Enticing Dad to Eat When Alzheimer’s Interferes

When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to call Dad the “human garbage disposal” because he was happy to finish off anything we had left on our plates. He’s always had a healthy appetite, but since my mom died seven months ago, Alzheimer’s disease has begun to erode many aspects of Dad’s daily functioning, including his hunger and enjoyment of food. When Dad refuses ice cream, true panic fills my heart. If he doesn’t want his favorites, …

New Alzheimer’s Movie Inspires and Entertains

It’s hard to imagine that a movie about Alzheimer’s could be realistic and uplifting, but A Short History of Decay, by first-time writer/director Michael Maren, manages both.  This indy film, arriving in theaters today, explores the ripple effect of the disease on the sufferer’s partner, grown children and friends, all the while encouraging viewers to empathize, laugh and cry. In the end, this is a movie not so much about a devastating illness that affects memory, thinking and behavior, but …

Sleep Disorder Linked to Brain Disease

Thrashing about while you’re asleep may be a sign of something more troubling than mere restlessness: It could be a predictor of brain disease. A new study suggests that 80 to 90 percent of people who suffer from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder will eventually develop Parkinson’s or another brain disease. What’s REM sleep behavior disorder? It’s a condition that causes people to act out vivid, intense, even violent dreams. People who have it often yell, punch and kick …

She Was His North Star

His shoulders slump and his head bows as if his very life force has been suddenly drawn out of him. His face reflects the pain and confusion that his mind and heart are toiling with, struggling to grasp a wisp of reality and understand that the impossible has indeed happened. “I just can’t believe it; I can’t fathom it,” he says. “Are you telling me the truth? She’s not available anymore?” This happens every time my dad asks about my …

Should All Older Adults Be Screened for Dementia?

Should older adults be routinely screened for Alzheimer’s disease or memory problems? Maybe, maybe not. A government panel says there’s not yet enough data to recommend either for or against it. The panel’s uncertainty reflects the complexity of the issue at a time when scientists are progressing much faster in their ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s than in their ability to treat it. This news is especially relevant in light of the recent discovery of a blood test that can predict with 90 …

Alzheimer’s Disease: A Double Whammy for Women

If you are a woman, a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association might just jolt you upright. Consider: Women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease sometime in their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.  They have a 1 in 6 chance of developing the disease. A man’s chances are 1 in 11.  Three out of 5 people with Alzheimer’s are women.  Women are 2.5 times more likely than men to provide the 24-hour, hands-on care at …