Thursday, April 21, 2016

Q for Questioning (A to Z Challenge)

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
I do not know who said that but I do have an issue with that questioning. I'm so tired of it and for some reason I can't find answers to many questions. Am I really doing the right thing? What would happen if I wouldn't interfere with my MIL life? Well, I know the answer to this one. By now she would be locked up in nursing home just like her mother was. She would be sitting on the wheelchair with her head hanging down, over medicated in the LaLa Land. Who knows, maybe by now she would lay peacefully by her late husband. I know I have extended her life and gave her more joy. But... what about me? I had to give up my dream, I had to close my business, my daily life is all around her and she isn't even my mother, she is the mother of my partner. I had a growing, profitable business, I was well respected in a professional world and now I'm broke trying to make sense from my life. You see, Theresa's mother also had Alzheimer's and not Theresa nor her brother quit their jobs to take care of her. Theresa's mom end up in the nursing home and she lived there for about ten years.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Fine, I get it. I must have a 'bad' day...

So long my friends,

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A to Z Challenge: N-O-P

Oops, I am a little behind but I'm still in the challenge. To catch up today I will do all three letters. Let's start with N for Neurofibrillary tangles.

These tangles, are due to  a protein (beta-amyloid) that becomes abnormal inside the neurons rather than outside.

You see, neurons have a system of specialized filaments called microtubules that transport nutrients, organelles, and other essential materials from the cell body to the tip of the axon. These microtubules are somewhat like a pair of rails on a railroad, and the protein that acts as the ties that hold these rails together and keep them parallel is called the tau protein.

In people with Alzheimer’s, the tau protein molecules disaggregate into filaments that form tangles. Thus the “rails” lose their “ties” and can no longer stay straight and properly transport the materials essential to the neuron’s survival.

The nerve endings at the very tip of the axon are the first to degenerate as a result of this lack of sustenance. As a result, communication with the following neurons in the circuit is reduced and, once the entire neuron has degenerated, cut off completely.

If you would like to know more about brain's anatomy here is the link to the  'Brain Tour'. The tour explains how the brain works and how Alzheimer's disease affects it.

O for Obesity and links between body weight and dementia risk in those over 40.

Lately there is so much in the news about harmful effect of obesity, I was pleasantly surprised to find this article:  Does midlife obesity protect against dementia? (I love comments posted below article)

This article was published a year ago and contradicts research by Dr Rachel Whitmer published on April 29, 2005.

I want to believe that fat is good for the brain. What do you think? Please tell, I want to know.

P for Plaques
Those darn proteins not only killing neurons from inside but also from outside by building up between nerve cells. That build up is called plaques.

In a healthy brain, these protein fragments are broken down and eliminated during our sleep. In Alzheimer's disease, the fragments accumulate to form hard, insoluble plaque.

Many researchers believe that accumulations of proteins are generally only the final manifestations of diseases with earlier causes, and that amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are no exception to this rule. Some researchers even directly question the harmfulness of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, arguing that they may in fact represent a defensive response by the brain to harmful processes that precede them, such as oxidative stress, inflammation, and dysfunctions in the cellular cycle. Some studies have shown that this protein plays a protective role against microbes.

So, go figure... all is clear as mud. There is a lot of study and research yet to be done...

So long my friends,

Friday, April 15, 2016

M for Me (A to Z Challenge)

Today I will share with you why I decided to help Theresa. After all she was living in Ontario we were in the Yukon 3,000 miles apart. In Ontario she has two of her children: a daughter who lives just about 35 minutes away and a son who lives couple hours away. Both of them highly educated, financially very well off - I was sure that their mother was happy and properly cared for. I was very surprised when she called and ask us to come and live with her. After a while those phone calls became more frequent and I realized that she wasn't joking, she was very serious.

I wasn't ready to move across Canada, I just started my firm and my dream was coming true. I spent five years taking accounting courses and I loved the north. I was happy.

Topaz (my doggie) was getting old and I decided to get a puppy. I had an idea of Topaz teaching new puppy good manners and I thought it would be fun to have two big white girls. I called the breeder and a little white fur ball was ready by the end of April. Of course the puppy was in Ontario and, since there wasn't a direct flight possible, it was easier for me to jump on the plane and personally pick her up than to ship the little critter. And there was another benefit to my trip - I could visit Theresa!

And this is how it all started... I found her extremely lonely, somewhat lost, with many little things not being done. My heart was breaking. When we were in trouble she was there for us, now she was in a big trouble and I did not see anyone there for her. She needed someone every day on a regular bases. I came back home with a puppy and a story for Freddy (my other half and Theresa's oldest son). Both of us were kept in a dark about her circumstances. We knew she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's but we did not know that her younger son pressured her to change her will. And, oh my! There were so many things we did not know... We were in shock. 

In August Theresa fell in the garage and that was the turning point. Freddy flew to Ontario and stayed with her for a couple weeks. Things turned very ugly between her and her other two children (the ones in Ontario) and I made an executive decision: "Honey, bring Mom home. She can stay with us until things cool off".  The rest of this story is for a very, very long post or maybe even a book but I can tell you this - two and half years passed and we still are living together.

So long my friends,

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L for Loneliness (A to Z challenge)

Did you know that lonely individuals may be twice as likely to develop the type of dementia linked to Alzheimer's disease in late life as those who are not lonely? Social isolation, or having few interactions with others, is associated with an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Loneliness is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, not an early sign of the disease. I wish that the mechanism that does link dementia and loneliness was more clear. After all humans are very social creatures and we need healthy interactions with others to maintain our health.

Here is a link to '5 ways to beat loneliness'.

So long my friends,

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K for Keeping routine (A to Z Challenge)

Daily routines are sacred for most people. For individuals with dementia, sticking to a routine is not only sacred, but a necessity. Change is difficult for those with Alzheimer's disease and keeping routine can relive a lot of tension. I like to plan my day too. During my 30 Day Minimalism Challenge I leaved a whole day unplanned - it was terrible!

Our daily routines can make a huge difference to how healthy, happy and productive we are. I'm in the process of adjusting my own routine in the hopes of getting more done and wasting less time in-between tasks or activities. So I started searching for routines of successful entrepreneurs and I really like the one of Benjamin Franklin. He starts his day with a question "What good shall I do this day?" and in the evening he asks himself  "What good have I done today?" I absolutely love this and I'm borrowing these two questions for my daily routine.

So long my friends,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J for Joy (A to Z Challenge)

Believe or not there is a joy in caring for person with Alzheimer's. I don't know if there is anything that could sound more confounding than finding pleasure in Alzheimer's. People with dementia have good and bad days. I'm very lucky because Theresa most of the time has good days and only sometimes 'bad' moments. She knows that she has the disease, her mother was affected by the same. She fully understand what future holds for her and she is a fighter. Together we are doing a lot of brain exercises and is a real joy to see her accomplishing things. She memorized her new address, new telephone number, she remembers names of our new neighbours. It's a fun to go out with her - this lady knows how to enjoy life, believe me. I know that Alzheimer's is progressive and not reversible but I hope she stays the way she is for a long time.

So long my friends,

Saturday, April 9, 2016

H for Healty Living (A to Z Challenge)

I wrote about importance of healthy diet, exercise, keeping your brain active - today I would like to mention benefits of socialization.  

Including meaningful social activities in your day is important for everyone but especially for people with Alzheimer’s disease and caregivers. People living with the disease can become isolated and lonely. Finding opportunities to interact with the people around you will help you stay engaged. Talking to someone you trust about your feelings, your hopes and worries or simply sharing a good laugh can provide the support and encouragement you need.
  • Call a friend or family member – take someone to lunch or chat on the phone.
  • Engage in conversations with acquaintances such as neighbours, store clerks, bank tellers.
  • Accept invitations. 
  • Find an outlet to discuss your feelings and frustrations; consider joining a support group.Enjoy yourself – share activities you love with others. 
So long my friends,

Friday, April 8, 2016

G for Genetics (A to Z Challenge)

As I mentioned earlier, Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease. It is characterized by the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain; and the death of these nerve cells. There are two types of Alzheimer's—early-onset and late-onset. Both types have a genetic component.

I will not bore you with too much science but for those interested here is more info.

Thank goodness that this dreadful illness doesn't run in my family but no one in my family has vitiligo either - I do...

Now, something that is not in the A to Z Challenge but something that put a big smile on my face. Look what Royal Mail brought to me

I didn't decide yet how I will stitch those lovely garden lasses. They aren't very big, just 62 x 154 stitches each. Should I stitch them separately or on one piece of fabric, what count? Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Oh, and my Asian pear tree is in a full blossom (with Ragnar in the center):

So long my friends,

Thursday, April 7, 2016

F for Facts (A to Z Challenge)

I had an urge to write today about families of those affected by Alzheimer's but I decided to leave this topic for later. So let's see some facts. Did you know that:

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing – and growing fast. (For Canadian facts click here. I like to use quick method: we are about 10 times smaller so the numbers should be10 times smaller too).
  • Today, 5.3 million Americans are living with  Alzheimer’s disease, including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65. By 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease.
  • Nearly two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s disease – 3.2 million – are women.
  • Within the next 10 years, 19 states will see a 40 percent or greater growth in the number of people with Alzheimer’s.
  • Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds. In 2050, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds. 
Most people living with Alzheimer’s are not aware of their diagnosis – or have not been diagnosed at all. 
  • Less than half (45 percent) of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers are aware of the diagnosis, compared with 90 percent or more of those diagnosed with cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Among individuals diagnosed with the disease, only 33 percent are aware they have it.
  • Among all people living with Alzheimer’s disease, only about half have ever been diagnosed.

Alzheimer’s is not just memory loss - Alzheimer’s kills.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older.
  • In 2013, over 84,000 Americans officially died from Alzheimer’s;in 2015,an estimated 700,000 people will die with Alzheimer’s – meaning they will die after having developed the disease.
  • Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 71 percent from 2000 to 2013, while deaths from other major diseases (including heart disease, stroke, breast and prostate cancer, and HIV/AIDS) decreased.
  • Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed
So long my friends,