Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Last night I watched the perfect Memorial Day movie on HBO called "Taking Chance". It is the true story of a marine Lt. colonel escorting the remains of a fellow marine, Chance Phelps, on his final journey from Dover Airforce base to his final resting place in his hometown in Wyoming. PFC Chance Phelps was only 20 when he was killed in Iraq on Good Friday in 2004. Like many, he was motivated to join the marines by the events of September 11. Despite being wounded, he refused to be evacuated, and instead manned his M240 machine gun to cover the evacuation of the rest of his convoy. Upon withdrawal, he sustained his fatal wound to the head. Even though similar stories have played out across America since Operation Iraqi Freedom began, it was moving in so many ways to me. It was touching to see the respect that employees of Northwest Airlines gave their precious cargo as it traveled across the country. There was no fanfare, just quiet reverence for a brave young man who paid the highest price for his country. I will always remember PFC Chance Phelps and his story, not because it was unique, but because Lt. Colonel Strobl was so moved by his experience that he decided to share it with us. And that is what I will remember on this Memorial Day, those who have given their lives so that I might live free in a country I love.

I also remember my Mom and Dad and I miss them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Service of Remembrance

Tonight I attended the hospice service of remembrance. It was very well attended, several hundred people were there. The service was to remember loved ones who passed away under the care of the hospice. In the center of the photo, left, are candles in remembrance of each loved one. It was a beautiful, balmy evening with a temperature in the 80s. The location was quite lovely, on a pond in a beautiful setting. They had music and readings for this solemn occasion. They read the names of every person who was represented by loved ones at the service. I shed tears for both Mom and Dad.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Heart Disorder Linked To Alzheimer's Disease

ScienceDaily (May 15, 2009) — Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City believe that they have made a breakthrough connection between atrial fibrillation, a fairly common heart rhythm disorder, and Alzheimer's disease, the leading form of dementia among Americans.

In a study presented May 15, at "Heart Rhythm 2009," the annual scientific sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society in Boston, researchers unveiled findings from the study of more than 37,000 patients that showed a strong relationship between atrial fibrillation and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

The study, which drew upon information from the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study, a vast database from hundreds of thousands of patients treated at Intermountain Healthcare hospitals, found:

  • Patients with atrial fibrillation were 44 percent more likely to develop dementia than patients without the heart disorder.
  • Younger patients with atrial fibrillation were at higher risk of developing all types of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's. Atrial fibrillation patients under age 70 were 130 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's.
  • Patients who have both atrial fibrillation and dementia were 61 percent more likely to die during the study period than dementia patients without the rhythm problem.
  • Younger atrial fibrillation patients with dementia may be at higher risk of death than older AF patients with dementia.

Intermountain Medical Center cardiologist T. Jared Bunch, M.D., the study's lead researcher, presented the findings at the scientific session.

"Previous studies have shown that patients with atrial fibrillation are at higher risk for some types of dementia, including vascular dementia. But to our knowledge, this is the first large-population study to clearly show that having atrial fibrillation puts patients at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Bunch.

Alzheimer's is a devastating brain disease affecting approximately 5.3 million Americans. It is the most common form of dementia (a general term for life-altering loss of memory and other cognitive abilities), and accounts for 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Currently, the known risk factors for Alzheimer's are age, family history and genetics, though injury may also be linked with the disease. Heart health has long been suspected to play a role, but has not been linked. The Intermountain Medical Center study bolsters that connection.

"The study shows a connection between atrial fibrillation and all types of dementia," said Bunch. "The Alzheimer's findings — particularly the risk of death for younger patients — break new ground."

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem, affecting about 2.2 million Americans. It occurs when the heart beats chaotically, leading blood to pool and possibly clot. If the clot leaves the heart, a stroke can result.

The Intermountain Medical Center study looked at five years of data for 37,025 patients. Of that group, 10,161 developed AF and 1,535 developed dementia during the study period.

The study authors say more research is needed to explore further the relationship between atrial fibrillation and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"Now that we've established this link, our focus will be to see if early treatment of atrial fibrillation can prevent dementia or the development of Alzheimer's disease," says cardiologist John Day, M.D., director of heart rhythm services at Intermountain Medical Center and a co-author of the study.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What is the Economic Value of Caregiving?

AARP recently released a comprehensive report on the economic value of caregiving. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, it's important to know how your informal caregiving affects our currently fragile economy. Consider these facts:

  • In 2007, approximately 34 million family members were providing informal caregiving at any given point.
  • Approximately 52 million family members provided informal caregiving at some time during 2007.
  • The estimated value of unpaid caregiving for 2007 was $375 billion.
  • This is an increase over the 2006 estimated value of unpaid caregiving, which was $350 billion.
  • $375 billion is comparable to the total sales of Wal-Mart stores in the same year.
  • The economic value of unpaid eldercare was more than long-term care Medicaid spending in all states.
  • In 36 states, the economic value of caregiving was more than three times as high as long-term Medicaid spending.
  • The economic value of unpaid eldercare, including caring for those with Alzheimer's, was more than three times as high as spending on home- and community-based Medicaid services.
  • In 19 states, the economic value of caregiving was more than ten times as high as home- and community-based Medicaid spending.
  • Unpaid caregiving includes personal care and help with daily tasks as well as assistance with complex medical procedures and administering medications.
  • The “typical” caregiver in the United States is a 46-year-old woman working outside the home who provides more than 20 hours a week of eldercare to her mother.
  • Those providing eldercare reported spending an average of $5,531 out-of-pocket for caregiving expenses in 2007.
  • Long-distance caregivers reported the highest out-of-pocket expenses ($8,728) while those caring for someone nearby reported average out-of-pocket caregiving expenses of $4,570.

The report points out that family caregivers are the “backbone” of the United States’ long-term care system. I couldn’t agree more.


Valuing the invaluable: The economic value of family caregiving, 2008 update. AARP Public Policy Institute. 2008

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blue Zones

I just watched an interesting piece on Dateline about 'blue zones', or places where people live long, healthy lives. If you look at the website for blue zones, you will see several things that these people do that researchers thing extend their lives and keep them disease-free. How many of these things do we do here in the US? Not very many. Our lives are too fast paced and stressful.

On another note, I hope the mothers who read this had a wonderful day today. I thought often and fondly of my own Mom today.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Alzheimer’s Doc Will Screen Around the Web

by R. Thomas Umstead -- Multichannel News, 5/4/2009 12:00:00 AM MT

In a rare sharing of its original content, HBO will offer its four-part Alzheimer’s Project to various online video services in an effort to provide greater exposure for the series.

YouTube, iTunes, MySpace and Facebook will all offer portions of the four-part series, which runs on HBO over four consecutive nights beginning May 10, as well as 15 supplemental films surrounding the series, according to HBO documentary films president Sheila Nevins. The two-year project takes a close look at the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on those that suffer from it and their families, as well as scientific discoveries and ongoing efforts to fight the disease.

“We do certain public-service programs that are of value to those that are and are not HBO subscribers,” she said. “It’s a corporate outreach effort dealing with subjects that we feel have been underserved by the media, including cancer and addiction. We felt Alzheimer’s was perfect for a public service outreach campaign.”

As part of its outreach effort, HBO will make the full series and supplemental shorts available on, beginning May 8. The videos will be made sharable and can be embedded for anyone who wants to post on their own Web sites.

HBO on Demand will also make the entire series and supplemental films available beginning May 8, the network said.

Outside of HBO, Apple’s iTunes Store on May 8 will offer an exclusive preview of the first feature film, The Memory Loss Tapes on May 8, with subsequent films available starting May 11. The same day, an exclusive preview of the second of the four films, Grandpa Do You Know Who I Am, will run on HBO’s YouTube site.

MySpace will run trailers and clips from the project on its MySpace Impact channel beginning May 8, part of its Alzheimer’s Awareness Week presentation. In addition, MySpace will run an exclusive preview of the third film in the series, Momentum in Science, on its Myspace page (, according to the network.

Facebook will offer a dedicated page to the project featuring an exclusive preview of Caregivers, the last of the four films. The social networking site was slated to launch a Tribute Wall May 1 that would accept user-generated photos and memories of loved ones, as well as to serve as an interactive, personal account of the disease.

In addition, the network will work with local organizations to co-host over 20 community screenings and provide 5,000 screener kits to select organizations to host their own events.

Nevins said the special should appeal to a cross-section of viewers either experiencing the disease themselves or through a family member. Nevertheless, she said that overall HBO viewership of the project will not in itself determine the success or failure of the undertaking.

“I don’t know how you can measure the numbers in the traditional way that says X number of people watched it because it’s not a conventional show — you can access it when you want to watch it through the various platforms,” she said. “But I think it’s already a success just being out there because it’s needed information for many people.”

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...