Successful Retirement

DEMENTIA: Is It Dementia Or Normal Aging? Now There’s a Scale to Figure It Out

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The Huffington Post just published a fascinating report on a new scale to determine if you the risk of dementia. Read the interesting article below: 

Beneath the ubiquitous memory-loss jokes that midlifers make, there is a deep concern and fear of dementia. Now, Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a new scoring system to help determine who among the elderly are at higher risk of developing the memory and thinking problems that can lead to dementia.

The study has been published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The goal of the study, said its authors in a press release, was to identify the people who are at the highest risk for dementia as early as possible. People with mild cognitive impairment, known as MCI, are at a greater risk of developing dementia, and early intervention provides a wider window for preventative measures.

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The study picked 1,449 Minnesotans between the ages of 70 and 89 who were not experiencing memory and thinking problems. During the almost five-year study, 401 of them — nearly a third — developed MCI. The scoring system considered factors such as the highest level of education attained, medications taken regularly, and whether the subjects had a history of stroke, diabetes or smoking. Researchers measured thinking abilities, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and slow gait. Factors were assigned a score based on how much they contributed to the risk of developing thinking problems. For example, being diagnosed with diabetes before age 75 increased the risk score by 14 points, while having 12 or fewer years of education increased the risk by two points, according to the press release.

The APOE gene, which previously has been linked to a higher risk of dementia, was determined in the study to be only a moderate risk factor.

“This risk scale provides an inexpensive and easy way for doctors to identify people who should be referred to more advanced testing for memory issues or may be better candidates for clinical trials,” said one of the authors of the study, Ronald Petersen.

Predicting who will experience dementia in later life has been a subject of keen interest as baby boomers creep up in age. The National Institutes of Health reportsthat most studies suggest that drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of dementia, while drinking a moderate amount may be protective. Other risk factors include high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol). People with diabetes appear to have a higher risk for dementia, although the evidence for this association is modest, said the NIH. Poorly controlled diabetes, however, is a well-proven risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular disease-related events, which in turn increase the risk for vascular dementia.

March 19, 2015 



DEMENTIA CARE: Robear robot to take care of Japan’s elderly population

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Lindsey Caldwell covers this captivating story about the impact RI-MAN Robots are having on the senior care. Read the following article below: 

Japan is known for its love of robots. Japanese inventors have been following a trend of creating a robot for every occasion. One of the newest Japanese robots is the Robear, developed by Riken, a Japanese research group. Just like the name implies, Robear is a robot bear. This bear won’t steal your picnic basket. It’s been especially designed to take care of the elderly and give them back some of their independence. The growing elderly population has been a rising concern in Japan due to their recent population decline.

Almost ten years before the Robear, Riken created a man-shaped model called the RI-MAN. As improvements were made to each succeeding model, they robot evolved into a bear. Surprisingly, the Robear is designed to be more tender with patients than the RI-MAN was. The Robear has Smart Rubber tactile sensors that give it a softer and more responsive touch.

Japan is in the middle of a sharp and steady population decline. Their slowing birthrate has created a vacuum in workforce. More elderly Japanese are entering nursing homes, and there are not enough young Japanese in the nursing industry to take care of them.

Interestingly, Japan always sees the need for a robot to fill these jobs instead of finding new people to perform the task. It could be that Japan truly doesn’t have enough people who are willing to enter the home care industry, but it also seems like a task a loosened immigration policy would fix just as well as a robot.

February 27, 2015 (


GOVERNMENT: The Upside to Canada’s Aging Population


The fact that a third of all Canadians will be over the age of 60 by 2050 does not have to mean doomsday. The following is an excerpt from Adriana Barton’s article for The Globe and Mail

“An international team of researchers looked at Germany as a case study. Germany’s fertility rate of 1.4 and median age of 44.3 years make it the greyest nation after Japan. Nevertheless, the land of sausage and sauerkraut may not do too badly in its golden years, the researchers found. They identified five areas in which countries such as Germany could age like fine wine:

• Better health: As people live longer, they stay healthier longer. Projections suggest the average German man in 2050 will spend 80 per cent of his lifetime in good health, compared to 63 per cent today.

• Increased productivity: Aging populations tend to have higher education levels, which could help offset the decline in labour force.

• Sharing the wealth: As life expectancy increases, people will inherit at older ages and be better equipped fund their own retirement, or help adult children financially. And as families have fewer children, inheritance will be split into larger chunks.

• Good for the environment: Changes in age structure and a shrinking population size are associated with reduced consumption of energy-intensive goods and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

• Quality of life: The ratio of leisure, work and housework is expected to change in the future, with leisure time increasing on average.

The picture may sound rosy, but the new study isn’t the first to giving aging populations an A-plus. Back in 2003, the Government of Canada released a document entitled Population Aging: From Problem to Opportunity. The report outlined how policies supporting greater life-course flexibility might address the labour shortages associated with retiring baby boomers, and at the same time, provide people with more choices as to how they approach activities such as work, learning, caregiving and leisure over their lifetimes. As well, it cited Health Canada research showing that longevity is not a key driver of health-care costs.” BY: Adriana Barton’s article for The Globe and Mail


GOVERNMENT: Baby Boomers Retire

dementia pandemic

The following article outlines some startling statistics for the future of Canada.

“The baby boomers — those born from 1946 to 1965 — will reach retirement age over the next two decades. That will raise the number of seniors in the population to an estimated 23.6 per cent by 2030, the year the youngest baby boomers turn 65. That compares with 15.3 per cent in 2013.

By 2063, the number of Canadians aged 80 years and over would reach nearly five million, compared with 1.4 million in 2013.

That trend will put huge demands on the resources for long-term care and home care by 2030, and will continue for the next 30 years. Older seniors are more likely to have health problems or need help to stay in their homes.

At the same time, the number of people between 15 to 64 — those of working age — will decline as a proportion of the population from 68.6 per cent in 2013 to 60 per cent in 2030. It could remain around 60 per cent for the next 30 years.

Depending on the strength of the Canadian economy and how technology changes the workplace, that could result in a shortage of labour. Businesses that offer only part-time work, with no prospects of a permanent stable income or benefits, would be forced to change their labour practices.

Those left in the workforce will also shoulder much of the burden of supporting the health-care sector.”


CARE SUPPORT: Dementia Carers Day

real caregivers

The caregivers caring for loved ones with dementia deserve a grand round of applause and tools and ways to make the task easier. Judith Potts, in the following excerpt talks about some ways that could be helpful.

“Today is Dementia Carers’ Day – when the Carers’ Trust asks us all to remember the 670,000 unpaid carers in the UK, who are looking after relatives or friends who have developed dementia. The Carers’ Trust offers “action, help and advice”.

Two thirds of people with dementia live at home and, as the disease progresses, care becomes more difficult – and carers can begin to feel as isolated as the dementia patient.

Help and support come in several forms. Dementia UK’s wonderful Admiral Nurses – who are mental health nurses, specialising in dementia – support families and carers to better understand dementia by focusing on the needs of the carer as well as the patient. Family carers often need psychological support to understand and deal with their own feelings about dementia. The nurses will guide the family through the various stages of the disease and introduce a range of interventions that can help the patient live well with the condition – for instance, developing skills to improve communication which, in turn, helps to maintain relationships.

The Alzheimer Society’s website hosts an interactive map, which shows local support groups.

There are some very creative aides for use by carers at home, in a dementia café or a care home. The series of “Memory Bank” packs stand out as a stimulating resource for life story and reminiscence work and are highly recommended by those working with dementia patients.

The packs contain DVDs which use archive film footage of familiar scenes and themes, carefully selected to help dementia patients to re-discover past times with friends and family. Created and cleverly edited by the Yorkshire Film Archive, each DVD (which can be viewed on a television screen, a laptop, a tablet or a portable DVD player – or downloaded from the website) covers a different topic – from working life, schooldays, holidays, sporting fun, to fetes, fairs and fireworks. They come with “key discussion points” marked at the top of the screen – when a pause might allow the viewers to recall their own memories – plus guidance notes, and suggestions for activities. Background information on life and times over the past decades helps the younger carer and Memory Bank feeds into the requirements of the Care Quality Commission.

In May of this year, Ostrich – the website devoted to showing all the choices on care (money, legal matters, insurance, property, leisure, care, carers – “Taking Care of Life”) – launched Bob. Designed for people with dementia and endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Dementia Champion, Norman McNamara, Bob is a Locator Tracker, which can operate virtually anywhere in the world. It is monitored 24/7 by an accredited telecare centre, operated for Ostrich Care by the NHS.

Wandering is a common problem for people with dementia – whether out of the front door, out of a shop or just out of sight. Not only is being lost incredibly distressing for the patient, the frantic searching causes enormous stress for the carer. This device is the size of a matchbox and can be worn on a lanyard around the person’s neck. It stores the name of the next-of-kin or carer and any medical information relevant to the carrier.

Should someone wander away and become lost, the recovery process begins with a call from the carer to the monitoring centre, where the particular Bob can be located on the screen. If it appears that the person is in danger, the emergency services – who have worked closely to develop Bob – will be called. Each tracker has a unique number and it is the IME number and Sim card which will be used to track the user. Cards with these unique numbers are given to the carer or family.

Bob can be used, too, by someone recently diagnosed with dementia but who is still able to live independently. Giving great peace of mind, not only to the patient, but to his or her family, Bob is simple to use. Should the person become lost or confused, pushing the SOS button alerts the monitoring centre and the routine – previously chosen by the patient – is put into action or the emergency services are involved.” -Judith Potts