2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures Report

1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2013 Facts & Figures Report came out yesterday.  It’s not good.  Unlike other disease with decreasing numbers that are being managed or cured, Alzheimer’s disease has growing numbers without a cure or the ability to manage the disease.

Quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to get into what we need to do to mitigate the Alzheimer’s tsunami heading our way.  It’s all been said before, and I wouldn’t have anything new to add.  Besides, I couldn’t say it any better than Nancy Wurtzel in “Dating Dementia” where she succinctly describes where we’re at and where we’re headed.  She also offers practical advice when she says:

We’ll need many more medical personnel and facilities.  We’ll need more education and understanding of the realities of dementia.  We’ll need to provide tangible support to the caregivers who are on the front line.  We’ll need ways to improve the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s disease.

I will say this — this country is in big trouble if we don’t make substantial advances on all fronts.  We’ve been warned.   We know what’s coming if a cure isn’t found.  Like Nancy says, “a big plan is required and it will take commitment and innovation.”  At the very least, let’s not act surprised when the tsunami hits.

You know the saying “hope for the best, but plan for the worst?”
With Alzheimer’s disease, the hope is in the plan.

 

Bird Watching and Dementia: A Beautiful Idea

Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.  ~ Bradley Millar

My mother loves all animals.  As I watched my mother and father take in strays, rescue and care for injured or abandoned wildlife, and stop to assist various creatures off the roads, I saw kindness and compassion — this might be their greatest gift to me.

We once herded a mother duck and her ducklings, (to include stopping traffic),  three blocks to the nearby creek after she apparently lost her way.

Mom loves birds too, Robins especially.  There was a Robin who built a nest over the downspout on the house every year, and during the sweltering months of summer, mom would set out water for that “poor panting momma.”

Now my children are animal lovers.  They were raised to watch bugs and spiders rather than kill them, and to know they are the stewards of all creatures — especially when help is needed.

When I saw this video, I immediately thought of my mom and how much she would enjoy this bird program for people with dementia.

There’s a large bird feeder right outside the picture window where Mom spends a lot of her time.  Here she is filling the feeder with bird seed.

Finally, I couldn’t write about my mother’s love of animals and birds without including this heart-warming video of people coming together to make sure a mother duck and her ducklings made it safely to water.  Given the opportunity, my mother would no doubt be one of these helpers.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”  ~  Anatole France

Namaste,

Joanne

It Is What It Is: Pat Summitt – Accepting Reality, Finding Peace.

My brother-in-law shared this inspirational video of Pat Summitt, who recently retired as Head Coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, due to her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  Now I’m not a basketball fan, and I don’t know much about Pat Summit other than what I’ve just learned, but I like her.

As you’ll see in the video, anyone who has the words “It Is What It Is” hung over their fireplace must be a straightforward, non-complaining, acceptor of reality kind of person.

I want to be like that.  I strive to be like that.

“It Is What It Is” is a common saying with a big message.  Simply put, I think it means “I accept reality.”  Accepting reality can mean anything from accepting the traffic jam you’re in to accepting a job lay-off, or even accepting an Alzheimer’s diagnosis like Pat Summitt.  But I want to take it a step further and say “It Is What It Is” can also mean agreeing with reality.  Agreeing with and embracing reality, and even loving reality — or “Loving What Is” as Byron Katie, one of my favorite authors writes about when she says: “I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”

The reality is life is hard, things don’t always go our way, and people get sick and die every day.   Arguing with reality adds more pain to an already difficult circumstance.  Accepting, embracing, and even loving reality leads to a path of less suffering and more peace.

It is what it is.

I have an art print that says this on my wall at home.  It spoke to me while I was shopping a couple of months ago, I impulsively bought it, and it’s been tucked away and not hung up ever since.   After learning about Pat Summitt, her brave acceptance of her Alzheimer’s disease, and that she lives by these words, I finally hung it up today.  It will be my daily reminder to accept and LOVE WHAT IS — because what else is there?

Calgary Couple Rises Above Early-Onset Dementia

I stumbled across this short video of a dear couple in Canada who are living with early-onset dementia.  The husband was diagnosed in 2008, and his wife is his caregiver.  The wife’s gentle spirit is so beautiful.  And the two of them together make me feel like I’m witnessing love of the highest order.