Article from February 2018 E-Newsletter

Can Ultrasound Waves Be Used To Treat Parkinson’s Disease?
Patients with Parkinson’s disease for some years may have a fluctuating response to medications, significant dyskinesias, or severe tremor. Surgical treatment is a consideration for such patients. The current FDA approved surgical treatment is deep brain stimulation. There is over 20 years of experience with DBS and it is covered by Medicare and most insurances for appropriate patients.

A new surgical technique is being developed called MRI-focused ultrasound (MRI-FUS). In this method a deep area in the brain called the thalamus is targeted with ultrasound waves using high quality brain MRI imaging. This makes a small stroke-like lesion that suppresses abnormal brain activity that can lead to tremor. Small numbers of patients with essential tremor have been treated with relatively good control of tremor and minor side effects. The ExAblate system manufactured by Insightec earned FDA approval to treat essential tremor in July 2016. Though FDA approved it is not covered by insurance and is available from a few centers in the US on a cash pay basis.

There is an interest in extending the indication to Parkinson’s disease. Advantages of MRI-FUS include the less invasive nature of the procedure and there is no need for hardware to be installed in the body. A few words of caution must be kept in mind. The deep brain target for this MRI-FUS is the thalamus and the technique resembles an old method called thalamotomy used in the pre-DBS era. While this target is good for tremor control it is not the optimal target for control of overall symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Most centers performing DBS choose the subthalamic nucleus or the globus pallidus as the ideal target, not the thalamus. Secondly, while we have over two decades of experience with DBS, we do not have long-term data with the newer technique. Further clinical trials with long-term follow-up are required before MRI-FUS becomes an accepted part of care for Parkinson’s disease.

Article written by Arif Dalvi, MD, MBA, from the Palm Beach Neuroscience Institute and Medical Director of the APDA South Florida Chapter.

Article from January 2018 E-Newsletter

Caregiver Burnout
Taking care of yourself is not a symptom of being selfish. It’s important to remember that you cannot serve from an empty vessel. However, all too often, those caring for a loved one forget to take care of themselves, significantly increasing the risk of caregiver burnout. Here are a few signs and symptoms to look for that could indicate you are suffering from caregiver burnout and may need some help:

  • You’re feeling stressed
  • You are using alcohol or drugs more than you did before
  • You are exhausted from losing sleep
  • You often have a short fuse and feel agitated
  • You are self-medicating and potentially overusing prescription medications
  • You’re missing appointments
  • You’re experiencing a lack of interest in social activities and/or seeing your friends
  • You feel angry and/or resent your partner

According to a recent CNN Report, 70 percent of all caregivers over the age of 70 will pre-decease the person they are caring for. It’s critical for family caregivers to seek help and respite care so they can take care of themselves and be the best caregiver they can be to their loved one. Here are just a few steps you can take to help minimize the risk of caregiver burnout:

  • Accept your feelings and understand that it is completely normal to have negative feelings like anger or frustration at times. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Consider talking to a professional who is trained in dealing with physical and emotional issues.
  • Educate yourself on the condition. The more you know, the more effective a caregiver you will be.
  • Remember the importance of taking care of yourself. Maintain a healthy diet, find time to exercise and try to maintain healthy sleep habits.
  • Look for caregiver support services in your area. Support groups where people can talk and share with others who are having a similar experience can be very comforting and helpful. Also, local chapters of national organizations as well as your local Area Agency on Aging can offer additional resources and information.
  • Remember, it takes a village. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Respite care can provide a temporary break for caregivers. It can be anything from a few hours of in-home care to an adult day care center.

Remember, the goal is to seek help before stress affects your health and well-being. If you are caring for a loved one and think you may be experiencing caregiver burnout or any of the signs discussed above, please reach out for help.

Article written by Melissa Morante from ComForcare Senior Services

Article from December 2017 E-Newsletter

How Can You Make the Holidays Senior Friendly
As we grow older, things change, including how much we can manage during the holidays. How might you adjust your family’s traditions to accommodate the elders in your clan? Take a look at these suggestions:

  • Re-think the time of day your family gets together. Seniors have more energy to enjoy festivities earlier in the day.
  • Enlist some help when preparing the meal. This will give mom an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, the ability to spend some quality time with her family, and she’ll have the opportunity to pass on some family recipes.
  • Play music that will stimulate pleasant memories for your senior. Music can be very good medicine for people of all ages!
  • Be aware of the temperature inside and outside. Keep a sweater or blanket handy to help keep your loved one comfortable.
  • Re-think the amount of time spent decorating. This could get over-tiring.
  • Help with your senior’s gift giving. Ask if they need help shopping or wrapping.
  • Be aware of possible physical limitations. With aging comes poor hearing and failing eyesight. Make sure your loved one is able to participate in the activities.
  • Help your senior stay in touch. Bring your phone or computer to help re-connect with family members and relatives.
  • Drive around the neighborhood and enjoy the outside decor. Enjoy the fresh air.
  • Take time to share your favorite holiday stories. Be sure to come prepared.
  • Be open to letting new memories replace old traditions. They may no longer be possible or appropriate.
  • Take lots of pictures. Your senior can proudly show off their family to other friends and care-givers

Article written by Senior Care Authorities


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