The Caregiver's Beacon Newsletter

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The Caregiver’s Beacon (tm)
“Tell me why – Show me how – Hold my hand”
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July 10, 2003                                                                                        Vol. 6 No. 10
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ALZwell Caregiver Support and ElderCare Online
http://www.alzwell.com and http://www.ec-online.net
Serving the Needs of Caregivers Since 1996
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

If you have trouble with links, the complete issue is available online at
http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Newsletters/beacon071003.htm

Feature Article: “Homecare Do’s and Don’ts” by Steven Schwartzman
Elder Journal: “A Strong Body for a Stronger Memory” by Paul Takayanagi
Our Sponsor: An Innovative Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease
Caregiver Store: The Prism Complete Planner and Organizer Special Edition
Chat Schedule: Updates for July
Subscription Information

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FEATURE ARTICLE: “Homecare Do’s and Don’ts” by Steven Schawartzman

Arranging homecare for aging parents can be a difficult process for many different reasons, but in the end the solution is not complicated. That is, if you have high quality homecare personnel providing the care, you will at least be able to rest easy knowing that your parents are well cared for.

Read the complete article with five “Do’s” and five “Don’ts” by Steven Schwartzman, a noted geriatric care manager in New York City at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/homecare.html

ELDER JOURNAL: “A Strong Body for a Stronger Memory” by Paul Takayangi

The importance of being physically fit and maintaining memory skills is becoming more apparent through numerous studies nationwide.  There are a number of reasons why researchers are correlating stronger memory with a strong body.  A study by the MacArthur Foundation found that exercise had a profound effect on the brains of adult subjects of a major research project.  The study found that an increase in exercise had a simultaneous increase in chemical substances in the brain that promotes new brain cell growth.  The findings suggested that exercise enhances memory function.  Another national study found that older people who have a regular exercise routine do better on memory tasks.  The same study found that immediately after exercising, people are able to learn and remember new information more effectively than if they were sedentary.

Exercise increases the blood flow of the entire body and gives your brain more oxygen and other important nutrients.  In addition, research has shown that increased exercise promotes feelings of well-being and can reduce depressive feelings in older people.  Endorphins, the brain’s natural “feel good” chemicals, are released when you exercise.  This is important because people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers often report feelings of depression in their daily lives.  A regular exercise program for both persons with dementia and their caregivers can help to alleviate or reduce these feelings.  Studies have also shown a correlation between feelings of depression and cognitive dysfunction.  Sometimes, what appears to be dementia is actually acute depression.  This is why it is imperative for a person to be clinically assessed for depression who has recently begun to display dementia symptoms.

Read Paul’s complete column at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Columns/elderjournal0703.html

OUR SPONSOR: An Innovative Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the primary cause of senile dementia, affecting more than 4.5 million US citizens.  Advancing age is the key risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Unprecedented growth in the aging population will increase the number of individuals afflicted with the disease for which there is no known disease-modifying agent or cure.

Once the disease develops, the remaining life span of an Alzheimer’s sufferer is generally reduced by a third.  Progressive memory loss and changes in personality occur early on. As the disease progresses, the patient becomes immobile and dysfunctional, requiring increasing levels of care. Several drugs, such as Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon, are currently marketed for the treatment of AD symptoms.  About one out of three patients respond and can tolerate the side effects of these treatments. In such patients, these drugs can provide symptomatic benefit, but generally only for 6 to 9 months.

Many avenues are being explored to find new treatments for this debilitating disease.  One approach, being pioneered by the biotechnology company Eunoe, Inc, looks at helping the body restore its own healing properties. The nervous system normally produces cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the brain, clears products of brain cell metabolism and provides the optimal environment for brain cell function. In normal aging, CSF production declines.  In Alzheimer’s Disease patients, changes of normal aging may be worsened by amyloid deposition in the cells that produce and clear CSF, leading to marked CSF stagnation.  The hypothesis is that impaired clearance and/or diminished production of CSF leads to stagnation of CSF, resulting in accumulation of toxic proteins and inflammatory mediators in the brain.   Such accumulated substances play a key role in ongoing brain injury in Alzheimer’s Disease.

The COGNIShunt System, a flow-controlled shunt being developed by Eunoe, Inc., was designed to increase flow of CSF and improve clearance of potential neurotoxins from the fluid bathing the brain without causing overdrainage of CSF.  The placement of this shunt provides a new way for CSF to flow out of the brain’s fluid-filled cavities (ventricles) and into the abdomen, where blood vessels absorb the fluid.  Since the brain continuously generates fresh, toxin-free CSF, the placement of this drainage system should decrease the level of toxins in the fluid bathing the brain, while allowing increased circulation of fresh, toxin-free, CSF.  Decreasing the toxins that may damage nerve cells in the brain may slow or stop the mental decline associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Although this is a novel, investigative approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease, the surgical procedure called shunting is a common procedure, having been used successfully by neurosurgeons since the 1950’s to treat other conditions such as hydrocephalus (excess fluid around the brain).  Every year, approximately 100,000 shunts are placed or revised in hydrocephalus patients.

Data from a Eunoe, Inc. pilot feasibility study in 29 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease, conducted under an FDA-granted Investigational Device Exemption, indicate that the procedure and COGNIShunt System are well tolerated in Alzheimer’s patients.  The data from this feasibility study also show a substantial difference in mental function over time, with better preservation of mental ability in shunted patients versus the control group.   In addition, CSF levels of the potentially neurotoxic protein Tau, found in Alzheimer’s brain lesions, declined in shunted patients and remained lower than the initial level, even after twelve months.

This data has been recently published in the Oct 22, 2002 issue of the journal Neurology.

Based on the encouraging results of the feasibility study, Eunoe, Inc. initiated a pivotal clinical trial that involves 25 sites throughout the U.S.  Those eligible to participate in the study must:

- Have been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’ Disease
- Be between 62 and 85 years old
- Be a suitable candidate for surgical shunt implantation
- Be able to read, speak, and understand English
- Have a caregiver available to assist the subject in study participation and to participate in some evaluations (questionnaires)
- Otherwise be in good health

Patients with onset of Alzheimer’s Disease before age 60, family history of early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, or those in poor medical health are not eligible to enroll.  Patients with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) or those with other causes of dementia are not eligible to participate in the study.

As with any surgery or procedure requiring general anesthesia, there are risks involved.  In this procedure, the risks are believed to be the same as those for other surgical shunt placements.  For example, risks may include shunt infection, malfunction or failure, as well as risks associated with general anesthesia.

This procedure is not for all Alzheimer’s patients as it is still investigational.  However, Alzheimer’s patients and their families, caregivers, and treating physicians may participate in clinical studies that evaluate new, investigational therapies by making informed decisions based on their individual situation.  Additional information about the study can be found on the Eunoe, Inc. website (www.eunoe-inc.com).   Interested parties may also call 1.888.4MY.MIND (1.888.469.6463).

Additional information may also be found at http://www.ec-online.net/eunoead.pdf

CAREGIVER STORE: The Prism Complete Organizer and Planner Special Edition

Our two workbooks, the Prism Personal Organizer and the Prism Medical Manager are designed to take some of the load off of your back when it comes to record-keeping and the day-to-day management of medical affairs.

Both workbooks offer practical worksheets to collect information that is useful when filling out forms for your loved one, applications for government benefits, hospital records, and the detailed information that your doctor wants you to follow. The Medical Manager also helps you keep track of your loved one’s condition so that you have a record of questions you want to ask the doctor, changes that have occurred over time in your loved one, and issues that need to be raised.

Normally we sell the two workbooks separately, but we have combined them into a Special Edition – what normally would cost you almost $24 is available for only $15.95. The Special Edition includes the two workbooks, as well as access to a password-protected section of the website that includes new downloadable worksheets.

To place your order in our secure online store, visit us at http://www.ec-online.net/Store/workbooks.htm. If you have any questions, call us toll free at 1-888-774-7655.

Throughout this month we continue to offer a special bonus: If you buy ANY product from our store (including the Prism Personal Organizer/Medical Planner) we will give you free lifetime access to our “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial.

Visit our store now and claim your free “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial at http://www.ec-online.net/Store/store.htm. You can order online with our secure credit card processor, or call us at 1-888-774-7655 to place your order.

CHAT SCHEDULE: Updates for July

I welcome your continued feedback on the value and role of our chatroom and sessions. We have taken the responses in the current survey to heart and will be incorporating them immediately.

Enter the chatroom from the front page of either website or at http://www.ec-online.net/chat.htm. All times are U.S. Eastern Standard Time (GMT –5). We have begun to provide chats that are hosted by caregivers in Australia. Australian times are GMT +10. Hopefully this will not cause a great deal of confusion and instead give us more opportunities to connect with each other.

Our current chat schedule is posted in the ElderCare Community Center at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/communit.htm.

July 14 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

July 16 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) “Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

July 16 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

July 16 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

July 17 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

July 21 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

July 22 (Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Elder Journal:” Host Paul Takayanagi will host an informative discussion on the topic of “A Strong Body for a Stronger Memory.”

July 23 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) “Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

July 23 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

July 23 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

July 24 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

July 28 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

July 30 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) “Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

July 30 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

July 30 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

July 31 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

Enter the chatroom from the front page of either website or at http://www.ec-online.net/chat.htm.

SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

The Caregiver’s Beacon is published bimonthly by ElderCare Online and ALZwell Caregiver Support. To subscribe to this free newsletter, visit the subscription information page at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Newsletters/subscribe.htm.

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(c) 2003 Prism Innovations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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