Friday, January 30, 2009

Creativity, Productivity, and Leisure

from Creativity, Productivity, and Leisure

"The nerve-jangling pressure of lengthy daily "to do" lists can leach away energy. The thought of adding more items to the list may fill you with more dismay than delight, even if the addition is relaxation, creativity, or time with a loved one. Yet when you refresh yourself in ways that are meaningful to you, you add to your stock of energy and joy. What does "creativity" mean to you? . . . Taking this time for yourself helps ward off exhaustion and burnout, allowing you to focus more attentively and less resentfully on the tasks of your day. Consider it a gift to yourself that also pays dividends to others."
  • I love to sew, read and write. I have a new sewing machine, but have to find help in using it. It is stressful to me now, but I will conquer that stress.
  • I have adopted my husband's hobbies. We go to the shooting range and last year I took up playing pool when we moved a pool table into our den.
  • Seeing movies with my husband.

I want to add camping and vacations to that list, but my husband really just wants to stay home. Oh well! Enjoy every day at home, I say.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Put It Off or Seize the Moment?

This came from an e-mail. I have no idea who started it.
I edited a few words out and added two lines at the end.
Too many people put off something that brings them joy
just because they haven't thought about it,
don't have it on their schedule,
didn't know it was coming
or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic
who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night
in an effort to cut back.
From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home
because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner
until after something had been thawed?
Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?
How often have your kids dropped in to talk
and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?
I cannot count the times I called my sister
and said, "How about going to lunch in a half hour?"
She would gas up and stammer,
"I can't. I have clothes on the line.
My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday.
I had a late breakfast. It looks like rain."
She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.
Because Americans cram so much into their lives,
we tend to schedule our headaches.
We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves
when all the conditions are perfect!
We'll go back and visit the grandparents
when we get little Jenna toilet-trained.
We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet.
We'll go on a second honeymoon
when we get two more kids out of college.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older.
The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer.
One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of
"I'm going to,"
"I plan on,"
and "Someday, when things are settled down a bit."
When anyone calls my "seize the moment" friend,
she is open to adventure and available for trips.
She keeps an open mind on new ideas.
Her enthusiasm for life is contagious.
You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready
to trade your bad feet for a pair of roller blades
and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.
Now, go on and have a nice day.
Do something you WANT to,
not something on your SHOULD DO list.
If you were going to die soon
and had only one phone call you could make,
who would you call and what would you say?
And why are you waiting?
Hear the music before the song is over.
Life may not be the party we hoped for,
but while we are here we might as well dance!
And I add that while our loved ones have this day,
this hour, this minute, let's appreciate them.
WE need to give to them,
even if they won't remember what we did.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I found helpful insights from The Alzheimer's Association. Many insights apply to me now, many will later and many for care givers who read this blog. I am thinking of a wife and two daughters who read this blog and are dealing with Alzheimer's for their loved ones.

Symptoms of Caregiver Stress include denial, anger, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, sleeplessness, irritability, lack of concentration and health problems.

  • Anger. I have come to not get angry about being asked something again and again. Originally I was angry about my husband not picking up on tasks around the home. Yesterday my sweet husband on his day off cleaned the living room carpet. I didn't ask him to do this, but he knows to contribute and often tells me how he appreciates all I do for him and our dog Ziggy.
  • Social Withdrawal. I need people and so this is not a symptom of my stress yet. However, I have noticed that my husband didn't want to go to the neighborhood Christmas party and doesn't want to take road trips out of town now. This can become a problem for me. Thank God for this blog. I do need you all to make comments and post.
  • Health Problems. Once again I need exercise and a slow diet to lose weight so I don't get major health problems myself.
Ways to Reduce Caregiver Stress from Alzheimer's Association
  • Know what resources are available in your community.
  • Become educated about Alzheimer's disease and caregiving techniques.
  • Get help from family, friends, and community resources.
  • Manage your own level of stress. I say simplify, organize.
  • Accept changes as they occur. Last night my husband and I saw "On Golden Pond". We discussed how actors Fonda and Hepburn were handling old age. How poignant it was when Fonda says he went a certain distance from their rustic home and then didn't know how to get into town. Hepburn sweetly accepted this. My husband has trouble with directions now. We have also seen and discussed the movie "The Notebook". Now, granted, sometimes my husband doesn't remember the movies, but I believe honestly discussing movies help us as a couple to deal with his dementia. It helps me accept.
  • Engage in legal and financial planning.
  • Be realistic about what you can do.
  • Give yourself credit for what you have accomplished; don't feel guilty if you lose patience or can't do everything on your own.
Finally Alzheimer's Association writes to us caregivers: "You can live a meaningful and productive life by taking care of your physical and emotional health, by engaging in activities you enjoy and by spending time with family and friends."
Just a footnote from me: Dogs and husbands with memory issues live in the moment. They enjoy each moment and don't worry about the future or the past. Great lesson for us all. Thank you Lord for my daily blessings--for now--for this very moment!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Lord Upholds!

I just have to write about how the Lord went before us yesterday. The Almighty is adequate and provides richly for our needs! Just like the e-mail that Newblogger sent me yesterday: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.” Hebrews 1:3 He absolutely upheld us! Sandy’s prayers and e-mail also showed the Lord’s provision for me yesterday. And Tom providentially helped also. Here is how the day went.

My car wouldn’t start yesterday morning and my husband was already at his work. My neighbor drove me to the school where I was substituting. A new battery was needed. When I called my mechanic, he said that he didn’t have a battery for a 2006 Saturn—we would need to purchase a battery at the Saturn dealership. I got the Saturn service department on the phone and said my husband would be in to purchase a 2006 Saturn battery.

A task that would be no problem in the past for my husband became a tortured explanation by cell phone to direct him to the Saturn dealer after his work. Two wrong turns. A swearing husband. Not a routine trip for my husband who functions fine going to work, at work and coming home. Now I had to stay on my cell phone while directing him. Mind you I’m teaching and hoping silent students don’t hear the curse words of my husband at the other end of the cell phone and that they keep working on their tests.

Mission finally accomplished with the purchase of a battery. It would be too difficult to describe to him how he would get to the school where I was teaching and then he would have a wait in the cold. So I told him to just go home and find Google map directions to the school where I was teaching out on the kitchen counter. Successfully he got himself home—enough clues in his memory to do that without me.

Time for him to come pick me up. Students can listen while I patiently explain to my husband how to come to the school—the written directions just wouldn’t do. He gets to the school and doesn’t see me, calling me in the classroom. I tell him to park and wait for school to be dismissed.

Every torturous step needs to be described simply to him. (I once sent him in to the supermarket to buy two items and he called me to ask me what was the other item.)

After the dismissal bell I find him and we go home. He has been thoroughly upset by the stress of stepping out of his comfort zone while trying to be the gentleman and rescue his wife. He tells me he would not accompany me to Toastmasters last night—he had had enough for the day.

We get home and he prepares to change the battery. I knew I would be in for more swear words as he doesn’t do mechanical stuff much anymore and I never did. (That’s why we have AAA.)

Here is where the Lord again went before us. Tom called. He asked if he come by with a plumbing part for the kitchen. “Yes, Tom,” I said, “and would you mind very much installing a battery!” It was his pleasure to do that, he said.

At Toastmasters I am the Grammarian and choose the word for the day. I choose “uphold” from the verse that Newblogger sent to my e-mail.

Thank you, Lord, for again upholding us!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Memory Medications and Strategies

from the Alzheimer's Disease Center

Four medications, tacrine (Cognex), donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine tartrate (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl), may slow the intellectual decline in some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. These drugs (called cholinesterase inhibitors) increase the brain's levels of acetylcholine, which helps to restore communication between brain cells. Another medication, memantine (Namenda), has been shown to stabilize memory in people with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. It is the first in a new class of medications called NMDA receptor antagonists.
Note that my husband takes the expensive Exelon and Namenda. They help!
Other strategies used to help people with Alzheimer's include psychotherapy techniques (reality orientation and memory retraining) and medications to relieve depression and calm agitated behavior. As much as possible, you should follow a regular exercise routine, maintain normal social contacts with family and friends and continue intellectual activities. In addition to regularly scheduled doctor visits, patients and their families should take advantage of community resources and support groups. Discuss any safety concerns, especially driving, with the doctor. Although several nonprescription products claim to improve mental function, the scientific evidence to support this claim is weak. Check with your doctor before taking any nonprescription medication, especially if you are taking a prescription medication for heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure or mental illness or if you have problems with your heart or liver.
My husband has taken Vitamin B12 and Flaxseed Oil with his doctor's approval for over a year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Communication That's Not Communication

I learned this before: put it on the calendar. What I didn't know that is so obvious, is that spontaneous trips to the store can be a problem, especially if you don't pay attention to a weak ringing cell phone.

Here is what happened. We needed carpet shampoo, but my husband forgot he sent me out to get it. My husband kept calling my cell phone frantic to know where I was and I didn't pick up on the missed calls.When I came home from the store, he was mad because he didn't remember where I had gone--I should have told him—and I didn’t answer the cell phone. He was mad and I was hurt. Later he forgot that he had been angry, but I didn't.

However, I am over it now, and hopefully wiser.I need to constantly think about calling him to remind him where I am without sounding patronizing. Always use calendars and cell phones to back up verbal communication with someone who has short-term memory. And, a loud ring on a cell phone!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Medicine. There is a huge expenditure for the two memory medicines for my husband--roughly $300 a month (or $3600 a year). Fortunately my doctor has given me phone numbers where seniors can get the medicine for less and I am calling tomorrow about this possibility.

Emotional Stress. I succumbed to emotional eating and put weight back on this fall due to the stress of my husband's dementia. Now I am dieting again.

Time. We go over and over how to use the DVD player and how to record programs. I just keep explaining this to my husband. We write it down and I put labels on remote controls and equipment. Again I am in training for dealing with making tasks simple for him.

Gratitude. I am thankful that I have a thoughtful husband who asks maybe four times how my day was. Then four times I have the privilege of telling him how it was. I am grateful that he appreciates me and often says so. I am thankful that he has a job to go to that is people-centered and he loves it. These are good days. Thank you, Lord. Help me to rejoice always.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Training Is Going Well

By my not nagging (I think) we are making progress. Husband is recognizing projects around the house and I do think that the two memory medications (Exelon Patch and Namenda) he is taking are kicking in. He has added the patch to his excellent routines, reminding me this morning to put today's patch on him.

He did ask me three times at breakfast what was today's date and several times what was my plan for the day. I am patient.

Working is so good for him and being semi-retired is so wonderful for me.

You just don't need to comment to these posts--hope contributors can post their own concerns. Remember be anonymous with names because this is the mighty Internet. Go in your dashboard to post to do that--you can start a new post. Love U all! Keep praying!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I took our dog to dog obedience school and found that Ziggy was already willing to be trained and quite eager to please me. On the other hand I had to be trained to train him.

My training in dealing with my husband has taken turns. First I thought he was not doing his part. I was tempted to resort to nagging. I was very frustrated that he wasn't the husband he had been, doing "honey-dos" etc. , and sharing more in our home life.

When it finally hit me that I am in training, not him, it seems the Lord began to give me patience for dealing with him.

This is always as it should be in life. The Lord is in charge of changing that other person--not us.

Lord grant us patience. Amen.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Friend Who Stands By

The poem, "The Friend Who Stands By", was circulated to my e-mail about eleven years ago. Is is written by B. Y. Williams.

When troubles come your soul to try
You love the friend who just stands by.
Perhaps there's nothing she can do
The thing is strictly up to you.
For there are troubles all your own
And paths the soul must tread alone.
Times when love can't smooth the road
Nor friendship lift the heavy load.
But just to feel you have a friend
Who will stand by until the end.
Whose sympathy through all endures
Whose warm handclasp is always yours.
It helps somehow to pull you through
Although there's nothing she can do.
And so with fervent heart we cry
God bless the friend who just stands by.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Depression for us older people

Again came to my e-mail this morning--"Depression: Not a Normal Part of Aging". I learned:

  • Depression comes to us seniors (I am 64 and my husband is 71), but it is not necessary.
  • Prepare for changes. (This blog is helping me and I hope others too.)
  • Work to maintain friendships. Thank you Glenn and Sandy for joining this blog as well as for your friendship of long standing.
  • Develop hobbies. Lord knows I have them. Just look around my house. I am making a birthday gift for a friend, am writing a book, have a to do list. Much has been accomplished and the hobbies give me great joy. I made six gifts for Christmas; granted they were late, but they are finished.
  • Stay in touch with family. How great it is that regularly family and friends have e-mailed me that they are praying.
  • Break jobs into small tasks.
  • Exercise. My husband didn't want to go to the gym yesterday. I was calm about this and do want exercise in my life--my habits may rub off on him.
Water. This morning I suggested my husband drink more water at his job. I send it with his lunch, but it comes back and he only drinks the diet green tea. Tea, beer and coffee dehydrate us--we need the real stuff--water. I read that you have less signs of thirst when you are older, but still need that water. If you are dehydrated you will become more tired. If you are tired, you won't want to exercise. But if you exercise you will have more energy and will fight off depression! Water. Drink to it!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Depression from time to time

Thanks for your prayers. Yesterday Newblogger encouraged me as did a cousin as I was depressed. Newblogger and I will also talk on the phone later today.

My husband didn't want me to go to a Toastmaster Holiday Party last night (yes it was late for the season), but consented that I go. So I was feeling half guilty for going without him--he wouldn't go as he had last year.

I also have to find last year's tax forms and can't. Last January my husband took care of this and now I am.

As it turned out, the party was good for me; several people there have parents struggling with the last stages of Alzheimer's and we talked. Yes, a challenge awaits me. But today is good.

Life is responsibility and isolation for all of us.

P.S. We are trying to not use our real names because of Internet security.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Exercise Helps Memory

An article from, "Rising Blood Sugar May Harm the Aging Brain", says

"Researchers reporting in the December issue of Annals of Neurology showed that rising blood sugar levels, a normal part of aging, affect a part of the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical to learning and memory.

"This would suggest that anything to improve regulation of blood glucose would potentially be a way to ameliorate age-related memory decline," said senior study author Dr. Scott Small, an associate professor of neurology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. The findings may also help explain why people who exercise don't have as many cognitive problems as they age: Exercise helps stabilize blood glucose levels.

"We had previously shown that physical exercise strengthens a part of the brain involved with aging but, at the time, we didn't know why physical exercise would have this selective benefit," Small said. "Now we have a proposed mechanism. We think it's because subjects who exercised had better glucose handling."

I mentioned to my husband that exercise is good for us. I have been slowly jogging 9 miles a week (3miles 3 days) and I asked him if he wanted to join me. He said let's go to the gym. We put this on the calendar for Tuesday and Thursday this week. He is dependent upon the calendar, and I would love these dates at the gym. He also likes doing things with me and is very appreciative of me. I am going to enjoy every day with him.

As for memory today, we had taped a movie. I knew he had seen the end of it, but he wanted to watch again saying he didn't know how it end.ed Aha! This is why he watches his favorites again and again! I'm kind of like that with some movies.

I don't know how my husband's dementia will end. Stay tuned.

I put off going to the store to get my husband Effervent and when it was dark he didn't want me to go. When going to bed he told me again he needed Effervent. I suggested he just put mouth wash in the bowl with his false uppers. He was satisfied with this. He is my easy-going loving prince. Again I am going to enjoy every day with him.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Loss in Perspective

Having a husband with dementia means not always telling him things because he will forget them or get confused about what I am saying to him. What a loss of intimacy with my best friend!

Today we had our monthly women's book study in "Memorable Women of the Puritan Times". I read a letter referring to Lady Vere's husband, "Likewise the Lord supplieth [Lady Vere's husband's] absence by his own gracious presence. [The Lord] is your best husband, and always with you, ready to hear, and able to help, and to fill your soul with all heavenly comforts."

Thank you, Lord, for my intimacy with you.

Friday, January 2, 2009 article

Three things today.

First. I can now talk to be heard on my old cell so my husband can call me. Sprint will provide a new phone shortly.

Second, there is new interest in this blog and someone whose husband has altzheimer's may also join. Pray for her husband too because he has eye surgery tomorrow.

Third, an important-to-me article came to my e-mail today. It is called "Communicating Effectively When Alzheimer's Is an Issue" from and you can check it out if interested. O my goodness! Maybe Alzheimer's does apply to Herb because I read, "Alzheimer's affects each person differently. Some common communication obstacles, however, include difficulty finding the right word or words, repeating words, losing a train of throught, difficulty with logic, . . . and an increased use of curse words. If these occur, it's important to remember that these changes are due to the illness, that they're beyond the person's control, and that they are not aimed at you personally. . . .Because people with Alzheimer's have difficulty in following conversations, opt for short, clear communication. Fewer words are better than more, short sentences are better than long."

Yes he does revert to his old habits of swearing when frustrated. He did swear profusely when we had a guest recently! She went out to the deck and I also went out to explain to her that this must be due to his memory. I married an attentive, Godly husband--my requirement as a widow for a second marriage. He still is attentive, wanting to cuddle, telling me he loves me. God is in charge of his's holiness and I have to forgive his pre-sanctification habit of swearing. Maybe I can say "I see you are frustrated, Sweetheart."

The article also gave a phone number from the Alzheimer's Association--1-800-272-3900 and I am putting that phone number in the cell phone and keeping this working cell phone away from Ziggy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Visuals, Not Audios

My cell phone only texts currently due to a dog named Ziggy. Before leaving home to bring DVDs and a DVD player to my husband's work because it is so slow on a holiday,I called him from the home phone to say that when I got to the garage I would call on the cell and no one would speak. That way he would know I was at the bank.

I called from the bank garage and heard him say, hello, hello. I walked up to the door and he saw me and buzzed me in. I asked about the phone call where no one spoke. He did not remember it, but he did visually recognize me.

This is why visuals such as calendars are so important to my dear husband. This is why movies are important to him and he is bored with listening to my iPod in the car.

Lord help me to be faithful to write things down.

Two Women Who Have Been There

Recently I had contact with two women whose husband's are deceased. One is 71 and one lady is 79. Both husband's had dementia--not alzheimer's, but dementia related to strokes. One widow is bitter and discontent. The other widow is alive and joyful even though her husband passed away recently; she wrote me that she will be there for me.

Lord, help me to be joyful in the journey you have chosen for me. Thank you that you will be there for me also.

New Year's Day

We didn't stay up to see in the new year. When my dear husband and I woke up at 3:50 am, we wished each other Happy New Year, discussed that it was 2009, etc.

He is working today, but he failed to think about the fact not many people would be at the bank today where he is a security guard at the main desk checking in people. Usually on Saturdays or holidays his work is so slow and he brings his portable DVD player, but he forgot today. I think I will bring it to him so he can have something to do today. Or, should I bring it? Teach him a lesson?

Often I forget things also, and that teaches me a lesson. For example, yesterday somehow I did not have my cell phone in my purse or plugged in. I found it under the pool table where dog Ziggy hangs out with his toys. Ziggy found my cell phone (I don't know where) and chewed it so that his small teeth marks are in the metal and slobbered on it. Consequently you can call me on that cell phone, but the speaker doesn't work. I can't answer or call out. I can just text message until I get a new cell phone from Sprint or call on the home phone or my husband's cell.

We enjoyed the movie "Marley and Me" and have since remembered it. Ziggy's stealing of my cell phone is like Marley and we laugh about that.

Like the incapacitated cell phone, so much of my husband's dementia we can cope with. We just work around it and take one day at a time.