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Health TO YOUR

October 2013

Mid-Valley Newspapers Mid

A guide to wellness and healthy living in the Mid-Willamette Valley

STAT Quick reads about health topics in the news

OSU wellness run

Kim Franklin, Alzheimer's Association, right, places a medic alert bracelet on the arm of Carol Moore inside the Alzheimer's Association office in Dunwoody, Ga., on Sept. 17. Moore is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. JOHNNY CRAWFORD | ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/MCT

Oregon State University is holding the fourth annual Be Well Walk & Run on Oct. 11 in the Memorial Union Quad. The event is free and open to everyone. This year’s event includes a five-kilometer running course as well as a one-mile walking course. The scenic route will wind participants throughout OSU’s campus, highlighting picturesque buildings and spaces. Costumes are encouraged. The event will feature activity stations in the Memorial Union Quad to engage participants in learning about the Healthy Campus Initiative, including physical activity, stress management, nutrition and a smoke-free campus. Participants can register as individuals or as part of a group. To register, go to The run starts at 3:30 p.m. in the quad, check in begins at 3 p.m. For more information, go to Accommodations for disabilities may be made by calling Joe Schaffer, 541-737-4884. — Oregon State University

Depression medication

More elderly folks wandering off Electronic tracking systems boost chance of locating missing people By HELENA OLIVIERO TLANTA — Eleanor Alexander never deviated from her night routine. She’d eat a light dinner, let her dog “Spot” out, let him back in, double-lock the screen door. And then, she and her companion would call it a night. The evening of July 26 started the same way. The 78-year-old told her son she would eat a few bites of the vegetable soup he had brought her, then go to bed. She already had on her pink-striped pajamas when he left. Yet for unknown reasons, instead of going to bed, she stepped outside her rural Coweta County, Ga., home and started walking, dressed in nothing more than night clothes and slippers. Within hours, search teams — deputies and volunteers, people on horseback and guiding fourwheelers, some with search dogs straining at leashes — spread out across the landscape, looking for a tiny target: a woman with wavy white hair, blue eyes, barely weighing 100 pounds. They found her three days later. Alexander, suffering from dementia, was tangled in a barbed-wire fence in a patch of woods about a mile from home. She was alive, but barely: her body temperature had dropped to 84 degrees. Cases such as Alexander’s have been rising, posing challenges for public and private agencies. Dementia sufferers who wander — six of 10 will at some point — can trigger extensive and expensive searches, and not all are found. Several law enforcement agencies are adopting new technologies to track individuals with dementia, but none is perfect. Experts also say that families can be slow to recognize that a loved one is at risk of wandering. The number of wanderers is expected to rise as baby boomers age and face a diagnosis of


TIPS TO PREVENT WANDERING • Having a routine can provide structure. • Reassure the person if he or he feels lost, abandoned or disoriented. • If the person with dementia wants to leave to “go home” or “go to work,” use communication focused on exploration and validation. Refrain from correcting the person. For example, “We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I’ll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night’s rest.” • Ensure all basic needs are met. Has the person gone to the bathroom? Is he or she thirsty or hungry? • Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation. (ie.,shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy venues.) • Place locks out of the line of sight. Install them either high or low on exterior doors, and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom. dementia. One in eight people age 65 and older (and nearly 1 in 2 people over age 85) have Alzheimer’s disease. “It’s an absolutely huge, huge problem,” said Carol Steinberg, president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “It can happen out of the blue. The person could be hungry or thirsty or in their mind be hooked on the idea that they need to go home and they are already home.” With each day, the odds of finding a missing person drops, but the odds are even worse when the missing person suffers from dementia.

Searching for something People with Alzheimer’s are often going somewhere, searching for something, and don’t necessarily consider themselves lost. But most of the time, the person takes off on foot and gets lost less than a mile from home. Instead of crying out for help, they become frightened and disoriented and might hide from their rescuers. Search missions can last 20 minutes or they can drag on for days. The average time of finding someone missing with Alzheimer’s is about nine hours, according to a 2012 report, “Lost and Found,” by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The search and rescue missions are also expensive undertakings, costing taxpayers $1,500 per hour, according to the report.

HOME SAFETY CHECKLIST • Camouflage doors by painting them the same color as the walls, or cover them with removable curtains or screens. Cover knobs with cloth the same color as the door or use childproof knobs. • Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened. This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm. • Provide supervision. (Never lock the person with dementia in at home alone or leave him or her in a car without supervision.) • Keep car keys out of sight. After 24 hours, a missing person with dementia only has a 50/50 chance of being found alive, according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation 2012 report. “Looking for a person can be a needle in a haystack,” said Ginny Helms, vice president of chapter services and public policy at the Georgia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The local chapter assists with 10 missing person cases a month across the state, and has a dedicated staff member to work on them. Every missing case, Helms said, carries a common thread. “No one expects it to happen,” said Helms “And that’s the problem.”

A variety of electronic tracking systems are now available to help locate missing people with dementia. They can vastly improve the chances of finding someone, but each has limitations. A handful of police and sheriff’s departments across the state have turned to Project Lifesaver, a bracelet-like device that emits a silent tracking signal to help locate wandering elderly. The program requires the jurisdiction to invest about $4,000 for the tracking equipment; each bracelet costs about $360. It’s also time intensive, requiring specially trained officers to change out the batteries in the bracelets once a month. The program requires each enrolled person to have 24-hour care, because it’s not intended to take the place of supervision and the bracelet has a limited tracking radius. Tommy Pope, director for the criminal investigation division for Fayette County, said the average time of finding someone with a bracelet is under 30 minutes. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a GPS-like tracking device called, “Comfort Zone,” which uses a phone or pager-like device to track a loved with Alzheimer’s and is designed for people in the early stages of the disease. There’s a startup cost of $99 for gadget and a $14.99 monthly fee. Experts say a critical first step is a more low-tech solution: getting a simple ID bracelet. Since wandering can happen at any time of the day or night, it’s not uncommon for a missing person with dementia to be without a wallet or identification. Many people are found by Good Samaritans who recognize something amiss and help a person get home safely. An ID bracelet can speed up the person’s return home. Medic Alert bracelets include a 1-800 number to help reach family members and emergency responders.

WHEN SOMEONE IS MISSING • Begin search-and-rescue efforts immediately. • Ask neighbors, friends and family to call if they see the person alone. • Keep a recent, close-up photo and updated medical information on hand to give to police.

• Is the individual right or left-handed? Wandering generally follows the direction of the dominant hand. • Keep a list of places where the person may wander. This could include past jobs, former homes, places of worship or a restaurant.

• Provide the person with ID jewelry. • Consider having the person carry or wear an electronic tracking GPS device that helps manage location. • If the person does wander, search the immediate area for no more than 15

minutes before calling 911. Report to police that a person with Alzheimer’s disease is missing. For more tips, go to To get more information, call 1-800-272-3900 Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Food and Drug Administration last week approved a new antidepressant medication that is a novel variant on the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, that have become the mainstay of depression treatment. The drug, whose generic chemical name is vortioxetine, is to be marketed under the commercial name Brintellix. Brintellix received the agency’s approval without deliberation by a science advisory panel, a public review of an investigative drug’s safety and effectiveness. In announcing its decision, the FDA said the new medication was found “effective in treating depression” in six clinical trials that compared outcomes in subjects taking the drug against those of subjects who received a sham medication, or placebo. Like SSRIs and a range of older antidepressant medications, Brintellix will carry a boxed warning alerting patients and physicians that with children, adolescents and young adults between 18 and 24, antidepressants can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. — Los Angeles Times

Thinking of Omega-3 Omega-3 fatty acids may not benefit thinking skills, say scientists who looked at how the cognitive abilities of older women declined over nearly seven years. The scientists looked at 2,157 women ages 65 to 80 who were taking part in the Women’s Health Initiative trials studying hormone therapy. The women took annual tests of their memory and thinking skills in seven areas, including visual memory, fine motor speed and spatial ability. There was no difference in how fast their cognitive skills declined based on whether they had high or low levels of omega-3s, the scientists reported online in Neurology. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in nuts and in fish such as salmon. There was speculation that omega-3s could help slow cognitive decline. But the lead researcher, Eric Ammann of the University of Iowa, said people should not change their diets based on this study. — Los Angeles Times


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

To Your Health

To Your Health: October  
To Your Health: October  

A guide to wellness and healthy living in the Mid-Willamette Valley