Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 2012 | Alzheimer's Reading Room

Urinary Tract Infection, You Can Learn From My Experiene

A popular myth is that urinary tract infections burn and because of this a person who is deeply forgetful can tell you they have a UTI. This is not true.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
E Coli Bacteria
Yes, there is such a thing as a silent urinary tract infection. Silent means no clear cut sign of physical pain, no burning sensation, and no discernible odor.
This explain in part why a person who is deeply forgetful cannot tell you they have a urinary tract infection. On the other hand, most of the women I know that get a UTI can tell you what is wrong before they go to the doctor.
There are discernible symptoms of a UTI in the deeply forgetful, but the symptoms are rarely connected to UTI by caregivers. This is especially true of "new" or "less experienced" dementia caregivers. Sadly, UTIs often go undetected for long periods of time in memory care facilities.
What usually happens when a person who is deeply forgetful has a silent UTI? They usually evidence a change in behavior, a sudden change for the worse.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Conversations as a Means to Delay the Onset of Alzheimer's Disease

Everyone needs conversation and social engagement. This includes persons who are deeply forgetful.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Can conversation, social interaction, and using the brain slow the progression of Alzheimer's?
I believe it can and does.
Over the years, I have spent more and more time talking and interacting with Dotty.
For example, we start every day, right off the bat talking about the newspaper. Dotty read me the day and date. Then I ask her what is interesting on the front page, and then get her to read some of it to me. If that doesn't work we move to the food section and discuss the recipes. Most of the time the list of ingredients are quite long. I still marvel at the fact that at the age of 95 years old Dotty can still read the newspaper without glasses. Believe it or not, she also watches television without eye glasses.

Catching the Early Signs of Dementia

Looking back, there is little doubt in my mind that if I had the proper education or information, I would have realized my mother was suffering from dementia sooner.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Bob DeMarco
Most people tend to miss the early signs of Alzheimer's prefering to believe they are simply signs of "old age".
Anyone who ends up in my shoes knows and understands that a person in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s can function in a way that on the surface appears normal -- even drive a car.
It is not until a person starts to deteriorate or until some "event" takes place the reality of the situation takes hold.
Here is a really interesting article (below) that I read way back in 2007.
The underlying premise is that behavior changes slowly in the elderly, and if they begin to suffer cognitive impairment it will be evidenced in behavioral changes. Sometimes these changes can be quite subtle, but if detected could raise a “red flag”.
If my mother had been enrolled in any of these studies, I feel certain she would have been diagnosed sooner. This would have allowed us to get her in an exercise program, get her proper nutrition, and insure that she was taking her medications as prescribed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dr Oz Alzheimer's Memory Quiz (Test)

Dr Oz has a memory test on his website. He mentioned this on his television show on Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Reading Room
Dr Oz
Dr Oz has an excellent memory test on his website.
Before you take the test you will see this disclaimer,

This memory quiz is based of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VAMC) St. Louis University Mental Status (SLUMS) examination and is an assessment tool for informational and entertainment purposes only.

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Just Let the Deeply Forgetful Do It

Almost every day I am reminded of one of the most important things I learned about Alzheimer's caregiving -- Just let Dotty do it.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
I believe this is important.
Just let them do it. I am referring here to a person who is deeply forgetful.
Lets reverse this -- Don't do everything for them. You might ask why?
First, don't do everything for them. If you do everything for a person who is deeply forgetful they will forget how to do it. Once they forget it is unlikely that they will be able to relearn how to do it.
Second, just let them do it. I learned first hand that a person who is deeply forgetful is capable of more, much more, than you might be imaging. There is more there than you can imagine. I relearn this constantly, and I have been at it for more than 8 years with Dotty.

Alzheimer's Patient, Dotty, Sings Embraceable You and Shine on Harvest Moon

Dotty sings Embraceable You, Talks about her mother, the Lobster Club, and sings Shine on Harvest Moon (guest appearance by Harvey).

Alzheimer's Reading Room
Dotty is 95 years old and is deeply forgetful.
Today we were listening to the Swing Channel and I caught the last part of Dotty singing Embraceable You.

Click the button to listen

Dotty is still singing away, and some of the songs I never heard before.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Alzheimer's Reading Room
I'll be speaking for the first time in public on April 25th in New York, at the Pace University Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts. Previously, I limited my speaking to television and radio for reasons that most of you already understand.
I'll be hosting a Workshop at 3 PM. The broad title of the workshop is "Communicating in Alzheimer's World: The Path from Burden to Joy."
At 7 PM, I'll be speaking along with Richard Taylor at the first symposium session titled, "Caring for Yourself, Caring for a Love One: Adopting a Positive Mindset".
Both session are free, open to the public, and readers of the Alzheimer's Reading Room are welcome to attend.
At the same time, and in the same location, there will be an exhibit of the photographs that Cathy Greenblatt compiled for her new book, "Love, Loss and Laughter: Seeing Alzheimer's Differently". The photos in the book are really impressive, and I can't wait to see the much larger versions in the exhibit (for the first time). I am especially fond of pages 44-45 in the book.
You can see some sample photos here, and you can buy the book on Amazon.
See the details below.

Alzheimer's Test, the Alzheimer's Questionnaire

Alzheimer's quiz 90 percent accurate in detecting signs of Alzheimer's disease, dementia, MCI

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
The Alzheimer's Questionnaire (AQ) should not be used as a definitive guide to diagnosing Alzheimer's disease (AD) or amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).
However, it is a quick and simple-to-use indicator that may help physicians determine which individuals should be referred for more extensive memory testing.

Do Cholesterol Drugs Benefit Alzheimer's Patients or Delay the On Set of Alzheimer's?

"This study shows that simvastatin can protect against some of the damaging effects of Alzheimer's disease on nerve cells involved in memory, if administered early in the disease process."

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
I started reading about statins, cholesterol drugs, and Alzheimer's back in 2004. This gave me the idea to go back and look at Dotty's prescription medication records. I learned that Dotty had not been very good at taking her medications for cholesterol and hypertension during the two years before I arrived on the scene to take care of her.
I wonder how many people check to see if their elderly parents are taking their medications properly. All you need is the prints out from their healthcare provider to examine their purchase record. In Dotty' case I noticed she was not purchasing here medications on a timely basis. In other words, she was not buying enough pills to indicate she was taking her medications as prescribed. She forgot to take them and she wouldn't use the pill boxes I bought for her.
At the time I wondered, why don't the healthcare providers have a simple software program available to send an email alert when new drugs are purchased. This help would children of parents keep track in an easy, not threatening way.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What is Dementia?

What is Dementia?
Dementia is the gradual deterioration of mental functioning, such as thinking, concentration, memory, and judgment, which affects a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.

Who gets Dementia?
Dementia occurs primarily in people who are over the age of 65, or in those with an injury or disease that affects brain function. While dementia is most commonly seen in the elderly, it is not a normal consequence of the aging process.

Finding Your Own Coping Mechanism for Caregiver Anxiety


Why Did Charles Snelling Kill His Wife and Himself?

From every account I read Charles Snelling was a good and successful man. He was a good husband and father.

Alzheimer's Reading Room
Since we published Man Kills Wife Suffering with Alzheimer's and then Kills Himself , and Right to Die?, I have been wondering why Charles Snelling decided to kills his wife who was living with dementia, and then kill himself? Why?
After 61 years of marriage to his wife, Adrienne Snelling, and six years of caring for her he decided to end it all, abruptly.
My first immediate thought, was he suffering from depression? Did he become depressed? Almost 40 percent of Alzheimer's caregivers suffer from depression.
I wondered, did Charles Snelling make a pact with his wife? Were his actions premeditated well in advance?
What was Charles Snelling thinking, feeling?

Alzheimer's and Dementia News 127

Good dog comes through, dancers raise $85,000 for Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Reading Room
The Good Dog
Officer Bryan McMahon and his canine partner, Kai, find a missing woman suffering from Alzheimer's hiding under a tarp
Read More
Dancers raise $85,000 for Alzheimer’s Association
The 13th annual Forget-Me-Not Gala raised about $85,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. That is some serious dancing.
Read More

Monday, April 2, 2012


Of course, Alzheimer's World being what it is, it's not always the right thing to say.

By Claudia Marshall-Apers
When my mom started exhibiting some of the bizarre behaviors of moderate to severe Alzheimer's, I felt a little like Alice who had fallen down the rabbit hole.
Things were getting “curiouser and curiouser”.
Then I found the Alzheimer's Reading Room and discovered that there was another world called Alzheimer's World but I didn't fully understand how to communicate there.

Dementia Generation: An Exaltation of Larks

D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks will be a full-length theater piece based on stories written by groups of people with late-stage dementia. It will be performed by a cast of puppets, the residents of a care-facility. It will contain an original score and original video segments that take us into the world of people who live with dementia.

Alzheimer's Reading Room
This project is interesting and the collaborators need a little bit of help in order to take down their KickStarter financing.
Here is how it works. The collaborators need to reach $9,000 in pledges by April 13. If they reach $8,999 they get bumpkiss, zero, nada, nixy.
Here is the good news. The project has pledges of $8,025 right now. So they are almost at their goal. The project has 122 backers so far. You can pledge as little as one dollar.
Take a look at the video below and then decide. If you think the project is worthwhile, go here to pledge a few bucks.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Is Sugar Toxic, 60 Minutes

Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health, worsening conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer.

Alzheimer's Reading Room
If you are what you eat, then what does it mean that the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year? Sanjay Gupta reports on new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health, worsening conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer. Some physicians go so far as to call sugar a toxin.

Sugar the Bitter Truth Robert Lustig Video

Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public

How the Loss of Memory Works in Alzheimer’s Disease, and How Understanding This Could Help You

“First in, last out ... Last in, first out”
I learned a while back how the expression “first in, last out and last in, first out” describes how the loss of memory works in patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

By Carole B. Larkin
January, 2011

What Is Alzheimer's Disease?
What It Does to the Brain (Video)
The expression, First in, last out ... Last in, first out, is a short way of explaining that the things we learned long ago, like in childhood or when we were young adults, stay in Alzheimer’s patients’ memories longer than things they learned or experienced recently.
I never knew how this occurred, just that it did occur with persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
Recently, I went to a lecture given by one of Dallas’ most knowledgeable geriatric psychiatrists and I finally found out -- How and Why.

Dotty Comes Out of the Deep, Did She Drive Me Crazy?

Dotty is kinder and gentler now. And, so am I. Or is it, I am kinder and gentler and more understanding now; and, so is Dotty?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
I knew the minute I heard her voice when she woke up in the morning. It was going to be a wild and whacky day.
Dotty woke up with a clear strong voice on Saturday morning. It reminded me of 20 years ago. She was smiling and talking and making comments.
As soon as she got to Harvey she was yakking away with him.
I had to laugh, and smile. I also thought, this is going to be a crazy day.

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