Kan-Lin Chu reads a handout on improving your memory in the lobby of the Hotel Oakland, a low-income senior housing facility in downtown Oakland, California. (David Gorn/California Healthline)
By David Gorn Kaiser Health News
Hui-Zhen Li doesn’t speak English, but here she can speak freely. She’s standing amid more than 150 Chinese seniors, all perched on metal folding chairs or slouching in wheelchairs, packed wall to wall in the main lobby of the Hotel Oakland.
Li is 89 years old, she knows her own mind, and she’s not afraid to speak it.
“Don’t think you are useless because you’re old,” Li tells the group, admonishing them with a raised finger. “I am 89, and I am not useless. It’s important to always think about your health. You have to always use your brain or you will start to lose memory.”
The gathering at this low-income housing project in downtown Oakland, California, is called Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
It’s part of an ambitious plan to help elderly residents, many of them Asian immigrants, take control of their health — in part by joining at least one of 14 groups intended to enhance their physical and mental well-being. Continue reading →
The Los Angeles-area chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is splitting from the national organization, the latest in a string of departures that could impact the national group’s bottom line.
The chapter, which covers Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, announced its decision Thursday to separate and form its own organization.
Chapters in San Diego and Orange County, California announced similar plans late last year, as did chapters in New York City and New Jersey.
The departures come after the Alzheimer’s Association voted last fall to consolidate into one national organization that will centrally manage the funds and programs for people living with the disease throughout the United States.
Currently, local chapters are affiliated with the umbrella national group and help fund its operations and research. But they are independent nonprofits that keep about 60 percent of the money they raise and largely set their own priorities on how to spend it.
Under the new structure, the Chicago-based national headquarters will be the only legal entity of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The Los Angeles-area chapter decided to go out on its own because of concerns that the consolidation would take away local flexibility and make it harder to provide services tailored to the diverse population of Southern California, said Susan Galeas, president and CEO of the new organization, known as Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles.
Galeas said she and the local board also feared the national organization wouldn’t place as much of a priority on funding direct care for people with Alzheimer’s and their families as the local chapter does. Continue reading →
Unpaid caregivers and family members spend more than 100 hours a month, on average, assisting elderly people with dementia who live in the community and not in residential care or nursing homes, according to a new study.
As people live longer, the number with dementia will increase, further straining caregiving resources.
The time commitment was significantly higher than for similar caregivers who helped elderly people without dementia, who themselves put in an average 73 hours each month.
Overall, people with dementia make up 10 percent of noninstitutionalized adults age 65 or older, but they account for more than 40 percent of unpaid caregivers’ time. Continue reading →
As Alzheimer’s Symptoms Worsen, Hard Conversations About How To Die
September 19, 2015 • Six years after he was diagnosed with both cancer and Alzheimer’s, Greg O’Brien is beginning to talk to his doctor, and to his family, about his “exit strategy” for the final years of his life.
When my mother, Pauline, was 70, she lost her sense of balance. She started walking with an odd shuffling gait, taking short steps and barely lifting her feet off the ground. She often took my hand, holding it and squeezing my fingers.
Her decline was precipitous. She fell repeatedly. She stopped driving and she could no longer ride her bike in a straight line along the C& O Canal. The woman who taught me the sidestroke couldn’t even stand in the shallow end of the pool. “I feel like I’m drowning,” she’d say.
A retired psychiatrist, my mother had numerous advantages — education, resources and insurance — but still, getting the right diagnosis took nearly 10 years. Each expert saw the problem through the narrow prism of their own specialty. Surgeons recommended surgery. Neurologists screened for common incurable conditions.
The answer was under their noses, in my mother’s hunches and her family history. But it took a long time before someone connected the dots. My mother was using a walker by the time she was told she had a rare condition that causes gait problems and cognitive loss, and is one of the few treatable forms of dementia.
“This should be one of the first things physicians look for in an older person,” my mother said recently. “You can actually do something about it.” Continue reading →
A new Brigham and Women’s Hospital study finds that we may not need quite as much genetic counseling as we’d thought. Particularly on relatively cut-and-dried findings, like test results on a common gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Listen to WBUR host Anthony Brooks speak with Dr. Robert C. Green:
For the millions of seniors who worry that losing their keys may mean they’re losing their minds, the health law now requires Medicare to cover a screening for cognitive impairment during an annual wellness visit.
But in a recent review of the scientific research, an influential group said there wasn’t enough evidence to recommend dementia screening for asymptomatic people over age 65.
As states eye strategies to control the costs of caring for Alzheimer’s patients, a New York model is drawing interest, and findings from a study of Minnesota’s effort to replicate it shows it could lead to significant savings and improved services. Continue reading →