It’s generally assumed that senior citizens are much more mellow and compassionate than young adults. In a recent experiment at the University of Oregon, researchers conducted a study to determine the extent to which aging can increase altruism. The staff and students at this institution wanted to find out if people truly become more caring with age. The finding may be surprising for seniors, families and Chicago home caregivers.
Psychology professor Ulrich Mayr took a leading role in the experiment. He and his team agreed that from a scientific point of view, altruism could be measured to a certain extent with a complex apparatus such as an MRI scanner. The study relied heavily on the use of such imaging technology to detect neural activity in a person’s brain. When humans feel certain emotions, specific parts of the brain are more active than others and light up in MRI scans. The experiment tried to pinpoint the area of the brain that is responsible for positive feelings that a person might feel in reaction to altruistic behavior.
The age range for the 80 people who participated in the study was between 18 and 67. In addition to being exposed to MRI scans, each person in the experiment also completed an extensive questionnaire about various topics that defined personality and other social factors. The participants had to react to unique circumstances involving the transfer of money to different destinations. In some cases, the individuals were presented with hypothetical situations that directly benefited them instead of others. In other trials, the participants had to respond to situations in which money was donated to charities.
The study concluded that people older than 45 truly enjoyed the positive feelings that came with donating funds to charitable causes. On a small scale, this experiment solidified the belief that aging makes people more altruistic.
Home Care Assistance provides flexible live-in and hourly service that accommodates your loved one’s busy schedule and tends to his or her individual needs. Whether your loved one needs help running errands, preparing meals, or doing household chores, our highly trained caregivers will help. Call (847) 906-3991 today to learn more about our services and schedule a free in-home consultation.
At the Home Care Assistance Annual Conference in October, Aleks was selected from among thousands of caregivers nationwide as Caregiver of the Year. We are so thrilled for her, as she exemplifies the best of the Balanced Care Method everyday with her client, Joe. Joe’s daughters, Sulie and Stephanie, had many thoughtful remarks regarding Alex’s compassion and care. Sulie, a professional opera singer in Vienna, even sang her praises! Visit our Facebook page to see the full video.
"Each time I visit I am happy to see that the bond between my Dad and Aleks has grown even stronger than before. She has an uncanny ability to read him, to respect him, to know his needs. She has become “his person.” - Sulie
This is the second time a caregiver from our Chicago franchise has been selected for the National Caregiver Award. Elena was honored in 2015. Thank you clients and team for contributing to these achievements!
for an aging parent is a complex task, but when dementia is part of the
picture, it becomes even more difficult. Cognitive
and behavioral changes
may occur unpredictably, and parents may resist
care. If you are the caregiver for a loved one who suffers from dementia, the
most important thing is to first understand the disease.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is just one type of dementia, it is the one with the most pronounced stages. Becoming familiar with these stages will help you identify the behaviors your loved one is exhibiting, learn how to address them, and update his or her primary care physician. The National Institutes on Aging defines the three stages of Alzheimer’s disease as:
Mild:The disease begins with memory loss and small changes in personality. The person may forget recent events, the names of familiar people or things and may no longer be able to balance a checkbook. Those with Alzheimer’s slowly lose the ability to plan and organize and may have trouble making a grocery list or finding items in the store.
Moderate:In this stage memory loss and confusion become more obvious. People have more trouble following instructions and may need help getting dressed. They have trouble recognizing friends and family members. They may not know where they are or what day or year it is. They may lack judgment, begin to wander and become restless. In the moderate stages people may make threats, accuse others of stealing, curse, kick, hit, bite, scream or grab things.
Severe (late stage):This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s before death. People often need help with all their daily needs, may not be able to walk or sit up without help. They may not be able to talk and often cannot recognize family members. They may have trouble swallowing and refuse to eat.
Caring for someone with dementia is much more intense than caring for an older adult with other health issues. You can care for the physical needs of your loved one by closely coordinating care with his or her physician. Just as important is the ability to remain a caregiver for the long term. That requires a clear understanding of the role and strategies designed to protect the well-being of you and your family.
1. Caregiving demands will increase over time.As the disease progresses so will the needs of your loved one. By the advanced stages, caregiving will become a full-time job. Knowing this will help you to plan your work/life schedule in a realistic manner and seek help with caregiving responsibilities.
2. Dementia caregiving requires special skills.Caring for someone with dementia may not come naturally. It isn’t intuitive. In fact, sometimes the logical thing to do is the wrong thing. For example, insisting that they eat may be the wrong thing if they have developed swallowing or chewing difficulties. Learn about the disease and its treatment. Consult with your loved one’s physician and ask advice for caregiving.
3: Talk with your family and children about caregiving.Be honest. Children are very intuitive. They will know that their grandparent, aunt or uncle are changing and that their behavior is odd. Explain the disease and that loving the senior loved one is most important. Engage them and empower them to be part of the caregiving process. Younger children may read to the senior or help with chores. The family will be less stressed when the situation is discussed openly.
4. Have regular family meetings.Sit down on a regular basis to talk about how caregiving is impacting the family as a whole. Talk about the impact of the senior’s condition on the family and address stress points and difficulties. Meet with a therapist or case manager if that will help to solve grievances.
5. Pay attention to family needs.Caring for someone with dementia can quickly be the focus of attention for the household. Young children and spouses may feel excluded and left behind. Take time to schedule activities for just the family by asking a family member or professional caregiver to stay with your loved one. Encourage the caregiver to bring special activities so it also is a fun evening at home for your loved one.
Do you care for a parent with dementia? Have you found strategies that work for you and your family? If so, we would like to hear from you. Senior care is a special community. By sharing information, we can help one another to provide meaningful care.
The United States Preventive
Services Task Force recommends that postmenopausal women stop taking
supplemental calcium and vitamin D because there is very little evidence
to support the theory that taking these supplements prevents fractures
in healthy women. Additionally, researchers have found that calcium
supplements can cause heart damage.
While calcium was once
believed to help protect the cardiovascular system, studies conducted at
the University of Auckland found that taking vitamin D and calcium
supplements raised the likelihood of having a heart attack by more than
50 percent. The researcher reanalyzed the data and found that women were
at a 24 percent higher risk of a heart attack when taking calcium with
or without vitamin D.
Before you throw your loved
one’s vitamin D and calcium supplements away, researchers at the Fred
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center say that they found no such
correlation during their seven-year study.
While this one may take
a while for researchers to figure out, one thing is known for sure.
Eating a diet that is high in calcium stops bone loss and may help heart
health. The best choice for calcium continues to be a glass of vitamin
D-fortified milk. Other choices that are high in calcium include yogurt
and calcium-fortified tofu. Some vegetables are also very high in
calcium including kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts and spinach.
Additionally, some fruits are high in calcium including oranges,
tangerines and dried apricots, which is why Hinsdale elder care providers recommend them for the seniors they care for.
Researchers have agreed for a
long time that the best way to get vitamin D is to go outside for a few
minutes each day. So, take that walk that you have been putting off and
encourage your senior loved one to join you. The body absorbs vitamin D
from the sun, so the best time to go is when the sun is at its highest.
People will need to decide for themselves whether or not they choose to continue taking their supplements, but living a healthy lifestyle is a choice that everyone can make. Help your senior loved one enjoy a balanced lifestyle with help from Home Care Assistance of Chicago. Our highly trained caregivers incorporate the Balanced Care Method (BCM) to help seniors adopt healthy lifestyle choices that consist of nutritious diet, daily exercise and active social lives. BCM is our proprietary care method based on studies centered on the longevity and vitality of seniors in Okinawa, Japan. Call (847) 906-3991 today to learn more about BCM and how it benefits our clients.
There is no doubt that Alzheimer’s caregivers
hope for a miracle cure for the loved ones they care for.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Biogen announced recently that their
Aducanumab drug might help reduce the amount of amyloid plaque that
clumps together in the brains of those diagnosed with this debilitating
cognitive disease. Before caregivers consult a local doctor about this
medication, be aware that it will be many years before it is available
While the results from this latest drug look promising, dementia
caregivers must remember that the testing phase is still early.
Although participants who took the drug for 12 months showed no signs of
plaque in their brains upon completion of the study, medical experts
warn families that they have been down this road before with other
Alzheimer’s drugs. Major firms such as Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Johnson
& Johnson and Pfizer have all made announcements similar to the one
made by Brogen. Later testing, however, did not show that their early
results were correct.
One of the largest problems faced by
this new drug is that it can cause the person’s brain to swell leading
to even more debilitating problems. The Federal Drug Administration will
never approve a medicine until these safety concerns are addressed and
Furthermore, Biogen also has internal
problems that may hurt the development of this drug. Their Chief
Executive Officer is leaving the company. Their multiple sclerosis
research unit has to cut back on research due to lack of funds.
Unfortunately, while many in the media heralded Aducanumab as a major
breakthrough, investors in the stock market hardly even noticed which
might hurt funding even more.
Before families become too discouraged, however, this is great news that someone is still working on Alzheimer’s research. The disease affects 5.4 million Americans, and that number is likely to rise as America continues to age. With further testing and other adjustments, it’s possible that Aducanumab may revolutionize Alzheimer’s treatment in the near future.
In the meantime, seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are not without hope. Home Care Assistance of Chicago provides flexible Alzheimer’s and dementia home care for families to help seniors age in place with dignity. Call us today at (847) 906-3991 to learn how our compassionate caregivers boost our client’s cognitive and physical well-being.