Dealing with Alzheimer’s can bring out many strong emotions

Dealing with Alzheimer’s can bring out many strong emotions. As the disease progresses, caregiving issues can often ignite or magnify family conflicts. The strategies below can help families cope with the situation together.

Tips for families
Resources

Tips for families
Listen to each family member with respect.
Coping with a progressive illness, such as Alzheimer’s, can be stressful — and not everyone reacts in the same way. Family members may have different opinions. Some relatives may deny what is happening; a long-distance relative may be resented for living far away; or there may be disagreement about financial and care decisions, especially at the end-of-life. These issues are complex and require ongoing discussions. Give everyone an opportunity to share their opinion and avoid blaming or attacking each other, as this will only cause more hurt.
Map out a plan to approach Alzheimer’s
There are many questions you’ll need to answer as you plan for the future. Use Alzheimer’s Navigator – our free online tool – to guide you as you map out your plan.

Learn more:
Alzheimer’s Navigator

Discuss caregiving responsibilities.
Talk through caregiving roles and responsibilities. Make a list of tasks and include how much time, money and effort may be involved to complete them. Divide tasks according to the family member’s preferences and abilities. Some family members may be hands-on caregivers, responding immediately to issues and organizing resources. Others may be more comfortable with being told to complete specific tasks. Our online Care Team Calendar can help you coordinate.
Continue to talk.
Keep the lines of communication open. Schedule regular meetings or conference calls to keep everyone involved up-to-date. Discuss how things are working, reassess the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s, and decide if any changes in responsibilities are needed. Plan for anticipated changes as the disease progresses.
Cope with changes and loss together.
As Alzheimer’s progresses and cognitive abilities change, it is normal to experience feelings of loss. Caregivers and family members may want to seek support from others who are dealing with similar situations. Support groups are available. Find an Alzheimer’s Association support group in your area or join our online message boards.
Seek outside help.
If tensions and disagreements are ongoing, you may want to seek help from a trusted third party, such as a spiritual leader, mediator or counselor. Sometimes, an outside perspective can help everyone take a step back and work through the difficult issues. The Alzheimer’s Association Helpline (1.800.272.3900) is staffed with care consultants who can help any time — day or night.

Enlarged Heart

What is an enlarged heart?

Think of a healthy heart like a firm biceps muscle. An enlarged heart is just the opposite.

When your heart is enlarged, it’s like a soft biceps — it’s weak and out of shape. Your body starts to retain fluid, your lungs get congested with fluid and your heart begins to beat irregularly.

“In general the term ‘enlarged heart’ refers to heart failure,” said Clyde Yancy, M.D., past president of the American Heart Association and chief of the Division of Cardiology and the Magerstadt Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “This is a common condition that’s more likely to occur in older patients. It’s most strongly related to a history of high blood pressure or a previous heart attack.”

About one in five adults over age 40 is affected, with African-Americans facing a greater risk.

“There are other reasons for an enlarged heart or heart muscle disorders (like cardiomyopathies, which are diseases of the heart muscle) and not everyone with heart failure has an enlarged heart,” Dr. Yancy said. “But when we speak of an enlarged heart we are typically referring to heart failure.”

What to Look For
Shortness of breath, fluid retention (edema) and having a harder time exercising are among the key symptoms of an enlarged heart or heart failure. Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) — potentially even serious irregular heart rhythms and strokes — are likely as well, Dr. Yancy said.

The symptoms of an enlarged heart can affect the quality and length of your life, Dr. Yancy said.

“This is why treatment is so important and why we are so encouraged that good treatments are available today,” he said.
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@USNewsHealth Twitter Chat: Premature Births

Our next Twitter chat will be about premature babies. Here’s an overview to get you started. Our experts are from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and March of Dimes.

By KIMBERLY LEONARD
May 20, 2013 RSS Feed Print
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Tamara Buechler, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, understands better than most expectant mothers the risks of delivering twins two months before they are due. But, when she was expecting, Buechler knew that she might not have a choice. Halfway into what she had hoped would be an uneventful pregnancy three years ago, her doctors diagnosed a cluster of severe complications — including a rare liver disease that occurs only in pregnancy and a cervix too weak to contain her twins. They warned the twins might not survive.

Buechler vowed not to lose them. But with every setback, she found herself saying goodbye. It’s a dread shared by many expectant mothers whose pregnancies are high risk. Nearly half a million, or one out of nine, babies in the United States are born prematurely every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A baby is considered premature if delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Because their organs have not had enough time to develop, premature babies face a greater risk of severe complications, such as brain hemorrhages; vision and hearing loss; intellectual disabilities and infections, even death. A baby born between 34 weeks and 36 weeks has a three-fold to six-fold chance of dying within the first year, compared to babies who are born at full term.

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“THE PROBLEM IS SUGAR”: JENNY’S STORY

Apr 12, 2012
When Jenny was eight years old, her friends and family could tell she wasn’t well — but it wasn’t until her weight dropped to 42 lbs that her mother took her to the doctor. The doctor said the problem was “sugar” and sent her straight to the hospital.

Click to watch this inspiring teen’s story about being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes…and how it’s okay not to be “normal”!

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Twins create life-saving allergy device

By Evan and Eric Edwards, Special to CNN
updated 8:20 AM EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
(CNN) — As young children, the stress and burden of our life-threatening allergies to a range of common foods, including nuts, seafood, shellfish, eggs and other substances, really fell on our parents more than us.
Like many kids, we were unaware and felt invincible. We didn’t worry too much about managing our allergies. That changed after the first severe allergic reaction either of us had.
Evan was playing at a friend’s house when he ate what he had been assured was a “fake peanut.” Almost immediately, it was apparent that something was very, very wrong. Luckily, his friend’s dad also happened to be Evan’s doctor; he treated him immediately, and the incident was resolved.
Life-threatening allergies were much less common when we went to school, so we really stood out as the “strange twins with allergies” — those guys who had to sit at a separate table by themselves at lunchtime. It is unfortunate that severe allergies are much more widespread now, but there is a silver lining: People and organizations are more aware and better able to support the children and adults who suffer.
The idea to develop a new epinephrine auto-injector (commonly known as an EpiPen), specifically designed for the needs of patients like us, came about the summer after we graduated high school. We were on our way to a family vacation in Europe, and it looked as if, once again, the two of us had not packed our EpiPens. They were too bulky so we often didn’t carry them.
Got allergies?
After the usual finger-pointing and questions about why we didn’t carry something that could save our lives, the idea of developing a smaller, more portable type of epinephrine auto-injector was born.
At the time, we had recently selected our college majors. (Evan went into the engineering program at the University of Virginia, and Eric chose pre-med/medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University.) We decided to customize our education to develop the skills necessary to make this invention a reality. At the start of each school year we reviewed our course options and decided together which classes to take that would help us achieve our goal.
Our first real funding came from winning a collegiate inventors’ grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. It was at that point we knew we were on our way.
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How I was Kicked Out of College Because of my Allergy

The office of Disability Support Services (DSS) at the University of Washington extension campus in Tacoma considered my anaphylactic, airborne reaction to peanuts to be so serious that it was documented disability. I didn’t have to eat or even touch peanuts for my throat to start closing up; my life would be in danger if a classmate so much as ate a peanut-y treat during lecture. This meant going to school was risky—very risky. And I knew that better than anyone. But I thought I had support.

Reasonable Accommodations

Despite the risks, I didn’t ask my university to ban peanuts from the campus or require all of the security staff to be trained on how to use an Epi-Pen (although, both would have made me much safer). Instead, I worked with DSS to figure out what my reasonable accommodations were: visible “peanut-free” signs on my classroom doors to remind students, teachers would be contacted by DSS so they’d know to enforce the policy, and an email was sent out at the beginning of each quarter alerting everyone who’d be in my classrooms that quarter not to eat peanuts in those rooms.

It wasn’t perfect, and I knew my “peanut-free” signs wouldn’t truly prevent a rule-breaker from eating their Reese’s snack in my classroom. Because the university is an urban campus (right in the heart of the fun, artsy section of Tacoma), it doesn’t have a cafeteria, so people eat pretty much everywhere. This is dangerous for me. There also aren’t rules about eating in classrooms. Extra dangerous. While my accommodations may not have been perfect, having support from my university made the difference between whether or not I could attend the school.

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4 Arthritis Myths for National Arthritis Awareness Month

May 7, 2013 | By Ashley Macha

Joe Montana has arthritis. Yes, former professional athletes can have it, and indeed for Montana, years of playing impact-heavy football substantially damaged his joints, forcing him reevaluate his lifestyle and get serious about his joint issues.
The month of May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, an effort to spread the word about joint health, prevention, and treatment. It’s a condition that affects millions of Americans, both young and old.

And in fact, many athletes are arthritis prone, says Montana. But that doesn’t mean they know it. “As athletes, you might have a little arthritis in your shoulder or a little in your knee,” he said. “If I don’t have a lot, I’m still going to go out.”

Don’t ignore those aches, pains, or stiffness in your joints. Yes, there are temporary causes–and solutions–for these issues, but it can also be a sign of arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that impacts the mobility of your joints and can cause pain and disability. Montana went through multiple knee surgeries and had aches in his hands, shoulders, elbows, and even his neck.

To help raise funds for arthritis research, Montana teamed up with Joint Juice (a supplemental drink) to create a football game app, Throw the Joe, available for iPhone and iPads,. All proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation.

Here are 4 common myths about arthritis:
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Stay on Track with Exercise!

Posted on May 8, 2013 by American Diabetes Association
Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, and it’s especially important for those with diabetes. Most people with diabetes find regular activity to be an essential part of their health care. It can help manage your blood glucose, preventing diabetic complications and even delaying the onset of type 2 if you have prediabetes.

But the thought of exercising daily can be daunting if it isn’t already part of your routine. What activity should you try, and how much? Will you need new clothes or equipment? And when are you ever going to find time for it in your busy schedule?

Rest assured, exercise doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon or bench-pressing 300 pounds. The key is to start slow—soon, momentum will follow. Follow these tips to get moving and stay on track!

Choose activities that fit you and your lifestyle: Anything that increases your heart rate and causes you to break a light sweat can count as exercise, so get creative! Many people simply add extra walking to their day. The goal is to get active and stay active by doing things you enjoy, from gardening to playing tennis to walking with friends. The more engaged you are, the more likely you are to stick with it.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can talk to your health care team about which activities will be safe for you. Their advice will depend on the condition of your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, feet and nervous system. Your provider may even recommend local classes or exercise groups that you could join.
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High Blood Pressure in Children

Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. It’s not just a disease for the middle-aged and elderly. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

AHA recommendation

The American Heart Association recommends that all children have yearly blood pressure measurements. Detecting high blood pressure early will improve a child’s health.

What is considered “normal” blood pressure in children?

When it comes to blood pressure in children, “normal” is relative. It depends on three factors:

Gender
Age
Height
Your child’s doctor can tell you what’s right for your child, because “normal” is a complicated calculation based on these factors.

What leads to HBP in children?

Diseases including heart and kidney disease
Certain diseases can cause high blood pressure in children as well as adults. As with all types of secondary hypertension, once the underlying problem is fixed, blood pressure usually returns to normal.
Some medications
Certain medicines can cause high blood pressure, but when they’re discontinued, blood pressure usually returns to normal. This is another example of secondary hypertension.
Contributing factors
In a lot of cases, doctors cannot determine the direct cause of HBP in the child. This type of HBP is known as primary or “essential” hypertension. Even though the exact cause is not diagnosed, doctors realize a variety of factors can contribute to the disease, including:
Family history
Excess weight or obesity
Race, particularly African-Americans are at increased risk

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