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Senior Assisted Living Blog

Fitness And The Elderly; Why It Is Important

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fitness and cardio exercises make a wonderful way for elderly people to avoid many age related problems. However, most of the seniors think that resistance training and fitness exercises are just for younger people. This belief is just a myth and a recent research has revealed that resistance training and fitness exercises can greatly benefit elderly people even older than 60.

Weight training and cardiovascular exercises not only help elderly to be healthy physically but psychologically as well. These exercises help them to tone their bodies and strengthen their muscles. Moreover, fitness exercises help elderly people reduce stress and depression. When people go to the gym, they find a friendly and pleasant atmosphere over there, which helps to heighten their moods. People at the gym enjoy a healthy social life because they interact with their trainer and gym colleagues.

A recent study done at the University Of Texas suggests that fitness and resistance training exercises can be very helpful in slowing down the aging process. Nearly all of the weight training and cardiovascular exercises enhance the intake of oxygen into your body. This, in turn, allows your cells to absorb more oxygen and stay healthy. Moreover, cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, jogging, hiking, and walking keep your blood vessels and heart healthy, thus reducing the chances of sudden heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Weight training makes a great activity for elderly people because these exercises help them keep their blood pressure and blood sugar at appropriate levels. Diabetes Mellitus is a common problem among people who are over 50 years old. Resistance training exercises help elderly to burn their calories and utilize energy from their own bodies. Therefore, they can avoid potential threats of high blood pressure and diabetes by performing resistance training exercises. Exercise is very important for all types of people. And one of our amenities is actually a fitness center at our communities.  Be sure to check it out soon!

New Research Shows That Genes May Be Related To Alzheimer's

Joseph Coupal - Friday, October 29, 2010

In our previous blogs we have stated different variations in Alzheimer’s and what it is and so forth. We recently wrote about how it is even affecting younger individuals as early as in their 30s. But is there a relationship to the genes in people that cause Alzheimer’s? Scientists still do not know the answer however; there is three particular genes that is in almost every Alzheimer’s patient. In very few families, people develop Alzheimer’s disease in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Many of these people have a mutation, or permanent change, in one of three genes that they inherited from a parent. We know that these gene mutations cause Alzheimer’s in these “early-onset” familial cases. Not all early-onset cases are caused by such mutations.

Most people with Alzheimer’s disease have “late-onset” Alzheimer’s, which usually develops after age, 60. Many studies have linked a gene called APOE to late-onset Alzheimer’s. This gene has several forms. One of them, APOE ε4, increases a person’s risk of getting the disease. About 40 percent of all people who develop late-onset Alzheimer’s carry this gene. However, carrying the APOE ε4 form of the gene does not necessarily mean that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease, and people carrying no APOE ε4 forms can also develop the disease.

Most experts believe that additional genes may influence the development of late-onset Alzheimer’s in some way. Scientists around the world are searching for these genes. Researchers have identified variants of the SORL1, CLU, PICALM, and CR1 genes that may play a role in risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s. While researchers are still identifying these genes we have come a long way with the study of Alzheimer’s. Thirty years ago, we knew very little about Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, scientists have made many important advances. Research supported by NIA and even organizations that care for patients has expanded knowledge of brain function in healthy older people, identified ways we might lessen normal age-related declines in mental function, and deepened our understanding of the disease.

Many scientists and physicians are now working together to untangle the genetic, biological, and environmental factors that, over many years; ultimately result in Alzheimer’s. This effort is bringing us closer to the day when we will be able to manage successfully or even prevent this devastating disease.

Alzheimer's Is Even Affecting Younger Individuals

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 25, 2010

As we all may know, dealing with Alzheimer’s is a serious task. But did you know that the disease can affect younger individuals as well? It’s not just for people who are older anymore. We came across this magazine article, one of which was an older issue of U.S. News & World Report from December of 2006. Now we know that this was 4 years ago, but it was shocking to see the cover and then the details inside were grim. On the cover there is a photo of a relatively young woman who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The title of the article is “The New Face of Alzheimer’s,” and it talks about why more younger people are being diagnosed with this devastating disease.

Before reading it, we had expected to hear about people in their lower 50′s being told they have Alzheimer’s.  But upon further reading we became shocked to learn that even some people in their 30s are being given the grim news. The article says “It afflicts people in their 50′s, their 40′s, and even in their 30′s.”  More and more younger people are showing up at doctor’s offices and support group meetings than ever before. Some of the individuals had it to the point where they were actually being put into assisted living homes because the disease was moving so rapidly.

The article spotlights several people at various (mostly younger) ages, and describes their daily lives, and how they are coping.  The article also talks about hopeful new medications and therapies that will attempt to tackle this disease head-on, including Secretase modulators, immunotherapy, and others that are currently being tested for safety and effectiveness. It had talked about how the disease being spotted to early in younger people were able to remedy it faster but still there has been no cure or any kind of progress. The only thing that seemed to be going for these younger people was that they were in good health and their bodies and brain were still able to fight off diseases easier than someone in their later years.

This was a sad article to come across, but nevertheless this information must be brought to people's attention. Ignoring this dreadful disease will not make it go away. We do our best to help as many people as we can and take pride in what we do. If you know a loved one who is afflicted with this disease and feel as tough things are grim, contact us and we will be glad to help.

According To A New Study Walking Helps Brain Health

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recently a new study of 300 people found that those who walked at least six miles a week had less age-related brain shrinkage compared to people who walked less. The study published in Neurology was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh.

The study had participants, free of dementia, keep track of how much they walked. Nine years later scientists took brain scans to measure their brain volume and then four years after that cognitive testing was conducted to identify impairment or dementia.

Those who walked six to nine miles a week halved their risk of developing dementia relative to those who walked less. The authors indicate their results are in line with other data showing aerobic exercise induces a spark of grey matter volume.

Brain size shrinks as we get older and this can relate to memory problems. Walking may be one approach to protect the brain or delay onset of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. Authors of this study are encouraged by the results and indicate well controlled studies of physical exercise in older adults should be conducted as a viable approach for preventing dementia. Regular exercise across the lifespan, particularly in midlife, appears to be a reasonable and suggested activity for brain health.

Senior Pride and Achievement Through Senior Corps Volunteerism

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 11, 2010

"Senior Corps" connects those 55 years of age and older with the people and organizations that need them most.  Helping our residents discover worthy causes (like Senior Corps) is just one of the many services provided at all Spring Arbor assisted living locations as well as our Alzheimer's Care Cottage locations.  Senior Corps seniors become mentors, coaches or companions to people in need, or contribute their job skills and expertise to community projects and organizations. Senior Corps started during John F. Kennedy's presidency, and currently links more than 500,000 Americans to service opportunities. Senior Corps has many great opportunities for people over 55 to get involved with their community.

Senior Companions connects volunteers with people with disabilities or that need help with day-to-day tasks. They also have a program called RSVP that matches the volunteer’s professional skills with an organization that could use them. For example, Senior Corps may ask a retired nurse to give immunizations at a local non-profit shelter or ask a retired builder to offer their services with a non-profit housing project.

Another great program that Senior Corps has is the Foster Grandparent Program. Volunteers work with young children in school that have difficult time learning. The volunteer links with a student based on their needs. It is a great program and usually has three volunteers talking about their experience in the Foster Godparent Program with one of the children they are teaching.

One man said that there is a 40% drop-out rate for middle school children in his area and this program is saving lives because it keeps kids in school. If children learn the basics of reading, it makes future schoolwork possible. The program interviewed a teacher who said that she is thrilled to have volunteers in the class because they offer her students one-on-one coaching that is sometimes not possible when there are 30 kids in class.

Senior Corps is a national organization, so check to see if there are any existing programs in your area!

Spotlight On An Important Spring Arbor Living Amenity: Whirlpool Baths

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, October 07, 2010

The medical community and your friends at Spring Arbor Living share many things in common. Take for instance the realization of the therapeutic value of whirlpool baths. 

A whirlpool is a large bathtub with underwater jets. Whirlpools are common across Spring Arbor Living locations to include our most recent opening, Spring Arbor Living of Winchester Virginia.  The jets provide a hydro massage that utilizes the dynamic and thermal action of the water.   There are two different ways that a session in our whirlpool benefits the body. Through the warm temperature of the water and the pressure of the water on the body, a higher oxygenation, or infusion of oxygen, occurs in the skin. Muscular relaxation also occurs, and a reduction of the tissue directly below the skin is also apparent. These therapeutic methods of success are also used for treating and re-establishing the muscular and joint injuries. 

Our whirlpool bath amenity also has the added benefit of physical and psychic relaxation. They produce endorphins in the brain, making a person feel a sense of wellness.
Doctors almost universally agree that a therapy whirlpool bath is key to keeping the body healthy. It is a way to prevent a lot of diseases, significantly increase the blood circulation and further activates veins and arteries. Here are a few facts about the whirlpool therapy amenity that we offer:

  • Helps one sleep better: Insomnia can cause depression, memory lapses and the inability to concentrate and pay attention. By bathing in a whirlpool, it will help alleviate tension and relax your body, making your body ready for a deep relaxing night of sleep
  • Reduces Stress: It is one of the main methods of alleviating tension and stress. A bath in a whirlpool relaxes your muscles, reduces anxiety and stimulates endorphin production. So our dear friends at Spring Arbor of the Outer Banks must now decide on the beach or the bath to help reduce stress.  OK, go ahead an do both.  
  • Helps control diabetes: Scientific research has shown that patients with Type 2 Diabetes that use a whirlpool for 30 minutes per day, six days a week, reduced the level of sugar in their blood by 13%. After three weeks of the whirlpool treatment, they were able to lower their insulin dose by 18
  • Minimizes pain in the muscles and joints: Using a whirlpool before or after doing physical activities help the veins dilate and keeps the blood flowing better. The muscles and joints will be relaxed and less painful.
  • Helps lose weight and reduce cellulite: Research has proven that the whirlpool, when used daily, reduces the swelling and retention of liquids, promoting weight loss. Also, with regular use, the whirlpool helps diminish cellulite by relaxing the muscles, dilating the veins and improving the circulation stimulating the blood cells.
The availability of whirlpool baths are just one of special amenities offered to our residents. Of course this service is not limited to our newest facilities like Winchester and the coming Alzheimer's Cottage of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  The service is widely available across all our Spring Arbor Living locations. 

Physical Exercise Keeps Your Brain Healthy

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 30, 2010

We know that mobility and physical activity promotes mental health.  Studies indicate a relationship between aerobic exercise and enhanced cognition, learning, and even alleviation of mood disorder. This s why we work so hard to increase and vary the activities for residents of Spring Arbor and The Oaks assisted living communities.  Today, let's discuss some of the scientific reasons these efforts are so valuable.

Animal studies have demonstrated a link between cardiovascular exercise and new brain cell development (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus, a structure critical to learning and memory. Dr. Fred Gage and colleagues have begun to describe the underlying mechanisms of this relationship between physical exercise and brain morphology and function. By manipulating levels of specific proteins in the brains of mice it has been determined that this can have an effect on control of stem cell division which can lead to development of new neurons. The medical community believes with advanced age stem cells become less responsive.  Our staff understands this and it serves as a motivator to keep all of us moving, both staff and our dear residents alike. 

One protein known as bone-morhogenetic protein or BMP seems to reduce the activity of these stem cells and may fuel adverse effects of natural aging.  However, exercise seems to counter some of the deleterious effects of proteins such as BMP according to Gage. Mice provided access to a running wheel had 50% less BMP-related brain activity within a week (a positive thing). The mice also demonstrated an increase in another protein known as “noggin” that acts to block BMP. Noggin helps mice perform better on cognitive tasks such as maze learning.

So what does all this mean to you?  It means simply that exercising and staying active is the best way to sustain the health of both mind and body. These findings underscore the importance in humans to be physically active by walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc. This is why Spring Arbor Living goes to great lengths at all of our Alzheimer's assisted living care centers to keep our residents mentally and physically active

A New Dye To Trace ‘Plaque’ In Brain Helps Towards Alzheimer’s

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, September 26, 2010

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading progressive form of dementia in the United States thought to affect 50-70% of all known cases of dementia. The disease typically manifests after age 65 and has a typical course of early memory problems, spatial deficits; language disorder and eventual breakdown in one’s ability to remain organized and composed behaviorally. The disease causes significant financial and emotional tolls on families and society and projections are for a sharp increase in the number of cases of AD by the middle of this century.

Diagnostic testing has advanced faster than treatments.  There are only four FDA approved medications that treat symptoms of the disease. A fifth (Tacrine) was dropped due to side effects. Diagnostically a comprehensive dementia work-up that includes a physical examination to rule out reversible forms of dementia such as B-12 deficiency or thyroid conditions, neuropsychological assessment, social history, and functional exam can produce a high degree of accuracy for the presence of dementia and the cause such as AD. However, there are still errors made with diagnosis and too many false positives (diagnosing AD when it is not AD) and false negatives (not diagnosing AD when it is present) made. A good rule is to follow patients beyond one examination as it the degree of diagnosis difficulty lessons as the disease advances. It is critical to diagnose early in the disease process, however, so available treatments can begin sooner. It is also critical to know that while the medical community valiantly struggles to cure this dreaded disease, Spring Arbor delivers professional and certified Alzheimer's care  services a four care centers in North Carolina and Virginia.  Those locations are Spring Arbor Alzheimer's Care Cottage of Greenville (Grenville, NC), Spring Arbor Alzheimer's Care Cottage of Salisbury (Midlothian and Salisbury, Va), Spring Arbor Alzheimer's Care Cottage of Rocky Mount (Rocky Mount, NC) and Spring Arbor Alzheimer's Care Cottage of Wilmington (Wilmington, NC).

A recent study has demonstrated that a dye that can stick to the plaque and that can be seen using a radioactive tracer by PET (positron emission tomography) scanning technology. This is the first practical technique to see plaque in a living person’s brain. It offers a significant advancement enabling accurate diagnose and to measure treatment efficacy as we can measure the response of plaque to certain treatments.  An earlier but little used dye (the Pittsburgh Compound B), developed two decades ago. Indeed, science remains unclear if the plaque is event the major factor in the cause of AD.

Nonetheless, the new dye and scanning technique can be a significant step towards a more sensitive and specific approach to diagnosing AD and for measuring the effects of the many new treatments that will arrive to market in the next decade. With much advancement in technology we are one step closer every day to helping patients.

Until the medical community completely eradicates Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, the burden rests with family and professional care providers who understand and can deliver upon the wide-ranging levels of care that the disease demands.  That is why Spring Arbor Living provides custom Alzheimer's care plans that step up and deliver for you and your loved ones.

New Alzheimer's Treatment Study: Insulin Nasal Spray

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The staff of Spring Arbor Living community enjoy keeping you up to date on the latest dementia and Alzheimer's care medical research and development. We consider the act of providing such updates to be basic responsibilities of any and all assisted independent living centers.

According to a recent study, researchers found that insulin administered via nasal spray might benefit Alzheimer’s patients. This is according to a new short-term trial of intranasal insulin in Alzheimer’s patients and people with mild cognitive decline demonstrated improvement on memory and functioning tests. Unfortunately, the ability to perform activities of daily living was unchanged.

This study, presented at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s in Hawaii, followed 109 adults with either mild cognitive decline or early Alzheimer’s who were administered either placebo or 20 or 40 IU daily intranasal insulin treatments over four months. Results indicate the insulin group realized improved  cognitive and functional tests when compared to the placebo group. Some of the improvements lasted two months after treatment ended.

The researchers believe that restoring normal insulin levels in the brain may represent a therapeutic approach to Alzheimer’s care patients. Administration of the insulin through the nose reportedly enables access to those areas hit by the disease. Prior research has suggested a relationship between insulin resistances (the inability of insulin to transport glucose to the cells).

The authors underscore the role of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and hypoglycemia as risk factors for Alzheimer’s and memory loss with aging. This represented the rationale for the study and potential therapy. Intranasal insulin therapy is yet another promising medical development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. We hope such treatment can soon be provided at dementia treatment facilities across the United States.

High Tech Accessory: Electronic Tracking and Medical Record Bracelets

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 17, 2010

High Tech Accessory: Electronic Tracking and Medical Record Bracelets

Medical alert bracelets have been around for years.  However, technology and entrepreneurial opportunists now team to offer a higher level of protection to those with complex medical conditions.  Let us introduce you to the concept of electronic medical bracelets proven to save lives. 

You have read the stories about dementia patients wandering away from their care facilities with the consequences ranging from being a non-health issue to death by exposure.  (Editor's Note: We are writing this blog on behalf of the non-Spring Arbor Living general public.  Spring Arbor Living employs multiple procedural fail-safes that protect our 100% resident accountability record.) Those inflected with any number of debilitating diseases (Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, hypo allergies, etc) depend on some form of technology to communicate to first responders when their condition renders them unable to communicate.  The traditional “Medical Alert” bracelets are themselves a life saving device, however, they communicate precious little specific information.  Electronic medical alert bracelets change that. 

These devices enable first responders determine a patients' complete medical history. The bracelets send responders to data files, secure websites, toll free numbers, or even to live chat with medical professionals. This enables the care providers to obtain all the past medical conditions or any prescriptions they are currently taking. This also helps medics proceed with caution.

The emergency bracelets available today are very different from the ones previously utilized.   They not only have bracelets, but they also have necklaces or even a flash drive that can be stylishly hidden (but obvious to a first-responder) in a charm worn around the neck. First-responders access the flash drive on scene and gain immediate access to critical medical information.  The flash drive is the best option as it provides comprehensive medical information. The only “problem” is that without password protection, the information is vulnerable, so patients and caregivers must conduct a cost-benefit analysis for using such technology.  

Again, this blog post is for the non-Spring Arbor general public because patient accountability and ready access to medical information is a foundational and unblemished patient care service provided at each and every Spring Arbor Living facility location.