A compound produced naturally by marine algae stimulated nerve cell growth and plasticity in cultured mouse neurons could be used for stroke treatment in humans, researchers believe. The compound known as brevetoxin-2 could present a new pharmacological treatment that may aid brain function for those who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Brevetoxin found in red tide algae could lead to stroke treatment

Although drugs can be administered as stroke occurs to attempt to breakup blood clots, there is currently no drug treatment for post-stroke rehabilitation.

Participating researchers from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Scripps Institution of Oceanography published their findings a few weeks ago in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Brevetoxin

Brevetoxin is produced by the tiny marine algae dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. In high concentrations, brevetoxin causes the algae blooms known as red tides, a nerotoxin-laden tide that causes respiratory irritation in humans and central nervous system paralysis in fish. Given its effects, it may seem surprising that it could have any health benefits.

During a stroke, a clot cuts off blood flow to an area of the brain. The dead tissue can’t be revived, but the brain can be trained to redirect nerve impulses to surrounding living nerve cells.

Brevotoxin’s effects combined with recent scientific studies that show rewiring nerve cells in the brain following a stroke occurs as a result of heightened plasticity around the brain’s damaged cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the area responsible for sensory and cognitive nervous system functions.

Plasticity of the brain

Brain plasticity is the capacity of the nervous system to change its structure and its function over a lifetime in reaction to environmental diversity. This plasticity is what allows working parts of the brain to take over functions normally performed by those damaged during a stroke.

Thomas F. Murray is the Ph.D. associate vice president for Health Science Research and professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology at the Creighton School of Medicine. In a press release, he said, “Our research suggests that compounds like brevotoxin-2 can augment neuronal plasticity potentially providing a neural repair therapy for stroke recovery. If that outcome can be supported by further studies in animals and subsequently humans, it could have a profound impact on a currently non-treatable condition.”

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

According to the National Family Caregivers Association, about 65 million people in the U.S. are caregivers. Author Jane Heller writes that this means that 29 percent of the population “is walking around stretched and pulled in all directions.”

In her book, “You’d Better Not Die, Or I’ll Kill You: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits,” Heller speaks to these caregivers with humor and poignancy. Heller’s husband, affected by Crohn’s disease, has been in and out of hospitals for a number of years.

In the book, recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, Heller assembles a panel of medical experts, patient advocates and fellow caregivers that have each had something happen to a loved one’s health. On Heller’s Amazon page she writes that the book is “a combo of my personal, often humorous essays about caring for a spouse with a chronic illness, interviews with other caregivers (of children, spouses and elderly parents), and advice from a wide range of experts.”

Heller describes her intent with the book as providing something that would entertain caregivers and provide them with ideas for self-care.  Chapters from the book cover topics that are sometimes skirted. A few of these are covered in chapters like “Sex? Romance? Is Anybody Getting Any?” and “When Loved Ones Start Taking on a Different Personality and You Star Wishing They’d Disappear.”

Jane Heller has a number of resources that may be of interest to caregivers on her blog. Often topics are covered in videos and some of these include how to stay on a nurse’s good side, sibling rivalry and caregiving and how to relax with yoga.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAgOYCVl9I8

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

More than 85 drugs have been identified that interact with grapefruit — either in whole, concentrate or fresh juice form — but not all of these have serious consequences. However, 26 new drugs that can cause serious harm when combined with grapefruit have been found in the last four years alone.

Dr. David Bailey, a clinical pharmacologist at the Lawson Health Institute Research Center in London, Ontario recently told NBC News that these discoveries bring the total to 43. These severe interactions can cause acute kidney failure, respiratory failure, gastric bleeding and even sudden death. He also said that 13 drugs might be lethal when mixed with grapefruit.

Bailey, a lead author on a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said, “It’s hard to avoid putting a drug out on the market that is not affected by grapefruit juice.”

Why grapefruit causes negative drug interactions

The reason that grapefruits along with some other citrus fruits including limes, pomelos and Seville oranges — the kind used in marmalades — is that they produce an organic chemical compound called furanocoumarins. These enzymes interfere with a human digestive enzyme called CYP3A4, which helps metabolize toxic substances and keeps them from entering the bloodstream.

This enzyme inactivates the effects of about 50 percent of all medications, so doctors adjust for this when prescribing them. The trouble comes when the furanocoumarins, found in grapefruits, inhibit the enzyme because the drugs can become concentrated in a patient’s bloodstream. The drugs can become so concentrated, in fact, it can be equivalent to getting a triple or double dose of medication.

Drugs known to interact with grapefruit do carry warnings, but Bailey said he believes that neither doctors nor patients may take the threat seriously enough.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

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Photo: Flickr

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

The risk of diabetes increases significantly for those over 60 years old. Half of all diabetes cases occur in people older than 55 years of age, and nearly twenty percent of the U.S. population over 60 has diabetes.

If you’re aging mother or father has been diagnosed, there are ways that you can help them by improving their diet. Diet coupled with regular exercise and prescribed medications are key to keeping your loved one’s diabetes under control. The American Diabetes Association offers a list of super foods for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.

These foods contain nutrients that are needed by people with diabetes like calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E. Many of the selections are also high in fiber to keep glycemic index low to avoid spikes in blood sugar. Other benefits of these foods are keeping cholesterol and blood pressure in check, which helps with overall health.

Beans

It really doesn’t matter what type of beans you eat — they’re all great for you. They’re high in fiber. In just a half-cup you can get one-third of your daily requirement. Beans also provide the body with needed magnesium and potassium. Beans will also help meet daily requirements for meat. A half cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat. Fresh beans are terrific. If using canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse them to eliminate as much sodium as possible.

Dark-green leafy vegetables

Spinach, collards and kale make great additions to a variety of meals. They’re virtually calorie free and can be enjoyed to your heart’s content on their own.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits contribute to your daily dose of soluble fiber and vitamin C. Some say that eating citrus fruits can also aid with smoking cessation if eaten immediately after smoking.

Sweet potatoes

These starchy vegetables are powerhouses of vitamin A and fiber. They also have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes.

Berries

For such tiny fruit, any variety of berry is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. The article at the ADA suggests making a parfait by alternating berries with light, non-fat yogurt.

Tomatoes

No matter how you say it, tomatoes provide vitamin C, iron and vitamin E. There is some evidence to suggest that lycopene, found in tomatoes, also prevents prostrate cancer.

Fish (Omega 3)

Salmon is, of course, a great source of Omega-3. Just don’t consider a trip to Long John Silver’s with breaded and fried fish to count towards your 6 to 9 servings of fish per week. These types of fish are negating any healthful benefits they would have with deep-frying.

For the full list, please visit the ADA website. Here’s a link to their Living Healthy with Diabetes Guide.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

 

Each year, one in every three adults age 65-and-older falls. Falls can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can even increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable.

How big is the problem?

    • One out of three adults age 65-and-older falls each year.

 

    • Among those age 65-and-older, falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.

 

    • In 2007, more than 18,000 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.

 

    • The death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade.

 

    • In 2009, 2.2 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 581,000 of these patients were hospitalized.

 

    • In 2000, direct medical costs of falls totaled a little more than $19 billion — $179 million for fatal falls and $19 billion for nonfatal fall injuries.

 

What outcomes are linked to falls?

    • Twenty percent to 30% of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently and increase the risk of early death.

 

    • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, or TBI. In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.

 

    • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand.

 

    • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, leading to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, which in turn increases their actual risk of falling.

 

How to prevent falls in older adults?

Older adults can take several steps to protect their independence and reduce their chances of falling. They can:

    • Exercise regularly. It’s important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance. Tai Chi programs are especially good.

 

    • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines — both prescription and over-the-counter — to reduce side effects and interactions that may cause dizziness or drowsiness.

 

    • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision.

 

    • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars and railings, and improving the lighting in their homes.

 

Additional ways to lower hip fracture risk include:

    • Getting adequate calcium and vitamin D in their diet.

 

    • Undertaking a program of weight bearing exercise.

 

    • Getting screened and treated for osteoporosis.

 

“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”

A recent discovery that suggests Parkinson’s disease is preceded by a period where healthy regions of the brain take over the functions of damaged ones could someday aid in early detection of Parkinson’s.

A recent study was conducted by neurologist Bart Van Nuenen and involved people that were clinically considered healthy and free from Parkinson’s disease manifestations, but who had a genetic predisposition towards Parkinson’s.

fmri

Parkinson’s disease is the result of the dying of brain cells that produce dopamine. The physical manifestations of Parkinson’s — tremors, rigidity and slow movement — do not occur until 50 to 70 percent of these dopamine-producing cells are dead.

Previously, it was uncertain why the disease took so long after onset to manifest into physical symptoms. For Van Nuenen’s study he examined

These groups allowed for a study of the preclinical phase of Parkinson’s, conducted with the aid of MRI scanners for functional brain research (fMRI scanners). During the study, test subjects were asked to perform various tasks while an fMRI of their brain was done. A control group of individuals who do not have a history of disease in their family was also tested. The findings were that both groups were clinically healthy and both performed the test comparatively well.

The difference, however, showed up on the MRI scans. The brain activity of the group predisposed to Parkinson’s differed from the control group. There was enhanced activity in the extrastriate body area of the brain — a region that remains unaffected in later stages of Parkinson’s. It seemed that this brain area was compensating for declining functions of other areas of the brain affected by the disease. This is the reason that the predisposed test subject could still move normally and suppress Parkinson’s symptoms.

Van Neunen sought to conclusively prove that the overactive portion of the brain contributes to compensation of the disease by also conducting an experiment using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS was used to temporarily deactivate the compensating portion of the brain. When this portion of the brain was deactivated, Parkinson’s patients were unable to perform a series of hand movements correctly. The same test performed on a healthy control group did not have the same effect.

The test showed that it’s likely that during the preclinical phase compensation occurs and delays the clinical manifestation of Parkinson’s disease. Van Neunun believes that this discovery will lead to new treatments for Parkinson’s, which currently focus on increasing dopamine. With the new evidence treatments can possibly be developed that focus on therapy focusing on stimulating the compensation mechanism in the brain.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

It’s a sad irony to see someone still smoking cigarettes who requires an oxygen tank to breath, but it’s a sight often seen around nursing homes. Seniors who think it’s too late to benefit from ceasing smoking are wrong according to an article in Everyday Living. In fact, it suggests that quitting smoking for seniors can be more beneficial than for other age groups.

Smoking risks to seniors

Smoking at any age is risky, but even more so for older adults. Some health problems exacerbated by smoking:

    • Cancers of the lungs, mouth, esophagus and numerous others

 

    • Weak and brittle bones

 

    • Conditions such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke

 

    • Increased respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis

 

    • Damage to the respiratory system that can result in emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as difficulty breathing

 

The American Lung Association has a number of sobering statistics concerning older adults who smoke. For instance: “men 65 or older who smoke are twice as likely to die from a stroke, and women smokers are about one and half times as likely to die from stroke than nonsmoking counterparts.”

Smoking doesn’t only affect the lungs and lead to increased stroke risk. The American Lung Association also states the risk of dying from heart attack is “60 percent higher for smokers than nonsmokers 65 or older.”

Benefits of quitting smoking for seniors

    • Increased ability to taste and smell

 

    • A reduced risk of heart attack and cancer

 

    • Fewer respiratory problems

 

    • Improved circulation

 

    • Not exposing children or grandchildren to secondhand smoke

 

    • Savings on cigarettes

 

    • Longer life and more energy

 

At first those who quit smoking may experience a decrease in energy without nicotine to give them a boost, but as their body recovers and begins to function more efficiently they can experience increased energy as their lungs and circulatory system begin to work with less effort. Exercising will become easier, as will everyday physical tasks such as walking.

Here are some suggestions to help you quit smoking from Everyday Living:

    • Use smoke cessation aides like nicotine gum, lozenges or patches.

 

    • Don’t go it alone. Seek encouragement from friends and family, support groups or counselors.

 

    • Try substitution. Often people smoke after set actions like finishing a meal. Set up small rewards for yourself at these times like a cup of coffee, a healthy snack or candy.

 

    • It’s hard to quit around others who smoke. It’s probably best not to hang around other smokers.

 

    • Keep physically busy and occupy your hands. Go for walks, play cards, or knit.

 

    • Stay away from alcohol while your trying to quit. Many people get increased cravings when they’re imbibing. Being a little tipsy can also cave your judgment and willpower and might increase your chances of slipping up.

 

Keep in mind that getting an elderly loved one to quit can be a touchy subject even if their immediate health demands it. Often smoking has been a part of their life for decades and they may get defensive. It’s best to offer gentle encouragement rather than nagging. This Thanksgiving remind your elderly loved one that you’re thankful for them and want them to be around as long as possible to share memories with you and their grandchildren.

For more Nebraska residents wishing to quit smoking more information is available from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services at QuitNow.ne.gov.

Encompass Senior Solutions  currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa ” provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”

It’s often hard to know where to begin when caring for a loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. There are a variety of resources that can be found online, from YouTube videos to blogs. Another resource at your disposal is an e-learning course. Each class can be completed within five to 15 minutes. No preregistration required and you can take the short classes at your own pace. At the end of each course there is a printable checklist.

The course will give the family caregiver a good idea of what to expect and offers specific advice on how to care for your loved one. It starts with a thorough grounding in what dementia is and the stages of Alzheimer’s. In the third section of this online coursework there are specific examples of ways to cope with disruptive behavior that may be displayed by the person suffering from Alzheimer’s.

In the fifth section of the course, family caregivers are taught how to keep their loved one safe in several ways by avoiding hazardous situations. This section also discusses financial safety and offers prevention tips.

Links to the coursework and sections of each session are below:

1. Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia

    • Introduction

 

    • What is Dementia?

 

    • Causes of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

 

    • Types of Dementia

 

    • Alzheimer’s and the brain

 

    • Symptoms

 

    • Diagnosis and test

 

    • Treatments

 

    • Stages of Alzheimer’s

 

    • Conclusion – Class 1 Checklist

 

2. Capturing Life’s Journey

    • What capturing memories means

 

    • Techniques for capturing memories

 

    • Create a journal

 

    • Use the journal

 

    • Lessons & self-care tip – Class 2 Checklist

 

3. Managing Behaviors

    • This section provides 14 lessons on specific ways to handle certain behaviors

 

4. Encouraging Engagement

    • Benefits of activities

 

    • Opportunities around the house

 

    • Types of activities

 

    • Techniques to encourage engagement

 

    • Using the senses

 

    • Lessons & self-care tip – Class 4 Checklist

 

5. Safety

    • Keeping your loved one safe

 

    • Hazardous situations

 

    • Financial safety

 

    • Prevention

 

    • Lessons & self-care tips – Class 5 Checklist

 

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Todays post features real-life stories of how Encompass Senior Solutions helped an elderly person and their loved ones through a tough decision-making process that ensured each persons individual care needs were met. Names have been changed to respect privacy.

Lynne

Lynne, a 94-year-old woman with a devoted husband, desperately wanted to stay at home. To do so, she contacted Encompass for help. We made some suggestions for a safer living environment and provided some intermittent care for her so she could remain in her home, with her husband, independent and safe.

Tricia

Tricia is a moderate-to-severe dementia patient residing in a long-term care facility. Her children asked Encompass to provide a safety net to allow her to remain in the facility but receive extra stimulation and safety support. By providing caregivers, she is able to participate in the activities in the facility and is safely monitored overnight to eliminate the risk of falls. Her family has peace of mind that Tricia is safe and cared for.

Deborah

Deborah, a dementia patient, is under the care of Adult Protective Services for neglect. Finding it difficult to take her medications, eat properly and go to the doctor, Encompass now assists Tricia with a medication reminder system as well as provides necessary transportation to the doctor. Other services were brought in to make sure she had food. Thanks to Encompass, she remains at home.

Randy

Randy is an elderly gentleman who lives alone and is in need of bathing and strength training. Encompass helps by providing a caregiver once a month so he is able to remain in his apartment. Our caregiver provides a bath, cleans his apartment, provides him with social stimulation and goes through his exercise program. He remains in his apartment safely.

Read more Real Stories from Encompass here.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

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Photo: Flickr

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”

Aging Chat, co-hosted with Health Technologist @mark_hanson, is a Twitter chat held on the second Wednesday of every month covering a variety of topics related to aging and senior news and trends in societal technological fields. With the holiday season fast approaching, November’s chat, held earlier this week, focused on how to best meet the needs of seniors when traveling. We touched on the topic in a recent blog post about traveling with loved ones suffering from dementia.

Below is a recap of #agingchat, which we put together via Storify. You can read a full transcript of the chat here.

http://storify.com/EncompassSenior/summary-of-the-agingchat-november-15

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”