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, …

Calling All Cynics: Your Mistrust Is Bad for Your Brain

If you’re a cynic, you’ll probably disregard this, but researchers say that cynical mistrust will triple your risk of developing dementia. Scoff all you want, but researchers in Finland who tested 1,449 older adults (average age: 71) found that highly cynical people were three times more likely to develop dementia than those with a more trusting, optimistic personality, according to a study published today in the journal Neurology. In other words, “your personality may affect your brain health,” explained lead …

Can Age Discrimination Kill You?

Age discrimination can be hazardous to your health, a new study by researchers at Florida State University’s College of Medicine has found. What’s more, people who see themselves as targets of age discrimination are likelier to be in poor health than victims of race or sex discrimination, according to the study. “What we found was unexpected and striking,” said the study’s lead author, Angelina Sutin, assistant professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine. >> Sign up for the AARP Health …

New AARP Report Shows Why Older Americans Act Must Be Reauthorized Now

When I became a caregiver for my dad’s parents, Grandmother Genevieve had dementia and Granddaddy C.V., 10 years her senior, was struggling to care for her. I remember realizing they were getting by on a meager breakfast at home and a single meal at a cafeteria. Getting Grandmother into the car and Granddaddy driving her to the cafeteria were becoming scary, so I contacted the local Area Agency on Aging and arranged for delivery of Meals on Wheels to their …

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 …

Talking (and Listening) to People With Dementia

I talk with my friend Arthur twice a week, and each conversation starts the same way. “Hi Arthur, it’s Laura.” “Laura, dawling. Whe-ah are you?” “I’m in Ohio.” “You’re still the-ah?” It’s been almost 10 months since my boyfriend, Joe, and I left New York. “Yep, still here! Grad school is going really well, and it’s great to be close to family. It’s hard being far from friends, though. I wish we were tasting olives together right now.” >> Sign up …