Ten Signs of Alzheimer’s – What you Need to Know!

The thought of Alzheimer’s is very concerning. Especially when it affects family and friends!

But the earlier Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia) are diagnosed the better the treatments available.

So we are sharing this list of signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Know the 10 signs – An infographic by the team at Alzheimer’s Association

Music therapy – how music therapy is helping older people and persons with dementia.

Music therapy for dementia
Music therapy for dementia

Leicester’s Hospitals are working together with OPUS, a leading provider of music in healthcare settings, to bring music onto wards for older people and for those with a dementia.

Following the success of their previous visits to Older Peoples wards, OPUS will now visit all three sites of Leicester’s Hospitals on a weekly basis over the next two years.

Two musicians will be visiting the hospital for a day each week, providing music and song on various wards. OPUS musicians engage with patients, visitors and staff in music-making, creating an environment conducive to health and well-being. The musicians also carry a variety of instruments for patients to use.

Music and singing creates an opportunity for patients to reminisce and retrieve memories which at other times may be lost. This initiative has been supported by the Arts Council and Leicester Hospitals Charity.

Justine Allen, Older Peoples Sister, said: “The first visit from OPUS was inspiring and overwhelming to say the least.  Patients with dementia who had found it difficult to communicate beforehand began to respond. They clapped, touched, opened their eyes, smiled, tapped and sang.

“It was amazing to be part of and was great to see the positive impact OPUS had on the overall environment, for both staff and visitors to the ward.”

OPUS Music Community Interest Company (CIC) is a UK leader in taking music-making into healthcare settings.  The core team of musicians from OPUS are Nick Cutts, Richard Kensington, Oli Matthews and Sarah Matthews.

Nick Cutts, Director and musician at OPUS, added: “We are delighted to be extending our practice at Leicester’s Hospitals to include work with older patients and those with dementia. We know from our experience, and from recent research, that live music-making makes a huge difference within hospitals both to the health and wellbeing of the patients, but also to the visitors and staff.”

The OPUS visits began this September, to support national Older People’s Month, among a calendar of events and ward celebrations arranged by Leicester’s Hospitals patient experience team.

For more information about OPUS, please visit www.opusmusic.org

Dementia with Lewy Bodies. What are the signs and symptoms DLB and how can it be treated?

Dementia with Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy Bodies

As many of you know this month is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. So, somewhat counter intuitively, I have decided to have a look at other form of dementia.    In this case I’d like to focus on a condition called Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

Dementia (and this form of dementia in particular) has been on my mind for the last few weeks.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  Firstly as I get older my family members age as well.  Secondly because the man after whom this medical condition is named (albeit some decades apart) went to the same medical school as my cousin.

So I wanted to look at Dementia with Lewy bodies a bit more closely.

As you know Alzheimer’s disease is not the only type of dementia.  In fact Dementia with Lewy bodies may be responsible for around 10% of dementia cases.  Though it should be noted that typically in only 4% of cases are actually diagnosed as Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) by healthcare professionals.  So there is more than a bit of uncertainty about a diagnosis.

Okay so let’s start from the beginning.  What exactly are Lewy bodies?

Lewy bodies are “tiny deposits of protein in nerve cells” – currently scientists are not clear as to why they appear.  Though, in fact, they are present in both DLB and Parkinson’s disease.  In fact DLB shares symptoms with both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.  And also with some other progressive neurological conditions as well.  As of today scientists are still unclear as to how Lewy bodies operate.  Thought it does seems that the Lewy bodies interfere with chemical signals between nerve cells.

So what are the symptoms of Dementia with Lewy bodies?

As with Alzheimer’s disease people with DLB suffer from memory and judgement issues but they also have issues with concentration and visual perception.  By visual perception we mean how a person sees objects in space and general recognition of those objects.

As with Parkinson’s they may suffer from tremors, slowed-down movements and stiff limbs.

In some cases the patient may suffer from hallucinations.  Fatigue and disrupted sleep is also very common for person with Dementia with Lewy Bodies.  And in a few cases falling and fainting will occur.

Many patients suffer from swings in concentration.  This might mean a swift change from general alertness to simply just starring into space.

While Dementia with Lewy Bodies’ symptoms can be treated current there is no cure for the condition.  Therapies are generally used for particular symptoms so treatment regimens will vary for patient to patient.  For example Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors can be used for cognitive dysfunction, hallucinations and drowsiness.

As with other neurological conditions physiotherapy can be used alongside occupational therapy. And in many cases speech and language therapy as well.

Patients may also be exposed to other therapies. Cognitive stimulation which involves taking part in activities and exercises designed to improve memory, problem-solving skills and language ability. Reality orientation therapy reduces feelings of mental disorientation, memory loss and confusion, while improving self-esteem.

It should be mentioned that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any kind of dementia it is vital to get legal advice to make sure your or their affairs are in order.

If you have seen one of our discussion blog post at Patient Talk before you will know that the most important part is to start a discussion among our readers and those in the Dementia with Lewy bodies’ community.  So we were hoping some of you may be able to help with the following questions which will help to educate others about the condition.   We are keen to hear from friends, family and caregivers as well as people with Dementia with Lewy bodies.

So here goes:-

What were the earliest signs and symptoms of Dementia with Lewy bodies?

How did Dementia with Lewy bodies’ progress?

What treatments were offered to you or a loved one? How effective were those treatments for Dementia with Lewy bodies?

What advice would you give to a person

And their families who has just been diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy bodies?

Thanks very much in advance.  Please note that these are just guide lines.  Anything you have to say will be of massive interest to our readers.

Finally if you want or need more information why not have a look the web site of the Dementia with Lewy bodies Society in the UK and its fraternal organisation in America, Canada and Australia.

Where is World Alzheimer’s Day? I’m trying to find it. Can you help?

World Alzheimer’s Day
World Alzheimer’s Day

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day.

Or so I was lead to believe! In fact it says so here. And you know what that is pretty much all I can find out online.

In the UK it last get’s a mention here. But this is 2016 not 2014. And I’m sure there is something more up to date but it is not easy to find.

So where is World Alzheimer’s Day? Can you help?

If you have any idea what is planned for this year please do let me know in the comments section below.

Thanks!

Nostalgia is good for you? Find out about Reminiscence Therapy here!

Memories to help with dementia
Memories to help with dementia

Not only is it nice to reminisce, it also has some health benefits.

 

Remembering the past isn’t just a pleasant escape from your current situation, in fact, nostalgia has recently been shown to improve your health and wellbeing, as well as helping with the aging process and afflictions such as dementia.

Nostalgia was the phrase first used in the 1600’s by the Swiss to name the homesickness many soldiers felt after returning from the Alps.  Nowadays however, we know that it is a worldwide experience, felt even by children as young as seven. So why do we do it?

Research shows that nostalgia actually boosts your mood, psychological comfort, and can even raise your self-esteem and optimism about the future. It also found that reminiscing about your youth, particularly in groups can benefit your memory and ability to recall, with even care home patients with dementia experiencing an 8% improvement in recall.

Remembering the past and discussing memories with a person or a group of people is beneficial to patients suffering from dementia. This is often referred to as Reminiscence Therapy, and can involve the use of various prompts such as pictures, music, or familiar items to dementia sufferers to help recall the past. Reminiscence therapy is shown to have a positive impact on patient mood and cognitive behavior, and on top of this is a pleasurable activity for those involved whilst giving carers an opportunity to learn more about patients and build closer relationships. A recently created Summer Moments Timeline, that covers the key events from the last 60 years of summer with images and descriptions of events, could be used in such therapy.

Though we all have different memories, reminiscing about shared experiences is also shown to promote sociability, and can even create bonds. When done in groups with people who have shared experiences such as wartime memories, or even events such as movie releases or sporting victories like the 1966 World Cup, it was shown to have a better impact on the brain. Team nostalgia showed it strengthened patients ability to recall, and can be even more useful than one on one talks with a caregiver.

So, looking through those photo albums, listening to a classic song, or even just talking with people from your generation can have a real positive effect on your health. Whether you’re remembering a beautiful holiday, thinking of youthful escapades with friends, or remembering when you first saw your partner, nostalgia isn’t just self-indulgent thought, it’s a healthy psychological activity.