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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Illness March 18, 2014

When my children were young, I was always so upset when they were sick-- and so fortunate that none of them was sick often or severely-- but as parents, we worry. What can we do to make them comfortable? When do we need to see the physician? When do we need antibiotics or just let the flu or cold run  its course?

This week, my husband is ill; he has a chest cold and similar to his behavior during the many years when he was healthy, he wants nothing more than to be left alone when he is sick. But just as when my children were young, my husband who has Alzheimer's disease cnnot tell me his symptoms, cannot make good decisions regarding his health or anything else and it is so hard to just sit there, hold his hand, place a cold cloth on his forehead, give him tea with honey and let him rest.

It seems as if he has aged ten years in the past week; he no longer greets me as someone special in his life. I am merely one of the kind people who care for him on a daily basis. It is so sad to see his stooped form walkng slowly from the dining table to the recliner, relating to no one, eating very little.

What can I do? I can increase my diligence to advocating for this disease, to advocate for increased funding to provide research to find a cure for this devastating slow deteriorating brain disease -and to refute claims by some that this disease is merely the result of an aging brain!!!

My grandson and I had a late brakfast at our favorite restaurant ysterday and overheard a conversation at another two tables. At one table a man sat alone, a widower for 30 years who said his children swore to disown him and never let him see his grandchildren again if he dated or married another woman, an edict he has followed all these years!  A man across from him, a minister, said his wife is in a home; she has Alzheimer's disease and was diagnosed in 2001. His seatmate lost his wife to Alzheimer's disease 4 years ago. 

Maybe it is because I live in a state with a large population of older adults, maybe I listen for these stories more now, but when I spoke at a church last Sunday, almost everyone's hand went up when I asked how many folks knew someone who has Alzheimer's disease. I think the incidence has been increasing. Is it because we live longer now?

Friday, March 14, 2014

New finding in blood test for Alzheimer's disease --explained March 14, 2014

Much has been written in the past few days about a new study which has produced a blood test which  will some day be able to tell if you will get Alzheimer's disease. 

But if that's all you know, you are not well- enough informed. So let me share what knowledge I have about the test , the prognosis and what some of us have already chosen to help ourselves--and you can, too.

The study took healthy, nonsymptomatic 70 year olds as their subjects and tested their blood. Then they followed these people and discovered that some of them developed symptoms of mild cognitive decline or Alzheimer's disease a mere two years later!. The researchers went back to the lab with their new blood samples and began to compare.

They found that 90% of the folks who developed Alzheimer's disease or mild Cognitive Impairment had low levels of lipids in their blood at age 70. So far, the researchers have not stated which lipids were lower and they have not compared their results with the tau and beta amyloid studies, so this test is just at the beginning stages of development.

What are lipids?
Lipids are organic compounds that contain the same elements as carbohydrates: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. However, the hydrogen-to-oxygen ratio is always greater than 2:1. More important for biological systems, the carbon-to-hydrogen bonds are nonpolar covalent, which means that lipids are fat soluble and will not dissolve in water. There are four biologically important lipids:
  • Fats
  • Waxes
  • Phosolipids
  • Steroids

Read more: The Chemistry of Biology: Lipids |

What can we do? What has my physician already started me doing?
We can make sure we eat enough Omege-3's and other fatty acids, eat peanut oil and olive oil and reduce our worry about cholesterol, unless we are advised by our cardiologists that we have heart disease. Be avised that beyond cancer and heart disease, Alzheimer's disease is the largest cause of death in this country right now.

Friday, March 7, 2014

When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens March 7, 2014

For spouses or live-at-home adult children, caring for someone we love begins slowly. First it feels like a good, helpful thing to be of assistance to a formerly independent person. I never knew how I could help my husband; he knew how to do everything he needed for himself. It was even difficult to plan a gift for him as he bought what he wanted when he felt the need or desire.

But slowly he became dependent on me and my world narrowed to be with him which I enjoyed until the balance between us shifted significantly and I became his caregiver--and nothing else. There wasn't room, physically or emotionally. I felt drained.

I discovered journalling to relieve my stress and the computer permitted me to be present for my husband and write until I had enough material  to write a book.

Not all caregivers find this particular outlet, but we all need to find something other than caregiving to sustain us. Support groups help because other friends and family sometimes don't understand the stresses of caregiving a person with dementia-related illnesses. We need to have other outlets because when the final separation occurs, it always seems so sudden and the world of the caregiver feels empty.

In one of my support groups now, six members continue to participate altough they have lost their spouses or parent. In the other support group three members continue to participate after their spouses passed away. Those of us whose spouses or parent reside in a memory care unit are having difficulty transitioning from caregiver to single adult.

I have continued writing and my second book The Secret Key-A Journey of Discovery Generations After the Holocaust has been accepted for publication by Inkwell Productions who will also reissue Put That Knife Away. I will continue to speak with groups about Alzheimer's disease and I have begun work on what will now be my third book which will describe the difficult process of placing a loved one in a care setting outside his/her home, probably titled The Trauma of Out of Home Placement.

Stay tuned!