As parents age, their needs and preferences change, from simple things like TV shows to life-altering needs for new surroundings. When a loved one has lived in his or her home or neighborhood for decades, or has lived alone without help for most of his or her life, facing a major change can be frightening and even insulting. It can be seen as the last step to eternity, as being discarded, or the person may feel useless, especially after a lifetime of working and raising children. It may feel like the end of freedom or a chance for the family to manipulate their “doddering fool” parent.
Needless to say, under any of the above scenarios, conflicts can threaten relationships between aging parents and their adult children, just at the time when understanding and support are needed most. Bad feelings, such as resentment and fear, can undermine any chance of working together. Parents being parented is a difficult transition to make.
We may not realize it, but loneliness is a health risk. It is an emotional equivalent of physical pain, and even triggers the same responses in the brain. The feeling of loneliness and disconnectedness lets us know that we need to find companionship and security to remain emotionally healthy. Confusion can come easily to dementia patients, and the new circumstances surrounding the pandemic can reinforce the feeling of isolation that often accompanies this disease. Tragically, healthy older adults who experience prolonged feelings of isolation and loneliness can suffer related health consequences, such as premature death, heart disease, and stroke. More in keeping with our subject, older people who are lonely can be up to 20% more likely to develop dementia. This author has coined the word “pandementia” to categorize the effect the coronavirus is having on older adults with respect to cognitive performance.
“Couch potato” is a kind term for a lazy person who just sits on the couch watching TV instead of being active. We know that physical exercise is vital for body health, but did you know that mental exercise is beneficial for mental health and can help stave off dementia?
We like to look for quick fixes for everything, including our health. When it comes to diets and cures, many people ask their doctor for pills, vitamins, or the latest fad remedy. When it comes to preserving cognitive health, there are no “miracle cures,” just the old-fashioned prescription that works for both body and mind: exercise.
While many things have been put on hold in 2020, there are some things that have not — like the progression of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia and the caregiving responsibilities that accompany it. Despite these limitations, the compassionate professionals who serve the Alzheimer's community have not lost their zeal for helping families. There is still a multitude of ways to get assistance.
We often joke that wives are better at remembering things than are husbands. Men are portrayed as forgetting anniversaries and birthdays, and sometimes their kids’ names and ages. The stereotypical women remember things from long ago, especially unwise words from the husband, as well as romantic events the husband has forgotten.
Recent scientific research indicates that this characterization may not be far from the truth. Against expectations, dementia rates seem to be declining as baby boomers creep into the dementia-prone age bracket. Despite the prevalence of brain-health risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, the rates have been decreasing over the past decade or so.