Next week is Dementia Awareness Week (18th – 24th May 2014). The last 12 months has seen increasing awareness of this condition thanks to increased media coverage.
The Alzheimer’s Society are working hard to support those living with the condition and their carers. They are also trying to educate people about the causes and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, which include memory loss, confusion, mood changes and difficulty with day-to-day tasks.
To find more about Dementia Awareness week visit their website.
A recent study, commissioned by the Carers trust has revealed that more than 50% of carers looking after those with dementia have not been given relevant information about incontinence as well as other issues such as correct management or medicines or legal issues.
The study also showed that more than half of these carers had problems obtaining a diagnosis for the person for whom they cared, and and nearly 70% had not received training or information about how to deal with the agitated behaviours that can develop in the latter stages of the condition.
Other key findings included:
-Over half (52%) of carers in the survey reported difficulties in obtaining a diagnosis for dementia for the person they cared for
-More than half of carers (55%) questioned said that they had not been given information on legal issues and managing money. Many had learned about Lasting Power of Attorney too late
-Many carers, particularly those caring for someone in the later stages of the illness, felt ill equipped to deal with more agitated behaviours that might develop.
-More than two-thirds 68% surveyed said they had not received training or advice on this issue
-82% of carers questioned said that caring had adversely affected their ability to work
One person surveyed said she found it very difficult to deal with her husband’s double incontinence and felt un-suppoted by local policy as she was not to provided incontinence pants and wasn’t never given information about support options.
Thea Stein, chief executive of the Carers Trust, has said that it was clear that all professionals needed a checklist of all the information and advice carers needed. This should be reviewed regularly with carers at key points of the person with dementia’s illness.
The report highlighted 7 key points when carers most needed information and support:
-When dementia is diagnosed
-When the capacity of the person with dementia declines
-When the carer needs emotional support and/or a break from caring
-When the person with dementia loses their mobility
-When the carer has to cope with behaviour problems
-When the carer’s own circumstances change
-When the person with dementia becomes incontinent
The full report can be read online here.
A new study proves the expected link between dementia and incontinence but more importantly shows that patients with dementia are three times more likely to be diagnosed with urinary incontinence, and four times more likely to be diagnosed with faecal incontinence. The new study in PLOS Medicine by Robert Grant (Kingston University and St. George’s, University of London) and colleagues compared those without a diagnosis of dementia to those patients diagnosed with the condition. Also, patients with dementia and incontinence were more likely to receive incontinence medication than those without dementia, the authors stated.
In a change to previous research a new study carried out in Sweden points to a reduction in the risk of developing dementia.
Over 3,000 people (aged 75 and over) have been covered by the study since it commenced in 1987, and results so far show that the incidence of dementia has been stable and the longevity of people with the condition has increased over the period of the study.
Several reasons are given for this why this might be happening including earlier diagnosis and , medical interventions which delay the progression of the condition.
The article can be read in full on the British Psychological Society website.
In a small new study, Parkinson’s disease patients who took caffeine pills had slight but noticeable improvements in movement problems.
The findings warrant further study, Canadian researchers said. And there are still questions – such as whether patients would develop a caffeine tolerance, eventually blunting the benefits of coffee or caffeine pills. For the new study led by lead researcher Dr. Ronald Postuma, from McGill University in Montreal, 61 people with Parkinson’s with a mean age in the mid-60s were randomly assignied to six weeks of caffeine pills or placebo. Participants in the caffeine group took 100 mg when they woke up and again after lunch for the first three weeks, then were bumped up to 200 mg twice a day for the rest of the study (A cup of brewed coffee typically has about 100 mg of caffeine).
After the study, people taking caffeine didn’t report a clear improvement in sleepiness. But that group did improve on an overall scale of Parkinson’s symptoms, including on measures of muscle rigidity and other movement problems. The average benefit was a decrease of about five points on the disease rating scale, according to findings published Wednesday in Neurology. Dr. Postuma said a typical patient who’s had Parkinson’s for a few years would have a score of 30 to 40.
About half of patients in both groups had some sort of side effects due to the caffeine or placebo pills, most commonly stomachaches.
People who drink caffeine throughout life are known to have a lower risk of getting Parkinson’s in the first place – but that doesn’t mean coffee, tea or caffeinated fizzy drinks necessarily have a direct effect on the disease and its symptoms. It could be that there are other differences between coffee drinkers and non-drinkers that put people at risk for disease, or that people with very early, undiagnosed Parkinson’s tend to stop using caffeine. But because of how caffeine acts on in the brain, and the relationship of those actions to other chemicals involved in Parkinson’s, it’s plausible caffeine could be playing a role itself, according to Dr. Postuma.
An earlier study into the effects of caffeine on incontinence showed that women with moderate incontinence shouldn’t be concerned. Although caffeine might have a shorter-term impact by making women need to urinate soon after eating or drinking something caffeinated as it increases the production of urine and may give some the urge to urinate, it wasn’t clear that a regular caffeine habit is tied to worsening incontinence over the long run.
Does Alzheimer’s disease lead to incontinence? Not necessarily, asserts a University of Virginia researcher in the USA. A new grant from the National Institutes of Health will help professor Karen Rose determine whether people living with Alzheimer’s are incontinent because of the disease, or whether their incontinence and night time agitation – common symptoms of the progressive brain disease – are connected and might be, therefore, better and more thoughtfully managed.
“People assume that incontinence is part of the disease, that ‘that’s the way it goes,’ but that may not be, in fact, true,” said Rose, who will lead the two-year study. “The answer isn’t necessarily just putting a diaper on someone.”
Between 70 percent and 90 percent of those living with Alzheimer’s are cared for by family members in their homes, and many who are treated for agitation – another common occurrence among this population – are given sedating medication which may have an effect on their continence. Roughly 53 percent of Alzheimer’s patients suffer from incontinence, Rose said.
One in eight people 65 and older, are living with the degenerative brain disease, which robs victims of memory, cognitive function and physical control.
Urinary incontinence, common in Alzheimer’s patients, often means families feel cornered into sending their loved ones into a nursing home. The study’s goal, Rose said, is to offer solutions to families caring for their loved ones.
“It’s very intimate, very personal, these things,” Rose said, “and it can be a tipping point for institutionalization.”
Rose, along with colleagues and professors John Stankovic and John Lach, and collaborator Janet Specht from the University of Iowa, will study a group of 50 local individuals with Alzheimer’s who are at least 65 years old who receive care at U.Va.’s Memory and Aging Care Clinic. Those with Alzheimer’s will wear a wrist actigraph at night – a device created by Lach and Stankovic that measures physical movement and agitation – and will sleep on beds with wetness sensors. They will also be recorded for verbal agitation between the night time hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Data will be collected over five days and nights, and tabulated to see whether physical and verbal agitation precedes bed-wetting and whether there are timing issues to consider – whether a person is incontinent early in the evening or in the morning, for example – that might help families better keep ahead of the problem.
Rose said the study could ultimately inform the way families manage incontinence by offering a template for home study of Alzheimer’s patients and their continence patterns. She said her study will bring a difficult topic better into the light.
“There’s a stigma attached to all of this – the disease, the incontinence, the burden on families,” Rose said. “But we still don’t know whether some very basic things are linked. We don’t know that urinary incontinence is just part of the disease. Are they agitated because they’re incontinent? Are there things we can do to relieve that?”
Rose, an associate professor of nursing and director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, has taught acute and specialty care courses at the school since 2006.
The country is facing a dementia time-bomb with many cases going undiagnosed.
Alzheimer’s charities are saying that many people living with dementia don’t have a diagnosis and so aren’t receiving the support, benefits and the medical treatments that are often available.
Although everyone is a little bit forgetful now and again, but when memory loss starts to interfere with your daily life it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible. The sooner people are diagnosed, the sooner they can get support and start planning for the future.
Studies have shown that an early diagnosis can save the thousands of pounds, because it can delay the need for sufferers to receive care outside of their own home.
The Alzheimer’s Society recommends that anyone concerned about memory problems should speak to their GP. Symptoms include struggling to remember recent events, despite being able to recall things that happened in the past, and finding it difficult to follow conversations or programmes on TV. Other warning signs include regularly forgeting the names of friends or everyday objects, being unable to recall things you’ve heard, seen or read, having difficulty in making decisions, repeating conversations or losing the thread in speech, and having problems thinking and reasoning.
Feeling anxious, depressed or angry about your forgetfulness or finding that other people are commenting on your forgetfulness are other signs.
People who are worried about their memory or that of someone they know can also contact Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Helpline on 0845 300 0336.
The correct incontinence products can help the many people who experience continence issues alongside their Alzheimers, for example pull-up pants reduce the risk of the pad being removed by the wearer. For more hints and tips for those Caring for someone with incontinence our Carer’s leaflet can be downloaded from our website.
With Alzheimer’s receiving increasing focus in the media recently more people are vecoming aware of this condition and the impact it has on the daily lives of many people, especially carers. Incontinence is often a symptom of Alzheimer’s but there are steps that can be taken to help manage the condition and remove it’s impact.
Because Alzheimer’s is a neurological disease, patients often have trouble recognizing physical urges or remembering where a bathroom is located, which can contribute to bladder or bowel incontinence and also certain drugs can also relax the bladder muscles or cause increased urination.
Some simple steps to help a loved one cope with dementia and incontinence are:
-Remind the person where the toilet is located, and encourage regular visits.
-Ensure the route to the toilet is clear of obstacles and well lit.
-Provide visual cues by painting the bathroom door a contrasting color and perhaps posting a toilet sign on the door.
-Make the toilet and bathroom safer with grab bars, a raised toilet seat and nightlights.
-Provide clothing that is easy to remove, with no complicated belts or buttons.
-Use an Incontinence Product Finder to choose disposable or washable undergarments by style, selecting a type your loved one can easily get on and off.
-Explain the importance of keeping skin clean, moisturized and protected, using products made to prevent breakdown and infection.
-Protect bedding and furniture with disposable or washable pads.
-Don’t cut down on fluids, which can lead to dangerous dehydration, but encourage your loved one to cut back before bedtime.