Are we any close to a cure for Parkinson’s?

parkinson-TAThere is an article in Wired about 23AndMe’s quest for Parkinson’s.  23AndMe, as you know is a company that is decoding the human genome in search for patterns to help us understand diseases.

Parkinson’s is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that affects 1 million Americans. The biggest risk factor is age, but certain genetic mutations can increase risk too. 23andMe reports two of them to its customers, which each increase the chance of developing Parkinson’s between about 30 and 75 percent. (Sergey Brin, the Google cofounder and ex-husband of 23andMe founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki, carries one of those mutations, called LRRK2.)

But scientists don’t know how the disease works or even how much genetics play a role in its development and progression. Unlike Huntington’s or hemophilia, there’s no single genetic signal for Parkinson’s. 23andMe is betting that through brute-force pattern matching, it can map the constellation of genetic causes—and potentially inform new treatments.

To read the entire article go here.

Towards a strength-based approach to elderly care

08kisrmA strength-based approach rather than a deficit-based approach towards ageing could well have an empowered senior citizen stepping into a journey of a “well-being” experience.

Strength is a capacity – a talent, ability, skills or multiple intelligences; whereas the deficits are the physical hurdles of old age that bring about various disabilities.

Kalpana Goel from School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, Whyalla Campus, Australia, who was in the city for the ‘Healthy Ageing’ conference organised by the Rajagiri School of Social Sciences, said that “well-being” is not just a physical experience, but a “happy” state of mind and body.

The idea was explored by Vanessa Leane of St. John Ambulance Australia and Dr. Goel in a project that focussed on the strength-based approach to the older people.

“The idea was to generate the identity of the senior citizen in his or her strengths… to explore their strengths that they had accumulated by virtue of their lives,” said Dr. Goel. If their strengths are used as a resource to generate well-being, it removes the barriers created by the frailty of old age, environment and other constraints like lack of support or care. Their strengths, which make them happy, get buried because of loss of hearing, loss of spouse or loss of a close friend. The new digital world could be used to help them bring back their strengths, she said.

The governments should work out community programmes to explore the strength-based approach to well-being that would help the elderly give back to society the goodness they had accumulated.

Society should recognise the value of the strengths of the elderly, instead of focussing more on the physical needs of the ageing body, said Dr. Goel.

Society should recognise the value of the strengths of the elderly

Society should recognise the value of the strengths of the elderly, says Kalpana Goel from Whyalla Campus.

Click here to read the original article.

Understanding generic medicine

Generic-DrugsA gentleman I met recently thought that generic drugs were the same as spurious drugs. I was shocked and explained what generic drugs meant. Thought I should put down the explanation here for the benefit of others who may be thinking along similar lines.

A pharmaceutical company makes a medicine after years of research. It then files for a patent and sells the medicine under a brand name. During the period that the patent is valid, no other company can manufacture the same product. Obviously during this time, the cost of the medicine will be high as the company has to recoup all its expenses.

However, the patents issued are valid only for 20 years or so. After the expiry of patent, any other pharmaceutical company can take up the manufacture of the same medicine and sell it under a different name. This product is now called a generic equivalent of the original medicine.

In essence, Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs that have exactly the same dosage, intended use, effects, side effects, route of administration, risks, safety, and strength as the original drug. In other words, their pharmacological effects are exactly the same as those of their brand-name counterparts.

Generic drugs can be and usually are very much cheaper than their brand-name counterparts because the generic drug manufacturer has not put in any money on R&D, clinical trials, FDA approval, etc. which usually form the bulk of the cost. Their only costs include the cost of the ingredients that go into the medicine and the manufacturing and packaging costs, which are usually only a small fraction of the overall costs.

Spurious medicines, on the other hand, are fake products manufactured by illegal companies which look like the regular products but contain none of the original ingredients.

I hope now you are clear about the actual meaning of generic medicine.

Now why aren’t the generic drugs much cheaper than they are? Well, they should be, but market forces prevent them from being sold at that rate.

Another question you may have is why Doctors don’t prescribe generic drugs to you. Well, the pharmaceutical companies that hold the patents incentivize the Doctors to prescribe their drugs and hence the Doctors do so. On your part, you can always go to the pharmacy and ask for a generic equivalent and take that with full confidence.

Do you know generic drugs can be up to 80% cheaper than their brand-named counterparts!?
When more and more people become knowledgeable about generics, hopefully the market will wake up and start making generics more affordable. Just imagine, your medical bills could quite easily be halved!

 

Employment Opportunities for seniors

 

A new company and website had come up focusing on job opportunities for the retired.  Aptly named NotRetired.in,  it aims to connect persons retired from formal employment with prospective employers to address the problem of finding a job/ activity.

 

Services Offered by NotRetired.in

1. Employers can search for candidates and directly contact them. They can also post their job requirements and view applicant’s information
2. Job seekers can search and apply for active jobs by simple registration process
3. Users can read articles on various topics related to them

 

Key benefits NotRetired.in offers to Job Seekers?

• Multiple job opportunities as we have tied up with big and small organizations who are looking for experienced resources from different sectors
• We are also scouting through various websites/platforms for relevant job opportunities to present everything at one place. This will reduce the burden of job seekers to search at multiple places
• Unlike other job portals, we are focused on the retired community. Thus, job opportunities on our portal are clear and rightly targeted, making a hassle free search for you
• In order to help our Users who face difficulty in using technology, NotRetired.in has a dedicated team of professionals to facilitate them In signing up and finding jobs.

 

Key benefits NotRetired.in offers to Employers?

• NotRetired.in provides a variant database of the candidates starting from the age of 37 to 70 years with varied skillset from a wide range of sectors like Defense, Government, Banking, and Teaching etc.
• Since our portal only caters to the retired community, the database is more focused and highly sorted, if knowledge and experience at an affordable price is your requirement

Address:
#304, NotRetired Online LLP, V.V.Vintage Boulevard, Somajiguda, Hyderabad-82.
Email: jobs@notretired.in
Phone: 9000 766 066

website:  www.notretired.in

Senior citizen welfare fund

The ministry released the notification dated March 18 about the fund, which will be utilised for schemes for the promotion of the welfare of senior citizens in line with the National Policy on Older Persons and the National Policy on Senior Citizens.

pension-759The Ministry of Finance released the rules for creation of Senior Citizens Welfare Fund, which will have funds from unclaimed deposits in small savings schemes including Post Office Savings Accounts, Public Provident Fund and Employees’ Provident Fund within one year.

The ministry released the notification dated March 18 about the fund, which will be utilised for schemes for the promotion of the welfare of senior citizens in line with the National Policy on Older Persons and the National Policy on Senior Citizens.

To read the entire article, go here.

Adult Diapers and their benefits

Adult diapers come in two designs – Nappy type and Panty type.

incontThe nappy type diapers are for people who are bed-ridden or those that need to wear them while at home or overnight, while the pull-on panty type diapers are for mobile people.

The advantages of wearing pull-on panty type diapers are as follows:

  1. They are relatively thin and discreet. No one will know that one is wearing them.
  2. Just like regular underwear they can be easily removed and worn again. So, if one has access to a toilet, one can use it by pulling down the diaper, urinating into the toilet and pulling the diaper up back in position afterwards.
  3. In case no suitable toilet is available, as most diapers are geared to absorb at least a litre of liquid, one can urinate into the diaper without worries.
  4. The diapers will absorb all the liquid and keep the outer side and the inner side dry. This prevents problems due to the skin being constantly being damp.
  5. The diapers are also designed to contain smell so even when the diaper is saturated, no urine smell will emanate from them.

The advantages of nappy-type diapers are:

  1. They are highly absorbent
  2. They have wetness indicators to tell you when they need to be changed.
  3. They maintain dryness on the inside as well as outside.
  4. They are easy to put on for others, especially for those that are bed-ridden.
  5. They prevent smells from escaping.

Though diapers are not very environmentally friendly, they are the best option that is currently available for problems relating to bladder weakness.

Thodu Needa, heaven where marriages are made

A recent article in The Asian Age relating to elder care, companionship, and remarriage.

Excerpts below:

remarriage“Everyone deserves companionship, even in the final chapters of their lives,” says N.M. Rajeshwari, who, in a bid to felicitate this thought, founded an organisation Thodu Needa in Hyderabad. Her organisation works towards providing emotional support to the elderly; its sole purpose is to build lasting friendship, share ideas, encourage participation and enjoy life with like-minded people and if they wish, remarry.

“A few years ago, I read an article about a man in Mumbai who was helping the elderly get remarried. That’s when the idea of doing something similar here struck me,” she recalls. Many of them toil hard their entire lives by bringing up their children. Yet, owing to various reasons, several of them are left to fend for themselves in their old age, she says. “I wanted to create a platform for these elderly people to choose a suitable companion to live with.”

Today, the organisation has over 600 active members and has successfully conducted over 100 marriages. “We conducted three weddings this year alone,” she says with pride. The only criteria she emphasises on: They should be above 50 years of age and seeking companionship.

You can read the entire article here.

Understanding men and women in their old age

depression-in-the-elderly-290x217A recent article in the Times of India talks about how men tend to get depressed in their old age while women tend to get more adventurous.

This is something we have also noticed on our trips to old age homes and retirement communities. In all of these places, women appear happier and more participative while the men appear subdued and sombre. While the women band together and enjoy group activities, the men seem to shy away from the company of others.

There could be many reasons for this difference in behaviour, especially in an largely male dominated Indian environment.

Let’s look at why women may be happier at old age homes.

1. They have other women of the same age group to share their days with. There are a fair number of studies that show that women thrive in the company of their girl friends.

2. They don’t have to cook, at least unless they actually want to.

3. They are no longer expected to be at the beck and call of their husband / children.

4. They no longer have to take care of all the house work.

5. For the first time in their lives, they have the time to pursue things that interest them.

As for the men:

1. They feel they are no longer the centre of their families. They are no longer the bread-winner in the family and this can take some getting used to. Retirement deprives them of work, company of peers, and the self-esteem that comes from earning.

2. Without work, there is no vacation. Many men make elaborate plans for after their retirement with rest, relaxation and recuperation forming a large part of it, only to find themselves looking for work again, not for the money but to feel part of a society in which they are a contributing member. So the free time they should be enjoying no longer feels like an extended vacation, but makes them feel they are wasting time.

3. Many of the retirement homes do not allow liquor. Some of the men who had enjoyed some social drinking during their working days may be missing such activities.
If your parents are living in an old age home or retirement community, please do observe them and see if they are showing any signs of depression. Especially the men, they may not tell you themselves that they are feeling depressed. But with your care, some counselling and where required, proper treatment, you can help them live their senior years in a happy frame of mind.

Enteral Feeding – An introduction

Enteral-Feeding32Sometimes, a bedridden person may not be able to ingest food through their mouth. This can be due to various reasons, from refusing to eat (in some cases of dementia) to inability to swallow due to being comatose, having neurological problems, having obstructions in the food canal or other similar problems.

Under such circumstances Doctors advice enteral feeding. Enteral feeding is defined as delivery of a nutritionally complete feed, containing protein, carbohydrate, fat, water, minerals and vitamins, directly into the stomach, duodenum or jejunum. Basically, what this means is that the doctors will insert a tube into the body and you will have to use that tube as the means to feed the patient. The food, in this case, would be a nutritionally complete meal replacement powder such as Ensure, Fresubin or some other brand.

The feeding tube can be inserted in a couple of different  ways. Given below is a brief layman’s understanding of them.

Nasogastric intubation
In this case, the doctor will insert a narrow bore tube, called a Ryles’ tube or a nasogastric tube, through one of the nostrils into the stomach or duodenum(which is the part of the small intestine just after the stomach). Whenever feeding is required, the desired quantity of the meal replacement solution (freshly prepared) can be injected into the tube slowly. Alternately a bag of the food can be attached to the tube and the food released slowly over an extended period. It is usually recommended that this method is used for no more than six weeks at a time, but if no other option is available, this can be used indefinitely subject to the patient not suffering any major discomfort.

This type of intubation is contra-indicated under some conditions such as

  • High risk of aspiration
  • Gastric stasis
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux
  • Upper gastrointestinal stricture
  • Nasal injuries
  • Base of skull fractures

Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy
Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is an endoscopic medical procedure in which a tube (PEG tube) is passed into a patient’s stomach through the abdominal wall. In some cases, the tube is extended into the duodenum or the jejunum. This method for enteral feeding is indicated when such feeding is required for extended periods of time measured in years. To install the PEG tube, an invasive operation is required. In one popular method, an endoscope is inserted through the mouth or nostril into the stomach and a light flashed to identify the area where the incision needs to be made. Then an incision is made in the abdominal wall and the stomach and the tube inserted into the stomach. The stomach is then stapled or sutured to the inner abdominal wall at that point so that it does not move and dislodge the tube. The operation is relatively straight-forward and is conducted very often under local anesthesia nowadays.

Since an operation is required, this is not suitable for patients too weak to undergo operations under local or general anesthesia. In addition, this operation becomes difficult if the patient does not have the ability to swallow as that makes it difficult for the endoscope to be inserted.

PEG reduces dramatically the possibility of aspiration (food coming back up from the stomach) and reflux and is ideal in cases where the need for enteral feeding is for a prolonged period.

If your loved elder is unable to eat normally, do consult your doctor regarding enteral feeding.

 

Understanding and dealing with faecal incontinence

Any form of incontinence, though may not be fatal, can surely rob the life of the affected.

faecalIncFaecal Incontinence (FI) is basically lack of control over defecation leading to involuntary loss of some or all of the bowel contents. This is a symptom and not a diagnosis. There can be several underlying reasons for FI including recent anorectal surgery, damage during childbirth, weakened sphincter, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chrohn’s disease,  just diarrhea or neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Luckily not too many people suffer from this. It is estimated that just over 2% of the adults suffer from faecal incontinence at some point in time and only 0.5 – 1% of adults experience regular FI.

While potential embarrassment is a major worry, there are more serious health concerns associated with FI over and above the underlying causes of the FI in the first place. As the skin around the anal region has prolonged contact with faecal matter, this can lead to maceration, which is the softening and whitening of the skin due to continues exposure to moisture. Additionally, because of the bacteria that flourish in the faecal matter, Urinary Tract Infections(UTI) become more common. Finally, especially in the case of bedridden people, bed sores (also called pressure ulcers) start forming rather frequently.

Use of adult diapers and their regular change can help mitigate some of the problems. Also regular cleansing and strict maintenance of hygiene can go a long way in reducing the chances of bed sore and related issues.

If you or your loved ones suffer from FI, do approach a Doctor at the earliest.

A note for those family members living with their elder parents or relatives: Many people suffering from FI are too embarrassed to discuss this problem and may be trying to quietly deal with the problems themselves. If you notice frequent and hurried visits to the toilet, reluctance to leave home, frequent washing of clothes, especially undergarments, stains on clothes and bed linen and smells associated with fecal matter, broach the subject with sensitivity and gently get them to allow you to take them to the Doctor.