Category Archives: Medicine

Pilot Study Tests Drug that Reverses Parkinson’s and Dementia Symptoms

In a pilot study at Georgetown University Medical Center, researchers found that small doses of the cancer drug nilotinib (used in the treatment of leukemia), appear to dramatically reduce symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease with dementia or the related condition, Lewy body dementia. In all eleven patients who completed the six month trial, movement and mental function improved, in some cases the changes were dramatic and ‘life-changing.’

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Cancer: you are not alone

The right teamA diagnosis of cancer is terrifying and often it is a long journey for patients, clinicians, and family members to look at the available options for treatment and care. Cancer patients often feel more comfortable and secure being cared for at home. Many patients want to stay at home so they will not be separated from family, friends, and familiar surroundings. Home care can help patients achieve this desire but cancer care often involves a team approach that includes doctors, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, family members, and others but one size does not fit all and looking for the right team is the key.

More than one million people living in the US are diagnosed with cancer each year – one million people, just like you, who will embark upon a journey of treatment, recuperation, and rehabilitation. It can feel, at times, like a lonely journey, and cancer survivors are often struck by the feelings of isolation and helplessness that are so prevalent during their diagnosis and treatment. However, it is important to know that you are not alone; we are here to share your journey.

There have been some huge developments in the world of cancer research in recent years; from new drugs to the discovery of what causes certain types of cancer, the medical profession is forging ahead in the field of research and pharmaceuticals. However, this news often comes as little comfort to those who may recently have been diagnosed with cancer – your first thoughts will probably be towards your own recovery, and the help available to you, rather than scientific progress, and that is absolutely where your mind should be.

Cancer: where can you turn?

Support comes in a variety of forms, from financial and medical assistance, to help with traveling to and from work, or daily tasks, such as shopping, cooking, or household chores. Where should you turn for support? The obvious answer is often friends and family, and it is those closest to you who will often be there to pick up the pieces following a cancer diagnosis; their dedicated rallying is invaluable at this time, so never be afraid to accept, or ask, for help. Living Well supports a team approach when caring for cancer patients at home.

If you are without a local network of friends and family, or have found it difficult to approach anyone for help, there are a host of organizations that are dedicated to helping those in your shoes. Charities such as The American Cancer Society, The American Association for Cancer Research, and The Cancer Research Institute provide invaluable information and services, including advice on your diagnosis and treatment options, financial guidance, manned helplines, and details on support groups and health services that are local to you; wherever you are, their aim is to connect you with somebody who will listen.

Assisted living: there is somewhere else to turn

There may come a time during your treatment or recuperation when assisted living is suggested, or even prescribed, by a health care professional. While the phrase may conjure images you may not wish to associate with your own situation, assisted living can help to quell worries of living alone, help you to cope with daily tasks, support you during times of loneliness and isolation, and assist you in accessing support. Assisted living can be the supportive environment that you need, allowing you to channel all of your energy into recovery. Whether provided on a temporary or permanent basis, assisted living often becomes a vital lifeline to those experiencing physical or mental changes, and can make recovery much easier when a person’s home no longer has suitable amenities to facilitate treatment.

The most important thing to remember following any diagnosis, particularly that of cancer, is that you are not alone; whether you are being comforted and supported by family, assisted by a dedicated charity, or cared for by home care staff or an assisted living complex, never be afraid to lean on those around you.

Useful Tips for Seniors to Manage their Medications Following Hip Replacement

Guest post by Elizabeth Carrollton (*)

If you’re having trouble managing medications, you’re not alone. Nearly 60 percent of seniors forget to take one or more of their daily medications. With more than half of today’s seniors taking five or more prescription medications on a daily basis, and a quarter taking 10 to 19, it’s no surprise that many have a hard time keeping track of them all. If you’ve just had hip replacement, you’ve got more pills to manage than usual. The last thing you need right after surgery is a medication problem, so taking some steps to ensure that your medications are managed efficiently is wise.

Medication Mistakes Can Have Serious Consequences
About 30 percent of hospital admissions in people over the age of 65 are caused by missed doses of medications or accidental overdoses. Common symptoms of medication mismanagement include dizziness, nausea, confusion, memory issues, sleep disturbances, poor balance and falling, incontinence and hallucinations.

Tips for Better Medication Management
When pills are taken routinely, it can be easy to miss dose or forget that you’ve already taken one and accidentally double-up, no matter what your age. One of the best ways to avoid inadvertent misuse of medications is a medication log. Keep a notebook with your medications, and record each dose when it is taken. Another way to keep medications organized are medication boxes that allow you to set up doses for the week, with each little compartment marked with the day and time each dose should be taken.

Interactions are common in people taking several medications. Taking a current list of medications with you to medical appointments can help guard against this problem. Be sure to include dosages of each medication and all non-prescription medications and supplements used. Always use the same pharmacy, and go over your medication list with your pharmacist periodically to double-check for potentially dangerous drug combinations.

Managing Pain Medications after Hip Replacement
Managing your pain medications efficiently after hip replacement is important. Over-reliance on pain medications and the antidepressants often prescribed with them after surgery is common, and can make recovery a longer and more difficult process. Overuse can inhibit healing, interfere with mobility and even increase the pain these drugs are meant to treat by making the nervous system hypersensitive to pain.
Additionally, overuse of pain medications can mask symptoms of complications. After surgery, your pain level should steadily decrease. If yours isn’t, call your doctor. Complications can happen and have been more common over the last few years due to faulty hip implants, several of which have been recalled for high rates of failure and complications.

Metallosis is one of the most serious problems seen with these implants, which happens as metallic implant debris builds up in soft tissues. It can cause severe hip pain and swelling, as well as tissue and bone death that can lead to implant loosening or failure. Thousands have been affected by these recalled devices and have had painful and costly revision surgeries to repair the damage. Hundreds of hip replacement lawsuits have been filed by injured patients in response to the health problems and expenses caused by faulty hip implants.

(*)Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for

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Breakthrough: A general treatment drug for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s?

brain-human-20424_640A new procedure safeguards the production of crucial brain proteins, which could possibly help those who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases.
British scientists may have discovered a new way to counteract the life-crippling effects of degenerative brain diseases, according to a new study published in Nature. The scientists inhibited a gene that automatically stops the production of all brain proteins when it detects the buildup of unwanted proteins. These unwanted proteins, which accumulate in the brains of patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, kill brain cells — but the brain also can’t survive without the necessary proteins. The discovery ensures that important proteins continue to be produced, and it could one day lead to a catch-all treatment for a number of brain diseases.
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Ten Medications Older Adults Should Avoid or Use with Caution

pills-14550_640Because older adults often experience chronic health conditions that require treatment with multiple medications, there is a greater likelihood of experiencing unwanted drug side effects. Older people can also be more sensitive to certain medications. To help you make better informed decisions about your medications, and to lower your chances of overmedication and serious drug reactions, the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging recommends that older people be cautious about using the following types of medications, including some that can be purchased without a prescription (over-the-counter). See List of Medicines

Medication Adherence and Some Re-admission Statistics

pills-71576_640by Nicole Lofholm Clause
Medication non-adherence is a major problem in the United States, which is causing many unnecessary deaths and demanding care. The estimated annual cost of patients not taking their medications as prescribed was $290 billion in 2010. About 125,000 Americans die annually (342 people every day) due to poor medication adherence. In addition, 10-25% of hospital and nursing home admissions are caused by the inability of patients to take their medications, as directed. About 40% of patients are non-adherent to prescription medications, which has been the same for the past 30 years. In addition, up to 20% of all new prescriptions are not filled. Moreover, almost 1 in 5 Medicare patients who are discharged from the hospital come back within 30 days. The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) puts the annual cost of avoidable re-admissions at more than $17 billion in 2008, and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac) reported that expenditures for potentially preventable were as high as $12 billion in 2005 alone. Read the statistics

Dangers of Common Painkillers: There’s mounting evidence that regular use is risky for older people

pills-71574_640A recent article on AARP states that “…Most of us don’t think twice about taking a nonprescription pain reliever to ease a headache or soreness that might follow a game of tennis, but there is growing evidence that commonly used painkillers such as Advil can trigger heart attacks or strokes in some people.” Read the article and read about some drug free alternatives to pain management.