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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: ‘Genetic Counseling’ to Comprehend Cancer Risks

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Oct 14, 2015 4:38:51 PM

What Does My Genetic Test Tell Me? Genetic Counseling Can Explain

Recent health news from across the Web: specialized support for genetic testing, a fresh quit-smoking option, hypoglycemia dangers, and more.Genetics can tell us a lot, so long as we understand how to interpret them. In some cases, our genes can make us vulnerable to certain inherited diseases. One such example is breast cancer; mutations in the BRCA gene family are linked to 5-10% of all cases (and up to 15% of ovarian cancer cases). Genetic testing has made it possible to determine whether a person carries a specific mutation. Yet taking such a test — especially if the result is positive — could raise more anxieties than it puts to rest. The specialized field of genetic counseling is one way to fill knowledge gaps and help individuals understand what results they may receive, and what exactly that means for their health and future risk.

A recent study found that of women who elected to undergo testing for BRCA mutations, few were offered genetic counseling. However, those who received the service reported better understanding of their personal results and more satisfaction with the knowledge they gained. As the cost of these tests lowers to more affordable levels and more people may choose to take them as a predictive measure, it may not be feasible for all patients to access genetic counseling (which is covered as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act). But for some, especially individuals with a strong family history of an inheritable disease, it may be worth requesting more information or asking a doctor or specialist whether genetic counseling before getting tested would be a good idea.

(Genetic counseling is rare among BRCA-tested women; Reuters)

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Topics: Dementia, Caregiving, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Smoking, Financial Health, Cancer, Advanced Care Planning

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

Fundamental Facts and Tips for National Cholesterol Education Month

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Sep 5, 2015 10:00:00 AM

National Cholesterol Education Month

Examining Cholesterol Education MonthWhen it comes to heart health, lots of risk factors and advice compete for your attention. How much you weigh, whether you smoke, your exercise habits, what you eat…each element contributes to your overall health picture, and each one can affect your risk for heart disease.

Even among foods, fat and salt are often front and center in the cardio conversation. However, other nutrients are similarly important to watch for. For National Cholesterol Education Month this September, learn about cholesterol levels and how you can monitor and improve this important indicator of your heart health.

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Topics: Nutrition, Heart Disease

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