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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday's Science News for February 28, 2012

The NY Times Science section has many articles on colds and flu today because people are getting sick lately. My grandson, Grant, was home from school for several days with a high fever and no other symptoms; throat culture came back negative, the antibiotic didn't help as the virus simply had to run its course. The articles state that people catch colds more frequently if they don't wash their hands often or if they touch their noses and mouths with their fingers frequently; nothing new there. Another article states that we are more susceptible to the viruses on surfaces if we are tired or if our circadian rhythms are disturbed as they are with jet lag. We also know that the body uses sleep to repair itself.Another column points to the cold-transferer who is more infectious the first few days than afterwards and to the temperature and humidity which effect the length of lifetime of the virus.
Pair this information with another article which links non-dementia cognitive impairment with the use of anticholinergic drugs. These drugs include dramamine and benedryl plus medications for insomnia, intenstinal or urinary tract disorders. Unlike dementia, this memory loss and cognitive decline is reversible. Doctors, pharmacists and we patients, need to be aware of what we are taking and perhaps why we are feeling lethargic or mentally sluggish during this cold and flu season.
I found these articles reassuring because my mother's tried and true preventive health measures have been validated by science and  my feelings of lower than usual mental functionning may not necessarily be due to developing dementia. I may be tired, my body may be fighting a cold or I may just be low on omega-3 fatty acids and need to eat more fish.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

100 words for Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bob did not see me for a few days, so when I visited him I didn’t know what to expect. A young male worker saw him exiting his room, and walked over to my husband before I crossed the large living room. “Bob, look who’s here,” he exclaimed. “Look, it’s your wife, here to see you,” he added, much to my dismay. Bob looked up and said, “I’m glad you’re here.” He hugged me and kissed me, holding on to the book in his hand. “Take this book home with you. It’s an important book. We need to keep it.”

We walked and talked, examining the 75 year issue of Life magazine. We have travelled to many of the sites pictured in this issue and Bob attended as I described our long-ago visits. We sat outdoors for a short while “I want to sit in the sun,” he said clearly, but once there, he needed to leave as it was “too hot here.” After convincing Bob it was a good idea to keep his prize in his bookcase, he agreed, put the book on a shelf, turned to me and said, “I wish I could live closer to you.”
So do I.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Loss and acceptance

A year ago, four women met at the Arbor Rose support group; we had all entered our husbands into residential senior care during the past month. We supported each other in our independently-made decisions, each after many years of constant around-the-clock caregiving. We cried, we laughed, we joked, we made plans for how much time we would spend visiting at the care facilities and how we would resume once-loved activities which had been put on hold for so many years.
We met on two Fridays a month then, as we do now. Only now, two of those men have died of complications related to their Alzheimer's disease. Each remained in the care facility without having to go to the hospital; both had the benefit of caring hospice doctor and nurses visiting them at their bedside and providing comfort. Each had been visiting with relatives and even to the movies at Christmas time a mere two months ago.
One family returned to their home state where all of the rituals took place; the other, who will be buried at the national military cemetery in Arizona was remembered at a service that the support group members could attend.
The women describe themselves as doing quite well; they have lawyers to see, wills to execute and miss their well spouses, but both women accept that most of their grieving was done as the pieces of their husbands disappeared along with the progression of this devasting disease.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


It is so rewarding for me to receive the responses by email, by phone and by reviews from folks who have read "the book." Even adult children who were caregivers to parents who have since passed, read the book and wish it had been available when they were experiencing the isolation of caregiving while they, unfortunately, relive their experiences by reading about my family's journey. It is also rewarding to see that Arbor Rose Senior Care will now distribute copies of the book to prospective day club and resident's families.

I can't say enough good things about Arbor Rose Memory Care Center. Yesterday, my son Steve couldn't find Bob in the residence or in the Day Club. Arriving back at the residence after a caregiver phoned the residence to find where Bob was spending his time, Steve found him with a caregiver in the laundry room, "helping" to fold his laundry. Bob loves following the staff around, especially the young women, of course. Everyone treats him warmly, offering hugs along with a smile and words of encouragement.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's Science News-Happy Valentine's Day to Us All

Let's celebrate the day by doing a kindness for three people today, whether it's a visit or a telephone call to someone who is homebound or alone, time spent with a child or a senior, a smile and a donation to a homeless person on the street or a hug and a meaningful moment with someone you meet by chance during your hectic day. If it works, each of us will benefit from your generosity of spirit; then try being emotionally generous all week.

Today's NY Times Science News has an article titled "Tables Reserved  For Only the Fittest." It describes multiple level independent living, assisted living and nursing care facilities that now limit who can eat in which dining rooms.
I have thought about this question for the past year from both sides of the dilemma. When my husband first entered the assisted living community, he had perfect table manners, used his utensils appropriately, but he did not converse with the others at his table, except for an occasional angry, inappropriate comment, addressed to another person at the table.The others at the table complained and Bob was moved to a two person table with another also combative, former soldier with whom it was thought he would be more compatible.
Bob, however, complained about the wheelchairs and walkers, not wanting to compare himself with "those old people." One day, he was so agitated when I walked in after lunch, Bob asked for my son Steve "who could fix this problem." He actually had a fist fight with his eating partner because, Bob said, "the man couldn't admit he was wrong." About what? Bob had no recollection. Only the emotion remained.
As Bob's eating skills declined, I felt he needed more personal assistance in the dining room. This was my first indication that Bob needed to move to a memory care unit. Now, he sits calmly with five others, his food is either soft or in small pieces removing the need for a knife, he eats whatever is served and he is content.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 words for Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tracy, my manicurist who has Vietnamese parents, a husband and two small children, overhears my conversation with a neighbor at the pedicure station. She empathizes with my feelings of separation from my husband due to his illness, but reports, “I know how you feel. I cannot share my deepest thoughts and feelings with my husband anymore, because when we fight, he brings up these things to argue back at me. People in your generation and my parents’ share everything with each other, but in my generation all they want to talk about is shopping and sex. I feel lonely too.”
How many feelings her comment stirred in me. First, that I have truly been blessed in my mid-life relationship with Bob. We actually did share our lives with each other and listened when each one spoke.Before his illness, we fought generally once a year, on vacation and that was frequently about directions, walking or driving in a foreign country.
I also understand that the pace of life is so much faster now, lives are so much busier and "the good life" still as elusive as before, that rewards count even more than they did when I was young. Why else push ourselves so hard unless it IS for the brand name gizmo or gadget we can now purchase? The search for fun and excitement is sought by both partners, but since vacation time is so short and seldom do the couples have alone time together when they are not both exhausted, it is no wonder people are often disappointed in each other, while feeling they are each doing the best they can.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reversal of Alzheimer's disease in mice

An existing cancer treatment has been found to remove 50% of plaques in Alzheimer diseased mice. The mice who formerly "forgot" how to make a nest from facial tissue, after receiving the medication used the tissue to make a nest. Others who had previously been given a shock when they entered a cage and repeatedly re-entered the cage anyway, didn't enter the cage after the treatment with this drug.
Trials in humans will begin within a few months because this drug is already FDA approved. The researchers suggest much caution as they report they have previously found chemicals that reverse Alzheimer's disease in mice which have no effect on humans.Putting this information together with the finding last week in separate research that Alzheimer's disease travels from cell to cell, this drug is still far from curing the disease, even if it works to remove plaque that has already been formed by the destruction of material within the cell.
There is money being spent on research, not enough it's true; the media are keeping Alzheimer's disease on page one. These are good signs which focus attention on the need for better treatments and a cure for Alzheimer's soon.Reversal of Alzheimer's disease in mice

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday's Science News

HEALTH  | February 02, 2012(New York Times front page)
Path Is Found for the Spread of Alzheimer's
"The discovery in studies of mice solves a mystery surrounding the disease's grim march and has immediate implications for developing treatments, researchers said."
Exciting new laboratory findings indicate that Alzheimer's disease may spread from cell to cell in the brain much like a virus. Thus, treatments could now be developed to stop that transfer and potentially halt the disruption of the brain.
I know that treatments will be quite a long way off for now, and will not effect the outcome of our loved ones or even of ourselves, but perhaps of our children and grandchildren. It  is so important to support the President's Initiative to develop a comprehensive plan in 2012 for Alzheimer's research and treatment. Go to the Alzheimer's Association website and sign the petition Loud and Clear now. There are 90,000 signatures. They need 250,000. Show your support. If Alzheimer's disease has touched your life, support this plan.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

100 Words for Sunday, February 4, 2012

From the glass of Harvey’s to put me to sleep to the split of champagne to celebrate, this has been a week of mixed feelings. From anxiety and fear to relief and concern, from overwhelmed to grateful, I feel love and compassion from my family and from the new senior care facility staff. My husband is placid, agreeable, but understandably confused; everyone loves his habits. He shares his books—the one about Einstein drew many smiles—and his Matchbox cars and trucks, each markered with his name, with any staff member he sees. Fortunately for us, this change IS good.
Actually, I wrote another set of 100 words for today before I thought of this one. Here it is:
I drive up to the single story building; for the first time, the door is locked as the residents are inside. My knock is immediately answered by Stephen, the newly promoted Manager of the Memory Care Unit, wearing the Arbor Rose red t-shirt, but he’s entitled to a black, collar-t   now. No taller than I, he wears two earrings dotting his curly dark hair, surrounding his younger-than-he-must-be smile.
“Hi,” he says, “he’s right there, carrying a book.” Bob greets me with a kiss and says, “I am so confused.” Then he sits in his lounge chair and takes a nap.
So we can all see that no matter how grateful I am that the move went well and that my decision to move him to the memory care unit was the right one, there is no avoiding the fact that this move was necessitated by the unrelenting progression of my husband's Alzheimer disease, which is so sad. Although I can rejoice in the small miracles that occur, carrying the weight of his illness tires me profoundly. Someone asked me if I still consider myself a full-time caregiver when my husband no longer lives at home; Bob and his well-being remain the center of my life.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Misson Accomplished

My friend Adele calls it " a precise military action, complete with secrets, subterfuge, and coordinating units operating together."
True, on Tuesday, Bob was taken on a bus ride, so we could get his new room decorated. On Wednesday, I am with Bob at the fruit and vegetable stand to purchase a bag of oranges to donate to his new community while the finishing touches are being made to his room by Linda and Austin, when I get a call that the residents were eating lunch at the Day Club, which Bob has not liked in the past. We switched plans, and all met at the Village Inn for lunch.
Steve took Bob with him to get Steve's truck washed to spend some time after lunch while Linda and I cleaned out Bob's old room; until Steve called, fearing Bob had had an "accident" which needed immediate attention. We all met at the new home; Bob allowed the caregiver to attend to his "false alarm" as we waited to see his reaction to the new environment.
When Bob willing accompanied a worker to the Day Club for snack, we left to meet the volunteers who were collecting the furniture. "My fantasy," I shared with Linda, "would be that we get back there and the volunteers have already come and gone and the room is empty."
Wish fulfilled, as Leslie informed us when we arrived at Mesa House.
Working as a well-oiled machine, my family and I accomplished this move for our beloved, sweet husband, stepfather and grandfather without any need for him to feel anxiety or concern, only love.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Very Busy Week

There is absolutely no time for me to read the New York Times this week. It is moving week. Yesterday, Linda and Dave met me at the care facility at 10:30. My task was to distract Bob as they moved his bookcase, easy chair and four boxes of books to Bob's new home across the street at Arbor Rose. However, when we arrived, Bob was standing in the foyer, holding Ashley's hand. She informed me they were going on a scenic drive!
We had ample time to hang pictures and to make Bob's room look comfy.
Steve and I walked Bob over the day before, just to have a look around. When Bob saw the room, he put his hands in his pocket, upset. "I don't have any money," he exclaimed, thinking this is a hotel room.
On Tuesday afternoon, I returned to visit. Bob and I sat for an hour on a glider outdoors in the sun. He talked about how lucky he feels, "just to sit here with the sun on my neck, holding your hand. It makes me feel warm, like a good connect." This was such a clear thought, I felt tears forming in my eyes. As he continued with unintelligible words, he even said, "I'm not making any sense now." And he was right again!
Today, Austin and Linda will come to move Bob's headboard and bed frame because the new one is too high for us short folk to sit on comfortably. They will move the picture of the Brookyln skyline from the wall above his bed, so when Bob and I return from our scenic ride his room will be perfect. We will have lunch with Steve at Arbor Rose and Steve will keep Bob company as Linda and I clean out the old space and donate the rest of his furniture to Furniture for Hope, an organization that helps homeless people when they obtain apartments, to furnish them.
Meanwhile, the press release for Put That Knife Away has been distributed to 1825 outlets and the emails and requests for review copies are flooding my inbox.