The Caregiver’s Disease Wednesday, Mar 4 2015 

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The journey we take when we partner with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is turbulent to say the least. Our husband, sister, or mother needs everything we can possibly give them. They don’t realize it, and may resent or shun our help, but they can do little without assistance.

The statistics aren’t pretty. More than 30% of the primary family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s die before the loved one they care for. In this position we are taxed at an extraordinary level. The disease zaps us emotionally, physically, and financially because of the 24/7, day-after-day, often for decades, all-consuming demands and the sheer agony of watching our relationship fade away.

I know this path well. My husband Marshall has had Alzheimer’s disease at least eleven years. He now resides in an assisted living home specializing in memory care, and although I no longer have the full-time responsibility of his every need, there continues to be much I must do for him. At this point, I feel blessed that our love for each other remains strong, but I know full-well that soon can be taken away from me too.

My latest book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One, is jam-packed with solid information and observations I learned along the way. It covers issues raised by many people who have approached me seeking answers for their own caregiving needs. Topics include the early signs of Alzheimer’s; important behavior for caregivers; the perpetual mourning we experience;  expected costs of caregiving; dealing with insensitive remarks from outsiders; guidelines for selecting appropriate caregivers and assisted living homes; and the importance of appreciating the gifts we do have.

The book is available at ACTA Publications, 800-397-2282 and Amazon.

Navigating Alzheimer’s certainly isn’t a fun read but offers an important resource and compassionate camaraderie for families dealing with loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

Click here to listen to an interview about this book with Dean Richards on WGN Radio.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Best Tea Travel Cup Saturday, Feb 28 2015 

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Tea drinkers, listen up. My son Joe gave me a cup that is perfect for tea-on-the-go. Once you try it, no doubt it will be your go-to tea infuser.

The usual way to make a cup of tea on the run is to throw a tea bag or tea ball of loose tea into a travel mug. After a few minutes you either have to pull the dripping tea out of the mug – and do what with it? – or leave it in there resulting in a strong, bitter taste.

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The Aladdin Perfect Cup Tea Infuser offers the solution. A tea basket hangs from the lid with a lever to raise it in and out of the tea whenever you wish. It’s simple and fun to use and dishwasher safe.

Pour hot water into the cup. Fill the basket with loose tea or a tea bag, snap the lid closed, screw the lid on the cup, and lower the lever. Although the cup is not a thermos, it is slightly insulated and will keep your tea hot longer than in a regular cup.

I use the infuser every day to prevent spills on my desk or computer. The 12 oz Aladdin Perfect Cup Tea Infuser is available from Aladdin  for $18.99 or Amazon for $18.71.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Yummy Yogurt Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 

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Yogurt, yoghurt, or yoghourt—no matter how you spell it, the fermented milk product is a quick breakfast or healthy treat at any time of the day.

Yogurt is made by introducing yogurt cultures, which are a form of bacteria, into a milk product causing it to ferment. Cow’s milk is most commonly used, but yogurt can also be made from water buffalo, goat, mare, camel, yak, coconut, or almond milk.

The creamy deliciousness has a long history dating back into ancient times. Legend has it that Abraham owed his longevity, at least in part, to it. According to Wikipedia, yogurt was a staple in Russian, Western Asian, South Eastern, Central European, and South Asian cultures until the 1900s. It was patented with added jam in 1933 by a dairy in Prague. Yogurt wasn’t available in the U.S. until the early twentieth century.

Yogurt is rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, and Vitamins B6, B12, and D. It’s often tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant because of the conversion of lactose to the sugars glucose and galactose and the fermentation of lactose to lactic acid. Yogurt may help prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of high blood pressure and vaginal infections.

When I developed pneumonia this past spring, I’d lost a considerable amount of weight. The pulmonologist said I should eat a lot of protein and named Greek-style yogurt as one item in particular to put on my grocery list.

Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt. You can transform regular yogurt into the Greek-style by spooning 4 cups of plain whole-milk yogurt into a sieve with a coffee filter and set it over a bowl. Refrigerate for about 12 hours and you will get about 2 cups of thick yogurt.

Grocers offer dozens of varieties of yogurt in their refrigerator section. With and without fruit, and containing a wide variety of fat content and calorie count, it isn’t difficult to find a favorite style. I keep plain whole-milk yogurt on hand to mix in dips, sauces, and mashed potatoes, but my favorite flavored brand is Noosa’s mango. Noosa is pricey – $2.49 for 8 ounces, and only available in health and specialty grocery stores, but it’s so rich I only eat half a container at a time. This brand is all natural, gluten-free, and probiotic, from cows never treated with rrBGH. Go to their website: http://www.noosayoghurt.com for a 55 cent coupon.

(The 8 ounce container of Noosa’s mango yogurt has 270 calories, 11 grams of fat, 27 grams of total carbs, 25 grams of sugar, 30 mg of cholesterol, 14 grams of protein, and 110 mg of sodium. It also is a good source of nutrition—Vitamin A 17%, Vitamin C 12, Calcium 37 %, and Iron 3%))

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

No Mothballs for Me Wednesday, Sep 17 2014 

Chipmunks rule the land. The cute little critters dig holes all around my house.

My sister suggested placing mothballs—those old-fashioned white, pungent balls grandmas used decades ago—along the perimeter of the house to ward them off. I don’t know how many chipmunks they kept away, but I couldn’t stand the smell and found that I was avoiding everywhere that the mothballs were. I retrieved and tossed them all. Surprisingly, the trash can smelled from them for weeks afterwards.

Mothballs are small balls of chemical pesticide and deodorant used to protect clothes from mold, moth larva, and silverfish. It also may repel snakes, mice, and other small pests. Not only is their smell offensive and overpowering, mothballs pose some serious health hazards. They must be used with great caution around family pets and children.

The ingredients have changed over the years but they continue to be somewhat flammable. They contain a chemical called 1,4-dichlorobenzene. Sometimes packaging lists it as para-dichlorobenzene, p-dichlorobenzene, pDCB, or PDB.

Mothballs are highly toxic when ingested. The US Department of Health and Human Services has determined this ingredient to be a carcinogen. It is a neurotoxin and may cause series illness or death. Large quantities in a basement or living space may also cause respiratory problems.

A better alternative to mothballs may be to spread blood meal or pieces of unchewed sticks of fragrant gum near chipmunk holes.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Back to the Beginning Tuesday, Jul 15 2014 

Farming got a boost in productivity with the discoveries of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers but we now know that more food does not mean more nutrition. These substances have toxic results on our health. The nutritional differences between conventional and organic foods are debated, although most people see the health benefits of foods without chemicals.

A 2012 study, which some believe is flawed,  found no significant difference in nutritional value between conventional and organic foods. But a new analysis from the United Kingdom analyzed over 300 studies and concluded that organic crops are higher in antioxidants.

They also have lower levels of toxic metals and pesticide residues. Most significantly, organic crops are said to have an average of 48% less cadmium, a metal that can cause kidney failure, bone softening, and liver damage.

Organic farmers are not allowed to plant genetically engineered seeds or use synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, hormones or antibiotics. Not only does this result in healthier food, organic fruits and vegetables have higher levels of favor-enhancing nutrients, so they taste better.

Organic farming also benefits the livestock, farmers, and environment. Organic farmers provide more humane conditions for the animals and leave soil and water supplies less contaminated. Additionally, farm workers avoid contact with the toxins used on conventional farms.

Organic foods can be expensive in some areas, but perhaps not in the long run. If we are healthier, we can live better and longer with fewer medical bills. Sometimes advances in science bring us back to the beginning where less is best.

Read more about organics at: Organic Center and the USDA website.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

 

Thumbing Through the Pages No More Tuesday, Jul 8 2014 

After 131 years, the women’s magazine, Ladies Home Journal, is suspending monthly publication. The July/August 2014 issue is its last.

The magazine was launched in 1883 featuring practical information on mothering, marriage, and housekeeping. The publication evolved with the times and changes in women’s lifestyles and was on the forefront of current issues of the day.

In 1904 it helped campaign for regulation of medicines sold in the United States which helped lead to the creation of the Food and Drug Act. LHJ also was the first to cover women’s cancer prevention (1913), risky maternity procedures in hospitals (1930s), the amount of money spent on presidential campaigns (1940), and drafting women in noncombat roles (1951).

The magazine also featured noted writers including Helen Keller, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louisa May Alcott, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Truman Capote, Norman Rockwell, and even both President Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt.

This month’s feature articles include getting the best price on everything you buy, what might be interfering with a good night’s sleep, how to identify skin cancer, and ways to keep your marriage strong. These articles would have been of interest over most of the publication’s history. How we write and the amount of factual data necessary to substantiate a story may have changed over the years, but I don’t believe the fundamental interests relevant to women have. Sure there are the trends in styles, the considerable changes due to technology, and the struggles for women in the workforce, but the issues deep in our hearts remain the same. Most women’s lives still center on marriage (or a solid relationship), children, and a happy home. At all ages and lifestyles, we cook, clean, and relate to our loved ones.

The challenge of successful and profitable publications are many in this digital age, so we will continue to see more and more of our favorite magazines and newspapers discontinuing hard copy production. This is too bad because there is a sensual difference between reading online and holding that magazine in our hands.

Thank you Ladies Home Journal for hanging in there for so long and helping generations of women live a fuller, happier life through your hard copy magazine.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Please note: Special issues will be available on newsstands.

It’s in the Eyes Friday, Jun 27 2014 

Anyone who wears mascara is on the hunt for the perfect brand. We search for the one that makes our lashes look fuller and longer without flaking or irritating our eyes or surrounding skin.

Few have been successful in their search, but I think I found that one for you. Moostruck 3D Fiber Lashes by Younique is dramatically different from anything else I’ve tried before. While wearing it several people commented on how good I looked. They didn’t realize it was the mascara until I asked them about it, but they did notice something was different.

The Younique website says their mascara produces a 300% increase in thickness and volume. They suggest applying a thin coat of regular mascara (without lengthening) and then their gel and fibers. I prefer not using my other mascara along with it. My lashes are blond and yet look fabulous with only Moodstruck. It is less expensive this way and also doesn’t flake as it does with my own mascara added to it.

My daughter, Lisa, got me hooked on Moodstruck, and once you try it, I’m sure you will be too.  You can order it on Lisa’s link.

Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes is hypoallergenic, never tested on animals, has no fillers, and is paraben free. It is available for $29 plus shipping and tax.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

2014 CPA Book Awards Tuesday, Jun 24 2014 

Writing books takes years of research, writing, and rewriting, and it is rewarding when readers tell me the books made a difference in their life or when they are honored by my peers.

Both Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God and Young in the Spirit received Honorable Mentions in the 2014 Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada book competition.

The awards are not First Place (or Second or Third) but meaningful to me because they were awarded by respected professionals in the industry and competed against significant publishers such as Ave Maria Press, Liguori Publication, Loyola Press, Orbis Books, Georgetown University Press, and Paulist Press.

This is the first year I entered one of my books in this contest. Young in the Spirit also received an Honorable Mention in the Great Midwest Book Festival competition.

Winners were announced at the annual CPA convention, on the CPA website, and in the publication, The Catholic Journalist.

Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God is my first published children’s book. It is about Saint Theodora, also known as Mother Theodore Guerin, who founded schools in Indiana and Illinois in the mid 1800s. One of these schools, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, is the oldest liberal arts college for women in the United States and also offers co-ed graduate degrees. I received my Master’s of Arts Degree in Pastoral Theology from this school.

Young in the Spirit explores the impact of spirituality on aging and caregiving. It offers suggestions on ways to build on our faith during these times.

Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God was published by the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN and Young in the Spirit was published by my little press, 3E Press.

Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God and Young in the Spirit are available on Amazon and my website: marykdoyle.com.You can see the entire list of winners on the CPA website at: Catholic Press Association

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

More than a Meal Tuesday, Jun 3 2014 

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My daughters, Lisa and Erin, took me overnight to the quaint, little town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to celebrate my big birthday. Since I am still recovering from pneumonia, we kept things fairly low-keyed. We spent the day relaxing at the pool and then went to The Baker House for dinner.

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Although the 17,000 square foot, 30-room Queen Anne Mansion was built in 1885, the decor is 1920s. Rich, dark woods, copper ceilings, and antique light fixtures adorn the opulent home.

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The wait staff and some of the diners can be seen wearing period clothing. Guests are welcome and encouraged to don the vintage hats that hang on the walls.

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Pre-prohibition cocktails and a limited but delicious menu is available. We had cheese fondue for an appetizer. Both of my daughters had pork tenderloin and potatoes, and I had honey mustard salmon with wild rice for dinner. Our waitress brought raspberry parfait for my birthday and we also ordered crème Brule. We were not disappointed. The food and atmosphere were so much more fun than an ordinary restaurant.

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The Baker House is listed in the National Register of Historic places under its original name, Redwood Cottage. The lakefront home was built by Emily Baker as a summer escape for her and her five children. It was later a sanitarium for wealthy Chicagoans suffering from minor emotional disorders and addictions, a speakeasy during prohibition, and a hotel and restaurant with various owners. The current owners purchased the home in 2010 and renamed it after Emily Baker. They consider it their residence as well as a hotel and restaurant.

The Baker House is located at 327 Wrigley Drive, Lake Geneva. http://www.bakerhouse1885.com, 262-248-4700.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

More than Just a Movie Wednesday, Apr 9 2014 

Have you seen the movie, Son of God? Some say it is a bit sappy, but I loved it. It is full of hope and joy. Jesus’ words that we know well from Scripture continue to echo in my head since seeing this movie.

You can’t help notice how good-looking and cool actor Diogo Morgado is as Jesus. Some call him “Hot Jesus.” And we don’t really know. Maybe the real Jesus was hot. He certainly was charismatic. He drew crowds everywhere and held their attention. Maybe people were initially drawn to his looks.

There’s no doubt that Jesus really did live, was brutally tortured, crucified, died, and rose from the dead. Those are historical facts. So I encourage all of you, even non-Christians and non-practicing Christians, to see the movie. It’s only 138 minutes of your time, and I really think it will offer you  a lot to think about.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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