ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Coffee or Tea Consumption May Lower Stroke Risk
HELP TO LOSE WEIGHT ON A LOW CAL BUDGET
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
EYE CARE, VISION
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
FITNESS
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
Workplace Wellness Seems to Really Work
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
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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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