Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fingers Crossed

Recent news has been reporting that a combination of Trazodone and DBM , anti-depressant and an anti-cancer drugs respectively, have been found to halt neurodegenerative diseases in mice and worms.  This is an amazing discovery because a disease damaging the brain has never been stopped before.

This combination didn't reverse the effects of the disease; just stopped it from getting worse and reduced the amount of brain shrinkage found in the treated animals.

The scientists at the British Medical Research Council tested 1040 compounds before these two used in combination were settled upon.  They tested them in mice which were genetically modified to have prion disease and a form of frontotemporal dementia.

Trazodone is well known in the medical community and it's safety for humans is already well studied.  As a result, the scientists are moving forward with studying this combination in humans.  Their hope is to at least slow the progression of at least one neurodegenerative disease.  

Fingers are crossed.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Clock Face

I was running my errands this weekend when I caught Act Four of This American Life's episode 583: It'll Make Sense When You're Older.

The clock exercise is a standard diagnostic tool.  A clock face is an easily recognized and near universal object that we are taught to understand at a very early age.  The test is easy to administer and the mental processing errors are immediately obvious.

It sounds like an easy task.  It's actually quite a complex task.  The individual has to be able to imagine the clock face, recall the numbers and their positions on the clock, keep the requested time in mind, and correctly render that time on the drawn clock face.

Lyn has never been able to draw a complete clock face.  The test would not have been a useful tool for her because of this life-long inability.  She used to understand it though and could read the time from it.  I chuckle as I recall how she would try to manipulate people, particularly men, into giving her attention by convincing them she didn't know how to tell the time.  She no longer can tell the time from an analog clock.  She can still read the time from a digital clock.  

It's absolutely worth listening to because it highlights why individuals with dementia struggle with drawing a clock.  The first link above will let you listen to the story without having to sit in your car to hear the whole thing.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Planning Ahead


What are you doing in June?
On June 21?
Do you have any plans?

Do you want to help raise funds for Alzheimer's research or participate in an Alzheimer's related event?

Think about it.

If you decide you're interested, now's a good time to register with the Alzheimer's Association's Longest Day effort.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stigma and Social Media

Humans have been speaking, gesticulating and singing to and with each other for ages. While we've been writing and drawing for ages as well, the advent of social media has changed the tone of our communications.  Social media is a new comer to our methods of communication.  Our communications have become shorter and less nuanced.  It's often speedier and off-the-cuff.  We seem to value the instantaneous and un-edited thoughts.

While it can be great to get instant access to news and the thoughts of your friends and family, it can also be deleterious.  Comments are made without thought or care for how others perceive them.  There's an aggressive stance in believing you can say anything and another's feelings are their own problem with which to deal.  Anonymity allows people to feel free to be hateful without consequences.

This is having an impact on the Alzheimer's community and is already starting to increase the amount of stigma associated with Alzheimer's.

Mom's advice to "Think before you speak" still applies.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Beer and Bacon and Blues

This weekend saw the Southwest Bacon Fest in Albuquerque and Lyn felt she needed to go.  From the description that there would be beer, bacon, and Blues, it sounded like the kind of party that I would have loved too.

Lyn told me that "There were lots of people drinking!"  Despite that, she decided she needed to have a bacon cheeseburger on a doughnut for lunch.  Her assessment is that a glazed doughnut "is gooder than a hamburger bun."  She did say that the doughnut made the burger sticky and messy.

Lyn had a great time and came home exhausted.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reasons to be Proud

Yesterday, Lyn had a quarterly check up.  Her lab work are as perfect as a doctor could want for a patient.  Her weight has stabilized and she didn't lose more this quarter.  Her blood pressure is 114/68.    She's proud of all of that.

She took three of her paintings to show her physician.  Her doctor asked her to bring one in August that the physician can buy.  The subject doesn't matter.  Lyn's proud of that request too.

On the way to meet up with her Community Access care provider, Mom mused that she needed to figure out what to cook for dinner.  Lyn announced that she knew what she wanted and proceeded to request "A breakfast burrito with egg, ham, cheese and bacon."  Mom doesn't remember the last time Lyn knew what she wanted to eat without prompting.  Lyn stated, "I am proud dI could tell you what I want."

You know, Lyn gives a good perspective.  Sometimes, being proud of small things are great things of which to be proud.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Virtual Supermarket

A group of my friends who are spread across the globe have recently been sharing pictures of the isles in their grocery store, allowing us to see glimpses into things we just assume other communities have.

Grocery stores require the ability to picture where the object resides, to recognize the grouping of common objects, and to navigate the isles to find the desired object.  Financial comparisons and basic math are all involved.  All of these skills become increasingly difficult with Alzheimer's or other dementia causing diseases.

Researchers have found that virtual supermarkets can actually identify individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) which is often a precursor of Alzheimer's.  The virtual experiences can be immersive to the point where the individual interacts with the application as though it were fully real, allowing the system to record error or issues with how the participant engages with the simulation.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


So, apparently, at least according to the book of faces, yesterday was Siblings Day here in the US.  These smaller holidays always trip me up.  They sneak up on me and I'm left wondering what kind of person needs to declare their love of their siblings on a specific day?  You've got so many chances through out the year to punch them in the arm and say "I love you, you big lunk."

Yeah... That wouldn't go well with Lyn.  She wouldn't know how to respond to even a gentle pop on the arm.  I suspect we'd have tears.

Should I have sent flowers?  That's a thought.  She might really enjoy a delivery of flowers that weren't intended for Mom.  I'll think on that.

As for recognizing my sister and declaring my lover for her, I think I've got that covered.  My regular calls with her are always ended with an "I love you" shared both ways.  Plus, I've been writing about my love for her for several years now.

She may be crabby and difficult most days due to the Alzheimer's, but she's my sister and I love her.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Sister's Love

Imagine being 34 and knowing that you've probably lived the majority of your life.  Imagine knowing you have a genetic mutation for familial early on-set Alzheimer's and that you'll have 100% chance of getting the disease and a zero chance of surviving it.

The McIntyre sisters are facing this.  One has the mutation and the other does not.  They have already lost their mother to the disease and know what they're facing.  They've already started planning for it and know they will have to deal with one outliving the other.

In reading the above linked article, I have to commend them for their realistic approach to the disease and what they're facing.  One sister has committed to caring for the other.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Who's Old?

Mom writes:

This morning I heard her elbow "creak" and I said that she must be getting old.

Lynn:  I'm not old.  I'm a young lady.
Mom:  Yes, you are a young lady.  I am old.
L:  No you aren't old.
M:  How old do you have to be for you to think someone is old?
L:  I don't know but if you look in the "old" dictionary you can find out.
M:  (bite lip so no laughter's heard)  I can google it.
L:  No, you have to use the "old" dictionary. 
M:  OK, but is 69 old?
L:  No, you have to be a lotta old.  You aren't lotta old.
M:  Thank you but I feel lotta old.
L:  Go look in that dictionary to find out.  I know where it is, do you want me to get it for you?
M:  No thank you.  I'll look it up later.
L:  OK, look it up when you are lotta old.

So, guess I'm better off than I thought.