Friday, April 11, 2014

Why-Remember My Photo Project???

(Grandma Bev-Skiing! One of her favorite things that she loved to do.)
I have longed for and begun parts of the healing process to start since the passing of my grandma. Now 2 years later there are days I still cry, laugh, or smile when I think of her or a memory of us doing something together. Nothing can ever replaced her, however the disease that robbed her still haunts me.


Born July 10, 1928 to parents who were wheat farmers, she longed for a life in the city.   My grandma was a very different kind of woman. She married as a junior in college, had one son, and quickly decided she didn't want do not be married. This was a first for anyone in her family. Divorce. Her parents almost disowned her over it because back in 1953 you didn't do that.  She got her way and moved forward with life. The relationship healed with her parents and she did move forward.  She became a secretary to the general in the Army  in Washington for 25 years before retiring out and she found love 3 times with marriage.
She also found heart break with her own son. The custody battle between her and my grandfather was long, and went to the supreme court in Washington. In the end she got full custody and my father spent his summers with his father and lived the school year with his mom. She loved and cared for him, but in his adult years he chose drugs and alcohol to deal with his depression and bi-polar disorder.  She finally removed him out of her life in 1997.
When I came to know my grandma I was a baby, than a toddler, than a young kid, teenager and a young woman. I came to know her because of her son not playing an active role as a father in my life. He was hooked on heroin and alcohol and she wanted a relationship with the only grandchild she had so she asked my mother if she could care for me each summer while I was out of school as my mother worked 2 jobs to put a roof over our heads to support all of her kids (I came from marriage #2).
                                                      (Doing some school close shopping. 1993)

Spending summers with Grandma Bev growing up was magical and special. I was the only grandchild so I got all of her love and attention and also learned of my great-grandparents farming and life. I even helped planned there funerals with her because they didn't pass till I was thirteen.  We grew fond of each other. I could call grandma whenever I was back home, and we always picked up where we left off. We never missed a beat.  In my young adult years she always asked if I was going to "Stay in Nevada?", and I never really could give her a yes or no answer because I wasn't sure what my future held. She would send me cute cards and emails, and we would talk once a week as I began to work the corporate ladder.
(Great Grandma & Grandpa Orr, Grandma Bev's parents.)

(FYI: Grandma loved to fish!!)


The first time I noticed a change in Grandma Bev I was 24 years old. She had come to watch me in the Nevada Day Parade October 31, 2005, I was the reigning Miss University of Nevada Reno, 2005 and she was a very proud grandma.  We would talk, and she would quickly forget what we were talking about or ask me the same questions several times. When I began to dig deeper into what was happening she covered it up.   I slowly sat back and watched the next several years unravel into an Alzheimer's nightmare.  It all came crashing down right after I had my son May 5, 2010.  My grandma had been making two to five phone calls a day to my cell phone. Each time she sounded a little sadder and couldn't form sentences.   It was apparent that she wasn't getting all the care she needed from her third husband.  I had called several times for welfare checks on the both of them do to age and her progression in the disease.   Her husband unfortunately had a lot of health issues and really couldn't provider her the level of care she now needed.
When my son was about four months old I planned a trip to go see grandma, so she could met her great grandson. I was hoping it would cheer her up. I spent several weeks planning out our trip only to have her husband call me and say "Don't bother coming, I put your grandma in a nursing home." My heart broke and I became hysterical and could hardly tell my husband what was going on.  My husband and I choose to go up anyways and take our son. He knew how much my grandma had meant to me.
Her husband was both shocked and not pleased when I showed up; however he gave me the address to where he had "dropped her off at." I couldn't drive over from her house to the nursing home fast enough.  When we got there the staff was shocked to find out she had a grand-daughter because her husband mentioned no family members. They were happy to see me and quickly showed me to the lock-down ward of the nursing home she was in (which being a mother of a 4 month old I was not prepared for).

(Trying to smile through tears after seeing her in the nursing home for the first time)
There she was with her face pressed against the glass door that was locked by a key pad.  Her hair was messy and she was wearing a t-shirt with a long skirt. She looked disheveled, weak, frail and old. I began to sop uncontrollable as I hugged her. The staff all encouraged me, but I honestly was heart broken to see her like this. This was not the grandma I knew. Who skied until she was 77 years old, and who walked or hiked daily on average of five to ten miles.  This was Alzheimer's robbing me of the one person that had loved me and treated me and taught me respect. Changed my diapers as a child and now she was in diapers.
I quickly hired an attorney and filed a motion to be the guardian over my grandma Bev. The attorney told me, rarely is it possible to get custody of a person who is married. I would have to show evidence of her not getting care that she required with her progressed disease with Alzheimer's.  I was able to prove my case in court and won full custody of my grandma Bev on a emergency notification.
Her husband passed away not long after our court battle from lung cancer. Grandma Bev was still in the same nursing home being cared for. I wanted and longed to bring her to Reno but it was advised not to move her since she had settled into a place and could quickly disrupt her and put her into a depression with the Alzheimer's.  I ached to have her closer to me and my son. I called weekly to check on her and sent packages to her every two weeks. She was doing well. Eating. walking the halls in the lock down unit and would ask for Brooke, it was the day she took a fall that I knew her life was finally coming to the end.
The nursing home reassured me she was fine, but four months after the fall I received the call the end was near. Grandma Bev had gone to bed the night before and would now not wake up. Hospice had been called in. I drove up that Monday night February 20,2012 from Reno, Nevada to Redmond Oregon, praying for her not to pass while I was in root.  She waited for me.
When I got there I tried to wake her. She opened her eyes and said "Barry". This was her son. I knew in my heart I need to help her get closure with him. I was able to track him down. He was living in a closet of a motel in Berkeley, California. He asked if he should come up to Oregon and I told him, that was his choice, but I was not leaving grandma's side.  He chose to speak to her on the phone. Her face lit up and moved around a bit as though she was trying to talk back to him, but nothing came out of her lips. That made me feel good that I was able to bring her some closure with her son.  I stayed with her each day and night until I felt her pull me to her on February 24, 2012 late in the afternoon. She took her final breathe in my arms as I was rocking her.  I watched her beautiful soul leave. 
(A photo of our hands together the week she passed away)

I try not to think of the last couple years of her life, because they are all very painful to remember. I try to think of all the things we did together. I really miss her and I laughing together, but more importantly I missed her long before she left this earth.  As I finally began to work through the grief I chose to offer free portraits to those diagnosed with Alzheimer's or ones that are suffering from Alzheimer's through my photography business (BMW Photography). It was embraced by my local community on the news and I paired up with the location Alzheimer's Association Chapter of Northern Nevada & California. I wanted to make sure the loved ones photos were remembered as well as their story. I tied it together with a blog called "Remember My Photo". http://bmwphotoproject.blogspot.com/

Time for Caregivers and Memories in the Making

NOW ACCEPTING PARTICIPANTS

Program for Diagnosed Individuals and Family Caregivers!

Memories in the Making® and Time for Caregivers

Memories in the Making® (Memories) is an interactive program designed for persons in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of dementia, that encourages self-expression through the creative arts. In this program, a person with diminished verbal and organizational skills can engage in productive interaction with others via the visual arts, music or writing projects that offer an opportunity for expression. The program provides meaningful activities and a safe place for the participants to express themselves when words may have failed them.  Memories is based on the premise that there are no mistakes in creative expression, and the process of creating art, music or writing is a powerful means of engaging affected individuals throughout the disease process. These creative sessions are conducted by trained facilitators with a background in the arts and a knowledge of dementia and its effects on the abilities of diagnosed individuals.
Time for Caregivers is a separate program for family members of the diagnosed individuals who participate in the Memories in the Making® sessions. The goal of Time for Caregivers is to provide stress relief to family caregivers through supportive interventions, education, activities and time away from caregiving responsibilities. In this program, caregivers will have the option to participate in a variety of activities focused on health and wellness, personal enrichment, supportive fellowship and creative expression, or the caregivers may choose to spend that time engaging in their own pursuits, such as visiting friends, running errands or having quiet time alone. A social worker facilitates the caregiver sessions, and other expert facilitators will be included periodically to present special programming such as meditation, yoga or other enrichment programs.
Spring 2014 SERIES -- 2 LOCATIONS!
Both programs are held once a week for 8 weeks. The session length is 90 minutes.
LOCATION: Columbia Center3500 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45226 (Columbia-Tusculum, near Mt. Lookout)
Spring 2014 Dates: Weekly sessions, Tuesdays, Apr. 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29; May 6, 13 & 20
Time: 
10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
LOCATION: The Centennial Barn110 Compton Road
Cincinnati, OH 45215 (bordering Hartwell & Wyoming)
Spring 2014 Dates: Weekly sessions on Fridays, Apr. 4, 11, 18 &25; May 2, 9. 16, & 23
Time:  
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Initial screening is required and space is limited. This program is free of charge. Please call Joan Hock at 513-721-4284, ext. 104 or email jhock@alz.org for more information. Click here for a program flyer.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Remembering As a Form of Therapy

Why reminiscing can be therapeutic.
By Michael Craig Miller, M.D., Harvard Health Publications
Memory looms large in our understanding of mental health and mental illness. For some people, remembering painful events, like abuse or the death of a loved one, causes suffering. But as we age, remembering too little becomes the problem for many of us. A simple form of therapy can be helpful when memory begins to fail. And, as an additional benefit, it can help with mood problems.
What is Reminiscence Therapy?
Reminiscence therapy uses prompts, such as photos, music or familiar items from the past, to encourage the patient to talk about earlier memories. It's generally offered to people in their later years who have mood or memory problems, or need help dealing with the difficulties that come along with aging.
Since the late 1990s, partially controlled studies have shown that this treatment has a small but significant positive effect on mood, self-care, the ability to communicate and well-being. In some cases, this therapy improves intellectual functioning.
The History of Reminiscence as Therapy
The idea that reminiscing could be therapeutic was first proposed in the 1960s. Robert Butler, a prominent psychiatrist who specialized in geriatric medicine, coined the term "life review." He proposed what many now take as a given: When approaching death, people find it helpful to put their lives in perspective. In an earlier decade, talking about distant memories was thought of as "living in the past" and therefore a problem.
The idea behind reminiscence therapy is consistent with the theories of adult psychological development that were being proposed around the same period by another famed professional, the psychologist Erik Erikson. Erikson thought that for the greater part of adulthood, we are challenged to find creative, meaningful work in order to avoid feeling stuck. Then, in the final phase of life, we may try to review where we have been and what we have accomplished in the hope that we can feel good about our lives. Reminiscence therapy, which incorporates both Dr. Butler's insights into life review and Dr. Erikson's theory of psychological development, may help a person achieve that goal.
How Does Reminiscence Therapy Work?
Reminiscence therapy can be conducted formally or informally with individuals, families, or groups. Typical topics are:
  • Family and friendships
  • Loves and losses
  • Achievements and disappointments
  • Adjustments to life's changes
Sessions can last from 30 to 60 minutes and occur weekly or even several times per week. Depending on the training of the clinician, the patient's needs and the setting, the goal may be to:
  • Improve communication
  • Foster a person's sense of self
  • Improve mood
  • Provide an enjoyable social activity
Perhaps it is easiest to think of reminiscence therapy or life review as a variation on supportive psychotherapy. Reminiscence is a way for a therapist and patient to develop a therapeutic relationship. By creating a sympathetic situation, therapists may make it easier for patients to verbalize their problems and concerns.
In the best case, this therapy can help patients establish realistic goals and come to terms with life's disappointments and limits, while taking pleasure and pride in recalling accomplishments.
What Does The Research Say?
Research has shown that older people with symptoms of depression who participate in reminiscence therapy report better self-esteem and are more positive about their social relations than similar people who do not receive the therapy. They also tend to have a more favorable view of the past and are more optimistic about the future.
The results for patients with dementia are not quite as encouraging or clear — although mental abilities and behavior do seem to improve. But the more interesting effect may be on the people caring for people with dementia. Caregivers report a reduction in stress and improved knowledge of the patients.
As treatments go, there are few side effects to reminiscence therapy. But you still need to be cautious. Not all memories are pleasant, and some individuals use the time to nurse their bitterness over disappointments. People with advanced dementia cannot participate. There are still relatively few controlled studies in this area of research, so clinicians must keep their expectations realistic.
A Valuable Benefit to Any Relationship
It might be worthwhile to think about reminiscence more broadly. It may be a valuable element of any relationship, not just a therapeutic one. The sports commentator, Bill Simmons (on ESPN in his podcast), regularly calls old college friends to discuss not just today's sporting news, but to remember experiences shared several years earlier. He and his friends laugh a lot and I smile listening to them.
Think of this the next time you visit old friends, or have an opportunity to see an older relative. The pleasure of reminiscing may help the person you're talking to, and you may feel better too.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

News for Healthier Living Aerobic Exercise May Help Older Women at Risk for Dementia

WEDNESDAY, April 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Regular aerobic workouts increase the size of the brain's memory area in older women and may help slow the progression of dementia, according to a small new study.
It included 86 women, aged 70 to 80, who had mild memory problems, also known as "mild cognitive impairment," which researchers say is a common risk factor for dementia. The women also underwent MRIs to assess the size of their hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning.
The study, conducted by Teresa Liu-Ambrose and her colleagues at the physical therapy department of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was published online April 8 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
For six months, the women did twice weekly hour-long sessions of either aerobic exercise (brisk walking); resistance training such as weights, lunges and squats, or balance and muscle toning exercises.
Twenty-nine of the women had their hippocampus size checked again after completing these exercise programs. Those who did the full six months of aerobic training showed significant enlargement of the hippocampus, but this change did not occur in those from the other groups, according to a journal news release.
However, there was some indication that the increase in hippocampus size was associated with poorer verbal memory, the researchers reported.
This suggests that the link between brain volume and mental abilities is complex and requires more research, the authors said. While the study found an association between aerobic exercise and hippocampus size, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
However, the authors said that the findings do indicate that aerobic exercise does slow the shrinkage of the hippocampus in women who are at risk of developing dementia. They recommended regular aerobic exercise to keep mild cognitive impairment at bay.
A new case of dementia is diagnosed worldwide every four seconds, and the number of people with dementia is expected to rise to more than 115 million by 2050, according to the researchers.
More information
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about dementia.
-- Robert Preidt
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Report: Alzheimer's far more likely than breast cancer in women over 60

By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed March 19, 2014
Women age 60 and older have a 1 in 6 chance of getting Alzheimer's disease in their lifetime, and are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's compared with breast cancer, according to a report from the Alzheimer's Association.
Men, by comparison, have a 1 in 11 chance of getting Alzheimer's, according to the 2014 Facts and Figures report.
6 ways to keep your brain young6 ways to keep your brain young
Age is the greatest risk factor for gender differences among Alzheimer's patients, but it's not the only reason. Researchers are also looking at genetic and hormonal differences, according to Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer's Association.
The disease affects more than 5 million Americans, two-thirds of them women. The new details about this disease and its impact on women come from a survey of more than 3,000 women commissioned by the Alzheimer's Association.
Can you avoid Alzheimer's? 

While two well-established risk factors for Alzheimer's are genetics and aging, "there is hope that adopting healthy brain life habits might delay or prevent the appearance of Alzheimer's disease," the association says. Here are some tips: 

Stay physically active to maintain good blood flow to the brain and encourage new brain cells. 

Eat a "brain-healthy diet" low in fat and cholesterol. 

Stay social to reduce stress levels and maintain healthy brain cell connections. 

Stay mentally active to strengthen brain cells and the connections between them.
Carol Moore, 75, is all too familiar with this gender disparity. She says she never worried about breast cancer because she was vigilant about her health, but thought her forgetfulness was just part of getting older.
In 2012 she underwent a battery of screening tests for part of an Alzheimer's study. Much to her surprise, she was diagnosed with the disease.
"I was hoping against hope there was nothing wrong with me, but there was," she says, recalling her fear when the neurologist showed her the MRI of her brain and pointed out the deterioration.
Women are also disproportionately affected when it comes to caring for people with Alzheimer's. Sixty percent of caregivers are women and the care they give is more intense physically and emotionally, according to the annual report.
Women are more likely to provide round-the-clock care, including feeding, clothing and diapering, says Carrillo. The average length of time an Alzheimer's patient requires 24-hour care is four to seven years, but could be as long as 20 years. The cost of Alzheimer's care is estimated to be $214 billion for this year alone.
"We wish we had expensive treatments to brag about, but we don't, so it's important to highlight that research funding and research commitments are critical for us to change that balance," Carrillo says.
In the future, she says, she hopes she'll be talking about the cost of treatments rather than the cost of care. Mortality rates for other diseases, like breast cancer, are dropping, but the rate of Alzheimer's deaths is on the rise.
The impact on women disproportionately extends to the workplace as well, where 20% of women, as compared with 3% of men, switch from full-time to part-time work because of their responsibilities as caregivers.
Predicting Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's & Sleep
Seth Rogen spoke, but who listened?
Additionally, women are more likely to take a leave of absence from work or stop working altogether. They also report feeling more isolated and depressed than their male counterparts.
Another surprise from the report, although not specific to women: 24% of women and men mistakenly believe they are only at risk for Alzheimer's disease if they have a family member with it. The cultural breakdown is surprising as well, as 33% of Hispanics held this mistaken belief and nearly half of Asians did.
"Anyone with a brain is at risk," says Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer's Association.
"You can do everything 'right' and still not prevent Alzheimer's," according to the association's website. Risk factors for Alzheimer's include genetics and aging, which are out of your control.
However, adopting what the association calls "healthy brain life habits" may help delay or prevent the appearance of the disease. Those habits include staying mentally, socially and physically active and adopting a "brain-healthy diet" low in fat and cholesterol.
Women can also reduce some risk factors by watching their numbers, Carrillo says. That includes blood sugar levels if diabetic, blood pressure and cholesterol.
The association is launching a new initiative in conjunction with the report, asking 1 million women to go to the association's website and share why their brain matters and how they will use it to stop Alzheimer's disease.
In the meantime, Moore, who lives in suburban Atlanta, is taking medication to slow the progression of the disease. She lives alone, still drives and stays active by exercising and attending monthly group meetings with other Alzheimer's patients.
She feels she'd be more social if she could, but she says she can't keep up the way she used to.
"I remind myself you just really have to do one thing at a time," she says. "Needless to say, it's a frustration."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seth Rogen Speaks to Congress About Alzheimers!

This video made me cry. I re-lived certain emotions I went through regarding my grandma and watching her disease with dementia and Alzheimer progress. Seth Rogen and his wife amaze me. Please watch this link and share it! Please check out the foundation that Seth Rogan and his wife have started Hilarity for Charity!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHqx3-mfHAY
http://www.hilarityforcharity.org/

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dementia tops cancer, heart disease in cost

By Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press
Cancer and heart disease are bigger killers, but Alzheimer's is the most expensive malady in the U.S., costing families and society $157 billion to $215 billion a year, according to a new study that looked at this in unprecedented detail.
The biggest cost of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia isn't drugs or other medical treatments, but the care that's needed just to get mentally impaired people through daily life, the nonprofit RAND Corp.'s study found.
It also gives what experts say is the most reliable estimate for how many Americans have dementia — around 4.1 million. That's less than the widely cited 5.2 million estimate from the Alzheimer's Association, which comes from a study that included people with less severe impairment.
"The bottom line here is the same: Dementia is among the most costly diseases to society, and we need to address this if we're going to come to terms with the cost to the Medicare and Medicaid system," said Matthew Baumgart, senior director of public policy at the Alzheimer's Association.
Dementia's direct costs, from medicines to nursing homes, are $109 billion a year in 2010 dollars, the new RAND report found. That compares to $102 billion for heart disease and $77 billion for cancer. Informal care by family members and others pushes dementia's total even higher, depending on how that care and lost wages are valued.
"The informal care costs are substantially higher for dementia than for cancer or heart conditions," said Michael Hurd, a RAND economist who led the study. It was sponsored by the government's National Institute on Aging and will be published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Dementia also can result from a stroke or other diseases. It is rapidly growing in prevalence as the population ages. Current treatments only temporarily ease symptoms and don't slow the disease. Patients live four to eight years on average after an Alzheimer's diagnosis, but some live 20 years. By age 80, about 75 percent of people with Alzheimer's will be in a nursing home compared with only 4 percent of the general population, the Alzheimer's group says.
"Most people have understood the enormous toll in terms of human suffering and cost," but the new comparisons to heart disease and cancer may surprise some, said Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the Institute on Aging.
"Alzheimer's disease has a burden that exceeds many of these other illnesses," especially because of how long people live with it and need care, he said.
For the new study, researchers started with about 11,000 people in a long-running government health survey of a nationally representative sample of the population. They gave 856 of these people extensive tests to determine how many had dementia, and projected that to the larger group to determine a prevalence rate — nearly 15 percent of people over age 70.
Using Medicare and other records, they tallied the cost of purchased care — nursing homes, medicines, other treatments — including out-of-pocket expenses for dementia in 2010. Next, they subtracted spending for other health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or depression so they could isolate the true cost of dementia alone.
"This is an important difference" from other studies that could not determine how much health care cost was attributable just to dementia, said Dr. Kenneth Langa, a University of Michigan researcher who helped lead the work.
Even with that adjustment, dementia topped heart disease and cancer in cost, according to data on spending for those conditions from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Finally, researchers factored in unpaid care using two different ways to estimate its value — foregone wages for caregivers and what the care would have cost if bought from a provider such as a home health aide. That gave a total annual cost of $41,000 to $56,000 per year for each dementia case, depending on which valuation method was used.
"They did a very careful job," and the new estimate that dementia affects about 4.1 million Americans seems the most solidly based than any before, Hodes said. The government doesn't have an official estimate but more recently has been saying "up to 5 million" cases, he said. 
The most worrisome part of the report is the trend it portends, with an aging population and fewer younger people "able to take on the informal caregiving role," Hodes said. "The best hope to change this apparent future is to find a way to intervene" and prevent Alzheimer's or change its course once it develops, he said.