Archive of ‘Alzheimer’s and dementia’ category

How Can Chiropractic Care Help with Symptoms of Dementia?

Degenerative diseases of the brain are becoming common with the elderly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one out of three seniors dies with a degenerative brain disorder like Alzheimer’s or dementia. In the last two decades, deaths from Alzheimer’s have grown by almost 150%. It’s no secret that dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are serious problems that require serious care. And, in the same study regarding Alzheimer’s Disease, half of primary care physicians believe that the health-care industry is not prepared to handle the onslaught of dementia.

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have similar symptoms. Common symptoms include memory loss, concentration problems, confusion with familiar tasks, difficulty communicating, mood changes, and anxiety.

Types of Dementia

There are several types of dementia, not just Alzheimer’s. Most involve memory loss and confusion, but they manifest with other problems. For example, vascular dementia also include problems that look like stroke side effects, like difficulty walking, temporary paralysis, and other movement problems. Another type of dementia includes Lewy bodies. People with this diagnosis will have periods of being alert, then suddenly drowsy. They also have visual hallucinations and are likely to fall. The other type of dementia is frontotemporal, which manifests in a changed personality where the patient does not know how to behave in a socially appropriate way. People with frontotemporal dementia often struggle to communicate and they become obsessive. As people move through the stages of dementia, they lose their social awareness, their personalities change, and lose bladder and bowel control. Most people with dementia problems are over age 65, but there are younger people between 45 and 65 who show signs of the growing problem.

Growth of Dementia Diagnoses

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have both been studied extensively in recent years. Dementia diseases do not have cures, but researchers believe that the cure is somewhere in the brain. There are several ways to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s, but the diseases will continue to run their course until the patient is no longer living. Dementia – the degenerative brain disease – is practically at an epidemic level, as the growth over the last twenty years shows. Fortunately, there are treatments available, including chiropractic care. When you recognize how chiropractic care works, it becomes easy to see why a neurological problem like dementia can be treated with a health-care program that values the spine.

Causes and Prevention

The latest research shows that there are several factors that increase the risk of developing dementia. They include hypertension, hearing impairments, diabetes, social isolation, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, head injury, physical inactivity, and air pollution.
Research also shows that prevention for dementia should start at a young age and continue through the elder years. All children should receive primary and secondary education. The dangers of drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes should be shared with the public so people will avoid both to reduce their risks of developing dementia. Public health should train people to eat healthy foods so they avoid developing type-2 diabetes and other obesity-related problems. With healthy diets, people sleep better and are less likely to develop hypertension.

It is also important for people who need hearing aids to get them. Hearing loss is often a precursor to dementia. Finally, people should be able to live in communities that do not have excessive air pollution and homes should be free of second-hand smoke. Dementia care should include multidimensional treatments for the whole body. And, this is where chiropractic care comes into play. Many dementia patients take medications, but they only cover the problem, not solve it. Because so many people have dementia, Medicare is covering chiropractic care as a treatment because the care has proven to improve health, cognitive function, and life in general.

How Chiropractic Care Helps People with Dementia

Chiropractic care is dedicated to the maintenance of the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are degenerative brain disorders, so chiropractic care directly affects parts of the body affected by these diseases.

Feeding the Brain

There is research that shows the brain needs to have certain nutrients to function properly. When those nutrients are blocked, the brain changes and loses certain functions. When there are subluxations or misalignments in the spine, the body and the brain do not work as they should. Chiropractic care realigns the spine by removing the subluxations. The result is that
nerves can operate properly so nutrients can reach the brain, returning the spine and brain to normal function.

Typical Treatment Options

At this point, chiropractic care does not cure dementia or Alzheimer’s, but it does serve as a realistic treatment. Chiropractors work with patients who have problems with spine-related pain, joint stiffness, and extremity pain. Research shows that many of those problems manifest themselves as acute pain or restricted mobility. Most chiropractors use similar treatments:
● Myofascial therapies
● Ischemic compression
● Mechanical percussion
● Muscle stretching
● Thrust manipulation

Collaborative Changes to Meet Patient Needs

Patients who needed neurorehabilitation usually needed treatments that were different from the typical movement-related choices. According to research, people who needed chiropractic care for neurological conditions, like dementia, had chiropractors who developed collaborative plans with other health care providers. The programs required longer visits and non-standard treatment ideas. Chiropractors had to adapt to each patient’s cognitive issues and problems with communication.

Slowing Memory Loss

Chiropractic care is not a miracle solution for any degenerative brain disease, but it can help ease the symptoms. Some patients have found that chiropractic care has slowed their memory loss. Chiropractic care will not bring back lost memories, but research shows that thoughtful,
collaborative chiropractic will help maintain the status quo. Chiropractic care also helps improve musculoskeletal function in dementia patients.


If you have a loved one who is suffering through a type of dementia, you want the best for them. Rather than watching them go through the daily struggles, a chiropractor might be able to help slow the speed of degeneration. Your health care provider and a chiropractor can work together to improve your loved one’s quality of life, even in just a small way.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dementia check out this blog about counseling services for dementia related concerns.

Written By: Dr. Brent Wells.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His chiropractic practice has treated thousands of Juneau patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief. Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.



Being a Caregiver Changed My Life For the Better

Being a caregiver was the hardest job I ever did. For 16 years, I served as a caregiver to older adult family members during their last illnesses. The work was exhausting and emotionally draining. I slowly lost my loved ones to Alzheimer’s disease and/or cancer. I struggled to maintain my full-time job while caring for my loved ones. As their health worsened, I gradually eliminated other activities until there was essentially no free time, and not nearly enough sleep. I attended to my loved ones’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs at end of life. I grieved each loved one who died.

Being a caregiver was the most fulfilling job I ever did. I wouldn’t trade those precious years as a caregiver, or the intense months of end-of-life caregiving, for anything in the world. I learned to carry on, even when I felt empty, depleted, and inadequate. I learned to draw strength from my faith, family, and friends. I learned to show my loved ones that I loved them for who they were, not for what they did. I learned to speak by my actions, when I could no longer reach my loved ones by my words. I learned that the most profound communication is without words. I realized that caregiving was the work that I truly loved—although it was not the work for which I had been educated.

Being a caregiver led to my new career. After my loved ones died, and I was alone, I felt lost. I went to a therapist. He said that I was experiencing normal grief, plus a need for a midlife career change. After he guided me through a long, careful exploration, I realized that I wanted to care for older adults, including those who are nearing end of life; and that I wanted to be a counselor. My therapist suggested that I get a master’s in social work. In the summer between my grad school years, I chose to take a certification course in caring for persons with dementia. I learned that my path from a personal dedication to a professional one was not unusual. Each participant in the class—whether instructor or student—had been a caregiver to family member(s) with dementia, who had since died. Each participant said that caregiving was incredibly hard. And each participant said that they wanted to keep learning skills that would enable them to help persons who are currently suffering from dementia, and to help their caregivers.

May I walk with you? If you have been diagnosed with a serious chronic illness, or if you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with a serious chronic illness, it would be my honor to share your journey with you. It is too hard a journey to travel alone. 

Written by: Catherine C. Stansbury, LMSW, supervised by Melissa L. Gould, LCSW-S. Catherine is a therapist here at Austin Family Counseling. She has a Master of Social Work with clinical specialization, gerontology concentration from Baylor University (specialized training in caring for older adults and their caregivers). She is PAC Certified Independent Consultant, certified by the Positive Approach to Care organization (specialized training in caring for persons with dementia and their caregivers). Catherine is also an Associate member of Aging Life Care Association (a national association of professionals who are dedicated to caring for older adults and their caregivers).


The Aging Brain: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

In 2014, there were 46.2 million Americans over the age of 65, which represents about 14.5% of the U.S. population. By 2040, this number is expected to rise to over 81 million, and by 2060, almost 100 million. With this significant increase in the aging population comes a growing concern about the prevention and treatment of age-related diseases. One, if not the most, notable of these diseases is dementia, due to the impact it has not only on the person with the disease, but also to their spouses, children, and to the healthcare system as a whole.

By: Shannon Haragan, LPC

By: Shannon Haragan, LPC

How Do I Know if it’s Normal Aging or Early Signs of Dementia?

In the not-too-distant past, researchers believed that the brain only developed and built connections during our early years, after which, development stopped, and the rest of our lives were spent losing brain cells. Now we know that the brain can continue to generate cells and build connections throughout our life span–we call this neuroplasticity. If we keep our bodies and our minds engaged and active, we can have a healthy brain throughout our lifetime. Here is an example of truly healthy aging, at age 106, who got to dance with the President and the First Lady

Similar to any muscle in our body, however, we can apply the age-old “use it or lose it” principle to the brain, as well. As we age, we tend to naturally slow down both physically and mentally. We tend to engage less with things that are mentally and cognitively challenging. Our minds follow suit, and as a result, we may naturally experience memory lapses from time to time. So some memory loss is considered normal. But how much? What if you forget where you left your keys? Call your granddaughter by your sister’s name? Walk into a room and forget why you walked in there in the first place? Here are a few guidelines for what’s normal and what’s not:

             Normal Aging                      Signs of Dementia
Preserved independence in daily activitiesCritical dependence on others for key daily living activities
The individual is more concerned about alleged forgetfulness than close family members areClose family members are much more concerned about incidents of memory loss than the individual
The person complains of memory loss but can provide considerable detail regarding incidents of forgetfulnessThe person complains of memory problems only if specifically asked; cannot recall instances where memory loss was noticeable
Recent memory for important events, affairs, and conversations is not impairedRecent memory for events and ability to converse are both noticeably impaired
Occasional word-finding difficultiesFrequent word-finding pauses and substitutions
Person does not get lost in familiar territory; may have to pause momentarily to remember wayPerson gets lost in familiar territory while walking or driving; may take hours to return home
Individual operates common appliances even if unwilling to learn how to operate new devicesPerson cannot operate common appliances; unable to learn to operate even simple new appliances
No decline in interpersonal social skillsLoss of interest in social activities; socially inappropriate behaviors
Normal performance on mental status examinations, relative to the individual’s education and cultureBelow-normal performance on mental status examinations in ways not accounted for by educational or cultural factors

 

There are many different causes of dementia (Alzheimer’s is the most common), but the way the symptoms present is different for everybody. If you have a concern for yourself or a family member, talk with your primary care doctor or a neurologist. If you’re struggling with anxiety, worry or grief around a potential diagnosis, a therapist can be helpful. Though the funding is currently lacking compared to other diseases such as cancer and heart disease, important research is currently ongoing, and there is great hope for finding effective treatments to combat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the not-too-distant future. For more information, check out the Alzheimer’s Association or more info about dementia.


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