Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saga Twenty-Seven

Again this month Sally and I went to the Alzheimer's Association support group the second Tuesday while the husbands hung out at our house. Sally turned her cell phone off, but mine was on and I got several calls from the husbands during the support group wanting to know when we would be home. DH knows this is an Alzheimer's support group, but Jake, who doesn't think he has a problem, thinks this is our monthly ladies Bible study. Then the four of us had a good dinner at Longhorns. Sally and I shared the salmon dinner and Jake and DH had steak. The four of us then enjoyed the romantic comedy "Hope Springs". Both husbands could follow it. Our friendship with Sally and Jake is so important for making life normal for our husbands and Sally and I gain so much mutual support from each other.

from Pinterest--we need to friend

Last week my doctor was happy with my weight loss, but I still need to do more walking than only three times a week for the HDL number to improve. With a flare-up of carpal tunnel from over 15 years ago (maybe too much Pinterest, folks) I should not do many weight bearing exercises now. I am trying to avoid heart problems. My doctor let me cut down on one medicine which would have put me in the donut hole. Hubby is already in the donut hole with his medicine. It is interesting that Herb's cholesterol numbers in July are great and support his use of coconut oil.

Last Tuesday the arm on hubby's glasses broke off. Because we have Preferred Care for our Medicare coverage, we have a vision plan and a hearing plan. We both went to get new glasses from Plant City's new Eye Express. The glasses didn't cost us other than our adding tints for $50 for DH and UV protection for $12 on mine. I had lost mine in Louisiana last fall and have been wearing over-the-counter ones and trying to remember those sunglasses because of my cataracts. Hubby keeps asking when those glasses will be ready and I keep telling him Tuesday, unless the hurricane means Eye Express will be closed.

Hubby can ask at night what we did during the day and I recount the events for him, usually when we pray at bedtime. We do have so much to thank the LORD for each day.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: Love, Loss, and Laughter

Why do I appreciate this book? Let me count the ways.
  1. I read about this book on The Alzheimer's Reading Room here and knew I had to get it and I have not been disappointed. If Maria Shriver's book, What's Happening to Grandpa? reviewed here is great for kids, Dr. Cathy Greeblat's Love, Loss, and Laughter: Seeing Alzheimer's Differently is perfect for the carer and the family of the person with dementia.
  2. The pictures do justice to those suffering with dementia illnesses and Alzheimer's and the captions that go with them show so much love and respect. Contrast this with the very AARP pictures that I wrote about here. Rather the book contends that "people with dementia don't disappear unless we disappear from them"(p. xiv). The pictures are from all over the world and do show wonderful carers and people being cared for. Richard Taylor (man with dementia) writes eloquently in this book.
  3. The book contains not just Greenblatt's writing, but wonderful insightful quotes from everyone including Princess Yasmin Aga Khan to Bob DeMarco of The Alzheimer's Reading Room.
  4. Specific ways in which carers can bring to life the people they care for are mentioned. Basically they highlight what the person used to like to do or what their career was. I have been worried about all the TV my husband watches, but then I realized that movies have always been his thing. He has a great collection of them and uses his mind to operate the controls needed to view. He has his favorites and while this used to bother me (Don't you get tired of the same movies? I would think), nonetheless it is who he is. It is his hobby that he enjoys.
  5. The theme of the book seems to be:
    Enhancement of personhood and efforts to maintain quality of life should be our highest priorities. (p. ix)
    This is illustrated with all the pictures and captions/notes for the pictures that Cathy Greenblat included.
  6. Should we ever need a nursing home placement, the book contains wisdom in selecting one including web sites to choose one in our area.
  7. More than any other book I have read on the subject, this one highlights the need of our loved ones to feel useful. No, I am not being condescending when I ask my husband's opinion on something, or have him move boxes for me, but rather we both feel better about the situation. Currently I have carpal tunnel again and do need his help.
  8. In the moment. Oh yes. Sally's husband and my husband do not always remember what happened earlier in the day. Sally and Jake took a week vacation and when they were home Jake had forgotten all about it. I mentioned this to DH and he said sympathetically (despite his own short-term memory) "Is Jake that bad?" Life then can be celebrated in the moment. This may be why I take so many pictures of my husband's moments. And it actually might not be a bad idea to live in the moment for all of us. We can't change the past and the future is in the LORD's hands.
  9. The best practices include letting patients socialize. I see this in our life and also in the nursing homes described in the book.
  10. I hadn't read this before, but have felt that my husband is indeed learning new things. "If we get past the stigma, we realize that it's always possible to build cognitive abilities, and that people have the ability to progress right until the end"(p. 71). The book specifies using Montessori principles as outlined by psychologist Cameron Camp. I had only been using one technique with my husband and now have more ideas for helping him learn.
  11. Many times I read about bloggers who are angry with their loved ones who, yes, can be very difficult. Yet Michael Verde, President of the Memory Bridge in Chicago, is quoted:
    Either we learn how to love each other, or we keep disappearing to each other. (p.88)
    Indeed being a caregiver lets us appreciate life and each day; we don't have to grieve yet. They are still here.
  12. Perhaps worth the price of this book ($24.95--but I got a used copy), is the chart on pp. 104-105. It tells the caregiver what to do and not to do for oppositon, aberrant behanvior, agitation, aggression, delirium, hallucinations, and so forth.
After finishing this book today, I reflected that I can only do this excellent lovegiving with the LORD's help. Others have all over the world as this book chronicles.  Today I heard on The Daily Audio Bible:
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore . . . be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
 (I Corinthians 15:57, 57)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What I'm Learning About Senior Health, Part Two

I wrote about senior health in Part One below. Here are some more tips I am getting. If it is in red, click on it.

Coffee is okay for us--no more than three cups according to Dr. Oz.

Here is a link for Vitamin D  which is being studied. We take it.

Another link for Cocoa and chocolate.   which may be good for dementia patients and all of us!  Studies show a large amount may help. Maybe we can do our own research. Hubby does get chocolate with his coconut oil! Some Walmarts have dark chocolate and sugar free chocolate chips that work fine. That coconut fudge recipe comes from Dr. Mary Newport's book.

Now they say that Duacetyl (DA) in Popcorn, that gives it a buttery tast, is linked to making Alzheimer's worse. Plain popcorn is best. Wish I hadn't gotten rid of my air popper! I just threw out microwave popcorn with suspicious ingredients.

As I have written before, I wonder about all the additives that primitive cultures don't have. Some friends are into the Paleo and Gap eating, and there is a lot of wisdom to be found in studying what is best for us even if the studies have not come out that prove anything conclusively.

Exercise is so important for us, but we shouldn't jog. I now walk three times a week with my neighbor. My husband complains when he has to walk very far, but I do have to take care of me, his caregiver.

Red wine has benefits, but not too much alcohol as it can cause
Alcohol-related dementia according to this British study and other studies. Actually my husband forgets about his beer in the refrigerator and is happy with green tea, so good for us.

In addition to green tea, dark chocolate, tumeric and coconut oil which I regularly write about here, I have some other superfoods that I regularly use:
  • cooked spinach
  • tomatoes
  • blueberries added to yogurt
  • cinnamon added to sweet potatoes.

What are your superfoods?

How do you use them?

Note that this is the third year that I have been in an Alzheimer's Association walk. You can contribute if you click on the link at the top right. Thanks for doing this. My team is my Alzheimer's Association facilitator who has taught me so much.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Humor of Social Media

A Pin from Pinterest
I was reflecting on my rap on social media yesterday, and the last line I added was on Pinterest. You see I became infatuated with Pinterest recently, with nothing else to do! Right! Plenty of organization and getting rid of stuff around here, books to read for my seminary class, and then Pinterest beckons me. But I was hooked on Pinterest! When . . .

The Internet went down along with the land line. I used my cell phone to call Bright House (Road Runner). Last time something like this happened it was the pump water and the land line. Spiders caused the water problem and maybe the phone problem. This time no Internet and land line for 24 hour until Road Runner could get out here and provide a new modem! No Pinterest! I laughed at myself and got a lot of de-cluttering done. Not finished, but made a huge dent.

In 2009 Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill was published and in the 9th chapter I wrote a poem that has since become a rap, actually my first rap that I do at the end of good classes when I substitute teach in secondary education.  As new media have appeared I have added lines. So here is the current version of "Longing to Chat On the Front Porch With You":

It started with e-mail
The demise of snail mail
Our personal lives are right out there
Anything we’re likely to share
I guess we learned this from reality TV
We rant and rave
And post pictures you can see
On Twitter you can tweet
On Facebook you retreat
On iPod there’s a beat
Real people you don’t meet.
With blogs I can rail
Dialogue will soon fail
Too slow but we can text
What will be the latest next?
Want no face-to-face strife?
Send pictures of your life.
With Skype I can gripe
With Flicker I can snicker.
On Blue Tooth I tell the truth.
On Link-In you can ring in
On Google Plus there’s no fuss
But on Pinterest there’s no rest
The pace we live is sad
No front porch makes me mad.

Pinterest they say is mainly women, but a Manterest and a Gentlemint site have emerged for men along with a lot of other lines I might add to this rap of mine. And, by the way, I am on a huge group board about Alzheimer's on Pinterest.

Thanks to Barb from Cleaning Up the Clutter for getting me into Pinterest! Now I have graphics for blogging! And you all have my third of eight raps on this blog! And me? I need to go de-clutter and stay off of Pinterest for the rest of the day.

Have a good week!

Friday, August 10, 2012

15 Things Caregivers Can Do to Be Joyful

The Purpose Fairy has written "15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy" and the Huffington Post (calls itself the GPS for the Soul) has widely circulated it--click here.

Joy is the term I will use here instead of happiness.  I use kind, rather than nice. Joy and kind are in the Bible. But I will look at 15 main headings from the above post and make my comments or insert Pinterest graphics after them.

1. Give up your need to always be right. Do not argue with an Alzheimer’s patient. My husband found a Renuzit Aroma room deodorant in his workshop and he took it out, saying it didn’t belong there. It’s okay with him if it is in the main part of the house, but not his workshop. Oh well! I can joyfully go in there remembering that I don’t have to argue with him. There is a reason I put Renuzit there that doesn't make sense to him in his thinking and it just isn't that important.

2. Give up your need to control. But not always with this disease. I wrote a seminary counseling paper on the authority of an Alzheimer’s husband and concluded that, at times, I need to control to be the best helpmeet I can be with God’s help.

3. Give up on blame. I do not blame anyone for this disease and certainly not God.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report. . . . to think on these things.  

5. Give up your limiting beliefs. Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

6. Give up complaining.

Philippians 2:14 from the Jewish New Testament says Do all things without kvetching [Yedish for complaining].

  7. Give up the luxury of criticism. With the stress of the elections coming and the stress of daily living it is easy to criticize. I want to be a lovegiver instead—to give warm fuzzies, not cold pricklies (a ‘70’s term from Claude Steiner).

8. Give up your need to impress others. Impressing is pure pride as Scripture says: For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:16).

9. Give up your resistance to change.
I realized some time ago, that this journey of my husband's Mixed Dementia would mean a lot of change. I can hide my head in the sand, react to stress by emotional eating, or whatever, or I can research how I can be a good lovegiver/caregiver and give glory to God. This means lots of change that is coming down the pike. Change is growth.

10. Give up labels. I think that dementia issues do put limits on people, but they do not have to have labels. My loved one is not a disease, but a person. There are certain limitations he has, but disable does not mean unable.

 11. Give up on your fears.  My LORD knows how this will all end.

12. Give up your excuses.  This one is a hard one for me. I have to be more responsible now. Someone has to. I cannot say I am happy about my challenges, and would like to have excuses. And it is hard to ask for help as well.

13. Give up the past. This is so true. I live for each day and am thankful for what comes my way. Yesterday my husband mowed one half of the backyard, prompted by our neighbor mowing the front yard perhaps and my suggesting to him for several days it needed to be done.

14. Give up attachment. I love the lyrics by Michael Card in his song “Things We Leave Behind”:

Every heart needs to be set free
From possessions that hold it so tight
The freedom’s not found in the things that we own
But the power to do what is right
With Jesus our only possession
And giving becomes our delight
And we can’t imagine the freedom we find
For the things we leave behind.
15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations.

I want to live so that one day the LORD will say well done, thou good and faithful servant and He won't expect me to be superwoman, just a woman abiding in Him.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What I'm Learning About Senior Health, Part One

Some of this information may not be new, but I decided to blog about it anyway, both for the lovegiver's health and the loved one's health.
A University of Massachusetts-Lowell clinical trial showed that drinking apple juice significantly improved mood and behavior among a group of patients diagnosed with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease. Cornell University research also suggests that quercetin may be the compound in apples that protects brain cells against oxidative stress associated with Alzheimer's.
This was reported on The Alzheimer's Reading Room. Of course actual apples have more fiber than apple juice has. My husband regularly gets applesauce.

Get the proper rest you need according to a study here.  Research suggests:
  1. Avoid going to bed and getting up at different times.
  2. Don't do games and social networking before bed. These keep your mind racing.
  3. Don't read or watch TV in bed.
  4. Keep the light in the bedroom low. I do think that the Alzheimer's patient does need some light, however, so they can identify things at night.
  5. Sleep helps fight off infections by releasing hormones in the body.
  6. Energy is restored.
  7. The brain is working to create new pathways. You know the expression, "Let's sleep on it."
  8. While we sleep the heart rate and blood pressure are reduced.
I also wrote earlier on this blog about rest here.

How we process our food is important according to Kimberly Snyder. I have also pinned some of her health ideas on my Pinterest Board which you can follow by clicking below. Our loved ones need fiber from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. According to Kimberly, artificial sweetners aren't absorbed by our bodies, so they pull water into the intestines leading to loose stools. Stevia is the most acceptable artificial sweetner and I use a combination of real sugar and stevia for my husband. Murky pee could be a uninary track infection that caregivers are so concerned about for their loved ones; patients can go downhill with these infections but not complain I read on The Alzheimer's Reading Room (see link on side). So we need to check their pee.

The older we get, the less thirsty we feel and then the more tired. I have a friend, Shirley, who sends me wonderful e-mail and I discovered from that e-mail a strategy for drinking our water.
Drinking water at a certain times maximizes its effectiveness on the body:
  • 2 glasses of water after waking up - helps activate internal organs  
  • 1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal - helps digestion
  • 1 glass of water before taking a bath - helps lower blood pressure  
  • 1 glass of water before going to bed - avoids stroke or heart attack
We also know that we wake up in the middle of the night and get a cramp in our leg because we needed more water or maybe the potassium in a banana. Older people need potassium, but I have heard that potassium pills need careful monitoring and the banana is as easier way to obtain that potassium. On Weight Watchers I can count a banana as zero points (as long as I limit them).

I also found out that a person needs to take CoQ10 with a stanine such as Lipitor or Crestor. Our chiropractor also recommended it as I wrote here.

Oh, and walk carefully so you or your loved one don't fall. My husband and I usually hold hands. Slows me down, but oh well! I get my exercise separately from my husband.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for ... ... It is of no use for you to get up early, and to go late to your rest, with the bread of sorrow for your food; for the Lord gives to his loved ones in sleep.  Psalm 127:2