Social Autoimmune Caregiving Media

It's hard to sum up these two very different posts I wrote for HealthCentral this week, hence the mangled title. 

One was about how the RA community connects using social media:

"RA affects one percent of the population. Without actively searching, you'd be lucky to run into another person who lives with the same chronic illness you do. Yet, finding someone who knows exactly what you're going through is on the top of all our wish lists. When I was growing up, the only place I met other kids with JRA was in hospitals and doctors' offices. Even now, I've only met a handful of people who have RA in the part of my life that takes place face-to-face.

Enter the Internet. It has had a revolutionary impact on our ability to connect, person to person and community to community, creating a larger tapestry of people living with RA and other autoimmune diseases."

The rest of that post is here.

November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month and several of the HealthCentral writers were asked to write about various issues related to Alzheimer's. My contribution was an exploration of the link between caregiving for someone with dementia and a higher risk of developing an autoimmune disease:

"Taking care of someone who has dementia is hard (this might be the understatement of the decade). This type of caregiving causes chronic stress so intense that it has a direct effect on your body's ability to support you. Alzheimer caregivers have a higher risk of depression and heart disease, have a harder time fighting infection, their wound healing is delayed and vaccinations don't work as well as in others. These last three aspects indicate an impaired immune response. What happens within your body when you are under this kind of chronic stress? And what is the connection to autoimmune diseases?"

It was a really interesting post to write and I learned a lot. You can read the rest of that post here.