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Home Health Blog

Health News Round-Up: Dementia Considerations and Holiday Expectations

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Dec 22, 2015 4:52:00 PM

Balancing Holiday Traditions with Dementia Changes

Recent health news from across the Web: dementia and holiday traditions, brain fitness, medication management tips, and more.This compassionate piece centers on one family adapting to a mother’s advancing Alzheimer’s disease, and how it has changed their holiday customs. They make fewer social appearances and do extra preparation to preserve her routines, while still missing her old presence. The article includes some helpful tips for including loved ones with dementia in the holiday hubbub while minimizing potential agitation.

(When Mom Has Alzheimer’s, A Stranger Comes For Christmas; NPR)

On the same topic, author Marguerite Manteau-Rao raises some tough points about the difficulties of factoring a loved one with dementia into a busy holiday schedule. Pointing out that individuals with dementia may not remember a visit the day before or after, but can feel hurt when external cues remind them of the holiday, she pulls no punches.

(How to Be With a Loved One With Dementia During the Holidays; Huffington Post)

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Topics: Dementia, Diabetes, Health News, Nutrition, Medication Management, Stroke, Heart Disease, Fitness, Emotional Health, Lung Disease

Health News Round-Up: Plan Ahead Before Driving Becomes Unwise

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Nov 11, 2015 2:04:00 PM

Making a ‘Retirement Plan’ for Driving

Recent health news from across the web: ‘retirement planning’ for driving, Medicare open enrollment, new mammogram guidelines, and more.A key component to aging in place is mobility — being able to get around independently. And in much of America, ‘mobility’ equals ‘driving.’ However, there may come a point when driving themselves is no longer a safe option for seniors; diminished vision, cognitive changes, and medication side effects are just some of the hazards that can jeopardize elderly drivers. But often, the issue isn’t raised until it must be dealt with, and it can be a point of contention between patients who want to feel independent and the caregivers or family members who must ask for the keys.

Giving up driving — or having driving privileges taken away — can be a difficult transition, one that may be harder to accept if it happens abruptly. Medical care can suffer, and feelings of isolation can contribute to depression. This NPR story takes the example of a few savvy seniors who made an advanced plan for ‘driving retirement.’ Researching transportation options and discussing possible solutions well before they are necessary may be preferable to scrambling once a need is already apparent (much like advanced care planning, in fact). Acknowledging that driving might not always be a feasible transportation choice can put wheels in motion toward safer driving practices now…and an easier transition to potential ‘retirement’ later.

(It’s Never Too Soon To Plan Your ‘Driving Retirement’; NPR)

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Topics: Dementia, Parkinson's Disease, Caregiving, Diabetes, Aging In Place, Health News, Nutrition, Cancer, Bereavement, Emotional Health

Health News Round-Up: Proper Prep for Insulin Pen Effectiveness

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Oct 1, 2015 4:25:32 PM

For Best Results, Insulin Pens Need Preparation

Proper Prep for Insulin Pen EffectivenessFor many patients, insulin injection is a key part of diabetes management, and pharmaceutical companies continue to innovate with ever-more convenient delivery methods. One advance has been the pre-mixed ‘NPH insulin pen,’ a convenient all-in-one device that eliminates the need for separate needles and vials. However, the results of a recent study highlight the importance of proper preparation of an NPH insulin pen: namely, shaking it to ‘resuspend’ the medicine inside.

Inside an NPH insulin pen is a mixture of crystals and liquid that settles into unequal proportions over time. Without shaking, the researchers discovered that patients’ blood sugar control varied widely, far less reliable than the correctly prepped pens would deliver. To sufficiently resuspend the insulin in an NPH device, the pen should be tipped back and forth 20 times just before injection. And when it comes to proper technique for any medication in your regimen, you can always reach out to your doctor or Residential Home Health clinician for help.

(Shake, shake, shake your NPH insulin pen before injecting; Reuters)

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Topics: Dementia, Diabetes, Health News, Nutrition, Medication Management

Health News Round-Up: Building a Better Place Setting for Dementia

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Sep 15, 2015 3:03:45 PM

Engineering Easier Eating and Drinking for Cognitive Decline

Both the visual recognition of food and the motor skills needed to consume it can become barriers to proper nourishment.Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect more than thinking and memory; as cognitive decline progresses, patients may struggle to eat and drink. Both the visual recognition of food and the motor skills needed to consume it can become barriers to proper nourishment. One designer, after seeing her own grandmother struggle with her food, set out to assist. Sha Yao scoured available research and field-tested a line of bowls, spoons, and cups, which feature bright, contrasting colors and precisely engineered shapes.

The resulting tableware prototypes, dubbed ‘Eatwell,’ placed first in the 2013-2014 Stanford Design Challenge. Since that time, Yao has been pursuing resources to make Eatwell a reality for patients worldwide, and press has been growing as that goal reaches completion. The project was funded by more than 1,000 contributors via an Indiegogo campaign, and an update on the fundraising site reports that Eatwell is on track to begin shipping pre-orders by late September.

(Tableware designed for Alzheimer’s patients; CNN)

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Topics: Hospice, Dementia, Health News, Nutrition, Heart Disease, Smoking

Health News Round-Up: Combating Cancer from a New Research Angle

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Sep 2, 2015 1:52:24 PM

Cancer Research Suggests a New Genetic Frontier in Treatment

Nurse Performing Genetic Testing Previously, treating a patient’s cancer meant treating the type of cancer: breast, prostate, skin, etc. Some types call for specialized surgeries, others for specifically developed medications, others for finely tuned chemotherapy or radiation regimens. But the field of cancer research is changing, with efforts increasingly focused on the genes that cause the cancer or help it to spread. And thanks to a new drug trial, reportedly the first of its kind, this approach could be gaining traction.

Previous findings had uncovered a common gene mutation found in both skin cancer and lung cancer. Researchers hypothesized that because of this similarity, a drug already approved for skin cancer might have a crossover effect on the other cancer type. Indeed, a substantial proportion of lung cancer patients responded to the drug. Other cancer types did not exhibit such promising results, which may be the result of fewer of those patients having the targeted mutation — the key may be narrowing down the right commonalities. Future studies along these lines are already in the works, and signs are pointing to new, more specific cancer treatments that are based on gene mutation rather than type.

(First trial targeting mutation, not cancer type, gives mixed results; Reuters)

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Topics: Caregiving, Health News, Nutrition, Stroke, Heart Disease, Smoking, Financial Health, Cancer, Fitness, Advanced Care Planning