with ALS often lose the ability to speak. The disease slowly paralyzes its victims eventually taking away the ability to breathe."

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What About The Latest News in Alzheimer's Research?


Is Tau really a more likely cause of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's than Amyloid Beta? Possibly, according to a May 20th article in the CAA Forum, and I quote:

"Scientists using a new PET imaging agent found that measures of tau protein in the brain more closely track cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease compared with long-studied measures of amyloid beta. Scanning multiple individuals the researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine showed that the intensity of tau deposits correlated with the severity of cognitive dysfunction."
The Forum is sponsored by the International CAA Association (CAA standing for Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy), an organization of medical researchers concerned with cognitive malfunction. For the complete article, please click on this title: "Tau is better marker of progression to Alzheimer’s disease than amyloid beta."
One baby step after another, Alzheimer's Disease gives up its secrets and brings us closer to the elusive cure.
Robert Tell, Author




Saturday, March 19, 2016

Something New? "Great Books—Thriller Books—Mystery Stories"

Guess what? I've started another blog. To see it, please click on the following link: Author's Blog.

This new blog is just one part of my beautiful new website which features all 8 of my books, and my poetry.  Click on the main page: Great Books—Thriller Books—Mystery Stories. I think you'll enjoy surfing around on it. The visuals are stunning.

I've also published much more detail there about "Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal." To view these pages, click on one of the following links: 1. The Book, and/or 2. The Letter.

By the way, I will continue to support this, my original blog, "The Caregiver Chronicles," for as long as there continues to be such a high level of interest in it. It has become very popular.

Thank you all for making it so.

Best wishes,
Robert Tell



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What's the Future of Nursing in an Aging America?

The changing demgraphics of America's aging population presents many challenges for the nursing profession. I'm indebted to Deyanara Riddix, content coordinator of Nursingschoolhub.com, for the following information. 

"For every senior over the age of 65 in the year 2000, there will be 2 by the year 2030. Today that is 1 out of every 7 people is over 65. By the year 2022, 32 percent of our workforce will be comprised of seniors over 65. The average american will live 19 or more years past their 65th birthday. 

"The 85 and older population is predicted to triple to 14.6 million by 2040. Most of the seniors’ medical needs will become the responsibility of nurses. Currently there are just more than 1.5 million Nursing Assistants, 738 thousand Licensed Practical Nurses, 2.7 million Registered Nurses, and 151 thousand Nursing Practitioners, anesthetists, and midwives with an 11% growth expected by 2022. 

"The average age of nurses is now 50 years old. From 1982 to 2008, the percentage of nurses under the age of 40 dropped from 54 percent to 29.5 percent. Aging America needs more educated nurses who are versed in some of the more technical areas, such as biometrics, robotics, and electronic records."

For a comprehensive infographic illustrating the above data, please see the following website:  Nursing School Hub

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Have You Read My Interview on Smashwords?

I'm excited!

A revised interview with me has just been published at Smashwords. It's an in-depth Q&A interview. If you get a chance, click: Interview With Author Robert Tell.

I would welcome your comments on this blog, and your suggestions for additional questions you'd like to see answered in the interview. I promise to answer them.

Best wishes,
Robert Tell


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Should the Drug Zofran Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

A provocative question and one for which this writer has no expertise to share with you. However,  Krystal Blake, of the Birth Injury Guide has studied the matter and has prepared the following guest article for today's post. As always with such matters, each person is cautioned to gather all the available facts and to make an informed decision that makes sense to her and her doctor.

Here's the article:

"What are the Potential Side Effects of Zofran? 

Zofran, also known as Ondansetron, is a prescription medication that is 
manufactured by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Zofran1 
was originally developed to help mitigate the effects of chemotherapy and 
radiation that cancer patients often suffer from. This drug can effectively block 
the actions of the body that trigger nausea and vomiting. In addition to being 
used to treat nausea in cancer patients, it was also used and prescribed to treat 
nausea in patients post-operatively. 

Since its development, however, Zofran has also been used “off-label” to treat 
women for morning sickness. Typically prescribed during a pregnant woman’s 
first trimester, it has been given to millions of women across the country for 
years. 

What Does “Off-Label” Mean? 

The term off-label drug use2 has several meanings. It may involve prescribing a 
currently available and marketed drug for a symptom or disease that the Federal 
Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved, or it may involve prescribing a 
marketed medication to a patient population, dosage, or dosage form (e.g., 
intravenously, orally, topically, etc.) that does not have FDA approval. 
Zofran has been prescribed off-label to a patient population that the FDA has not 
approved use for as there are not sufficient studies or tests that have been 
conducted in the respective population to show that it is safe for this particular 
use.

How Does Zofran (Ondansetron) Work? 

Zofran, a powerful anti-nausea and vomiting drug, belongs to a class known as 
the 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 3 antagonists that block the effects of 
serotonin.3 More commonly referred to as 5-HT3 antagonists or setrons, this class 
of drugs acts as receptor antagonists at a subtype of serotonin receptor found in 
the vagus nerve and other areas of the brain. These receptor antagonists are 
extremely effective in treating nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing 
chemotherapy, radiation, or post-operatively to help with the side effects of 
anesthesia.

Drugs used for chemotherapy often create serotonin in the gut which causes 
nausea and vomiting. With the help of these serotonin antagonists, the body is 
able suppress nausea and vomiting by preventing serotonin from activating and 
sensitizing the gut.4 

The FDA and Zofran

Zofran first entered the U.S. market in 1991 and it was FDA approved for the 
uses previously mentioned. In 2011, the FDA administered a warning about the 
drug indicating that there had been links between Zofran use and QT interval 
prolongation, or effects on the electrical activity of the heart.5 Shortly after, there 
were also warnings regarding the increased risk of birth defects developing in 
children whose mothers had taken Zofran during pregnancy. Among the most 
universally known birth defects associated with the drug are cleft lip and cleft 
palate, in addition to heart defects, including Atrial Septal Defect (ASD).6

There have been a number of studies regarding the drug’s potential effect on 
pregnant women, but additional studies are warranted. The CDC has issued a 
warning of the possible connection between Zofran use and birth defects, and 
the FDA has continued to condone prescribing drugs off-label. However, many 
people believe that more studies are needed in order to obtain a clear answer on 
the risks associated with taking the drug during pregnancy.7"

For further information check out their link at: 

http://www.birthinjuryguide.org/birth-injury/causes/medication/zofran/

Footnotes:
1 http://www.drugs.com/zofran.html
2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538391/
3 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3470505/

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is the Acura TLX a Self-driving Car?

What's a car review doing in a blog on aging and caregiving? Good question. However, when you consider the independence we get from the ability to drive, the potential loss of that freedom can be terrifying to older adults.

And yet, according to AAA, "seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of 7 to 10 years." Anyone who has had to face taking the keys away from a parent or spouse knows how awful that experience can be for all concerned. And someday it may be our turn.

In growing recognition of the need for seniors to maintain their mobility independence, all sorts of alternatives to driving are becoming available. This is good news. One option that comes to mind is the growing network of ITN programs around the Country. There are others too.

Another promising alternative being tested and developed is the Google self-drivingcar.  It's not the only one and I, for one, hope to see the day when I can buy one. Which brings me to the title question:

Is the Acura TLX a Self-driving Car?

As a new owner of this wonderful luxury car, I can say "not quite." But there are several TLX models and the Six Cylinder version with the Advance Package may be the closest thing to a self-driver on the market today.

The Advance Package contains (among other things): Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning System, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Info System, Rear Back Up Camera with Cross Traffic Alert, and an Automatic Brake Hold Feature.

Wow! Many other cars have some of these features and, perhaps, one other has most of them. However, it was the Advance equipped Acura TLX that was singled out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as actually avoiding an accident in their 25 mph Safety Test for High-speed Autobrake. The IIHS gave the car a 2015 Top Safety Pick + rating and categorized it as Superior for Front Crash Prevention.

Many of the thirty-something to fifty-something auto reviewers have ignored this feat. Their criticisms have focused on comparing torque and acceleration to the German luxury breed. And some don't like the styling. But we seniors with our aches and pains couldn't care less about 0-60 acceleration times, paddle shifters, manual transmissions, and power spurts away from a stoplight.

No, what we care about is comfort, safety and driver assist technology, things the TLX has in abundance. My right leg cramps up when I have to keep my foot on the brake pedal for long periods to prevent the car from creeping forward. Like in heavy traffic. The TLX Automatic Brake Hold Feature eliminates this problem.

My hand begins to ache when forced to grasp the steering wheel for hours on a long trip, but when the TLX Lane Keeping Assist steers the car it allows for a very loose grip (and for brief periods of no grip). And when this feature is combined with the Adaptive Cruise Control system, I can go for many miles without ever touching the accelerator pedal, only occasionally steering myself, and relaxing while the TLX self-steers, self-brakes and self-accelerates whenever a vehicle pulls in front of me. In effect, at such times, the car is indeed actually driving itself.

Finally, to me, styling is very subjective. I like the look of the TLX. On the road, I'm hard pressed to tell the difference between look-alike cars such as the Ford Fusion, Lexus ES 350, Hyundai Genesis, and many others. You might not like the TLX's understated and unique design as much as I do, but I don't think you'd confuse its appearance with any of its competitors.

As for luxury, I traded a Mercedes E320 for this Acura. I loved the Mercedes and I love the TLX, which I find to be the equal of the Benz in most things and superior in many ways, including ride quality, handling, noise mitigation, fuel consumption, and much, much, more.

All of this might not convince the baby boomers, millennials, and Generation X-ers but, for those of us with the physical issues associated with aging bodies, the Acura TLX is as sweet as they come.