Creating a Safe, Nurturing Environment for an Alzheimer’s Patient – GUEST BLOG – By Lydia Chan

Creating a Safe, Nurturing Environment for an Alzheimer’s Patient – GUEST BLOG – By Lydia Chan

Amit Bhuta

Although he was born in India, Amit Bhuta has been living in South Florida for over 40 years and truly loves everything about his home in Miami. …

Jan 24 5 minutes read

By Lydia Chan

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease presents a number of problems, some that are expected and some that are completely unpredictable. Being informed and as prepared as possible can go a long way toward establishing a trusting relationship between you and your loved one.

And it can make it much easier for you to cope with the difficult behaviors and stressful situations that go with caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. Remember that this is going to be a difficult situation for you at times – take care of yourself so that you can be an effective care provider for your family member.

Ultimately, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is a matter of trial and error. You need to find out what works for you and your care subject.

Establish a routine

Carefully observe how your loved one reacts to different situations and stressors so you can set up a daily routine that’ll help normalize things. Try to take advantage of those times of day when your relative tends to be lucid and more willing to cooperate.

These might be good times to bathe, get dressed, eat, and take care of any other daily functions that could cause confusion or frustration. Remember that each Alzheimer’s patient is different, and don’t expect that every day will go as planned, no matter how carefully you arrange things.


If this is your first experience with Alzheimer’s, try to bear in mind that the disease is severely destructive to memory and can easily cause an individual to get frustrated when he or she can’t remember something. That can make mutual understanding very difficult since you can’t be sure what may produce an angry response. A few simple guidelines can help keep things calm and quiet.

Always maintain an even and level tone and keep questions as short and uncomplicated as possible. Getting frustrated and cross-examining your loved one is guaranteed to end up in a bad place. Try to remember that this is still an adult and a family member, so keep it polite.

Don’t be patronizing or infantilizing, or talk over an Alzheimer’s patient: you may end up doing more harm than good. Alzheimer’s can cause inattentiveness and a loss of focus, so maintain eye contact when communicating (don’t just start addressing them; make sure you have their attention before you begin). And whatever you do, don’t interrupt – you don’t want to cause aggravation or contribute to a loss of confidence.

Bathing and dressing

Take careful notice of how your loved one reacts when you try to help with bathing and dressing. Those are two personal daily tasks that can be upsetting to an Alzheimer’s patient who’s used to handling them without a helper. It’s in your interest to save bathing and dressing for early in the day when your loved one is calmer. Be very careful with water temperature, explain each step before you begin, and make sure there are enough safety features, such as grab rails and non-slip mats.

Preventing falls

An Alzheimer’s patient who has trouble concentrating on immediate surroundings is a candidate for a nasty fall. Make sure your house is decluttered; a task that may require you to closely monitor each room. Throw rugs, low-sitting chairs, small tables and electrical cords should be kept cleared away.

Angie’s List cites safety railings in their list of top home modifications to make to increase safety. Railings should be installed throughout the house, and don’t forget to keep stairways blocked off at top and bottom.

A safe, nurturing environment

Providing a safe and nurturing environment for an Alzheimer’s sufferer requires patience and vigilance. Take the time to learn your loved one’s triggers and arrange your days to avoid them. Always remember that your care subject is an adult and worthy of your respect, even if things get a little out of hand from time to time.

AUTHOR BIO – After her Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Lydia Chan struggled to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. 

She founded as an online resource for fellow caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia writes articles about a range of caregiving topics.

New Approaches for Dealing With Difficult Dementia Behaviors

How to Help Two Parents With Alzheimer’s Disease

Having one parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is difficult for family caregivers but when both of your parents have Alzheimer’s, the burden more than doubles. The help you were receiving from one parent is replaced by the challenges of caring for both.How to Help Two Parents With Alzheimer’s DiseaseHow to Help Two Parents With Alzheimer’s Disease

How to Help Two Parents With Alzheimer’s

Here is some advice on how to manage the often-overwhelming task of helping two parents with Alzheimer’s:

1. Consider the options.

When it is no longer safe for one or both of your parents to live in their home, the time may come to consider such options as assisted living or memory care. You and your parents may have to grapple with some tough decisions. For instance, does the parent in the milder stages want to remain at home while the other parent lives in a memory care community? Or would they rather move into assisted living or memory care together?

One possibility might be for one parent to move into assisted living while the other moves into memory care in the same community. Though they would have separate rooms, they would be able to see each other during the day while receiving the specialized care they need — and an added bonus is that it would be more convenient for you to visit.

2. Don’t neglect yourself.

When focusing on two parents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may find yourself with little time for self-care. However, it’s important not to neglect your needs. Develop a support network to alleviate caregiving-related responsibilities. Among those who can help are clergy, family members, friends, healthcare teams and resources in your community like the local Area Agency on Aging.

If necessary, see a counselor or mental health professional to help alleviate any stress or emotional trauma you may be experiencing or join a caregiver’s support group. Also, make sure you stay up-to-date on medical exams to maintain your physical well being. Keeping yourself healthy is one of the most important things you can do to fulfill your desire to help your parents.

3. Know the stages.

Familiarize yourself with the different stages of Alzheimer’s disease, from mild to severe, so that you can tailor your assistance for each of your parents accordingly. For instance, Dad may be in the moderate to severe stage, whereas Mom may be just beginning to experience mild cognitive decline. While your dad will obviously need more attention, you should be careful not to overlook your mom’s needs as she begins to experience the effects of cognitive decline.

It’s possible that you previously counted on your mother to keep your parents’ household functioning, but now that she’s been diagnosed, she may no longer be able to do so. It’s important for you to check in with your parents more frequently and be attuned to even small changes that may alert you to an increased need for help. Perhaps it’s something as seemingly innocuous as the house being less tidy or mail piling up in the foyer, but if this is new behavior, you may wish to step in to offer more direct help.

As the needs progress for both parents with Alzheimer’s, you may find it appropriate to advocate for enlisting a dementia care provider to help out a few days each week with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming and dressing.

About the Author

Diane Franklin is a freelance writer and editor who writes regularly about senior living and healthcare. She has also written hundreds of articles for business and trade publications, including leading magazines for the credit union and retail paint industries.

Are you caring for two parents with Alzheimer’s? What are some of the challenges you face and the lessons you’ve learned?

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Advocates turn DC purple to #ENDALZ

Would you travel across the country to talk to your representatives? That’s exactly what 60 advocates from Northern California and Northern Nevada did last week, when they participated in the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) Advocacy Forum.

Over 1,200 volunteers and staff from across the country came together in Washington, D.C. They asked their Senators and Representatives to support funding and legislation that would help those currently living with Alzheimer’s and take steps to increase dementia research.

Watch this video to see some of the highlights:

One of the greatest experiences of my life

After testing out the advocate waters in Sacramento, David Higbee traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate in honor of his mother, Dorothy and sister, Suzzie. David shared a bit of his experience with us:

David (center) and fellow advocates, Tweeting about their meetings

“Having gone through the program and all the links of the Forum website, I thought I had a pretty good understanding about how the experience was going to be. It greatly exceeded my expectations! From the first timer meeting to the late afternoon that we walked away from Capitol Hill, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

“Having attended countless national and regional meetings for the two largest snack food companies in the world and America in the last 30 years, I’ve been to some impressive gatherings. None of them came close to this week in Washington, D.C. The flow was great. The speakers and panels were all on point both days. They were concise, informative, and added relevance to the program. They shared concern, hope, laughter and tears.

David and team with Congressman Jerry McNerney

“The afternoon of training was helpful. After our afternoon of training, deciding who would say what and practicing, we had a cohesive team. When we were done with our fourth meeting around 4:30 p.m. on Capitol Hill we were a team to be reckoned with. I feel a tight bond with all of the team and look forward to working with them in the future.

“Sitting In on the Senate Special Committee on Aging was certainly a highlight of the day. I appreciate that we have so much support from Senator Susan Collins and the rest of the people on record. It was an interesting, educational and enlightening event. The photo op with Senator Collins was special as well.

David and team with Senator Susan Collins

“I’m looking forward to next year, or as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say: ‘I’ll be back’.”

Feeling the impact of the disease

Barbara Redick of Livermore was the primary caregiver for her husband, Chuck. Chuck was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013 and died from Alzheimer’s in November 2017. She also attended for the first time this year.

Barbara and Portia

“The invite and my participation as a first-time participant in this year’s Forum was both worthwhile and rewarding. The experience of sharing my story with others has all the more peaked my interest and enthusiasm in promoting the campaign to raise the awareness of the critical need for funding. Also, through conversations with others, I am all the more encouraged to help those in my support group utilize the many resources available through the Alzheimer’s Association.

“The highlight of my trip occurred while sitting among the 1200 participants that were gathered as caregivers; those, like myself, who had lost beloved ones; and those who were presently living with Alzheimer’s. It clearly brought to mind the numerical impact of this disease nationwide.

Barbara (second from left) and her team

“Going forward, I will do all that I can to promote and support early detection and treatment of the disease. I look forward to attending next year’s event.”

If you’d like to join David and Barbara at next year’s AIM Advocacy Forum save the dates for March 22-24, 2020. Registration will open in January. Visit our website to see more photos, read more inspiring stories and sign up to get notifications about the 2020 Forum.

Want to be an advocate in your local community? State and federal advocacy opportunities are available.

Fighting Alzheimer’s through the arts…and cars

Written by Kacie Thomas

Helen Borley of Modesto loved sewing. She used to let her children pick out the patterns and fabric for the clothes she made. Her daughter, Julie Nelson, is honoring Helen’s creativity with “Cars, Crafts and Community for the Cure,” a fundraiser for The Longest Day.

Developing a passionfor sewing and creativity

Julie Nelson credits her mother for inspiring her family to fight the Alzheimer’s disease through the arts. When Julie and her five siblings were growing up, Helen was a stay-at-home mom. “She was just like June Cleaver,” Julie shared.

Helen, Julie, Katrina & Andrea making jam together

Julie never had store-bought clothes. No one ever knewthat the family didn’t have much money, because Helen made her dresses.

Helen took Julie and her siblings to the local craftstore to get patterns and fabric. “I would go to school and come home to abrand new, homemade dress,” Julie said. “It was amazing.”

Helen continued the tradition into the next generation.She would make dresses and Easter bunnies for all 26 of her grandchildren. Juliedeveloped a passion for costume-making and creativity because of her mother.

The early signs

While Helen passed away within 18 months of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, Julie noticed that things weren’t quite right years before Helen’s diagnosis.

In 2005, Julie, her sister and Helen traveled to Europe.“I have the best memories of her in 2005,” Julie said.

While physically, Helen seemed fine, Julie noticed acouple of personality changes. “She got really mean to people,” Julie said. “Momsaid, ‘Better off to be a mean old lady than a nice one,’ and that was neverher.”

Helen, at the family’s lake cabin

Julie initially shrugged this off as Helen’s feelings toward being widowed. Later she realized that it was an early sign that something was wrong.

In 2007, Helen had a medical episode. When Julie tookHelen to the doctor, they asked what medicines she was taking.

Helen didn’t know her medications, even though she hadbeen taking them on her own. “That was my big wake-up call,” shared Julie. “Itmade me realize we need to manage her medicines better.”

The onset ofAlzheimer’s

In 2007, Julie went over to her mother’s rental homebecause there was an issue with the air conditioner. While Helen knewelectrical circuits very well, she couldn’t recall the words “air conditioner.”

She pointed to it and called it a “silver box.” Justa few minutes later, she couldn’t remember the word, “orange.” Julie scheduledan appointment for Helen to see her doctor. He diagnosed Helen with generalizedmemory loss.

Separation and struggle

Julie was the only local daughter and had to tell her mother that she couldn’t drive anymore. “Having to do that was tough,” shared Julie. “She was still verbal and living independently but it wasn’t safe for her to drive.”

Shortly after, the family decided to move Helen to a memory care center. “Her favorite thing to do was watch The Hallmark Channel,” Julie said. “She wanted to sit together and hold hands.”

Helen’s final days

Helen had been at the memory care center for about a year.To help try and keep memories alive, Julie and her family put up pictures withtheir names.

“I didn’t wait for her to guess,” Julie said. “I alwaysjust came in, said my name and told her I love her.”

Julie has a suggestion for other caregivers. “Always talk to them even if they’re not going to respond,” encouraged Julie. “They hear you.”

Katrina and Julie – Julie designed and sewed Katrina’s wedding gown

During Helen’s final days, she was hearing impaired.Right before Helen passed away, Julie and all but one of her siblings hadchecked in.

Julie asked her mom if she needed to hear from Tom,Julie’s brother. “Her eyes lit up,” Julie said. “I put the phone up to her earas she was actively dying, and he told her it was ok to go.”

Taking actionthrough the arts

Julie’s children never forgot about how Helen’screativity touched their lives. Julie’s daughter, Katrina Nelson, has made ither mission over the last three years to research how brain activity in olderadults could be impacted by art.

The first year Julie participated in The Longest Day, sheinvited friends and artists from the community to a barbecue and swim party ather home. Katrina live-streamed an art lesson to everyone in her living room.“She was part of it even though she was hundreds of miles away,” Julie said.

A family affair

In 2018, Julie and Katrina were busy planning Katrina’s wedding. Julie’s son, Ryan Nelson, created and ran the family’s event for The Longest Day.

Ryan, in middle, at the car show with his co-workers

Ryan got his coworkers from CarMax to help him host a car show. The CarMax Cares program helps their employees support nonprofits that are important to them.

This year is the Nelson family’s third year participatingin The Longest Day to honor Helen. They are combining Julie and Katrina’s loveof arts and crafts with Ryan’s interest in cars. “Cars, Crafts and Communityfor the Cure” will combine a car show with a craft fair and food vendors.

They are holding the family-friendly event on Saturday, June 22. It will be at Dutch Hollow Farms in Modesto, popular for their spring tulips and fall pumpkin patch. They have already raised over $900 towards their $10,000 goal.

The Nelson family invitesyou to attend their fundraiser. Support Julie’s fundraiser or start your own team for The LongestDay.

Volunteers are the heart of the Alzheimer’s Association

Did you know that the Alzheimer’s Association was started by volunteers? In 1980, a group of family caregivers and individuals recognized the need for an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease.

Volunteers continue to be involved in all aspects of our mission. For National Volunteer Week, we asked a few of our staff to share some of the important work our volunteers do throughout the chapter.

Alexandra thanks Yanira, Latino Outreach Volunteer

David thanks Mark, Policy Committee Chair & Advocate

Anakaren thanks Cathy, Ambassador & Support Group Facilitator

Tessie thanks Renee, Chair of Memories in the Making Art & Wine Auction, and her Committee

Bonnie thanks Kathy, Helpline Volunteer

Kristi thanks Louise, Walk Recruitment Chair

Katie thanks our Support Group Ambassadors

We wish we’d had time to film a personal thank you to each and every volunteer, but that might take all year! You all are truly the heart of the Alzheimer’s Association.

We will never be able to fully express the amount of gratitude we have for each and every second you donate to help move our mission forward. The fight to end Alzheimer’s is stronger because of you.

Not volunteering yet? Interested in taking on a new volunteer role? Then view some of the current opportunities on our website or call us at 800.272.3900.

Blood Protein Changes Could Predict Alzheimer’s Years Before Symptoms

As researchers press for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, many are focusing on early detection and prevention. Early detection of Alzheimer’s can not only mitigate symptoms but potentially slow the progression of the disease as well. It can also help families prepare for a future with Alzheimer’s, outlining future caregiving plans.Blood Protein Changes Could Predict Alzheimer's Years Before SymptomsBlood Protein Changes Could Predict Alzheimer's Years Before Symptoms

One new study utilizes a blood test to detect evidence of protein changes and damage and can predict Alzheimer’s almost seven years before symptoms occur. Read more about this study.

A Blood Test to Predict Alzheimer’s

A team of researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Tübingen found that a simple blood test that evaluates changes in neurofilament light chain protein levels can detect early signs of brain changes from Alzheimer’s before symptoms occur. The study was published in the January 21, 2019 edition of Nature Medicine.

Participants in the study were chosen from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network which is comprised of people with a genetic mutation that guarantees they will develop Alzheimer’s early. The study also included family members who do not have the mutation.

To conduct the study, researchers took blood samples from 243 people who had the mutation and 162 who did not. Blood samples were taken once every three years for six to nine years. They examined levels of a protein known as “neurofilament light chain” which gives structural support to brain cells.

High levels of this blood protein are known to indicate brain changes or damage, showing in the blood of people with Alzheimer’s.

Every participant had some level of neurofilament light chain protein present in his or her blood that increased over time.

However, people who were genetically at risk for Alzheimer’s accumulated more of the protein at a faster rate than those without the gene.

Using Blood Tests in a Clinical Setting

Brian Gorden, Ph.D., an author of the study and assistant professor of radiology at Washington University’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology says that “This is something that would be easy to incorporate into a screening test in a neurology clinic. We validated it in people with Alzheimer’s because we know their brains undergo lots of neurodegeneration, but this marker isn’t specific for Alzheimer’s. High levels could be a sign of many different neurological diseases and injuries.”

Researchers hope future studies will reveal how much neurofilament light chain present indicates Alzheimer’s. While a commercial test similar to the one used by study authors is available, it has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose or predict an individual’s risk of Alzheimer’s.

“I could see this being used in the clinic in a few years to identify signs of brain damage in individual patients,” Dr. Gordon states. “We’re not at the point we can tell people, ‘In five years you’ll have dementia.’ We are all working towards that.”

Do you think a simple blood test will be able to predict Alzheimer’s in the next decade? Why or why not? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Insulin and Alzheimer’s Disease

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Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes, a disease that makes the body less able to convert sugar to energy. According to the American Diabetes Association, 27 percent of people aged 65 and older in the United States have diabetes and about half have prediabetes. When diabetes is not controlled, too much sugar remains in the blood. Over time, this can damage organs, including the brain. In fact, numerous studies have found that individuals with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, have a lower level of cognitive function and are at higher risk for dementia than individuals without diabetes.

Most people don’t know that diabetes may contribute to Alzheimer’s.

Insulin resistance in the brain is another common feature of Alzheimer’s disease. For reasons researchers do not completely understand, the brain becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin, including the conversion of glucose to energy that brain cells can use to fuel cell functioning. Some research suggests that beta-amyloid decreases the body’s ability to use insulin. Other research has found reduced levels of insulin in the brain.

What researchers do know is that diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, which hurt the heart and blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels in the brain may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. High blood sugar also causes inflammation. This may damage brain cells and help Alzheimer’s to develop. Lastly, the brain depends on many different chemicals, which may be unbalanced by too much insulin. Some of these changes may help trigger Alzheimer’s disease.

Current drug in research that targets insulin resistance: Intranasal insulin

Intranasal insulin is a therapy being tested in multiple studies for its effects on memory, thinking and daily functioning in people with mild cognitive impairment and mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. There is growing evidence that insulin plays an important role in keeping the brain healthy. Intranasal administration of insulin may help by increasing insulin signaling in the brain. (Drug is still in research; not available to the public.)

In the video below, Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., discusses the role insulin plays in the brain, and the benefits of diet and exercise in improving insulin metabolism.

How Memory Loss Can Be Caused by Over-the-Counter Medication

Some common medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, have a certain property that can contribute to memory loss and mild cognitive impairment. Learn more about these drugs, how they may accelerate cognitive decline, and what to do if you or a loved one is taking one of these drugs and experiencing memory loss. How Memory Loss Can Be Caused by Over-the-Counter Medication

Memory Loss Caused by Commonly Used Medications

Many over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs have been linked to memory loss and mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a common condition associated with aging that can also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease with the main symptom being short term memory loss.

Drugs that cause MCI and related memory loss have a property known as “anti-cholinergic,” that means the drugs slow the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which plays a large role in memory retention. However, very few drugs are labeled or classified as anti-cholinergic drugs.

Other than the officially classified anti-cholinergic drugs, there are 17 additional drugs that have anti-cholinergic properties. Many doctors are unaware of the anti-cholinergic properties in commonly prescribed medications, which can be problematic for people at risk for MCI.

Additionally, several studies have shown a higher rate of cognitive decline for people who regularly use anti-cholinergic drugs. In one specific study, a research team observed nuns and clergy from the Rush Religious Orders for an eight year period and concluded that those who used medications with anti-cholinergic properties experienced a faster rate of cognitive decline.

Dr. Jack Tsao, a researcher on the study and an associate professor of neurology at Uniformed Services University, addressed the American Academy of Neurology stating:

“…A lot of medicines that are not advertised as anti-cholinergic in nature actually have anti-cholinergic properties.”

Physicians caution that people who have been prescribed medications that may have memory loss properties should not stop taking their prescriptions until they see their doctor and can discuss their concerns with someone who knows their medical history and needs.

Common Medications with Anti-Cholinergic Properties

It is important that caregivers and family members be aware of all ingredients in medications that senior loved ones may be taking, to take note of their side effects and any potential interaction issues. Here is a list of some of the commonly used medications that contain anti-cholinergic properties, which may be contributing to memory loss:

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  • Azatadine (Optimine and others)
  • Chlorpheniramine (Chlortimeton and others)
  • Clemastine (Contac, Tavist and others)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Nizatadine (Axid)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil and others)
  • Amoxapine (Asendin)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Carisoprodal (Soma)
  • Chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte)
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeryl)
  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Clozapine (Clopine and others)
  • Mesoridazine (Serentil)
  • Amoxicillin
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Diazepam (Valium)

For more information about the connection between memory loss and over-the-counter medication, you can read Leo Galland, M.D.’s, medical and educational blog on brain health.

Anti-Cholinergic Hayfever Medications Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s

A new study has linked the use of over-the-counter medication to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The study, completed by a team of researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, found that a certain class of drugs known as anti-cholinergenics, which includes some anti-depressants, hayfever drugs, incontinence treatments and sleeping pills can actually reduce brain size.

The study included over 450 senior participants and used brain-imaging techniques and cognitive tests to evaluate the effects of medication on brain size. They noted that participants who were taking at least one medication with an anticholinergenic agent had remarkably reduced brain volume and larger cavities inside the brain.

First author of the paper and assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences at the university, Dr. Shannon Risacher, is encouraged by the study, saying, “These findings provide us with a much better understanding of how this class of drugs may act upon the brain in ways that might raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Given all the research evidence, physicians might want to consider alternatives to anticholinergic medications if available when working with their older patients.”

The study concluded that this class of medication is linked to an increase in brain atrophy as well as dysfunction and clinical decline and recommends that the use of anti-cholinergic medication in seniors should be discouraged if another option is available.

The Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, Dr. James Pickett, warns against cutting out an entire class of drugs, however, saying:

“Concerns over the use of this common class of medicines have been raised before, with some research suggesting a possible link between anticholinergic drugs and an increased risk of dementia. This small study takes a closer look at changes in the structure and activity of the brain. However, the full impact of these drugs remains unclear as the people taking them in this study were more likely to have insomnia, anxiety, or depression, all of which are risk factors for dementia. We need to understand more about the possible effects of this type of drug, and we encourage doctors and pharmacists to be aware of this potential link. Anyone concerned about this should speak to their GP before stopping any medications.”

Have you had any experience with memory loss being caused by over-the-counter medication? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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A Long Ride on The Longest Day

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bikeacrossamerica2Roehl Caragao knows the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on families. He has worked in hospice care since 2004, and along the way met many family members who watched loved ones lose their memories, their independence, and ultimately their life.

One of those family members is Lisa Arcia. Lisa’s grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and has since passed away. During the time her grandfather was on hospice care, Roehl and Lisa became friends. Now they are taking that friendship on the road to raise funds for Alzheimer’s disease on The Longest Day. Their goal? $65,000.

Lisa and Roehl are part of “Team Skipper”, a tandem bike team that will be at the starting line on June 18th for the Race Across America (RAAM). It is a 3069 mile ride that starts in Oceanside, CA and ends in Annapolis, Maryland.

Team Skipper has 8 members, riding on 4 tandem bikes, who will ride non-stop in relay fashion, with the hope of finishing the race in under 6 days. Roehl is the “captain” (front rider) of his bike, while Lisa will ride in the back as the “stoker”.

Relay bike racing is tricky, since the outgoing team can’t stop riding until the incoming team is in motion and “crosses their wheels”. “We try to transition at natural stops,” says Roehl. “ A stop sign is the best place because you have to stop! You get off, and the other team goes.”

Roehl, who has participated in Race Across America in the past, talks about the highs and lows of the route. “Colorado and Mexican Hat [Utah] are beautiful if you are riding during the day,” he says. “In Kansas the winds can howl, which can give you a nice tailwind. In Ohio, the humidity starts to get high, and if it rains at night, that makes it hard to see.”

It’s a tradition for RAAM teams to raise money for their favorite charity, and Roehl talks about why his bikeacrossamericateam picked the Alzheimer’s Association: “There are so many charities being represented in the race, but the Alzheimer’s Association hits us close because we have friends and family that have had Alzheimer’s. We want to bring awareness to the disease and the importance of continuing research, because there is no cure.”

Roehl and Lisa aren’t the only team members who are familiar with the devastation of Alzheimer’s. Among the other 6 members on the team are Jeanene, whose father passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2003, and Christy, whose grandfather died of Alzheimer’s.

So on June 18th they will ride. And on June 20th they will celebrate “The Longest Day” along with thousands of people across the country who are also honoring, in their own ways, the challenging journey of those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

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