Thursday, June 30, 2011

Facts and Figures

Compairing deaths in 2000 with deaths in 2006 people died less from heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, stroke than they did from Alzheimer's Disease by 2006.  Of all those causes of death, only deaths from AD were up by 46. 1 % according to the 2010 Alzheimer's Association's report. In those years heart disease deaths went down by 11.5 % ; breast cancer by 2.6 %; prostate cancer by 8.7%; and stroke by 18.2%. I am grateful for all the advances in these diseases, but Alzheimer's has not received a cure unfortunately and Alzheimer's is increasing.

This means more caregivers.
According to the recently released 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures from the Alzheimer's Association, there are now nearly 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in the United States. This report shows that there are far more Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers than previously believed. These individuals provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $202.6 billion. To put this in perspective, if Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers were the only residents of a single state, it would be the fifth largest state in the country. From Caring News
Sally, Jake, DH and I have been taking a class called "Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions". I think there have been real breakthoughs as the result of this class. My husband and Jake just love joking around . Sally and I are more serious; both of us are working on FlyLady principles to organize our homes for the days/years ahead when we are the caregivers. The facilitators of this class will also follow up on the four of us.

The road we caregivers are on is uncharted. As a spouse, I don't know where this will all end. One day at a time.  Today is good. My husband is mowing the front yard.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Defining Issue of Our Age

It is June and I finally sat down to watch the May Larry King Special, "Unthinkable: The Alzheimer's Epidemic", saved on our Bright House cable box. However, this May special  wasn't there. My husband must have erased it. Did anyone see it?

I did a little research. Maria Shriver  (bless her heart--shame on Arnold)  in a promo for this video says Alzheimer's is "the defining issue of our age". She points out there is no remission and the Alzheimer's loved one becomes your child. I guess goodbye husband, hello child.

I also went online to and got an account there as "other health care provider"  and from that site I learned more of what was on the King special.
  • Ronald Petersen, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease said "If we don't do something about Alzheimer's disease right now, Alzheimer's disease in and of itself may bankrupt the healthcare system. "  By 2050 the numbers are expected to hit 16,000,000! I will be 106 then. Yes I am turning 67 this month, and my husband is turning 74 in December.
  • Angie Dickinson had a sister with Alzheimer's. She recommended, "Love them and I don't mean just love them with your soul and your head, but with your arms and your company and your touch and whatever pleasure still might be there for them, and don't ever let up," she said.
Angie's advice is what I can use now. Plan days with him. We started to go to the gym, but my husband didn't want to go at the end of last week. We went this morning.  He wanted to plant an orange tree and a grapefruit tree and we got those last week--fun to go shopping. He didn't have the energy to plant the trees and so Jake came over to help my husband. Jake said earlier last week that he needs someone to need him. We needed him as my back is a problem and DH doesn't have much energy.Sally and I enjoy our husband's friendship. Both Jake and DH get bored. That's why the days have to be planned even if they don't remember what happened. DH's clipboard list I typed does help him remember what is happening each day. Jake and DH may not remember events, but they remember our love.

Sally is applying FlyLady organization to her home. I need to do that also, even though my back still hurts. Company motivates me. We have company coming for dinner Wednesday night and for my birthday next weekend.  My beloved sister-in-law is coming into town! Can't wait! She is driving all day to get here without my brother whom she is dropping off somewhere to golf for his weekend.

Now the defining issue of our age for me used to be driving after drinking. Several times during the year I teach the twelve hour class for impaired drivers--the ones who have gotten their first DUI arrest. I try to get these students to never ever drive impaired again. If you follow this blog you realize that ironically we were hit by an impaired driver last December--that driver's blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit when he hit us. Our lawyer recently contacted us to say that he had no way of receiving a settlement because the driver was not insured and so the case is essentially over. I can write about what happened now, but impaired drivers is not the defining issue for me.

Daily I pour into Scripture to help me cope with my husband's disease. He is basically happy and I need to apply Angie's wisdom and the wisdom from Bob on the Alzheimer's Reading Room. Yes, my daily Scripture is what gets me through the day. This morning I read my daily Scripture from the New Living Translation of the Bible to my husband on the backyard deck. Here are highlights:
1 King 22:5 But first let’s find out what the LORD says. Acts 13:32, 33 [Paul to Jews and Gentiles at Antioch of Pisidia on his first missionary journey] And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus. . . .Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do. Ps. 138:3, 7, 8  As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. . . . Tough I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The LORD will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O LORD, endured forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Prov. 17:17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
I have several comments on that Scripture.
  • Always find out what the LORD wants.
  • Jesus Christ is still the defining issue of this age. Whether you or your loved one has Alzheimer's, you are declared right with God and have a home in heaven. This life is not all. See link "Two Ways to Live" on right.
  • My sister-in-law coming to visit reminds me of Proverbs 17:17. I have told her that if my brother were to pass away, I would be there for her and she always is for me. I have two younger brothers, but she is the sister I never had.
What is your defining issue?
What gives you peace in the midst of your storm?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Charleston Heston, 1923-2008

ABC interviewed the couple (see U-Tube above). V ery special short interview. Charlton said in this interview,  “What can’t be cured must be endured.” Lydia Heston told how she was appalled upon hearing the news. Nancy Reagan called her and offered to talk anytime Lydia needed to talk. The interviewed said so appropriately to Heston, “The problem is not for you, but for those around you.”

At the time Charlton Heston was President of the National Rifle Association for the third term, on August 9, 2002 Heston announced he had the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. A year later Heston stepped down from his NRA Presidency. See here.

Now Heston was famous for these quotes:
  • "This doesn’t happen when they use guns." 
  • "I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hand."
Charles Heston did live six more years to the age of 84, having been married to wife Lydia for 64 years. He did in fact have Alzheimer’s.

An article came out the day of his announcement in Slate (The New York Times Weekender on line) that asked “Will Charlton Heston Have to Give Up His Guns?” See here. It seems that several states, including California and Oregon, have this requirement for Alzheimer’s patients.

I am not sure how the Heston family handled the gun issue, but the following solutions can work to prevent the AD loved one use guns when deluded or angry.

1. Lock up the guns.

2. Put the ammunition elsewhere.

3. Disable the gun.

Charles Heston acted in the first two epic movies I ever saw, “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben Hur”. He was always handsome with his stature, chiseled face and distinctive voice and always well-regarded. They don’t make ‘em like him anymore and certainly several other California actors have disgraced themselves in recent years.

Arnold and Mel,
        Who will be there for you like Lydia was for Charles and Nancy was for Ronnie if you get dementia? Just wondering.