Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lily sick, purse stolen

Mom has been a little under the weather the last couple of days with a virus.  At our family Christmas gathering a couple members of the family were not feeling up to par and that is probably where she caught her cold.

Also she must have fallen Christmas eve morning or the night before at the nursing home as she had a fresh abrasion on her knee Christmas eve morning when I helped her take a shower here.  She complained of nothing hurting her and had no other bruising or abrasions.  Of course she could not remember the incident.

Two days later she was complaining of her upper right arm hurting her so I wondered if maybe she jammed that shoulder when she perhaps caught herself when falling a couple days before.  I am only speculating. 

I have not seen her today as my car is in the shop getting a key made for it as Emily had her purse stolen yesterday which had the car keys in it.  Naturally we only had that one key.  A new key cost $200!

What happened was Emily and two of her dancer friends went to Yellowsprings to hike at Clifton Gorge.  They left their purses hidden inside the car and someone broke out the window to steal both purses and the GPS. Another car was also vandalized.

When filing a police report the police said the same thing had happened now for 3 days in a row.  Wouldn't you think they might decide to do something.  Apparently they did not want to post a sign as they thought it might keep people away.  I don't know, I kind of think having your car window broken and purses stolen would definitely keep people away as opposed to a sign warning to keep all valuables with you.  Common sense....  does it ever prevail?

Fortunately Emily did not have any money in her purse but did lose 2 gift cards from Starbucks and Trader Joes.  Her friend lost several gift cards as well.  Both girls canceled their credit cards and had to get new drivers licenses today.

So our biggest expense is the car keys but I guess it could have been a lot worse because she could have had her keys for her apartment and car in AZ in it which fortunately she did not as she just had changed purses. 

So now both of my children have been the victim of theft in the last 3 months.
Bah humbug!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seven O'Clock

Driving home from the airport with Emily, Mom looking out and seeing it dark said,

"I don't know if my Mom will be up when I get home."

"Nana, it's only seven o'clock."

"Well, where I come from they are all in bed at seven o'clock."

Emily quickly replied,  "That's because they are all old farts."  which made Lily laugh.

And you know she is right, many of the folks at Bethany are at least in their rooms if not in bed by seven o'clock!  I wonder if that is where she was talking about..........

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Emily is on her way home

Emily is flying home today from Tucson for a 10 day visit.  We are all so excited to have her back with us and I know she can't wait to get back.  She is to arrive at 6:30pm and hopefully the weather coming in will hold till she gets in.

Lily has even remembered this week that Emily is coming home and will be here to greet her as we are having Lily spend the night in her old room tonight.  Hopefully, that will go well and she will adjust like old times.  Time will tell.

Merry Christmas Eve!

me, Lily, and my brother Tim

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Does love slow Alzheimer's disease?

This is my response.
Does caregiver love slow Alzheimer’s?  Interesting question.

I suppose indirectly it does because when you love someone you want the best for them.  You want to treat them like you would like to be treated.  You want to make them happy and you want to see them smile.  You want to hear their laughter and see that sparkle in their eye.  

To do that you must interact with them, stimulate them, touch them, encourage them, and support them.  

So is it the love or is it the stimulation that actually slows Alzheimer disease?  Probably both. 

Looking at infants it has been proven that without touch infants do not thrive.  Even with animals a mother’s licking of her cubs is vitally important to their growth.

Not only is touch good for the body, it appears good for the mind. Studies show that newborns receiving extra touch display greater neurological development. Researchers believe that touch promotes the growth of myelin, the insulating material around nerves that makes nerve impulses move faster.

Perhaps with the Alzheimer’s patient touch does much more than we realize.

And I suppose without love and affection there would be little touch and stimulation.

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Supposedly Cat

This cat which Mom actually gave to me probably 20 years ago sits in her room under a chair.  This is a recent conversation about her.

"That is supposedly a cat."

"She is heavy as hell.  It's too bad she can't walk."

"I like her though.   She is cute."

"She is supposed to be a cat but you can't lift her."

"Too bad she can't talk."

"And she hasn't ate anything in  a year."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spices good for your brain

I was reading recently an AARP article talking about several spices which research shows help the brain.
I am trying to incorporate several of them in my diet just in case they really do help my brain function.

  • Tumeric   A university study showed that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, which gives curry its yellow color broke up brain plaques of amyloid beta, the abnormal protein buildup in the Alzheimer brain.
  • Ginger     A combo of ginger and feverfew staved off migraine headaches. It is also an antiseptic and antioxidant, great for digestion and burning of calories.
  • Garlic    May fight brain cancer and has many heart healthy benefits
  • Cinnamon  speeds the rate at which your brain processes visual cues.  It regulates blood sugar levels which helps you stay focused.  May help patients slow or prevent Alzheimer's disease.
  • Saffron twice daily dose of this herb works as well as prozac in treating mild to moderate depression.
A while back I placed Lily on cinnamon as I had read that it helped stabilize blood sugar  and perhaps help with cognition and slowing of the Alzheimer process.  I feel the cinnamon did help mom but of course this is subjective and could be coincidental but at this point what do we have to lose?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Conversation with Emily

Lily talks to Emily in Tucson usually at least once per week by phone.  A typical conversation goes like this,

"Any boyfriends yet?"

"No, Nana."

"Why not?  What's going on?"

"What would you do?"

"I would talk with them, laugh with then...............But you will be all night with them and I wouldn't like that.  I don't know him."

"Me neither, Nana.  That is the problem."

"You should get married.  People do that you know."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brownies caroling

Today Lily's great granddaughter Hannah's brownie troop caroled for the residents in the Memory Support Center.  All of them seemed to really enjoy the young girls singing, but I have to say Lily really got into it.  She was smiling, singing at times, clapping, and broke into a dance with Caleb, her great grandson.

The girls sang a very cute and funny rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas.   In this number each girl would step forward to sing her line.  At Hannah's turn she stepped forward singing, "I have to go to the bathroom," and Lily broke out laughing out loud.

The girls ended the singing with We Wish You a Merry Christmas and passed out homemade cards to all the residents.

Hannah  next to the girl in the green hat

Lily enjoying the singing

"I have to go to the bathroom!"

dancing with Caleb

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lily's bracelets

Lily showing me the Christmas bracelet the residents made with the activities staff.

  and on her other wrist was her bracelet with the unit monitor which I had to redesign as her old one broke.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lily's LuLu's ~ One Bed

On one of the many vacations we took with Lily, we stopped in South Carolina and requested two hotel rooms. The hotel did not have any double bed rooms left so we had to get two rooms with king size beds. 

Naturally my husband and I took one which left one for my seventeen year old son, my twenty-one year old daughter, and "Lily". 

My six foot two son Ryan offered to sleep on the floor, but apparently he soon realized how uncomfortable that would be. He jumped into the bed with the "girls" and wrapped his arms around his grandma saying, "Nana, I'm going to sleep in bed with you tonight.

Agreeing that the bed would be much more comfortable than the floor, Lily turned to him and said,

                                 "BUT DON'T TELL MY MOM!"

(I don't have a picture of this but the picture I do have gives you some idea of how this might have looked.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

A military family in distress

My running buddy Denise suggested to me that I should share this story on my blog with an appeal to my readers for well wishes and support for my friend Tammy and her family.

Tammy, George, and their 3 children have given so much of themselves to their country.  Both George and their oldest son are in the military.  George just came back from being deployed in Afghanistan and their son is presently serving there now.

I am sure Tammy,  as any mother and wife would,  has spent many a sleepless night worried over the safety of her husband and son while they have served overseas in combat.

Who would ever have predicted their middle child twenty year old Justin, safe here in the USA, would be killed in an automobile accident last week in Phoenix where Tammy was raised and her parents still live.

Tammy had just opened up an antique store in Waynesville and spent weeks preparing for the big Waynesville holiday weekend.   She was at her shop when her husband George had to deliver the devastating news.  So instead of tending shop and looking forward to the holidays, she and her family headed out to Phoenix to bury their son and brother.

Being a military family George and family have limited connections in the Dayton area having only been here about one year so we (the neighbors) are rallying to fill a basket of well wishes and shower them with cards.

If any of you out there would care to send them a card to let them know this community cares,  please forward to me addressed to Tammy and George at 1193 Timberhawk Trail Dayton Oh 45458.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pictures from the Caregiver's Ball

The Alzheimer's Association gala which was dubbed the Caregiver's Ball was a lovely event providing food, music, fun, and fellowship.

Initially I thought it was an event only for patients and families from the retirement village but it actually included Alzheimer patients and families living in the community and associated with the Alzheimer Association.

The event was the brainchild of a man named Erik who had always dreamed of hosting a Caregiver's Ball and his dream came true this night.  He hopes to make this an annual event.

Seated at our table was a couple named James and Ethel whom we enjoyed pleasant conversation.  James was a handsome 63 years old man who had been diagnosed 3 years prior with Alzheimer's.  Initially he was quiet and a little withdrawn, but as dinner progressed he smiled more often and pounded the rock (hitting knuckles) with Ryan several times.  His wife, Ethel, a beautiful elegant woman,  works full time and spoke very highly of the Alzheimer Association and all that she had learned through them from their caregivers series.  I also learned from her that there is an adult day care center north of town that does offer evening and weekend hours which is wonderful.  That is the only one in town that I know of offering alternative hours.  Since she works for an organization requiring evening board meetings this has been a life saver to her as their children live out of town.

Following dinner we adjourned to another room for music and dancing.  Below are some pictures from this magical evening.

looking at Xmas cards while waiting for Dan and Ryan

What's this?
Oh a little wine?

You're here......
Off we go
The Band
The belle of the ball dancing with Ryan and Dan.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My wedding pictures 1983

Wow!  Don't we look young.
Lily and her best friend Nita
Lily all dressed up     
Always the center of attention and no that is not her crutch.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Admiring the flowers in the dining room

The 24 residents  live in a pod of private rooms with 2 dining halls which each seat a group of 12.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Greeting Ryan at Thanksgiving break


Visiting in her room


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lily's Favorite German Saying Take 2

Found this second video of Emily recording Lily's favorite German saying.  Had to post it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

AFA to Hold the Nation's First Alzheimer's Disease Telethon December 4

 Alzheimer Reading Room has a great article on an upcoming telethon to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's disease.  I say,  "About damn time!"  Follow the link below for further information.

AFA to Hold the Nation's First Alzheimer's Disease Telethon December 4

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Does your exercise history play a role in developing Alzheimers?

When I reflect on the article I posted yesterday regarding the correlation between exercise as a teenager and  cognition in later life,  I think back to the amount of exercise I received as a youngster growing up in USA verses Lily growing up in Ireland.

Looking at different stages in my life exercise was never structured until I started sporadic exercise programs, ie. jazzercise, yoga, etc.,  in my twenties.

Growing up in the Seattle area till age 7  where the weather was temperate and the TV limited I am sure I spent most days outside riding bikes, following creeks, and playing with other kids.

Once we moved to Dayton at age 7 the cold winter weather limited exercise to sledding on snow days and indoor play for many months out of the year.  I was never involved in any sports except one summer I played softball till the ball hit me in the eye and that was the end of that! Of course, during the summer months I was outside from morning to dinner often skipping lunch, so much so, I started to become faint probably from low blood sugar and Lily insisted I come home for lunch.

My time as an early teenager was probably my most sedentary period when I was "too old to play."  Other than gym class  I did do some random jobs such as raking leaves, babysitting, and cleaning which provided some exercise, but not until I started to work at McDonalds did my activity pick up.

Other than work, in my later teens I participated in little exercise which was unlike my own children who throughout their childhood and teen years participated in organized sports and dance receiving at least 10 to 20 hours per week of exercise.

In my 30's and 40's I  usually walked my dogs everyday at a brisk pace and participated in random exercise classes.

Not until age 50 when I started to run marathons did I start regularly exercising with high intensity and continue that till this day.

Now Lily on the other hand grew up in Dublin in the city till about age 5 and then moved out to the country where she lived on a farm till about age 14.  I know she used to always say she had to walk 5 miles to and from school each day.   Didn't we all hear that from our parents?   Lily was known to exaggerate so whether the 5 miles is true or not we can only surmise.

Lily did not participate in any sports so other than walking and playing as a child that would be about it.  I know she was the baby and was spoiled so she did not have to do many chores (this tidbit directly from Mom years ago).  Hard to believe that happened in Ireland on a farm back in the 30's.

Lily moved to England to be with her sister in her late teens and worked in a hospital while there as an aide so I am sure her late teens and early twenty's were a little more active. She also spoke of going out to the dance halls in England with her girlfriends. Other than dance, walking,  and work that would be it for exercise.

Lily often said exercise was a bunch of crap and would never participate in it.  She would say something like,  "Why should I do that and make myself hurt all over?"  She admonished me often for exercising telling me I would hurt myself.

She became a widow at 32 and once the kids moved out she took care of the yard and house by herself which was her only source of exercise and not a small job I might add. In her 60's and 70's she loved to garden and would spend all day outside in good weather playing with the dirt and plants.

So if the assumption in that article is correct my children should be good as long as they don't become slugs in later life.

As for me I wished I exercised more diligently before age 50.

And Lily.... I guess she fits the premise of the article and did get Alzheimer's.  Other than normal household activities she did not participate in any form of exercise nor did she ever take daily brisks walks. However, with that said, I suspect growing up in Europe that she walked everywhere receiving more exercise than would be normal for here which does not bode well for the young people these days who do not participate in organized sports or exercise classes and spend a good deal of time with tv and video games.

As I have said before I personally feel exercise is the best defense against or at least slowing down this disease.  I feel if nothing else exercise gets the juices flowing protecting the pipes from a build up of rust and that has to be a good thing.  Right?

Please feel free to comment on  the exercise profile of your loved ones with this disease and how you feel exercise might have affected them..

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teenage exercise lowers risk of later life dementia

Recently an article was published in the local paper by Marjie Gilliam an international Sports Sciences Master certified personal trainer entitled "Exercise may lower risk of dementia."  I will briefly summarize the article.

Studies show men and women over age of 65 that exercise at least 15-30 minutes at least three times per week were less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease even if they were genetically predisposed to the disease.  "Although women who are physically active have a lower risk of cognitive impairment in late life compared to those who are sedentary, physical activity during teenage years appears to be most important in reducing this risk of cognitive impairment in later life."

How surprising that this study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found being physically active as a teenager is most  important in preventing cognitive impairment.  The research also found that the women who didn't exercise as teenagers but became physically active at age 30 and 50 had significantly reduced odds of cognitive impairment relative to those who remained sedentary.

There is evidence to suggest that exercise has a positive effect on brain plasticity and cognition while reducing the rates and severity of vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes., each of which are associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment.

"Low physical activity levels in today's youth may mean increased dementia rates in the future."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote for the day

Before we pass judgment on others, before we lecture or scold, Dr. Montessori asked us to stop and answer these three questions about our own words:
“Is it true? “

“Is it necessary?”

“Is it kind?”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Picking Lily Up

My son Ryan is home for Thanksgiving.  This morning he went to pick up Lily to bring her home.  When they arrived home, I said, "Mom were you excited to see Ryan?"

"Yes, I couldn't believe he came to my school to pick me up."  she said with a big grin on her face.

"I guess he just couldn't wait and when I saw him I just about flipped."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bell Choir

Fascinating video of dementia patients at the Memory Support Center playing the bells. Yes, hey are clued in by the leader but I am amazed how well they respond and how good they sound.

If you look close you will see Lily acknowledging me at the beginning of the clip. Towards the end of the clip Lily is spurring her neighbor on when she wasn't quick enough with her bell.

Amazing the wonder of music with the memory impaired.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Captured on this video is my sister-in-law Paula telling Lily about her experience watching HGTV. This story has been told to Lily almost every time the two of them get together. Lily loves this story and her reaction is almost identical each and every time she hears it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Soon after mom came to live with me I thought often of writing about her and all we were going through.  At that time though it was hard for me to find the humor in the situation.  Learning to deal with another family member in your house takes some getting used to and not just for me but the rest of the family.

Looking back at the first year and the year prior to that I really only remember the hard times and the very difficult circumstances we had to work through dealing with trying to help her long distance over the phone with:

  • taking her medications daily
  • trying to find help getting her pill box set up
  • dealing with nursing agencies who did not understand how to deal with an Alzheimer patient
  • dealing with mom calling crying on the phone that she couldn't find her cat or her cat was sick or she was sick 
  • she couldn't find her purse or 
  • dealing with difficult family members  who did not understand, were not helpful, and actually made things much harder for me 

                                  and..................the list goes on.

I drove to SC every few months to check on her and bring her back to Dayton.  Initially she would stay with us for a couple weeks and that grew to about 6 weeks and, of course, eventually she moved in.

Gradually things got better or perhaps we just learned to adjust.  Learning to look for the humor in the situation helped immensely.  And that is where blogging came in to the picture.  I am thankful every time I think of how blogging has changed  my life.

I am thankful for my friend Robin who after vacationing with me and Lily encouraged me to begin.

I am thankful for Bob Burkle who gave me such an uplifting comment at the beginning of my blogging which was a great motivator.

I am thankful for the friends that encouraged me after I began--
Leigh Ann, Paula,Anne, Linda, Sande, Terry and Lynn.

I am thankful for my friend Bob DeMarco at the Alzheimer Reading Room has set a high standard for me to aspire to and has encouraged me greatly along the way.  I also appreciate the many comments I have received from my posts published on his site.

I am thankful for my new friends in the blogging community such as
Debbie, and Karen who leave frequent comments on my posts.  Comments mean so much as they validate what you write and keep the juices alive.

I am thankful for Denyse (my miles that matter friend) who has been my number one fan and a great energy boost for me.

I appreciate all the followers of my blog and the anonymous comments I have received  and those from people such my former neighbor's mother Cindy.

I am thankful for Nienie's stories of her family and the challenges she faces each and every day..

I am thankful for the inspiration  I receive from the bloggers who are living the disease in a much more personal way such as Mike Donohue, Sue Scoggins, and Karen

I am thankful for cousin-in-law Sue who is a fabulous writer herself and so encourages me and gives me wonderful feedback on my pieces.

I am thankful for my wonderful family who are there for me and have helped me so much with Lily along the way.

Yes, blogging has added so much to my life and without Lily none of this would have have happened.  I am thankful for the opportunity to make something good out of an unwanted situation.  Kind of like the proverbial make lemonade out of lemons.

Lastly, I want to thank God for all he has brought into my life and the grace and mercy he has shown me.

I wish all of you a very wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving 2009

With Thanksgiving upon us, I looked back on video from last year when we go around the table telling what we give thanks for. Lily needed a little bit more prompting than usual with the family teasing her along the way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Exercise Improves Cognition

I have a close friend out in Colorado who is the Director of the Cardiac Rehab Program at a hospital near Denver.  She recently was telling me about a middle aged male patient diagnosed with early Alzheimer's who came in following a cardiac event for rehab.
 His doctor had ordered a minimum amount of moderate intensity sessions for him to complete.

When he first started the staff had to apply a safety belt and stay with with him constantly repeating instructions to his repetitive questions and watching to be sure he did not change the settings.  He was not appropriate and initially they were questioning his ability to participate.

Before long the staff started noticing positive changes in him.  He became more appropriate, less repetitive, and more engaged.   His family and doctor noticed the difference also and his doctor told him he was not quitting and ordered 30 more sessions for him.

My friend was amazed and excited the difference that the exercise made in regards to his cognitive function.

Personally I try to exercise every day at least 30 minutes and often bring Lily with me on walks around the block.   I believe exercise has made a  difference in her mood and engagement.   The exertion, fresh air, sunshine, and added stimulus all make for a positive experience.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Conan O'Brien

While dropping Lily off after an evening out at the Dublin Pub, her evening caregiver Rachel said to me that they were watching Conan O'Brien the other evening and Lily asked them, "Who he was?" 

So they told her and she said,  "I think I knew him when I was young" which they thought was cute and funny.

I said to them, "Well, I know where she got that from.  Her sister Peg was married to Con O'Brien!"

So, you see, she was not too far off!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lily I'm Back!

I arrived at the Memory Support Center yesterday to find Lily in good spirits and happy to see me.

"Where have you been?"

"Mom, I was in Arizona visiting Emily."

"How long were you gone?"

"One week."

"Is that all.  I thought you were gone about 3 weeks."

I assured her I wasn't and I then started to tell her about my trip as I escorted her back to her room to help her shed 4 of the 5 layers of clothing she had on.

As I was taking her picture to show the layers of clothing she let me know what she thought about that!

In her room she showed me a bouquet of flowers and I noticed a tin of bear claws.

"Look what I got."

"Who are they from."

"I don't know.  I have been trying to figure that out."

A couple minutes later she again showed me the flowers and we repeated the above exchange because oftentimes Mom may remember a detail later that she couldn't pull up just a minute before.  Sure enough she said,

"They told me Traci sent them."

"Who's Traci?"  (my sister)

"I don't know who Traci is."

However, later on in the morning she remembered Traci easily.

"Of course, I remember Traci."

So there you go -- the various windows of the Alzheimer's affected mind.

I spoke to the staff who said she did fine while I was away.  Rachel, her 2nd shift caregiver said the first couple of days she was a little agitated, but then was her usual self.  The activities gal gave me a run through of all they had done, and I could tell how much she enjoys Lily and all that Lily brings to the group.

I was pleased to know that Lily did ok while I was gone.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back from Tucson

Arrived home yesterday after a wonderful visit with Emily.  I need a vacation now after spending the week shopping, shopping, and more shopping helping her decorate her small apartment.  I found with the help of Aunt Mollie and Sue some wonderful deals at local thrift stores.  We found a $40 chair, $16 dinette table, $5 coffee table, and a $25 night stand.  Found I enjoyed thrift shopping and looking for the treasures.

Plan to see Lily today and will post about that later.  My friend and neighbor Anne went to visit her while I was away and found her well, in good spirits, and dressed in multiple layers as usual.  I checked on her from Tucson by phone and the staff said she was doing fine with a lingering cough.  I missed Mom and am looking forward to seeing her.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RIP Carl Day

A good friend of Miles that Matter (my running group) and a well known TV personality in Dayton passed away.  Carl Day known as the Voice of Dayton was a wonderful man who I felt very honored to have met.  My running friend Denise had a very special friendship with him and was a great comfort to him and his family.  Below are pictures from the WPAF marathon 2009.

Leigh Ann, myself, and Carl Day

Picture of the big screen as Carl (in center with walker) crosses the finish line with Miles that Matter.

Carl Day and Denise (to his right)

Tucson Pictures

    Catalina mountains ("Emily's Mountain") in Tucson which she can see from her picture window.  This picture was actually taken from the top (5th floor) of the downtown Tucson parking garage where her dance company "New Articulations" performed.

The Audience at New Articulations dance show

The backdrop for the dancers

The Dancers

Dinner after the show with Aunt Mollie and Sue.  Their last night in Tucson.