What a Woman Wants Saturday, Feb 13 2016 

 

IMG_1649Heads up guys—I have the secret for making your Valentine very happy.

The days of my husband, Marshall, showering me with lavish gifts are long gone. No more jewelry, flowers, or chocolates from my sweetheart. But he does give me everything I need from him.

Marshall was a generous gift-giver. He showered his loved ones with extravagant treats and never hesitated to pick up the dinner tab. The more money he made, the more he gave. He spoiled all of us, and himself, without going beyond his means. He gave what he had when he had it.

He’s been retired a decade, and unaware of the meaning of Valentine’s Day for many years. He still tells me he’d “like to do something nice for me.” But because of Alzheimer’s disease, those thoughts are fleeting and have no connection to significant occasions on the calendar. He no longer can show me how he feels with store-bought gifts.

What he does do is to tell me how he feels. Repeatedly he tells me how much he loves me and what I mean to him. Today he said that he lives for me. How romantic is that?

What a woman wants is to feel special. We want to know that our man holds us close to his heart. My love has done that for me every day since the day we met. No present is better than that.

So my suggestion to you is to say those things you hold in your heart. We need to hear it, even if we know. Don’t hold back this Valentine’s Day. Tell the one you love how dear they are to you.

And give her a little something to open. Those “I love yous” don’t get the rest of you off-the-hook for a gift.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

 

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Do You Like Me? Thursday, Feb 4 2016 

How much do you want to ‘Like” Me? I have 11 Facebook pages. Not only do I have a personal page and one for me as an author, I also have one for every one of my books as well as one for my Beautycounter business. Some posts are duplicated but most are targeted to specific groups.

Please “Like” as many as you find of interest. And comment and post! It’s very lonely to post alone. I need your feedback to know if I’m on track with my thoughts and words.

Here is a list of my Facebook pages and the content you’ll find there:

  • Mary K Doyle – My writing and work as an author/speaker
  • Navigating Alzheimer’s – Credible information on dementia and caregiving
  • Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated by The Message – Faith and fairytales, especially those by Andersen
  • Grieving with Mary – Grieving and Marian devotion
  • Young in the Spirit – Aging faithfully
  • Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God – Saint Theodora and children
  • Seven Principles of Sainthood – Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, also known as Saint Theodora
  • The Rosary Prayer by Prayer – The rosary and Marian devotion
  • Mentoring Heroes – Mentoring
  • Beautycounter By Mary Doyle Brodien – Beauty products, beauty tips, health
  • Mary Doyle Brodien – My personal page for close friends and family

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

Sleep and Alzheimer’s Prevention Wednesday, Dec 2 2015 

Sleep well. That’s something I often say to my children and grandchildren when speaking with them in the evening. Studies show how important sleep is for us in so many ways. Now new studies are linking the need for sleep and the reduction of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists have documented numerous connections between sleep loss and memory loss. Chronic sleep deprivation causes injury to parts of the brain that are essential in maintaining attention and forming and storing memories.

Currently, there is an interest in how this relates to Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s tend to waken often through the night. At this point it is uncertain whether the poor sleep contributes toward a cause of the disease or is only a symptom. Dr Erik Musiek, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis says that new research suggests that sleep and circadian rhythm problems early in life may contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s and accelerate the disease.

Studies show sleep-deprived mice accumulate greater amounts of beta-amyloid plaque, a substance believed to damage and destroy brain cells in those with Alzheimer’s. And one finding showed the spinal fluid of mice swirled around the brains while sleeping, cleaning out the protein substance. If this is true for humans, it would greatly reinforce the need for sleep. It would offer a solution in the reduction of the disease.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

(For an excellent article on this topic, see the November 25, 2015 Chicago Tribune article, “Linking sleep and Alzheimer’s” by Mark Taylor.)

What Time Is It? Saturday, Nov 21 2015 

My apologies for the lapse in posting. The last month and a half flew by vacationing with one of my daughters and her family; preparing for two different 75 minute talks, working a booth and presenting at a conference in California; revising one of my books; enjoying time with my son who was in town; and completing all the regular daily work, home, and family activities.

Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? Sometimes it speeds way past us. Other times it crawls slower than a turtle. The clock continuously clicks away at the same speed whether we are lost in a movie or worrying about our teenager out on a Saturday night. It isn’t time but our perception of it that changes with the events that are occurring.

Children perceive  the arrival of Christmas morning as endless, unlike middle-aged adults who feel like we just packed up those decorations. When we consider that a four-year old waited a quarter of their life for Christmas to come again, it’s easier to comprehend their anticipation.

The concept of time has intrigued philosophers since antiquity, although much remains unclear even today. Numerous in-depth studies have been made. Recent ones incorporate psychology, memory, biological functions, environmental changes, circadian rhythm, and the relationship between time as perceived and time as measured in physics.

Time is defined as the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues. It is the period when something occurs. Time is related to the complex experience of change. The succession of events and changes are separated by intervals called duration—such as the duration of a dinner, a walk through the park, or shaking someone’s hand.

Few durations are isolated. Most overlap. For example, we text while eating and listening to the radio.

We have no specific receptor for time, unlike our senses of taste, smell, hearing, and sight. Time perception is subjective. Psychologists believe there is a neurological system associated with sensory pathways governing the perception of time. It utilizes a distributed system in the brain. Since time cannot be directly perceived, it must be constructed.

The perception of time requires attention. New events appear to take longer because we must pay attention to them more intently. Older events are connected to our memory and already processed to some degree. Doesn’t it feel as if the trip going to a destination typically seems longer than the return home?

Attention to time comes with attention to the stream of time-data without losing concentration, which is why those with attention-deficit find it more challenging to gauge time correctly.

Time disorientation is common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. This probably is connected to the inability to concentrate as well as the mounting challenge of reading clues such as the rise and fall of the sun and hands on a clock. The person with Alzheimer’s only knows how it feels to them at the moment, since they increasingly live in the moment. For example, it may feel like we haven’t seen them in weeks when in reality, we just walked out the door. It may feel to them as if they showered moments ago, when they haven’t showered in days.

Metabolic rate also may affect the perception of time. The larger the animal, the slower their metabolic rate, and the quicker their perception of time. Smaller animals metabolize faster resulting in a slower perception of time allowing them to perceive more events in the same time span.

©2015, Mary K Doyle

Blessing of Bright Stars Friday, Aug 21 2015 

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Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is both heartwarming and heart wrenching. It is an intense and intimate form of care, especially for spouses caring 24/7 for the main person in their lives. They become one as the caregiver must think and feel for their spouse all day, all night. We are their external hard drive as they no longer can tell if they are hungry, tired, anxious, or uncomfortable. Remaining calm, compassionate, and steady is essential.

My husband, Marshall, has Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms have been noticeable for at least 11 years; however, Alzheimer’s can be progressing in the brain for 10 to 20 years before any signs. I cared for Marshall at home for the first 10 years. He now resides in an assisted living home for memory care where I talk to him and/or visit him daily.

Marshall was a larger-than-life personality who continues to light up the room. But our conversations are basic at this point—mostly about how much we love each other.  The stars shine brightest in the darkest of night, and each time he says, “I love you” and “You are the love of my life” is a bright star indeed that I hold close to my heart.

WGN-TV is airing a special on Alzheimer’s at 7pm Central Time on Saturday, August 29. The program, Unforgettable: Living with Alzheimer’s, also will stream live online on wgntv.com and be replayed on Sunday, August 30th at 2pm Central Time on CLTV. I was interviewed for this special along with doctors, patients, and Glen Campbell and his wife, Kim.

You also can listen to an interview I had with Dean Richards on WGN radio on this subject.

  • Read more about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s in my new book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths About Caring for Your Loved One, available from ACTA Publications or Amazon.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

 

Eat Well. Live Well. Friday, May 29 2015 

Food is nature’s medicine. Well, at least before we add all the butter and sugar. A recent study published in the journal, Alzheimer’s & Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, showed a particular diet, known as the MIND diet, lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53% in participants who faithfully adhered to it.

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The acronym comes from the fact that the MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. This diet is predominately based on whole, natural foods but one that is easier to follow than the other two.

The MIND diet consists of vegetables—especially a generous amount of green leafy ones, nuts, berries—especially blueberries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine.

Foods to avoid include red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and all fried and fast food.

The study also showed that the longer we’re on the diet, the better. But even those who only adhered to it moderately saw a 35% lower risk.

The study, which began in 1997, was funded by the National Institute on Aging. One researcher was from Harvard School of Public Health. The others were all from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Participants consisted of more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98.

Click on the link below for a chart to hang on your refrigerator:

MIND Diet Chart

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Radio Interview on Caregiving and Alzheimer’s Monday, Apr 13 2015 

Are you a family caregiver, especially for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or know a friend who is? If so, you may want to check out my latest interview. The interview also features my newest book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. To do so, click Meet the Author on RadioMaria. There are two book interviews here. Mine begins at about 28.20 minutes.

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

Happy Anniversary to Us Friday, Oct 11 2013 

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My husband and I are celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary. At least half of our years together have included Alzheimer’s disease. In spite of the illness, it’s been a good marriage. Marshall encouraged me to come out of my shell, and I’ve encouraged him to come home. Our dance has been gentle, creative, loving, and supportive. It is rich in fun, family, and friends.

The two things that attracted me to Marshall was his kindness towards my children and his sense of humor. Those characteristics have continued and have carried us through some of the tougher times that naturally occur in life.

When Marshall was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my heart sank. I knew the road ahead would be challenging. But surprisingly, in many ways our marriage is better because of it. Although Marshall knows he has the disease, he is unaware of the extent of his disability. I however, fully appreciate every moment together.

Alzheimer’s has been a ticket to a free ride for him. During the limbo years prior to a diagnosis but when Alzheimer’s was popping up as the first signs of forgetfulness, confusion, repetition, and odd, unusual, and sometimes dangerous behavior, he appeared as uncaring and uninterested in me. Once I learned that he wasn’t deliberately treating me insensitively, I began to let all of that go. I quickly forgive and forget.

I also appreciate every little hug, smile, and “I love you” so much more. I’m acutely aware that there will be a point when those gifts will cease and he will not know who I am.

It’s difficult for anyone not with Marshall on a daily basis to understand how he is really doing. The disease’s progression has been exceptionally slow considering how long he has had it. This is due to good medicine, good doctors, and good home care. I’ve made a conscious effort to keep him engaged and living with a purpose, get him up and out every day, and remind him how important he is to me.

Marshall looks strong and healthy and still dazzles anyone he encounters with a little story about “the good old days” or a bit of magic. His charm and charisma overshadows the fact that he cannot follow a conversation and understands little about basic daily activities.

People often remark that they are surprised when Marshall does remembers something, as if once diagnosed a switch completely turned off his brain. Rather, Alzheimer’s is more like a light fixture with frayed wiring. Sometimes the lights are on. Sometimes they flicker. Periodically bulbs burn out and cannot be replaced.

I’m fine most of the time, until I stop and think about what is happening. As the lights continue to dim, they perpetuate a state of mourning in me. I’m deeply saddened as little by little I say good-bye to another part of our marriage. It’s painful to reflect and remember when, or worse, to project and fear what is to come.

So instead, I just keep going, just keep doing the next right thing as my brother John reminds me to do. I’m enjoying the moment. And this moment is a celebration of the blessing of our eighteen loving years together.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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