April 13, 2010

UK: Why Alzheimer's victims DO feel benefit of visits

. LONDON, England / The Daily Mail / Health / April 13, 2010 By Jenny Hope They may quickly forget it, but a visit to an elderly relative with Alzheimer's will leave them with a lingering feeling of happiness, scientists have discovered. Family members sometimes wonder whether a visit or a phone call to an older relative with dementia is really worth it as it is often soon forgotten. But researchers found that Alzheimer's sufferers who fail to remember contact with a relative are left with warm feelings and a sense that life is worth living. On the other hand, said study author Justin Feinstein, 'routine neglect from staff at nursing homes may leave them feeling sad, frustrated and lonely even though they can't remember why.' He added: 'Here is clear evidence showing that the reasons for treating Alzheimer's patients with respect and dignity go beyond simple human morals.' Research shows those suffering from Alzheimer's do feel the benefit of being visited by relatives
The grown-up children who neglect their parents One in eight adults have not visited their parents for at least a year, it was claimed last night. In addition, one in ten call their parents just once a month, illustrating the extent to which the elderly are neglected by their families. In a survey, a third of adults blamed long office hours, their children's after-school activities, and feeling too tired by the weekend, while a quarter said the logistics of sorting out a visit put them off. Forty-three per cent said the lack of contact with their parents was inevitable because they lived too far away. However, elderly parents live an average of 66 miles from their grown-up children and grandchildren but just 12 per cent get to see them three times a year or more. The survey of 3,000 people over 40 was carried out by a residential care agency Christies Care. Only 20 per cent made the effort to pay a visit once a month. It emerged that grandparents spend nearly six hours a day with no human contact. But 35 per cent of adults wished their parents made more effort to get in touch themselves. Christies Care chairman Hugh Gathorne-Hardy said: 'Many elderly parents and grandparents are being forgotten about as we carry on with our hectic, stressful lives. 'Too many are seen too little throughout the year and a significant number feel isolated, with little human contact.'
The researchers studied five neurological patients with damage to their hippocampus, a part of the brain that is critical for transferring short-term memories into long-term storage. Their type of amnesia is often an early sign of Alzheimer's. They were shown intensely emotional 20-minute film clips, either happy or sad. They triggered the appropriate emotions, from intense bouts of laughter to tears of sorrow. Although the sufferers soon forgot what they had watched, questions about their feelings showed they retained the emotions prompted by the clips for much longer. Mr Feinstein, a student researcher in neuroscience, said the discovery has direct implications for Alzheimer's disease. He said: 'A simple visit or phone call from family members might have a lingering positive influence on a patient's happiness even though the patient may quickly forget the visit or call. 'This research suggests that we need to start setting a scientifically-informed standard of care for patients with memory disorders.' The study by the University of Iowa was published yesterday in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Harriet Millward, deputy chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said 25 million people in the UK know someone close to them with Alzheimer's or another dementia. She said: 'They may now have a scientific, as well as moral and emotional justification for the time they devote to those who have dementia. 'Previous research has shown that regular social interactions reduce dementia risk. 'It is exciting to know that positive social interactions - such as conversations or jokes - can improve the experience of people living with severe memory loss. 'Some 820,000 UK people live with dementia, a number set to rise rapidly, and much more research is needed if we are to cope.' [rc] Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd