Articles

Deborah Bier, PhD, has been a widely-published writer and editor for more than 30 years on a variety of subjects, including health, healing and food. Here are some of her selected articles on aging, Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. Dr. Bier is available for writing assignments and projects.

On PsychCentral.com, the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health and psychology network:

Habilitation Therapy for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care

Improving Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care: The Eyes Have it

Improving Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care: Emotions Rule

Improving Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care: Environmental Impact

Improving Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care: Truths & Lies I Told My Father

Reiki’s Use in Dementia Patients and For Their Caregivers

Reiki Healing and Mental Health: What the Research Shows

When to Worry About Forgetfulness

Caring Companion Home Care Blog:

Habilitation Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.

Habilitation therapy is a comprehensive behavioral approach to caring for people with dementia. It focuses not on what the person has lost through their illness, but on their remaining abilities, aiming to create and maintain a positive emotional state through the course of each day. Their capabilities, independence and morale are thoughtfully engaged to produce greater psychological wellbeing. In this way, difficult symptoms can be reduced or eliminated, despite the disease’s progress… (continued)

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Training is Vital for Caregivers

…Did you know that dementia-specific training is not included in home health aide or nursing assistant certifications? But you want your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementias (ADRD) to be cared for at home by someone experienced in meeting their needs, right?  Someone trained specifically to care for those with dementia.  Of course!… (continued)

“Normal Forgetfulness?” 6 Things to Consider

I’m middle-aged, and I go through this all the time: where are my house keys… purse… car in the parking lot? How did I forget those printouts for the meeting… to defrost tonight’s dinner… to move the wet wash to the dryer before it gets moldy?  Sometimes, I’m suddenly concerned I’ve forgotten an important meeting, but can’t recall quickly what day of the week it is today — much less when that appointment was to take place — which sends me scrambling for my calendar… (continued)

5 Life Lessons from Caring for Someone with Dementia

The popular cultural view of Alzheimers Disease and other dementias is that they are all about pain, tragedy and heartbreak.  But this is only part of the story — stop there, and we are robbed of real sweetness. The wisdom that care partners (family, friends and professionals) can glean from people with memory problems can be profound. If viewed through an all-too-often missing lens, and by utilizing known best practices, time with such folks can also be enlightening, love-filled and satisfying… (continued)

Remembrence of Foods Past

“Thriving in old age isn’t simply a matter of nutrition—it’s a matter of taste,” says Darra Goldstein, the editor of Gastronomica, an exquisite quarterly journal of food-focused scholarship, fiction, and poetry… (continued)

The Herb and Spice of Life

Continuing our recent series on food and aging, I want to turn this time to the use of good quality herbs and spices in cooking. Our caregivers are often the main dietary gateway for our clients, and I heartily encourage their use of fragrant, colorful herbs and spices whenever possible in foods.  There are three main reasons… (continued)

Altruism — and Handiwork — in Action

One of our clients feels very connected to feral cat causes; our wonderful caregiver, Elizabeth, thought to make some simple catnip toys to benefit needy kitties, toys they could make together.  The client is truly excited and energized by this — she is doing something concrete to help a cause very important to her. She need not feel stymied by any part of the construction process that requires eyesight or manual dexterity she might not have — the caregiver will help with those parts. This is the very stuff that helps make us all feel alive, isn’t it? So much more so for someone who may no longer be clear about what they can contribute due to disability or failing health… (continued)

Optimism Connected to a Stronger Immune System

Many wellness practices and activities are designed to increase positive affect (among other results). A wellness focus…is therefore crucial to elders’ and caregivers’ health on all levels. While some folks think that wellness is just a “nice extra”, studies such as the one below show how absolutely vital wellness is for creating, improving and maintaining our health… (continued)

Dr. Paul Raia on Alzheimers (a 4-part series)

…Paul Raia, PhD  is an innovator along many dimensions in the field of dementia. He’s been directing patient care and family support at the Alzheimer’s Association over 20 years, and now serves as vice president of clinical programs at the MA/NH Chapter. He developed the “Habilitation Therapy” approach to dementia which focuses on the patient’s emotions and their remaining capacities… He started the first support group in the US for early-stage patients, and the first support group for young children with parents or grandparents who have Alzheimer’s. Many of his projects have become best-practice models and have been replicated nationally. Spending a morning with him, I saw how his enormous clinical experience and expertise clearly shone through, as did his great warmth, compassion and understanding.  This is a very special man, and if you have the chance to hear him speak, I recommend you snap it up immediately… (continued)

Over-Prescribing for the Elderly Labeled a “Disease”

…Here is a powerful example of why real teamwork is necessary, and why we go the extra mile to be in touch, and to put people in contact with other healthcare professionals who can eliminate problems that stem from a lack of teamwork elsewhere. And that is the epidemic of over-prescribing of medications for the elderly. Too many specialists not talking with one another, each prescribing medications that are then not adequately reviewed by the patient’s primary care physician result in lots more drugs than are needed… (continued)

Massachusetts Aims to Cut Drug Overuse for Dementia

Just two-and-one-half weeks after we published a blog post entitled Over-Prescribing for Elderly Labeled a “Disease”, the Boston Globe publishes an article called Mass. aims to cut drug overuse for dementia.  Thank goodness, this has come onto the Commonwealth’s radar! The Globe article begins: “State regulators and the Massachusetts nursing home industry are launching a campaign today to reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications for residents with dementia — a practice that endangers lives and is more common here than in most other states.”… (continued)

Artz: Alzheimer’s at the Movies

Last month, I volunteered at the ARTZ “Alzheimer’s at the Movies” event held at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA. This interactive film program is a one-of-a-kind experience designed  for people with memory loss and their care partners. During the presentation, short film clips from classic films were shown, followed by audience discusssion and reminiscence, guided by moderators. There were (I’m guessing here) about 300 dementia patients plus numerous caregivers. It was a fabulous experience for everyone… (continued)

Alzheimers, Dementia and Art

I’ve been absolutely fascinated for years by the highly positive findings around exposing dementia patients to art, both as an observer and as a participant.  How amazing that exposure to great and moving art can significantly improve patients’ functioning!… (continued)

Going Home for the Holidays?

With Thanksgiving coming up and the December holidays right afterward, this is a time when the family visits with our elder loved ones and finds — often to our surprise and consternation — that things have changed since they last time we were together.  Mom or dad might have deteriorated in ways the family hadn’t understood until we were gathered in person. When should you be alarmed?… (continued)

Supervision of Homecare Workers

We do a lot of supervision of our wonderful caregivers. While it’s often thought that only poor employees need a lot of supervision, in this case it’s because our people are so good at what they do, that they benefit from and appreciate this kind of interaction. This generally takes place in three areas…(continued)

How Much Does Anyone Really Know About Aging?

When it comes to fulfilling our greatest potential as human beings experiencing aging, do we really know what truly excellent aging looks like? Just what is possible for elders? How much resilience and adaptation to change are possible as we age? How many unfounded assumptions are we making about what is possible for us as we age, despite our imperfect health? And how do those assumptions keep us from helping elders from experiencing the best lives possible? (continued)

Important Lessons from the “What’s New in Aging?” Panel, March, 2011

Recently, I was honored to be part of a four-person panel at the Wayland Public Library speaking on the topic “What’s New in Aging?” We discussed navigating the new terrain of aging in the 21st century, followed by a question and answer session from the audience. Juergen H. Bludau, MD , Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital geriatrician, and Carol Sneider Glick, Esq, elder law specialist with Squillace & Associates of Boston, were wonderful fellow panelists…. (continued)

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