With A CAPITAL “A”

 

cap A for Alzheimers

  

Tinseltown Theaters poster, Colorado Springs

Tinseltown Theaters poster, Colorado Springs

 

The movie begins with action. Apes on a hunt. Hundreds of apes lying in wait, hunting for food. Surviving after most of the world’s humans have been killed by the deadly Simian Flu. But the simians didn’t cause this futuristic plague. The humans did, when they injected apes with a test antidote to stop Alzheimer’s, the disease they feared would eventually destroy civilization.

No movie spoiler alert necessary. This information is revealed in the first few minutes of the movie DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. The desperate attempt to control Alzheimer’s was quickly overshadowed by science-run-amuck, creating a deadly flu that left two separate societies struggling to survive—humans and apes—and the apes are worthy opponents.  The movie is an interesting take on good vs. evil, and the lines that blur in every war.

Alzheimer’s has always been capitalized because it’s named for the German neurologist who first identified it, Alois Alzheimer.  Now it’s become a BIG capital A, and not just because it’s the seed for destruction in a sci-fi action/thriller film. The reality is this: in the United States, every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s; five million live with it now, and it’s the 6th leading cause of death. The statistics in countries throughout the world are similar. Alzheimer’s is an equal opportunity disease.

My dad died of Alzheimer’s, and my mother suffers with advanced dementia, so when I misplace my keys in the refrigerator* or confuse the passwords of my bank account with my PayPal account, I experience a moment of panic. I also read articles and refer often to www.alz.org for current research and information.

I know the basics about a heart-healthy diet also being brain-healthy:  eat more veggies and fresh fruits, especially berries;  foods with omega-3 fatty acids are important (salmon, mackerel and tuna, etc.);  a daily glass of red wine or purple grape juice will help protect brain cells;  controlled blood pressure lowers risks of heart disease, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s;  activities and interactions with friends and family make for a happier heart and a healthier mind.

Walk for Alzheimer's T-shirt logo.

And, of course, every day we should walk, exercise, sing, breathe deeply, and keep moving. Coffee is good; cigarettes are bad. Crossword puzzles, hobbies, and word or number games are excellent.

My parents scored high in all of the above, except for two. Living in land-locked Missouri and Kansas, they didn’t eat as much salmon and other omega-3 fatty acids as they should have. They also didn’t drink coffee; they loved the smell and served it often to guests, but their stomachs did much better with hot tea. They were active, intelligent, well-read and socially involved until Dad was 81 and Mom was 90, so it’s probably not a big deal about the fish or coffee, but who knows?

It’s not often that I do a blog on Alzheimer’s and dementia numbers and specifics.  I’d rather share stories so my grandchildren will know that Alzheimer’s and dementia could not erase their great-grandparents’ wonderful lives. Through shared and treasured memories, we keep alive those we love.

This once-in-a-blue-moon information post about Alzheimer’s and dementia is a reminder that the disease is much more than a plot point for a movie. We’re all at risk, and we’re all in this together. Please share any additional information or suggestions you have.

* FYI ~ my doctor told me that misplacing your keys in the refrigerator is not a sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but probably more an indicator that you’re hurrying or have a lot to do. It is a concern, however, if you find your keys in the refrigerator…and aren’t sure what they are or what they’re for.

 

1949 family photo of Mary and Ray Shepherd, baby daughter Marylin and son David .  Even then I was trying to talk.

1949 family photo of Mary and Ray Shepherd, baby daughter Marylin and son David . Even then I was trying to talk.

 

1999 ~ Mom, Dad, my brother David and I pose for a Thanksgiving picture at  my daughter Molly's home before Dad's Alzheimer's. (picture by Jim Warner)

1999 ~ Mom, Dad, my brother David and I pose for a Thanksgiving picture at my daughter Molly’s home before Dad’s Alzheimer’s was identified. (picture by Jim Warner)

 

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79 Comments

Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren

79 responses to “With A CAPITAL “A”

  1. You are so right, we are all at risk and we are all in this together and we all will die of something. My mom is trying so hard to hang on and stay alert while for my aunt every moment is new and exciting and she is accepting her situation. Thank you for keeping us informed .

  2. You’re welcome, Gerlinde. Your mom and your aunt are responding differently, and this reminds me of the different responses my dad had to Alzheimer’s as opposed to how my mom responds to her advanced dementia. She reminds me more of your aunt.
    And of course we respond to them differently, too, based on the many changes. It’s confusing sometimes, but we keep trying.

  3. These are worrying statistics Marylin but at least there’s plenty of research going on as to the causes and how to treat this heartbreaking illness.
    I’m like you, catching myself struggling sometimes for words or forgeting names and knowing I put something down but can’t remember where. I’m told they’re not necessarily signs of Alzheimer’s, just of a cluttered mind.
    I don’t get the salmon, tuna etc because of an allergy to sea food and I only have one coffee a day and still smoke so I’m not helping my own case butt maybe I’ve an excuse now to take up drinking wine thanks to you.
    As always I send Massive Hugs xxx

    • A cluttered mind. I like that description, David! Now we have an excuse; we’re just so busy and creative and involved in this and that, so of course our minds are cluttered! 😉
      I do try to do the things on the list, and I gladly drink several cups of coffee each day, which may or may not make a difference. But my parents lived active and healthy lives until 81 and 90, so maybe it was just the accumulation of clutter in their minds!
      You have my permission to take up drinking wine to fight off Alzheimer’s, David, though I really do think that spending time with your grandbaby Reuben will also keep your mind thinking and your talents busy writing more books for him!
      Massive Hugs!!!

  4. Most of us live the best lives we know how to or that we can afford. Yet, still unpleasant, indeed horrible, things happen; Alzheimer’s, cancer, strokes etc.. Recently, I heard a woman, with motor neuron disease, say, in response to UK legislation on assisted dying, that what she wanted was assistance for living, not dying. It made me realise that, much as it is wonderful to have drugs and treatments for everything and research into cures, what most societies need is a massive input in to the very basic needs of our lives from birth through to old age. Good food, good health care, good education, good housing etc would do away with a multitude of problems, which would leave more resources for those who do become ill and need more care. Mmmm..not sure if I am making myself clear here. I suppose I am worried that big drug companies will see this Alzheimer’s epidemic as good for the bottom line; and that perhaps the solution to the epidemic is much less complicated than we might imagine eg learn to live well and live better and when, or if we can’t, let there be resources to help us do the best we can.

    • You make some excellent points, Gallivanta. And I especially agree about the drug companies.
      Your final line should be sent everywhere here and in the UK: the solution is to learn to live well and live better…and get the help we need to do the best we can.
      You made yourself very clear, and others need to hear this.

  5. although I think we’re a little bit overeager to use the ‘Alzheimer’s’ label. In the past it was a term used when younger people showed the symptoms of senile dementia. Now the lines are blurred

    • And that is one of the concerns. While I can definitely attest to the differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia, in the final analysis, the only real proof of Alzheimer’s is made by an autopsy. The lines are blurred, and all we can do is just the best we can do at the time.

      • When I was nursing – a LONG time ago – I found that the colour of the iris was always affected by dementia.

      • Really? Wow. Is that common knowledge, do you think? It seems significant that if the color of the iris is affected by dementia, maybe the iris shows earlier indicators, too.
        Thanks for sharing this!

  6. As far as I know we have no A in our family line. Lots of heart problems and one line of cystic fibrosis. I don’t suppose that makes me immune though. I sometimes put the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard and Mrs. Ha is forever losing her glasses but otherwise we muddle along. I read a great deal and I hope that will help me keep problems at bay. I do worry though how we would cope if A struck either of us .

    • In our family, Andrew, the only health problems are Alzheimer’s and dementia. I don’t like to say “only” though, as that’s pretty scary.

      I’m certain that if it had been possible to choose, my dad would have chosen cancer or heart disease over Alzheimer’s–he had seen friends with all of them and said he would take pain and struggle over confusion and loss of realization. But we don’t get to choose–or to know our future –so as my mother would chirp in now, if she could, we need to enjoy every day and not worry about it.

  7. Isn’t dementia the price we are paying for living longer? My great-grandfather died at the “ripe old age” of 79, cause of death on his death certificate is “senile decay”. A great-grandmother died at 73 of “decay of nature”. What would their lifespan and health have been today? I agree with the lovely lady with MND – assisted living is what we need. I wish we could all get the care and attention your mother is getting.

    • I think you’re right about that, especially considering how old my parents were before their first signs appeared. You great-grandfather’s death certificate stating cause of death of “senile decay” was probably an accurate interpretation.
      My mother is receiving excellent care, and like you, I wish everyone needing help could receive the help and attention she receives.

  8. Gwen Stephens

    Thank you Marilyn, for this fantastic post. You should do them more often, as a mini-platform to increase awareness. Alzheimer’s runs in my family on my father’s side. My 71-year-old uncle passed away in June after more than a decade of living with the disease, and his sister, my aunt, died from it as well about 2 years ago. So like you, I am always on the lookout for the early signs, even though I’m only in my mid-forties. Part of me wants to research it more, but fear is what holds me back. Fear of what I might find out, kind of like the children of breast cancer victims who avoid self-examination, for fear of discovering a lump. It’s a senseless fear though, because knowledge is empowering. Thank you again for this wonderful post.

    • For a long time, Gwen, fear held me back from reading about and really researching (or even talking about) Alzheimer’s and dementia. Your analogy about children of breast cancer victims is very good. Avoidance is senseless, and knowledge is empowering.
      Things like your “writing camp” and 1,000 words a day for a month sound like really good activities to keep your mind active and clear. I really do what to know how this “camp” works for you!

  9. Claudia

    Very interesting. I knew nothing about the new ape movie. Watched all thwart ones and liked them, but right now ape movies are not on my list. Interesting plot this one has though. There are so many threatening things out their now to take us down individually and as civilizations. Scary!! I wish we could eradicate greed and hate and lust for power. Then so of other fears would waste away I think. Have a good weekend, Marilyn.

    • You, too, Claudia. The movie made some valid, thought-provoking points, and it chose the perfect place to end.
      But it’s not for everyone; I found it interesting for all the steps of Campbell’s THE HERO’S JOURNEY that it followed so well, but it’s a movie you have to be in the right mood to see. It includes the greed and hate and lust for power–on both sides of the battle–and throws in violence, too.

  10. Diana Stevan

    I haven’t experienced Alzheimer’s in my family .My parents are both gone, one from cancer, the other from heart failure. However, I have friends who’ve suffered because their parents as they knew them slowly disappeared on them through Alzheimer’s. I’ve seen their pain. By writing your mother’s stories, you’re keeping in touch with all her colors, and in that way, reliving many moments for yourself and your family.

    I just finished writing my grandmother’s story, and feel I’ve given myself a gift I can pass on to my children and grandchildren. She was an incredibly strong woman who endured more than anyone should, but those were the times and her lot in life. As someone once said, you have to know where you came from, to know where you’re going.

    • Diana, writing your grandmother’s story is a tribute to her…and your legacy to your children and grandchildren. They will know where they came from, which will guide them as they decide where they are going, and this is a tremendous gift to you and to them…and to readers who take strength from your stories.

  11. I’m so glad that I arrived in time for this particular post, Marylin! My mother-in-law became a victim in later life, and made an already difficult relationship a nightmare for a short while.
    I have to admit that it is a concern of mine that I go that way too. I eat and drink the right things, though not enough of the fish, but I do find myself loosing words that I wouldn’t have once, and having to get my husband to prompt me. He’s always been a crossworder and bridge player and is much sharper than me.
    Nice talking to you 🙂 I’ll see you around!

    • It’s wonderful to hear from you, Jo, and have you share comments!
      Once we see first hand the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s–on a direct blood-line family member, a friend, or in your case, your mother-in-law–it does become much more real to us.
      I don’t eat enough of the fish, either, but I was thrilled to learn that coffee (not in excess) has been shown to help, as I drink 3-4 cups a day. My husband shakes his head and asks if Folger’s Coffee sponsored that test. For awhile chocolate was recommended for several health problems, and my husband merrily ate more chocolate, even though he suspected that Hersey’s possibly sponsored the research tests.
      All we can do is the best we do what we can do, and along the way we also enjoy meeting new friends and trying to figure out things together!

  12. I hope, when my son is my age, that we will speak of many diseases in the past tense.

    • We share the same hope, Eric. I want our children and grandchildren to immunize against Alzheimer’s with medicine on a sugar cube, the way I was immunized against polio.
      Past tense references…absolutely, that’s the goal.

  13. juliabarrett

    Sometimes plot devices hit a little too close to home. I’m glad to hear that your parents both declined very late in life. It’s always more concerning to experience early symptoms. But forgetting your keys? Nah. Thank god! I left my cell phone outside overnight. Took me a while to mentally retrace my steps before I remembered where I’d left it. I was too stubborn to call myself.

    • Still smiling, Julia. Only you would be too stubborn to call yourself to find where you left your cell phone. 😉
      Jim and I have busy days where the house and car are ringing with our attempts to locate our cell phones.
      Yes, I’m very grateful that my parents’ declines happened very late in their full and active lives, though it’s still sad to see Mom go through this now. Her writing was wonderful and made her so happy, but now she doesn’t even recognize one of her own stories when I read it to her.

      • juliabarrett

        Marylin, your mother was always so vibrant, so creative, loving and engaged. Makes watching her decline that much more painful. When someone barely gets involved in his or her own life, when someone makes few memories, leaves few footprints, never really and truly loves, well, fewer happy memories to mourn, I guess. I’ll take the first any day.

      • I’ll take the first any day, too, Julia. Thanks for summarizing my mother’s talents and life–and why her decline is so difficult–so clearly.

  14. You managed to insert pop culture, Alzheimer education, and family memories (emphasis on the “memories”) into this post. I’ll add my bit with a poignant story.

    My Aunt Ruthie has been informally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but the diagnosis cannot be verified because of her pacemaker. Her need for care has now escalated so that she is now living in the memory loss unit of a retirement home, yet so much of her essence is left. I spied a journal entry recently: “Home and my dog Fritzie would be the best medicine for me,” she says. Though she doesn’t know the day of the week or how to navigate herself to the dining room, she is fully aware she is not at home, where her heart is. Difficult for her and for us as you can imagine.

    • Must add: Love the photos, which must conjure up fond memories.

      • Thanks, Marian. They do conjure up wonderful memories. At the time, as we pose for family photos or pictures taken at family dinners or holidays, we have no idea how precious and special these simple memories will become later.

    • Oh, Marian, your Aunt Ruthie’s journal entry still has me sniffling. Is she in a facility where her dog Fritzie can be with her? Many places understand the comfort and stimulation a pet can be.
      Her heart remains at her home; I hope there is some way a part of her home can be brought to her to give her some joy. This process of losing herself as she loses her cognitive functions is painful and sad for her…and all who love her. Believe me, I know, and I am so sorry you and your family are going through this.

      • The dog can be brought in for visits, but he’s a Schnauzer and very feisty, so the visits are few and far between unfortunately. She has a lamp from home and an oil painting of her Grandpa Martin’s home place which she did years ago. She is fortunate that an art therapist comes from a local college to give lessons every so often. As you can imagine, she is a star student. Some of her work is so good the directors have chosen to frame it. Still, there is sadness . . . .

      • It sounds like she’s in a good and helpful place, Marian, especially with and art therapist coming in to give lessons. I hope that–at least from time to time–your aunt looks at the oil painting of the home place that she painted years ago, and she recognizes it and smiles.
        Even if I read aloud some of Mom’s stories and articles she wrote years ago, she doesn’t recognize them. She usually just asks, “Do we know that person.”

  15. I am so glad you reviewed this, along with some healthy reminders included, Marylin! I feel that we are all in this together, also. I feel we can learn about all these health issues. I appreciated very much the humorous addition to let me know, when I misplace my keys it is not a sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia! My Dad used to say ‘forgetfulness is a sign of a busy mind!’ That always helped me to feel better, when I felt so scattered as a young single mother… years later, it helps to read your words, too! I am in awe of your kindness and thoughtfulness in your posts. This leaves me with positive feelings always, when I get a chance to read! Robin

    • Robin, I love what you dad said: “Forgetfulness is a sign of a busy mind!”
      I’ve heard it described as a computer that has too much stored information, and so it’s slower and more difficult to access the information, but I like your dad’s better.
      Thanks so much, Robin. I’m glad that my posts leave you with positive feelings, I really am.

  16. It is true that the longer we live, the more likely we will suffer these diseases. My grandparents died at ages 54, 70, 76 and 86 so three were too young for that disease to even show (by average onset).
    thanks for the tip about the keys. It is great to now when I do those type of things that it is just a sign that I am doing too much!

    • Like you, Elizabeth, I was also very glad to learn about the “keys in the refrigerator.”
      I agree that the longer we live, the more likely we will suffer these diseases. Your grandparents–especially the first three–were not especially old when they died, though the one who died at 86 would probably have begun to show some signs by that point.

  17. Marylin, thanks for this. Not having direct experience of Alzheimers, it’s not something I’ve thought about preventing – and to be honest, I didn’t know it was something you could prevent, so this was really useful information.

    • As the research comes in, Andrea, the recommendations for preventing or at least postponing or diminishing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease appear in medical and health magazines. The ones I included in this post are not “sure things,” but they continue to be recommendations for fighting off both heart disease and Alzheimer’s, so they’re worth a try.
      I so hope you never will have direct experience with Alzheimer’s, Andrea.

  18. Marylin, as you know very well, this topic hits home. The moments of panic you speak of, I experience. In fact, I had one again today.
    You’re a talented writer with way more experience than any one person should have with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Using your talent and experience in posts such as this can make a big difference. Thank you for your words of wisdom. xo

    • Thank you so much, Jill. Oh, how I wish I didn’t have these experiences with Alzheimer’s and dementia, but if something good comes of it through these posts, I’m glad for that. xo

  19. Thanks for this important post and timely reminder that this is something that affects us all. My father died from dementia – a horrible wasting disease. We are all in danger of suffering a similar fate. Healthy eating and lifestyle is the best we can do for ourselves while contributing charitably to research into this deadly condition can hopefully help those in the future.

    • You are so right, Jenny, and I’m glad you added the important element of contributing charitably to the research for the cure. When we watch those we love wasting away with these diseases–as you did with your grandfather and I did with my dad and now my mom–we do take this seriously. Thank you, Jenny.

  20. That was extremely well-spoken and compelling, Marilyn.
    And thanks for the comment about the keys. LOL. I always say I have too many thoughts and not enough brain cells. Hugs!

    • Oh, Teagan, you certainly do have many thoughts and talents with ideas and words, but I also think you have many brain cells, too! My doctor’s response to the “misplacing of the keys” should make us both laugh! 🙂

  21. Have I told you lately how much I love your blog? Another fabulous post and honestly, I am thrilled to know that you place things in odd places too! And I totally hope your doctor is right….and it is just that I have a million things going on at once and am Always (notice the capital A) in a rush! As far as Omega 3 fatty acids…for those who don’t like fish there are Chia seeds and Flax seeds to help keep your heart and mind healthy. I’m now adding them to oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods, etc. Genetics play such an important role in health, but so do environmental factors. Having grown up in a large farming community in the Midwest, I’ve seen a lot of disease that I believe has been influenced by the pesticides and fertilizers used. So, if there is any way to offset any of the negative environmental factors…I’m willing to try them! All my best to you my beautiful friend!

    • Robyn, you are wonderful! Flax and Chia seeds to get more Omega 3 fatty acids–WOW!–thank you. I’ll fix fish twice a week, three times is pushing it, so I’m thrilled to learn how to up the ante in smoothies and baking.
      I agree about the farming dangers of pesticides and fertilizers, and if there’s any way for us to help offset the risks and damages, I am always eager to learn. Thank you, dear Robyn, for sharing this with all of us.

  22. Hudson Howl

    A valuable notation on a complex disease known as Alzheimer’s. And as always is the case in your writing by the end -the big ‘L’ (life and love) takes precedence and shines above the big ‘A’.

    • Oh, thank you so much, Hudson. The Big “L” taking precedence over the capital”A” is what I want for my family, myself and our friends, though I’m not certain that always comes through.

  23. Very informative post.
    We are all so much more than the diseases that try to define us. That’s an important message, too and you imparted it beautifully. The more people know about any illness (be it physical/neurological/mental) the better prepared they are to face it in themselves or their loved ones.

    • Thank you so much, Karen.
      When I read your post on the gray, foggy days in MA (with the amazing picture), it reminded me about the correlation between light and mood with the elderly, especially those with dementia. I think it affects us all.

  24. The number of people developing Alzheimers is shocking… thanks for brining awareness here about the big “A”

  25. Jim

    July 17, 2014: Malaysia Flight 17 was shot down by a missile over disputed Ukrainian territory. 298 passengers and crew perished. Among the victims were several prominent Alzheimer’s scientists on their way to a conference on the disease. CNN also reported that there was a young college student on the flight. Her friends said one could always find her in the chemistry laboratory or on the water as she trained with her school’s rowing team. They said she had already defined her life’s mission. She wanted to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The reporter concluded the story with this comment: “What if the cure for Alzheimer’s was aboard that plane?”

    We are all so heart-broken and pray for the victims and their families.

    • That is the question, honey. What if the cure for Alzheimer’s was aboard that plane?
      The loss was so great, and you and we felt so sad for the families and friends of all the children and adults on the plane, and now we are also sad for all those in the future whose Alzheimer’s might have been helped or even prevented if Flight 17 had not been shot down.
      It’s a sobering thought. We all are connected in ways we don’t realize.

  26. I’ve been thinking about this since Saturday morning, Marylin. It’s wonderful that you posted this, as it’s very informative. I do believe we can slow the onset and progression of the disease through healthy-brain practices, but until we understand what it is — what causes it and hastens it, we can’t really prevent it or successfully treat it.

    There are so many diseases like that. I’ve found that I simply must face the fact that disease and death are facts of life. I think perhaps the biggest problem with Alzheimers and Dementia are that we live in a society that doesn’t want to face that fact, which so often casts the one who suffers the disease, along and their family members, outside the false circle drawn around what “life” encompasses, what it means, and what makes it valuable.

    Until we find a cure and a prevention, what I’d like to see us working on is a better, more integrated system of compassionate, helpful care for those in the early stages. I think there is ample proof that by remaining socially interactive in a comforting, friendly environment, the shutting down and withdrawal is slowed. I have no scientific study to prove this, but in my own mind and experience it only makes emotional and spiritual sense–that loneliness and fear make a person withdraw and give up the battle against the disease.

    I’m sure YOU (with your oversight of her care) are one of the primary reasons your mother is still with us, comfortable, and seemingly content. The care your mother receives is extraordinary, not the norm. I hope your blog inspires others to extend themselves to their neighbors and family members, to hold them and support them as still-living members of the family and community.

  27. Tracy, your thoughtful and specific comments remind me of your book,
    TOWARD DAYLIGHT. As I read it, your honesty was a vivid testimony of your health battles as well as your strong spirit and willingness to make the most of the knowledge you gleaned. You offered gentle and specific examples and encouragement to readers of your book, and that shines through in your helpful comments here.
    Loneliness and fear can make a person withdraw and give up the battle, but your writing reaches out and pushes away the loneliness and therefore diminishes the fear.
    Yours in an honest and reassuring voice in the confusing world of fibromyalgia, and you are much appreciated.

  28. I watched the previous movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes a few weeks back and really liked it so I’m looking forward to the Dawn one. I’m caring for my mother-in-law who has dementia (she’s still ‘on the cusp’ as I call it so she is easy at the moment to care for). Her mother also had dementia so I’m always keeping a close eye on hubby. It concerns me when he’s forgetful and I think this is something all of us will have to deal with at some time in our lives. The lines are very blurred so it’s not as if we can pick it immediately in a relative, but knowing family history is big help.

  29. I think you’ll enjoy the DAWN version, too, Dianne. There’s an interesting balance of good and evil on both sides, and even though only the introduction mentions the Alzheimer’s antidote, because the apes were the ones it was tested on and now they communicate and plan strategies, it’s clear the antidote that brought on a fatal flu for humans also effectively triggered something in the brains of the apes. We thought it was a fascinating concept. Let me know what you think.

  30. Molly

    Mom,

    I remember as a teenager, my biggest worry was that when you got older you would wear navy polyester pants with a black shirt. Oh, the horror! After going through the “A” with Grandpa and now the dementia with Grandma, I can honestly say that not having them remember me (or anyone) and realizing how frustrating and scary that would be for them is one of the scariest things that I can think of.

    Although you are starting to show similarities in your fingers and knuckles to look like Grandpa, and you kind of snore like Grandma…I also see how active your brain is, and how much you do remember! But just in case it ever does rear its ugly head (in the next 30 years) please make sure you continue to tell family stories so that we can have them all documented!!

    Love you!

  31. It’s a promise, Mookie. You’ve got it.
    It is scary, what Grandpa went through with the “A”…and now with Grandma hardly remembering any of us or where she is. But how we respond to these scary things defines us and reveals us, and even though it’s hard, you’ve already shown how you step up to the plate and face your fears.
    Even Grace and Gannon learn from you and respond as they see you respond: they are not afraid of their confused great-grandmother. They reach out to her, make art for her and talk to her. Because of you, and like you, they step up to the plate.
    You grandpa and grandma would be as proud of you as Dad and I are…and that is VERY proud.

    • P.S. I just read your comment on the post “Just Words.” Because of you, daughter is a special word to us, and everything connected to family–son-in-law, granddaughter, grandson, and the names grandpa and Mor-Mor–have all taken on richer, fuller meanings because of you.
      We love you so very much, Mookie.

  32. Jane Thorne

    Thank you Marylin for writing about the science behind ‘A’ and ‘D’…we operate from two standpoints…one love and the other fear. You operate from love and I love the golden connection between you and Molly. ❤

    • Jane, if my mother could still follow pictures and understand, I’d show her the post with your driving a tractor and back-hoe. She would love it…and probably tell your stories about driving a wagon or learning to drive the car on the farm. Your adventures are so much fun!

  33. Dear Marylin, I am so sorry for getting here so late in the week – can’t believe it’s Wednesday already. I’m wrapping up this week with a couple more blog posts then I’ll be signing off on Friday for a couple of weeks. Hubby and I are going to France with friends for one week and the other week I need to take some serious time out to catch up with so many jobs around this place that have been neglected for so long. This week is proving to be a challenge in other ways as my daughter is struggling but I won’t take up your blog space with my problems (and sorry for all this, but I know you understand). I guess in reading this fantastic, informative post, I’m reminded once again how much you have on your shoulders but in sharing all your knowledge here you help us so much. Like you, I do wonder about the salmon and the coffee. Very interesting indeed. I drink a lot of tea but not much coffee…maybe I should start.
    My grandmother suffered from dementia in the last few years of her life but it was relatively mild. So far, I don’t have first hand experience with Alzheimer’s but I fear it when I forget words or lose things or become foggy in my mind. I found what your doctor told you very comforting, thank you so much for that 🙂
    And you know what is so ironic? About 15 years ago, I was told that my dad, who will be 82 next month (and not much news there, had surgery, waiting to hear but he seems to be feeling well and I’ll keep you updated when I hear something more tangible) had the beginnings of early-onset senile dementia from his drinking and when I asked what would happen they said that he would become a vegetable. It never happened. Dad’s short term memory is not great but that’s hardly surprising, but other than that he is as on the ball as he can be. Life sure is a strange thing isn’t it?
    Hugs to you Marylin and thank you for this wonderful post.
    PS Love your family pics with the 50 years between them – tells many a story there – and I also loved Planet of the Apes 😉

    • Sherri, I just read ANOTHER study about coffee helping prevent or lesson Alzheimer’s AND now also Parkinson’s. I don’t know that it’s the new miracle cure, but I’m drinking an extra cup each day now just in case. 😉 And since I want you around for a long time, clear-headed and writing wonderful stories, you might switch a cup of tea for a cup of coffee every day, too!
      Have a wonderful time in France, than catch up on all those nagging things needing to get finished…so you can get back to writing your book!

      • Right, that’s it, you’ve sold me and I’m on it!! I do drink one cup in the mornings, but think I’ll start making that a couple a day now…at least! Ahh…thanks Marylin, that’s so sweet.of you, it’s so nice to be ‘wanted’!!! And don’t worry, I will be taking my notebook and pen with me (I’ll be unplugged for an entire week and I’m not sure how I’ll cope, it will be so strange!) so I will not be forgetting my writing and that book will be written, rain or shine! Have a great summer and see you soon…and keep drinking that coffee 🙂

  34. I really liked the Rise of the Planet of the Apes… watched it on TV. Would love to see the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
    Have you ever visited the Website ScienceDaily Marylin? They have an article that was published July 13, 2014: “Smell and eye tests show potential to detect Alzheimer’s early.” The article is here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140713155512.htm
    The Mayo Clinic Website indicates: “If you’re at high risk of developing dementia or have already experienced some cognitive decline, checking your folic acid levels may be a reasonable step.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/folic-acid-supplements/faq-20058055
    Only a few of my relatives have lived long enough to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia; and as far as I know, they didn’t. But, in the back of my mind, my worst fear would be developing Alzheimer’s or dementia and only remembering the ‘bad’ times. At least Mary seems to remember the ‘good’ times.
    Thank you for always being so kind and thoughtful Marylin. I hope and pray that Alzheimer’s and dementia can be prevented and/or cured VERY soon!

    • Theresa, both of those links are excellent! Thanks for sharing those. I had read about folic acid levels, and also about how being able to identify certain smells–or not being able to identify–was getting a lot of attention, too. There seems to be more information and “tests” for Alzheimer’s now, which I hope will eventually lead to a cure soon.

  35. Thank you for sharing this very helpful post, Marylin. I do many of the things being recommended, although the fish intake is very low because I fear how much we’re over harvesting them.

    Many of us live so much longer than most of our ancestors did, and the chances of disease affliction rise as a result. I also suspect the massive amounts of pollution and hazardous chemicals in our environment play a significant role in many diseases and ailments. If only we could clean up the environment and focus on less hazardous/polluting sources of energy, fertilizers, and such, we would probably see major improvements in overall health everywhere.

    • I think you’re right on target on several issues, and much of the research does at least refer to the environmental role is many diseases. But the “references” seem to be as far as it goes. So I latch onto the foods, walking, social activities, coffee and other suggestions that supposedly help hearts and overall health as well as minds.
      I look at my parents’ parents who did NOT have Alzheimer’s or serious dementia, and they all died at much younger ages; two died years before my parents’ problems even began to appear.

  36. Karin Van den Bergh

    Thank you for sharing this Marylin. Prevention in the form of living a healthy lifestyle, is something we can all do to the best of our ability. The rest, well.. I guess it’s a mix of genetic predispositions, inborn abilities and something as mysterious as fate or life’s higher purpose.
    I know that in recent years there’s a lot of interest from the medical world on the effects of essential oils in neurological diseases, especially franckinsense because it has a high level of sesquiterpenes which enables it to safely cross the blood barrier in the brain and support receptor cells from deteriorating. I’m currently helping people with Parkinson’s and notice already a slow but steady improvement in behavior. I’m very hopeful and excited about all the new research in this field. I’ll send you a link on protocol with essential oils. If you like more info about it, please feel free to drop me a line. http://www.everythingessential.me/HealthConcerns/Alzheimers.html#page=page-3

    • What an informative link, Karin! Thanks for sharing it. I’m going to do some research on franckinsense, especially.
      Also, more research about coffee was on the news last night. This time it showed added benefits in preventing diabetes as well as improving basic functions of those with Parkinson’s, as well as stalling the progression of Alzheimer’s.

      • Karin Van den Bergh

        Interesting. I never would have thought that coffee could actually have ‘healing’ qualities as well.. when taken in moderation of course 😉
        And just FYI I’m actually a health consultant and distributor in essential oils.

  37. In moderation, of course. Too much caffeine and I’d be having trouble sleeping, and that can’t be very healing!
    It’s good to know who my go-to person is in essential oils, Karin!

  38. Thank you for the informative post, Marilyn. Your doctors right, by the way, on the keys in the fridge. It can be a sign that you’ve got too much on your plate and need to relax. I know that I’ve been guilty of taking on too much and what the overload results are.

    I knew about the positive effects of omega 3’s, especially salmon. That is something we frequently have … and try to follow a Mediterranean diet with lots of fruits, veggies and fish. I’m glad to see that coffee is good as well. My daughter and I disagree on this one. I usually have one cup of coffee a day.

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