Do You Want to Learn More About Caregiving?

Giving

Challenges in Caregiving: Giving Care, Taking Care, a caregiver training conference will be offered on Monday, June 3, 2013 at the Tukwila Community Center in Tukwila, Washington. The event is hosted by Aging and Disability Services Administration, Full Life Care and Pierce County Community Connections/Aging and Long Term Care along with the support of numerous community organizations. The conference is designed to provide current, practical skills and resources that community caregivers can use in their daily caregiving responsibilities. The conference is intended for:

• Family caregivers (spouses, adult children, parents of adults with disabilities, or other relatives)
• Home care workers and adult day services staff
• Adult family home or assisted living staff
• Social service or mental health professionals who work with family caregivers

The Early Registration fee (by May 15) for individual caregivers is $30. Scholarships are available for unpaid family caregivers. The Early Registration fee for agency-based caregivers is $50. Fees include workshops, lunch and resource exhibits. Registration forms will be available in April and space is limited – so don’t delay! For more information or to receive a full brochure and registration materials, please call 1-800-422-3263 or 360-725-2544.

~Professional Medical Corp.

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Caring for the Brain

As we celebrate the increase in the average human life span, we tend to forget that along with this increase comes the increase in the need to take care of our bodies and in particular our brains. Dementia is becoming progessively more common and the risk is often a factor of things like weight, blood pressure, and lack of mental activity. However, if we maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, coupled with daily brain stimulation, we can combat this evil of aging and find ourselves in a better place in the future.

At the Karolinska Institutet, professor Laura Fratiglioni and a team of diligent researchers have been  studying the processes that attribute to the development of Dementia and are are working to create strategies to combat it.

“The brain, just as other parts of the body, requires stimulation and exercise in order to continue to function. Elderly people with an active life – mentally, physically and socially – run a lower risk of developing dementia, and it doesn’t matter what the particular activities are”, says Professor Laura Fratiglioni.

Fratiglioni’s team as well as other teams across Europe, are using various forms of physical, social, and mental interaction on a controlled research group and seeing the delay of onset Dementia through their support in preserving cognitive function. Education in early life has also shown to play a role in preventing Dementia and Fratiglioni says its never too early to start taking steps towards brain preservation. In a few years they believe they will have key knowledge and a solidified outline as to how the general population can begin to make adjustments to avoid not only Dementia, but perhaps other prominent degenerative brain conditions as well.

Information courtesy of: Medical News Today

Written by: Tessa

Professional Medical Corp

Can Walking Prevent Dementia?

Dodging dementia may be as simple as slipping on a pair of walking shoes and heading out the door. A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that walking about six miles a week seems to protect against brain shrinkage, which in turn may slow the progress of cognitive decline.

Brain size typically shrinks in late adulthood and often heralds the onset of dementia. Earlier studies suggest that physical activity protects against the deterioration of brain tissue, but no long-term studies have been carried out to test that theory. These researchers set out to do just that.

At the start of the study, they asked 299 healthy, dementia-free men and women, average age 78, to keep track of the number of blocks they walked in a week.

After nine years, the researchers measured the brain size of the participants using high-resolution brain scans. It turned out that the men and women who walked more at the beginning of the study had more gray matter. Those who logged approximately six to nine miles a week fared best, even after taking into account variables such as age, sex, body mass index and education. Walking more than that didn’t provide extra benefits.

Four years later, testing showed that nearly 40 percent of the group had developed dementia or cognitive impairment, that is, problems with memory, language or concentration. After comparing the brain scans with walking patterns and cognitive function, the researchers found that the people who walked the most retained the most gray matter and cut their risk of developing memory and thinking problems in half.

“This research is unique in that we examined the brain itself rather than depending on what people tell us,” says epidemiologist Lewis Kuller, M.D., one of the study’s authors. “Looking at the relationship between brain changes and walking suggests that walking may be beneficial — and walking is the most common physical activity of older people.” Although the study doesn’t prove that walking prevents loss of brain function, it does suggest that people who walk do better down the road.

“Based on current evidence, physical activity stands as one of the best ways to lower the risk of dementia,” says neurologist Daniel Kaufer, M.D., of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, adding that this study shows the long-term benefits.

“It connects the dots between being more physically active at the start of the study to having a bigger brain nine years later,” and shows that subjects who walked the most halved the risk of memory problems 13 years after the study began, continues Kaufer, who was not involved in the study.

A study published in August in the journal Circulation might help explain why: Researchers in that study found that people whose hearts pumped more blood had less brain shrinkage as they aged. It may be that increased blood flow to the brain helps keep it healthy by providing nutrients and removing toxic waste products.

Kaufer’s bottom line? “Walking a mile a day helps keep dementia at bay — but it’s no guarantee.”

The study appeared online in the Oct. 13 issue of the journal Neurology.

Article courtesy of Nissa Simon for AARP.

Helping Achy Joints With Exercise

Exercise can reduce pain and improve function in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In addition, exercise may help prevent the buildup of scar tissue, which can lead to weakness and stiffness. Exercise for arthritis takes three forms: stretching, strengthening, and conditioning.

Stretching involves moving joint and muscle groups through and slightly beyond their normal range of motion and holding them in position for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Strengthening involves moving muscles against some resistance. Studies have shown that moderate- or high-intensity strength training is well-tolerated in people with rheumatoid arthritis and can help increase or maintain muscle strength. In addition, another study reports that a program of long-term, high-intensity weight-bearing exercises improves the functional ability, physical capacity, and emotional status of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

There are two types of strengthening exercises. Isometric strengthening is simply tightening a muscle or holding it against the resistance of gravity or an immovable object without moving the joint. For example: Tighten the front thigh muscle of the leg. Push the wrist up against the undersurface of a table.

Isotonic strengthening means moving a joint through its range of motion against the resistance of a weight or gravity. For example: Put a 3 lb (1.4 kg) weight on your ankle and then bend and straighten your knee. Lift free weights.

Conditioning exercise improves aerobic fitness. Conditioning, or aerobic, exercises include walking, biking, swimming, or water exercise. A target heart rate can guide you to how hard you should exercise so you can get the most aerobic benefit from your workout. However, target heart rate is only a guide. Each individual is different, so pay attention to how you feel while exercising.

Note that even moderate activity, such as walking, can improve your health and may prevent disability from rheumatoid arthritis.

Be sure to follow your health professional’s advice about your exercise program. For most people, physical activity does not pose any problem or hazard. For some people, some forms of physical activity might be unsafe or should be started only after talking with a health professional. Your health professional’s advice can be invaluable.

Courtesy of Healthwise.

Product Spotlight – Canes

canesCanes
A cane is a walking aid for those with foot or leg complications.  There is a great selection of canes to choose from to best suit your needs.

Crook Canes
A crook cane is the most common and popular style of cane.  It is often used for temporary conditions such as fractures or sprains. 
Also known as Hook, Tourist, or J-Handle canes.

Center Balance Canes
These canes are ideal for those who need firm support and assistance getting up and down from a chair.  They are popular among those with arthritis, hip complications, MS, Parkinson’s, or strokes.  Their bigger, flatter handle provide a comfortable and secure grip.
Also known as Offset Handle canes.
 
T Handle Canes 
This cane’s handle centers the user’s weight over the cane tip.  It’s compact design makes it a popular choice for folding canes.

Fischer Style Canes 
This cane’s handle spreads weight out over the entire palm for greater comfort.  Consequently, it should be ordered specifically for the left or right hand.
 
Quad Canes 
Quad canes have four feet at the end of the cane.  These canes are ideal from those who need maximum weight bearing and support.  It is often used for long term complications. 
If you need this level of support, you may be safer with a walker.  Consult your physican for more information.

The Importance of Ambulatory Equipment

It has been estimated that about 1.5 million people in the United States use walkers.  Approximately 30% – 50% of patients abandon their ambulation aid soon after it’s delivered to them.  This reveals the importance of an appropriate device selection, proper fit, and patient education and training.

So who needs ambulatory equipment?  Ambulatory equipment is ideal for users who

  • Have impaired balance
  • Have weakened strength
  • Have difficulty coordinating movement
  • Have lower extremity complications and/or amputation
  • Are recovering from surgery
  • Have altered stability

This equipment can significantly increase mobility and independence.  Some items, such as a knee walker, can stimulate fast recover by utilizing more muscles and safe movement.

For our reviews on ambulatory products, look through our “Ambulatory” category archives.

Knee Walkers

Knee Walker
Knee Walker

What is a knee walker?
A knee walker is a personal mobility device that stimulates a fast return to normal activity after surgery or injury. It provides a great alternative to wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers for those who want to enjoy increased mobility with an easy to maneuver device.

Who should use a knee walker?
Patients with lower extremity complications, such as foot or ankle surgery, sprains, joint diseases, and ulcers will benefit from using knee walkers. Those with amputations or arthritis may also benefit, depending on their needs and orders.

How long should a knee walker be used?
Always follow your doctor’s instructions. Those recovering from surgery or serious foot or ankle surgery are generally recommended to use their walkers for 6 to 14 weeks.