Thursday, October 8, 2015

October's Team Meeting

Tuesday was the monthly team meeting in which the individuals involved in Lyn's care get together to discuss what has happened in the past month, what actions need to be taken and review how Lyn's doing.

Mom mentioned how early Lyn has started going to bed again.  (There are days now when Lyn struggles to be up past 5pm.  Yesterday, she bathed and was in pajamas before 2pm.)  Lyn's behavioral therapist offered up an insightful response:

"Of course, you are tired.  You work so hard and your brain is tired by the end of the day."

Lyn's time at day hab is becoming overwhelming for her.  The staff at day hab keep the music on and up all day.  Lyn's behavioral therapist is scheduled to do some training with the staff there this week and she intends to suggest the music is turned down or even off for part of the day.  She says it is difficult for others to concentrate and the impact on the constant noise is not limited to Lyn.

Mom and the behavioral therapist both think that the time at day hab will be less and less over the next year.  We're already seeing days in which Lyn is asking to stay home or otherwise expressing a desire to not go.  Lyn's case manager informed Mom that when Lyn can no longer attend day hab the funds which pay for the service can be transitioned to paying for 1-on-1 coverage.  This coverage is more expensive and may require additional funds.  When Lyn is no longer able to leave the house, this coverage is a necessity so Mom can still leave the house to tend to everything from grocery shopping to Alzheimer's support group sessions.

Lyn's respite provider was in tears over this discussion.  She doesn't like to acknowledge that Lyn's progressing pretty quickly or that Lyn will be homebound sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Hippocampus and the Research

The human brain has a hippocampus buried deep in each half.  It helps process short term memory and to navigate through a space.  It is one of the earliest portions of the brain damaged by Alzheimer's.

If the hippocampus is a key component in the creation of memories and moving an experience from short term to long term memory, then damage to the hippocampus will prevent the person from learning and retaining new information and experiences.  Alzheimer's patients how this lack of ability.  The other impact to damage to the hippocampus is that the person can no longer successfully navigate.  Sound familiar?  Going from spot A to spot B is now an unknown even if you've been there a million times before.

We've seen both with Lyn.  She cannot tell me what she did yesterday unless she's prompted.  She does not know the routes between places any longer.  She doesn't know the way to Santa Fe.  She doesn't know the way home.  These factor into her anxieties.

So, where does the research come in?  Researchers at Northwestern University just published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience which indicates one type of cell in the hippocampus can become more active as the brain's owner (in this case rats) ages than another cell.  The more active cell in this study is the CA3 Pyramidal Neuron.  The research is interesting because it suggests that facilitating the increase in CA3 activity while the other cell activity is decreasing is a potential treatment approach.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Winter is Coming

The weather this past week has gone from Summer's hot and humid meltiness to Fall's cold and rainy days.  We have not see the sun in a week but were fortunate to only have a few inches of rain instead of the many inches which were predicted early in the week as we waited for the Noreaster and Hurricane Joaquin.  

It reminded me of the years when we lived in Virginia Beach.  Mom and Lyn would often plan their annual trip out towards this time of year in the hopes of missing the humidity and the worst of Hurricane season.  For the most part, they succeeded.  There was that time that they arrived just before Hurricane Dennis came ashore.  After that, the visits were pushed to later in the year, sometimes approaching Christmas.

So, for me, these Fall days that are drenched in rain and gray are not miserable.  They're a welcome break from the humidity which makes it hard to breathe here in the Summer.  They remind me of good visits with Mom and Lyn, of times visiting the few shops which stay open all year at the Beach, of watching my sister enjoy the waves at the beach even if she wouldn't step into the water.  

Yes, Winter is coming and with it Lyn will retreat more.  But there are still days that are bright and clear and bracing to be enjoyed.

(I have not yet watched Game of Thrones but I have read all of the books.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Is Alzheimer's Transmittable?

So, here's a frightening thought;  you go in for surgery and the surgeon uses instruments on you which had previously been used on an Alzheimer's patient. The hospital had sterilized the instruments.  They were not negligent.  You later develop Alzheimer's. Coincidence?

There's a new theory that there could be a form of Alzheimer's which is transmitted from person to person in the manner described above..  This theory is a new one and a highly controversial one.  If true, it would introduce a third type of Alzheimer's. We know there is spontaneous Alzheimer's (it happens and we don't know why) and familial Alzheimer's (it is a result of an inherited gene).  If there is a Transmittable form of Alzheimer's, it would mean that this form of the disease is not the result of a gene but the result of prions.

As I stated, the theory is controversial and government health agencies are coming out to indicate there is no such thing as transmittable Alzheimer's. The finding is from one study which only looked at 8 brains. Much more work and a greater sample set is needed before any of us should worry.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shedding Her Inhibitions

Mom writes:

Well, end times are truly here!

In the not too distant past she NEVER came out of her room or bathroom unless completely dressed.  Lately, she got to where she would come to the hall or living room asking for me to hook her bra.  Now she'll come into my room for that.  Doesn't matter if blinds are up, windows open.  Well, this morning she walked over and stood in front of window and sliding door to look at a balloon in her bra!!

It was difficult not to laugh out loud.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A New Ted Talk

A new Ted Talk has popped up.  I haven't had a chance to watch it yet but I'll put it here so you can watch it today.  I'll try to watch it tonight.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Towards the end of last week, Lyn came to Mom and announced that she needed new panties.  She only had one pair left.  Mom had just done Lyn's laundry two days prior to this exchange and was a bit surprised by the rapid decline in available underwear.  She checked Lyn's drawer and found one pair and an unopened package of new panties.  Instead of opening the package and putting them in for the wash, Lyn had just put them in her drawer.

Mom then went to Lyn's laundry basket and found all of the others.  Lyn had changed her underwear each time she changed her clothes (up to three times a day) and some smelled of urine.  Mom had realized that recently she had started to smell traces of urine when they were in the car together.

Mom asked Lyn if she was having little accidents and Lyn denied it.  She was defensive about it.  The evidence was at hand and it was pointless to argue with her.  So, Mom took a different tactic and pointed out that sometimes "when adult women sleep very soundly they may not realize the need to go to the bathroom."  Yes!  Lyn immediately agreed that happens.  It is hard to judge what is just a response to a suggestion and what really isn't.  However, the evidence was at hand that Lyn is starting to have issues with incontenance from time to time.

Mom pointed out that this happens to enough adult women of a certain age that there are commercials for disposable nighttime panties.  Would Lyn be open to trying them?  Yes!  She is very open to trying these nighttime garments and made a point of telling me about them during our Skype conversation yesterday.  Mom had sent me an email about it earlier in the week.  I was glad for that because when Lyn raised the subject, I was able to support Mom's suggestion while making it just a normal part of life.