Natural Healing Methods For A Family Member With Alzheimer’s Disease: A Guest Post by Katrina Jane Rice

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First of all it is important to note that no cure has been yet found for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Unfortunately science has not yet identified any definite medical treatment that can halt the progression of this disorder. For now all we can do for our loved ones is to give them a better quality of life while doctors and researchers continue to look for a  cure to this lethal disease.

Because there is not a single cure for it right now, doctors are gearing towards fighting the symptoms of the disease and the different ways of managing them. The main goal is to improve patients’ quality of life and it can be achieved by incorporating traditional and alternative treatments.

While most supplements are not approved by the FDA, some members of the medical community have supported their use.

These natural treatments are not just here to help a patient deal with the Alzheimer’s Disease, they are also utilized to stave off diabetes, strokes, and other age-related health problems that can cause more discomfort to your loved one.

If you are interested in alternative medicine, below are some of the natural treatments that a patient can use to improve his or her condition. Make sure to consult with your physician first. They know the true scope and the severity of the disease and they will help you identify which of these alternative treatments can be the most effective.

Herbal Medicine

Most herbal medicine claiming to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s are effective due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and one good example is ginkgo biloba. A number of clinical studies were conducted on this herb and its benefits on cognitive impairment among Alzheimer’s patients.

But this herb could also hinder or interact with other prescribed medication and instead of improving their health, it can possibly pose a threat to it. So make sure you talk to your doctor about taking herbal supplements.

Though the research on ginkgo biloba have proved a positive connection with the disease, there are still some people in the medical community who are not convinced by it.

Bright Light Therapy

One of the symptoms many Alzheimer’s patient suffer from is their disrupted circadian rhythm. It causes them to stay awake at night and wander around. This problem is due to the disruption of the portion of the brain that regulates the sleeping and waking cycle of the body. And one popular therapy to correct this problem is bright light therapy.

Studies state that the use of bright lights help restore the balance of patients’ circadian rhythm and improve their sleeping pattern. It also helps reduce evening agitation and daytime wakefulness.

Acupuncture

It is a traditional Chinese alternative medicine known to promote self-healing by the use of fine and sterile needles. This treatment is known to stimulate and improve the energy flow in your body.

According to some medical studies, acupuncture helps improve a person’s energy levels and mood swings. It also has the ability to relieve pain and improve cognitive functions.

It is advised that you get this treatment from a licensed practitioner who has experience in using this method to other Alzheimer’s suffering patients.

Since it also has other health benefits that can assist in improving a person’s quality of life, it may be worth trying this for your loved one.

Omega-3

You can get omega-3 from eating nuts, healthy oils and fish. A recent study found that consuming omega-3 fatty acid regularly improves one’s cognitive function. If you are worried of the mercury content from eating fish every day, you can give fish oil supplements to the patient instead.

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 is an important antioxidant to aid healthy body functions. It is also known to help prevent and slow Alzheimer’s disease. This supplement is quite easy to find as it is sold in most drug stores.

Coconut Oil

The fatty acid found in processed coconut oil is called caprylic acid. It is broken down in the body into a protein called ketone. A similar protein is used in a drug for Alzheimer’s called Ketasyn.

According to recent research, Ketasyn is used to improve the patient’s memory performance and prevent cognitive decline. Some people utilize coconut oil as an alternative to this drug.

Coral Calcium

Coral calcium is sourced from sea life and seashells. Though some believe that it is an effective alternative treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, its claimed benefits are not yet proven by science.

Before you try this, ask the patient’s doctor first and know his or her thoughts about it. There was a formal complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commision against companies that strongly promote its healing properties for Alzheimer’s and you might want to read about it first..

What you can do now is research thoroughly on the different alternative treatments that can help heal Alzheimer’s Disease. No, they cannot cure the disease but they can definitely improve the patient’s overall health and quality of life.

After all, their treatment plan is their choice and you can help them make an informed decision by reading on different yet reliable research, reviews and testimonials about alternative medicine.

Once you and the patient make a decision, talk to your doctor right away to prevent any interactions caused by mixing prescription meds with alternative treatments.

For Further information Katrina can be reached at katrina.earthwell@gmail.com 

Assisted Living Could Mean Better Quality of Life for Seniors: A Guest Post by Paul Birung

the best vision is insight phrase  on a vintage slate blackboard
the best vision is insight phrase on a vintage slate blackboard

When our parents retire, we are so busy with our jobs to care for them at home. It is tempting to put our folks in homes where they can receive round the clock care but mostly, they are against the idea. We may bend to their wishes and keep them at home but as time goes by, their needs increase and it can be quite daunting for the family.

Why Assisted Living over Home Care for Seniors?

Seniors can definitely enjoy security, contact, and support in a residential community. In such an area there is access to nutrition, wellness services, and personal care tailored to each one of them. All this is achievable without having to compromise their independence.

Assisted living is different from a nursing facility where seniors receive medical care 24/7. For example at assisted living in Hilton Head, the elderly can receive any help they need even if their family is far away. These are the reasons you should think about assisted living for the sake of your loved ones’ quality of life.

  1. Opportunities for Physical Fitness

As assisted living communities there are group exercises, top notch gym facilities and personal trainers who do more than a caregiver would at home.

  1. Chances of Social Contact

It can be quite lonesome for a senior lying alone at home where they cannot reach their friends. Assisted Living offers common areas, planned trips, and activities that make it inevitable for seniors to socialize with peers.

  1. Safety

You must senior-proof and make modifications at home to make sure that your loved ones are safe. Such changes are definitely expensive and needs keep adding up as physical health wanes. Assisted living centers are designed for the seniors with keen attention to mobility, avoiding accidents and accessibility.

  1. Monitored Nutrition

Family members may not be able to keep up the nutrition demands of seniors who may not be able to make their own meals. There are chances of better nutrition in an assisted living facility where meals are prepared according to each resident’s needs.

  1. Help with Daily Activities

Bathing, dressing or feeding a loved on may be stressful for family members. With assisted living, residents get help with these activities. This is one of the basic offerings for assisted living and it, therefore, saves families the cost of a homecare assistant. This way, older adults can keep their independence.

  1. Housekeeping

The task of caring for seniors at home leaves families with extra chores to do. It isn’t easy to keep the house clean, weed the garden or cook with a senior in need of care. When these adults reside in assisted living, this burden is relieved so family members have more time to focus on themselves.

  1. Transportation

The facility will be responsible for residents’ transportation needs to the hospital, social engagements, and other appointments. With this taken care of, family members can enjoy more free time on their daily activities.

Assisted living certainly offers more independence to the seniors and their families. By giving each individual a chance to live life to the fullest, assisted living ensure that families stay happy, and this is the hallmark of quality living.

Hospice: The Gentle Goodbye A Post by Phyllis

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Pair of angel wings on heavenly blue background

Just after dawn on December 11, 2007, my mother went to God. There was a beautiful peacefulness that fell over that bright, winter morning that seemed perfect. Mom had battled several chronic, debilitating diseases that slowly robbed her of her energy and physical function. Her mind was always clear and her determination to live to see her grandchildren grow and to be with her husband of 59 years was intact. Unfortunately, her body had betraying her. Mom and I were very different. Our life’s journey together could best be described as rocky but the journeys end was her last gift to me.

It began one Thursday evening when I went to visit my parents. Mom had just come home from yet another unavoidable hospitalization. She was out of immediate danger but the likelihood of a relapse and perhaps a challenging surgery was weighing heavy on her mind. She looked tired, frail and was having difficulty speaking. I could sense she was in pain although she characteristically denied it. As I sat down next to her, she looked me right in the eye and in a clear voice said, “I’m too weak to live and too strong to die. I want to go to God.” She went on to explain that she was done taking her medications, had seen her last doctor, and had been to the hospital for the last time. If those declarations weren’t enough she asked me, “What are you going to do?” I knew immediately what she meant. She wanted me to take control of this out-of-control situation. She was entrusting me to help her live her last days in comfort and dignity. She wanted me to ensure that her transition from this life would be as gentle on her husband, children, grandchildren, and family as possible. The best solution was to arrange for hospice services.

I was the nurse in the family and I tried my best to collaborate with mom’s private doctor. We spoke so often that we were on a first name basis for many years. Dr. Bob had grown very fond of my parents and their relation. Our common goal was to keep mom comfortable and out of the hospital. Once my mom’s wishes were clear, my role was then to ensure that those wishes were carried out. First, I helped my dad understand and accept her decision. Next, I call Dr. Bob and explained her request. He was very supportive. We both knew that the only treatment he could offer her was palliative. Clearly, in his medical opinion, mom had less than six months to live. He made all the arrangements from his office. Finally, it was now time to call my sister.  The inevitability of losing our mom to death was here. Thankfully, as in all things pertaining to our parents, we would do this together.

The next twelve days were exceptional. Mom was peaceful with her decision. She enjoyed her days with dad, her visits with her grandchildren, and her messages from family and friends. Although she refused to take any more medication, she did allow the hospice nurse to obtain an order for pain meds so she could be truly comfortable. The hospice team arranged for a priest to come to the house. She received the sacraments of Holy Communion and the Anointing of the Sick. Mom prayed her rosary daily and in a few days slipped into a coma.

For twelve days the angels from hospice supported my family through the process of letting go. They immediately responded to phone calls and answered endless questions. Nurses came daily with supplies, understanding, and support. Their presence and professionalism allowed me the opportunity to be a daughter and not a nurse. On the day that mom died, it was the hospice nurse that we called first. She came right away, pronounced her and walked us through the next step.

The Value of Choice

I have been a nurse for 30 years now. For the majority of my career I practiced in critical care and emergency trauma units. I fought death constantly with knowledge, skill, medications, and technology. I had limited success. During the last 10 years however, my focus has shifted from the length of one’s life to a profound appreciation for the quality of one’s life. High tech healthcare has its place when lives need to be saved. However, death does come to us all.

Hospice services allow for the care of loved ones to take place in safe, familiar surroundings with those they love close by. It empowers the patient through their last days, offers them the respect of honoring their choices and the dignity of privacy. Hospice care assists the family during horrific moments of anger, regret, and grief that under less supportive circumstances could seriously challenge the family’s unity.

It’s important to understand that hospice is a philosophy of care rather than a specific place. It is an option for people whose life expectancy is six months or less. Treatment outcomes are based on pain and symptom relief rather than pursuing curative measures. This approach enables the person to live his/her last days with dignity, grace and support. Hospice affirms life and does not hasten or postpone death. Hospice care focuses on all aspects of physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There is no age restriction. Anyone in the last stages of life is eligible.

Hospice Care Services

  1. The Interdisciplinary Team: Team members include doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and trained volunteers who offer support based on their areas of specialty. The team provides a comprehensive palliative plan of care aimed at relieving symptoms and giving social, emotional, and spiritual support.
  2. Pain Management and Control of Symptoms: The goal of these services is to help the patient to achieve comfort while allowing them to remain alert enough to make important decisions and remain in control.
  3. Spiritual Care: Since people differ in their spiritual needs and religious beliefs, spiritual care is individualized and never forced.
  4. Home Care and In-patient Care: Hospice care is typically centered in the home. However, it may be necessary to admit the patient to a hospital, extended-care facility, or a hospice in-patient facility. The hospice team can then facilitate this transfer and stay involved in the patient’s treatment. The team can also facilitate resuming in-home care when appropriate.
  5. Family Conferences: These conferences are facilitated by the hospice nurse or social worker. They serve to help family members stay informed about the patient’s condition and what to expect. Family conferences also provide an opportunity and safe forum to share fears, feelings, talk about expectations, and learn about the process of dying.
  6. Bereavement Care: Bereavement is the time of mourning following a loss. The hospice team works with surviving family members to help them through the grieving process. The team can refer family members and friends to other professional services if necessary. Bereavement follow-up services are provided for at least a year after the loved one’s death.

Hospice Care Settings

Approximately 80 to 90 percent of hospice services are provided in the home. But, it is important to know that if the patient’s lives in a nursing home, hospice services can be offered there as well. Hospitals that treat seriously ill patients often have a hospice program too. Some hospitals have a dedicated hospice unit, while others have hospice teams who visit patients in any unit. Lastly, many communities have independently owned hospice centers that feature in-patient care as well as home care hospice services. Independent hospice center can benefit individuals who do not have family caregivers.

Who is eligible for Hospice Care?

  1. You are eligible for hospice care if your doctor has certified your prognosis as not longer than six months. This applies to anyone of any age. Should you be blessed with improved health and no longer need hospice care, you will remain eligible to reapply for hospice care if it is necessary in the future.
  2. While the majority of hospice referrals are cancer related, hospice is not exclusively for cancer patients. People with terminal neuromuscular diseases or any end stage disease can also benefit greatly from the services. It is not uncommon for people with Alzheimer’s to be referred to hospice when they are in the final stages of the illness.

Are Hospice Services Expensive?

Hospice care customarily costs less than conventional care in a hospital or nursing home. This is because with home hospice, you pay only for the specific care that you need. In addition, volunteers may often provide many services at little or no cost, such as telephone support, meal preparation and running errands. Most private insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid cover the services.

While patients usually pay out-of-pocket for any services not covered by insurance, hospice services can be provided without charge if you have limited funds. If you are unable to pay, most hospices will try to provide care using funds raised from community donations and charitable foundations.

Closing Thoughts

Hospice care truly provides for the gentlest of goodbyes. It allowed me the space and time to be able to cherish my last moments with my mom. I look back on those days in peace not pain and I will always be grateful for the last gift my mom gave me, her trust.

References

National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization

http://www.nhpco.org/custom/directory/main.cfm

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/hospice.asp

National Association for Home Care & Hospice

http://www.nahc.org/

Unknown Facts How Diet Affects Mental Fatigue & Burnout A Guest Post by Katrina Jane Rice

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When you first think about fatigue, what usually comes to mind is the physical kind. But there is another form of fatigue that potentially wreaks havoc on your thought processes, motivation and overall success – it is called mental fatigue.

Mental fatigue is usually a result of carrying out extensive and difficult cognitive tasks. One good example to mention is studying for the bar exams. If you put your body in this kind of stress day in and day out, you will start to feel a strong case of mental fatigue. They call it burnout.

Karla Ivankovich, professor of psychology at the University of Springfield, Illinois said that a key sign of mental fatigue is the difficulty in initiating and sustaining cognitive performance and voluntary activities.

Typically, mental fatigue is a normal thing. It usually disappears after you take a break from tedious cognitive tasks. But if you do not rest, you potentially jeopardize your efficiency in every task you perform. It means it could feel too difficult to go to the gym, go back to work or even buy some groceries..

According to Ivankovich, mental fatigue affects your motor control and coordination and it is normally expected that mental fatigue can truly impact your optimal performance in every aspect in life.

Your body can only take so much stress until it starts to burn out. 

In serious cases, mental fatigue can become extremely draining that the associated health problems become chronic or irreversible. As per Ivankovich, employing effective coping mechanisms can be helpful to combat mental fatigue, and this starts with living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet.

Anybody who is experiencing mental fatigue or burnout has surely not followed a healthy eating pattern. If you feel like you are headed down this path, there are a number of dietary reasons behind it. Below are only some of the common causes that you can immediately reverse making changes your diet.

Lack of Magnesium

Magnesium helps support your nervous system.

It can alleviate stress levels by boosting your energy production and improving your quality of sleep. You can help reverse this lack of mineral in your body by eating more nuts, seeds, legumes and tofu. It is also found in whole grains, wheat bran and leafy vegetables.

Lack of Vitamin C

The adrenal gland has a huge responsibility in regulating your stress.

And when you do not get enough vitamin C, it cannot produce the stress hormones, particularly cortisol, your body needs. Cortisol helps regulate your metabolism, control your blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. It also assists memory functions which are vital when you are feeling mentally fatigued.

Increase your vitamin C intake by eating more fruits like oranges, mandarins and kiwis. some vegetables like broccoli and other green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin C too. For most people who do not have the time to eat right, they source their vitamins from dietary supplements.

Lack of Vitamin B

Your adrenal gland has a huge responsibility in regulating stress and it needs vitamin B to maintain its optimal function. The B vitamins are considered to be your friends in helping fight stress and supporting your energy levels. You can get more B vitamins from fish, milk, legumes, whole grains, chicken and red meat.

Too Much Caffeine

Every stressed person probably has a love for caffeine. It stimulates your fight and flight response and helps generate cortisol which gives you that temporary energy boost. But drinking too much caffeine can ultimately contribute to sleeping problems and anxiety.

Reverse this problem by swapping your morning coffee to a decaf tea. Watch out for other caffeine sources like chocolate, sodas, and black tea. Drinking green tea is preferable as it contains lower levels of caffeine but ranks high in antioxidants.

Adding an exercise routine to your lifestyle can also help you relieve mental fatigue and burnout.

Try to lose the fat you have gained from all the stress you just went through. After cutting out the other stressors in your life, get a gym membership or join a fitness club. This will also help your body release endorphins – a “feel good” hormone responsible for that happy feeling you get after every workout session.

The lack of vitamins and minerals is not just the only source of your stress. Though getting that in check will help you reverse mental fatigue, you also need to learn how to delegate your work.

If you are in the position to give away some of your tasks to other, do it for your own sake. If not, find the main source of your mental fatigue, prioritize what needs to be kept and cut out what you can. Know where your limits are so that you can alleviate and prevent mental burnout in the future.

Email Katrina at katrina.earthwell@gmail.com with any questions.