ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Sea Worm Inspires Novel Bone Glue
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
CANCER
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
CAREGIVING
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Oregano Shown to be the Most Powerful Culinary Herb
The Raw Food Diet
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
FITNESS
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
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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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