A recent NIA-funded study found that nearly 40% of participants had brain changes associated with limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE). LATE is a recently characterized brain disorder that causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease but with different underlying causes. There is currently no way to diagnose LATE in living people.
In this study, a team of researchers tried to estimate how many older adults may experience LATE. Researchers analyzed the brains of 6,196 people with an average age of death at 88 years. The donated brains came from participants in 13 community- or population-based aging studies conducted in five countries. The study found that almost 40% of participants had clusters of the protein TDP-43, indicating they may have had LATE. In addition, about 55% of the participants who had high levels of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, also had TDP-43 clusters, suggesting that LATE may be even more common in people who have Alzheimer’s.
The results support the idea that recognizing LATE as a distinct disorder may ultimately help researchers better understand and develop treatments for those who experience dementia. The results also highlight the value of participation in brain donation studies, such as those conducted by the NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers.
Holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and his or her family. Maintaining or adapting family rituals and traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging and family identity. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this link with a familiar past is reassuring.
However, celebrations, special events, or holidays, which may include other people, can cause confusion and anxiety for a person with Alzheimer’s. He or she may find some situations easier and more pleasurable than others. The tips below can help you balance busy holiday activities with everyday care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease.
Finding the Right Balance
Many caregivers have mixed feelings about holidays. They may have happy memories of the past, but they also may worry about the extra demands that holidays make on their time and energy.
Here are some ways to balance doing many holiday-related activities while taking care of your own needs and those of the person with Alzheimer’s disease:
Celebrate holidays that are important to you. Include the person with Alzheimer’s as much as possible.
Set your own limits, and be clear about them with others. You do not have to live up to the expectations of friends or relatives. Your situation is different now.
Involve the person with Alzheimer’s in simple holiday preparations, or have him or her observe your preparations. Observing you will familiarize him or her with the upcoming festivities. Participating with you may give the person the pleasure of helping and the fun of anticipating and reminiscing.
Consider simplifying your holidays around the home. For example, rather than cooking an elaborate dinner, consider a smaller dinner with close family. Instead of elaborate decorations, consider choosing a few select items.
When health and safety provisions allow, encourage friends and family to visit even if it’s difficult. Limit the number of visitors at any one time. Plan visits when the person usually is at his or her best. Virtual visits through video or phone calls are also a great way to connect over the holiday season.
Prepare quiet distractions to use, such as looking at pictures or going for a walk, if the person with Alzheimer’s becomes upset or overstimulated.
Make sure there is a quiet space where the person can rest and have time to recharge.
Try to avoid situations that may confuse or frustrate the person with Alzheimer’s, such as changes in routine and strange places.
Try to stay away from noise, loud conversations, loud music, lighting that is too bright or too dark, and having too much rich food or drink (especially alcohol).
Find time for holiday activities you like to do. For example, go for a walk in the neighborhood and look at holiday decorations, or bake holiday cookies.
If you receive invitations to events that the person with Alzheimer’s cannot attend, consider going yourself. Ask a friend or family member to spend time with the person while you’re out.
This year’s RADC General Resource Guide includes a Caregiver Resource List as a bonus edition!
Designed by social worker, Charon Cannon, MSW, LSW, the fifth edition of this guide was written with the family unit in mind, regardless of structure. Worksheets are provided to caregivers to assist them in identifying areas where additional assistance may be beneficial and in navigating the senior services available.
If you have older family members or loved ones, you may worry about their health as they age. The good news is that adopting and maintaining a few key behaviors can help older adults live longer, healthier lives. Ways you can support healthier habits among your loved ones include:
Preventing social isolation and loneliness. Consider scheduling weekly or biweekly phone calls or video chats.
Promoting physical activity. Help them brainstorm ways to work movement into their daily lives.
Encouraging healthy eating. Discuss their favorite traditional recipes and talk about ways you can make those recipes healthier.
Dementia affects every community, but not in the same way. Join us for a conversation about disparities, different needs, and specific strengths in many cultural and linguistic communities. Dementia educators and advocates in Black/African American, Chinese, Brazilian/Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Spanish-speaking, and Southeast Asian communities, as well as those working with people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, will share their insights and experiences. Come learn with us, as we work to raise awareness about dementia and make sure that information and support is available in all of our communities.
When and where: Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 EST. On Zoom.
Cost: Attendance is free
Interpretation: Simultaneous interpretation will be available in Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese.
CEUs: This program has been approved for three (3) Social Work Continuing Education hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. NASW-MA Chapter CE Approving Program, Authorization Number D91323. Certificates of attendance will also be available for nurses and those in other professions. Those requesting CEUs or a certificate must attend the entire event and complete a follow-up evaluation. There is an added fee for CEUs.
Join Lorenzo’s House and Elderwerks to learn more about younger-onset dementia and memory loss from Illinois Lt. Govenor Juliana Stratton, Quentin Lane, a carepartner for his father, Diana Shulla-Cose, the founder of Lorenzo’s House, and Jacquelyn Revere of Mom of My Mom, who cared for her mother.
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. It’s not uncommon to feel lonely or frustrated with everyone around you, from the care recipient to the doctors. That’s why taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Here are a few things you can do to care for yourself:
Stay physically active. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
Eat healthy foods. Nutritious food can help keep you healthy and give you energy.
Join a caregiver support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas.