Looking Behind to Look Ahead Monday, Dec 30 2019 

Last year my resolution was to be healthy. I ended up in the hospital right off the bat the second week of January. So, I hesitate to try this resolution thing again.

Statistics say that about half of all adults make New Year’s resolutions. The new year, and new decade, offers us an opportunity to assess where we are and where we want to go, as well as the person we want to be. However, fewer than 10% keep these goals for more than a few months.

The most common resolutions in 2019 were to diet, exercise, lose weight, and save money. Most said that keeping those resolutions, especially in relation to dieting, were difficult to keep.

Psychologists note that the best way to honor a resolution is to make a realistic goal. A small step is more likely to be reached than aiming far beyond what is possible. Their guideline is to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

2019 certainly was not the most difficult year I’ve ever experienced, but it certainly was intense. After 15 years of watching Alzheimer’s disease devour my husband, Marshall, he passed away in March. Although still greatly saddened by what was robbed from us, I’m at peace holding on to the love he showed me and my children and knowing that he is playing tricks in heaven with way too many other loved ones. This year alone, another dozen friends and family members in addition to Marshall crossed the threshold into eternal life.

No matter how difficult or sad life can be, it also offers us occasions to celebrate. 2019 was no different. I attended three joyful weddings, including Disney’s Rapunzel and Flint at Blackberry Farm, and a 50th and a 40th wedding anniversary.

Work was fabulous. I had the privilege of meeting with other family members dealing with Alzheimer’s disease through 19 presentations across the country. In addition, my 10th book, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, was published, and is selling phenomenally well.

Updating on my townhouse continued, and I’m loving living here. Thanks to my son, Joe, the laundry room and guest bathroom had complete makeovers; stairway railings, powder room cabinets, my bedroom and bedroom furniture, and guest bedroom were painted; and major work was done on my garage.

Frequent Flyer miles built up this year, and the travel wasn’t only for business. My daughter, Lisa, and I went on a memorable pilgrimage with her church. We traveled through Israel and Italy sparking our faith to new heights.

And our timing was perfect. Soon after our return, Israel saw some unrest and Venice flooded. The places and people challenged by these troubles touch our hearts so much more now since connecting with them. We hold all of them close in prayer.

My personal life also took an unexpected turn when a friend become more than a friend this year. Paul and I met when our spouses resided in the same memory care home. We supported each other through some of the agony Alzheimer’s presents spouses and are now enjoying making new, loving memories together.

I can’t imagine the new year will have as many changes as this past one. All I know is that it’s ending significantly happier and more peacefully than it began. And that is my goal, rather than resolution, for 2020 and beyond.

Here’s to a peaceful, happy 2020!

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Please join me at my next presentations in New Jersey:

Tuesday, January 21, 2020, “The Alzheimer’s Spouse,” 5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Registration and Dinner, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Seminar, Arden Courts of West Orange, 510 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, NJ  07052, 973.736.3100

Wednesday, January 22, 2020, “Navigating Alzheimer’s as the Family Caregiver, 5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Registration, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Seminar
Arden Courts of Whippany, 18 Eden Lane, Whippany, NJ 07981, 973.581.1800

Thursday, January 23, 2020, “Navigating Alzheimer’s as the Family Caregiver,” 5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Registration, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Seminar, Arden Courts of Wayne, 800 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne, NJ  07470, 973.942.5600

Singing the Holiday Blues Monday, Dec 2 2019 

I thought it would be easier this year. Yes, my husband, Marshall, only passed away less than nine months ago, but this was my fifth year without him at Thanksgiving dinner, and I am at peace knowing that Alzheimer’s has released him into the hands of the Lord. Yet, at the end of Thanksgiving Day, I was still depressed.

As my friend, David, who just lost his wife to Alzheimer’s, said to me, no matter how we fill our days, the evenings are sad and lonely. I’ve noticed that the last few years have been like that. I’m more depressed after being with loved ones and returning home.

Keeping busy and social are important elements in preventing getting stuck in the muck of holiday depression. We need to do things that bring us joy. And at the end of the day, especially the most difficult ones, ease the loneliness with uplifting music, movies/tv/reading, and friends.

I’m fortunate to have people who help me through. My friend, Paul, insisted on coming over on Friday to watch a silly Christmas movie. He knew a cure for loss was company and humor. And then, my son and his girlfriend visited yesterday.

Remember, that although missing our loved ones, especially around the holidays never fully disappears, it does get easier. As my psychologist friend, Sue, says, it becomes a different kind of, more bearable mourning. My mother passed away in 1999, and I especially long for her while baking during the holidays. It’s not the heart-wrenching type of pain of the past, but more like a missing part of the puzzle of tradition and a gratitude for having those experiences at all.

May all your memories of passed loved ones bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart this holiday season.

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If you’re in the area, please join me for my last presentation of the year. “The Alzheimer’s Spouse,” will be from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 5, 2019 at The Inter-Faith Chapel at Leisure World, 3680 S. Leisure World Boulevard, Silver Spring, MD 20906. For reservations, please call Julie Boone Roth, 301.847.3051.

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The Alzheimer’s Spouse is available from Amazon.com and ACTA Publications.comNavigating Alzheimer’s is also available from Amazon and ACTA.

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Do you follow my other blog, Midwest Mary, or my author Facebook page?

Junk Food Junkies Wednesday, Sep 18 2019 

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Skip the meals and go straight to the munchies. Granola bars, cookies, nuts, potato chips, popcorn, candy, pretzels, ice cream. We’re a snacking society. Not only do we snack all day and night, main meals are often replaced with snacks as well. All these goodies can add up to significantly more calories if we don’t choose our foods wisely.

We make more than 200 decisions about food each day, and most are made unconsciously. Rarely do we choose to eat because we are hungry. Instead, we’re prompted by outer influences—stress, a clock that says that it is meal time, boredom, or a reward.

And we eat more when distracted watching TV, listening to music, playing a game, reading, or worse, the food is just present. Studies show that if offered an unlimited amount of food, particularly when empty plates are continuously cleared away, we will eat 73% more than we would otherwise. Who doesn’t eat at work simply because the food is in front of us? It may not even be items we particularly care for, but there it is, so we fill a plate and mindlessly munch while working.

We can consume fewer calories if we use smaller plates, select from smaller containers, decrease the variety of choices on hand so we don’t sample all that is out, don’t buy in bulk, choose healthy foods only, and keep higher calorie ones in areas that are difficult to retrieve, or better yet, not bring them into the home or office. Although all foods contain calories, choosing grapes, almonds, carrots, cheddar cheese, and dark chocolate offer significantly more nutritional value than potato chips, gummy worms, and crackers.

We also should avoid late-night snacks. Although that is when we are more likely to be drawn to high-calorie foods, studies find that food isn’t as satisfying at night. We can end up eating more and choosing foods that are the least healthy.

We’ll also eat less if we eat slowly. Since we’re influenced by the people we eat with, dining with a slower eater can help us slow down. Taking at least 20-30 minutes to finish a meal allows our body to release hormones that promote feelings of fullness.

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Have you read Walking Away from Alzheimer’s Disease on my other blog?

I’d love it if you’d join our conversations on my Facebook page?

Bring in the Dogs Wednesday, Jul 24 2019 

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Flight delayed? Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut has a remedy to keep everyone calm—pets to the rescue.

While waiting in BDL for a flight home that ended up delayed more than six hours, handlers and their therapy dogs remained available for petting. I definitely can attest to the positive affect the Australian Shepherds had on the initially irritated crowd. Grunts and groans quickly transformed into oohs and ahs once the dogs appeared. The animals’ mere presence was helpful, and after a few strokes of their luxurious coats, travelers magically became significantly calmer. Smiles blossomed across the gates between travelers and the staff working diligently to accommodate everyone.

Pet Therapy, also known as Animal Assisted Therapy, involves a handler and an animal trained to assist people with physical and emotional issues. The therapy is found to help lower blood pressure, release endorphins, alleviate pain, reduce stress, improve motor skills and joint movement, and improve verbal and social skills. Dogs and cats are the most common animals used as “therapists,” but fish, guinea pigs, horses, and even dolphins are trained.

The only drawbacks to pet therapy may occur when people are allergic to animal dander or sanitary issues arise. Pets also may be at risk from unintentional harm from people.

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Have you seen my last post on Mary K Doyle Books, “Speak to Me?” 

On the Healthy, Sunny Side of Life Monday, Jul 8 2019 

IMG_2025Sunshine isn’t a guarantee in the Chicago area. Most of the year is overcast. When skies are clear, it’s like Christmas here. Residents are deliriously happy and out and about soaking in that rare commodity which is so good for our emotional and physical well-being.

Recent studies suggest that a substantial percentage of the global population is deficient in vitamin D. We need sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week to obtain enough sunlight to produce the necessary amount of vitamin D, which is difficult to achieve in many areas. The lack of sunshine, in addition to high pollution and the use of sunscreen which interfere or prevent absorption, are the main reasons.

Deficiency can be avoided by consuming eggs, fish (especially herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, swordfish, and tuna), fish liver oil, and chicken in addition to fortified foods such as cereals, dairy products, and orange juice. There also are an array of capsules and pills on the market from which to choose from, although there is a great variation of product quality to be aware of.

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. It’s considered a pro-hormone. Unlike vitamins, which are nutrients that cannot be created by the body, vitamin D can be synthesized when sunlight hits our skin. But vitamin D breaks down quickly making it difficult to attain and retain enough of it especially in winter.

Sunlight is vital to our health for many reasons. Without it, we may experience fatigue, an increase in aches and pains, severe bone or muscle pain, stress fractures, and a waddling gait in addition to asthma in children. The vitamin regulates calcium and phosphorus and helps to maintain proper bone structure.

Research suggests that vitamin D supports lung function and may play a role in the prevention of type 1 and 2 diabetes; hypertension; multiple sclerosis; heart disease; colon, prostate, and breast cancers; rickets; osteoporosis and bone fractures; rheumatoid arthritis; and swine flu in addition to treating plaque-type psoriasis. It also helps to reduce depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as improve cognitive function.

The recommended intake of vitamin D is about 400 IU but does vary by age. Senior adults are sometimes advised to take double that amount. However, don’t go overboard with this or any vitamin. Excessive consumption of D, called D hypervitaminosis, can lead to calcification of bones and hardening of blood vessels, kidney, lungs, and heart. The most common symptoms of over intake are headache, nausea, dry mouth, a metallic taste, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

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Do you follow my other blog: Mary K Doyle Books?

Would you like to attend my next presentation? It’s free of charge. I’ll be presenting on “The Alzheimer’s Spouse” on 7/16/19, at Arden Courts of Avon, CT and 7/17/19 at Arden Courts of Farmington, CT. If you are in the area, I’d love to see you there. Together, we can find solutions to some of your concerns.

Always Believe Something Wonderful is About to Happen Thursday, Jun 27 2019 

Always Believe

I once bought a greeting card for myself. At $6.95, it was an extravagant purchase, but the beautifully decorated card offered a powerful message that spoke to me. It read, “Always BELIEVE Something Wonderful is About to Happen.”

At the time, the words were so needed. My husband, Marshall’s, health had been declining more rapidly than it had been due to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. I was struggling to balance work and family responsibilities and remembering all the blessings that I do have in my life.

The card reminded me to hang in there. We never know what’s around the corner. Life is full of delightful surprises. We trudge along a path only to discover sunshine in an opening we had no idea was ahead.

Living with a positive attitude is so much more enjoyable and healthy than being stuck in doom and gloom. It’s certainly was how Marhall lived. He often said, “Think positively.”

We have every reason to remain happy. After all, something wonderful is about to happen.

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(Want to know what I’m wondering about? Every Friday I tell you on my author Facebook page. Check out my last post on Mary K Doyle Books, “Is Love Enough?

Slow Down to Speed Up Friday, Jun 14 2019 

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How often have you wished for a few more hours in a day? Most of us practice a fast-paced regimen of hustling from work to activities and running errands beginning with the moment we rise to the time we go to bed. And yet, at the end of the day, we feel we haven’t accomplished enough. As quickly as we cross off an item from our to-do list, several more spring up. That never-ending cycle is frustrating and exhausting.

But counter to what most Americans may believe, slowing down from time-to-time increases rather than decreases productivity. We have to periodically veer off that highway to end up where we really want to go.

My friend, Sister Chris, says that we’ve lost the understanding of our need to retreat. By engaging in periodic self-assigned time-outs, we are not slacking from our responsibilities but increasing our performance. In general, the removal from the hectic daily schedule most of us engage in can promote clearer thinking, a renewed and more positive outlook, and a healthier way of life which results in better efficiency.

The separation from technology and daily problems during retreats helps to reduce the flight of flight reaction to ongoing events and the accumulation of the stress hormone cortisol. Our hearts become more open which enhances the ability to release sorrow and pain which benefits our overall health.

In addition, the resting brain is essential to self-reflection and stimulating creativity. We gain clarity as answers come in silence improving our decision-making capabilities. An added benefit is that we often make life-long bonds with other participants as like-minded people will be in attendance at these retreats.

And retreats are longer lasting than even a “relaxing” vacation because they are more focused. They also omit the need to schedule activities or seek dining options. Typically set in calm locations, everything is planned for participants.

To find your perfect retreat, consider what you would like to improve. Retreats are targeted toward specific goals. For example, business retreats strive to identify individual talents, increase confidence, and promote team-building. Yoga retreats’ goal is not only to develop better yoga practices but also mindfulness and meditation. Retreats that focus on overall well-being can assist with better eating and exercise habits, work/life balance, and emotional release. Whereas spiritual retreats focus on increasing inner peace and a greater connection with the divine.

(Do you follow my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

 

Passing Through the Tough Stuff Tuesday, Jun 4 2019 

Today is a painful, fibromyalgia day for me–body aches from head-to-toe and fatigue. The good news is, like most of life’s trials, it will pass.

No one escapes the tough stuff whether it is physical or emotional. However, as my sister, Patti, says, “It’s not what happens to us but what we do about what happens that matters.” We easily can make a difficult situation more trying if we resist or revolt rather than work through it. When we continue to move one step at a time through a troubling situation, we soon find ourselves at the other end of that tunnel.

For me, that means a quiet day at my desk with a positive outlook knowing I soon will see you on the bright side, my friends.

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(Did you see my last post on Mary K Doyle Books: Marian Devotion through Art?)

 

Color Your Mood Friday, Apr 26 2019 

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Do you remember the acronym, Roy G Biv (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet) for the sequence of colors in the rainbow? From powder blue to fire engine red, we all have our color preferences, and those preferences drive our choices from the foods we eat to the cars we drive. We’ll pay more for items that appeal to our senses even though the performance of the product is rarely affected by its color.

Psychologists have found that our color preferences appear to be rooted in personal experiences. We are influenced by reactions of those surrounding us. If we’ve been told we look good in certain colors, we’re more likely to lean toward them. And this results in cultural preferences of the colors we surround ourselves in, as well.

Perhaps these color choices also are a result of how they make us feel. Color consists of light and energy. Every color has a specific frequency and vibration which can affect us emotionally and physically. Not only does light (and therefore color) enter through our eyes, it also can penetrate our skin and may activate hormones causing chemical reactions within the body.

Evidence of color used for healing dates back to at least 2,000 years. Research has found patterns of reactions in people as a result of color. However, it’s important to note that the shades of these colors alter results.

According to studies, in some people, red increases the heart rate. If you want to be creative, work in a purple room. Green often is restful because it is gentle on the retina. Blue is calming and can decrease respiration and lower blood pressure. Yellow may promote positively, but as with orange, it reflects more light which can also lead to irritation as well as hunger.

What’s your favorite color and how does it make you feel?

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(Have you seen my latest post, “Prayers From and to the Communion of Saints,” on my blog Mary K Doyle Books?

Have you “liked” my Facebook author page?)

 

 

 

 

Share at Least Your Excess Tuesday, Apr 2 2019 

How well are you doing with your 2019 resolution to lose weight? Perhaps donating the price of that decadent mid-day mocha late coffee, cookies and cream ice cream, or candy bar might help you reach your goal and a child in need.

Every single day, 18,000 children under the age of five years-old die from hunger and diseases related to poor nutrition (UNICEF). Approximately 165 million children in the world under the age of five are stunted because of chronic malnutrition. And nearly half of the people in the world are hungry some or all of the time.

The U.S. is not immune from hunger. According to the US. Department of Agriculture, 14% of households with over 16 million children can’t provide enough food for its members at some point each year. More than 48 million Americans live below the poverty line resulting in more than 20% of the children in the U.S. at risk for hunger.

What does it say about a society that allows children to suffer or die from hunger? If throwing out excess food is a habit in your home, please consider cutting back spending on food for your household and send that money to your local food bank, Feed My Starving ChildrenNo Kid Hungry, Feeding America or UNICEF

(Have you seen my last post, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, on my blog Mary K Doyle Books?)

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