ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
CANCER
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
CAREGIVING
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
EYE CARE, VISION
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
FITNESS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
When Clocks Change, Body May Need Time to Adjust
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
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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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