Friday, June 20, 2008

Social Network, Cognitive Function, and Dementia Incidence Among Elderly Women

© photo credit- Kevin Kunz
Social Network, Cognitive Function, and Dementia Incidence Among Elderly Women 

A recent study found that social exposure helped with cognitive functions among elderly women with dementia. The simple act of social exposure seems to impact dementia in positive ways. Could this lead to a revolution in the way dementia and Alzheimer's is treated?

What are the social costs of dementia? And then to be a little bit cold blooded what are the monetary costs. A friend of ours is paying $10,000 a month  for his mother's Alzheimer's care. And yet the stress is still incredibly high. His mother doesn't what to be at the facility. 

In reflexology the head area is represented by the thumb and big toe. Anecdotal stories abound with partial cognitive recovery using reflexology. There is  one dementia study which points to the need for more research.  

"RESULTS: Analysis of variance for repeated measures demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in symptoms of pain, depression and physiologic measures of stress for the residents given reflexology treatment than for those in the control group. CONCLUSION: These clinical findings support the use of reflexology in nursing home residents with mild/moderate dementia." Nancy A. Hodgson, RN, PhD, CS1, Susan Andersen, BS2, and Heather Felker. “Efficacy of Reflexology as a Palliative Treatment in Nursing Home Residents with Dementia: A Pilot Study”

What if there was a program to work with dementia patients with reflexology? If as social contact study shows there was only the social contact it potentially could it help the dementia patient. But what if  there more to the benefits than the social contact that reflexology provides. 

Years ago we met a George Leger in Canada who had gotten permission to go through an Alzheimer's ward to see if he could find a common stress cue. He found a stress cue similar to the photograph above. Out of 21 patients he found 20 had this sign. 

While the feet shown above are not those of an Alzheimer's patient the subject's mother did have Alzheimer's. And a woman in the class that George Leger spoke at also showed a similar stress cue. Again she did not have Alzheimer's but her mother did. 

Note in the photo that the big toe has a kind of outcropping and the second toe rests on it. Often I find people with memory problems frequently have significant contact with other toes. It is as though the constant steady pressure blocks the circuity impinging  on the memory. If a fMRI study can show that pressing on certain parts of the toe s can light up very specific parts of the brain doesn't it stand to reason that the effect of constant steady pressure from toe to toe contact would have an opposite effect.

How can you lose with a program of reflexology? The social contact alone may be of value. But the greater value may be in stimulating the memory that have grown dim. 

Kevin Kunz

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