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How Dementia is Diagnosed

Dementia is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of medical conditions caused by abnormal brain changes.  These changes cause a decline in cognitive abilities that impair daily activities and affect behavior. Since there is no one way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the process can be complicated.   A few common approaches to memory loss diagnosis are: Examining medical history Past and current medical conditions, medications and family history are discussed to try to identify medical issues that can cause symptoms of dementia. Be prepared to answer questions about psychiatric history, as well as cognitive and behavioral changes. Physical exam This is similar to a routine physical, but with an extensive review of medications and a collection of blood and urine samples. Family members might also be asked to answer questions about changes in your behavior or a decline in abilities. Neurological exam Reflexes, muscle strength, speech, coordination and sensation are tested to rule out other conditions that impair memory, like a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or brain tumors. Mental cognitive tests Tests are given to evaluate function, judgement, attention and language. Brain imaging Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) are used to rule out tumors, stroke, severe head trauma, and fluid in the brain—all which cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s, but are treated differently. Watch the following video to get a more detailed look at dementia diagnosis. Believe it or not, there are advantages to early detection. The earlier the diagnosis, the more options one has to manage their symptoms and possibly benefit from treatments and/or clinical drug trials. An early diagnosis also allows an individual more time to plan for their future---they can actively participate [...]

By |2021-03-05T08:52:41-06:00March 5th, 2021|Categories: Alzheimer's, Avalon Memory Care, Dementia, Memory Care, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Coronavirus Vaccine Brings High Hope to Avalon

It is a busy 2021, so far, with Avalon’s accelerated efforts to not only be one of the first senior living companies in *Texas to secure access to the coronavirus vaccine but one of the first to actually get the vaccine to their residents. Our new and established residents along with our staff of caregivers are now rolling up their sleeves to receive the Covid-19 inoculation. Avalon has a partnership with CVS Drug Stores which is supplying and administering the Pfizer vaccine that comes in two doses a few weeks apart. Medical personnel are coming to the community to provide the inoculation. Avalon’s first round of shots started December 29, 2020 and so far, according to Community Liaison, Holly Bagwell, everyone has tolerated it well. The second round of the vaccine will be given at the end of January or early February. Holly says, “Many families have expressed great enthusiasm for the rollout of the vaccine at Avalon.” For any family that has been considering a move for a loved one into Avalon, now is the time! Those who sign an agreement to secure their space at Avalon now and before the second dose of the vaccine on February 1st, will be included in this early senior living vaccine round. Reach out today to Holly Bagwell who will immediately get the process rolling. After both phases of the vaccine have been administered, at the recommendation of Health and Human Services, Avalon will continue the CDC’s Infectious Disease Protocol for preventative measures anyway. Typical screenings upon entry will stay in place and family visitations will still be allowed under these conditions: * outdoor visits (weather permitting) * visits with a designated family member who agrees to [...]

By |2021-01-27T12:29:15-06:00January 27th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Dementia News Summary of 2020

COVID-19 overshadowed much of the news around dementia related discoveries and advances in 2020. However, some important research and development did occur including important advancements in the early detection, control, and even in the treatment of dementia. Below is a brief summary of the pages (and pages and pages) of dementia news for 2020. Research News Medications Aducanumab While there are no medications to prevent or cure dementia yet, several new drugs are showing some promise results, including one called Aducanumab. It is now under FDA review (after some initial doubt re: its efficacy). The makers of Aducanumab provided additional evidence in 2020 that the drug can delay the onset of dementia by reducing aggregated amyloid beta – a protein that normally plays an essential role in memory loss later in life. If approved, Aducanumab will be the first therapy shown to slow dementia-related cognitive decline. Besides ongoing doubts about its efficacy, the therapy is also very pricey (about $50,000 per year per patient, not including imaging and other medical costs to monitor its effects) and its impact to Medicare funding. Early detection initiatives The PET scan is the gold-standard for detecting tau tangles, which are a pre-symptomatic predictor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  The tau proteins – are typically found in brain cells– is associated with multiple brain diseases. Researchers are developing faster, less expensive, and more widely-available alternative methods to detecting tau using blood or cerebrospinal fluid sampling and analysis. The newer methods can result in earlier disease detection which is important for patient care and treatment decision. Via blood and plasma-based biomarkers Several new blood-based biomarkers are in various stages of testing. These blood-based biomarkers are more accurate than previous technologies for early [...]

By |2021-01-06T09:56:48-06:00January 6th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

National Hand Washing Awareness Month

December - National Handwashing Awareness Month Nine months ago, many of us suddenly started standing over the sink with our hands full of suds singing a couple of rounds of the song Happy Birthday as we scrubbed.  National Handwashing Week has never found such notoriety! Little did most of us know that it takes place each year during the first full week of December. With record numbers of new Coronavirus cases and deaths spiking across the U.S., it’s more important than ever to recognize the critical role hand washing and learning to keep your hands away from your face play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Let’s take a quick quiz to see what you already know (many months into a pandemic!) about hand washing hygiene. Handwashing Pop Quiz Which of the following (according to the CDC and the latest research) is the most effective way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and other communicable diseases? Observing social distancing (at least six feet, no touching, cover coughs and sneezes). Washing your hands with soap and water frequently and correctly, following CDC guidelines. Using hand sanitizer frequently and correctly, following CDC guidelines. Answer: 2 Approximately ____ % of communicable diseases are believed to be transmitted by human hands? 25% 50% 80% 95% Answer: 3 The U.S. is currently experiencing which of the following that can be mitigated by regular hand washing? A novel influenza virus pandemic. A national measles outbreak. A novel coronavirus pandemic. All of the above. Answer: 3 Scrub is one of the 5 steps in proper hand washing. To be most effect you should scrub your hands for at least ___ seconds. 10 20 30 40 Answer: 2 The [...]

By |2020-12-15T14:22:38-06:00December 15th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Holidays, The Virus, and Dementia

For the 2020 holidays, the CDC says it’s best to stay home and celebrate on your own or with the people you already live with. Hospital beds are more full now than they were in March and there aren’t enough nurses and technicians to operate the ventilators we have, so to avoid a third wave, we should all comply, especially if we have or live with someone who is at risk for developing complications from the virus. We have to be careful to avoid the third surge overwhelming our hospital system. So . . . What do we do instead? For Everybody This year, ideally, we celebrate in person only with people we already live with day-to-day. If you want to prepare a traditional meal, go ahead! But consider maybe just a turkey breast, or switch to baked chicken or start a new tradition for your family! Consider hosting or attending a virtual dinner. Watch your favorite sports (college basketball starts Thanksgiving week!). Watch the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving, and Disney Christmas parade (both of which have changed formats and made other changes to keep people safe during COVID). Watch your favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas movies from home. Instead of braving the unprotected crowds of Black Friday in person, shop Black Friday online to avoid the crowds and COVID exposure. See the sidebar for more ideas. For households or other groups with family members with dementia . . . It’s a curious year. Many of the aspects of celebrating the holidays that normally make people with dementia uncomfortable (large gatherings, conversations with strangers, being left alone in a crowd) are missing! Some advice still applies this year, though: Talk to family and friends (whether they’ll [...]

By |2020-12-04T20:56:17-06:00November 25th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Seeing what’s not there: dementia and hallucinations

You are likely reading this article because you have a loved one who seems to be hallucinating. Before we get into possible connections between dementia and hallucination, you are encouraged to take this short quiz to find out how much you already know about it. 1. Which of the following is NOT a known possible cause of hallucinations? 1. Narcolepsy and other sleep disorders 2. Mental disorders (e.g. schizophrenia) 3. Grief or emotional trauma 4. Excessive exercise 5. Common cold 6. Certain medications 7. Drug or alcohol abuse and recovery 8. COVID 19 The answer is... 5. Common Cold 2. Hallucinations associated with dementia may involve which of the following senses? 1. Sight 2. Sound 3. Taste 4. Smell 5. Touch 6. All the above. The answer is... 6. All of the above. 3. True or False. Explaining that what the person is experiencing is not real and that they should not be afraid is a helpful coping strategy for people suffering from delusions because of dementia. The answer is... False. Caregivers recommend that you validate the persons feelings and experiences without expressing doubt about whether they are true. 4. Hallucinations associated with dementia that begin early after diagnosis are thought to be caused by _____________. 1. Lewy body formations in the brain. 2. Medications used in treatment 3. Delusions caused by dementia-related anxiety (DRA) The answer is . . . 1. Lewy body formations in the brain. 5. True or False. All dementia patients experience hallucinations. The answer is . . . False. Though it’s common for people with dementia to experience hallucinations, not all do. Facts about hallucinations Some of those answers may have surprised you. Some of them may have confused you. [...]

By |2020-11-10T10:13:57-06:00November 10th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Veterans Recognized on a New Wall of Honor

This month Avalon is excited to kick off a new tradition to honor residents who are veterans from the various branches of the military and first responders like police officers and fire fighters. In all Avalon communities, a Wall of Honor is going up in dining halls or other common areas as an expression of our gratitude for those residents who have served and sacrificed so much for our freedom and safety. We are asking current residents and new residents from every branch of service to share a photo in uniform which will be framed and displayed for proper recognition. Veterans Day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, and the 30th anniversary of both the end of the Panama Invasion and the beginning of Desert Shield. Veterans Day evolved from Armistice Day, which was proclaimed in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson. Armistice is when warring parties agree to stop fighting; Armistice Day recognizes the end of World War One when hostilities ceased on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. “We are so excited to start this new tradition at Avalon this year,” said Holly Bagwell, Community Liaison at Avalon Memory Care. The original goal was to have it up and running by Memorial Day, 2020 until COVID-19 caused the quarantine and lockdown from March to May. “We have so many veterans at all of our communities and especially here at Irving. It feels good to honor them this way.” Holly says going forward, veterans in the Avalon communities will be honored twice a year with a proper ceremony, recognition certificates and a celebratory breakfast. [...]

By |2020-11-06T08:47:52-06:00November 6th, 2020|Categories: Avalon Memory Care, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Eating Green Leafy Foods Might Help You Find Your Keys

Eating Green Leafy Foods Might Help You Find Your Keys The older we get the more, it seems, we notice slight changes in our memory and our ability to think fast. Our food consumption is an important part of our brain-health and something we can have control over. Food isn’t the end all for diseases like Alzheimer’s but it can certainly contribute to typical brain-health. In this article, we will learn about foods that help our brains and hurt them, and though science doesn’t have all the answers about the connection research indicates certain foods can in fact improve our brain-health. Diet and Memory Loss The Mediterranean Diet and the Dash Diet, replace foods known to be detrimental to brain health with foods known to improve memory or thought to delay the onset or reduce the likelihood of dementia. They also appear to help alleviate a number of other health issues from high blood pressure to diabetes. When these two diets are combined it is considered a MIND diet. While there is a clear association between improving your diet and reduced memory loss and other symptoms of dementia, adopting dietary changes is currently seen as the fourth or fifth most effective prevention strategy. Of course, the best prevention strategy is to adopt as many aspects of all of the prevention strategies as possible, including adopting good sleep habits (sleep hygiene), increasing physical activity (even just a daily 30 minute walk appears to help), reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels, participating in cognitive exercise and brain training, and finally, adopting a brain-healthy diet. What happens in your brain . . . No one knows precisely how the connection between diet and memory loss works, but researchers [...]

By |2020-11-05T09:39:34-06:00November 5th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Dementia is often thought of a side effect or complication of Parkinson’s Disease. Medical journals often list it that way, and coding guidelines even list it as a subcode under Parkinsonism. But according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and other sources, Parkinson’s Disease Dementia is actually its own disease, one of 11 types of dementia. So, while they share some underlying causes, Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are considered separate diseases and have no symptoms in common. A Lewy Body Dementia Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (PDD) along with Alzheimer’s Disease (DLB) are the two types of Lewy Body Dementias. Lewy bodies, discovered by the German-born Jewish American neurologist Frederic Lewy, cause abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein in to the brain cells. These protein deposits change brain chemistry and can have a characteristic effect on thinking, movement, behavior, and mood issues associated with PDD and DLB. So, What’s the Difference? Symptoms Looking at the early symptoms of PD and PDD side-by-side make it clear that they are two different diseases: Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms • Tremor • Small Handwriting • Loss of Smell • Trouble Sleeping • Trouble Moving or Walking • Constipation • A Soft or Low Voice • Masked Face • Dizziness or Fainting • Stooping or Hunching Over Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Symptoms • Changes in memory, concentration and judgment • Trouble interpreting visual information • Muffled speech • Visual hallucinations • Delusions, especially paranoid ideas • Depression • Irritability and anxiety • Sleep disturbances Diagnoses Both Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are diagnosed based on a doctor’s observation of symptoms. Since Parkinson’s Disease Dementia develops as part of Parkinson’s disease, some patients may have a combination of the symptoms associated with both [...]

By |2020-10-20T09:09:40-05:00October 20th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

What is a POA (Power of Attorney) and why are they important?

What is a Power of Attorney (and Why do I need one?) A Power of Attorney is a legal document, usually conferred under state laws in the U.S., that allows one person to grant another person the legal right to act on their behalf. The person who signs the Power of Attorney is the “Principal.” The POA grants legal authority to another person (the “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact”) to make legally-binding decisions on behalf of the Principal about business, property, medical, finance, and other personal affairs, even if the Principal is not competent or physically able to make decisions. Now you know the definition and you understand why it’s such an important document to have. What often matters most with a Power of Attorney is choosing the right “agent” for you. It’s a big decision. You want it to be someone you trust with your personal health and welfare. Someone who is going to make decisions for you if you aren’t capable of making them yourself. Choose a trusted family member or friend – a proven, trustworthy person – and let them know that they are your “agent.” What kinds of POAs are available? General, Special, Durable, Non-durable, Springing The original term for the legal document was a “Durable Power of Attorney.” They were intended to provide a permanent and “relatively simple, inexpensive, alternative to court supervision of guardianship . . . upon the incapacity of the principal.”1 Since then (about 1979) variations of the POA have been developed based on specific circumstances and needs of the Principal. Durable POA - In line with the original intent of the document, a “Durable” Power of Attorney goes into effect on signing (some states also require witnesses and [...]

By |2020-10-16T13:21:31-05:00October 16th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Avalon’s accelerated efforts to be one of the first in the state to secure access to the coronavirus vaccine is working. New and established residents and our staff here at Avalon are among the very first in line to receive the Covid-19 inoculation. Check back for more vaccine updates.