Forgetfulness or dementia? How to tell the difference in elderly loved ones

If you’re spending time with elderly friends and family members this holiday season, be aware of noticeable changes in their memory and behavior, as these can be early warning signs of dementia.

“If you haven’t seen your elderly loved one in a while, you might be more likely to notice changes in their memory and behavior that worries you,” said Dr. Gregory Jicha of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

Here are some early warning signs of dementia that you might notice in an older friend or family member:

  • It’s normal for someone to forget a date or a name but suddenly remember it later. However, pay attention if they ask for the same information repeatedly, or struggle to recall important dates (like their own birthdate).
  • Are they having trouble following a recipe? Problem-solving skills can deteriorate in someone with Alzheimer’s.
  • Do they get lost when driving to a familiar location? If they have difficulty completing familiar tasks, it might be a sign of AD.
  • Healthy people occasionally struggle to find the right word, but using the wrong word  ̶  particularly if they call something by the wrong name  ̶  merits further scrutiny.
  • Poor judgment: are they giving lots of money to telemarketers or charities?
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Personality changes: are they suddenly irrational, fearful or suspicious?

Memory infographic

If you see any behavior that worries you, talk to your doctor. To make an appointment with a UK HealthCare doctor, visit our Appointment page or call 800-333-8874 today.

More information:

The Memory Disorders Clinic at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute

 

Coworkers rally to support UK occupational therapist in wake of tragedy

Heather Ellis began her shift at UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital on Nov. 4 like normal, but just a short time later she received the news that her brother-in-law, a Richmond, Ky., policeman, had been critically wounded while on duty.

“In a matter of a few hours into my workday, I literally went from my normal day of being an occupational therapist and treating patients at bedside, to a distressed family member hoping and praying for a miracle of my own,” Heather said.

Heather’s brother-in-law, Daniel Ellis, was shot while searching an apartment for a robbery suspect. He was transported by ambulance to Chandler Hospital, where he was cared for in the ICU. Daniel passed away early in the morning two days later, leaving behind his grieving family and a shocked community.

Several UK HealthCare employees joined together to support Heather and her family in the wake of Daniel’s tragic death.

“From the moment Daniel came into the ED to when he took his last breath, the UK staff was nothing but outstanding,” Heather said. “I’m so grateful that he was at UK, knowing that he would receive top-notch care.”

To show support for Daniel’s loved ones, the inpatient rehab department staff purchased T-shirts designed and sold in Richmond. The money from the T-shirt sales was given to the Ellis family. On the day of the funeral, employees from Heather’s department wore either the T-shirts they had purchased to support the family or blue under their uniforms as a sign of support and remembrance.

“The professionalism and compassion shown for myself and my family went above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” Heather said.

“The nurses, critical care team members, physicians and my rehab family showed endless amounts of love, kindness and empathy from the very beginning and still continues on. Having this strong support system from the UK HealthCare staff made the unbearable heartbreak as bearable as possible.”

 

Circle of Love benefits more than 800 Kentucky kids.

Circle of Love benefits Kentucky children in need

Thanks to the generosity of UK employees, volunteers and students, hundreds of Kentucky children in need will have their holiday wish lists fulfilled this year.

The Circle of Love gift drive, coordinated by the UK HealthCare Volunteer Services Office, will benefit more than 800 kids in nine Kentucky counties this holiday season.

Following the month-long gift drive, Santa Claus and volunteers from UK HealthCare joined forces last Friday to help load school buses and vans with wrapped gifts for local children and families.

Volunteer Services Manager Katie Tibbitts said this year’s drive was a success.

“The gifts here today may be the only gifts these kids receive for the holidays,” she said. “It is absolutely wonderful what our UK HealthCare employees have done for these children.”

Check out photos from Friday’s event!

What women need to know about stroke

Commonly thought of as a problem primarily affecting older men, stroke is a woman’s disease. Approximately 60 percent of deaths related to stroke in the United States occur in women, and the lifetime risk of stroke is higher in women (about one in five) compared to men (about one in six) for those aged 55 to 75 years.

The good news is that stroke can often be prevented.

Although men and women have several modifiable stroke risk factors in common such as high blood pressure (normal less than 120/80 mmHg), diabetes, cigarette smoking, overweight-obesity, atrial fibrillation (an irregular beating of the upper chambers of the heart), excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet or lack of regular exercise,  several risk factors are unique to women.

Stroke risk can be increased during pregnancy, in part leading to a higher stroke risk among women of childbearing age compared to similarly aged men. Migraine with aura (neurologic symptoms such as seeing sparkling or zigzag lights) is also associated with a higher stroke risk, particularly among women who smoke or use oral contraceptives. Women who have had eclampsia or pre-eclampsia associated with pregnancy (high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and in the case of eclampsia, seizures) are at increased risk of stroke up to 30 years later.

What can women do to reduce their stroke risk?

  • Follow a healthy diet such as the DASH or Mediterranean diet.
  • Get regular exercise such as walking at a brisk but comfortable pace for 20-30 minutes most days of the week.
  • No more than one alcoholic drink per day (no alcohol during pregnancy)
  • Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly

In addition, talk to your health care provider about reducing your stroke risk if you:

  • Have migraine, particularly migraine with aura
  • Have ever had eclampsia or pre-eclampsia

Memorize some common stroke symptoms using the FAST acronym:

  • Facial droop
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech slurring
  • Time call 911 – Stroke is frequently preventable and treatable, but you need to get help quickly

Larry B. Goldstein, MD

 

Larry B. Goldstein, MD, FAAN, FANA, FAHA, is the Ruth L Works Professor and Chairman of the UK Department of Neurology and Co-Director, Kentucky Neuroscience Institute.

 

 

This column appeared in the Dec. 6, 2015 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

How to talk to your kids about terrorism

Helping kids cope with violence, terrorism

Whether it is the local evening news or a 24-hour cable news channel, images of violence and terrorism inundate our homes. These scenes can be disturbing and stressful, especially for children. It is important to manage distress and take appropriate steps in helping your children and adolescents following terrorist attacks.

Take advantage of the teachable moment by starting a dialogue about the event. 

Questions such as:  “What do you think about what you just watched on TV?” “Do you have questions about terrorism?” or “What are kids at school saying about terrorist attacks?” create the space for conversation about what the event means to the child. Avoidance of the topic may increase anxiety and send the message that the event is too horrible to talk about. As the conversation unfolds, listen carefully for what the child knows, what they believe to be true and where they are getting their information.

Correct any misconceptions or inaccurate information.

Age and stage of development can greatly impact the way situations are perceived. Children may unduly personalize the situation, or have an exaggerated sense of danger.

Tailor the amount of media exposure to the needs of the child.

A good rule of thumb is no child under age six needs to be exposed to media accounts of terrorist events. The replaying of graphic images and scenes of distress are confusing to young children who do not have the ability to keep events in temporal sequence and who may feel the event is ongoing. Even if young children do not appear to be listening, they may pick up on the sense of chaos and danger created by adult conversations and repeated media accounts. Parents should limit the amount of exposure in young children and for those who are distressed by the event.

Model good coping. 

Children take their cues on how to respond to events based on the lessons learned from their caregivers. If parents are worried, talking a lot about the event, highly anxious or over-reactive, children will mimic this behavior. It is normal and expected to have a response to tragedy, but an expression of worry or anxiety should be accompanied by solution focused language. This might include describing ways adults in the child’s life take action to keep them safe, pointing out the quick response of law enforcement, and examples of the benevolence of strangers. This sends the message to the child that while bad things happen, there are good people in this world and adults that are there to keep them safe.

Know when to refer.

If children have symptoms of anxiety, worry, sleep disturbance, sadness or preoccupation with the event that lasts beyond two weeks, a referral for a trauma assessment at a community mental health center, a faith-based organization or the UK Center on Trauma and Children is recommended.

Ginny Sprang

 

Ginny Sprang, Ph.D., is the executive director of the UK Center on Trauma and Children