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!

Why is Exercise Important for Alzheimer’s Patients?

A Lady doing Yoga - what are the health benefits?
A Lady doing Yoga – what are the health benefits?

As anyone with a family member with Alzheimer’s will know that it is a full time job caring for them. And it is not just about giving them attention; you have to research about a lot on Alzheimer of things which you never thought would come up.

For example, after my uncle was diagnosed one thing that later came up was how to ensure that he got enough exercise in the later stages of the disease. And such things really matter.

Exercise is good for everyone, and matters a whole lot more for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise unfortunately does not cure the condition but it does help to ease some of its symptoms. And anything that helps our loved one has to be considered.

How does Exercise help Alzheimer’s patients?

When one says the word exercise, most people think of running, swimming or going to the gym. However exercise is a lot more than that. Any physical activity that can increase your heart rate and make you breathe more deeply can be defined as exercise. This means every day activities such as gardening, dancing and walking also count as exercise. Also chores like gardening and doing the laundry not just lead to physical exercise, but their simple repetitive nature also helps inoculate a sense of peace and security in people with Alzheimer’s. Tasks like folding laundry may not be really intensive exercise but they help because these tasks do not involve decision making and remembering what to do next thus they are a source of meditation almost, making anxiety drop. And when they finish they feel good, knowing that they have accomplished something.

Beside lowering anxiety there are other benefits which exercise brings for people with dementia:

Exercise can serve as a great way to ensure they get opportunity for social interaction. My uncle loves going to the park for a walk. And it makes for a great time for me to actively converse with him too.

Exercise improves their sleep.

Their ability to self-sufficient, that is dress themselves, clean and even cook can be done more efficiently if they are fit physically.

Studies have shown that exercise does help to improve memory and slow down the mental decline.

Exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which in turn leads to an overall improved mood, confidence levels and overtime greater self-esteem.

Getting started with exercise

It is important that you go to the doctor for advice before you start developing an exercise regime for your loved one. This is more important for older patients, especially those who had so far not undertaken regular exercise.

What is the right amount of physical activity in the early to the middle stages of dementia?

There is no standard answer to this question and the amount of exercise really differs from person to person. Most health organizations recommend that adults should at least get 150 minutes of moderately strenuous physical activity each day. This translates to 30 minutes for 5 days a week. However you do not have to maintain a continuous 30 minute session. You can break down 30 minutes into 10 or 15 minutes sessions. For example, I take my uncle to a 10 to 15 minute walk to the grocery shop. And then later in the evening he and I do our push-ups and crunches.

Each year in November we celebrate Alzheimer’s awareness day. It is great that we have dedicated a day to them, but we should remember that they require our attention throughout the year and the little things go a long way. So go for regular walks with your loved ones, be they in the park or to the local supermarket but do keep them physically active.