Vista Del Mar Senior Living

Vista Del Mar Senior Living

Friday, March 30, 2012

Learning another language 'could protect against dementia'

Learning another language 'rewires' the brain and could help delay the onset of dementia by years, research suggests.
Having to grapple with two languages makes the brain work harder, making it more resilient in later life, say academics. 
One study found that, among people who did eventually get dementia, those who were bilingual throughout their lives developed the disease three to four years later. 
Dr Ellen Bialystok, of York University in Toronto, Canada, and two colleagues examined hospital records of patients diagnosed with a variety of different types of dementia. 
They found: "In spite of being equivalent on a variety of cognitive and other factors, the bilinguals experienced onset and symptoms and were diagnosed approximately three to four years later than the monolinguals.
"Specifically, monolingual patients were diagnosed on average at age 75.4 years and bilinguals at age 78.6 years.
Several other studies found similar results, they noted in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
While lifelong bilingualism appeared to have the strongest protective effect, any attempt at learning another language was likely to be beneficial, they wrote.
"If bilingualism is protective against some forms of dementia, then middle-aged people will want to know whether it is too late to learn another language, or whether their high-school French will count towards coginitive reserve," they said.
"A related question concerns the age of acquisition of a second language: is earlier better?" The best answer at present is that early age of acquisition, overall fluency, frequency of use, levels of literacy and grammatical accuracy all contribute to the bilingual advantage, with no single factor being decisive. "Increasing bilingualism" led to "increasing modification" of the brain, they said.
Brain imaging scans have found that having to switch between two languages helps exercise parts of the brain that carry out taxing intellectual tasks, like multi-tasking and concentrating intensely on a subject for a sustained period of time. These "executive control" functions tend to be among the first to wane in old age, a process known as "cognitive decline".
Dr Bialystok commented: "Our conclusion is that lifelong experience in managing attention to two languages reorganises specific brain networks, creating a more effective basis for executive control and sustaining better cognitive performance throughout our lifespan."
Dr Marie Janson, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said:"We know there are several lifestyle factors - such as healthy eating, exercise and mental activity - that could help to reduce our risk of dementia.
"This review discusses the evidence that keeping our brains active by switching between different languages could help to resist some of the damage caused by dementia, delaying the onset of symptoms.
"More research is needed to tease apart the most beneficial aspects of bilingualism - whether it is the age we starting learning, how fluent we are or how much we use the language in everyday life. 
"With 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia and this number expected to rise, it is vital to invest in research to understand more about how to prevent or delay the onset of this devastating condition." Original article from the Telegraph

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dementia, From the Inside

March 28, 2012, 8:19 am
Lee Gorewitz in a scene from the film "You're Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don't." 
Lee Gorewitz in a scene from the film “You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t.”
Scott Kirschenbaum’s new film, “You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t,” was supposed to be scripted and cast — a coherent story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Then he found his unlikely star: Lee Gorewitz, 78, who lives in dementia unit at Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville, Calif.
They met one day in 2009 as Mr. Kirschenbaum arrived at the facility, which was to be his setting, on a scouting mission. Fit, well-coiffed and made-up, in earrings that matched her baby blue jogging suit, Mrs. Gorewitz greeted him at the door and was eager to show him around.

But as she walked through the facility, he recalled in an interview, her tour made less and less sense.

“Windows,” she said.



And eventually: “I hear the song in my ears, and I think they don’t love me anymore.’’

Mrs. Gorewitz was vivacious, energetic, charming and “trying her darndest to communicate with me,” Mr. Kirschenbaum said, but the “gap between her thinking and speech’’ was cavernous. The head of the unit called Mrs. Gorewitz’s way of communicating “word salad.”

But the 31-year-old filmmaker knew that telling the story he wanted to tell, of living with Alzheimer’s from the inside out, meant “working with an unreliable narrator.” It meant giving up on the idea of a linear plot. It meant entering a fragmented reality where “emotional coherence had replaced intellectual coherence.’’ And so Mrs. Gorewitz, with her family’s wholehearted support, became his muse.

The result is a strange and transfixing television experience, shot over the course of two weeks in April 2009. It will air on PBS stations on March 29 in Chicago, Denver and San Francisco; on April 1 in New York and Los Angeles; and on April 6 in Washington. (Viewers should check their local PBS listings.)

Until now, screen depictions of dementia mostly have been told from the perspective of the caregiver. Mr. Kirschenbaum, never seen in the film, is heard only a few times, in barely a whisper, asking Mrs. Gorewitz questions about her late husband, children, favorite color, the identities of people in the photographs in her room, the recipient of a birthday card she had saved, what she wore to her wedding, the meaning of love.
Mostly, the camera follows her wanderings through the unit, her interactions with other residents and staff, her sudden swings from conviviality to despair to anger. We hear the background noise and conversation, if you can call it that, of residents and aides. Family members are never in the frame. We are there only to the extent Mrs. Gorewitz is. What she cannot tell us, we don’t know.

She rails at her grown children, who visit with some regularity; her grandchildren have decorated her room with photos and mementos. That birthday card was meant for her, it turns out, but she can’t figure it out.
Displaying her “wedding dress,” she holds up a lavender blazer of recent vintage. Of her late husband she says, “How do I even say it? The air’’ – she pauses – “was very good.’’

And the meaning of love? She is silent for a long time, licking her lips. “That’s a darn good thing to work with,’’ she says.

In the corridors and lounges of the unit, Mrs. Gorewitz dances and snaps her fingers when the tape deck plays “Billy Boy’’ or Frank Sinatra sings “Somewhere, Beyond the Sea.’’ She soothes an old woman curled in a wheelchair cradling a doll in her arms. She kicks an old man, also in a wheelchair, and blurts out at him, “You’re going to die.’’ He responds with a jaunty wave.

In one scene, she lies curled in a fetal position on her bed, with its blue flowered comforter, keening, “I don’t know why. I don’t why I do what I do.’’

At the end of each day’s shooting, Mr. Kirschenbaum recalled, Mrs. Gorewitz kissed him goodbye, tearing up at their parting. He had become family. “There is no such thing as enough when you are that sociable, confused and lonely,” he said. “The fundamental struggle is how to make do with the social dynamic available to her.’’

Mr. Kirschenbaum has some background in the subject matter. His grandfather, 100, lives in a Rochester nursing home; his 93-year-old grandmother is three miles away, in assisted living, and visits her husband a few times a week. At Yale, he made a documentary about the role of Jewish humor in the lives of 15 nursing home residents. He wrote profiles of the elderly for the Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Later, living in New York, he answered an online ad for a companion for a screenwriter with Alzheimer’s disease. The pair spent every Wednesday over muffins and coffee.

The title of the film is simply something Mrs. Gorewitz said one day, sitting at the edge of her bed, not far from tears and playing with a bunch of small stuffed animals. He didn’t ask what she meant.

Original article from the NY times

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Watchie GPS Locator Helps Keep Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients Safe

Posted by | 03/20/2012 | 0 Comments
Every week I’m guaranteed to see a Gray Alert on my Twitter feed or a flyer in my neighborhood here in New York concerning an elderly person who’s gone missing. Usually it’s a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia who accidentally wandered from home and didn’t come back.
Taking care of someone with either of these conditions is difficult, especially when you’re trying to balance their desire for dignity with your need to keep them safe. A new device called Watchie seeks to help with this issue and offers caregivers some peace of mind.
Watchie looks and is worn just like a watch and includes GPS technology and a SIM card for accurate tracking both indoors and out. Caregivers can set up specific safe zones and get alerts when the wearer leaves those zones or the wearer can press a panic button if they find themselves lost with no idea how to get home.
Caregivers can see where the Watchie is via a website or an app for their iPhone or iPad. There doesn’t appear to be an Android version yet.
The built-in accelerometer can also alert caregivers to sudden falls just in case the wearer isn’t able to press the panic button.
Despite the constant connection to cell towers and GPS satellites, the company behind Watchie claims that the device can go several days or weeks without needing a charge.
Watchie works in over 140 countries and is set to launch soon.

Original Article 3/20/12

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Exercising an Aging Brain

MORE and more retired people are heading back to the nearest classroom — as students and, in some cases, teachers — and they are finding out that school can be lovelier the second time around. Some may be thinking of second careers, but most just want to keep their minds stimulated, learn something new or catch up with a subject they were always curious about but never had time for.