08.27.18 DEMENTIA IS NOT A MEMORY PROBLEM

Monday, August 27, 2018 – What is happening when someone has dementia? It’s important to understand the job of the brain because it is the guiding system, the maintenance system, and the managing system of the body. Learn more about the role of the limbic system, the prefrontal cortex, the sensory motor strip, and the importance of the occipital lobe for seeing and doing. It is estimated that with most dementias the brain shrinks one third of its original size causing many changes in structural and chemical ability.

Dementia is not a memory problem.

It means brain failure and causes

many changes in structural

and chemical function.

That sentence above is one of the most important statements that I’d like everyone to know.  That’s why it is in large print, centered and bolded!

This video below is an overall great explanation of the parts of the brain and how they change, shrink or stop working with dementia.  I can never say enough about how Teepa Snow explains so clearly all aspects of dementia.

http://teepasnow.com/resources/teepa-tips-videos/brain-changes/

08.25.18 Rewiring My Brain and Stepping into Alzheimer’s World, by Bob DeMarco

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Once you start to understand how things work in Alzheimer’s World – you get calm and comfortable.

Once you get calm and comfortable you give off a better “vibe” to someone that has Alzheimer’s.

Over time as you learn how to understand, cope and communicate with a person living with dementia you will find that instead of being at odds most of time you begin to relate better to each other. Once you start to relate to each other you find that it is much easier to operate in a world filled with Alzheimer’s disease.

The key word here is relate.

You relate well and get along best with your closest friends don’t you? Well in order to relate well with a person living with dementia – you have to adjust to the circumstances. I decided I would find a new way to communicate with my mother who was living with Alzheimer’s disease. I wrote that on my da Vinci pad in 2004. This was at the same time I was coming to another conclusion, something had to change and that something was me.

I did not perceived the changes in communication as being difficult. After all, I had been studying communication and decision making all the way back to college days, and ever since. I figured some practice and I would get the hang of it.

What I did not immediately perceive was how difficult it would be to change all the things I had learned over the course of my life.

For example, I had to learn how NOT to feel bad when my mother said something mean spirited to me.

I knew consciously that every time my mother said something “mean” to me, she didn’t mean it. I knew this because she never said any of those things to me before dementia started affecting her brain. Her ability to think and feel.

So, I knew it was Alzheimer’s that was causing her to be so “mean”.

Nevertheless, when Dotty said something mean, and even though I knew she didn’t mean it, I still felt sad, angry, and often snapped back at her. In other words, I reacted the way I would react to anyone that treated me in that way.

All I can say is, Wowie Zowie. It is very hard and very difficult to change patterns of behavior that you learned over 50 years.

I had to rewire my brain.

I decided it would be easier if I could put myself in a new place. This is why I invented Alzheimer’s World. Instead of trying to relearn my entire life, I decide I would start a brand new life, a second parallel life.

My new second life would reside within the confines of Alzheimer’s World. In Alzheimer’s World all the rules, feelings, and methods of communication would be different.

I started developing some ideas about how I would communicate effectively with someone that couldn’t remember they were mean to me, and really couldn’t remember my “too long” explanations of this and that.

In order to get control of my emotions I knew I had to move fast and seamlessly into Alzheimer’s World. I had to get there before the anger came up. Anger, even though I knew I shouldn’t be angry.

I came up with an idea that worked. As soon as the craziness started, I would take one giant step to the left. An actual physical step to the left. As I made this step, I would tell myself that I was going into Alzheimer’s World.

It took a while, but it worked. My brain was rewired. More or less segmented into two parts, real world and Alzheimer’s World. Over time I learned to separate one from the other.

Once I learned how to step seamlessly into Alzheimer’s World something wonderful started to happen. Dotty finally, after a few years, stopped saying all those mean and nasty things to me.

She started telling people, Bobby is a good boy.

Here is the best part. The better I became at communicating in Alzheimer’s World, the sweeter and more cooperative Dotty became. Not that the world is perfect. Dotty is still Dotty and she can still be a big pain in the butt.

You see, once I accepted that I needed to communicate and interact with Dotty in her new world she became happier and easier to deal with.

Now, we didn’t leave the real world. Alzheimer’s World is a combination of the two worlds. In Alzheimer’s World it is understood that the person can’t remember the now. They can’t remember the sentence before this one.

In Alzheimer’s World it is perfectly fine if someone asks the same question 20 times in a row.

This is how communication goes in Alzheimer’s World. In Alzheimer’s World it is perfectly fine if a person says NO 20 times a day. NO does not have the same meaning in Alzheimer’s World. In fact, in my opinion NO has no meaning in Alzheimer’s World.

Once you start to understand how things work in Alzheimer’s World you get calm and comfortable. Once you get calm and comfortable you give off a better “vibe” to someone that has Alzheimer’s. If you can get to the “vibe”, the person living with Alzheimer’s becomes calmer and feels more secure.

Let’s put it this way. If you were sent to live somewhere where all the people were purple and they spoke so fast you couldn’t understand a word they were saying — how would you feel?

If you felt like all the purple people didn’t like you — how would you feel all day long?

If you were stuck in this purple world and couldn’t figure out how to get out, and couldn’t understand how you got there in the first place — how would you feel?

Alzheimer’s World can be a wonderful place. In fact, most Alzheimer’s patients are very sweet once you get to know them. They are very appreciative.

Keeping stepping to the left. You’ll find the door to Alzheimer’s World.

This article is a repeat of an article that was published previously. It ranks in the top 25 most frequently read articles on the ARR, and has been widely shared via on Google+ and Facebook.

https://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2011/06/rewiring-my-brain-and-stepping-into.html

By Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer’s Reading Room

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

 

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Click on the links below to go there!

Dora and the Explorers

Wacky Wonderful Wednesdays 

08.14.18 Alzheimer’s and Dementia from the Patient’s Perspective reblogged from January 2015

August 14, 2018 –  Since I originally wrote this in 2015 I’ve found two very interesting dementia patients who still communicate pretty well.  One, Rick Phelps, started a Facebook group called Memory People. Here is a link to that group: Memory People on Facebook   I’ve shared some of Rick’s writing before and plan to share soon one he just wrote about “anticipatory grief.”

The other dementia patient, Peter Berry, publishes on Facebook a weekly video on different dementia topics and an update on how he is doing. Here is a link to his facebook page: Peter Berry On Facebook

10460724_539323889537944_4082775068952904086_nOriginally posted January 2015 – This week I want to share about Alzheimer’s from the patient’s standpoint.

“I’m Still Here” is a song about dementia, written from the patient’s point of view. It can be a helpless feeling after you get the diagnosis, and the support of your loved ones can help ease the stress that this disease causes. Click on the photo below to watch this short video!

i am still here graphic to go with song

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ALZHEIMER’S PATIENT’S PRAYER BY CAROLYN HAYNELI

Pray for me, I was once like you. Be kind and loving to me, that’s how I would have treated you. Remember I was once someone’s parent or spouse. I had a life and a dream for the future.

Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don’t understand what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of which I can still relate.

Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle. Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain. Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.

Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer’s. I was full of life, I had a life, laughed and loved you. Think of how I am now, my disease destroyed my thinking, my feelings, and my ability to respond, but I still love you even if I can’t tell you. Think about my future because I used to.

Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now. Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and can’t let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me, but Alzheimer’s. I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I still need you to love me.

Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death. The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will live forever.

How you live and what you do today will always be remembered in the heart of the Alzheimer’s Patient.

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The following links are to stories from Alzheimer’s patients. Please spend some time reading each one of these stories told in a way that only they can:
|108I just found this blog called Welcome to DementiaLand by Wayne who does have a last name but I couldn’t find it just now.  I don’t know whether it’s my brain issues or his that make navigating his site difficult.  His level of sharing is great though and I felt strongly it should be included here.

http://dementialand.chewtor.co.uk/#category2

108

Interview with Alzheimer sufferer Richard Taylor: ‘You turn into a person you don’t know any more.’

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/interview-with-alzheimer-sufferer-you-turn-into-a-person-you-don-t-know-anymore-a-688049.html

108

An author and former physician, Dr. David Hilfiker was diagnosed in 2012 with a progressive mild cognitive impairment. His doctor thought it was Alzheimer’s but additional testing proved this initial diagnosis to be wrong. Now David must learn how to come to terms with the reality of worsening cognitive issues that appear to have no cause.

http://www.agingcare.com/Blogger/David-Hilfiker

108Harry Urban has lived with Alzheimer’s disease for seven years, “We have no typical days. You have your good days, your bad days and your Alzheimer’s days,”

http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/alzheimers-patients-share-their-experiences-153702.htm

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The video below  of a five year old singing “Peace in Christ” seemed appropriate to me to share with you today.  As a Christian with dementia, having peace in Christ is what gets me through every day. I hope you enjoy hearing this song!

Until next time,

psalm 26 73

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Click on the links below to go there!

Dora and the Explorers

Wacky Wonderful Wednesdays 

08.08.18 How stress can change your brain

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 – We tend to think of stress as an immediate problem: The boss hovering over our desks; the mad dash to the subway at the end of a long day. And in the short-term, stress makes us feel irritable, anxious, tense, distracted and forgetful. But that’s only part of the story.

Over time, elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can chip away at our physical, mental and emotional health. The link between chronic stress and the potential for mental health conditions — such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders — is well-established. But what kind of changes — both fleeting and lasting — are actually taking place in the brain when we experience a stressful event?

Here are four ways stress changes your brain.

Stress could trigger a chemical change that makes you irritable

Many of us know that we’re not pleasant to be around when we’re stressed out — we may get irritable and grumpy. Under pressure, many people get distracted and forgetful and this could be a sign of the destructive effects of stress in the brain.

French researchers discovered an enzyme, when triggered by stress, that attacks a molecule in the hippocampus which is responsible for regulating synapses. When the synapses are modified, fewer neural connections are able to be made in the area.

“These effects lead subjects to lose their sociability, avoid interactions with their peers and have impaired memory or understanding,” a university press release explained.

Chronic stress can shrink your brain

Stressful life events could harm your brain’s memory and learning capacity by reducing the volume of gray matter in brain regions associated with emotions, self-control and physiological functions.

Chronic stress and/or depression can contribute to lost volume in the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with emotional and cognitive impairment. Researchers found that this is particularly true of people with a genetic marker that can disrupt the formation of synaptic connections between brain cells.

A 2008 study on mice found that even short-term stress could lead to communication problems among brain cells in regions associated with memory and learning.

One stressful event can kill brain cells

As we learn new information, we constantly generate new neurons in the hippocampus — a brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion. But ongoing stress can halt the production of new neurons in the hippocampus and may also affect the speed of connections between hippocampal cells, according to Scientific American. What’s more, an animal study found that a single stressful event can destroy newly created neurons in the hippocampus.

University of California at Berkeley researchers found that the brain in a state of chronic stress generates more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than a typical brain would, resulting in excess myelin (an insulating layer of protective coating around neurons) in the hippocampus.

“The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to ongoing emotional distress, because of the damaging effects of cortisol,” psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote in Social Intelligence.

Stress can disrupt memory by triggering the brain’s threat response

While cortisol hampers the activity of the hippocampus, it increases the size and activity of the amygdala, the brain’s main center for emotional responses and motivation. The amygdala is responsible for fear processing, threat perception and the fight-or-flight response. Increased activity means we’re in a state of reacting to perceived threat, which can have the effect of restricting our ability to take in new information. It can also heighten emotional reactions.

“After a day when a student gets panicked by a pop quiz, he’ll remember the details of that panic far more than any of the material in the quiz,” Goleman wrote.

Carolyn Gregoire The Huffington Post
I can personally say that what this article is about is so very true.  When I was first diagnosed in 2011 and seeing the doctor regularly in 2012 I was under considerable stress from many directions.  The main thing the doctor told me was to eliminate the stress.  Unfortunately eliminating the stress was out of my control.  This was around the time that Roy and I decided to live full time RVing.  That was the biggest stress reliever imaginable and helped my brain deteriorating to slow down.
Now when I’m under stress my brain truly shuts down.  The best way I can think of to describe it is that there are less things going around in my head.  The things that are there don’t have a connection to either the next step or another thought related to it. I was hopeful when I started writing this that I’d be able to share more.  It’s just not happening.  So I’ll say good bye now.
Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!