Adult Day Services: A Model of Person–and Family-Centered Care

A recent study found that more than a quarter million participants attend an estimated 4,800 community-based adult day service (ADS) centers in the U.S. Although most participants are older people, more than one-third of ADS participants are younger than 65. Nearly one in three ADS participants has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

ADS centers provide coordinated and reliable services and supports. Services for participants include social activities, meals, personal care (such as help with toileting), a limited array of health services (such as medication management) and supervision during the day.

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Touching Lives Featured in HERLIFE

Please visit the below link to read a wonderful article on Touching Lives Adult Day Services and Deb Delaney.

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Adult Day Service Boosts Beneficial Stress Hormone in Caregivers

A new study reveals family caregivers have an increase in the beneficial stress hormone DHEA-S on days when they use an adult day service for their relatives with dementia. DHEA-S controls the harmful effects of cortisol, another hormone that the body produces in response to stress. Higher levels of DHEA-S are associated with better long-term health. This new finding supports the importance of using community-based services like adult day services as a strategy to reduce caregiver stress.

Researchers at Penn State University and the University of Texas at Austin, led by Steven H. Zarit, PhD, studied 151 family caregivers of individuals with dementia who attend adult day services at least twice a week. Caregivers collected their own saliva five times a day for eight consecutive days and kept a diary of the collection times. The samples were refrigerated and later shipped back to the laboratory. Caregivers were also interviewed each evening on those eight days about their daily stressors and mood. Caregivers were questioned about care-related stressors and non-care-related stressors, as well as positive daily experiences.

The study confirmed that care-related stressors were significantly lower on the days the individual with dementia attended adult day services, compared with days not attending adult day services. More importantly, adult day services were significantly associated with increased levels of DHEA-S on the days after using adult day services.

“This is one of the first studies to show that DHEA-S can be modified by an intervention, which, in our case, was the use of an adult day care service,” said Steven Zarit, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State. “The study is also one of the first to demonstrate that interventions to lower stress on caregivers, such as the use of adult day care services, have an effect on the body’s biological responses to stress. We know that caregivers are at increased risk of illness, because of the long hours of care they provide and the high levels of stress. These findings suggest that use of adult day care services may protect caregivers against the harmful effects of stress associated with giving care to someone with dementia.”

This research was funded by The National Institute on Aging and results were published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

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To Age is a Privilege!

‘Justin Beaver, the singer?’ 100-year-old best friends discuss North West and BFFs in pop trivia quiz


Two 100-year-old best friends were left positivity flummoxed as they tackled a pop quiz challenge on a recent episode of the Steve Harvey Show.

Alice Jensen and Irene Cook from Chicago, who met at the age of five and have since witnessed two world wars, the first moon landing and a new millennium, were asked their thoughts and opinions on everything from iPhones to twerking.

Responding to the question, ‘what do you think of Justin Bieber? Ms Cook said: ‘Oh that kid, the singer? Justin Beaver the singer . . . I think he’s in movies [too] isn’t he? He’s not doing something right from what I’ve heard. I don’t remember. Am I right?’

‘Let’s go to the next question then, that wasn’t a very good one for us,’ Ms Jensen interjected.

Next up, the comical duo were asked: ‘What do you think to the baby name North West?’

A look of confusion quickly swept over both women.

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‘North, whose name is that? N-O-R-T-H? You’re kidding [me]!’ Ms Cook said, astounded that such a moniker – as used by Kim Kardashian and Kanye West for their baby girl – existed.

However, her look of horror soon turned to joy as she was posed with the final question: ‘Do you know what BFF stands for?’

‘North, whose name is that? N-O-R-T-H? You’re kidding me!’

She clung to her sidekick’s hand and smiled at the camera as she figured out the ‘B’ and the ‘F’ stood for ‘best friends’, although she failed to decipher the final letter of the acronym.

More than 300,000 people have watched the clip of Ms Jensen and Ms Cook facing their pop quiz challenge since it was uploaded on February 4.

Many commentators have said how ‘sweet’ and hilarious’ the two pensioners are.

Ms Jensen and Ms Cook were born in 1913 and celebrated being a century-old last year.

They met when they were first grade students at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Chicago in 1913 and have remained best of friends ever since.

Source of support: Ms Jensen (left) and Ms Cook (right) met when they were first grade students at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Chicago in 1913 and have remained best of friends ever since+2

Source of support: Ms Jensen (left) and Ms Cook (right) met when they were first grade students at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Chicago in 1913 and have remained best of friends ever since

‘What did I like about her? Well, she was always willing to shut up and listen to me,’ Ms Jensen previously joked to ABC News.

The two went on to marry and have children and were widowed many years ago.

Most weeks they speak on the phone and they see each other in person several times a year for birthdays and other special occasions.

The duo first appeared on The Steve Harvey Show to offer tips on lifelong happiness and friendship.

Talk show host Steve Harvey invited the hilarious BFFs back to ask them questions about pop culture.

He closed the segment: ‘I kid you not, I love those two ladies right there. I hope that God lets me live long enough and I have a friend that I can sit [by] at 100.’

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8 Ways to Arrange Breaks from Caregiving

Options for respite care range from informal agreements with friends and neighbors to formal contracts for services with an agency or onsite at a facility. Here are eight ways to do it:

1. Ask for help from family and friends.

How it helps: You’ll get a break; those filling in will better understand both your needs and your loved one’s needs. An added benefit: The one receiving care will benefit from receiving comfort and company from another trusted person.

What it costs: This type of care is usually free. It’s sometimes a good idea to either pay a small amount or to compensate family or friends informally with gas station cards, restaurant meals, or other goods or services.

How to get started: Ask the person who needs care whom he or she misses most or would like to spend more time with and who may also be able to lend a hand. When approaching potential helpers, be specific about what’s required — and get a solid commitment about the days and times they’re available.

2. Companion care

How it helps: An elder companion can prepare meals, do light housekeeping, help with laundry, shop for groceries, run errands — and, most important, offer companionship to the person you care for when you can’t be there.

What it costs: Companion care can range from free services provided by local volunteers to $10 or more per hour for help arranged through an in-home care agency, depending on the type of care needed and the time of day. Medicaid or Medi-Cal may help pay some of the costs of care from a licensed provider for those who have low incomes and few assets.

How to get started: From local sources to national groups and organizations, there are many sources for companion care.

  • Word-of-mouth referrals. If you know of a neighbor, friend, or family member who’s been able to find a good match for companionship needs, ask how — and whether he or she might be able to recommend others for the position.
  • In-home care agencies. Start your search by using’s In-Home Care Directory to find an agency near your loved one — and to see ratings and reviews.
  • Meals on Wheels. In addition to providing the hallmark service they’re known best for — deliveries of meals to the homes of older adults and others with mobility limitations — many local Meals on Wheels programs provide outreach services, including a Friendly Visitor Program that pairs a volunteer with a neighboring senior. Begin your search for local help at the Meals on Wheels website.
  • The Area Agency on Aging. Trained staff at your local Area Agency on Aging can usually provide referrals for local help.
  • Local newspapers. Try placing an ad briefly describing your needs in a local or community newspaper.
  • Local high school students. Contact area high school counselors. College-bound students often need community service experience and are available afternoons and evenings.

3: Personal care assistant

How it helps: Personal care assistants– in addition to providing light housekeeping and homemaking tasks — can help clients with bathing, dressing, toileting, and grooming. They can’t provide medical services, such as diabetes care, but they can help administer prescribed medications and — if they have the proper training — help move those who have mobility limitations.

What it costs: Costs range from $15 to $40 per hour for intermittent help; $120 to $200 per day or more for live-in care.

How to get started: You can locate in-home care agencies in your area by searching’s Senior Living Directory.

4: Adult day services

How it helps: Adult day services, sometimes called adult daycare, provide some health monitoring, mind and body exercise, social activities, meals, transportation (often door to door), and other support services. Most offer a safe, supervised environment for clients as well as respite for regular caregivers. Facilities include stand-alone centers, churches, hospitals, and nursing homes.

What it costs: The cost from a licensed provider ranges from $25 to $150 per day; many offer sliding-scale fees and accept Medicaid and some types of insurance coverage.

How to get started: It’s best to contact and tour possible adult day services providers to find the best fit for your loved one. Two good places to find leads:

  • Use’s Senior Living Directory to search for adult day services by city or zip code — and to see ratings and reviews.
  • Contact the staff at your local Area Agency on Aging and ask for a referral.

5. Assisted Living Respite Care

How it helps: Many assisted-living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and nursing homes (also known as skilled nursing facilities) offer room and board for older adults who need help with everyday tasks. Time frames range from a partial day to several weeks. The stay allows residents and their families peace of mind, knowing that a caregiver is always close at hand. A possible added benefit: The arrangement allows a commitment-free way for a potential resident to check out whether the facility might be a good fit down the line.

What it costs: Many facilities offer hourly, half-day, full-day, overnight, or extended respite stays. Costs average $100 to $250 per day, depending on the amount of care needed; some places impose minimums and maximums on the number of days for a respite stay.

How to get started: Some facilities offer respite stays only when not at full capacity, and some don’t advertise their respite services openly, so you may need to do some investigating to find a local facility that offers the service. Some places to contact for help:

6: Caregiver co-op

How it helps: Organized co-ops give members an affordable way to pitch in and take turns caring for one another’s charges in exchange for some time off. The arrangement not only gives caregivers more time for themselves; it also fosters a sense of community among both those who give and receive the care.

What it costs: There’s usually no charge; members qualify for respite services by volunteering time caring for other co-op members’ loved ones.

How to get started: Talk with neighbors or friends who have similar needs; in such cases, it is usually a good idea to have a central person charged with keeping track of the availability and scheduling of the volunteers caregivers. Or check with local community centers or adult day services providers to see if one has already started a co-op.

7: Veterans Options

How it helps: The Veterans Administration (VA) offers a number of programs and support for veterans and for some wartime veterans who are caring for their spouses — all designed to give the primary caregivers some help and time off.

  • Adult day healthcare centers. Many local VAs operate adult day healthcare centers, open Monday through Friday, which offer caregiver respite and focus on rehabilitation for veterans.
  • Home-based care. The VA’s home-based primary care program delivers care such as meal planning and preparation, medication management, nursing, and social services to some veterans whose medical issues make it difficult to leave home. A similar VA program, Skilled Home Care, offers this care from licensed non-VA medical professionals.
  • Homemaker and home health aide program. Staffed by home health aides who make regular visits, this program helps veterans with personal care needs such as help with eating and bathing.
  • Respite care. The VA provides qualified veterans with up to 30 days of respite care each year at home or through temporary placement of a veteran at a VA community living center, a VA-contracted community residential care facility, or an adult day healthcare center.

What it costs: The services are generally free or offered for a minimal amount for qualifying veterans and their family members.

How to get started: Both a telephone hotline and website can help you in this search.

  • Staff at the VA’s Caregiver Support Line, available Monday through Saturday at (855) 260-3274, can explain what assistance is available from the VA and help callers get access to other local services.
  • Also, most VA offices are staffed with licensed caregiver support coordinators who can help match callers with services for which they’re eligible. Find the local coordinator by searching by zip code on the VA’s Help Near Home page.

8: Respite locator service

How it helps: The National Respite Locator Service helps caregivers and professionals find respite services in their local area to match their specific needs for emergency or planned respite care. Although it doesn’t provide an exhaustive list of all possible providers, it can be a helpful source in helping to jump-start a search.

What it costs: The service is free; the cost of respite services varies greatly. About 30 states run Lifespan Respite Programs funded by the Administration on Aging that helps fund local respite services.

How to get started: Begin your search at the Respite Locator Service.

More respite care options

You already know how stressful and tiring caregiving can be. But did you know it can lead to burnout?

Quiz: Are you headed for caregiver burnout?

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5 Estate Hassles To Prevent Before Dementia Advances

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Check out these mistakes to avoid when estate planning with dementia. Do they apply to you? Paul J. Mauro practices estate law at Legacy Financial Advisors. Here are a few steps to take to avoid problems he encountered in just the last 12 months.

  1. Please make sure your name, birthday and social security number are all the same on all your documents, records and papers. In a recent case a wonderful man passed away and we went to file claims with his pension, social security and insurance companies. When a copy of the death certificate and the birth certificate were laid side by side, guess what, different birthdates were listed. Different dates of birth, or in another case, a different birth name which was dropped 30 years ago can lead to long delays and costs to prove real identity. The stress that widows and widowers have is NOT reduced by this type of hanging issue. In fact it makes things very tense. Please check and be sure on all your important papers that the dates and names match up.
  2. The probate process may seem like no big deal when we look back to the passing of our parents and grandparents who did not have much. Now in 2012 with larger estates more complete data from Internet databases and many long lost relatives on the web, it gets more serious. If you own a home in your state but you have a cottage, mountain house, or camp in a faraway place, your family will have not one state probate, but two. In many cases the rules of that other state are totally and completely different than your home state. This process requires your family to obtain outside counsel in that state, make required filings and yes, wait and wait. The land, which may have little value, can often cost many thousands to get released from probate to sell or dispose of. Real estate is the primary reason to do revocable trust work late in life so children can legally avoid the costs and hassles of probate. I am still waiting for the probate results on a Maine farm, a North Dakota field with oil rights, and a Florida condo, so the children can sell them and move on.
  3. When we age, often there is a period of time that we cannot deal with our financial affairs and family has to take over. I have been working with a family who did not prepare in advance until Alzheimer’s took over the life of the family matriarch. The problem in this family is that the husband was a very successful scientist with a huge laboratory tied to one of the fine Massachusetts educational institutions. As a result, he has a multi-million dollar retirement fund for which he is required at age 80 to take minimum withdrawals. The problem is, under the plan rules of his former employer, he cannot take withdrawals without his wives notarized signature, and his wife cannot sign. When we had the telephone consultation with the company they told us the old power of attorney will not suffice, and to take your withdrawal so we will not release the money. The plan administrator was very polite and told our firm’s lawyer that this fellow would just have to go to court and get a guardianship of conservancy over his wife. That, ladies and gentlemen means going to probate. This man tried to play by the rules but his wife got sick and now he has a 50% tax penalty for not taking his required minimum distribution and his retirement account is basically held hostage while we go to court. Please update your legal documents, roll over your employer plan to your own IRA for control and make sure you have the right papers to control your spouse’s retirement if they become disabled.
  4. Ladies please be clear about the jewelry. I know it sounds like a small thing, but a family I have known for 20 years is fractured over a diamond ring because one daughter took it home. With five children and plenty of money in the estate, these parents left a large inheritance. In the end however, one daughter (of 3) and two boys are upset with each other over this one small thing. Most wills and trusts provide space for the memorandum to list clearly who gets what of material goods like clothes, jewelry and furnishings. Some instructions remove assumptions and bad feelings. Naturally when there is one ring and 5 children decisions have to be made. I’m afraid this family will never have another Thanksgiving or Christmas where they remember mom and dad without this cloud over them. It’s a sad thing and ultimately the parents’ fault. If you have personal items, especially of large monetary value, make a list and attach to your will or trust.
  5. Boys and their toys are not a big issue during life. Men have car collections, tool collections and even stamps and coins. For some reason men collect things that they enjoy, but when they pass away, the wives are stuck with a monumental cleanup job. I am liquidating an estate right now with a huge number of tools and wood working materials the spouse will never use. I have a car collection and automobile tools she will never touch. This man was a collector of things and he never had one, he had three. Just thinking about where this collection will go and how to get it to the auctioneer and turn the toys into cash is a giant job. So if you love your spouse, leave a guidebook, a set of instructions or a wish list. Do you want the tools to go to a tech school? Let us know. Is there some place we can call to sell the rare wood? These are things we need to know.

In summary, a few pieces of paper, a road map and some instructions would be nice. Since we all collect more things over time, take a few minutes to plan where and how your family will handle these things when you’re gone. This way we can remember our loved one for the good times and the great memories, not the hassles of cleaning out their junk.

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Op-ed: Retirement Tops List of Concerns for LGBTs

The LGBT senior population is set to double over the next 20 years, and roughly 3 million of those people will begin making arrangements to enjoy their golden years. As retirement becomes a reality for many aging LGBT people, research shows it is not without its concerns.

A recent study by Prudential Financial found that while LGBT people are generally confident about their financial futures, they are concerned about funding retirement, just like most other people. Employment discrimination, tax treatment, health care coverage, and state laws pertaining to Social Security and survivor benefits make proper planning more difficult. To ensure there is enough money to last the length of retirement, many singles and same-sex couples have to be more creative.

Other LGBT retirement concerns include social isolation and access to health care and aging-related services. With stigma still lingering within graying generations, many LGBT seniors feel unwelcome and susceptible to mistreatment in conventional places where seniors gather. LGBT elders are also more likely to live alone and have very few family members to lean on for support. For these reasons isolation is extremely common, and many often become secretive about their sexuality as they age.

It is also widely believed that the health care system and aging-service providers are hostile or judgmental toward LGBT people. Few reach out to LGBT seniors and lack the training or information to address their unique health issues. For fear of discrimination, LGBT seniors more often delay or avoid medical attention and choose to conceal important information that leads to conditions being underdiagnosed. Many also lack health insurance.

There are many unique challenges that complicate LGBT retirement, but the growing number of LGBT seniors demand quality options when it comes to elder care.

I have been working to launch the first LGBT continuing care retirement community, in Santa Rosa, Calif., and it’s on track to open this year. Just north of San Francisco, Fountaingrove Lodge will provide LGBT seniors not only a place to enjoy a meaningful retirement in a community of friend, but also access to the medical services they may need now or in the future — all in the privacy of their homes.

The goal is to offer independent living, and when the time comes, assisted living and memory care services. After decades of fighting for us, either in the street, the locker room, the classroom, or the boardroom, our seniors deserve the best care available to them.

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Alzheimer’s to be Treated by Replacing Faulty Genes, Expert Predicts After Discovery of 11 Key Genes that Raise Risk

Alzheimer’s will be treated or even prevented by replacing faulty genes, an expert in the disease has predicted.

Men and women could be given a nasal spray packed with healthy versions of the defective genes that cause the illness.

Professor Julie Williams, of Cardiff University, said the entire population could eventually be screened in middle-age to identify those at most risk of the memory-robbing disease.

They could then be given cutting-edge gene therapy and other treatments to stop the disease ever developing.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect more than 800,000 Britons, with the number expected to double in a generation as the population ages.

Existing drugs delay the progress of Alzheimer’s, but their failure to tackle the underlying cause in the brain means that the effect quickly wears off and the disease soon takes its devastating course.

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The professor, who was given a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours last year for her work on Alzheimer’s, made the prediction after jointly leading the biggest-ever study into the genetics of the disease.

The landmark study, involving more than 180 researchers from 15 countries, pinpointed 11 genes that raise the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The size of the collaboration allowed them to identify more genes in less than three years than have been found in the past two decades.

By taking the total to 21, it also more than doubles the number of known Alzheimer’s genes, the journal Nature Genetics reports.

Alzheimer’s charities said the ‘exciting’ discovery of genes linked with the disease ‘opens up new avenues to explore in the search for treatments for the condition’.

The new genes were found by comparing the DNA of more than 25,000 people suffering from Alzheimer’s with that of 48,000 people without the disease.

Professor Williams, who is chief scientific adviser to the Welsh Assembly in addition to being a working researcher, said: ‘What surprised us most about the findings was the very strong pattern that showed several genes implicating the body’s immune system in causing dementia.

‘Each individual gene will carry a relatively low risk but when you put all the information together, they are telling us an interesting and novel story and that takes us in a new direction.’

She added that the find needs to be followed up with ‘great urgency’ to determine just how the genes cause dementia. Knowing this will speed the search for new drug treatments.

But another possibility is correcting the flawed DNA, or the genetic variations that cause Alzheimer’s, by giving people a nasal spray packed with healthy genes.

Professor Williams said: ‘I do think that in ten years’ time we might be looking at a genetic therapy. That might be feasible but not quite yet.

‘If you have variation that you know is contributing to a disease, the most effective way of reducing the risk is to change the variation in a very precise way. Genetic therapies will allow you to just change the elements that are contributing to the disease.

‘Drugs may not be precise and can cause side-effects.’

She added that ‘in the distant future’ everyone in their 40s or 50s could be screened for dementia genes and given genetic therapy and other treatments in a bid to stop the disease ever developing.

The study also suggested links between Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Professor Hugh Perry of the Medical Research Council, which part-funded the study, as did Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Understanding how our genetic code contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias and neurodegenerative diseases is a crucial part of the puzzle in learning how we can prevent their devastating effects.

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Life Expectancy for Someone With Alzheimer’s

Knowing the life expectancy of someone with Alzheimer’s can help your family prepare for the gradually increasing amounts of care giving that eventually will be needed. Someone in the final stages of the disease, for example, requires constant hands-on care. Estimating life expectancy can help you and your family plan ahead for all the practical and financial issues you’ll face.

What’s the average life expectancy of someone with Alzheimer’s?

The general rule of thumb is that a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can expect to live half as along as a peer who doesn’t have the disease. For example, the average 75-year-old in 2007 can expect to live another 12 years. A 75-year-old with Alzheimer’s, in contrast, would be expected to live for six more years.

It’s hard to gauge an individual’s life expectancy based solely on the stage of Alzheimer’s. That’s partly because the length of each stage (early/middle/late) can vary greatly from individual to individual. Some people live 15 or more years after diagnosis, including many years with relatively mild impairment, while others decline rapidly and die within a few years of being diagnosed. In general, someone who’s just beginning to show symptoms can be expected to live longer than someone of the same age with end-stage Alzheimer’s.

Scientists have a growing understanding of which Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to outlive their peers with the disease. In 2004, a University of Washington study funded by the National Institute on Aging (a branch of the National Institutes of Health) identified several factors that influence life expectancy:

Gender. Women in the study tended to live longer than men — an average of six years after diagnosis, compared with four years for men.

Age at diagnosis. People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in their 70s had longer survival times than those older than 85. The male-female difference shrank among those who were older when they first developed the disease. Newly diagnosed 85-year-old women in the study had a median life expectancy of 3.9 years, compared with 6 years for unaffected women of the same age. A man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 85 had a life expectancy of 3.3 years in the study, compared with 4.7 years for a man of that age without the disease.

Severity of symptoms. The more significant the impairment at the time of diagnosis, the shorter the probable number of years left. People over 85 who wander or have trouble walking, for example, are among those with the poorest survival rates.

Also showing diminished survival rates were study subjects who scored the worst on a commonly used memory and cognition (thinking skills) test, the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE).This test asks subjects to do a series of simple tasks, including answering questions about the date and place, remembering three objects, and counting backward by increments. An MMSE score refers to the number of correct answers given out of a total of 30. A five-point drop in score over the course of a year was linked to decreased survival rates among patients in the study.

However, simply scoring poorly doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have long to live. Sometimes a poor MMSE score is the first indication of cognitive trouble, which may indicate the very start of Alzheimer’s and therefore a longer life expectancy than predicted for someone who’s had memory problems for years.

Note: There are multiple factors that can influence an MMSE score. The test is not an Alzheimer’s diagnostic test — in fact, no such test exists.

Other health problems. Survival was also poorest among those aged 85 and older who had histories of diabetes, congestive heart failure, or a past heart attack.

What often happens in people with Alzheimer’s disease is that their general health suffers when, in the late stages, they forget or find it difficult to eat, don’t sleep properly, lose motor skills, and develop bedsores. This sets the stage for infection, such as pneumonia, or the worsening of other chronic ailments. It’s those factors, not the Alzheimer’s disease itself, that ultimately result in most deaths.

Bear in mind that the facts above represent group averages. Your parent, of course, is an individual with a unique health history. And Alzheimer’s is a disease whose pace can vary widely from person to person. Still, having even a rough sense of what to expect can provide a glimmer of useful light at a difficult time.

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Exercise keeps Alzheimer’s at bay: Walking Releases Chemical which Helps Keep the Brain Healthy

Walking could hold key to slowing onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Chemical produced by body during exercise could be given as injection

A rigorous walk could hold the key to slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in later life.

A natural chemical produced by the body during exercise could one day be given as an injection to inhibit the diseases, researchers say.

The protein, called FNDC5, is produced by muscular exertion and is released into the bloodstream as a hormone called irisin.

A rigorous walk could hold the key to slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in later life

A rigorous walk could hold the key to slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in later life

They hope to use it to keep the neurons in the human brain healthy while also making new ones.

‘What is exciting is that a natural substance can be given in the bloodstream that can mimic some of the effects of endurance exercise on the brain,’ said professor Bruce Spiegelman, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

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‘Our results indicate that FNDC5/irisin has the ability to control a very important neuro-protective pathway in the brain.’

In the study, laboratory mice regularly ran on a wheel for 30 days. The exercise spurred a rise in the FNDC5 protein. That in turn increased a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic protein (BDNF) in a part of the brain involved in learning and memory.

A natural chemical produced by the body during exercise could one day be given as an injection to inhibit the diseases, researchers say

A natural chemical produced by the body during exercise could one day be given as an injection to inhibit the diseases, researchers say

They used a harmless virus to deliver the protein to mice through the bloodstream, in hopes the FNDC5 could reach the brain and raise BDNF production.

Seven days later, they examined the mouse brains and observed a significant increase in BDNF in the hippocampus area of the brain.

Professor Spiegelman says more research is needed and the next step is to develop a stable form of irisin.

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