Alzheimer’s and Dementia

For me, the most heart wrenching illnesses are Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases. To experience someone you know and love lose their cognition and memory must be devastating – to say the least. I am fortunate not to have experienced this first hand, yet. The chances that I will experience a loved one with a dementia illness or have a personal experience with it are high.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. What’s more, more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care, worth over $221.3 billion.

I don’t know about you, but I find these statistics to be shocking.

But there is hope. According to the Mayo Clinic, experts are cautiously hopeful about developing Alzheimer’s treatments that can stop or significantly delay its progression. By combining different medications, similar to how HIV/AIDS and some cancers are treated, they hope to slow down or put a stop to this disease.

Researchers are focusing on plaques, which are a characteristic sign of Alzheimer’s. Several drugs may prevent plaques from forming and help clear the brain of the protein responsible for their formation. Recent research shows that these types of medications work best during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. More studies are underway.

Researchers are also hopeful that certain medications can prevent the interaction of two proteins that when combine trigger a destruction of connections between nerve cells and the brain. They have tested a medication, originally developed as a possible cancer treatment, in mice. The animals experienced a reversal of memory loss. A human trial has already begun.

A common brain abnormality found in people with Alzheimer’s is called tangles. This happens when a particular protein twists into microscopic fibers. Researchers are currently looking for ways to prevent theses tangles. Vaccines and inhibitors are currently being tested in trials.

Lastly, in the research realm, researchers are looking at the inflammation of brain cells that occur with Alzheimer’s disease. Treating the inflammatory process that occurs with Alzheimer’s may provide relief to some of the disease’s symptoms.

While we wait for these studies and experiments to pan out, there are some things you can do to help keep Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay. Here is a list of five things you can start doing today:

  1. Watch your food intake. There are foods you can eat that support brain function. Berries, nuts, olive oil, and dark, leafy greens are staples to a brain healthy diet. A diet called the MIND diet, a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, ranked third on the US News and World Report’s annual best diet list.
  2. Keep moving. The US National Institute on Aging found that exercise can play a key role in reducing your risk for Alzheimer’s and general cognitive decline.
  3. Less Stress. There is evidence that links high stress with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. There are a number of ways to lower your stress, including yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep. A 2014 study found a link between poor sleep habits and increased risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  5. Develop and maintain a social network. According the US National Institute on Aging, staying cognitively active through social interactions is linked with a decrease in Alzheimer’s.

By taking these preventive steps you’ll not only potentially decrease your chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia illnesses, but you will feel better as you are doing it. Between your own positive habits and the miracle of medicine, Alzheimer’s and dementia may someday become diseases of the past.

Elder Lobby Day February 27

Hundreds of Elders Take Issues To New Legislative Session

Contact: Al Norman, Mass Home Care, 978-502-3794,

Elder advocacy groups from across the state will be gathering at the State House on Monday, February 27th to address the needs of the growing elderly population in Massachusetts. By the 2020 US Census, the 60 and older population will represent almost one out of every four Baystate  residents.

Elder rights groups will be presenting their legislative agendas ranging from bills on health care, home care, income security, dental care, food stamps, Medicaid eligibility, and workforce wages.

There are currently 14  sponsoring groups coming for Elder Lobby Day: AARP Massachusetts, Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts & New Hampshire Chapter, Coalition for Elder Economic Security, Disability Advocates Advancing Our Health Care Rights, Jewish Community Relations Council, Home Care Aide Council of Massachusetts, Home Care Alliance, LGBT Aging Project, Mass Chapter of the National Elder Law Attorneys, Mass Council for Adult Foster Care, Mass Home Care, Mass Law Reform Institute, Mass Senior Action Council, and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Gratitude and Valentine’s Day

It’s hard not to think about hearts when you think about Valentine’s Day; they’re on everything from cards to candy. While hearts are often a symbol of love, hearts also bring to mind gratitude.

Gratitude can have a positive impact on the quality of your life. Whether you keep a gratitude journal, jotting down a daily list of things to be grateful for, or take a few quiet moments during the day to contemplate those things that soften your heart, you may experience a welcome shift in your health and your mood.

Here are seven scientifically proven benefits:

  1. Saying thank you is not only the polite thing to do, but showing your appreciation may attract new friends and improve existing friendships. According to a 2014 study published in Emotion thanking people you recently met makes it more likely they will seek an on-going relationship. So thanking a stranger for holding a door open or sending a thank you note to a co-worker who helped with a project can expand and improve your social circle.
  2. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience less aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other. Grateful people take better care of themselves. They exercise more and visit their doctor regularly.
  3. Gratitude can help alleviate painful and toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, frustration, and regret. Robert Eamons, a prominent gratitude researcher, has conducted numerous studies that link gratitude to well-being. His research confirms that gratitude leads to happiness and reduces depression.
  4. According to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky, grateful people are more like to act in a kind manner, even when others aren’t as nice. Study participants who had high gratitude scores were less likely to want to seek revenge when they felt slighted than those who scored lower. They were more sensitive and empathetic toward others.
  5. Gratitude leads to better sleep. According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being spending 15 minutes writing down things you are grateful for will lead to a more restful night’s sleep.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. Some studies show that gratitude reduces the amount of time you spend comparing yourself to your friends and neighbors – a big reason for low self-esteem. Grateful people are more likely to appreciate the success of others.
  7. Gratitude reduces stress and plays a major role in one’s ability to overcome trauma. Studies show that being grateful fosters resilience and improves your mental health.

Valentine’s Day is Monday and we have lots to be grateful for here at SeniorCare. For 43 years now, Gloucester House has hosted a Valentine’s Day Breakfast Fundraiser in support of Meals on Wheels, a program of SeniorCare. In 1974, the Linquata Family began a tradition of donating their restaurant and a full breakfast to help raise much needed funds to help ensure older people who have difficulty preparing their own food, or are unable to get out, receive a hot, nutritious, meal delivered to their home Monday – Friday.

On Friday, March 10, 2017, you can come down to the Gloucester House, 7 – 9:30 a.m. and have a hot, magnificently delicious breakfast for $12. One hundred percent of the proceeds supports Meals on Wheels. The generosity and kindness of the Linquata family is not lost on us. We are grateful for this long standing tradition and we give much thanks to the Linquata Family.

Cuts to Adult Foster Care begin in 28 days

The countdown to cuts is on. On March 1, the Baker Administration will begin cutting as much as $5.6 million from the Adult Foster Care program. The cuts will continue through the last four months of the fiscal year.

“We are running out of time to protect the elderly and people with disabilities,” said Linda Andrade of the Mass Council on Adult Foster Care. “Adult Foster Care is one of the premier ‘community first’ programs in the Commonwealth. The population in need is growing, and our budget should be growing to meet that need.”

Next year, the program could lose as much as $22.6 million.

Adult Foster Care is a program that allows elderly and disabled people to move in with a host family that provides 24/7 support. The average cost per client is less than $21,000 a year. Comparable round-the-clock support at a nursing facility can cost up to four or five times more.

“Community programs like this one make programmatic sense and financial sense,” noted Al Norman of Mass Home Care. “It just makes no sense to cut back community programs that help keep people out of costlier institutions.”

“Individuals with disabilities want to live in a home, in the community,” added Gary Blumenthal, CEO of the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers. “Adult Foster Care is one of the few round-the-clock care programs that takes place in a home setting. That is why consumers are attracted to it.”

Governor Baker used his executive powers to make $5.6 million in 9C cuts to this MassHealth service for low-income individuals. These cuts amount to a 9-percent rate cut for providers. The cuts will undermine the program and can harm those who receive Adult Foster Care services and support, including caregivers who receive visits and oversight.

Andrade, Norman and Blumenthal agreed that the Adult Foster Care program is on the verge of a crisis. Adult Foster Care providers have indicated that sizeable funding reductions to their individual programs may make this innovative cost-saving program impossible to operate.

“It is imperative that the governor rescind this 9C reduction or that the Legislature overturn this reduction in a FY 17 Supplemental Budget appropriation,” concluded Al Norman.

SeniorCare & AARP Provide Free Tax Preparation

Download list of tax preparation locations.

SeniorCare Inc.’s RSVP Volunteers of the North Shore are proud to partner with AARP and coordinate the AARP Tax-Aide Program, a vital service for elders, enabling them much needed assistance with their taxes. It is the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service. Across the nation, there are over 34,000 AARP Tax-Aide volunteers who help more than 2.6 million taxpayers file their federal, state and local tax returns each year. SeniorCare’s group of RSVP Volunteer Tax Aides consists of over 40 certified volunteers who contributed more than 3,000 hours of service assisting over 2,500 elders in 2016!

In 2017, from February through April, AARP and volunteers from SeniorCare RSVP will assist taxpayers 60 & older with middle to low income with their tax preparation and filing, providing free tax assistance at over 30 locations throughout the North Shore.

For information on this program, please contact RSVP Program Assistant Theresa Dickson at 978-281-1750 x-568 or

Download list of tax preparation locations.

POSTPONED: 43rd Annual Meals on Wheels Valentine’s Day Breakfast (2017)

SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels Valentines Breakfast Fundraiser
has been postponed until Friday, March 10, 2017. 

 Buy Tickets Now Sponsor Event

SeniorCare Inc. will hold its annual Valentine’s Day Breakfast Fundraiser Breakfast at The Gloucester House, located 63 Rogers Street in downtown Gloucester on Friday, March 10, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  Tickets are $12 per person and include a buffet breakfast. Tickets are available in advance by calling 978-281-1750 or may be purchased at the door. Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels program.  Sponsorship opportunities are available. For information about the breakfast or to become a sponsor, contact Paula Curley at 978-281-1750 x-560 or

Thank you to our sponsors:






Loneliness and Social Isolation

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) launched a national campaign, in collaboration with ARRP, last November to spread the word about the growing problem of social isolation and loneliness among older Americans.

There have been many studies over the last few years focused on social isolation and loneliness. These studies consistently show significant health risks associated with feelings of loneliness and the experience of social isolation.

We all feel lonely at times, but when loneliness and isolation become chronic it can be deadly. Mother Theresa didn’t need these recent studies to know that the pain of loneliness was devastating, “the biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.”

Studies show us what Mother Theresa seemed to know, loneliness increases risk of death by 45 percent and chance of developing dementia by 64 percent.

What is unfortunate is that there are not nearly as many studies on interventions that help alleviate chronic loneliness and isolation. What is known is that loneliness, a feeling of not feeling connected with others, and isolation, the actual absence of others, are different. Treatment of each may overlap, but steps to improve relationships may be quite different.

Often there is a stigma we assign to loneliness and that judgement can lead to more loneliness and even additional judgement for not taking action to change how you are feeling. In order to lessen our loneliness we must let go of the belief that there is something wrong with feeling lonely. Whether your loneliness is a result of the loss of family and friends, due to moving, illness, or death, or lack of inter personal skills, loneliness is a common and curable circumstance. Sometimes just one connection during the day can lessen feelings of loneliness, such as the simple pleasantry exchanged with a Meals on Wheels driver.

Identifying that you or a loved one is experiencing loneliness and/or isolation is the first step. Creating opportunities for social interaction can be helpful, such as attending social programs, talking on the phone, and even joining Facebook and participating in postings can create feelings of connectivity. If developing meaningful connections is difficult, regardless of opportunity, then addressing the reasons for that must be addressed.

Combating loneliness is not a straight and narrow path, rather it is winding road that requires a willingness to embrace change and open ourselves to others. When you work toward ending your own loneliness and isolation, you are helping someone else with theirs.

To learn more about how to reduce loneliness and isolation you can visit the n4a website at


Wednesday, January 25, 2017, at 10pm ET

“I’m shocked that people are not panicked about what this disease is going to do to the country or to their families.”  —Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts, premiering January 25, 2017, at 10pm ET on PBS, is an urgent wake-up call about the national threat posed by Alzheimer’s disease.

Many know the unique tragedy of this disease, but few know that Alzheimer’s is one of the most critical public health crises facing America. This powerful documentary illuminates the social and economic consequences for the country unless a medical breakthrough is discovered for this currently incurable disease.

There are now over five million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the growing number of aging baby boomers, and the fact that the onset of Alzheimer’s is primarily age-related, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is projected to rise by 55% by 2030, and by 2050 the Alzheimer’s Association estimates the total number could explode to nearly 14 million.

This “tsunami” of Alzheimer’s will not only be a profound human tragedy, but an overwhelming economic one as well. Due to the length of time people live with the illness and need care, it’s the most expensive medical condition in the U.S.  Future costs for Alzheimer’s threaten to bankrupt Medicare, Medicaid, and the life savings of millions of Americans. It is estimated that if the number of patients increases as projected in the years ahead, the costs to care for them will exceed $1.1 trillion.

With power and passion, Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts weaves together expert commentary with compelling personal stories filmed around the country that represent previews of the future happening today.

The one-hour documentary will be accompanied by community engagement, education, and social media initiatives that will extend its reach and impact far beyond broadcast – to educate the public about the crisis as well as provide on-the-ground support to help those who already have Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts is produced and directed by Elizabeth Arledge, who produced TPT’s acclaimed Primetime Emmy-winning production The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s. Corporate funding is provided by Home Instead Senior Care. Major funding is provided by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. Additional funding by the Helen Daniels Bader Fund, a Bader Philanthropy; the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; Charles M. Denny, Jr.; and Ellie Crosby – The Crosswols Foundation. Key project partners include the Alzheimer’s Association, National Partner; and Dementia Friendly America, Community Partner.

About Twin Cities PBS (TPT): Twin Cities PBS, the PBS affiliate for Minneapolis/St. Paul, is a prominent content producer for the national public television system. TPT’s major national health specials include Emmy winners The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s and Transplant: A Gift for Life, plus Peabody winner Depression: Out of the Shadows. TPT’s history productions include Slavery by Another Name, which was an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and Emmy winner Benjamin Franklin. In addition, TPT co-produced the classic feature documentary Hoop Dreams, a Peabody and Sundance Film Festival winner. More information at


Civil Rights & the Older Americans Act

Martin Luther King Jr. day is upon us which makes me think of civil rights. Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and 60’s that led to the Civil Rights Act being passed as legislation in 1965.

In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech Dr. King referred to the Declaration of Independence as a “promissory note” which “was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Dr. King had an unshakable belief that all people should be treated equal. This equality includes all people, regardless of any differences, including age and ability. The civil rights movement encompassed positive changes for Americans aged 60 and over.

The Older Americans Act, which also passed in 1965, provides for adequate income in retirement, adequate health care, housing, long-term care, recreation community services, freedom and self-determination, and protection against abuse, neglect, and exploitation for people aged 60 and older.

As we age, we are prone to illness, disability and often lower income. All of this creates unique civil rights challenges. The older American act and its subsequent amendments are there to help support the rights of older Americans.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services 1 in 5 people over the age of 60 are in some way serviced by the Older Americans Act. There is now an infrastructure across the United States known as the national aging services network. This network’s key service includes information and referral services. Regardless of where you live in the United States if you need homemaker or personal care services, home delivered or congregate meals, caregiver support, preventive health service, job training, transportation, legal assistance, or elder abuse prevention resources you can find that information at your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). SeniorCare Inc. is the local AAA for nine towns on the North Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.

Unfortunately, older Americans are not recognized as a constitutionally protected class, however, additional legislation has been passed throughout the years to further protect the vulnerabilities of aging. Such as the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed, this piece of legislation protects applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

As we contemplate Martin Luther King Jr.’s influence on the fight for fairness and equality next Monday, let’s not forget that equality, love, support, and compassion all are of the same family. We must ensure that all Americans are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of difference, ability and age. As President Obama said in farewell address to the Nation “For all our outward differences we are all in this together …we rise or fall as one.”