Thursday, January 10, 2019

Cognitive Rehab for Dementia?

 Something new? Something different? Something hopeful?


Check out this recent article about Cognitive Rehabilitation in the New York Times: "Dementia May Never Improve, but Many Patients Still Can Learn "

According to this article, "Cognitive rehabilitation evolved from methods used to help people with brain injuries...The practice brings occupational and other therapists into the homes of dementia patients to learn which everyday activities they’re struggling with and which abilities they want to preserve or improve upon...The therapists show patients how to compensate for memory problems and to practice new techniques."

It's not a cure, but some practitioners claim it can improve daily function and life quality for patients and caregivers. My suggestion: read the article and see if it represents another option.

Robert Tell, Author

Friday, December 1, 2017

How Important is Safe Exercise for Older Adults?

 June Brown is a researcher heading up a project to look at the future of senior accommodation and health across the country for a growing senior health site, which is part of the SeniorAdvisor national network of resources for older adults. While doing her research into the future of health for seniors, she noticed that lack of physical exercise is increasingly becoming a problem for many seniors in our nation. She prepared the following piece on the importance of physical exercise as we age.

"Avoid Brain Fog: Keep Minds Sharp with Physical Exercise as You Age
Physical activity helps keep your brain healthy, slowing down the effects of aging. We all know the benefits of exercise on the body including weight control, prevention of cardiovascular diseases and strengthening of muscles. What is also a remarkable benefit on top of these physiological changes are its effects on the brain. The brain, composed of neurons, is where all the actions happen. This is where all neural activity is stored that is responsible for thought processes, cognition, memory, perceptions, and sensations. Keeping it sharp and strong with physical exercise benefits us as we age.

The Effects of Exercise on the Brain 
Biological effects happen when you exercise. As you exert yourself, your heart rate increases to supply more blood and oxygen to your muscles. Your brain also receives a bigger supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients for good health. The boost in supply assists in renewing brain cells which help in learning. Simple physical exercises improve memory and build neurons & connections. Physical activity triggers the release of several neurotransmitters such as endorphins dopamine, serotonin, GABA and glutamate. Some of these are known for their ability to improve mood and prevent depression. As a result, you often feel much better after physical activity.

Evidence Supporting the Link Between Exercise and Brain Health
A variety of tests and studies has been undertaken to study the effect of exercise on the brain. The University of Canberra studied the effects of structured physical exercise on the brain of adults for four weeks. After a variety of brain tests, researchers found evidence that aerobic exercise improved cognitive abilities such as thinking, learning, and reasoning. Furthermore, muscle training by carrying weights influences the brain’s memory and its executive functions (planning and organization).
The international collaboration between the University of Manchester and Western Sydney University found out that aerobic exercise can enhance memory function as we age. Researchers studied the effects of physical activity on the hippocampus, the area of the brain where memory and other functions such as spatial navigation and behavioral inhibition occur. The final results suggested that while exercise has no effect on the total hippocampus volume, it increased the left side significantly among humans. Brain size shrinks by 5% every 10 years after age 40. Exercise is viewed as a maintenance activity for brain health to slow down its deterioration due to aging.  

Being physically active not only promotes better biological functions but also improves brain health that can slow down the process of aging and prevent neurodegenerative disorders. If that is not reason enough to get cracking on the bike, consider how wonderful it is to age gracefully with your memory and cognitive abilities in good shape."

Time to get off the couch and go for a long walk. 

 Robert Tell, Author

Monday, October 23, 2017

Do you exercise safely?

 You hear it all the time. Exercise, exercise, exercise. It's important for cardiac health, balance, strength maintenance, weight maintenance, and a variety of other health goals. And this advice applies to people of all ages, including folks over 60, although seniors who begin an exercise program should do it under a doctor's supervision, start slowly, and gradually increase.

But one thing I haven't seen before is advice regarding the safety of some exercises for older adults. So a recent article on the Silver Sneakers website was of special interest to me, and I think will be worth your time to review.

 Here's the link:   The 7 Worst Exercises for Older Adults

Happy push-ups!

 Robert Tell, Author

Sunday, October 22, 2017

When to move to a smaller home?

Into the lives of most older adults there comes a time when serious thought must be given to downsizing.

When that time comes, how does one decide where to live, what to keep and what to dump, what to do with the stuff being dumped (especially pricey and/or sentimental items), how to separate emotionally from beloved items accumulated over a lifetime, and how to ease the adjustment.

The other day, I found an excellent article addressing these issues on the Refin website. I sincerely recommend it to anyone contemplating such a transition. Here is the link:

Robert Tell, Author

Saturday, June 24, 2017

When Can You Buy Dementia Diary for Half-Price?


Make a note in your calendar. At one minute past midnight Pacific time on July 1, the special Smashwords Summer E-Book Promotion goes live. (That's 2 am Eastern Daylight Savings Time).  After 11:59 pm Pacific time on July 31, the sale ends.

My memoir, "Dementia Diary" is my best selling book at it's regular e-book price of $3.99. Now, ONLY for the month of July, and ONLY at Smashwords you can buy it for ONLY $2, a real 50% discount.  Here's the link: Dementia Diary Sale Page.

Caregivers everywhere give this book high marks for easing the burden of being a caregiver to a loved one with dementia, and for helping to relieve caregiver burnout. For over 15 years, I was my widowed Mom's caregiver as her mind and personality disappeared into the fog of dementia. My book tells the emotional reality of being a caregiver.

P.S. During this sale, my popular Harry Grouch Mystery Novels, my sci-fi, and my kids poetry books will also be available at Smashwords at discounts ranging from 75% to FREE.

Check this out by clicking here: Robert Tell's Smashwords Page.


Happy Reading!

 Robert Tell, Author

Monday, May 8, 2017

Is Your Mom/Dad/Spouse Ill—Or Just Being Difficult? (Encore)

(I've been asked by readers to post the following encore of an article I published here several years ago. I hope you find it to be helpful.)

I'm often asked about examples of challenging behaviors that I noticed in my mother—behaviors that helped me to finally realize she was sinking into dementia. The list below may help you to evaluate what is happening to your loved one.

For Mom, it started slowly with just a few of these behaviors attracting my attention. I just passed them off to normal aging. Gradually, it reached the tipping point where I could no longer ignore what was happening. There was an emergency a day.

I lived 1500 miles North of Mom, trying to run a business. Every day in the middle of some crisis at work came a phone call about some calamity in Florida. Sometimes from Mom, sometimes about Mom.

Up to 30% of my time was being consumed as a long distance caregiver and decision maker—often without the facts I needed to make correct, emotion free, objective decisions. Frequent air travel to check things out became another costly requirement. Here’s some of what I had to deal with:

• NUTRITION: She was not eating well. Things in her refrigerator were scary: ie: partly eaten fruits and cheeses with lots of mold.
• CLEANLINESS: Her house was dirty (she had been a meticulous housekeeper).
• HOUSEHOLD ORGANIZATION: There was clutter everywhere. This was not my mother!
• FIRE SAFETY: She was storing plastic bags in the oven. Then, forgetting, she was turning the oven on.
• REALITY ISSUES: Hallucinations about mice were occurring with increasing frequency.
• HEALTH ISSUES: Many health issues were threatening her well-being. Hospitalizations for pneumonia, arthritis, etc., were becoming more frequent.
• DRUG COMPLIANCE: She was non-compliant with medications with the result that her blood pressure was out of control and other health conditions were not receiving prescribed therapy.
• MEDICAL CARE: She changed doctors (and HMO's) several times each year. Continuity of care suffered and I could not build a useful relationship with her physicians.
• INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: She was isolating herself—alienating friends and family with harsh, judgmental personality changes.
• FALLING: She fell in her room, sustained a serious head injury and no one found her for 2 days
• FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: She was messing up her finances and making other poor judgments.
• HOUSING: She became a housing hopper: In a 2 year period she went from her Florida house to a Florida condo to a furnished condo in Michigan back to her Florida condo to senior apartment to assisted living in Florida back to assisted living in Michigan. She had trouble settling in anywhere.
• DRIVING: Her driving became a daily nightmare with multiple fender benders and traffic violations.

Sound familiar? Are any or all of these things happening to your mom, dad, spouse or significant other? I hope not, but if they are, it may be time to seek a professional geriatric evaluation.

Robert Tell
Author, "Dementia-Diary, A Caregiver's Journal"

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Driving and Dementia—When to Stop!

 As you know, one of the most difficult moments in the life of a caregiver dealing with Alzheimer's Disease (or another dementia) in a loved one, is the famous struggle over the car keys.

I went through this in tragi-comic terms as described in my popular book, Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal. 

There is a better way.  Click the blog, "Dementia Today". It lays out a plan that I would have found helpful at the time. I recommend it to you. It lists the following warning signs of dangerous driving:
  • Difficulty navigating to familiar places
  • Inappropriate lane changing
  • Confusing the brake and gas pedals
  • Failing to observe traffic signals
  • Making slow or poor decisions
  • Hitting the curb while driving
  • Driving at an inappropriate speed (often too slow)
  • Becoming angry or confused while driving
But it goes further and describes various ways for a caregiver to handle the situation. Take a look.

Robert Tell, Author
Great Books—Thriller Books—Mystery Stories