Stages 3 and 4 Alzheimer’s Disease-Caregiver Response

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Last week I talked about how to know if it’s Alzheimer’s disease and I ended the segment on Thursday with a discussion about stages one and two.  I promised that, for this week, I’d finish up the stages.

I thought it would be most helpful for you if I not only describe the stages, but also provide some information as to how, you as a caregiver, might prepare and respond in a particular stage. After all, as a caregiver, you want to know what is coming and how to deal with it.

Let’s just review quickly.  You can click on the link, Stages of Alzheimer’s-Caregiver’s Response to get more complete information.  But for now, you may remember that Stage one is really not a stage of Alzheimer’s, but rather a stage when no symptoms are present. Stage two there is very mild decline that may not be noticeable, except by the most astute observer.

For today, let’s talk about Stages three and four:

Stage 3-This is the stage where memory issues become much more obvious.  Even the friends and family members begin to notice changes.  The person may find it difficult to remember names, especially of people he or she hasn’t known for a long time.  If your loved one is still working or is involved in social activities like card playing, etc. associates may begin to notice that performance on the job or mental acuity in social settings is slipping.  You may also notice that planning or organizing tasks become more difficult.  Balancing the checkbook or following a recipe may take longer than before and may cause frustration.  Medical evaluation may or may not be able to confirm with a  high percentage of accuracy if the person has Alzheimer’s disease at this juncture.

Stage 4-I mentioned in an earlier post that although there are seven individual stages, the disease is also broken into larger categories.  This stage falls into the mild or early stage Alzheimer’s disease category.  It is characterized by obvious memory loss regarding current events and personal information, such as address, phone number and names of close family members.  By this stage, it’s tough for the affected person to plan a dinner party, pay bills, balance checkbook and keep tabs on person al finances. At this point, decline is obvious enough that friends and family members are sure that something is awry. Often, the disease can be diagnosed with a fairly high level of surety by this point.

Caregiver Response-At this stage in the game, as a caregiver, you need to swing into action.  If your loved one has not yet been evaluated; then make a doctor’s appointment and get that done right away.  You should also consider who will become the primary caregiver(s).  Getting Power of Attorney is very important so that you or someone is able to make important decisions on behalf of your loved one. Be sure to include health care responsibilities as well.  You will also want to have conversations with your loved one about taking over the finances, paying bills, etc.  Depending on the amount of assets your loved one has, you’ll want to see an elder law attorney to see how best to proceed to protect the assets of your loved one.  If your loved one will be on Medicare then you’ll need to complete the paperwork to get that process started.  In short, this is the time you will put systems in place to help you as the disease progresses.  Most of all though, try to understand how scary this is for your family member.  They have been living with the signs and not fully understanding what is happening for a long time now. Let them know that you will be there to help and support in any way you can. Allow them to express frustration and don’t take it personally.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss stages five and six.

Free Diabetic Samples

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Everyone loves free samples of products. I’ve collected samples just for people with diabetes! If you find a link that is broken or a site no longer offering free samples, please leave me a comment and I’ll repair or replace the link. The links have been left intact so you can cut in paste just in case you use a browser that cannot see clickables.

Do you know of samples not listed? Please submit them in the comments. I will make a page devoted to free samples just for diabetics, too. Keep an eye out for a new page, as I will be contacting companies to ask for free samples just for Battling Diabetes readers!

Skin Cream

Diabeti-Derm –
Gilden Tree-

Wound Care

StaphaSeptic from Tec Labs-

General Health

AZO Yeast Pills-

Diabetes Outlook Package/Bag-
Diabetes Publications and newsletters-


GlucoBurst Gel-
Bclear Drink-
Free Snack-
Stevia-$1 shipping to US-


Free Diabetes Alert Necklace-

Anatomy of a Hospital Nurse

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Which of these is your hospital nurse?

Is it Nurse Ratched

of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?


Carol Hathaway from E.R maybe?

Read more

Healthcare Hurdles

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

You may be like I was. Too trusting.

In 2004, I found a golf-ball sized lump under the skin on my torso — just to the right of where my stomach is.

It really scared me …. so off I went to my family doctor who seemed perplexed, too. He sent me to a surgeon who removed that lump. It was no more of a hassle than having a tooth pulled, or getting stitches in your leg. Eight stitches later, home I went.

When I heard two weeks later that I had been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive and deadly form of lymphoma, I was completely blown away. Over the course of the next three months, I went from my very trusting, very reliant, relationship with my doctors, to my complete lack of distrust for the American healthcare system. Please note, that doesn’t say I distrust all the people who are part of it. No — it means that what I learned was that the system is set up to fail patients and it fails them every day.

It turns out that my diagnosis with a fatal form of lymphoma was, instead, a misdiagnosis. I had no cancer. Whatever I did have was gone — and it has never recurred. I have never had treatment. I have never seen another lump.

I went from being told I would be dead within months, to finding out I was as healthy as any other mid-50s age woman who has only been moderately “good” about preventive and healthy habits throughout her lifetime.

The hurdles to getting the right answers, the right treatment, and a longer, healthier life are many. Misdiagnosis is just one of them. Lack of diagnosis, bad treatment recommendations, errors in test result reporting, drug errors, patient safety including surgical errors, and of course, problems with insurance reimbursements or any other payment problems are all hurdles to getting good care.

My husband will tell you I have gone from being a Healthcare Pollyanna to the development of what we call my “cynical crust.”

As it turns out, however, that cynical crust serves me well. It makes me keep asking questions — always a good thing — and it helps me develop advice for those of you who read my blogs, columns, etc.

There will be times we have to trust — but we need to trust wisely. If we develop a sense of trust knowing what the possible problems are, then we know when it’s time to begin questioning our care.

We may not have those many years of medical school behind us, but we patients know our bodies better than anyone else does. That knowledge, combined with intuition and common sense, will help us overcome those healthcare hurdles that might otherwise prevent us from getting the care we need.

Friday Cancer News, March 28, 2008

March 28, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER


An Update from the folks at Seventy K: If you live in California Check This Out!

Seventy K is a new campaign to raise awareness about the lack of rights that adolescent and young adult cancer (AYA) patients, those ages 15 to 39, have in the organized medical world. AYA patients, especially those in the younger end of the spectrum, tend to fall through the cracks of being considered either a pediatric or adult cancer patient, and sometimes face gaps in services and treatments. Developed by Dr. Leonard Sender, an AYA Cancer specialist, the SeventyK project includes an AYA-specific Bill of Rights which will ensure that adolescent and young adult cancer patients have adequate and specific treatment programs, similar to those developed for young children and adult cancer patients.

In addition, Dr. Sender, who works at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County and at the University of California -Irvine Medical Center, will be speaking at a special free event coming up.

When: Saturday April 12, 2008 from 5-8pm

Where: Dave and Buster’s
20 City Blvd., West Bldg. G, Suite 1 Orange, CA 92686

RSVP: Reserve your space by April 4th by calling 714-289-4735 or emailing

CRAZY SEXY CANCER BOOT CAMP, April 18-20, 2008. The Crossings, Austin, Texas. Speakers: Kris Carr, Terri Cole, Peter Gold, Anne Gourley.

“Learn how to successfully navigate the road to recovery as you refuse to let yourself be defined by cancer.”

Read more

Caregiver’s Corner – Get Some Exercise

March 28, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

If you are like most caregivers who are battling Alzheimer’s disease, you are so tired that the very thought of driving to a gym, waking early to exercise, or taking time to put in an exercise tape stresses you and makes you feel even more tired and burned out.  But I promise you this – if you exercise 30 to 60 minutes per day, especially if you can manage to get outside and catch some fresh air and sunshine, you will feel much less stressed and more energized.

Exercise has numerous benefits, here are three:

Exercise improves mental sharpness, in part, due to the increased oxygen to the brain.  Some studies have even shown that those who exercise have sharper minds, faster reaction time and better memory than those who don’t exercise.

Exercise reduces stress-not that you have stress as a caregiver, but on the outside chance that you do, exercise will really help.  I recall feeling as if my head was going to explode.  I wanted to punch, kick, and scream simultaneously.  A brisk walk always helped me to put things in perspective and burn off some of that negative energy.

Exercise increases energy-I know you are tired, very tired.  Exercise will help you to feel energized. Yes, you get tired after a good aerobic workout, but it’s a “good tired.”

You know the benefits, here’s how to squeeze it in to your already hectic life

Make exercise a priority!  You are no good to your loved one if you are tired, sluggish and empty.

Take small steps.  Instead of circling the mall or grocery store parking lot for the closest space, intentionally park further away and w-a-l-k.

Make exercise a priority!  Tell your friends and family members of your desire AND plan to exercise.  Ask them to hold you accountable and check in on your progress from time to time.

Ask for help.  Your job is often 24/7.  Ask for some help so that you can get out, breathe some fresh air, and get your heart rate up a little.

Make exercise a priority!  Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Walking is certainly the least expensive and most convenient exercise, but if it doesn’t appeal to you consider the following:

Swimming – It’s easy on the joints, and provides an awesome head to toe workout.

Organized Class – Aerobics, water aerobics, dance, kickboxing and martial arts all will give you a great aerobic workout and help you to relieve tons of stress.

No matter what you do, GET MOVINGMake exercise a priority!  Find something you enjoy and get out and exercise.  The benefits far outweigh the costs in time and money!

Online Communities for Cancer Support

March 27, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Lunch with friends. And you DO NOT want the topic of conversation every single week to be YOUR cancer. And even if you wanted the world to rotate around YOU– because hello, let’s get real, most days your mortality is more important to you than your friend’s dishing of professional workplace dirt–often your friends try as they may, don’t always GET IT.

Who does get it? Someone who has been there. Someone who IS THERE RIGHT NOW.

Which is why a social community is such a great source of support, information and yes, FUN.

Some communities remain chat rooms and bulletin boards, while others have evolved into true multi-feature dynamic communities.

General Requisites for Most Social Communities:

  • Create a password
  • Submit your email address
  • Choose a user name-your name in the community
  • Decide how much or how little about yourself you want to share
  • Picture time-your smiling face or not

Stumbling along in the user community I’ve discovered a few things that are helpful.

Use an alternative email address for your community messages. It’s much easier and tidier to keep all facets of your world separate.

Do share about yourself. Chances are there is someone out there who does get you, right where you are in your journey. Cancer battlers have more things in common than you might think.

Visit often and comment. You are an important part of the community.

Put up a picture. It makes everything more personal. Or how about an avatar?


Places to get an avatar:

Yahoo Avatars


Many social communities also give you free, create your own blog options and/or create your own page options.

The best way to find your way around these communities is to just, (sorry) DO IT.

Wander around, make friends, invite friends and remember, when all else fails, try the HELP icon.

Read more

Diabetes and The Sugar Myth

March 27, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

No Sugar Is Best?

For nearly all of the 20th century most people believed that to control their diabetes they had to avoid sugar completely. Sugar free candy, cookies, cakes, and other foods became the staple treat for diabetics all over the world. If you wanted to buy your sweetheart something for Valentine’s Day (or any holiday) you just looked for sugar-free chocolate.

The only problem with this is that diabetics were still having problems controlling their blood glucose levels. Even without their dreaded arch-nemesis, sugar, diabetics were (and still are) having high and low swings. Many were and are not able to figure it out. What were/are they doing wrong?

Food Raises Glucose Levels Higher

Back in 1994 a discovery that the foods you eat can raise blood glucose levels higher than sugar surprised many. This is one reason your doctor may warn you to avoid starches. The amount of carbohydrates in certain starchy foods can dramatically raise blood glucose levels. For example, normal white sugar has a GI (glycemic index) of 92 whereas white bread has a GI of 100, meaning the bread will cause a rise in blood glucose faster than sugar!

The Fat Factor

Another problem with sugar free diabetics foods is that they provide a false sense of security. You may believe that it is safe to consume more of a snack if it is sugar free. This is far from reality, though. Sugar free foods can contain more calories and fat than traditional ’sugared’ foods. Due to insulin and other medications causing a resistance to weight loss in some diabetics, adding extra fat in a diet can be extremely detrimental to keeping a healthy base weight.

So, What Do I Eat?

The good news? Pretty much anything you’d like, in moderation. Popular fad diets advocate high protein/low carbohydrates. The honest truth is that these diets will work. But, in a diabetic, the results can be weight loss plus a serious loss of health. Too much protein can put the body into ketosis which can be deadly for a diabetic.

Avoiding foods entirely can make you crave them more. Instead of avoiding a particular food or food group, allow yourself to enjoy it in smaller amounts. Be aware of what causes your blood glucose to rise and adjust your daily diet accordingly. Had a baked potato with your steak? Then skip the pie (or other dessert). Love steamed cauliflower? Just halve that brownie you want with a friend or your kid.

Remember to speak with your doctor before making any diet changes!

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease – Caregiver Response

March 27, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

This post discusses Alzheimer’s Disease Stages One and Two 

I promised that I’d talk about stages, and in the meantime, I got a GREAT idea that I believe will be quite beneficial.  You and I both know that there are numerous places that you can get information about the STAGES of Alzheimer’s disease. As a caregiver, I really wanted to understand what was coming next, so those sites and resources definitely filled that need.  As time went on, though, I discovered that as much as I needed to understand the stage and what was coming next, I needed to know what that meant for me as a caregiver.  I wanted answers to questions such as, how would my role change as the stages progressed?  As my mom’s need for care increased, were there organizations I could look to for help with daily activities?  At what point should we consider adult day care and would there be a time that she would  no longer be “eligible” for adult day care?  What is assisted living and is it realistic for us to consider an Alzheimer’s care facility? Does everyone with Alzheimer’s eventually become incontinent?

So, what I propose to do is not just share the stages with you, but also help you to be prepared and armed to battle Alzheimer’s disease from stage one to stage seven.  The format will be as follows, I’ll describe the stage, provide links for more information and then give you pertinent information regarding your role as a caregiver. 

Today, let’s take a look at stages one and two.

Stage 1 is really a misnomer in the sense that it refers to a normal individual who has no memory issues.  I am not sure who fits into this category, certainly not those of us who are parents of toddlers and/or teens.  On a serious note, though, this is not a stage of disease, rather it is the stage BEFORE the disease.

Stage 2–Person has very mild decline that appears as a slight, but increasing lapse of memory; such as frequently misplacing keys and glasses.  The extremely close and observant friend or family member may notice.  At this stage, its easily shrugged off as stress, “senior moments,” or just plain old age.

Caregiver Response–At this stage there is usually not a “caregiver” per se, unless there is some other medical condition that requires it.  In most cases others are not aware that there is a problem.  The affected individual may feel something is wrong and either be adept at hiding it or just not able to pinpoint the problem.

Although there are seven stages, they are often broken into four larger categories such as mild or early stage, moderate or mid-stage, moderately severe or mid-stage and severe or late stage Alzheimer’s disease.

In the coming week, I’ll describe the remaining stages and provide a Caregiver Response for each stage, so that you will know what’s coming, how to prepare and how to respond so that you can provide the best care for your loved one.

In the meantime…Penny for your thoughts? Please feel free to comment specifically on this post, ask a general question or contact me privately at

Coming up tomorrow–Caregivers Corner

If I had just one piece of advice….

March 27, 2008 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

That’s a question that is asked of me frequently…. out of all the topics relating to empowering patients to take charge of their own healthcare, what would be the most important piece of advice I could give them?


The answer is easy: never stop asking questions.

You accomplish so much if you just keep asking them. Here are some of the ways:

1. If you keep asking questions of yourself, you will keep yourself engaged. Does my arm really ache more today than it did yesterday? Am I prepared enough for my doctor’s appointment? Did I remember to take my pills this morning?

2. If you keep asking questions of your doctor, at least three things will happen. First, your doctor will learn how engaged you are in the process of getting back to ‘well’. Second, your doctor will respect you because you are so engaged. Third, you will be confirming what your doctor says and does, which will keep him/her from making mistakes (or at least will cut down on the number of mistakes that could be made.)

3. If you keep asking questions during research about a medical problem you are having, you will be more empowered through learning about your problem. Understanding why something went wrong in your body, or understanding how it happened, and understanding the possibilities of how it can get fixed and why that might work will go a long way toward helping your health to improve.

4. Confusion gets in the way of getting healthy. If your doctor uses words you don’t understand, then ask their meaning. If the doctor or one of her staff members tells you to go for a test, and you don’t understand why you need that test and/or what it will (or won’t) prove, then ask. If there is a charge on your bill that you don’t understand, ask. Don’t allow confusion to make you feel worse than you already do.

Continually asking questions will help you feel like you are taking command of your health challenge. And taking command is one way of feeling empowered. When you think you’ve asked all the questions you have, ask one more!

Wise patients know that their questioning will go a long way toward helping them find their best medical outcomes.

Arthritis Drug Tocilizumab Effective In Juvenile and Adult RA

March 27, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is is an autoimmune inflammatory disease affecting the patient systemically.

It is associated with progressive joint damage, pain, fatigue, and disability. Systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SOJIA) is a more specific type of childhood diabetes with an unknown cause. Both conditions are related to the activity of the cytokine compound interleukin 6, which is involved in the activation of cells in the inflammatory response.

According to two studies published in the March 22, 2008 issue of The Lancet, the arthritis drug tocilizumab is effective in both juvenile and adult rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

In the first of the two investigations, Professor Josef Smolen, Division of Rheumatology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and colleagues, performed a phase III trial of 623 adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

The patients were randomly assigned to receive tocilizumab intravenously every four weeks at one of the following doses: 8 mg/kg body weight (205 patients), 4 mg/kg (214 patients) or a placebo (204). This was paired in all groups with 10-25 mg doses each week of methotrexate, an arthritis drug that has shown to be stable before the study at these concentrations.

The primary endpoint of the study was the proportion of patients maintaining 20% improvement in symptoms of RA, according to criteria set forward by the American College of Rheumatology, also referred to as an ACR20 response.

More ACR 20 responses were recorded in tocilizumab patients than in the placebo group. That is, at 24 weeks, this was true for 59% of the patients given 8 mg/kg, 48% given 4 mg/kg, and 26% given the placebo. Patients in the 8 mg/kg were four times more likely to give an ACR20 response than the placebo, and patients in the 4 mg/kg group were more than two and a half time more likely than a placebo.

Tocilizumab is available in the market under the brand name ACTEMRA™ — a product of Roche and Chugai.

Read more details from Medical News Today.

Laughter Therapy

March 26, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

How come Sherlock Holmes never paid any income taxes?

Brilliant deductions.

Laughter therapy is one of my personal favorite complementary and alternative medicine therapies.

Laughter has been proven through clinical trials to boost endorphins, our natural pain killers, and suppress epinephrine the stress hormone. The result is less pain and less stress. Less pain and less stress is an obvious boost for the immune system. A very good thing.

Once again the healing power of the mind comes into play here. Laughter is not proven to cure but it certainly is a tool, part of your arsenal in the battle against cancer.

Laughter the Best Medicine, Research Points to the Power of a Good Giggle. This report by ABC News shares that “a study of 20 men and women conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that 95 percent of the volunteers experienced increased blood flow while watching a funny movie, such as There’s Something About Mary, while 74 percent had decreased blood flow during a heavier picture, such as Saving Private Ryan. The results lasted about 12 to 24 hours.”

Read more

Cod Liver Oil Against Rheumatoid Arthritis

March 26, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

I have been on fish oil supplementation since (I think) the last half of October 2007.

I think I’ve mentioned that here, at least a couple of times. I felt the benefits right away, even before the beach/sand therapy worked on me.

Now, according to a UK study, intake of cod liver oil significantly reduced the amount of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have to take in.

Taking cod liver oil could allow arthritis sufferers to cut back on potentially dangerous drugs, according to a new study.

The research could offer new hope to the about 500,000 people in Britain with rheumatoid arthritis.

Scientists believe it could allow hundreds of thousands of sufferers to scale down their use of anti inflammatory drugs, the most common treatment for the disease.

Although they ease pain, the drugs can cause side-effects such as high blood pressure and can increase the risk of a heart attack.

Because of the risks, doctors have traditionally limited their use and patients are advised to take the drugs only for short periods at a time.

But many sufferers are forced to take the pills on an almost constant basis to cope with the pain of their condition.

Cod liver oil could allow them to cut their use of the drugs by a third, the research shows.

Scientists in Dundee and Edinburgh followed 97 adults with rheumatoid arthritis, half of whom took 10g of high strength cod liver oil every day and half of whom took a placebo.

Read the full report from the UK Telegraph.

Interesting Story for Battling Arthritis

March 26, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

The following email, I got from Julia Gaynor. Read on:

Hi Gloria,

I know you cover arthritis on your blog and think this will be of interest. The number of knee replacements done annually in the U.S. will jump 525% by 2030. And the money spent on these procedures is expected to reach $65.2 billion by 2015; Medicare and Medicaid programs pay for about 60% of U.S. joint replacements.

The increasing cost to hospitals and the ever-growing number of people in debilitating pain is driving the orthopedic industry to devise more cost-effective solutions. Now, instead of one-size-fits-many or gender-specific implants, ConforMIS, Inc. has created proprietary iFit Technology to convert MRI and CT Scans into personalized, patient-specific, minimally invasive implants and accompanying instrumentation, which replaces $25,000 worth of traditional instrumentation.

This ‘image-to-implant’ technology allows for precisely sized and shaped implants that reduce the need for cartilage or bone resection and radically simplify the surgical procedure which means less blood loss, and less time in the operating room and recovery time. The procedure also allows for full range of motion for the patient while preserving the joint for future treatment options. Patients are able to return to normal physical activity (we have a patient who is back to skiing competitively 5 months after surgery).

Would you be interested in speaking with a ConforMIS patient? I can also offer photos, graphics and videos, including one of a patient walking up stairs a week after surgery.

I look forward to your thoughts,



Julia Gaynor

Racepoint Group, Inc.

404 Wyman Street

Suite 375

Waltham, MA 02451

P: 781.487.4635

Alzheimer’s Disease-Testing and Diagnosis

March 26, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

This is the third post in a series looking at how do you know if its Alzheimer’s disease?  The first two posts, Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s and Dementia-the Differences laid a foundation for the symptomology, characteristics and key definitions.  In this post, I’ll discuss how medical professionals actually get to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

So, as our story continues, your suspicions have been verified.  Grandpa does indeed have dementia.  As we learned in yesterday’s post, the question now becomes, “what is the cause of the dementia?” Is it Alzheimer’s disease or some imposter?

Here is where it gets a little tricky, as there is no real test for Alzheimer’s disease.  Instead, medical professionals will begin the task of testing for certain conditions that cause dementia and as those conditions are ruled out, they become more and more certain that it is, in fact,  Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. Eric Tangalos of the Mayo Clinic suggests that elderly with memory problems should be tested thoroughly to confirm, with as much accuracy as possible, that it’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Let’s look at some of the tests and procedures that might take place:

Medical history-The doctor should review past medical history carefully.  She’ll use this information to notice family patterns, prior Alzheimer’s, mini strokes or strokes, etc.  You should make a list of all medications, dosage and approximate time your loved one has been taking them. This will be of tremendous help to your doctor.

Mental Status Testing-The doctor will ask simple things like the date and time. Other questions will be asked to determine if the person is aware of his surroundings or recognizes familiar people.  As a part of mental status testing, the doctor will probably do what is called a Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE).   Your loved one may be asked to:

  • Spell “world” backwards
  • Count backwards by 7’s from 100
  • Respond to questions regarding seasons and dates
  • Follow instructions, usually sequential such as sit down, cross your legs and fold your arms.

Physical exam-This one is pretty obvious, but the physician will be checking for causes of dementia such as previous strokes, alcoholism, thyroid problems and a host of conditions that might mimick Alzheimer’s disease. They may do blood tests to rule out things like infection, severe anemia and or vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, diabetes, kidney or liver issues.

Neurological Exam-The doctor is looking for lapses in brain and or nervous system function.  Generally, the physician will test speech, ability of the eyes to move, balance/coordination, muscles and reflexes.

Imaging–This does not happen in all cases, but it is a valuable tool as technology makes it more and more easier to actually see the brain and what is going on.

It is important to note that one or more of these categories of tests may take place at one appointment and may not require a specialist. 

You now know the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, you understand the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia and you know about testing and diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.

Please be reminded that YOU are your own (and your loved one’s) best advocate.  Trisha Torrey has a great post, “Taking Responsibility For Health Care Decisions,” that is a serious reminder that ultimately, we are responsible for our health care decisions.  So, ask questions until you understand what the doctor is saying, do your own research and then ask more questions.  If you have any doubts, get a second opinion.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

May I give you a virtual penny for your very real thoughts?  Please leave a comment or send a private message to:

Drug Addiction and The Effects On Loved Ones

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

By Sandee Foxten

We were high school sweethearts. Reunited after nearly 20 years, he was the one my heart had always belonged to. Love at first site is real. That is how we fell in love. The first time we saw each other, our eyes met and from that moment on, my life has never been the same. My first marriage ended in divorce and my second marriage left me as a young widowed mother of two. About a year after my husband’s death, I got a very shocking email. He was looking for me! My high school sweetie was trying to find me and I just broke down and cried in disbelief. At the time, I thought it was fate. I was on top of the world thinking that I would finally be with that one special person I never seemed to be able to put out of my mind. After talking for awhile and getting up to date on each others lives, I learned that his life was far from joyous. At the time, he was in a place in another state that helps drug addicts. He had a job and seemed pretty stable. He told me he had been clean for two years. Not knowing anything about drugs myself, I thought that all he needed was me. I thought that as long as he had my love and knew it was true, he would never feel the need for drugs again. My entire world was fixing to be turned upside down.

After driving to another state to be reunited with my old flame, we decided that he would move to my city so we could be together. He found a job really quick, but couldn’t find a decent place to stay. So I allowed him to stay with me. That is a move that didn’t take me long to regret. Once he stayed and I was in his arms, I didn’t want to let go of him again. So my home became his home. It didn’t take long to learn that he hadn’t given up cocaine. He started staying out all night. The first time, it wasn’t just all night, he was gone for several days. The truth started becoming reality not long after that. We had went out to a bar with some friends and after a few drinks, he wanted me to take him to buy drugs. I refused and told him we were going home. On the way home, we got into a heated argument and he tried to hit me. I was driving and I pulled over on the side of the at 4am and told him to get out. I wasn’t sure who this man was, but it wasn’t somebody I loved. I felt bad and went back to pick him up. We agreed that he would leave that night. He was going to pack his clothes and I would take him to the bus station. But when we got home, he took off in one of my vehicles. After we cooled down and he got his drugs out of his system, we agreed to work it out. But things only got worse. On payday, he wouldn’t bother coming home. He was gone for the weekend, getting high. Eventually, he started stealing from me. He stole items from my home to trade for drugs or money to get drugs. He stole my credit cards and drained my bank accounts. I had to take leave from my job because the situation was so stressful.

“Baby Blue” as I call him, was honestly a good man when he was sober. Very caring, very loving and gentle. But once he started drinking and doing cocaine, he became very abusive and destructive. The situation progressively worsened. While on drugs, he would make up stuff and see things that I didn’t see. I knew it was the drugs. But he would accuse me of trying to hide things. Such as he thought I was cheating on him and that is the last thing I would do. Eventually, he took a trip back to his home state and never returned. The bad part, he stole one of my vehicles in the process. I had to drive to another state and hunt him down only to find he didn’t have my vehicle. He said he let someone drive it to the store and they never returned it. I will never forget the pain of that night. He was so strung out on drugs and I had him in my hotel room planning on having him arrested for the theft of my vehicle. It was this night that I found out what no woman would ever want to here. Never in a million years did I think one man could hurt me so much. He told me what he had been doing there those past few days and it was like someone shot a bullet right into my heart. He had been running around with a prostitute and had also been selling himself to other men for drugs. This man that I loved so much was sleeping with other men. I just wanted to die at that moment. I could not believe this was happening. What more could I do? What I did next was the hardest thing I had ever been through next to the death of my husband.

He wanted more drugs. He wanted me to take him. At first, I refused. Then after a few moments, I agreed. My intention was to find out where the drug dealer lived. I was from out of state, but I am very good at directions. I remembered the name of the road and number on the house. After returning to the hotel, he went in the bathroom and did his drug thing. That was the one that finally made him tired enough to sleep. I rubbed his back for him to ensure he would go to sleep. It was already after daybreak, so I made my move. I called the police. Within an hour, there were three police cars outside the hotel room door. I talked to them outside. They entered the room and woke him up. After asking a few questions, they decided to arrest him. He started fighting with them and I thought they were going to break his neck when they through him down on the bed. I was standing beside the wall and I just fell down on my knees begging him not to fight. As they took him away, the cops came back in to comfort me and told me to go home and to never come back. That boy was no good for me and I needed to stay away from him.

I cried all the way home, a four hour drive. I never returned to my job because the stress caused a back injury to worsen. “Baby Blue” spent four months in a detention center for theft of my vehicle. Today, he is back out on the streets and still doing drugs. I do not know what I could have done to save him. I think he is content doing what he does. As for me, my kids were far more important than having a man to love and run after. No man will ever come before my kids. My experiences have lead me to start a blog about drug and alcohol abuse. I have received great reviews for my work on this blog.

Please take time to visit at

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The Ins and Outs of Venous Access

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Why a venous access device?

Venous, meaning vein, is the fastest route for delivering medication, blood and blood products in a consistent and safe and efficient manner.


The peripheral line

Peripheral access is obtained using a peripheral vein (hands, arms, feet or legs). Generally the hands and arms are used. Location and placement is determined by the condition of the patient’s veins and the reason for access.

An intravenous catheter is inserted using a needle covered by a flexible sheath. After insertion the needle is removed and the sheath remains inserted connected to a hub. This hub may then be connected to tubing for continuous intravenous therapy (IV) for blood or blood products, antibiotics or other medications. Often when the IV is completed and the site is still is in good condition, the access hub will receive a small cap. The cap will be used to flush the site with saline per protocols and is available for future medication delivery.

A sterile dressing will be placed over the insertion site and the catheter will remain in place for several days. These sites are not used for blood draws.

Central Venous Access Device:

All Central Venous Access Devices involve a catheter tip which rests in the superior vena cava of the heart, except a femoral (groin) line whose tip sits in the inferior vena cava.

X-ray is used to verify the correct placement of all CVADs.

A CVAD is chosen over a peripheral line for many reasons. Many drugs, especially chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer are damaging to small peripheral veins, resulting in the collapse, scarring or occlusion of the site. This leads to multiple sticks for new peripheral access sites. A CVAD will stay in place for a longer period of time, generally for the entire therapy regime or longer and most patients will go home with the device. Patients are then taught how to care for their CVAD devices at home.

A CVAD may eliminate the need for multiple laboratory blood draws.

Today’s CVAD catheter products enable the infusion of several medications, some incompatible, at the same time.

It is important to discuss with your doctor why you are having a CVAD placed. The more you know about your therapy the more comfortable you will be.

Four Common Types of CVAD:



This CVAD is called a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) and is non-surgically placed into the antecubital area of the arm (the front surface of the arm, at the elbow). The catheter which has a guide wire is then threaded to rest in the superior vena cava (the top opening of the heart) Several companies make this device. The photo shows a Bard brand PICC line, however; there are other brand names you may hear about such as Poly PICC or Groshong. Note the lumens or pigtails. These lines may be inserted at beside by a specialist nurse or a physician. These lines may be used for laboratory blood draws.

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Alzheimer’s and Dementia-The Differences

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

The terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably.  In fact, dementia is not Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s is not dementia, although, they are certainly related.

For example, let’s say you your stomach is bothering you. You can’t eat much and it’s difficult to drink.  At first you shrug it off and hope you’ll lose a few pounds, but then you try to ignore it and finally attempt to soothe it with over the counter medicines, nothing works.  You call your Dr. and make an appointment. A couple of days later, you find yourself in the Dr’s office.  She asks you some questions, examines you and declares, “You have an acute pain in your stomach.”  You think to yourself, “Uh….duh……tell me something I don’t already know.”

Well, if you take your grandfather to the Dr. because he is acting strange, and has a set of symptoms that concern you, and the Dr. says, “He has dementia,” and sends you home.  It is akin to telling you he has a pain, which brings me to my main point.

Dementia is a SYMPTOM.  It is caused by something.  What you know after hearing the word is simply this. The symptomology that caused you to take your grandfather to the doctor is called dementia.  The “pain in the brain,” so to speak, is dementia.  What you need to know now is, what is causing the dementia?  You can click on the link for a detailed definition, but for now, here’s a simple one from Dr. David Roeltgen.

“Dementia is an impairment of thinking and memory that interferes with a person’s ability to do things which he or she previously was able to do.”  Dementia is NOT a part of the normal course of aging.

There are many causes/types of dementia, some of the common ones are:

Parkinson’s disease, Picks disease, brain tumor, alcoholism, Acute B12 defeciency, Hunington’s disease, depression, multi-infarct, and of course, Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease: A progressive neurologic disease of the brain that leads to the irreversible loss of neurons and dementia. The clinical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease are progressive impairment in memory, judgment, decision making, orientation to physical surroundings, and language. A working diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is usually made on the basis of the neurologic examination. A definitive diagnosis can be made only at autopsy. (Definition adapted from

So, it’s important for you to ask questions, do some research of your own and then ask the doctor to do more tests to discover the CAUSE of the dementia.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss Alzheimer’s testing and diagnostic measures.

In the meantime, I’ll give you a “virtual” penny for your thoughts. Or if you’d rather comment privately, feel free to contact me at:  

Either way, I’d love to hear from you!

Preventing Arthritis: A Holistic Approach to Life Without Pain

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

This book has been mentioned to us by Tina at the comments section:Preventing Arthritis: A Holistic Approach to Life Without Pain Ronald M. Lawrence M.D. Ph.D. and Martin Zucker.

Thanks a lot Tina! I think I need to buy this book as well. What about you? If you think you need a copy of this book, grab it now from Amazon.

The Big FIVE-O

March 24, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Time to start screening for colon/colorectal cancer. NOW!


The Facts:

March is National Colon/Colorectal Awareness Month.

The lifetime risk for being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is 1 in 19.

90% of all colon cancer diagnoses are in people age 50 or older.

It is the third leading cancer diagnosis in men and the fourth in women.

The disease strikes about 150, 000 people and causes approximately 50,000 deaths per year.

African-American’s are the highest racial or ethnic group at risk in the U.S.

The disease usually starts with a polyp.

The 5 year survival rate for those diagnosed early is 90%

Only 39% of those diagnosed are diagnosed early.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.