Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Too Close To Reality?

I found this on's Alzheimer's blog. I'm not sure I can face watching these now without breaking down into sobs, but maybe sometime in the future. Right now I think living the experience on a day to day basis is enough for me. I didn't realize there were so many recent movies about this disease. there is also a book by Alice Sebold called The Almost Moon: A Novel about a woman who kills her mother who has dementia. This too is something I cannot bear to read even though I loved Sebold's other book The Lovely Bones. I have seen The Notebook (with Mom in fact, in the theatre) and enjoyed it. Of course, that was pre-diagnosis. I think we both cried at that movie.

Ten Movies About Alzheimer's Disease You Shouldn't Miss

By Carrie Hill, PhD, Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board

The 2008 Oscar nominations include two Best Actress nods for performances in movies that deal with Alzheimer's disease1. Here are ten movies you shouldn't miss that handle the difficult subject of Alzheimer's with grace, dignity, and realism.

1. Away From Her (2007)

In Away From Her, Julie Christie is Oscar-nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of Fiona, a woman with Alzheimer's who voluntarily enters a long-term care facility to avoid being a burden on Grant, her husband of 50 years. After a 30-day separation (recommended by the facility), Grant visits Fiona and finds that her memory of him has deteriorated and that she's developed a close friendship with another man in the facility. Grant must draw upon the pure love and respect he has for Fiona to choose what will ensure his wife's happiness in the face of the disease. Christie has already won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) for her performance in this movie.

2. The Savages (2007)

Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman play siblings in this tragic comedy about adult children caring for a parent with dementia. Laura Linney is Oscar-nominated for Best Actress, and Tamara Jenkins is Oscar-nominated for best original screenplay. A rare combination of humility, dignity, and humor, Philip Seymour Hoffman was Golden Globe-nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) for his performance as the neurotic professor who begrudgingly unites with his sister for the sake of their father.

3. Aurora Borealis (2006)

Donald Sutherland and Louise Fletcher steal the show in this movie about relationships and difficult choices. Sutherland plays a grandfather with dementia who requires more care than his wife (Fletcher) can handle. They enlist the help of a home health aide (Juliette Lewis) and their grandson (Joshua Jackson), who forge a friendship as Sutherland's character -- who insists he can see the Northern Lights from his window -- becomes increasingly impaired. It was considered a well-crafted independent film that was released under the radar.

4. Sundowning (2005)

Sundowning follows the rivalries and bonding of three generations of lobstermen on Little Stone Island, Maine. When the grandfather and patriarch, Tobey (Minor Rootes) develops dementia, his son and grandson must learn to care for him while maintaining their livelihood. As they both fall for the female neighbor who cares for Tobey, they must let go of their deep-rooted rivalries and accept that her closeness with Tobey is actually a blessing. This little-known movie has received excellent

5. The Notebook (2004)

Based on Nicholas Sparks' best-selling novel of the same name, The Notebook features James Garner as Noah, the loving husband of Allie (Gena Rowlands), who is in a nursing home due to Alzheimer's disease. He attempts to rekindle her memories of their long history by reading to her from his notebook. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams play the couple in their younger years. Described as a true romance, the movie was directed by Nick Cassavetes, son of Gena Rowlands.

6. A Song For Martin (2001)

Sven Wollter and Viveka Seldahl -- married in real life -- play married couple Martin and Barbara in this Swedish movie with English subtitles. Martin is a conductor and composer; Barbara, a violinist. They meet and marry in middle-age, but soon after, they find out that Martin has Alzheimer's disease. This moving story is considered one of the most realistic depictions of caregiving on film.

7. Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (2001)

Based on the book Elegy for Iris by John Bayley, this movie tells the true story of English novelist Iris Murdoch's descent into Alzheimer's disease and the unconditional love of Bayley, her partner of 40 years. Jim Broadbent won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Bayley in his later years; Judi Dench and Kate Winslet received both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, for their portrayal of Murdoch in her older and younger years.

8. Firefly Dreams (2001)

This Japanese film with English subtitles won several international film festival awards. It tells the story of Naomi (Maho), a troubled teenager sent to the country for the summer to work for her aunt and uncle. She's asked to care for an aging neighbor with Alzheimer's disease; Naomi is initially unhappy about the arrangement, but soon connects with the woman in a transformative way.

9. Age Old Friends (1989)

Hume Cronyn achieves another great performance as John Cooper, who chose to live in a retirement home instead of live with his daughter (played by real-life daughter Tandy Cronyn) as a symbol of maintaining his independence. He befriends Michael (Vincent Gardenia), who starts showing signs of dementia. When John's daughter extends her offer to live with her again, he must decide between leaving the rigid structure of the retirement home and staying to help his friend cope with his disease.

10. I Never Sang For My Father (1970)

This intense story about family conflict stars Gene Hackman as a New York professor planning on starting anew by marrying his girlfriend and moving to California. When his mother dies and his father develops dementia, he must choose between living the life he's dreamed about or abandoning his plans to care for his father. This moving film was based on the Robert Anderson play.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

After reading about Annie's Stewie and his recent passing, I decided to look up the differences between alpacas and llamas. They are both amazing animals as I learned here. For example, they can live up to and beyond 20 years. They are of the camel family. They are highly intelligent and very friendly. And I think they have pretty cute faces.

The weather change has happened. It's really cold here. We dodged the snowstorm though. It hit south of here, where they had blizzard conditions. It was sunny here today, but bitterly cold, with horrible wind chills.

I met Marie, Mom's afternoon caregiver. She is a sweetheart. Mom seems to really like her too. We are so lucky to have such wonderful caregivers for Mom. Each one has been amazing. I'm really pleased with this new agency. Marie got Mom up to play piano. She was surprised that Mom plays by memory. Mom remembers one song, and she can play it from memory. Two years ago she was still reading music. She was always a very good pianist so I'm not surprised that she can still play. What a weird disease this is.

Monday, January 28, 2008

We just got home from Mom's haircut and perm. It took two hours. Her hair looks great though. She was excited to go to the salon, she practically ran to the car (at least there was no complaining) but during the rinsing for her perm she started to get testy. We calmed her down though and she was able to sit through her haircut and blow dry. The stylist really is good with Mom so even though it's pricey, it's worthwile to me.

Can you believe it? It's RAINING tonight! After tonight we head back into the deep freeze until Friday. The temp will drop at least 50 degrees by tomorrow. Ick! This is weird weather. I hope the rain doesn't freeze on the roads.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mom would like to get her hair cut and anyway. Tomorrow who knows? But today she wants it done. Unfortunately I have to make an appointment and the girl that normally does it works part time so it might be difficult to get Mom in. I'll try tomorrow though. In the meantime, she's asked when we can go at least 2 dozen times and each time I've tried to patiently answer her. But man it's so annoying! The only thing that helps is knowing that she can't help it. She's not doing it on purpose. She wanted to lie down around 5:00 PM so I helped her to bed. It seems to calm her down to do this so I encourage it.

It was warm today! 40 F degrees! I didn't see anyone wearing shorts or flip flops though. Everyone was at the car wash.

We are watching skating again. Mom says she's never seen a man do this ice skating.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I don't know where this ad for Photobucket came from and I can't seem to get rid of it. I may have to change my layout :(

We have sunshine today and it's definitely warmer. We are watching the US National Figure Skating Championships. This year they are in St. Paul at the 'X'. Very exciting. Mom and I both love figure skating. I went to the Nationals in 1991 when they were in Minneapolis. Very exciting. That's the year Tonya Harding landed a triple axel I believe.

Lily had her blood drawn today. It will take a week for the results. She is such a trouper. She protested quite loudly when I captured her and put her in her carrier. She was very glad to come back to the safety of home.

I ordered a scarf kit yesterday from the Lion Yarn website. Can't wait to get it. It looks really cute.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Today Mom had a new caregiver in the afternoon. At first she was pretty upset so the caregiver called me and I talked to Mom to help calm her down. I guess that worked because when I came home they were laughing and talking and Mom had a huge smile on her face. I guess she really hit it off with this caregiver. That makes me happy. She was almost like her old self.

It's still bitterly cold here. This morning there were rollovers and spin outs all over due to black ice on the roads. We saw a truck on it's side on the bridge over the Mississippi. It is supposed to warm up starting tomorrow. I'm ready.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hopeful After All?

I found this on a blog by Carrie Hill at She brings up some excellent points about the clinical study involving Etanercept.

More on Etanercept Research, and Why Optimism and Critical Thinking are Compatible

My previous blog about a new study focusing on etanercept as a treatment for Alzheimer's has generated a lot of discussion. This is great, because all research should be evaluated for its merit and prospect for real solutions.

I was recently informed of another blog about this research that raised concerns about the validity and actual potential of the results. It implies that we shouldn't be too optimistic about etanercept because:

  • the report was a case study of one person,
  • the journal that published the study is not very well known or prestigious, and
  • one of the researchers has ties to the company that makes the drug.

These are all legitimate concerns, so I did some more digging. Here's what I found out:

  • Even though the study involved just one person, it was an attempt to clarify the results of a pilot study in 2006 in which the majority of 15 patients experienced the same results. The researchers chose to perform a case study this time around in order to better explain the mechanisms they had already witnessed.
  • The Journal of Neuroinflammation is not very well known because it is new -- but new does not necessarily translate to low quality. The journal has an international review board of almost 50 editors in the field. It's also committed to publishing peer-reviewed (that means evaluated by experts) biomedical research that is open access. That means it's freely and universally accessible online to all of us. In fact, you can read the actual research report about etanercept right now if you want all of the details.

  • It's true that one of the researchers owns stock in the company that makes etanercept and has a number of patents in the pipeline involving the drug. Corporate connections are always a concern. In this case, his connections certainly may have influenced his choice to study the use of etanercept to treat Alzheimer's. Did his connections influence the results? Not likely, considering that he was not the sole investigator and that the study was peer-reviewed.

I'm all for skepticism when it comes to remarkable claims. The last thing I'd want to see is the perpetuation of false hopes. Obviously, this study will need to be replicated and shown to produce the same results in many, many more individuals. But I think optimism is justified, as long as it's combined with patience and realism. What do you think? Are optimism and cricital thinking compatible?

Thursday January 17, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lily's calcium is still elevated. I am taking her back for more blood work on Saturday. The vet mentioned hyperparathyroidism or idiopathic hypercalcemia. I googled both of those. I'm still not sure what's up. I just want her to be OK.

Today I was thinking about the signs that should have warned me that something was up with Mom. Mom had notes to herself everywhere; in the kitchen, in her bedroom and next to her chair in the den. These notes consisted of things such as the birth dates and ages of her children, characters in her favorite TV shows and even the warning signs for Alzheimer's. I've found many of these notes throughout the house and her personal papers. Mom would always cry when I would leave for home after a visit. Now I know why; she was afraid of being alone. She needed help with so many things that she had handled easily before. She started having trouble balancing her checkbook. It was difficult for her to learning anything new. Once Christmas we kids gave her a mailstation which allowed her to receive email. She couldn't figure out how to use it even after I showed her dozens of times how to do so.

Today is my brother's birthday. He turned 50. Mom and I called him to wish him a happy day. Next year I wonder if Mom will remember her children? I hate this disease.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lake Superior at the Duluth entrance. I remember it well. This is what the lake looks like on frigid cold days. It looks like fog or steam. You can barely make out the outline of the Roger Blough making her way through the, what is it, fog?

Our weather has moderated. Today I made it out to grocery shop. As long as one doesn't spend too much time outside it's not bad.

Tomorrow is a holiday so I will not have to go to work. There have been many MLK celebrations already this weekend. My favorite non-holiday event was the US Pond Hockey Championship. They create dozens of rinks on one of the area lakes and teams play hockey. It must have been hard in this frigid weather.

Mom has had a good weekend for the most part. She's had a few moments when she's been agitated but nothing too terrible. Last evening she was agitated so I suggested that we go lie on her bed. That seemed to calm her down and she was better for the rest of the night. She slept well, waking up at around 7:15 am. It took so long for the house to warm up this morning because the temperature outside was -14 F. I wrapped her in a fleece blanket and we watched M*A*S*H on the Hallmark channel.

Friday, January 18, 2008

We are dropping down into the deep freeze this weekend. I'm not ready for this at all. The windchills are supposed to drop into the -20 F range. But hey, the sun is out which is the trade off we usually have.

I saw my therapist today. She is amazing. The funny thing is that I started seeing her before Mom was diagnosed and it turns out that her mom has ALZ so she is a wealth of knowledge and support for me. I don't know how I would do this without her.

Mom had a pretty good day today. We met with her broker to go over her finances. He makes the trip down from Duluth to see Mom and now me at least quarterly. My dad found him, he is a gem. I think today he saw Mom's progression. She had some trouble signing some paperwork for him and she was interjecting odd comments into the conversation. Poor Mommy.

Tomorrow Lily goes in for her follow-up blood work and I'm praying that the calcium level is lowered. I am pretty sure that Olivia is purposely keeping Lily from getting to the food so I think I'm going to need to move some food and water down into my room for Lily. Poor kitty, she really is a sweetheart.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A full week of nearly full time caregivers and Mom remembers that they were with her during the day, but she doesn't remember names. She said that she asks them how much she owes them and they say 'nothing'. She can't understand that, why won't they take money?

Yesterday we had the 'where is my husband-what did he die from?' conversation over and over. She's at the stage where I can't tell her he's not here right now, she knows he's dead. That's a hard one. Instead of using waterboarding for interrogation I think the CIA should use Alzheimer's patients. It's enough to drive you crazy. But I know she can't help it and that hurts even more.

In Duluth, the ship formerly known as the Belle River, a 1000 footer, ran over something in the harbor while heading into winter layup and grounded in 20 feet of water. They are scrambling to pump the water out of the engine room before it can freeze. Duluth is expecting a -60 F windchill this weekend. Ah, I remember those days. But there is no one to reminisce with. I've included a picture of the lovely Belle River so you can see what a 1000 foot laker looks like. She's black because she carries coal. If she were red then she would carry iron ore or taconite pellets.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alzheimer's Association statement on a newly published case study of Etanercept (Enbrel) for Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer's Association welcomes new ideas for Alzheimer therapies, such as this. But we are concerned that, in their strong desire for more effective therapies, people with Alzheimer's and their families may place undue value on this new finding based on the dramatic language used in its description and the apparent immediate effect. Special care needs to be taken when investigating and discussing drugs already on the market in order that they are not prescribed nor made available inappropriately based on preliminary findings and/or news media coverage.

This possible treatment strategy is very preliminary. This newly published case study is of one subject. In addition, one of the lead investigators has stock in the company that produces the drug and has a number of patent positions in the area. All of this strengthens the need for independent confirmation to establish this finding.

Before this drug can become an accepted therapy for Alzheimer's disease, it would need to go through the FDA approval process, including randomized, blinded clinical trials. We need to see clinical studies in large, diverse populations. We need to see work in other laboratories by scientists without financial interest in the product. These things are only possible — for this and other potential therapies — if we have more resources available to the fight against Alzheimer's.

In addition, the nature of the drug delivery technique used in this research (injection by needle into the spine at the back of the neck, followed by a brief period with the head lowered and feet elevated) will make it very unlikely for long-term success, though it is an interesting possibility for proof of concept. This is potentially riskier than intravenous administration, a point worth noting for potential trial subjects. This route is not ideal for a medication for Alzheimer's.

This was not a registered, controlled clinical trial, and clinicians should not take this report as grounds for off-label use of Enbrel for Alzheimer's. Moreover, cervical intrathecal injections carry more risk than routine lumbar punctures. Clinical trials of Enbrel delivered by this method should only be undertaken by investigators specially trained in safe administration of injection via this route (i.e., anesthesiologists or neurosurgeons).

Groundbreaking Research Shows Reversal of Alzheimer's Symptoms in Minutes

A recent report in Science Daily is brewing excitement throughout the Alzheimer's community: The Journal of Neuroinflammation published a study that showed a reversal of Alzheimer's symptoms within minutes of administering a therapeutic spinal injection.

The injection consists of etanercept, a molecule that reduces the amount of TNF (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) in the brain. TNF regulates the brain's neural impulses, but elevated levels can disrupt brain function. Higher levels of TNF have been associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Although the published study discussed just one patient, the researchers found similar results in others that received the spinal injection. Subjects ranged from having mild to severe Alzheimer's disease and showed significant, sustained improvement after receiving the treatment.

Etanercept is FDA-approved for treatment of a number of immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, but it's not currently available as a treatment for Alzheimer's; it's still being investigated as a potentially safe, efficacious approach. But Dr. Sue Griffin, a prolific scientist whose research provided the basis for the current study, called the findings "unprecedented" and called for immediate follow-up studies.

This is the kind of news that stirs up many emotions for me: excitement for the positive results, awe of the scientific community, and wistfulness that my grandmother couldn't have been part of such a study. But most of all, I feel hopeful that someday there will be a world without Alzheimer's, and determination to continue doing what I do until that day arrives.

Illustration of Neurons and Neural Impulses © Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center, National Institute on Aging

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This is an interesting quote that I found on the Mayo Clinic ALZ blog:

"You (caregiver) do not suffer because of them (person with a dementia). They have a disease, a neurological illness, that's a fact. But that's not why you suffer.

You suffer because you love. If you did not love, you would not suffer. And the more you love, the more you suffer. Problem is, when you try to do something you cannot do, or be something you cannot be, the guilt, shame, anxiety and fear makes the love go underground ... and you can't feel the love anymore. Love is learning to live with your helplessness in the face of your loved one's suffering." --Dr. Dan Gottlieb

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mom was very agitated and emotional today according to her caregivers. She was fine at first this morning, but when Terri gave her her meds, Mom got angry and threw them. Terri waited and tried again a little later and things were fine. Then when Alisha came this afternoon Mom was tearful but I guess she settled down. By the time I arrived home Mom was so happy to see me. It really is hard to be away from her for 10 1/2 hours 4 days a week. But at least I know that someone is with her most of the day. That is a relief for me.

This weekend she asked me a couple of times if this was her house. She also will look through her coloring books and say that certain pictures were colored by someone else. We also had a lot of sobbing about Dad, especially at night (sundowning?) Last night we talked about what she would do while I am at work. I told her that Terri and Alisha would be with her during the day, and she asked how much that was going to cost her. Some days I can't imagine having Mom move to a facility but other days it seems like it can't happen soon enough for both of us. I really think she would do better in a more structured environment but I don't look forward to that day. She is going to pitch one heck of a fit about moving.

To top things off, Lily needs follow-up bloodwork, Mom needs follow-up bloodwork and I need a follow-up mammogram. Days off for me revolve around going to the doctor or taking Mom to the doctor lately. And cold weather looms above all of this. On a positive note, the amount of daylight is increasing each day! Yay

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Christmas is officially over in our house. Today I packed up the ornaments and boxed up the tree. I wonder what life will be like in one year? I spend so much time trying to live in the moment, yet there is so much planning for the future that needs to be done

Mom continues to have both lucid and squirrelly moments. She remembered that I had taken Olivia to get her claws trimmed when my sister called. She apologizes for her angry outbursts. Her appetite is pretty good. But she keeps asking about her husband, my dad. What happened to him? And then she will sob. And I will feel sad because I miss him too. Very much.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Today Mom spent the afternoon with Marie, a new caregiver. When Marie arrived with the social worker, Mom was very sad and crying. I guess she must have settled down because when I got home she told me about the 'nice lady she spent the afternoon with'. Several times throughout the evening Mom made similar comments about Marie. I'm glad that she had a good afternoon. So now the coverage is from morning to evening, four days per week. That takes a load off of my mind just knowing that Mom is not alone all day. The fact that she enjoyed the person is icing on the cake. I guess you could say that my village has grown.

Tonight I watched my Season 9 Seinfeld DVD, specifically the episode titled The Strike. This is the hilarious episode that includes among other things, the Festivus holiday celebration. I never tire of watching Seinfeld. It is so cleverly written and acted. Next I want to watch the Jesus fish episode.

Listening to: Céline Dion - Taking Chances
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

This is a funny picture of Mom and Olivia I think. Olivia looks huge but in fact she is a very small cat. Last night she was sleeping in Mom's arms like this.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It takes a village to care for someone with Alzheimer's.

Mom refused to go to daycare again today. When I called in the afternoon she was angry at me for being at work. This is something that we went through last winter. I'm trying to increase the amount of time that a caregiver is with Mom. The agency appears to be having difficulty finding caregivers available in the afternoon. I was dreading my return home, certain that Mom was going to be in a foul mood. Turns out she was back to her cheerful self. What a relief.

Today I made an appointment with the podiatrist for Mom. And I made an appointment for me to visit with the elder law attorney to talk about trusts and make sure that Mom's paperwork is in order. Eventually I need to make an appointment with the mortuary to pre-plan the inevitable. I'm not looking forward to that at all. For myself, I made an appointment with an audiologist. My hearing had declined and I have a constant ringing in my ears. Four years ago when I had it tested my ability to hear low frequencies was non-existent. It will be interesting to see if this has changed.

I still haven't heard what the results were for Lily's blood tests. Fingers crossed that she is OK.

UPDATE: the vet just called. Lily's calcium level was high which could mean a thyroid problem or cancer. Or it could just be a false reading. That's pretty common from what the vet said. We need to recheck in two weeks. Mom and I just prayed that her levels are normal when they retest. Mom is upset but I told her not to worry until we have something to worry about. I'll be praying for my sweetie.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I found a video that I had shot from Christmas 10 years ago. Mom and I watched it today. It's sad how much AD has robbed from both of us. It was neat to see my nephew at 10 though. He was a typical ten year old. On the video my mom asks me if I heard him rummaging around at 3:30 AM on Christmas morning. And we now had evidence that my sister did not make him like the Packers (he received a Packer's mini helmet as a gift).

Another lucid moment today. My sister called while I was at the veterinarian with Lily for her yearly checkup. When I arrived home Mom told me that she called (amazing!) and my sister told me that Mom told her I had taken the cat to the vet. This disease just blows my mind. Lily has lost a little over a pound in weight. I've been concerned about that so they are doing some blood tests. Other than the weight loss, she seems to be fine, playing and eating OK. Hopefully it's not diabetes.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Oh my gosh! We are watching MASH. Radar just asked a man who thinks he is Jesus to bless his teddy bear. Mom said 'Oh...where's my teddy bear?'. I can't believe that she remembered I gave her a big, huge teddy bear for Christmas. It's on her bed. Amazing.
Mom's appointment with the doctor went pretty well today. The doctor referred Mom to a podiatrist for her pain in her feet. She said it could be arthritis or it could be something that requires some sort of orthotic. Mom did pretty well mobility-wise. We have a transport chair that we use from the car to the doctor's office and that helps a lot. It also helped that the sun was out and the temperature was mild. I think Mom made the nurse's week; she told her she was beautiful.

On the way to the appointment we saw a herd of white tail deer in a field near the road. They were ready to bolt across the road and as soon as we passed them, they did. Luckily the cars behind us stopped for them. They looked very well fed. Mom was worried about them making it across the road safely.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Now I'm not sure that it's the ankle that is hurting Mom. I guess it's a communication problem; she says her right foot hurts. I pointed at various parts of my foot and leg and asked if that is what hurts. Now it sounds like her toes hurt. She could barely make it to and from the bathroom after dinner tonight. And there is the crux of the problem with the day program and everything else. She can't get around. She cries in pain. Tomorrow we are going to the doctor for her annual physical and I hope we can finally get to the bottom of this pain. But I'm doubtful.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

This is one of my favorite pictures of Lily. It really shows her 'blue' coloring and green eyes. She is a sweetie.

Today was my meeting with the HR rep. She was very understanding and suggested that I utilize the FMLA act more often than I am currently doing. In the US this is basically all that we have, whether we are caring for a loved one or caring for ourselves. So I will buck up and deal with it, but Mom and I will always come first.

Speaking of Mom, she is doing pretty good still. She was emotional when I arrived home but she settled down. Her caregiver said that they had a good morning. Her aphasia is becoming much more of an issue.

I receive periodic wellness calls from my health insurer. Today I received one of these calls. The RN was so compassionate and genuinely concerned about me. We talked a little about caregiving; she mentioned that her mother in law has ALZ. Somehow we got on the topic of adult day care and she said that her MIL is more agitated after a day there. Mom sometimes is that way too, but I believe that the socializing and stimulation is good for her. I wish there was some way that I could get her to go more often. I may need to re-enlist Joyce the cop for this.

Lead Link to Alzheimer's Disease?

Early Lead Poisoning May Boost Alzheimer's Brain Chemicals Years Later, Lab Tests on Monkeys Show
By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 2, 2008 -- Lead poisoning in infancy may make Alzheimer's disease more likely decades later, a new study shows.

Lead poisoning is a well-known danger, especially for young children. Months or years of lead poisoning can stunt children's growth and damage their brain, kidneys, hearing, and mental development.

Early lead poisoning may also tinker with genes in a way that sets the stage for Alzheimer's disease as an adult, according to the new study, which is based on monkeys, not people.

The study included two groups of baby monkeys that drank formula for the first 400 days of their life. One group of monkeys got ordinary, lead-free formula. The scientists added low levels of lead to the other group's formula.

No health problems were seen in the monkeys during the 23-year study.

The scientists checked the monkey's brains at the end of the study. The monkeys that drank the lead-laced formula as babies had higher levels of Alzheimer's-related proteins and more DNA damage than the other monkeys.

Lead poisoning in infancy may have made the monkeys' genes make more of the Alzheimer's-related proteins years later, according to the researchers, who included the University of Rhode Island's Nasser Zawia, PhD.

Their findings appear in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I've added a new website called Alzheimer's Notes that has some interesting and perhaps useful, information. I found it when I googled for articles about Alzheimer's caregiving in the workplace. In fact, I got quite a few hits when I googled this.

I feel a little better after talking with my sister this morning about balancing work and caregiving. All I can do, like everything else, is take it one day at a time.
Happy New Year! I got Mom to take a shower! Woo Hoo!

Nine Years and Counting

Mom has been gone for a little over nine years. This blog was a huge mechanism for helping me cope with her illness and daily downfall. I...