12 WAYS TO HELP AN ALZHEIMERS CAREGIVER

One in 10 Americans over age 65 years and almost half of those over age 85 years have Alzheimer’s disease or a related type of dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, involves a gradual breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Affected persons lose the ability to interpret information and send messages to their bodies to behave in certain ways. Over time they experience mental, emotional, behavioral and physical changes, necessitating increasing amounts of….

PROBATE BASICS

Probate is the legal process of transferring ownership of property from the decedent to his or her heirs either by accepting the validity of their last will and testament or by following the Kentucky laws of intestacy.  For a will to be valid, it must be “self-proven” or proven as valid in court by at least one of the witnesses.  A valid will can also be holographic: written entirely in the handwriting of the decedent, signed, and dated.

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CONTAINER GARDENING

Gardens are great, but they require a lot of time, labor and money. They also require land space and good soil. Container gardening skirts all these obstacles, offering reduced time, effort and costs, and can be enjoyed in an apartment or other home lacking a yard. Vegetables and herbs can be grown in containers on a balcony, patio or walkway.

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6. Foot pain

Neuropathy and some other foot conditions ranging from bunions to corns and hammertoes can all impact steady footing and increase the chances of a slip and fall.


7. Uncontrolled diabetes

This condition can affect just about every organ in the body. It can cause vision problems and balance instability resulting from a combination of loss of sensation or nerve damage and inadequate blood flow to the bottoms of the feet.


8. Diseases of the eye

Some of these can lead to dizziness and loss of equilibrium if vision becomes impaired. Annual eye exams are vital to identifying and preventing conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts from affecting depth perception and healthy sight. Cataracts may cause balance issues as well. In most cases, when diagnosed early, successful cataract surgery will help fully restore balance.


Good health and wellness practices, including regular exercise, good nutrition and ample rest, are important ingredients in maintaining favorable equilibrium. The healthier a person’s lifestyle, the better chances he or she has for reducing the risk of balance issues.

Vision and balance are highly integrated in the brain, but we don’t fully understand the relative contributions of the visual, proprioceptive and vestibular systems in maintaining balance and preventing falls. We do know there are several possible causes of balance problems. Balance erodes naturally and gradually with age, but several health conditions can cause people to experience equilibrium issues that affect proper stability.


Some of the most common medical conditions that can affect the sense of balance include:


1. Medications

Some medications carry side effects that can negatively impact balance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to certain sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines and blood pressure medications that have been linked to vision issues, drowsiness and dizziness. Some of these also cause damage to the inner ear, which is the body’s balance center.


2. Neurological disorders

(such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke or other ataxia- related disorders) People suffering from these disorders often experience a decline in muscle control in the legs and arms, resulting in loss of balance, disturbed gait and decreasing coordination and equilibrium.

BALANCE AND VISION IMPORTANT FOR PREVENTING FALLS


3. Migraines

These debilitating headaches can cause motion sickness, vision issues and even disruptions in balance as the person suffering from them becomes extremely sensitive to light and sound. Dizziness usually occurs when the body’s visual information system is unable to properly process exterior stimuli via the brain, a function that is needed to maintain proper balance.


4. Inner-ear conditions

An ear infection can cause vertigo or dizziness, which in turn can cause balance problems.


5. Low blood pressure

This condition, known as hypotension, occurs when blood pressure in the arteries is low (typically under 90/60) and the brain is robbed of oxygen-rich blood. As a result, light-headedness occurs, causing impaired spatial awareness and dizziness and fainting if the patient sits or stands up too quickly.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller