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From the Blog 

 

 Congratulations!

Your families have rated Desert Breeze as among The Best of Senior Living in Phoenix for 2015. 

Dear Wilma Collado,

On behalf of SeniorAdvisor.com, we are pleased to announce that you have been selected as a SeniorAdvisor.com 2015 Best of Senior Living award winner! Now in their second year, the SeniorAdvisor.com Awards recognize senior living and home care providers who receive consistently high ratings from their online reviewers. Fewer than 1% of providers nationwide receive this award.

Stay tuned! We'll be in touch soon with more announcements, but here's a sneak peek of what you can expect...

  • The official press announcement, including the full list of award-winners, will go live Wednesday, December 10th.
  • You'll be receiving a special delivery from us, which will include your framed award, limited edition promotional materials, marketing and press kits, and much more!
  • Starting in December, there will be a Facebook contest celebrating our winners and giving you a chance to win even more for your community (if you haven't yet, follow us here).


All the best, and congratulations!
The SeniorAdvisor.com Team


 

Hard Facts About Sleep Problems in the Elderly

Posted On 04 Mar 2015

It’s National Sleep Awareness Week, and there’s no better time to remind ourselves of how critical sleep is for physical, mental and emotional health — not just for seniors but for caregivers, too.Hard Facts About Sleep Problems in the Elderly

Sleep disorders are a significant source of concern — especially in the geriatric population. Changes in sleep patterns are part of the normal aging process, but sleep disorders have been implicated with increased mortality, and side effects such as dementia, cognitive impairment and falls. This week, the National Sleep Foundation urges everyone to celebrate sleep and its health benefits for National Sleep Awareness Week. We’ve put together an overview of why sleep is critical for senior health, how conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can change sleep patterns, and what caregivers can do to make sure they get enough rest.

Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia Increase Dementia Risk

We all know a good night’s sleep is the key to feeling energetic and clear-headed the next day, but sleeping soundly is also linked to a lower risk of cognitive impairment later in life. Unfortunately, older adults are more likely to have health issues that disturb their sleep, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. A 2011 study at the University of California, San Francisco, showed a clear association between sleep-disordered breathing in older women and the risk of cognitive impairment.

“Those who developed disruptions of their circadian rhythm were also at increased risk,” reports NPR. “So were those who awoke throughout the night, tossing and turning.”

For seniors who are under some form of psychological stress, this link may be even stronger. Not only does stress affect our sleep patterns, stress in itself has been associated with dementia risk. A study in 2010 found a link between stress in middle-aged women and the later development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Kristine Yaffe, who co-authored the UCSF study, advises older adults to get regularly screened for sleep problems, so that any issues can be caught early and treated before they lead to significant cognitive impairment.

Alzheimer’s, Sleep Problems and Sundowning

Sleep problems are even more pronounced in older adults with Alzheimer’s. Brain changes associated with the disease are the underlying cause of issues such as difficulty sleeping, nighttime wandering, daytime napping, shifts in the sleep/wake cycle, and late-afternoon/early-evening agitation referred to as “sundowning.”

Aging sometimes causes a natural disruption of Circadian rhythms — our daily cycles of waking, sleeping, body temperature, and metabolism — a disruption which is often significantly worse in those with Alzheimer’s, reports the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association notes that “in late stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals spend about 40% of their time in bed at night awake and a significant part of their daytime sleeping.” Sleep disruptions, in turn, are one of the factors that contribute to sundowning behavior.

If your loved one shows increased mood swings, confusion, memory loss, or even anger as the day winds down, there are several coping strategies caregivers can use to improve sleep for seniors, including establishing a daytime routine that includes some degree of physical activity.

Caregivers Need Sleep, Too

Study after study has shown that caregivers need a good night’s sleep just as much as their loved ones do. According to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving, stress and depression are common in caregivers, and 87% of those surveyed reported problems with sleep and energy levels. Many caregivers said that their sleep was interrupted during the night, sometimes several times a night, while others said it was the stress of their responsibilities keeping them awake.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that “sleep problems among caregivers increases the likelihood of Alzheimer’s patients being cared for in an institutional facility,” as well as taking its toll on the health of the caregiver. It’s therefore especially important for caregivers to care for themselves as much as possible, adopting healthy day-to-day habits as well as taking longer breaks as needed, such as those provided by respite care or “dementia camp.”

Sharing your caregiving experiences can be a helpful coping strategy. We invite you to leave comments and share any tips you’ve found to be particularly useful in encouraging your senior loved ones — and yourselves — to sleep better.

Related Articles:

Hard Facts About Sleep Problems in the Elderly by Sarah Stevenson
About the Author
Sarah J. Stevenson is a writer, artist, editor and graphic designer living in Northern California. Her visual art has been exhibited around California, and her writing has appeared in a variety of web sites and print publications. In addition to writing about older adults, she also writes for younger ones--her first novel for young adults, THE LATTE REBELLION, was published in 2011 by Flux. For more information, please visit: http://www.sarahjamilastevenson.comView .

How to Use Long-Term Care Insurance for Assisted Living

 
Just because your loved one’s long-term care insurance covers nursing care doesn’t mean it will cover assisted living or memory care. Find out what to look for in an effective LTCI policy so you don’t get caught out when it’s time to shop for care.

Long Term Care Insurance and Assisted LivingLong-term care insurance is a tricky topic—do just a little delving and you’ll find well-meaning advice from both wary LTCI opponents and staunch advocates of such policies. Whether you’re for it or against it, it’s out there, and plenty of older Americans have chosen to hedge their bets and buy long-term care insurance in case they find themselves in need. The problem is, not all LTCI policies are alike; they have specific stipulations about what they cover and don’t cover, when benefits are paid out, and how long they will pay for care. And if you’re not fully versed in what a policy covers, you might find yourself caught out when it comes to paying for care.

What Types of Long Term Care Insurance can be used for Assisted living and Memory Care?

Researching long term care insurance is important as you don’t want an LTCI company telling you they won’t cover assisted living and you’ll have to pay out of pocket—even after decades of paying for a costly insurance policy. Yet this is the unfortunate case for many individuals who purchased their insurance in the late 1980s and early 1990s, before the idea of assisted living became widespread, and before insurance policies became more comprehensive in their coverage of different types of long-term care.

Now that many of those same people are claiming their LTCI benefits, they are finding that their coverage doesn’t meet their needs. Their claims might only be partly covered or even denied, says California Health Advocates, “because older policies contain out of date requirements for claiming benefits, and don’t reflect changes in long-term care services and providers.” Here are just a few of the coverage dilemmas described by California Health Advocates in a 2008 report:

  • Home care benefits not paid because the person did not meet the additional policy requirements: a subsequent three-day hospital stay and, within 30 days of that hospital stay, at least 14 days of skilled nursing in a nursing home.
  • Refusal to pay for assisted living care because it does not meet the insurer’s requirements for design, staffing, or services—some policies, for instance, stipulate that nursing care must be on site for 24 hours, or that a facility have a minimum number of beds.
  • Refusal to pay for some types of long-term care even for newer plans with an “alternative plan of care” clause, because enforcement of this clause is at the discretion of the insurance company.

It is important to make sure that your policy is up to date. According to Allison Kern, Business Office Manager for Aegis of Issaquah, “When most of our residents purchased their LTC policies, assisted living communities were not as prevalent as they are today. Many were written for nursing homes, so I find that it is easier to approve someone for memory care than assisted living because of the services offered. Many have to meet a certain care requirement before they will be approved. You can also appeal the decision. I have done so twice and won both times. It does take time, effort and follow up from the Business Office Manager, however.”

What to Look for in a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy

So how can you make sure that your loved one is able to afford long-term care when the time comes? If he or she already has an LTCI policy, look carefully at the benefits covered. What are the restrictions to coverage and payouts? It might be helpful to consult with an expert—you financial planner, an insurance professional, or a member of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. That goes for those shopping for a new policy, too. If you or a loved one is considering buying one, make sure to do your homework. Do some comparison shopping, and ask important questions about what the policy covers:

  • Is the cost of the premium worth the investment, and does the policy have a loophole that allows for rate hikes? According to Nolo.com, “Consumer and financial experts generally agree that LTC insurance is a bad investment unless the monthly premium is 5% or less of your monthly income.”
  • What is the initial daily benefit, and what is the maximum benefit period? Does the benefit amount increase with inflation, and will that affect your premium?
  • How long is the elimination period before benefits are available, and what is the benefit trigger? The National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information notes that “most policies pay benefits when you need help with two or more of six Activities of Daily Living or when you have a cognitive impairment.” Meanwhile, the elimination period is defined as “the amount of time that must pass after a benefit trigger occurs but before you start receiving payment for services”—usually between 0 and 180 days. If you choose a shorter elimination period, it will mean a higher premium.
  • What is covered and what is excluded? What percentage is covered for services like home care, hospice, assisted living, memory care, or housekeeping assistance? Can you even use your long-term care insurance for assisted living?
  • Does the policy reimburse for actual expenses only, or does it provide cash for you to use at your discretion?
  • How does the policy interact with Medicaid coverage?
  • What are the future benefits? The AALTCI recommends checking whether the policy has an inflation growth option, and whether that option will cost more in future years. They also advise researching what the benefit level will be in 10, 15 or 20 years.

Most experts seem to agree on two things: long-term care insurance is not necessarily suitable for everyone’s budget or care needs, but at the same time, if you do your research and select a policy that fits, LTCI can potentially be an enormous help when it comes time to pay for senior care. For more detailed information on what to look for, visit these websites.

10 New and Exciting Alzheimer’s Disease Findings

 
New ways to predict Alzheimer’s disease and new tips for prevention are just some of the most recent scientific discoveries in the fight against dementia.

New Exciting Alzheimer's FindingsImagine if you could prevent Alzheimer’s just by drinking more green tea, or if you could find out years in advance whether you’ve got a risk of the disease. From the discovery of new ways to predict the disease to the testing of newdementia medications, the recent research landscape has provided a range of exciting—and hopeful—news for Alzheimer’s disease sufferers and their loved ones. Read on to find out about 10 recent scientific discoveries that have shed new light on our growing knowledge of Alzheimer’s.

1. Brain Fluid Biomarkers Can Predict Alzheimer’s Years in Advance

A 2012 study in Sweden provided one of the biggest Alzheimer’s findings to date: biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid—namely beta-amyloid and tau proteins—undergo characteristic changes five to ten years before the onset of Alzheimer’s, a discovery that has promising implications both for prediction and treatment of the disease.

2. Disruption of Sleep May Be an Early Indicator of Alzheimer’s

According to an October 2012 research study at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and a March 2013 report in JAMA Neurology, sleep problems such as poor sleep efficiency, daytime sleepiness, and frequent napping may be a useful early predictor of Alzheimer’s. However, scientists don’t yet know whether the sleep problems are a result of the brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s or a contributing factor to the disease.

3. Family History of Alzheimer’s is a Major Risk Factor for Cognitive Impairment

Researchers already know there’s a strong genetic component to Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier this year, a study reported in the journal PLOS ONE confirmed that people who have relatives with Alzheimer’s are more likely to show an earlier buildup of telltale cerebrospinal biomarkers—even those who appear healthy.

4. High Cholesterol Increases the Risk of Alzheimer’s

Scientists already know there is a link between the brains of people with Down syndrome and the brains of people with Alzheimer’s—both conditions result from disruptions on chromosome 21. This means that people with Down syndrome are valuable as a source of study for Alzheimer’s disease. In a study of Down Syndrome individuals reported in a 2013 issue of PLOS ONE, researchers found that high levels of cholesterol—particularly LDL—can cause disruptions to chromosome 21 that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Dietary Antioxidants Can Help Protect Against Alzheimer’s

In studies released earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, green tea extract and cocoa polyphenols both provided a protective effect against the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

6. Tau Proteins Identified as Another Key Alzheimer’s Mechanism

We’ve all heard of the beta-amyloid plaques that are characteristic of AD, but scientists have also found that excess tau proteins also contribute to cognitive degeneration and dementia in people with Alzheimer’s. A study published in the April 2013 issue of Neuron reported that tau protein levels are linked to four different genes, three of which are unrelated to amyloid levels. They say this may help explain why some individuals with high beta-amyloid do not end up developing AD.

7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Did you know that the prevalence of AD is lower in Mediterranean countries? A 2013 studyreported in ACS Chemical Neuroscience reveals that a substance called oleocanthal, found in extra virgin olive oil, helps boost the production of key proteins and enzymes that help remove beta-amyloids from the brain.

8. Controlling Hypertension May Help Ward Off Alzheimer’s

In individuals already possessing a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, uncontrolled hypertensionmay lead to much higher amyloid levels, and thus a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2013 study in Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology.

9. New Drug Improves Memory in People with Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

Clinical trials have revealed that a drug called ORM-12741 may improve memory-related problems in patients already receiving drug treatment for AD, reports the American Academy of Neurology. After three months of treatment, patients receiving ORM-12741 scored slightly higher on memory tests than they had previous to treatment, while those receiving a placebo scored worse.

10. New Alzheimer’s Risk Gene Found

Thanks to new brain scanning techniques and DNA screening tests, researchers at UCLA have discovered a new genetic risk factor for AD: subjects with a variation on a gene called SPON1 had weaker brain connections that predisposed them to dementia risk. The study was reported in the 2013 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Articles

Big List of Alzheimer’s Resources

Alzheimer’s disease is a fast growing epidemic worldwide, by 2050, more than 66 million people could be living with the disease. When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, facing an uncertain future can be terrifying  for all involved. A big part of this fear comes from not knowing what’s in store, how to take action, and how to cope. Education, community (online and in person) and awareness can be empowering. 

We’ve started a list of Alzheimer’s and dementia resources to act as a guide for anyone who wants to get involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s, from fundraising for a cure, to learning about how to cope with difficult behaviors and raising awareness about the disease. This list includes our own articles as well as links to some of the best and most useful Alzheimer’s resources on the web. Please add other resources we might have missed in the comments below, we’ll continue to update this list.

Clinical Trials

Genetic Testing and Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Fundraising and Awareness

Diagnosing Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Caregiving and Support

Alzheimer’s Research and Science

Alzheimer’s Prevention

Music Therapy for Dementia Patients

Alzheimer’s Online Videos

Movies About Alzheimer’s

  • The Alzheimer’s Project: A moving and informative documentary by HBO about Alzheimer’s
  • The Savages: A dark comedy starting Phillip Seymour Hoffman about caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s
  • Aurora Borealis: A well-received independent film where dementia plays an important role in the plot
  • Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch: The true story of the English writer Iris Murdoch’s battle with Alzheimer’s
  • Away From Her: Julie Christie plays woman who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease

Books About Alzheimer’s

Personal Alzheimer’s Blogs

Local Alzheimer’s Association Chapters

Nonprofit Organizations

General Reference Alzheimer’s Resources