Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Come to my new BLOG!

Alzheimer's in the Family has moved to my new Blog and Web site:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Healthy, frugal, easy, refreshing ways to keep hydrated

As the temperature rises, what will you choose to quench your thirst? There is nothing as important for the brain as keeping it hydrated. Our brains are about 80% water.

If you wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink, you are already dehydrated. It is essential to drink often throughout the day. When it is very warm or when you are perspiring, you need to be particularly careful. Living in Phoenix, this is critical. Many people who move here and do not make it a point to drink enough develop kidney stones. If this is occurring, that means the brain has been severely deprived of its required hydration.

To get the optimum function of the brain, it just has to have enough water. When there's Alzheimer's in the family, this is one area where we need to give our attention.

For good hydration, it's important to have drinks that do not have caffeine. And it's easy to choose drinks that are heavily laden with sugar. Sure, water is the best choice, but it can get monotonous.

I've developed a number of drinks that do not have sugar or caffeine. These have helped me stay fully hydrated and refreshed.

I've always enjoyed the drinks in glass bottles like Snapple or Arizona Ice Tea or Fuze drinks. There's something about that really cold bottle and chilled drink that makes them special.

The problem is that there are not any drinks that I have found in glass bottles that are sweetened with Stevia, the only natural artificial sweetener. It is actually made from the Stevia plant.

So in order to have that cold bottle/chilled drink effect, I save the glass drink bottles and wash in the dishwasher. I wash the caps by hand so they do not rust.

I created this combination as an alternative to water that is not sugar sweetened or artificially sweetened.

I enjoy having the fresh squeezed lemon juice.
When the fresh juice is not readily available, I use unsweetened Kool-Aid lemonade packets.

Black Currant Lemonade

Juice of 2 lemons or 1 packet Kool-Aid lemonade
three droppers of liquid Stevia (available at Sprouts or health food stores)
2 quarts of water
1-2 cups of unsweetened Black Currant juice

(Other juices I use are Just Cranberry, Just Pomegranate, Just Raspberry.
I get my juices at Trader Joes or Sprouts. They have no added sweetener.)

Fill recycled glass drink bottles and refrigerate.
Enjoy a wonderfully chilled, refreshing and healthy beverage!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are you a grandparent taking care of your own parent?

More and more boomers are now grandparents AND are faced with the responsibility for their parents. Demands from both ends of the family spectrum. The sandwich generation is indeed a reality.

58% of the grandparents in the U.S. are boomers.
That's 27 million boomer grandparents.

Boomer grandparents may live close by, but more likely they live at a distance. Instead of the family all going to grandmother's house as in the old days, it's more often the case of grandparents traveling to their families. With long distances to consider, it makes more sense most of the time for the grandparents to be the ones traveling.

And then, it's likely that the boomers' parents may live at a distance as well. That can be a lot of bouncing around trying to keep up with everyone in the family. Working full time either in an employed sense or as a business owner is another huge demand on the boomer grandparent.

Boomer grandmothers may enjoy reading stories written by 27 grandmothers, exploring grandmotherly emotions and experiences.

Barbara Graham: Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Video: The Face of Alzheimer's Disease

I found this video to be an interesting look into the lives of individuals dealing with Alzheimer's in their family. Every situation has its unique characteristics and yet there is that common thread of the patient just not being themselves.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Worrying can make it so...

Have you had the feeling that you are not remembering things well anymore? I know I have.

And now there is a study showing that when we worry about aging and losing our memory, we actually do have memory problems.

AND those with more education showed the greatest effect on their performance on memory tests when they are worried. This is probably because those with more education place a higher value on their cognitive processes and therefore are more concerned and perform at a lower level. These were tasks in math and memorization.

For the testing, participants were told they were being tested to see how they did as compared to younger people. This created a psychological "threat" creating the worry state.

In a study at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, psychology professor Tom Hess and his team found that worrying about aging and memory loss can actually become a "self-fulfilling prophecy."

I know when I realized that Mom was having problems and was then diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I found myself not remembering things and overreacted to that, feeling as though I was right there on the path to AD myself. When there's Alzheimer's in the Family, it's really important to be aware of this possibility. With the awareness, it's easier to keep things in perspective as you support your parent in getting needed care.

Check out the article. Very interesting.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Let's Make a Date ToTalk this Week!

Tonight I decided I'd finally make a video with the webcam I purchased months ago.
You can check it out here.

Quite a learning curve for me to do this! Lot of funny false starts! And I've got to figure out why the quality isn't crisper. It's a high quality Logitech recorder and should have higher resolution.

I'm so excited to share with you the program I am developing! I support business women in staying sane, healthy, and professional when they have a parent with Alzheimer's disease.
I'm making it a priority right now to connect with many women who have been or are now faced with this challenge in their lives.

If that's you, I would love to talk. I'm setting up 30 minute appointments so that we have time to share wisdom we've acquired through experience. Hopefully our time together will be a support to you as well as a wonderful resource for me.

Just click on this link to take you to the contact page. I'll email you so we can set up an appointment to meet either by phone or in person. I live in Phoenix, Arizona.

I look forward to hearing about what you have experienced in having a parent with Alzheimer's or what you've learned from others who have Alzheimer's in the family.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Grandchildren Are Also Part of the Process

I love this video I found on YouTube. Hearing about having Alzheimer's in the Family from a child really touched me.

This situation with Alzheimer's in the family is different from what my family has experienced. We have had the experience of taking Mom's great grandchildren to the Care Center to visit her. It's difficult for them to feel comfortable with her because of her lack of verbal skills, the unfamiliar environment, and Mom's appearance that has changed so much. Even the anxiety of their parents, Mom's grandchildren, is felt by the little ones. All of the great grandchildren are under 10 years old.

Family has always been top priority to Mom and she still shows a positive reaction to seeing the children. The great grandchildren live all over the U.S. All the families have made the effort to come to visit.

Something we did to help the children feel a bit more comfortable was to bring Mom out to a living room area in the Care Center that feels more like being in a home situation. It's also important to plan so that someone can be with the children when the visit goes longer than they can tolerate. Short connection is the best. It's difficult to keep the children with Mom for very long because of their discomfort and the sometimes intense stimuli for Mom.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Is Your Fitness Supporting You in the Marathon of Caregiving?

Having a parent with Alzheimer's, whether you are doing the care at your own home or visiting and supporting your parent at a facility, the "progression" of the disease can go on for many years. You need to have the physical stamina as well as emotional support to weather the storm of these many years of concern, grief, and even the guilt

... guilt of feeling you are not doing enough, guilt of not being able to do SOMETHING to take your parent out of this situation they would not want to be in, AND the supreme guilt of feeling it would be a blessing for your parent to die. Ouch! We can go back and forth with wanting them to be at peace and then feeling like a terrible child to want their parent dead.

Whew....I feel anxious even talking about that to you.

So, back to the exercise. What can you do to increase your stamina, stimulate your endorphins that contribute to a more positive emotional state, and alleviate your stress?

It depends on the amount of time and freedom you have to take time for physical movement. You can do various exercise routines in your own home. With the multitude of DVD's available for many types of exercise, you can work out when you have a small segment of time. And it's not so important to have a huge amount of time in the exercise mode. What the latest research is showing is that short bursts of strenuous exercise are the most effective way of increasing your cardiovascular system and controlling or releasing weight.

If your schedule allows it, I highly recommend participating in organized workout classes at a physical facility. This gives you some social connection as well as a very energizing environment.

I've made my fitness a high priority the last few years. I've always enjoyed working out, but have amped it up as the stress and grief have been with me since Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

When there's Alzheimer's in the family, there is a cloud hanging over with everyone wondering what will happen next. Will the patient know us the next time we visit? Can we plan a vacation or do we feel as though at any time, we'll need to be with our parent?

I've enjoyed Yoga and Platform Pilates, Exercise Ball classes, and weight machines and the elliptical previously at Bally's... I combined this with Curves for awhile to incorporate a quick, mindless workout that I could fit in easily.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to join 24 Hour Fitness. Had a great deal buying a 2 year membership through Costco. I just happened to see an ad in their online mail and jumped at the opportunity. After joining, I learned that they had a New Member Challenge and signed up for that and looked at how I could earn points. I say I'm not a competitive person, but it seems when there is a challenge I do get engaged!

I saw that if I did 100 workouts in the 6 months, I could earn 2 extra points. In calculating all the points possible, I could see that I could qualify for a BodyBugg, a product by Apex that 24 Hr Fitness offers for sale from $199 - $249 if I earned the total possible points of 24. The BodyBugg allows you to easily keep track of calories burned. You wear it on your arm while working out or all through the day.

AND, I checked my records yesterday and see that I worked out over 100 days in the last four and a half months! I enjoy a variety of workouts from cardio in the water, Yoga, Zumba (great vigorous dance class), Turbo KickBox, the elliptical machine, weight-training machines, and Salsa Dance classes. I also enjoy being outdoors, whether walking around my neighborhood lake or hiking our urban mountains here in Phoenix.

Cross training is the very best way to develop fitness and a healthy Body Mass Index. I make a point of planning a variety of activities each week. One of the keys to staying on schedule is having all the proper clothes and equipment lined up. I use those canvas L.L.Bean bags to have everything ready to go for water work and yoga.

I can't tell you how much this physical exercise has supported me in staying Sane, Healthy, and as a result more Professional! I highly recommend your finding some way of moving your body on a regular basis. You'll survive the marathon of having Alzheimer's in the family and even thrive in the midst of a challenging situation.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Online Marketing Can Be Helpful When Your Parent Has Alzheimer's

Something I've found valuable in helping me get through some difficult times with various family challenges including having a parent with Alzheimer's is going online with as much of my business as possible.

I thought I'd share a fr*ee resource for you to learn more about internet marketing.

4,000 people who signed up for Ali Brown's free teleclass called "Ali's Top 10 Recommendations to Kick-Up Your Revenues This Summer!"

If you weren't there, there's still time for you to download the audio.

(But do it soon, as you only have a few days before the audio is coming down.)

Ali always shares so much valuable information, even on her fr*ee calls! I admire all that she has accomplished and learn so much from her every time she teaches.

Check it out. I'm sure you'll find that you'll learn something!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grey's Anatomy and Alzheimer's

I remember discovering Grey's Anatomy when Oprah had the cast on her show. She mentioned watching all the previous episodes via DVD. I decided I would do that also and watched my way through several seasons! I LOVE watching series via DVD rather than live TV with commercials. Going from episode to episode without interruption can build on the drama so much more effectively.

It was fascinating to see Meredith's mom, once an extremely talented physician, with the devastating effects of Alzheimer's. This brought so much attention to the disease and that it could affect younger people than we usually expect to have Alzheimer's.

More than 200,000 Americans are living with younger-onset Alzheimer's disease, meaning they have been diagnosed under the age of 65. Alzheimer's is not just a disease that affects "old people." Today, we have the ability to diagnose people in their 30s, 40s and 50s — giving them time to plan for the future and begin drug therapy. Learn how to recognize the signs of Alzheimer's disease.

In this instance, the fictional world of television has only emphasized what is fact: Alzheimer's is a public health threat that must be stopped.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Green Smoothie - A Glass of Fresh!

Yes, that is what Oprah called this drink when Dr. Oz prepared it for her on air!

Most mornings I throw together one of these super nutritious, refreshing drinks.
I know that I've gotten my day off to a great start without a lot of preparation.


2 or more cups of spinach
1 1/2 cups water
about a square inch of fresh ginger, peeled
1 Tablespoon of Flax Oil
2 level scoops of Aria (powdered supplement of blended soy and whey protein)
1/2 scoop of BerrySplash, mixed berry powdered drink mix with Acai Berry
1 Tablespoon of L-Glutamine Amino Acid
1 scoop of Green Defense, super green foods powder


Put spinach and chopped, peeled ginger into the blender.
Pout in the water.
Cover the blender.
Blend on high until the spinach and ginger are liquefied.
Add Flax Oil, Aria, BerrySplash, L-Glutamine, and Green Defense
Blend in 2 or 3 ice cubes...more if you want your drink more frozen

This is a way of getting mega nutrients into your body to support you when you are going through stressful times such as having Alzheimer's in the Family with a parent or other loved one with the disease. I won't go into all the amazing benefits of the ingredients right now. Another time I'll talk about that.

It's important to have equipment that makes creating the smoothie effortless.
I use an Osterizer blender. What I have now is their 12-speed blender. This is an amazingly powerful blender. I've been doing daily shakes with this one for several years and it is still going strong. I have noticed that the bottom of the glass container where the mechanism is may be leaking....wearing out a bit. Rather than checking into getting a new part....usually a tedious process, I am purchasing a new one....

I've chosen the Osterizer 14-speed blender. The 12-speed doesn't seem to be readily available. I'm confident that this one will be as good...and even better than the 12-speed. I found it online at It came up on Google and the price is incredible...$24.88 and is available with their Site to Store with no shipping.

When you compare this blender to various prestige ones on the the web costing hundreds of dollar, I recommend this one. I've been very satisfied with the performance and durability. Other typical blenders just don't handle this type of blending job as well. Having the glass container is a plus also.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is Your Work Causing Sleep Deprivation?

Great to see where my articles go!
Today it was fun to find an email from Bert Langdon, CFP and find out that my article was published on the front page of the Raymond James Financial Services newsletter this month.

I met Bert and his wife at Jack Canfield's Breakthrough to Success Workshop in Scottsdale last summer.

I can't insert the PDF newsletter so I'll include the text here so you can also benefit from this information about sleep deprivation.

Is Your Work Causing Sleep Deprivation?
7 Possible Ways

Do you feel drowsy during the day or evening?
Is tiredness affecting your daily activities on a regular basis?
Do you fall asleep often when you sit down to relax?
Are you irritable with others around you?

If you answer yes to a couple of these, most likely you are sleep deprived.


Staying at work way beyond the normal eight hours is the biggest determinant of how much sleep Americans get in a typical day. Overtime is a common occurrence in many industries. In the culture of many organizations, to work just eight hours could actually be considered skipping out early. Mathias Basner, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine studied 47,731 Americans. He found that those who worked longer hours found time for other activities by shortening their sleep hours.


When you have concerns on your mind about work, it can be difficult to sleep at night. In order to combat this sleeplessness, many people have an alcoholic drink or take sleeping medicines to fall asleep. The problem with these is that you have lighter sleep and don't have the REM phase of sleep that is so restorative to the brain.


When you are working at times when you normally would be sleeping, you disrupt your circadian rhythm. This rhythm is the cycle your body repeats day after day. Shift work sleep disorder has effects very similar to jet lag. Shift work affects people in various industries: medicine, production lines, technology, telephone service reps, transportation. We also need light in our days to produce the melatonin needed for quality sleep. Having to sleep in the daytime when you are on a night shift deprives you of sunlight.


Travel time, including time sitting in traffic, can take up a large portion of your day. It could be considered one of the hidden costs to living out in the suburbs. To make up for the loss of those hours, it's tempting to shorten sleep time. Fatigue caused by the lack of sleep can make the commute dangerous as well as stressful. Sleep-deprived drivers cause more than 100,000 automobile crashes a year (National Sleep Foundation).


What a wonderful technological advancement to be able to log into your work computer from home! Or is it? When does work stop and leisure begin? Working on your sofa with your laptop while trying to participate in family time is not effective for either activity. And how tempting it is to continue work in the quiet of the night to catch up on what you didn't feel complete from your day! To transition from working at the computer to falling asleep can be difficult also, resulting in an even later start to sleep.


Working long hours and not taking breaks during the day can lead to too much time between food intake and poor food choices. Late business dinners or dinners with clients can mean a very full stomach when heading to bed. This can have an adverse effect on the quality of your sleep.


Exercise is often forgotten with not enough time or energy left over after work demands are met. And exercising too late in the evening can also make it difficult to get to sleep. Getting up early enough in the morning to exercise can be a real challenge when you do not have enough sleep during the night.

If some of these factors are influencing your sleep, you may want to look for solutions that can help you move toward taking better care of yourself. Over a period of time, the effects on you from sleep deprivation build up and can cause a multitude of physical, mental, and emotional problems.

If you have employees, be aware that these challenges to their sleep and other self-care can be very detrimental to their productivity and attendance on the job.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shower the People - James Taylor

Today at Unity of Phoenix Richard Maraj gave another message in his series: The Songs of Life

I loved how he connected James Taylor's "Shower the People" to the many aspects of loving, feeling, and sharing those feelings.

As I listened I found myself seeing parallels with what I've learned from women who have Alzheimer's in the family, whether a parent, spouse, or grandparent.

There are more songs and books about *love* than any other subject...not surprising!

Jesus showed us how to love...unconditionally love...

I was thinking about that in relationship to having a parent with Alzheimer's.
Just as we love our infants unconditionally....just for being, it gets to that point when there is Alzheimer's in the family. No longer is there much response from our parent to what we do or say.

And your parent may not even know who you are anymore...just some nice person who comes to visit.

It's an opportunity to see how pure your love really is...
Are you OK with just "loving" on your parent, even when there doesn't seem to be a positive response?

I am grateful that I truly do believe my Mom still knows me and she usually responds positively to loving touch and smiles. Sometimes not... I just never know from one visit to the next what to expect. I remember one day last year when I visited and she was sitting in the hall and never would wake up the entire time I was there...

She no longer even sits in the hall as far as I know... and I've learned to visit at lunch time when Mom is more alert. I usually sit with Mom while she eats and make certain that they bring her an ice cream sundae. She loves her ice cream!

...and back to James Taylor....
"Show them the way that you feel...."
Expressing your feelings is essential for a successful relationship. The number one reason for dissatisfaction in relationships is not sharing our feelings. We don't tell the truth ... and sometimes don't even FEEL the truth of what is going inside us.

Jesus shared his emotions. Jesus wept. Jesus shared his up feelings, down feeling, angry feelings.

As children we learned that it was much easier and we felt more loved if we said what parents wanted to hear rather than what we were really feeling. Who wants to be the one who's always in trouble for speaking up against their parents?

"You can run but you can't hide"

Don't you LOVE his amazing voice!
I have a special affinity for James Taylor.
His "Greatest Hits" CD was my first...a gift from my son, David.

Yes, you can run from your feelings but you can't hide from them.
There are negative effects when we don't notice and express our feelings.
Suppression of our feelings lowers our immune system.
Not sharing creates separation in relationships.

When a parent is getting older, not hearing well, or is in various stages of Alzheimer's or some other dementia...
After asking over and over again for someone to repeat what they've said, you'll see some older people start faking that they've heard what was said.

Or parents may hide from their children that they are really struggling with keeping up with all the details of their home and life. They feel their children are too busy...don't need to hear about their problems. And parents don't want to lose their independence. If their children think they are not able to be on their own, they'll lose the joy of having their own home and life.

I even saw a story on TV of many homeless people living in tents. People who found themselves without the funds to support a home after losing their jobs...
One couple was talking to the reporter saying they had not told their children...were ashamed to be in the situation....

Think of what's happening to our parents' immune system when they are suppressing their feelings and not sharing their problems with their children...
We need to encourage our parents to share with us.

Gregg Bauer in Real Love says that when we are in fear we can't even be honest with ourselves, much less with others.
With fear, we lie, attack, become a victim, cling, or run.
With love we feel, we're honest, and we're safe.
It all comes down to living in love or living in fear.
Only with honesty and sharing of feelings can there be "Real Love".

Talk to your parent and express your love even if it seems there is no understanding of what you are saying. Just as small children pick up on emotion before they have understanding of language, the same is going on for your parent.

Share what you are going through with someone else who cares about you. Be honest with yourself about the multitude of emotions you are experiencing. It's OK to have negative as well as positive feelings about all that is going on.

Yes, Shower the People....
with your love...
with your concerns...
with your joy...
with your sorrows...
Yes, Show them the way that you feel...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Exelon - the New Alzheimer's Drug

I've been hearing commercials for the Exelon patch on TV lately...

It's for mild to moderate Alzheimer's. My Mom's physician prescribed Aricept for Mom and that is a medication that has to be taken at very precise times.
With Mom's condition at that time, we couldn't trust that she would take any meds at a prescribed time. We employed one of the aides at the retirement community where she was living in an independent living garden home to come in at med times.

This seemed like a good solution for Mom to have the meds she needed to keep her symptoms from preventing her from living on her own.

However, Mom didn't like having someone ring her doorbell when she was sleeping...and she was sleeping more and more.

That was over three years ago...
Mom's behavior got more and more unlike her. Dishes piled up in the sink.
She wasn't going to the retirement community dining room for her nightly meals as she always had.

I took her shopping and bought some frozen dinners. I wondered why she hadn't been
eating those...only the pudding snacks and other snack foods. Mom also always loved making cappuccino from the dry mix.

I realized she had forgotten how to use the microwave oven that she had been using for many years.

I would go to visit her and find her sitting out on the little front porch in her nightgown. This is something she NEVER would have done previously.
She also wasn't taking showers... Mom ALWAYS showered and washed her hair daily before.

So we did have to move her into the care center where she could receive the care and protection she needed. This is something she had seen happen with her younger sister and Mom said never to let that happen to her. She didn't want to be sitting and sleeping and not knowing anyone or doing anything. When there is Alzheimer's in the family, it was difficult not to see herself heading on the same path.

So Mom is still in the Care Center. She moved in July 14, 2006. It's now April 25, 2009. I can't believe she has been there so long.

They placed Mom on hospice several months ago, mostly because her weight had dropped so much as a result of her Alzheimer's disease.

I'm curious how the Exelon medication would have worked.
Would she have been able to be on her own longer?

I am so grateful that there is a lot of research going on to uncover more of the mysteries of Alzheimer's. Mom spoke with pride when they built a research facility right there in Sun City, Arizona that would be researching Alzheimer's.

Mom had an amazing life. Dad died in April 1998. Mom was on her own for 8 years before needing to leave her home.

For many of those years I was very involved in getting her to doctor appointments and grocery and clothing shopping. When she was going through breast cancer, I was with her for the many appointments and surgery.

I feel as though I don't really DO all that much for her now as compared to then. Her care is done by the staff at Royal Oaks Life Care Center. I am her advocate for good care and medical decisions. I am her loving daughter who visits her and takes her for walks outside in the wheelchair.

What is huge is that overshadowing feeling of concern and sadness for Mom and the kind of life she has now.

And there something I should be doing for her?
Is there something I should have done differently?

There's anxiety before each visit, wondering if she'll speak at all that visit....whether she'll know who I am....

And sadness as I leave...
Will she know me next time?
Will this be the last time I see her alive?

Every good bye is straight from my heart.
I never know if it will be my last.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What I Hate About Being a Professional Woman With a Parent With Alzheimer's

No one would choose it...
seeing your parent losing their memory, getting more and more confused...
Alzheimer's moves in and reasoning and thinking moves out...

Those times when I was to take her to the doctor's and she was convinced that it was on a different day and would be waiting for me...calling me again and again, leaving me messages that she was waiting for me to get there....sigh..

Mom was always so precise with her punctuality...kept an accurate calendar and followed it precisely. Experiencing her frustration with her confusion was so painful.

I hate seeing Mom losing her once professional brain.

This is a photo of Mom just a few months before her Alzheimer's diagnosis three years ago.

And when I couldn't remember something, I was convinced I was losing my professional brain also.
With Alzheimer's in the family, was I next?
I started to think I was headed down that road right along with her!

I even made an appointment with a neurologist...for see what he thought about my condition. He took me through some cognitive tests and informed me I scored higher than anyone else had scored...told me that it was the stress of the situation with my mom that was causing me to forget things. Having this Alzheimer's support made a huge difference for me in relaxing about what I'd been feeling.

He reassured me that when Alzheimer's comes along at an advanced age...after 80...that it is not as likely to be an inherited condition. It is early-onset Alzheimer's that is passed on from generation to generation.

I hate that I sometimes have problems focusing on my work. It's easy to let concerns and anxiety about what's coming next cloud my clarity. It takes conscious effort of setting clear intentions and categorizing time segments.

I hate leaving Mom each time I visit her, wondering if she'll know me the next time I see her.

I hate not being able to share my latest projects with Mom.

I hate seeing so many of Mom's friends getting very frail and dying.

I hate seeing Mom's eyes looking so lost and far away.

I hate losing my Mom.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We Can Work It Out...the Beatles

As part of a series of messages given by Richard Maraj, our minister at Unity of Phoenix,"We Can Work It Out" was the topic on Sunday. I loved this study on an old favorite song... and it got me to thinking about the present, the past, and the future.

Yes, we CAN work it out, but it is not always in the way we would choose.
We can set our sights on what we want to avoid...and what we feel we much have..

When we have Alzheimer's in the family and see our parent slipping away from the person we knew them to be, it's hard to see the good in that. And I have to admit, it's been difficult for me. Alzheimer's support is important for anyone whose parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

What I have experienced the last four years is a review of my life with my mom - the good, the bad, and the "ugly" as they say...

I've thought about things I wasn't all that happy about with our relationship and have been able to let them go... I see Mom now in a very different way...not in the mom role anymore....and it allows me to accept her as just a human being. All that I experienced with her was just my mom doing the best that she could with what she knew at the time and with her own life experiences.

And what I really love is the rich appreciation I'm feeling for all that has been amazing about my Mom. Remembering how she was so up on what was going on...
Seeing myself back at those great holiday celebrations that we always had...special birthday parties, festive Christmas and New Year's celebrations.

Mom always created wonderful food and a beautiful home....

It's given me a rich, positive position about my childhood.

Often we affirm the negative, project the worst, and narrow our focus to fear...
"If this doesn't happen...I'll never be happy again!"

We can not control what results may happen in our life.
Sometimes what comes about is better than we ever expected...
And sometimes we see things happening that seem so wrong and later turn out to have a very positive result.

What we do have the power to do is create our own inner environment.

Unlike indigenous plants that can thrive only in their native environment, we are instead endogenous...meaning that we grow from within and can thrive anywhere.
When we remember that, it's easier to move forward and see the positive around us.

As the Beatles sang it all so wisely:

Life is very short and there's no time for fussy and fighting....

Take time to be grateful...
Take time to receive...
Take time to love...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guest post: Love Can Change Your Life

Love does make a huge difference in ANY situation...
especially when you are facing challenges like Alzheimer's in the Family...

Love Can Change Your Life! by Morgine Jurdan

My entire body tingled as I awoke, snuggled in crisp clean sheets, warmed by the sunlight kissing my skin. It was as if several hundred pounds of emotional excess has been released from my life these days! No more endless processes, books and courses attempting to change myself any more! I am free at last, bathing in the simplicity of Love!

Thinking I knew what love was, and having an intimate relationship with It, was life transforming for me. I liken it to being in love with my partner for over 10 years from afar, and finally having that first kiss! I could barely sleep for three days! Many mystics and scientists alike agree there is “an energy” everything emerges from and which creates all we experience here and beyond. I too, began to see this energy and call it Love.

It seems this Love is Infinite and without conditions, powerful and healing. Yet being everything, I also found it inside anger and war, inside cancer cells and toxic chemicals. There seemed to be no place Love does not call home and my entire perspective of life was altered! I released definitions which had so confined my life and now live outside that box.

I learned how to connect with my inner wisdom, at first usually when disaster struck. Then when I consulted it daily, fewer disasters would occur. Life became easier and easier. I only needed to ask, “What choice would Love make here?”

For me this Love lives through me, breathes me into existence, loves me endlessly just for the sheer joy loving brings. This Spirit fully embraces all It’s creations. Daily I am bathed in love from inside and also, outside in the form of Nature, animals, buildings, people, and so much more!!

I ask for guidance all day long and allow this Spirit of Love to bring clarity to my life in the midst of chaos, returning me to a peace beyond words. I truly believe It desires what is best for me, allowing me the free will to listen or not. It guides me to fully living the brilliance I truly am! It sings endless songs of praise and encouragement, if only I remain open.

I am Love and I have always known everything I needed to know connecting with this inner wisdom. When I step into fear, struggle, pain or judgment, I am aware I am pretending I am alone and separate. Love is the Key. I am learning to trust it more and more every day and know it changes my life when I follow Love’s lead.

© Morgine Jurdan

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's

10 Million...that's one out of eight boomers...will develop Alzheimer's.

This fact comes from the 2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Report.

There are now 5.3 million Americans living with this debilitating disease.
When there is Alzheimer's in the family, there are both social and economic impacts for both the patients and their loved ones.

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in America. It even exceeds diabetes in the number of annual deaths.

And what is even more sobering is that younger-onset Alzheimer's, occurring in people as young as in their 30's, affects nearly 500,000 Americans!

These younger individuals are usually employed and may have children still living at home. This brings up even more serious consequences including financial crisis, receiving benefits, and helping their children cope with the disease. Alzheimer's support is critical for this transition time.

Our support of research and awareness of Alzheimer's and its effects on the family is critical for the well being of all of us.

If you'd like to check out the 2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Report, you can access it here:


Monday, April 20, 2009

How Do Alzheimer's and Dementia Progress Over Time?

There are seven distinct stages of Alzheimer's that are good to know so that you can be aware of problems developing with a loved one.

With early detection, there is an opportunity for medical treatment that can slow down the symptoms for the patient.

I came across a great article that describes these stages very clearly and succinctly. You might want to check it out here:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Taking Care of a Loved One with Alzheimer's Disease

With all the responsibility involved in taking caring of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, it's hard to take time to tend to your own well-being.

What causes burnout when your parent has Alzheimer's?
There is a huge shift in roles between you and your parent....
It's difficult to give up on the idea that your parent could actually get better.
There is a tremendous loss of control...
And there can be unreasonable demands on you from your family and from
your parent with Alzheimer's.

For more information about these dangers and more about the disease, you need to check out this great article put together by the HealthTalk Staff and was medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In the moment with Mom...

Mom felt cold....My warm skin felt good to her. Time to get her out in the sunshine.

Mom has always loved to be outside. Gardening, golfing, walking.

Lying in her bed in the Alzheimer's section of the Life Care Center where she lives is not where she would have ever expected to be.

When Mom saw her friends and even her sister withering away from the ravages of Alzheimer's, she would say, "Don't ever let me be like that!"

So today was a day to take a "walk" in the sun. After inquiring about the location of the wheel chair Hospice provided for her so that I could take her on walks and no one being able to locate it, they found a chair we could borrow and we headed outside... a bit of a project to get Mom up, shoes on, and maneuvered into the wheel chair. Most of the time Mom is able to use a walker for the very short distance from her room to the dining room. She does needs help getting up and started walking.

Mom still enjoys the beauty of the roses....Not sure just how clearly she can see them. Her macular degeneration has robbed her of good vision. Maybe it's just the color....I had her touch the petals...soft and smooth.

I love that Mom is still happy to see me. She doesn't say much any more...and some days she says nothing during the entire visit. With Alzheimer's, communication skills decline more and more.

I am grateful that she still does appreciate that I am there for her.

Yes, I cherish being in the moment with Mom...loving the beauty of roses.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What can we do to safely stay in our homes until we take our last breath?

Kim Kirmmse Toth and Cynthia Leibrock offers a quality
program every week in her Tuesday Teleseries.

Tuesday, 4/21, at 4:00 pm Eastern time her guest speaker is Cynthia Leibrock.
The topic will be Aging in Place, how and what we can do to safely stay in our homes until we take our last breath. Cynthia had a great spread in the New York Times about this very topic. Check out her website at This is not a call to be missed!

If you know anyone who has a desire to stay in their home and is unsure how to do so, please send them to to sign up for her free Teleseries.

Friday, April 10, 2009

You mean crossword puzzles aren't enough?

It takes more than crossword puzzles to keep a healthy brain!

Combine Physical and Mental

Exercise We've all heard that mental exercises exercising memory and problem solving can help to keep our brains healthy and vibrant.

What researchers have found out is that physical exercise not only is good for the heart and general circulation, but also contributes significantly to keeping the brain young.

As professional service providers dealing with challenges involving people as well as data, we need that brain power to perform our work effectively.

Human Studies Came After Studies With Rodents

After earlier studies on rodents showing that those animals that spent a lot of time running in exercise wheels had better brains than the sedentary rodents, studies were begun on humans.

Less Brain-Tissue Shrinkage

Scientist measured maximal oxygen uptake (a gauge of aerobic fitness) in 55 subjects during walking and treadmill tests. They used subjects with fitness levels from sedentary to those in peak-performance fitness. The physically fit subjects had less age-related brain-tissue shrinkage than the inactive subjects.

MRI Aids In Research

With the help of MRI's (magnetic resonance imaging), the researchers saw that the tissues affected in the brain that are crucial to memory, learning, and carrying out ideas in the mind were very different in the various subjects. (frontal, temporal, and parietal regions)

Decline Can Start In Middle Age

These abilities are the ones that start to decline as early as middle age, particularly in new situations. Studies have shown that increased physical activity in middle age can help to prevent or delay the onset of diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of senile dementia, in which there is a marked decline in brain function and memory.

Researchers found that combining strength training with aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes had the greatest impact on cognitive function. (University of Illinois)

School Children Not Getting Enough Exercise

What concerns me is how the brains of the computer and video game generation will be affected by the lack of physical exercise. It is estimated that nearly half of young people ages 12 to 21 are not doing vigorous physical activity regularly. Less than one fourth of children are getting at least half an hour of any type of daily physical activity in school. School children spend an average of 4.8 hours per day on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games.

Increased Productivity

Increasing exercise for all ages would be a great benefit for all of us. Healthy brains increase productivity and full engagement in whatever we are doing. Combining physical activity with memory exercises gives the best results for a healthy brain.

Next Steps

What are you doing now to improve the blood flow and oxygen delivery to your brain?

Deciding on what type of exercise you would enjoy and DOING it on a regular basis will determine your short and long term thinking skills.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mom's Journey With Alzheimer's

Do you or any of your friends have a parent with Alzheimer's? What I'm sharing in this article would have been helpful for me to read prior to experiencing the drastic shift in my mother's lifestyle a couple of years ago. I never expected to have such an emotional roller coaster.

Mom lives in a life care campus that has various levels of care. She was living in a garden home, completely independent other than interior and exterior maintenance and one meal a day at the communal dining room.

Keeping a schedule becomes impossible.

One of the first things I noticed was her confusion about what she had planned. I had a couple of her friends comment that she was not showing up at arranged times they had planned for dinner. Mom has kept a calendar for years where she writes anything that is planned and notes about what has happened. She's always been on time for any appointment, even early. For her to miss appointments was not a good sign.

When I was going to pick her up for one of her medical appointments, she would get confused as to what day we would be going and leave me numerous messages asking why I hadn't arrived. This would also occur on the actual day of the appointment. She would be confused as to what time of day it was so would call me wondering when I would be there.

Anxiety builds with the confusion.

I tried to solve this problem by calling with just enough time for her to get ready for an appointment. We didn't talk about what day the appointment would be. This would make her anxious also because she wanted to know in advance when she would be going somewhere.

For a long time she knew she was confused and was upset by that. She liked to be in control of what she was doing. This definitely felt like lack of control and loss of her independence. By her own decision, she had already given up driving. We never found out why, but suspect she had a close call that scared her and didn't want to be in an accident.

Self-care deteriorates.

When I started seeing a sink full of dirty dishes and clothing stacking up on her clothes rack, I could see that her habits had certainly changed. She has always kept an immaculate kitchen and took good care of her clothing.

She stopped going to the dining room and chose to eat snacks at home instead. Her choices for meals were not nutritious. When we shopped, she wanted to buy various carbohydrates. Generally she would have had nutritious meals at the dining room. We didn't realize for a while that she was not going because she said she was going. When I checked with the dining room, I found out she hadn't been there for weeks. The only time she had gone was when I was there for a visit.

No longer could we rely on her taking her prescribed medicines. In discussion with her physician, she decided to start her on Aricept, an Alzheimer's med. We knew with this additional med to take that she would definitely need to have someone see that she took her appropriate medications regularly. The service of having someone deliver meds was available where she lived and it helped her to stay on her own for a longer time. Mom resented the interruption to her sleep when the person arrived. I felt reassured that someone was also checking in on her on a regular basis.

As time went on, Mom would not even be dressed when I arrived for a visit. I would need to help her shower and pick out her clothing. And sometimes it was even a struggle to convince her that she needed a shower. In the past, Mom was always fresh out of the shower, dressed to a T, and waiting for me when I would arrive for a visit or to take her to an appointment.

Those months of watching Mom's decline and working to give her the care that was appropriate at each stage were extremely stressful. I found it difficult to keep focused on my business and to feel passion in any part of my life. With skillful counseling and coaching, I developed strategies for rekindling my passion and getting the focus back in my business. I knew that I had to take care of myself in order to be there to support all the aspects of my life and business.

After six months of various strategies to support her to stay independent, my siblings, Mom's physician, and I made the decision that Mom really needed to be in the Care Center division of the life care facility. This was a difficult move because Mom was very attached to all the collection of family furniture and endless mementos of her full life.

We have surrounded her with family photos, recognition plaques she was awarded over the years, and hand work done by various members of the family including her mother. It was important to Mom that the family would appreciate the cherished belongings. My sister and brother and I sorted through her home, making sure that nothing was discarded that was part of our family heritage. We worked with all the family to find out what each person would like to have from the home. I took countless photos and posted them on the web so that family from Alaska to Washington, DC could view and choose items that had meaning and memories for them.

Mom is well cared for and still appreciates our visits. Days and times and location are foggy for her, but with a very structured schedule, she seems peaceful knowing what will happen next and that her needs will be met.

I'm able to be there for her with an open heart because of the steps I took to restore my resilient spirit.

If you're dealing with Alzheimer's or other challenges in your family and need some support in creating strategies for coping with all aspects of your life, look for more posts detailing what I've done and what could help you stay centered, strong, and loving.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How are you handling your aging parent?

In the years of watching my parents go through the various phases of aging, I have had as many or more challenges as I had with three children under three!

As I talk with other Boomer women, I am hearing over and over the stress they are feeling as they try to support their parents in various ways.

I am currently doing research with many people with aging parents to see what they are experiencing. If this applies to you, how are you keeping up with your work? What are you doing to take care of yourself?

I would love to talk with you sometime if you are in this situation. And if you know someone else experiencing parent stress, please let them know I would be interested in connecting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Virtual Comfort Retreat

If you've ever been to Sedona, Arizona, you know what a calming yet energizing place it can be!

I had the opportunity to not only be in that wonderful environment staying in a rustic cabin but also to be part of an amazing retreat with Jennifer Louden, known as the Comfort Queen.

This time was a turning point for me to go to a deeper level of knowing myself and moving away from the outside pressures of doing things "the right way."

Now you have the opportunity to experience Jennifer and the fantastic teachers she's brought together in a virtual retreat in the comfort of your own home. I's not Sedona, but you can pretend!

If you're looking to find calm, comfort and confidence in these uncertain times, join 10 fantastic teachers - like Barbara Sher, Michael Neill, Geneen Roth, Steve Chandler- at Jennifer's 2009 Virtual Retreat January 16th-19th.

Jennifer delivers a"true retreat" experience to enhance your well-being while teaching you ways to thrive during these sometimes scary times. Call in live or download over a dozen powerful retreat sessions at your convenience and get the soul-nourishing support you need to make this year "your" year. Click the link below for more details about the event...

Click here for more details...