Got thirst?

I got thirsty today from working outside (not good). We trimmed, pruned, cut grass and mulched some leaves. Wow! What a great byline for the national nightly news! Applause But it was a lot of fun. Yea, Pam and I are both aching now…………where’s that aspirin??

The last week or so has been much better. In fact, it feels like I did all summer long. I’ve never been able to achieve my baseline since becoming ill but nonetheless I’m OK with that. This LBD truly is cunning, baffling and powerful! One day they will have an answer to all the mysteriousness of the symptomatic fluctuations of Lewy Body Dementia.

So back to being thirsty. I remembered blogging about dehydration last fall. Particularly with regard to the elderly. And in the winter……not just summer (whenever we think of dehydration the most). So I thought I’d cheat and repost it again since winter is right around the corner. Hope it is helpful to someone.

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Signs and Symptoms of Winter Dehydration in the Elderly and 8 Ways to Avoid Them

It’s Winter! Dehydrated? How could I be? Dehydration can occur anytime of the year. We think of summer time as being a time to avoid the sun as well as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Here are some tips to keep you and your elderly loved ones well hydrated this winter. And to better health!

Dehydration can kill. It is crucial for anyone to stay properly hydrated but it is even more important for seniors who have other comorbidities as well as dementia like diseases. One of the reasons that the dehydration threat is higher for seniors is because of thinner skin that comes with aging. The thinner skin makes a person more prone to losing fluid. Another issue that makes seniors more open to fluid loss is their medications, some medicines can cause you to become easily dehydrated.

A wide array of medical issues can lead to dehydration. Considering that our bodies are made up of 50% to 65% water, this element is critical to virtually all our physical functions. Every organ and system of the body depends on water, so a shortage of fluid can naturally lead to serious health consequences. Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization among people over the age of 65. Worse, at least one study has found that about one-half of those hospitalized for dehydration died within a year of admission. Older people are at greatest risk for dehydration because the mechanism that normally triggers thirst becomes less sensitive with age. In addition, as we age, a lower percentage of our body weight is water, so dehydration can occur more rapidly. Those elderly individuals most vulnerable to dehydration live alone, especially when they are ill. In addition to fluid lost from fever from flu, or diarrhea from a stomach virus, sickness usually interferes with normal eating and drinking patterns.   We lose water in many ways.

  1. Breathing results in humidified air leaving the body
  2. Diarrhea is the most common reason a person loses excess water. A significant amount of water can be lost with each bowel movement. Worldwide, dehydration from diarrhea accounts for many of the deaths in children.
  3. Vomiting can also be a cause of fluid loss; as well, it makes it difficult to replace water by drinking it.
  4. The body can lose significant amounts of water when it tries to cool itself by sweating. Whether the body is hot because of the environment (for example, working in a warm environment), intense exercising in a hot environment, or because a fever is present due to an infection, the body loses a significant amount of water in the form of sweat to cool itself. Depending upon weather conditions, a brisk walk will generate up to 16 ounces of sweat (a pound of water).
  5. In people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels cause sugar to spill into the urine and water then follows. Significant dehydration can occur. For this reason, frequent urination and excessive thirst are among the symptoms of diabetes.
  6. Burn victims become dehydrated because water seeps into the damaged skin. Other inflammatory diseases of the skin are also associated with fluid loss.
  7. The inability to drink adequately is the other potential cause of dehydration. Whether it is the lack of availability of water or the lack of strength to drink adequate amounts, this, coupled with routine or extraordinary water losses, can compound the degree of dehydration.
  8. One common side effect of many medicines is increased frequency of urination. You need to compensate for these additional lost fluids by drinking more than usual. Medications that often cause this problem are diuretics, blood pressure drugs, antihistamines and psychiatric drugs.
  9. The aging process can diminish our natural sense of thirst, but if you also suffer from incontinence, you may be reluctant to drink fluids throughout the day. Sipping often in small amounts is essential to avoid becoming dehydrated.

The body’s initial signs and symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output. The urine will become concentrated and more yellow in color.
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Dry, cracked lips dry mouth the eyes stop making tears sweating may stop muscle cramps nausea and vomiting lightheadedness (especially when standing). weakness will occur as the brain and other body organs receive less blood.
  • Coma and organ failure will occur if the dehydration remains untreated.
  • Irritability & confusion in the elderly should also be heeded immediately.

Here are some easy remedies and ways to prevent dehydration:

  1. As is often the case in medicine, prevention is the important first step in the treatment of dehydration.
  2. Fluid replacement is the treatment for dehydration. This can include: water, juice, soups and clear broths, Popsicles, Jell-O, ice cream, milk, puddings, decaffeinated beverages, Kool-Aid, nutritional drink supplements (Ensure, Boost, Sustacal, Resource and instant breakfast drinks), and replacement fluids that may contain electrolytes (Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
  3. Reduce or eliminate dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks (unless decaffeinated). But even decaffeinated drinks can contribute to dehydration. Beware of alcohol intake too. Alcoholic beverages increase risk of dehydration because the body requires additional water to metabolize alcohol and it also acts as a diuretic.
  4. If you drink the unhealthy beverages, you need to add even more water to you daily total. The dehydration caused by those drinks must be compensated for by increasing the water.
  5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Most have a high water content.
  6. Drink water all day long in small amounts. It is not good to suddenly gulp down 64 ounces of water. You can fill a 24-32 ounce tumbler in the morning, refill it by late morning and refill again for the afternoon. Consume that by 5 PM. Most people need to start limiting fluids 1-3 hours before bedtime.
  7. Individuals with vomiting and diarrhea can try to alter their diet and use medications to control symptoms to minimize water loss. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used to control fever.
  8. If an individual becomes confused or lethargic; if there is persistent, uncontrolled fever, vomiting, or diarrhea; or if there are any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed. Call 911 for any patient with altered mental status – confusion, lethargy, or coma.

Remember that the lack of a sense of thirst is not a reliable indicator of the need for water. You need water long before you feel thirsty.

Warmly………….David

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Better diagnosis vital for seniors with dementia

In terms of driving, this article is scary. I certainly can relate to it. I got ticked off when I read, What’s more, Ontario does not pay family doctors extra to do the lengthy assessments that determine if a senior is fit to drive.” It makes me wonder how many seniors are driving here in the US who probably shouldn’t be. It’s a tough call for all. Taking away someone’s driving privileges is a real blow to the senior!

Better diagnosis vital for seniors with dementia

By Pauline Tam, Ottawa Citizen January 27, 2009 OTTAWA —

Doctors’ failure to detect and to treat dementia in many seniors has thousands of them driving when they shouldn’t be, says Dr. William Dalziel, chief of the Regional Geriatric Program of Eastern Ontario. At a meeting Tuesday of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, Dalziel warned that in Ottawa alone, about 10,000 seniors have been diagnosed with dementia, but that number could reach 50,000 over the next two decades. Estimates suggest 100,000 elderly Ontarians with dementia — or about two per cent of the province’s seniors — are on the road even though they may be unfit to drive. In Ottawa, 2,500 elderly drivers have some form of dementia, he said. The problem persists because family doctors either are not trained to spot the warning signs, or are reluctant to report their patients to licensing authorities, said Dalziel. What’s more, Ontario does not pay family doctors extra to do the lengthy assessments that determine if a senior is fit to drive. “Just a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean someone can’t drive. You have to look at the disabilities they have related to that,” said Dalziel. “We need to equip physicians with the tools to decide if someone with dementia is safe or unsafe. And then we need to pay them properly to do that.” Often, seniors with dementia are diagnosed only after they reach the advanced stages, making it more difficult for them to be treated, he added. This also increases their chances of developing other illnesses or injuries that can land them in a hospital or nursing home, which can be a financial drain on families and on the health-care system, said Dalziel. He advocates the creation of more screening programs that would catch such warning signs as memory loss, changes in mood and behaviour and apathy. Treating risk factors such as high-blood pressure, depression and stroke also would slow the onset of dementia. “If you’re trying to get a middle-aged man to take his pills for hypertension, you don’t talk to him about a heart attack because he thinks he’s invincible,” said Dalziel. “Talk to him about dementia and you’re probably going to get a lot more (compliance).” Meantime, a new screening program is being launched in Eastern Ontario this month that will teach pharmacists how to spot seniors who may be at high risk of developing dementia. For example, it alerts pharmacists to watch for customers who purchase dosettes or pill organizers that remind people to take their medications daily. It then directs pharmacists to offer those customers a standardized memory test and to notify their family doctors should warning signs of dementia emerge. “There’s a bunch of red flags that health professionals, if they’re awake and alert and think of them, could easily utilize to recognize someone who is at greater risk,” said Dalziel, architect of the screening program. “The purchase of a dosette should come with memory screening because if someone is having trouble taking their medication, maybe they have memory troubles.” The program, expected to be tested at a half-dozen pharmacies across Eastern Ontario, is part of a broader regional effort to improve the detection of dementia. Another program being rolled out next month trains nurses working in community health centres and family health teams to assess elderly patients for signs of dementia, before being treated by a physician.

Well, now. Let’s go back to the Fast Food puzzle from last week — Burger, fries, small drink and cookie. The answer is $2.75.

  • If a burger and fries cost $3.50, and a small drink and cookie cost $2.25, then all four cost a total of $5.00. Take away the fries and small drink, which cost $2.25, and the remaining burger and cookie cost $2.75.

I made it a whole lot harder that it needed to be. I resorted to algebra and still didn’t get it correct. I came up with $2.85. Maybe I subtracted wrong. When I think that I minored in math in college, I couldn’t  believe that I couldn’t even do the simple algebra. Shameful. But I guess it’s a reminder that the brain is challenged these days. I think I need to get back to those logic puzzles again. They seem to help me the most—they actually make me feel smarter.

Congratulations to these great folks for solving it correctly! In order of posting are:

  1. Willa
  2. Laura
  3. Kat
  4. Lynn M.
  5. Pam
  6. Lynn
  7. Raquel
  8. Freda

I hope I didn’t forget anyone. Ladies, check for your email on how to receive your gift!!

Wasn’t able to get a post out yesterday. I got up early, but for some reason just couldn’t pull it together to concentrate on writing.

Some humor

“Good morning,” I said to a coworker in the parking lot. She mumbled something back and continued to the front door, distracted. As we walked, I couldn’t help but notice that she was muttering to herself: “It pays the bills, it pays the bills, it pays the bills…”

Blogging to do list:

This is the 28th day of the year, with 337 days remaining in 2009.

Fact of the Day: pancake

The oldest surviving pancake recipe in the English language dates from the 15th century. It describes a thin flat cake of batter, fried on both sides in a pan and usually served either flat or with several stacked. Blin (as in blini and blintze) is Russian for ‘pancake’ and blintz(e) is from Russian blinets ‘little pancake.’ Cake itself first meant ‘small flat bread roll baked on both sides by being turned – as in pancake.

Warmly………David

Signs and Symptoms of Winter Dehydration in the Elderly and 8 Ways to Avoid Them

It’s Winter! Dehydrated? How could I be? Dehydration can occur anytime of the year. We think of summer time as being a time to avoid the sun as well as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Here are some tips to keep you and your elderly loved ones well hydrated this winter. And to better health!

Dehydration can kill. It is crucial for anyone to stay properly hydrated but it is even more important for seniors who have other comorbidities as well as dementia like diseases. One of the reasons that the dehydration threat is higher for seniors is because of thinner skin that comes with aging. The thinner skin makes a person more prone to losing fluid. Another issue that makes seniors more open to fluid loss is their medications, some medicines can cause you to become easily dehydrated.

A wide array of medical issues can lead to dehydration. Considering that our bodies are made up of 50% to 65% water, this element is critical to virtually all our physical functions. Every organ and system of the body depends on water, so a shortage of fluid can naturally lead to serious health consequences. Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization among people over the age of 65. Worse, at least one study has found that about one-half of those hospitalized for dehydration died within a year of admission. Older people are at greatest risk for dehydration because the mechanism that normally triggers thirst becomes less sensitive with age. In addition, as we age, a lower percentage of our body weight is water, so dehydration can occur more rapidly. Those elderly individuals most vulnerable to dehydration live alone, especially when they are ill. In addition to fluid lost from fever from flu, or diarrhea from a stomach virus, sickness usually interferes with normal eating and drinking patterns.   We lose water in many ways.  

  1. Breathing results in humidified air leaving the body
  2. Diarrhea is the most common reason a person loses excess water. A significant amount of water can be lost with each bowel movement. Worldwide, dehydration from diarrhea accounts for many of the deaths in children.
  3. Vomiting can also be a cause of fluid loss; as well, it makes it difficult to replace water by drinking it.
  4. The body can lose significant amounts of water when it tries to cool itself by sweating. Whether the body is hot because of the environment (for example, working in a warm environment), intense exercising in a hot environment, or because a fever is present due to an infection, the body loses a significant amount of water in the form of sweat to cool itself. Depending upon weather conditions, a brisk walk will generate up to 16 ounces of sweat (a pound of water).
  5. In people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels cause sugar to spill into the urine and water then follows. Significant dehydration can occur. For this reason, frequent urination and excessive thirst are among the symptoms of diabetes.
  6. Burn victims become dehydrated because water seeps into the damaged skin. Other inflammatory diseases of the skin are also associated with fluid loss.
  7. The inability to drink adequately is the other potential cause of dehydration. Whether it is the lack of availability of water or the lack of strength to drink adequate amounts, this, coupled with routine or extraordinary water losses, can compound the degree of dehydration.
  8. One common side effect of many medicines is increased frequency of urination. You need to compensate for these additional lost fluids by drinking more than usual. Medications that often cause this problem are diuretics, blood pressure drugs, antihistamines and psychiatric drugs.
  9. The aging process can diminish our natural sense of thirst, but if you also suffer from incontinence, you may be reluctant to drink fluids throughout the day. Sipping often in small amounts is essential to avoid becoming dehydrated. 

The body’s initial signs and symptoms of dehydration are:  

  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output. The urine will become concentrated and more yellow in color.
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Dry, cracked lips dry mouth the eyes stop making tears sweating may stop muscle cramps nausea and vomiting lightheadedness (especially when standing). weakness will occur as the brain and other body organs receive less blood.
  • Coma and organ failure will occur if the dehydration remains untreated.
  • Irritability & confusion in the elderly should also be heeded immediately. 

Here are some easy remedies and ways to prevent dehydration: 

  1. As is often the case in medicine, prevention is the important first step in the treatment of dehydration.
  2. Fluid replacement is the treatment for dehydration. This can include: water, juice, soups and clear broths, Popsicles, Jell-O, ice cream, milk, puddings, decaffeinated beverages, Kool-Aid, nutritional drink supplements (Ensure, Boost, Sustacal, Resource and instant breakfast drinks), and replacement fluids that may contain electrolytes (Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
  3. Reduce or eliminate dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks (unless decaffeinated). But even decaffeinated drinks can contribute to dehydration. Beware of alcohol intake too. Alcoholic beverages increase risk of dehydration because the body requires additional water to metabolize alcohol and it also acts as a diuretic.
  4. If you drink the unhealthy beverages, you need to add even more water to you daily total. The dehydration caused by those drinks must be compensated for by increasing the water.
  5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Most have a high water content.
  6. Drink water all day long in small amounts. It is not good to suddenly gulp down 64 ounces of water. You can fill a 24-32 ounce tumbler in the morning, refill it by late morning and refill again for the afternoon. Consume that by 5 PM. Most people need to start limiting fluids 1-3 hours before bedtime.
  7. Individuals with vomiting and diarrhea can try to alter their diet and use medications to control symptoms to minimize water loss. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used to control fever.
  8. If an individual becomes confused or lethargic; if there is persistent, uncontrolled fever, vomiting, or diarrhea; or if there are any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed. Call 911 for any patient with altered mental status – confusion, lethargy, or coma. 

Remember that the lack of a sense of thirst is not a reliable indicator of the need for water. You need water long before you feel thirsty.  

[This Article was written for Ezine Articles]

 

David

Seniors — Dementia — Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Treatment Options

 

 

The Only Light You Really Need is the One Inside You!

 

 

Several days ago, I wrote about seasonal affective disorder and will focus on some treatment options today. Recently my wife, Pam, had some blood work done which revealed low levels of vitamin D. Recently there has been much talk in the medical community about whether the recommended daily requirement for vitamin D is sufficient. Vitamin D production is produced from sunlight. (But, wait)! We are also told to put on sunscreen to protect us from skin cancer. The sunscreen also acts as a barrier to producing vitamin D through the skin. Do we have a double whammy or not? Ironically, Pam tends to be very sensitive to sun deprivation!

 

In 1979, Norman Rosenthal, MD and Dr. Al Lewy headed research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) investigating the connection between light and mood. During the 1980s, I was most fortunate to have been mentored by Dr. Rosenthal in the theories of light and mood as well as in the treatment options available for mood disorders associated with light and dark cycles. Sometime, I will have to write down some specific examples of some of my patients who had a mood disorder and light therapy. Two individuals would not be alive today had it not been for light treatment.

 

I am sharing part of that information today. I have no intent to prescribe treatment to anyone. This is information only. Any attempt to treat SAD should begin with your physician. In this blog, I mention the use of light boxes or sun boxes. Dr. Rosenthal used the sun boxes from the SunBox company. Subsequently, that is the company I have relied upon during my psychiatric career. I do not have any financial interest in this company. However, there are other companies which sell light boxes as well.

 

Winter-onset seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or the winter blues is most likely caused by your body’s reaction to light deprivation (the lack of sunlight). In the dark days of fall and winter, you may turn your face to the afternoon sun, seeking out what little light filters through fading gray skies. You may throw open the blinds, leave lights on throughout your home or even head south for a vacation — anything for a little more light. Or you may even be unable to crawl out of bed in the morning. This can be a long walk outside or arranging your home or office so that you are exposed to a window during the day. Even being outside during a cloudy day provides more light than being indoors. Did you know that most rooms in our homes have little lighting? Even with lights on, most people’s brains interpret this small amount to be the same as being in darkness.

 

You may feel better if you get some exercise most days of the week. Being active during the daytime, especially first thing in the morning, may help you have more energy and feel less depressed. Gentle exercise such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming is a good way to get started.

 

There are senior citizens residing in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, retirement homes or other long term care facilities. These individuals do not always have the luxury of being exposed to bright light. They may ask to have their bed near a window and to spend as much time as possible in a room with as much bright light as possible. Many dayrooms have large windows allowing for this. Light therapy has been found to be helpful to these elderly patients as well as those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia and vascular dementia (multi-infarct dementia). It is known that melatonin levels decrease as we age and there is a syndrome common in the elderly that is called “sundowner’s syndrome.” In winter months and summertime alike, when the sun goes down those with Alzheimer’s or dementia can become sullen, depressed anxious or morose as darkness approaches. Research published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology in 1997 and the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1992 are only two of the studies showing that light therapy can ameliorate symptoms in the elderly. Check out this article. Dementia Slowed by Light Therapy

 

sad1Light therapy is one option for treating this type of SAD because increased sunlight can improve symptoms. Doctors often prescribe light therapy (phototherapy) to treat SAD.

 

There are two types of light therapy:

 

 

  1. Bright light treatment. For this treatment, you sit in front of a “light box” or  “sunbox” for half an hour or longer, usually in the morning. The light box is a special fluorescent lamp.  
  2. Dawn or sunshine simulation. For this treatment, a dim light goes on in the morning while you sleep, and it gets brighter over time, like a sunrise.

Light therapy works well for most people with SAD, and it is easy to use. You may start to feel better within 3-5 days or so after you start light therapy. But you need to stick with it and use it every day until the season changes. If you don’t, your depression could come back. Once you stop using the sunlight therapy or sunbox, the depression can return in 3-5 days as well. I think of so many individuals who go to Florida or to another sunny location in the winter for 1-2 weeks of vacation. Upon leaving their homes, they would suffer from anxiety, depression and arthritic aches and pains. They would tell me, “Wow. All that salt water from the ocean really helped me feel better. It even helped my arthritis go away.” Well, it wasn’t the salt water. It was the sunlight which traveled through the eyes to the brain which caused a marked elevation in their mood! Depression always tends to make aches and pains worse.

 

Other treatments that may help include:  

 

—    Antidepressants. These medicines can improve the balance of brain chemicals that affect mood.

—    Counseling. Some types of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help you learn

          more about SAD and how to manage your symptoms.

 

If your doctor prescribes antidepressants, be sure you take them the way you are told to. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. This could cause side effects or make your depression worse. When you are ready to stop, your doctor can help you slowly reduce the dose to prevent problems.

 

If you feel you are suffering from SAD, it is important to seek the help of a trained medical professional. SAD can be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections, so proper evaluation is necessary. For some people, SAD may be confused with a more serious condition like severe depression or bipolar disorder.

 

However, if you feel the depression is severe or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, consult a doctor immediately regarding treatment options or seek help at the closest emergency room.

 

Tanning beds should not be used to treat SAD. The light sources in tanning beds are high in ultraviolet (UV) rays, which harm both your eyes and your skin.

 

Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone, also has been associated to SAD. This hormone, which has been linked to depression, is produced at increased levels in the dark. When the days are shorter and darker, more melatonin is produced.

 

Researchers have proved that bright light makes a difference to the brain chemistry, although the exact means by which sufferers are affected is not yet known. Some evidence suggests that the farther someone lives from the equator, the more likely they are to develop SAD. For example, approximately 25 percent of the population at the middle-to-northern latitudes of the U.S. experience winter doldrums, a sub-clinical level of SAD. These people notice the return of SAD-like symptoms each winter, but remain fully functional.

 

Drs. Rosenthal and Lewy eventually focused on the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, located in the midbrain. When research the early 1980’s pointed to melatonin’s role in promoting sound and restful sleep, as an anti-aging supplement and showing success in fighting cancer, the public started gobbling tons of the hormone, easily available in health food stores. Melatonin showed virtually no danger of side-effects. In fact, government researchers who set out to determine the “LD 50”, — the amount necessary to kill fifty percent of the animals tested — couldn’t produce a concentration strong enough to kill one mouse.

 

Other research found that taking melatonin helps airline employees deal with jet lag affecting their sleep. Melatonin in as small an amount as 5 milligrams helped them adjust.

 

Melatonin controls the function of many glands and Rosenthal and Lewy found that melatonin production is affected by exposure to light in excess of 2500 lux. (Lux is a measure of luminosity.) The link between sunlight and hormonal and mood function was made.sad7

 

Dr. Rosenthal and others demonstrated in research later published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1998 that the mechanism of melatonin affecting SAD may have to do with internal core temperature as well. Melatonin and serotonin are two hormones that regulate temperature while we sleep. The relative temperatures associated with sleep and waking may be part of the mood equation.

 

You can buy a light therapy box over-the-counter, without a doctor’s prescription. Internet retailers, drugstores and even some hardware stores offer a wide variety of light therapy boxes and other light devices for seasonal affective disorder treatment.

 

But take caution before buying. Not all light therapy boxes being sold have been tested to make sure they’re safe and effective. And different light boxes work in different ways, using different parts of the light spectrum and offering different illumination intensities. That’s why it’s especially important to understand what you’re buying and what features to consider. It’s also important to check with your health professional before buying a light therapy box.

 

Here are some features to understand and consider when buying a light therapy box for seasonal affective disorder treatment:

 

1. SAD-specific. Make sure the light therapy box is specifically designed to treat seasonal affective disorder. If it’s not, it may not be as effective in treating SAD.

 

2. Intensity. Look for a light therapy box that provides the right intensity of light when you’re a comfortable distance away. Some light boxes offer the preferred 10,000 lux only when you’re within a few inches of the box, while others can reach a distance of nearly two feet.

 

3. Minimal UV exposure. Many, but not all, light therapy boxes now filter out harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light can cause eye and skin damage. Look for a light box that produces as little UV light as possible at high intensity or that carefully shields the UV rays it produces. If you’re not sure about the UV light exposure, ask the manufacturer for safety information.

 

4. LEDs. Traditionally, light therapy boxes have used fluorescent or incandescent lights. Some manufacturers are now selling light therapy boxes with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs can produce light in a narrower, more targeted wavelength. LEDs are also more efficient and lighter weight than standard lights.

 

5. Blue light. White light is the standard type of light used in light therapy boxes. But some newer light therapy boxes give off narrow-spectrum blue light. This blue light has a shorter wavelength, which some research shows is more effective at reducing seasonal affective disorder symptoms. On the other hand, blue light poses a greater risk than does white light of damaging your eye’s retina because your retina is more sensitive to the shorter blue wavelengths. To help reduce this risk, don’t look directly at the light source in any light therapy box. Check with the manufacturer if you have concerns about a light box’s safety.

 

6. Light direction. Light from a light therapy box should come from above your line of sight, not directly at it or below it. Make sure the light box you want can be positioned appropriately.

 

7. Dawn simulation. Some light therapy boxes simulate dawn — they turn on in the morning while you’re asleep and gradually get brighter until you wake up.

 

8. Cost. Prices vary greatly, from about $200 to $500, and more. Health insurance plans don’t always cover the cost of light therapy boxes. Check with your insurance company to see if your benefits will cover the cost.

 

9. Style. Some light boxes look like upright lamps, while others are small and rectangular. You can even buy a light therapy device attached to a visor, which enables you to receive light therapy while remaining active. However, keep in mind that scientific evidence about the effectiveness of light visors is lacking.

 

10. Convenience. Some light boxes are bigger than others, which can make them less portable. Find one that you can move easily and that fits the desired location in your home or office. Some light therapy boxes offer a variety of other features, such as programmable timers, clocks, carrying cases, stands, wall-mount options and extended batteries, among other features. Decide which features are important to you. Before plunking down any hard-earned cash, talk to your doctor, mental health provider or pharmacist about the light therapy box you’re thinking about buying. He or she may offer additional guidance or tips to make sure that seasonal affective disorder treatment with a light therapy box is both safe and effective for you.

 

Cautions

 

Light therapy may trigger episodes of mania in people with bipolar disorder. In addition, although rare, some people, particularly those with severe forms of depression, have reported thoughts of suicide after treatment with light therapy. Light therapy alone may not be fully effective. You still may need treatment with medications or psychotherapy.

 

David

                                                                     sadlady1

Thursday October 30, 2008

 

 

WHITE HOUSE Proclaims November As

National Family Caregivers Month 

 

 

 

October 2008National Family Caregivers Month, 2008  A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, because it is an acknowledgement of the difficulty of the situation at hand. Sometimes that is not always an easy thing to do; however, we owe it to ourselves and our families to really try. You will both be better off if you learn to:

 

  • Put guilt aside.
  • Overcome negative self talk and insecurities.
  • Ask for the help you need and accept help that is offered.
  • Recognize and accept that you have a RIGHT to time off.

 

It has been said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” the same holds true for family caregiving.  It is far too important of a job to go it alone. Reach out and ask for HELP!

 

National Family Caregivers Month (NFC Month) — observed every November — is a nationally recognized month that seeks to draw attention to the many challenges facing family caregivers, advocate for stronger public policy to address family caregiving issues, and raise awareness about community programs that support family caregivers. It is a time to thank, support, educate, and advocate for the more than 50 million family caregivers across the country.

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate National Family Caregivers Month 2008


There are many ways to celebrate family caregivers and to take action and communicate the important messages of NFC Month. The following are ideas and guides to help you create a successful National Family Caregivers Month in your community:

  1. Offer a few hours of respite time to a family caregiver so they spend time with friends, or simply relax.
  2. Send a card of appreciation or a bouquet of flowers to brighten up a family caregiver’s day.
  3. Encourage local businesses to offer a free service for family caregivers through the month of November.
  4. Participate in the National Family Caregivers Association’s FREE national teleclass to learn how to communicate more effectively with health care professionals. The 2 free one hour sessions will be November 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. ET. For more information Click here.
  5. Help a family caregiver decorate their home for the holidays or offer to address envelopes for their holiday cards.
  6. Offer comic relief! Purchase tickets to a local comedy club, give a family caregiver your favorite funny movie to view, or provide them with a book on tape.
  7. Find 12 different family photos and have a copy center create a monthly calendar that the family caregiver can use to keep track of appointments and events.
  8. Offer to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a caregiving family in your community, so they can just relax and enjoy the holiday.
  9. Take a few minutes to write a letter encouraging your mayor, county executive, or governor to issue a local proclamation establishing November as National Family Caregivers Month. Contact information for state government officials can be found at www.firstgov.gov.
  10. Help a family caregiver find information and resources on the internet or to locate a local support group.

 
Do you know that family caregivers provided more than 306 billion dollars of caregiving services each year, helping chronically ill and disabled loved ones deal with life’s basic functions? Do you know that 78% of seniors that need care receive it from family members, over 80% of all homecare services are provided by family, and that businesses lose as much as 34 billion annually due to employees’ need to provide care for loved ones 50 years of age and older?

This is the perfect time for a story about family caregivers and the contribution they are making to our community. This story will speak to everyone because today the concerns of caregivers have moved from being a private family situation to a societal issue. Today policy makers, employers, insurers, and healthcare professionals are all addressing these issues.

I’m seriously considering contacting some of the local newspapers and television stations to remind them of NFC Month. Maybe they’ll run a story or at least an editorial. Let’s see what happens.

David

(and I cheated today. I took most of the information from the NFC website)

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