ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
CAREGIVING
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
EYE CARE, VISION
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
U.S. Prepares for Possible Return of Swine Flu in Fall
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
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Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior

THURSDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of family members looking after people with dementia admit they have behaved abusively toward their relative, a new British study finds.

Actual physical abuse was rare, being reported by only three of the 220 caretakers in the study. But the researchers, who published their findings in the Jan. 23 online issue of BMJ, say that 115 (52.3 percent) of those surveyed acknowledged some abusive behavior toward the relative under care, with "significant" abusive behavior described by 74 (33.6 percent) of caregivers.

The results indicate "the extreme difficulty of caring for persons with dementia," said study author Dr. Claudia Cooper, a psychiatrist and research training fellow in health sciences research with the Medical Research Council, the British equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The most common form of abuse (26 percent) was screaming or yelling at the person with dementia. Insults or swearing accounted for 18 percent of reports, with threats of sending the person to a nursing home happening in 4.4 percent of cases.

"Mostly people said they wished it hadn't happened," Cooper said. "People with dementia can act aggressively. They [the caretakers] were reacting to being the subject of aggression or being in a difficult situation."

The British government is considering a revision of its policies for safeguarding vulnerable adults, focusing on paid caretakers. The newly reported study of family caretakers was done, because "previous smaller studies that asked about abusive behaviors reported high rates," Cooper said. "Given those studies, which indicated that about a third of family carers reported significant abuse, we needed to know more about it."

Cooper and her colleagues interviewed family members of people living at home with dementia in London and in Essex, a borough near London. The results were pretty much as expected, she said. "We predicted that a third of family carers would report significant abuse. We also expected few cases of physical abuse or frequent abuse."

The study is part of a larger program aimed at reducing abusive behavior in such families, Cooper said. "We need to know exactly what is going on before looking for ways to reduce it," she said.

The incidence of such abuse in the United States is not known, since comparable studies have not been done here, said Beth A. Kallmyer, director of client services at the Alzheimer's Association. But the association "gets a lot of questions about it," Kallmyer said, enough so that it maintains a 24-hour telephone service, at 800-272-3900.

"One of our messages is that people can't do this alone," Kallmyer said. "It is a progressive disease, so that the ability of the person being cared for diminishes with time. That creates great stress."

To help caretakers determine whether the stress has grown too great, the association has provided a caregiver stress test, at www.alz.org/stresscheck, she said.

"We want them to reach out, because if they don't reach out they get burnt out," Kallmyer said.

Another report in the same issue of BMJ dealt with a different matter of concern for the elderly: the effectiveness of specialized geriatric hospital units.

Older people who are cared for in such units have a better chance of returning home after discharge than those treated in conventional hospital facilities, said a report by physicians at the University Hospital of Getafe in Madrid.

A review of 11 studies that compared care provided by acute geriatric units run by specialists with conventional hospital units found elderly patients had a better ability to function back at home and a reduced risk of returning to the units in the three months after discharge.

But further studies are needed to determine if the benefits persist over the longer term, the report said.

-Ed Edelson

More information

For more on elder abuse, go to the The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging.



SOURCES: Claudia Cooper, M.D., research training fellow, health services research, Medical Research Council, London; Beth A. Kallmyer, director, client services, Alzheimers Association, Chicago; Jan. 23, 2009, BMJ

Last Updated: Jan. 23, 2009

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