Dementia Living In The Past

August 28, 2015

tree-kahl-clock-time-care-dementia-man-old-age-alzheimer's-care for the elderly

Passage of time: why people with dementia switch back to the past

Hannah Keage, University of South Australia and Tobias Loetscher, University of South Australia

People diagnosed with dementia often have a distorted sense of time passing. My friends who are clinicians often comment on their patients with dementia preparing and arriving for their appointments many hours before they are scheduled.
Dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease progressively impair cognition, causing problems with memory and planning, and day-to-day functioning, making it difficult to do things like shopping and cleaning.
Accurate time perception is critical in our modern society (and for much more important reasons than waiting room congestion) so this disorientation significantly affects those with dementia and their families and care providers.

The Australian population is ageing, and with this comes an increased prevalence of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. One in ten of those over 65 and one in three over 85 have dementia.

There are neurological reasons why those affected by dementia judge the passage of time differently, and can access remote memories from many decades ago while unable to remember events of the past few hours.

Time perception in dementia


Those with dementia judge the passage of time quicker than older adults without dementia, as well as younger adults. This is for prospective time perception, where people are instructed to estimate an upcoming time interval; and retrospective time estimation, where people judge time after the event has occurred, requiring them to mentally travel back in time.

As a practical example, a person with dementia is likely to underestimate how long they waited at a bus stop (if asked when the bus arrived; retrospective time perception) and how long they will be on the bus for their specified journey (if asked as the bus started; prospective time perception).

Those diagnosed with dementia may underestimate time due to difficulties in recollecting all events in the short-term past, creating a feeling of a relative empty time travel. Someone without dementia may remember the boy cycling his bike, the yellow car parked next to the shop, the noisy lawn mower, and the couple playing tennis, on their walk to the bus stop; while someone with dementia is likely to remember fewer of these events, creating the sense that less has occurred and therefore less time has passed.

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Living in the past

There is a link between the perception of time and memory function in those with dementia. Family members often report their loved ones with dementia sometimes live in the past, even reverting to first languages.


This is because memory is not just one process in the brain, but a collection of different systems.

Those with Alzheimer’s disease may have impairments in short-term memory, however remote memory can be left relatively intact. So they are able to remember public and personal events many decades ago, but unable to recall what happened earlier that day.

A fascinating case study illustrates this dissociation in remote and short-term memory in Alzheimer’s disease. A retired taxi driver diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease showed remarkable spatial memory of downtown Toronto, Canada, where he had driven taxis and worked as a courier for 45 years. This was despite showing impairments in short-term memory and general cognitive functioning.


But while those with Alzheimer’s disease can typically remember events in the distant past better than those in the immediate past, they still perform worse than older adults without Alzheimer’s disease in memory retrieval.

Interestingly, it appears that events and facts most frequently retrieved and used over a lifetime are those better recalled by those with Alzheimer’s disease in late life, rather than those encountered at any particular age.

This frequency of use memory pattern is mirrored in bilingual people with dementia. A friend commented that her Yia-Yia (Grandmother), who immigrated to Australia from Greece over 50 years ago, is increasingly conversing in Greek despite predominantly speaking English for decades (causing problems for my monolingual English-speaking friend).


Those with dementia often revert to their first language. This commonly begins with utterances from the first language appearing in conversation from the second language. This occurs more often in those less proficient in their second language, rather than being related to the age of acquisition of their second language.

So, how does this happen? Probably because familiar memories rely more on the brain’s cortex, its outer layer, while short-term memories rely more on a structure called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is typically affected at the start of late-life dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, with regions of the cortex affected subsequently.



How to best respond?

Families and friends of those affected by dementia often do not know how to respond when their loved ones rely on these remote memories, at heart, living in the past. It’s certainly not the case that these remote memories should be ignored or suppressed.

Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to reality, families and care providers may try to enter their reality; building trust and empathy, and reducing anxiety. This is known as validation therapy but many families and care providers will practice this technique without knowing its name.

Reminiscence therapy has also been shown to increase mood, well-being and behavior in those with dementia. This involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences (usually with help of artifacts such as photographs, music and familiar items).

Alzheimer’s Australia has some fantastic help sheets and phone line to help care providers and family members communicate with loved ones with dementia.

Building resilience


There is nothing that can completely protect us from a future diagnosis of dementia. But a cognitively stimulating lifestyle can at least delay the onset of dementia. This means using your memory and other cognitive skills as much as possible, for example, working in a mentally challenging job, doing crosswords, and engaging in social activities.

The more frequently we recall and use memories over our lifetimes, the more likely we will have access to them in our old age.

The Conversation
Hannah Keage is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at University of South Australia and Tobias Loetscher is Lecturer: Psychology at University of South Australia
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Seniors: 4 Nonphysical Benefits of Staying Active

August 21, 2015
Senior Couple Exercising In ParkExercise helps keep senior citizens fit in the physical realm.

Yet exercise promotes social, emotional and psychological fitness as well.

You receive so many benefits when you exercise. Your heart becomes strong and it works with less effort. A strong heart finds it easy to pump oxygen throughout your body. 

This allows proper function of all your different internal and external systems.

All these interrelated systems fall under the control of your brain. Therefore, you enjoy more than just physical benefits when you stay active as you age.

  • Do you need motivation to exercise?
  • Are you over 50 years of age?
  • Look at these wonderful nonphysical benefits of staying active.
  • They just may change how you think about physical fitness.


1 - You Feel Better About Yourself

When you exercise, your brain releases "feel good" chemicals and hormones. See, there is a physiological reason you feel great after you physical exertion. 

You do feel good about yourself as a person when you exercise on a regular basis.


2 - Your Social Life Benefits

Humans are social animals.

Most of us feel better in social settings.

The time spent with friends, family members and other likeminded individuals.

Exercise after you turn 50 years of age, you promote independence and positive self-worth.

This leads to a richer social life.

Many exercises and other forms of physical fitness are also social in nature. Hiking clubs and cycling or yoga classes are social.


3 - Your Brain Is Sharper and Your Memory Recall Improves

Studies have shown that frequent exercise actually improves your recall.

A fit body leads to a sharp mind and excellent memory. Your elevated heart rate pumps blood and oxygen to your brain as well as every other part of your body.

This keeps your brain healthy.

Researchers studied a group of participating men and women over 50 who exercised.

Participants were able to recall people, objects and events better than their sedentary counterparts were.


4 - Exercise Defeats Depression and Anxiety


Once again, exercise shows an enormous nonphysical benefit. A depressed individual can make bad life choices, even going as far as suicide. 

Simple consistent exercise proves an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.

A group of older individuals, men and women over 50, who exercised on a regular basis, participated in a study. 

Researchers found that regular physical activity helps reduce episodes of anxiety, stress and depression.

They compared results to sedentary people the same age.

Take care and be well.
Tommy Douglas


Masturbation Is Good For Health: Explicit Content

August 14, 2015


Happy news! Masturbation actually has health benefits

Spring Chenoa Cooper, University of Sydney and Anthony Santella, University of Sydney

Conduct an Internet search for “masturbation,” and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of slang phrases for the act.

This proliferation of slang phrases suggests people want to talk about masturbation, but are uncomfortable about doing so directly. Using comedic terms provides a more socially acceptable way to express themselves.

So before we talk any more about it, let us normalize it a bit. Masturbation, or touching one’s own genitals for pleasure, is something that babies do from the time they are in the womb.

It is a natural and normal part of healthy sexual development.

According to a nationally representative US sample, 94% of men admit to masturbating, as do 85% of women.

But societal perspectives of masturbation still vary greatly, and there is even some stigma around engaging in the act.


Related to this stigma are the many myths about masturbation, myths so ridiculous it is a wonder anyone believes them.

They include:

  • Masturbation causes blindness and insanity
  • Masturbation can make sexual organs fall off
  • Masturbation causes infertility.
In actual fact, masturbation has many health benefits.

Why Masturbation Is Good For You

For women, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of “tenting,” or the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process.


Tenting stretches the cervix, and thus the cervical mucous. This enables fluid circulation, allowing cervical fluids full of bacteria to flush out.

Masturbation can lower risk of type-2 diabetes (though this association may also be explained by greater overall health), reduce insomnia through hormonal and tension release, and increase pelvic floor strength through the contractions that happen during orgasm.

For men, masturbation helps reduce risk of prostate cancer, probably by giving the prostate a chance to flush out potential cancer-causing agents.


Masturbation also improves immune functioning by increasing cortisol levels, which can regulate immune functioning in small doses.

It also reduces depression by increasing the amount of endorphins in the bloodstream.

Masturbation can also indirectly prevent infertility by protecting people from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can lead to infertility – you can not give yourself one of these infections!

There is one final benefit to masturbation: it is the most convenient method for maximizing orgasms.

And there are plenty of additional benefits from orgasms generally, including reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, increased self-esteem, and reduced pain.

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Why Masturbation Is Good For Your Partner

From a sexual health point of view, masturbation is one of the safest sexual behaviors.

  • There is no risk of pregnancy or transmission of sexually transmitted infections
  • There is no risk of disappointing a partner or of performance anxiety
  • There is no emotional baggage
And, only an arm’s length away, is mutual masturbation. Mutual masturbation (two partners who are pleasuring themselves in the company of the other) is a great (and safe) activity to incorporate into other partnered sexual activities.

It can be especially good to begin to learn more about what your partner likes and to demonstrate to your partner what you like.

Open communication with a partner will improve your sex life and relationship, but is also important for modeling communication skills for younger generations.

Talking about masturbation also has benefits.

Promoting sex-positive views in our own homes and in society, including around masturbation, allows us to teach young people healthy behaviors and attitudes without stigma and shame.

Parents and guardians who feel embarrassed or need extra guidance to do this should seek out sex-positive sources of information, like ones from respected universities.

The Conversation
Spring Chenoa Cooper is Senior Lecturer at University of Sydney and Anthony Santella is Lecturer of HIV, STIs and Sexual Health at University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Living and Coping With Alzheimer's Disease

August 10, 2015
old-woman-dementia-Alzheimer's-DiseaseAlzheimer's disease is one form of dementia that affects a person's memory and thinking capacity. It usually progresses through 7 stages as a person ages.

For those that are living with someone with Alzheimer's disease, education, support, legal matters, and probabilities are each essential factors that one must be aware of and have a strategy.


Education is very important when it comes to recognizing the initial warning signs of Alzheimer's disease (memory loss, disorientation, personality change et cetera), what to anticipate, as the person with Alzheimer’s disease gets older, and how to live with the person who has Alzheimer's disease.

memory loss-disorientation-personality change

Misinformation is easy to come by. However, organizations such as Alzheimer Society Canada ( and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America ( source useful information, and provide support for those facing Alzheimer's disease difficulties.

Once a person is aware that the person they live with has the warning signs, the next step would be to get a definite diagnosis by a qualified doctor, who would also be able to suggest support groups that are available, refer the person to other specialists, and present various treatment options.



A person who has Alzheimer's disease should make important decisions (health care, financial) about their future as soon as a diagnosis is made, to be sure that their affairs are in order. They will not be capable of making these decisions later on. Procuring a lawyer will be necessary to get a Power of Attorney.


What to Expect

A realistic expectation of the person with Alzheimer’s disease by those living with them is important. Patience is certainly a virtue, and can be easier to develop once the person knows what to expect.

Alzheimer's disease is not about intelligence, but a loss of memory. Alzheimer's disease affects a person's abilities to function from day to day. They must not be overwhelmed with information since they have trouble with their memory.

Those with Alzheimer's disease respond to what is going on in their environment and this can sometimes be misinterpreted. 

They may appear angry for example, but this may only a protective reaction due to lack of understanding what is happening to them. It is important to remember that this person still has the same needs for a loving caring relationship with others as they did before the disease’s onslaught.

The progressive nature of Alzheimer's disease makes it hard to see it happening because the changes are subtle. Once the people who live with them are aware of this, they will have the understanding to better adjust their expectations. For example, the speech of a person with Alzheimer's disease may become repetitive since they do not remember what they have just said.


As has already been mentioned, help from outside sources is very important. Support groups allow the person living with Alzheimer's disease to relate their experiences, and realize that they are not the only ones in this situation.

Support groups may also help members to learn methods that the other participants are using to deal with those they live with. They might also learn strategies to communicate with friends who do not understand what they are going through.

A person living with one who has Alzheimer's disease should never be hard on themselves, take care of their own health, and realize that they could be dealing with many of their own emotions such as anger and denial.

Living with a person who has Alzheimer's disease can be a challenging. Nevertheless, if a person takes the time to inform himself or herself, finds support from an outside agency or someone else who is in a similar situation, and then learns how to interact with that person, the challenge may not go away, but the journey will be easier.

Take care and be well.
Tommy Douglas


5 Ways To Improve Blood Circulation And Why You Need To

August 9, 2015

Your circulation involves your heart, the arteries, the tiny arterioles, capillaries, venules, veins, and even the lungs that exchange de-oxygenated blood for oxygenated blood, which is what every cell needs in order to have normal cellular processes.

Circulation Is Necessary For Life

· Some parts of the body have what is called “dual circulation,” which means that the arteries have doubled up so that if one is blocked, other arteries can provide circulation to the same area so no cell death occurs.
· Some areas of the body are not so lucky. The heart, for example, has little duplication of arterial supply so that, when an artery is blocked, cell death occurs and you have a heart attack.
· The brain also has very little duplication of arterial supply so that strokes can happen when arteries are blocked.

Blood circulation is necessary for the body to function and remain healthy. Your heart pumps blood through blood vessels throughout the circulatory system. Red blood cells carry oxygen to vital organs, which provides you with energy and vitality.

Together, your vital organs and circulatory system form a unit that works constantly to make sure the body has adequate blood flow. Certain diseases inhibit this flow.


Causes Of Poor Blood Circulation

Blood clots can slow or block blood circulation, and when this happens either a stroke or severe arterial damage can occur. Raynaud's Disease can cause poor blood circulation along with heart disease and deep vein thrombosis.



5 Ways To Improve Your Blood Circulation 

1. Exercise aerobically.

When you do aerobic exercise, the blood flows to all the parts of the body, and the arteries circulate. Exercise is part of a heart-healthy program that gets the blood pumping through the heart and through the arteries of the heart. Exercise is known to decrease your risk of common circulatory disorders, such as heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. 

2. Eat low carbohydrate foods.

Simple carbohydrates and sugars can cause your body to produce more cholesterol. Cholesterol can cause plaque buildup in the inner lining of the arteries. They gradually narrow and eventually narrow so much that the flow of blood through the arteries is so sluggish that blood clots form (these are called thrombi).

If thrombi happen in the brain, you can get a stroke. If thrombi happen in the heart, you can get a heart attack. If thrombi develop in the arteries of the legs, you get peripheral vascular disease.

3. Eat soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber soaks up cholesterol in the gut so that less cholesterol is absorbed by the GI tract. Common sources of soluble fiber include:

o Oatmeal and oat cereal
o Blueberries
o Psyllium
o Oranges
o Apples
o Nuts
o Strawberries
o Beans
o Dried peas
o Flaxseeds
o Carrots
o Celery
o Cucumbers

Soluble fiber, in particular will decrease the amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, which is the kind of cholesterol that makes arterial plaques.

4. Build strong leg muscles.

Circulation is more than just about arteries. In order to keep blood flowing, you need to have your veins bring the blood back from the periphery of your body. Veins that are not supported by strong valves and strong muscles can be sluggish and the flow can stagnate in the legs. This leads to venous dilation called varicose veins.

You can prevent varicose veins and improve your circulation by keeping the muscles of your legs strong, avoiding standing for long periods, and by wearing compression stockings, especially if you do not exercise much or if your job requires long periods of standing.

If the veins become sluggish and dilate, you can get leakage of blood from the veins so that the veins become irritated, creating a condition called superficial thrombophlebitis, a painful condition involving inflammation in veins that have poor circulation.

5. Stop smoking.

Good circulation requires excellent air exchange between the de-oxygenated blood and the oxygenated blood taken in when we breathe fresh, oxygenated air.

Smoking can do damage to the small bubble-like alveoli that are where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange places within the lungs. You need healthy lungs for good circulation and for good air exchange that will provide enough oxygen to tissues in the rest of the body.

Smoking also contributes to vascular disease and increases the risk of various types of heart disease.

Diabetes and Blood Circulation

Those who have diabetes need to pay special attention to overall health and blood circulation by getting regular medical checkups. Diabetes can cause poor blood circulation throughout the whole body, and especially in the feet and legs.

According to the American Diabetes Association, exercise is very important to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of serious complications that poor blood circulation poses in those who have the disease.
Bottom Line

Healthy blood circulation not only makes you healthy, it improves how you look by promoting a healthy skin color and glow.

It also supports and promotes healthy brain function by keeping your mind focused and sharp.

Take care and be well
Tommy Douglas


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