by Better Living & Care Homes on August 7th, 2014

Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE):

How is it used to detect Dementia/Alzheimer’s?

Mini Mental State Examination, also known as MMSE is a short 30-point questionnaire test that is used to detect complaints of memory problems. It can be used by clinicians to help diagnose dementia and to help asses its progression and severity. The MMSE provides measures of orientation, registration, short-term memory, as well as language functioning. Scores of 25-30 are considered normal, 21-24 as mild, 10-20 as moderate, and less than 10 as severe impairment. People with mild Alzheimer’s disease tend to score in the 19 to 24 range. Scores decline with advancing age and increase with higher educational level.
            The MMSE is a widely used, validated, and reliable method of screening for Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used to follow the course of cognitive changes in an individual over time. The test has been able to differentiate different types of dementias. Studies have found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease score significantly lower on orientation to time and place. The MMSE can also be used to assess changes in a person who has already been diagnosed with dementia. It can help to give an indication of how severe a person’s symptoms are and how quickly their dementia is progressing. On average, people with Alzheimer’s disease whoa re not receiving treatment lose 2 to 4 MMSE points each year.

Here is a link to the exam:

Source- Alzheimer's Society

by Better Living & Care Homes on July 29th, 2014

Is your parent suddenly acting more confused? Are they saying strange things? These symptoms are an early warning sign of a Urinary Tract Infection, also known as a bladder infection is caused when bacteria enter the bladder and kidneys. Elderly people are more susceptible to UTI’s, for they experience a weakening of the muscles of the bladder, leading to more urine being retained. Elders are also susceptible to UTI’s due to diabetes, use of a urinary catheter, bowel incontinence, or being bedridden.
          It is important to detect symptoms early, before causing further problems such as acute or chronic kidney infections. Many elders experience a decline in cognitive function and may be irreversible if a UTI goes untreated for too long. Some common warning signs include the onset of elderly urinary incontinence, confusion or not being able to do tasks the patient could easily do a day or two before. Other symptoms may include cloudy/bloody urine, which may have a foul or strong odor, low fever, pain or burning when urinating, pressure/cramping in the lower abdomen or back, and strong need to urinate often.
Treating UTI’s in the elderly is relatively straightforward. A simple urinalysis can confirm the infection’s presence. UTI’s often clear up in only a few days, but depending on the age and health of the patient as well as the severity of the infection, the course of treatment can take weeks and at times involve hospitalization for the administration of intravenous antibiotics. Older adults living in a group setting such as nursing homes are more likely to be resistant to the antibiotics most often prescribed for UTIs such as amoxicillin or nitrofurantoin, and might require something stronger, as well as longer course of antibiotics to combat an elderly urinary tract infection. People with UTIs must drink plenty of fluids to flush the bacteria from their systems. It is recommended to drink six to eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets is also a well known remedy to get rid of the bacteria.
Preventing UTIs in the elderly can be done by changing his/her briefs frequently, drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and not holding in one’s bladder for too long; people with dementia should be prompted to use the toilet on a regular basis.

by Better Living & Care Homes on July 24th, 2014

Independence is important to the elderly. Most will do anything they can to make sure they can remain in their own home for as long as they possibly can. There are several indicators, however, that can identify when the time for assistance is near.

Spoiled food – Spoiled food that doesn't get thrown away is a good clue that a person isn't as observant or careful as they once were.

Prescriptions - As a person gets older, they can tend to forget things that normally would be easy to remember. Taking medications on a regular basis is a good example. Carefully look at the number of refills, when the last refill was received, the date of the prescription and how many pills are left. This will tell you if a person has been taking their medication accordingly.

Bruising and Disarray – One of the leading causes of death for elderly individuals is falling. Being unsteady on their feet can cause them to trip or lose their balance. Dizziness is often times a symptom of an illness or condition that requires medical attention. Unexplained bruising, overturned furniture and items that have been knocked off or are out of place, can be the result of a fall.

Unexpected Weight loss – Aging causes changes within the body that can lead to loss of smell and loss of taste. A person's appetite can dwindle causing food to be less and less appealing. Weight loss can also be an indication of serious illness and other health concerns including depression and dementia.

Keep a Close on Their Appearance – When a loved one can no longer groom or bathe themselves, it is time to get them help. Repeatedly wearing the same clothes for several days or forgetting to do laundry are signs that the person may be forgetting basic tasks and needs assistance with daily activities.

Be Mindful of Living Conditions – If a person who normally would take great pride in the appearance of their home suddenly stops taking the time to clean or pick up after themselves, it may mean the physical demands are to taxing on them.

Personality Changes - Illness and adverse reactions to new medications may lead to personality changes in the elderly. A person who was always smiling and happy to see visitors may become sullen or depressed. Attitude changes that are abrupt and out of character may call for a doctor's visit or home evaluation.

When symptoms begin to appear, encourage your loved one to seek medical attention or at least get a physical to see if there are any health changes that could account for the new behavior. A few other signs that could be warning you that your loved one may be in danger of losing their independence includes:

Unpleasant odor from the body, clothing or home (strong smell of urine or spoiled food)Trouble standing up and remaining uprightConfusion during the completion of daily tasksLack of regular hygiene: bathing, showering, use of deodorant, etc.Vehicle accidents, unexplained scratches and dents on their carInability to drive normally or gets lost frequently when going to places they knowNo interest in recreational activities or hobbiesMishandling of finances that includes bounced checks, calls from creditors and late payment notices

When you begin to notice these warnings signs, there are several things you can do to make sure your loved one remains safe and gets the help they need. Above all else, you should always reinforce to your loved one that their well-being is extremely important to you.

Get Medical Attention - When health concerns become a major issue, seeking appropriate medical attention can save your loved ones' life. Ask them if they want you to go with them when they visit the doctor. You can help them understand the doctor's instructions and be with them when they need your support.

Shopping and Preparing Meals – When you take your loved one shopping, look for meals that are easy to prepare with little or no clean up. Cooking and cleaning can become more difficult as a person ages. Prepare foods in advance so that your loved one doesn't have to go to great lengths to prepare a meal. Package appropriate portions and store them in their freezer.Provide Things that Will Keep Them Safe – Offer the assistance they need. Would a cane or walker help them with their unsteadiness? Ask them if they are comfortable and if they need anything you could provide for them. Place things that are too high down within their reach. Make things accessible to them and account for their limitations.

by Better Living & Care Homes on June 5th, 2014

The cost of Assisted Living can be a tremendous burden on individuals and their families. For those who have served in the military, the VA can provide some much needed releif through their Pension and Surviors Pension program. The specific benefit for In home care and Assisted Living is called the Aid & Attendance benift.

According to the VA website, "The Aid & Attendance (A&A) monthly pension amount may be added to your monthly pension amount if you meet one of the following conditions:

You require the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environmentYou are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities requires that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatmentYou are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacityYour eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less."

"Generally, a Veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period to qualify for a VA Pension. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least one day during a wartime period.

In addition to meeting minimum service requirements, the Veteran must be:

Age 65 or older, ORTotally and permanently disabled, ORA patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, ORReceiving Social Security Disability Insurance, ORReceiving Supplemental Security Income"

For more information, please visit the VA pension benefit website at:

by Better Living & Care Homes on January 15th, 2014

Interesting article in Forbes magazine regarding a new test that may detect Alzheimers

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