ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
CANCER
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
EYE CARE, VISION
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Be Healthy, Spend Less
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
U.S. Prepares for Possible Return of Swine Flu in Fall
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
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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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