ALCOHOL RELATED DEMENTIA – THE DR. JECKEL & MR. HYDE STORY

Howard was a particularly difficult new patient in the dementia unit. Howard was young – only in his mid fifties, strong and very fit at least physically, not mentally.  Howard was easily upset, especially if a staff member told him “No”. And Howard presented us with many opportunities for saying no, as he literally ran through the unit. Having seen other patients like Howard, I asked his wife if Howard had had a drinking problem. She looked very surprise at the question, and yes Howard had been in the habit of drinking daily.

I then asked her if Howard had shown a significant change in personality when drinking, yes he did.  His demeanor changed and she remembered him having almost a “day and night personality change”. Eventually a Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde personality switch was going on. Howard being normally a happy person, when starting to drink would soon become excessively friendly and happy to the point of being obnoxious. He would be very social and then become almost celebratory in his mood. When guest were over frequently jumping into the pool fully clothed.

After a seemingly shorter and shorter time of drinking,  Howard would literally check out, having a flat expression and appearing somewhere else.  His expression would then become very dark and scary while his vocabulary became suggestive and often he was vulgar.

Fortunately  Howard hadn’t been the drinker who becomes immediately angry, aggressive, rage-full and ready to fight. Of the two personality shifts the happy drinker is easier on the family, but maybe makes it harder for them to identify a drinking problem earlier.

So how much is too much, when it comes to drinking? Moderate consumption of alcohol is considered 1-2 drinks a day. A significant history of drinking is 35 or more drinks a week for a man and 28 a week for a woman.  Alcohol is quickly absorbed into the blood stream and goes directly to the neurons in the brain. Alcohol causes an increased release of dopamine in the brain (the pleasure/reward neurotransmitter), and over time you need a larger and larger amount of alcohol to realize the same effect.

When caught early, brain damage due to alcohol can be reversed. Alcoholism is caught too late when long term excessive consumption has been a toxin to the brain, resulting in neurological damage and changes to the brain including brain shrinkage.  Drinking to the point of drunkenness is particularity harmful to the brain.This was Howard’s story, and is he now is at the point where Dr. Jeckel is gone and all that is left of Howard is Mr Hyde.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing

 

WOULD YOU LIKE TO NOT ONLY IMPROVE THE OXYGEN TO YOUR BRAIN BUT FEEL LIKE YOU ARE STANDING ON THE BEACH?

Everyone knows how great they feel when standing by water or walking through the mountains and the air is just so clean and clear. That beach can be a close as your refrigerator. A simple fruit can give you that feeling and so much more. Drinking lemon juice can improve the bodies oxygen level, increase your brain function as well as support numerous digestive functions.

It all has to do with negative ions, those tasteless, odorless, invisible molecules that are found in places with water in the air. This can be after a drenching spring rain, that invigorating morning shower, walking in the morning mountain dew, or when standing next to a large body of water watching the waves come in.

When you breath in this negative ion charged air, these ions once in the blood stream relieve stress, decrease depression, and increase energy.  Studies show that increasing negative ions is as effective for treating depression as anti-depressants.  Negative ions increase blood flow to the brain giving the person increased alertness and more energy, all the while making the person’s mood lighter and increasing their happiness.

Lemons more than any other fruit are loaded with these negative ions. Also the high level of potassium in lemons help nourish brain cells and give energy. This is not lemonade which is a sugar product, with the sugar negating all the positive effects of lemon juice. This product if bottled needs to be a 100% organic lemon juice to realize benefits. If buying organic lemons you want to pick out the heaviest ones with the thinnest skins that will have more juice and be sweeter.

Drinking lemon juice first thing in the morning can support liver function. Instead of spending money on expensive detox programs, get in the habit of drinking a cup of hot water with lemon first thing every morning. Lemon juice will also aid in indigestion issues such as heartburn,  bloating, burping, and belching. When you stop eating all processed food and start adding lemon juice to your daily intake you can look forward to better health.

Breathing like you are at the ocean, increased alertness, and better digestion, lemon juice – quite the bargain!

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing

BUILDING BRAIN HEALTH PROTECTS AGAINST DEMENTIA – DON’T PERFUME YOUR OXYGEN PART III

Whether it is bath soap, air freshener, laundry products, scented candles, or the cologne on the check out clerk at your local grocery, we are surrounded by scented air. While it is law to list ingredients on these products, there is a significant loop-hole. The word “fragrance” in so many products used every day, represents many substances the average person would not consider a pleasant odor. These chemicals masquerading as a fragrance, are for the most part derived from petroleum and coal tar products.  These chemical concoctions are found is products all around us, and are directly related to many health concerns.

These chemical mixtures are protected under a misconception that they are “trade secrets.”  There might have been a time in years gone past that the combination of certain essential oils and flowers were highly protected secrets. However these days, the secret that is being protected, is where these chemicals come from and what they do to human health.

Current research is telling us compared to other senses, the sense of smell is directly connected to brain health. That smells are able to pass the blood brain barrier, that protects the brain from many other forms of attack. These hundreds of fragrances created in laboratories, with many times banned chemicals, are responsible for many disorders. Surrounding ourselves with all of these scents is leading to negative emotions, irritability, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, tremors, convulsions, and the list is growing.

There is recently even a new term for that person, who through the use of strong smelling products, intrudes on others. It is “second hand fragrance” similar to second hand smoke. It is when one person makes a decision to use several strong smelling products (shampoo, deodorant, hair spray, perfume, laundry products) and by doing so contaminates the air quality of others. There was a recent report on the news regarding sunscreen products, and they found many people bought a product not on how effective it was for sun protection, but because of the way it smelled.

The elderly as well as the very young are at increased risk for neurological problems connected to fragrances that pass the blood brain barrier. Yet many times the offender is an elderly person who has become so addicted to their fragrance, that they literally no longer smell it.

If you have been guilty of second hand fragrance, do what people did years ago, put a little vanilla extract behind your ears.

Suggested reading: “Get A Whiff of This” by Connie Pitts

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing

BUILDING BRAIN HEALTH PROTECTS AGAINST DEMENTIA – BY INCREASING OXYGEN – PART II

Blood is the transport system of oxygen to the brain. The brain uses three times the amount of oxygen as the muscles. An oxygen rich, blood supply, is very important to brain function. Known ways to improve in-door air quality and oxygen levels, are surprisingly simple.

Start with opening a window. Even sleeping with a window slightly cracked will increase the quality of the air in a bedroom. Bedroom are loaded with carpeting and fabrics know to have toxic chemicals. These chemicals can cause headaches, eye and nose irritation, as well as skin problems. Any allergic reaction will cause inflammation, possibly reducing quality air exchange, between heart, lungs and brain.

But more proven ways to improve air quality, come from straight from NASA. The NASA study tells us what plants produce the most oxygen and remove what chemicals. Opposite of us, plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. NASA recommends easily found houseplants, that are shown to be effective at removing toxic substances in the air, like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloethylene, while giving us increased levels of oxygen.

Especially sleeping in a room with increased levels of oxygen and reduction in toxic air quality, can help the person with dementia, avoid periods of agitation related to low oxygen levels. More than the general population, the person with dementia needs special brain support and increased oxygen provides that.

While searching for great oxygen producing, air cleaning plants be aware that many houseplants are toxic to children, pets and the elderly with dementia. The person with dementia will benefit greatly from increased oxygen to the brain, but needs to be protected from ingesting anything toxic. Even if the confused person has never attempted to ingest a non-food item, a person with dementia has that potential.

NASA recommended plants that are non-toxic include: dwarf date palm, areca palm, boston fern, kimberly queen fern, lily turf, spider plant, bamboo palm, broadleaf lady palm, barberton daisy, rubber plant and banana plant. While these plants are actually taking in carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, they are also adjusting the humidity in your home.

Due to the fact that houseplants are subtropical they do well inside with low light levels. The NASA study suggests one plant for every 100 square foot of living space. Some of these plants, (even with minimal attention) will grow to a very large, even ceiling height, providing even more improved air return.

When visiting a large greenhouse you will frequently hear comments about how much easier it is to breath in the greenhouse. There are also known psychological benefits for the person with dementia, when living in an environment with a large amount of plants.  The color green is known to be calming and also to help with memory. More oxygen to help the brain function, a pretty, calming color green and helping with memory. Plants, thank you NASA, what a good deal.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing 

BUILDING BRAIN HEALTH PROTECTS AGAINST DEMENTIA – PART I

There is an often repeated saying in healthcare, “what is good for the heart is good for the brain.” And I might add vise-versa, what is good for the brain is also good for the heart. So what is the heart brain connection, blood supply and oxygen.

The brain has 100 billion cells, which is also the number of stars in the galaxy. All of those cells need to be constantly fed, requiring a constant blood supply to keep up the metabolic demands. At all times over 20% of the blood in the body is located in the brain. That blood supply always needs to be highly oxygenated. Loss of oxygen for even 8-10 minutes can result in brain damage.

What is good for the heart and brain:

  • a oxygen rich environment
  • highly nutritious diet and hydration
  • low stress life style

We know that when a person has been diagnosed with dementia, they have already lost brain cells. Brain cells will die due to disease and poor life style choices. Smoking will not only suffocate the lungs but reduce that brain sustaining oxygen supply. Bad dietary choices create inflammation and are now proven to be as harmful as smoking.

This complex organ, the brain, is only 3-4 pounds depending on the size of the individual, about the size of a cantaloupe. When a baby is born they already have their 100 billion cells, what they don’t have is the connections between the cells. And those trillions of cell connections we call learning. To support that development, and even to survive, the brain needs the nutrients and oxygen from the heart.

The blood supply to the brain is so important that when the body experiences a reduction in oxygen it will automatically redirect blood to the brain. Increasing the blood supply even two times the normal volume.

Improving the supply of oxygen and nutrition to the heart and brain, can be accomplished day by day, meal by meal, through life style changes. Start by opening a window.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing