ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
CAREGIVING
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
As Earth Warms, Lyme Disease Could Flourish
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Sleep and Do Better
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Add your Article

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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