Who will care for the caregivers?
“There are some 40 million Americans like my patient’s daughter. Every day, they help a parent, grandparent, relative or neighbor with basic needs: dressing, bathing, cooking, medications or transportation. Often, they do some or all of this while working, parenting, or both. And we — as doctors, employers, friends and extended family — aren’t doing enough to help them.” ~Dhruv Khullar, M.D. Read full article
After the diagnosis…
You’re worried. Your mom has shown increasing forgetfulness for months. She even got lost going to the grocery store she frequents. You hoped things would resolve themselves, but instead, they kept getting worse. You took her to the doctor, hoping the problem was due to a bad interaction of her many medicines or a treatable infection. Instead, you got the dreaded diagnosis: Alzheimer’s. Now what? Read full article
Dementia Village coming to San Diego
A San Diego nonprofit is taking an unorthodox approach to help seniors cope with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s building a village for them to spend time during the day. It’s not residential. But the village is modeled on San Diego in the 1950s, complete with vintage cars, period music, payphones and shops from the pre-shopping mall, pre-Wal-Mart era. The nonprofit says research suggests this type of visual reminder might improve cognitive function and quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients over 65. Read full article
Eating for good brain health
“Diet absolutely does play a role. The brain is like any other organ that is susceptible to (foods) that can protect against oxidation damage. … Think of oxidation like a fire getting started. These (good) foods act like little tiny fire extinguishers that help put out those fires that otherwise would cause damage leading to loss of brain function.” ~Liz Applegate, Professor, UC Davis Read full article
Living with early stage Alzheimer’s
“These days my ministry is Alzheimer’s. I am so much happier now that I’ve accepted my diagnosis. There’s a stigma associated with memory-loss disorders and oftentimes people are afraid to ask for help; I believe my calling is to help reduce that shame. You don’t have to be embarrassed to have Alzheimer’s.” ~Rev. Cynthia Huling Hummel, D.Min Read full article
It was late summer into fall of 2012 when my mom began a very steep, swift decline. Autumn has always been my favorite time of year (Mom’s, too), but for the past four years, it hasn’t held the same appeal. Now September and October bring thoughts of her last year with us and what a painful time that was. She died on December 15, 2012.
I’ve often said that I don’t remember life before Alzheimer’s (BA). It’s such an all-consuming journey, and when it’s over, after the shock wears off, you realize you don’t even know yourself anymore. The person you were BA is gone and has been replaced by another version of you. That’s not an entirely bad thing; in many ways, the experience helped me grow into a better person.
For years now, Thanksgiving has felt like just another day, but the one thing it does is remind me to reflect on my many blessings. Losing a friend of 30 years last month was a sobering reminder that tomorrow isn’t promised and today is all we really have. That loss also made me realize how much I have to be grateful for.
One of my greatest blessings is the fact that I’m able to use a heartbreaking experience to help others. I’ve been afforded remarkable opportunities to share our story, offer support to caregivers, and advocate for more funding and improved care. Through this work, I’ve met some of the most caring and compassionate human beings on the planet and have forged friendships with passionate advocates around the globe. All of these things are such gifts.
It would be easy to remain bitter – or to resent that fact that this dreaded disease chose us – but what good would that do? Life is what we make it. My mom would want me to keep moving forward with purpose, and I think she would love that her story is making a difference.
The holidays can be especially challenging for caregivers. Let’s face it, those dreamy images we see in Martha Stewart and Southern Living just don’t reflect reality. This holiday season, remember that blessings can be found every day – often in the simplest things.
Alzheimer’s teaches us to appreciate even the smallest of miracles; an unexpected smile, an “I love you” that comes out of the blue when you thought you might never hear it again, or just the fact that your loved one ate a good dinner or had a restful night. My wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you’re able to find some quiet time to reflect on your blessings.
Peace, love, and joyful moments,
Other posts you might enjoy
Last Minute Tips for Thanksgiving
Reasonable Expectations: Key to a Happy Holiday
Getting Through the Holidays with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s and Managing Holiday Expectations
Alzheimer’s Taught Me To Be Grateful