Monday, 20 February 2017

Technology


While I was working, I had two computers on my desk.

One for general work, like estimates, health and safety, reports and electrical testing etc.

The other computer controlled every boiler room and ventialtion systems in the college, and if there was a fault, I could sort it out without leaving my chair.

These days I have lost a lot of this information,  and I am just hanging onto using a tablet computer for basic things.
But I think that it's all down to understand and processing the information, which is in front of me.
I struggle at times listening to what is being said, and hope that I have understood it properly,  before I answer .

I was horrified when  I started writing a blog, because I did not recognise certain obvious things, and even these days it's a struggle. I have noticed that when Google change things on the blog, I get confused and uncertain about what I need to do.

But it's all down to a lack of basic information processing, and it's becoming harder by the day.

It's also very  frustrating after being an engineer for 28 years

My brain does not process information the way it used to do it, and there days it has become a nightmare at times.

However these days we hear that everything should be done via a computer and the internet, and it's becoming alarming when I see so many things turning this way

It's all well and good if you were brought up with this technology and understand it
But  many people simply don't understand technology, and many find it overpowering or intimidating

I find things so much easier to cope with, when I am discussing  something face to face with a real person, rather than relying on the computer, or listening to ore recorded messages on the telephone

But it's not just transactions from  a bank or local council, it's everywhere we look.

After a diagnosis we are told about support lines, or support centres, where we can call and get support, but many people like myself, would prefer to be sat down, talking face to face with a person we can see.

Websites are becoming so complex these days, and it takes me a while to find out the correct section, I  need to look at.

It seems that many websites also change things round on a regular basis, just like supermarkets, which is fine to a certain extent, but when you have problems processing information as I do, it all becomes a nightmare.

While I can understand a website being changed to make it easier for customers to use I certainly don't think they are in anyway dementia friendly.

I do think that a lot if websites would benefit, if the companies involved  asked people for their  views rather than assuming that all is fine

They may well be fine for business people, but that's about it.

However more and more railway stations are converting to automatic ticket machines, rather than having people in kiosks selling you the tickets, and this is becoming a step too far for me.

Machines like computers don't understand that the person standing there has information processing problems, and some of these things cut you off, if you take too long.

As well as that, people standing waiting to use the machines usually get agitated and annoyed because you are causing a hold up,

Technology goes in other directions too these days, as many people expect us to have smart phones, so that we can get emails, and online tickets for trains etc.

But we must remember that there are thousands of people in this country who are unable to use technology for one reason or another, so we must never leave them behind.

Yes there are millions in the country who use a phone every moment of the day, and never go anywhere without one clamped to their ears, but other people don't understand or want to go there

So please don't expect everyone to enjoy able to use technology, because it cannot ever work.

I wonder if we are losing too much control these days, and machines are taking over.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Social care cuts

We are seeing cuts to our social care in many local areas of the  UK, and this problem will only get worse before it can be improved.

The NHS is struggling to cope, because people are not getting the social care they really need, and when this happens, hospitals get clogged up with patients who should be at home or in care homes etc.

This problem cannot be allowed to carry on, and if councils cannot or will not provide social care, it should be taken over and provided be the NHS, and then the councils should be charged for it.

As we know social care is funded locally from things like council tax.

But there is a major problem with this, and that is that the council tax raised in your area, is not used locally, but is sent to Whitehall where it is then spilt amongst other councils in the UK.

Many councils are facing savage cuts in funding, while at the same time they are seeing their council taxes being used by other county councils, who in many cases are much better off.

These councils cannot possibly carry on providing social care  when  they are faced with these savage cuts, and to be honest,  many people have no idea where their council taxes are spent.

While I understand some councils are very small, population wise, and possibly need extra money, our council tax from the North East subsidises places like Surrey which is very wealthy.

This leaves me feeling very annoyed at this Tory Government, because they have made many  savage cuts to the council subsides over the last 10 or so years, and this simply cannot go on.

A few years ago the councils in the North East  did not get their quota of Rock salt for the roads, because the government thought that it was more important to give it to the southern regions.

This was disgusting because the North gets a lot more snow and ice than the southern regions, so the roads here

Councils cannot go on having these savage cuts without loosing more services, which are already down to the minimum already

It seems wrong to me that money raised in local council taxes should be sent off to other councils in times like this, especially wealthy councils in the London Boroughs.

It's also very  wrong for a government to throw money at projects like "HS2" and Cross rail, glorified train sets for certain areas,  when the NHS and social care are in such a terrible state.

It's also fairly obvious that this government does not like Labour run councils, but they do not consider the fact that many millions of people actually voted Tory in the first place, no matter which political party  are ruling their council

However social care like the NHS,  is important to all, yet it's not being provided because of these these false cuts, especially when the government is wasting billions of pounds on unwanted schemes. 

Robots and care of the elderly

Academics turn to robots to solve aged care dilemma

Many of us remember being enthralled as kids by the future of robots. Remember the Jetsons with their robotic maid?
         

This could be the future of aged care.

Many of us remember being enthralled as kids by the future of robots.
Remember the Jetsons with their robotic maid?

But how many of us actually thought we’d ever end up with a robotic helper of our own?
It could be a reality sooner than we think, but instead of helping us around the home, robots could find their home in a much more socially responsible role.

We’ve all heard about fears of a future shortage of aged care workers and a big increase in demand for aged care facilities and services, and now academics think they might have the answer.

According to reports in the BBC, a group of academics believe that robots could be the answer to the crisis facing the future of caring for the elderly.

That’s right, researchers from two British universities are working on a multi-million dollar project to develop robots that could help look after us when we get older.

The robots, named Pepper Robots by the researchers from Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire, could help with everyday tasks from helping you take your tablets to offering companionship.

While it’s hard to imagine having a social interaction with a robot, it could very well be a reality for aged care facilities that are struggling to maintain their staff to resident ratios.

Professor Irena Papadopoulos told the BBC that the robots wouldn’t be replacing nurses or aged care workers, they’d simply support them provide care.
“As people live longer, health systems are put under
increasing pressure,” she said.
“Assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressures in hospitals and care homes as well as improving care delivery at home and promoting independent living for the elderly.”

And the robots could expand beyond just caring for residents in nursing homes.

The researchers are hoping that robots could also become acceptable to help care for people in their own homes, keeping them in their own home for longer and reducing the demand for nursing homes and aged care.

So, just how smart are these robots?

Well, the Pepper Robots will apparently be able to speak and move hand gestures.

They’ll also be able to move around without any assistance and they’ll even be smart enough to identify when the person they’re caring for is unwell or in pain.

While some of you probably doubt you’ll ever see this technology, it’s well and truly on its way.

Robots like the Pepper Robots are already helping people in their homes and in hospitals in Japan, and they could be just three years away from being used in the UK.

While the technology has the researchers excited, it’s sure to bring up questions for many older people who are suspicious or doubtful about technology.

It raises the ultimate question, would you trust a robot to look after you or your elderly parents?

What do you think about this?

Three Nations Dementia Working Group


I was told two weeks ago,  that a new dementia Working group is being set up, and I had been invited to get involved with it

The members were drawn from England,  Wales and Northern Ireland.

It's been a while since I did anything on this front, due to the fact we were unsure about my diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia, and my recurring chest problems, which have made things so much worse too. While the LBD  diagnosis has been sorted out,   my chest problems are still going on.

However the thought of doing something positive, to get others with dementia  involved,  spurred me into  action.

Scotland has had its own Dementia Working group for quite a few years, but the original English working group was restricted in what it was allowed to do

So this is  a new start, with a new working group and new participants. 

However travelling to London these days is becoming quite expensive if you are unable to book in advance, even with a disabled rail card, which seems to have little effect on the ticket prices now.

Because this was going to be a very early start in London, we decided to go down the day before and stay over for the night, because I struggle with early mornings, and the  thought of trying to think clearly in a meeting after a very early start, does not appeal.

In all honestly I would have needed to get up at around 4-30, to get myself ready, and then wait for a service bus to Durham, in order to get the 6-30 train from Durham into London

The meeting was being held at the Alzheimer's Societies new  office in Crutched Friars in  London, but as we had not been to this office before,  I had no idea where I was going.

However we found that we had stayed in the same hotel as others, so it was easier to find out where we were going.

When we got to the  meeting we found that we were with some old friends, and one or two new people, who I had heard of but never met before.

The meeting was facilitated by Matt Murray Engagement and Participation Manager, and an Alzheimer's Society Director Brett Terry.

The idea of this meeting is to give people with dementia a voice in these three Countries.

Although this was a group of people with the various types of dementia at the event, we hope to encourage others with the illness,  to step up and get involved.

Many regions were represented

Chris Roberts,  North Wales,    Linda Willis,  and South Wales.
Danny Brown &  Liz Cunningham, Northern Ireland.
Ken Clasper,  North East England.     Joy Watson, North West England.
Wendy Mitchell, Yorkshire and Humberside
Shelagh Robinson, West Midlands.     Alex Preston, East Midlands
Peter White,  East England.     Hilary Doxford, South West England
Keith Oliver, South East England.   Dianne Campbell, London

It is hoped that we can encourage new members to come forward and take over from us, when our terms  of office are over. This  can be one, or two years which ever is the best for those taking part

But anyone who is interested can contact there nearest named  contact, and put their names forward
It must be remembered that this is a group of interesting people,  who want to help others, and they are all very friendly to be with 

If anyone in the North East of England would like to get involved, I would love to hear from them and, I will gladly go to any groups in this area to talk about the Working group.

This Working Group is not restricted to Alzheimer's Society groups, but also open to independent groups wanting more information.

I am struggling with my healtlh these days, but I  got  involved in the hope that sooner or later someone else from the North East will step up and get more involved

This is a wonderful opportunity and a chance to speak up for everyone with the illness, while  getting together and meeting new friends from around the UK.

So why not contact me if you live in this area.

Ken2clasper@gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from people, from the Northumberland and Durham areas, who wish to be involved 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Early Diagnosis Important

Early diagnosis beneficial for people with dementia




At first, Chuck Brockman started misplacing his keys and wallet.

It must be signs of getting older, Brockman thought. The East Side resident was 56 at the time, which, "while not old, wasn't young, either," he told himself.

He then kept forgetting to punch in and out of work and couldn't remember how to add or the combination to his locker.

His doctor told him he was stressed and overworked and should try relaxing more.

But once he started having hallucinations and vivid dreams, including one in which an angel told him the date of his not-so-distant death, Brockman knew he was dealing with something much more serious.

So he went back to his doctor, who diagnosed Alzheimer's disease, the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

A specialist - a doctor treating his mother for Alzheimer's - later confirmed that Brockman had early-onset Lewy body dementia, a neurodegenerative disorder often confused with other disorders because of similar symptoms. People with Lewy body, for example, can experience confusion or memory loss like Alzheimer's, or stiffness, tremors and trouble with gait like Parkinson's.

Though initially reluctant to accept the diagnosis, he now is thankful for the early detection and the opportunity it has given him and his wife, Mindy, to plan for what's to come.

"I've accepted it," said Brockman, now 61, who attends as many support groups as he can to help himself and others. "I figured the good Lord gave it to me for a reason, and maybe it's to be an advocate. I'm at peace with that."

Nearly 1 in 9 Ohioans age 45 or older reported increased confusion or memory loss over the previous 12 months, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But fewer than half talked to their doctors about their concerns, despite the benefits of early detection.

Of the Ohioans surveyed, nearly 52 percent said their worsening memory interfered with work or social activities or caused them to give up activities, cooking, cleaning or paying bills. Almost 36 percent said they needed assistance with daily activities.

"There's definitely a stigma attached to Alzheimer's disease, and many people are afraid to talk about memory changes because they assume the worst," said Vince McGrail, executive director and CEO of the central Ohio chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

In one survey, Americans said they feared developing Alzheimer's disease more than any other major, life-threatening disease including cancer, stroke, heart disease or diabetes. Because there's no cure, prevention or treatment to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, many see getting it as a death sentence, McGrail said.
In Ohio, more than 210,000 people are living with Alzheimer's and 596,000 are providing unpaid care for someone with the disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Nationally, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease at an annual cost to taxpayers of $236 billion.

While some might have mild cognitive impairment or be in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, experiencing increasing or worsening confusion or memory problems - "subjective cognitive decline," as it is called - is just a warning sign, he said.

Early and accurate detection allows whatever is causing the problem - whether it's dementia-related or something else entirely - to be targeted before severe deterioration occurs, said Tricia Bingham, director of programs and services for the central Ohio Alzheimer's Association chapter.

"People don't realize it, but research has shown that 9 percent of individuals experiencing dementia-like symptoms actually have a potentially reversible cause such as depression or a vitamin B12 deficiency," she said.

An early diagnosis, even if for Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, also allows individuals and their families to get treatment to help with symptoms, build a care team, enroll in support services and participate in clinical trials, she said.

Affected individuals can be involved in important decisions about their care and finances while they still have the capacity to make them, she said.

Despite hating that he had to stop driving and working, Brockman said he still fells like his old self and now focuses on what he can do, instead of what he can't. He and his wife enjoy the education, encouragement and support they receive at the various support groups they attend.

They joined family and friends in participating in last year's Columbus Walk to End Alzheimer's, raising $900 for Alzheimer's care, support and research.

Brockman, who recently was asked by the national Alzheimer's Association to serve as a Lewy body dementia advocate, also was approved to participate in a drug trial through Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. And he and his wife are doing things they've always dreamed of, such as attending a Florida State-Clemson game in Tallahassee last fall. No more putting things off, they agreed.

"We're not going to let it stand in our way," Mrs. Brockman said.


"I'm focused on living in a way I wasn't before my diagnosis," Mr. Brockman added.

If you have questions or concerns about memory loss generally or Alzheimer's and other dementias specifically, you can call the Alzheimer's Association 24-7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or go to www.alz.org/centralohio.
epyle@dispatch.com
@EncarnitaPyle

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Role of Robots in society

A lot has been written in  the media about the role of Robots in a caring role in society.

This could include helping people to remember to take their medication on time, or playing games with someone living on their own,  etc.

I confess that I have a fascination with Robots, as I remember, going to the cinema as a child and seeing a film called the  "Forbidden Planet",  and the robot was called Robbie.

Since then I have grown up wondering what role Robots would have in  any future society.

I admit that Robots these days,  look vastly different to those of Robots,  which were around back my early childhood days

These days we have Robots working on production lines in factories, and this was never expected, but they seem you be working well.

It has been suggested that some Robots could help us to play games, and I guess this is a positive way to help those living on their own. They could also be used your contact the emergency services if something goes wrong.

In all honesty when we look around there are some games, where you can play against your computer, so I guess this is another step forward from that.

But will someone take kindly to a robot beating  them at games?

Can a robot support a person in care. I confess that I am unsure, but I suppose it could be possible in the future, if they are programmed properly.

It may take time, but I suppose it could happen, but can it replace a real person who is trained to do the work. 

There are days when my memory is total rubbish,  and I forget most things including my medication, but I am not sure how I would react to a robot telling me what to do and when to do it.

I suppose I still like my independence,  even though I know it is done times difficult without my wife or someone else reminding me what to do.

I have realised this week, that I have been retweeting things over and over without realising it, so I have to accept that my memory is not as good as it used to be

However I wonder if a robot could make people more vulnerable,  when it gets out that a robot is supporting someone.

I say this because there are always people out there, who would like you steal a robot in he hope that they could programme it to do what they want

There is a down side to this and that is, a robot could spook someone with dementia or a nuerological illness.

We heard a lot about talking dolls these days, and the fact that some may be used in care homes, so that those with the illness don't feel lonely. But how will people react to a robot moving around the house in the early hours of the day.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Parkinson's Fighting Steroid found

Parkinson's-Fighting Steroid Is Identified in Fast Food Fish
                  
The spiny dogfish shark carries a potent toxin-fighting steroid, which scientists can now manufacture synthetically.







The spiny dogfish shark, which has been marketed as "rock salmon" and reportedly sold as a fast food fish, turns out to carry a potent toxin-fighting steroid that shows promise in treating Parkinson's and a certain form of dementia, new research finds.

Concerns over fast food and fishing of the shark, which is now listed as being vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN, have been erased since scientists have synthesized the steroid—squalamine—in a lab, so no spiny dogfish sharks have to die in order for people to benefit from the compound.

Results of the new research on squalamine, conducted by an international team, are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The synthesized steroid is identical to the molecule produced in the shark," co-senior author Michael Zasloff told Seeker. "It is a beautiful white powder. It will be administered as an oral tablet in human clinical trials."

Zasloff, a professor of surgery and pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and a scientific director of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute, has been studying the spiny dogfish shark for well over two decades. The shark may live up to 100 years, and is suspected of having the longest known gestation period of animal: 18 to 24 months.

RELATED: Shark Q&A: What's Cool About a Shark's Immune System?
One reason for the longevity is that "the shark is remarkably resistant to infections, despite having a primitive immune system," Zasloff said. "We suspected that this animal made protective compounds."

In earlier research, he and his colleagues discovered squalamine in the shark and determined that the steroid had antimicrobial properties. The researchers then determined its chemical structure and devised a way to synthesize it from a plant steroid.

For the new study, lead author Michele Perni, Zasloff and their team genetically programmed nematode worms (C. elegans is a popular animal model for research projects) to over-express a protein called alpha-synuclein. Clustering of this protein happens with Parkinson's as well as with Lewy Body Dementia, a condition said to have afflicted the late entertainer Robin Williams.
Photo: Spiny dogfish shark. Credit: Doug Costa, NOAA/SBNMS


Zasloff explained that alpha-synuclein is attracted to negatively charged cellular surfaces. Squalamine, a positively-charged molecule, is attracted to these very same surfaces, such as within nerve cells.

For people with Parkinson's, tiny vesicles positioned at nerve endings become coated with the protein, so they can start to aggregate with others and clump together. As the clumps grow, the nerve's function becomes damaged, often leading to the death of the entire cell.

The scientists showed that squalamine can displace the damaging protein from nerve cells. Even if some minor clumps form, Zasloff said, "The normal cell has a means of naturally digesting these aggregates, and can do so effectively, so long as the garbage disposal system isn't overwhelmed."
That's exactly what happened to the nematode worms. Those not given squalamine experienced cellular damage and became paralyzed, but the treated worms were able to stave off the protein clustering and resulting problems.

RELATED: Woman Can 'Smell' Parkinson's
You might be wondering why a shark that doesn't suffer from Parkinson's and/or dementia would produce squalamine. Zasloff said the steroid "can kill bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses," so it "protects the shark from the infective agents that must accompany the food it ingests."

The connection to humans may not be so remote. Intriguingly, most people with Parkinson's suffer from severe constipation and other gastrointestinal problems, with such symptoms often appearing before the obvious onset of the disease. As a result, Zasloff said, "Many in the field now believe that Parkinson's actually begins in the gut." Lewy Body Dementia may initiate in a similar manner, since Lewy bodies—the abnormal protein aggregates—can be found in the gut.

The planned multi-center clinical trial on humans will focus on how squalamine affects GI function, and how this, in turn, may link to disease formation.

It's important to note that "drugs" and nutritional supplements on the market now under the label "squalamine" do not contain any significant amounts of the steroid, according to Zasloff.
"The amount of squalamine in shark tissues is quite low," he explained, "even in the liver of the dogfish. I do worry that the Asian fisheries will respond to our report by further decimating shark species."

An actual squalamine-based drug, made from the synthesized compound, is already being envisioned.
Co-author Christopher Dobson explained that if the forthcoming trials on humans are successful, "it is possible that a drug treating at least some of the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease could be developed from squalamine.

We might then be able to improve on that incrementally, by searching for better molecules that augment its effects."

Friday, 3 February 2017

Animals and relaxation

Animals can have a relaxing effect on people, and its now well known that they can help people who are ill including those with a neurological illness

Over the years the animals we had at home, have had an effect on us one way or another, but they are not simply animals, they are actually a major part of our family

Not just that, but they don't ask for anything, just friendship and food, and in return they help us by providing undiluted love and friendship in return.

How many of us have returned home to be greeted by a cat or a dog, running round wildly because we have come back
Our two dogs had an uncanning knack of knowing when you were walking up the street towards the house,  and would sit just inside the front or back door waiting patiently

That's undying friendship and one which cannot be replaced.

Over the years we have had a cat, two dogs, a Budgie  and a tropical fish aquarium, but I think we got the most pleasure from either a dog or a cat.

What is more, these four legged friends seem to sense when you are struggling, and come to support you in what ever way they can, either by sitting at your feet, or forcing you to cuddle them.

I had noticed many years ago that by simply stroking an animal, your stress flows out if your body.

I have heard many people say that an animal has kept them going when they were feeling a bit down, or slightly depressed


When we got married we understood that we could not have children, so after a few years, we decided to go out and look for a dog.

Its was then that we got Major, a Lab Cross, who took over the house, and was bundle of fun

He somehow got a liking for Baileys cream, but I guess that was because it smelt quite nice

I left the room one night and found that he had climbed onto my chair and somehow managed to reach my glass, which had been put out of his way, on a shelf

I came back to find him cleaning the glass on the floor. Needless to say that the glass was still in one piece, but was spotlessly clean. After that we had to watch him like a hawk.

He was a lovely dog, and was a constant friend when you were tired, or feeling off colour

Around two years later Claire was Born, and we were unsure as to how Major would react, to someone else getting the attention

However when Claire came out of Hospital, he curled up and went to sleep beside her carry cot and stayed there.

He then  refused point blank to let either my mother in law or her sister,  get anywhere near to Claire's carry cot, let alone pick her up.,

This was quite a shock bearing in mind that she had just come out of hospital and he had never seen her before

Each time someone new went near to her he growled, as it to say she belongs to me, back off.

No matter what Claire did to this dog as she grew up,  he protected her and kept an eye on others in the room

Then Mark came along and he too was guarded by Major, and when no one was looking he would quite happily jump up on to one of their beds and sleep in the sun

Here again Mark could do no wrong in Majors eyes

A few years later when Major was getting old and tired, we had hired a caravan near to Hereford, and the children went horse riding etc.

They also had a boating lake, which was quite good, because I loved fishing as did Mark.

So one day we hired a boat and went fishing leaving Major with my wife Janice and Claire.

However Major had other ideas, because when we were out in the middle of the lake we heard a shout, and then saw Major swimming out towards us.

Needless to saw we did not catch anything, apart from what Mark called a Dogfish?
I had no idea how he managed to swim that far, and we were worried that he would not reach us, but he was determined to be with us. Needless to say we returned soaked though, as he kept shaking the water off himself and onto us.


Then one day the family were at a friends house were they saw one of their cats giving birth to a litter of kittens, one of which was Pepe who was identical to the cat below apart from the fact that she had a black dot on the right nostril

This tiny little kitten was not frightened of Major, and she would often walk under his legs while he was eating his supper, and would often help her self to his food knowing full well that he would not dare to move to stop her.
  


                                                                 Pepe





Major in later life

Major would often guard the family and the flat,  if I was called out at work at night, or during the night, and would stop anyone getting close to the rest of the family.

He would often be curled up just inside the front door, when I came back at odd hours during the night, after a callout

If I went for a nap after a long night, he too would join me and would lie curled up behind my knees

I would often wake up with Major behind me, while Pepe would be curled up in front of me
  
Nothing seemed to frighten him at all, but he was a true watch dog, even though he was not a big dog

After he passed away, we said we would never get another dog, but in the end we got another Lab Cross and he was called Ben

Ben was very nervous when we got him, but I guess the children and Pepe helped him to settle down, and he became a real friend to all in the house

This is Ben on Marks bed enjoying the Sun while the children were at school


Ben watching our neighbour's in the garden

Although he was a nervous dog, he was a bundle of fun, and would often run down the back garden until the neighbour's security light came on, the he would run back into the house.

This was a nightly event which I am sure annoyed the neighbours, but there was nothing we could do about it, because he could get out through our cat door.

One summers night, Ben followed Pepe out of Claire's open bedroom window, until he lost his grip.
We were all sat outside in the garden that night and saw what was happening in slow motion.

Ben slid down a PVC lean too roof landing on the Dust bin, then ran down the garden wagging his tail.

We were all grateful that the dustbin had broken his fall, but we were all killing ourselves laughing as he ran off, partly shocked, and partly well aware just how silly he had been to follow the cat out of the window

Needless to say, he never did that again

Pepe sadly passed away shortly after this, and we all missed her including Ben

If I was ever called out late at night, I would often find him sitting in the back garden waiting for me to return with my push bike, then he would disappear upstairs to bed.

If it was wet or cold, he would be sat with his head out of the cat door waiting

When I was ill and waiting for the diagnosis, he was a constant companion, and at times would drive my nuts, because I could not even go to the toilet without him following, and waiting outside the door for me to return

I had problems with hallucinations at the time, but I realised that if he did not move, then that's all it was, and in some way it helped me to cope

Bens only problems was that he disliked loud noise and would shake terribly if a firework went off,

Needless to say on fireworks night or New Years eve when fireworks went off, I would spend a lot of time trying to support him

Eventually we moved back to the North East, where I was diagnosed  with early onset Lewy Body Dementia, and from then on his health went down hill.

He then passed away and that was hard to accept, but the vet said that perhaps he had been ill for sometime, but had hidden it until my diagnosis had been sorted out, and then decided to let go 

It seems that animals can sense things like this, and have an uncanny knack of keeping us going at their expense. I think this hit me harder after the vet had said those words.     

There are times when I really miss having a dog especially Ben around the house

However I realise that there are days when it could be too much for me  to go out for long walks each day even though it would keep me fit

However I will always remember these three friend's, who came into our lives and brightened things up at times    





Thursday, 2 February 2017

Lewy Body Dementia or Alzheimers?

Lewy body dementia may often be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease: Study 
By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Brain Function | Saturday, November 19, 2016 - 05:30 AM           Mail                               
  
lewy body dementia 
  
Lewy body dementia (LBD) may often be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, according to research findings. Howard I. Hurtig, chair at the department of neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital warned 
“While the symptoms of LBD may be similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the treatment strategy is more challenging because fewer medications can be used safely. I cannot overemphasize the need to avoid medications that can worsen the symptoms of LBD. Every patient with this disease and their caregivers should be familiar with the list of acceptable and forbidden drugs.” 
  
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, what’s called Lewy body dementia has three distinguishing features that eventually become apparent: Fluctuating alertness and attention resembling deliriumvisual hallucinations, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms, like tremors, rigidity, and even balance problems. 
  
It’s this mixture of symptoms – not to mention LBD’s similarity to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – that makes it difficult to diagnosis. What’s more, LBD patients can easily have a bad day whenever they are poorly responsive, not knowing what time it is or where they are. But then the next day, they are their normal self once more, able to discuss their favorite TV show and distant memories equally. 
  
As a result, it can be pretty disabling for LBD patients and upsetting for family members and caregivers alike. 
What is Lewy body dementia exactly? 
While looking at Parkinson’s disease in the early 1900s, scientist Friederich H. Lewy discovered abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the brain’s normal functioning. These Lewy body proteins are found in an area of the brain stem – basically, where they deplete the neurotransmitter dopamine, causing Parkinson’s-like symptoms. 
  
In LBD, these abnormal proteins are spread throughout other areas of the brain. The brain chemical acetylcholine is then depleted, which adversely affects perception, thinking, and overall behavior. LBD exists on its own or in conjunction with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. 
  
According to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, LBD is not a rare disease. It affects roughly 1.3 million Americans. LBD now refers to both Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. The earliest symptoms of these two diseases differ, but are the result of the same biological changes in the brain. Over a period of time, people with both diagnoses will develop similar cognitive, physical, sleep, and behavioral symptoms. 

Although the cause of LBD isn’t exactly clear, several factors may increase the risk of developing the disease – such as being male and older than 60, as well as having a family member with LBD. 
On average, the disease has a duration of five to seven years. But it can still continue anywhere between two and 20 years, depending on a person’s overall health, age, and severity of symptoms 
Treatment options for Lewy body dementia 
There’s no cure for LBD, and treatment can be challenging because each person with LBD and other dementias experiences symptoms differently. Still, the individual symptoms of LBD can be treated by patients and caregivers, according to the Mayo Clinic. 
  
For one thing, Alzheimer’s disease medications like rivastigmine (Exelon) help increase the levels of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) thought to be important for memory, thought, and judgment in the brain. This can improve alertness and cognition, and may help reduce hallucinations and other behavioral problems. Possible side effects may include gastrointestinal upset, excessive salivation and tearing, and frequent urination. 
  
Sometimes, simply modifying a patient’s environment helps. That’s because reducing clutter and distracting noise can make it easier for someone with dementia to focus. It can also reduce the risk of hallucinations in people with LBD. 
  
We all know that exercise benefits everyone, including people with dementia. Exercising may slow the progression of impaired thinking in LBD patients. Crossword puzzles and other thinking activities may be beneficial, too. 
  
In order to help prevent nighttime restlessness and disorientation, patients and caregivers should try limiting caffeine during the day, eliminating daytime napping, and establishing a sound nighttime ritual. 
  
Alternatively, you can try medicine and techniques that help promote relaxation, too: Music therapy, which involves listening to soothing music; pet therapy, which involves visits from animals to promote improved moods and behaviors in people with dementia; aromatherapy, which uses fragrant plant oils; and finally, massage therapy. 
  
It’s important to note that it may take more than a year or two for enough LBD symptoms to develop.

That’s why it’s critical to pursue a formal diagnosis and treatment early on. It will make a difference to quality of life.