10 A’s For Alzheimer’s


I came across this great list of ways to interact with your loved one. As the holidays are here and family are visiting, this is an easy list to share. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow American readers!

Appropriate activities help persons pass the time; meaningfully and productively, and reduce agitation, boredom, daytime sleeping and depression.

Agitation is often alleviated when the caregiver remains calm, reassuring and respectful of the person’s feelings.

Adults with disabilities are still adults. It is important that they are always treated with respect and dignity.

Adapt the task to fit the ability of the individual. Break down the activity into separate steps; simplify tasks by eliminating the frustrating steps.

Assessment is ongoing. What is safe and effective for now may not be so at a later time. Keep watching and re-evaluating.

Arguments are useless. In fact, they often make matters worse. Confusion, memory loss and frustration are making the person behave irrationally and you can’t argue them out of it.

Allow as much freedom as possible, while keeping safety and comfort in mind.

Actions help when verbal communication may fail. Help the person by demonstrating what you mean, or sometimes by starting the activity.

Assume that the person can understand and hear what you say even if they are confused. Do not say things to others that they could hear as if they are deaf.

Appreciate good days or moments even though the person’s ability is not going to remain capable.

*Adapted from the Southern Tier Missouri Alzheimer’s Chapter Newsletter, with a few adaptations from me.

The Day My Mom Visited The White House


My husband and I recently retraced the steps of a vacation from 18 years ago, made to Washington, DC just days after my diagnosis of MS. It was an emotional visit flooded with tender memories. One thing we hoped to do was to tour the White House. We contacted our congressman months in advance, to no avail. We weren’t on the ‘It’ list. We would have to use our active imaginations, Google photos, and friends’ stories to enjoy the experience vicariously.

Little did I know I was about to get a firsthand account of someone’s personal tour to the White House, including a personal meeting with the First Lady at the end of the tour! I was impressed.

This precious person was accompanying her spouse on a business trip and found herself without anything to do one day during the trip. She received that unexpected call: Would you like to see the White House? Of course her answer was yes. She gave general details of what a magnificent and stately mansion it is, so ornate, everything I had imagined. It was an exhaustive tour, not just covering ten rooms or so as I had imagined ours would be.

The consummation came when her tour guide asked if she would like to meet Mrs. Obama. She was overcome with excitement, as she had never met a First Lady. Mrs. Obama was just as gracious and lovely as she had always heard. It was a brief meeting but certainly one she will remember the rest of her life.

When my mother shared this story yesterday of her recent trip, she commented that not everyone believed her. In fact, some people said she was making it up. I assured her I did not think she was making it up at all.

Alzheimer’s can bring some lovely, joyful things it you live in the grey areas instead of black and white. My mom genuinely believes she experienced this. I shared her joy and exuberance. My mind can’t begin to fill in details like that. Don’t misunderstand me, I understand the medical reason behind the situation. If you have a loved one with dementia, embrace the joy when you find it.

And if you see Mrs. Obama, please tell her my mom says hello.

My bedtime lullaby

I was having a hard time falling asleep tonight. I prayed and said, ‘God, give me something to put my mind on that will give me peaceful thoughts and help me to fall asleep soundly and of your ways.’

Immediately I thought back to a fond memory of my dad singing one of his favorite hymns, How Great Thou Art. He had a deep bass voice and would often sing hymns in the evenings around our house. While I miss my dad deeply, it is wonderful to think back on his love for the Lord and have memories of him worshiping like this.

I hope Carrie Underwood’s version of this great him is an encouragement to some of you, dear readers, as well. God bless.

If I knew then what I know now

I was asked several months ago to share some of my thoughts about my journey with MS on a well-known photographer’s website. Randy and Shannon Bacon also have a website called 7BillionOnes based on the belief that every person has value and an important story to tell. There are many, many stories. If you came to this site because I share about my health issues, my faith, it you have addiction issues, adoption to abandonment… you will find encouragement here. You do have value because you have been uniquely created with a purpose and a plan.

Check out my other pages at the top of this page or some of the other popular posts on the right. Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you Elvis Presley, You were always on my mind

Elvis Presley Music is a powerful tool, isn’t it? It brings back memories of that first kiss, where you first met that special someone. Maybe you have a rebel cry song that helped you through a bad breakup. People plan the perfect song for their first dance at their wedding reception. Music can be the key that unlocks memories tucked away in a box from decades ago, just waiting to be plucked out and played.

The residents where my mother currently resides deal with various stages of dementia, but one lady in particular will make statements such as, ‘The lunch was very good. The lunch was very good. The lunch was very good.’ She repeats it…and repeats it…and repeats it. Perhaps ten, twenty, or more times in a row. She is close to being nonverbal but when she does speak, Ruby (*) can get stuck on a single sentence for a very long time, like a record player that continually skips at one point in the song.

Elvis came to visit and shake it all up recently for some entertainment with the residents, also known as music therapy. We soon wondered if the staff and family knew what they were in for or not. There is another resident who is well over 90, very weak, but she was ready to do the jailhouse rock with Elvis! Martha(*) was up on her feet, moving and dancing away while nurses were on every side, ready to catch her if she should fall. She had the time of her life.

Elvis approached Ruby with a feather boa and wrapped it around her neck, wooing her as he crooned, ‘You were always on my mind’. Apparently Elvis was always on Ruby’s mind. Her mind temporarily breaks free from its locks and she is transported back to her mid-twenties. She sings, she sways, she is weak at the knees. Elvis Presley is singing directly to her…and she is singing right back to him! The verbal and memory processing prison has been temporarily broken, the chains are gone, she has been unleashed!!

For us, the most beautiful thing was to hear my mother still telling us many days later what a thrill she had seeing Elvis perform. She didn’t remember any family being there to visit, but she remembered Elvis. She remembered that Martha stood to her feet, dancing away. She remembered Ruby about to faint at the mere sight of Elvis. She remembered the emotions, the happy experience.

Thank you, Elvis. When Alzheimer’s seems an impossible code to break, you show us you still have it.

**All names are disguised  to protect the privacy of the residents.

No Longer a Slave to Fear

Bethel Music Moment: No Longer Slaves – Jonathan & Melissa Helser

“No Longer Slaves”

You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mothers womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
So I could stand and sing
I am child of God

Do you know why you matter?

Stars by their namesWhen I was diagnosed with MS, I was training for my first marathon. I had a friend Liz who had set me up with a solid training schedule, broken down for the next five months. She even had my nutrition list set up for me. When I questioned my ability to complete the task, I would stop by their house for a dose of affirmation from her husband, a 3-time Ironman at the time. He has probably circled the globe by now!

I was that crazy girl who wasn’t very good at any sports but I loved trying them all. I would go to our elementary school and bounce tennis balls against the wall until I had every type of stroke down. I ran in track and came in at a solid 4th place on several occasions. My strengths were in other areas but I LOVE sports. I still do. Eventually I found sports that I excelled so my energy went to more useful gain.

So how did I keep from losing my desired identity as an athlete when I suddenly found I could not lift a leg off the ground or pick up a 2-lb weight? It isn’t easy. I still struggle with it.  I had to train my mind the same way I had trained my body. I rehearse Bible verses over and over. More than that, it has to be true to me. I could say it all day long but it’s irrelevant if I don’t believe God’s Word and apply it.

Don Miller wrote a blog this week that addresses the question, ‘Do you only matter because of what you do?‘. He brings out some good points on what we base our self-identity in and the harm that leads to.

What about you? Where do you get your worth from and how do you protect it from?

Making Peace with the Past

imagesI can’t remember a time when I didn’t love basketball. It is, as they say, in my blood. My memories of my dad standing, yelling, waving, stomping his feet, uttering words I would get my mouth washed out with soap for using… all for the love of Indiana basketball. Like my dad, all of us attended IU. I witnessed Bobby Knight’s antics and Steve Alford’s record-setting free throws. And rivalries… we knew every team we were for or against.

I am all for cheering my team to the finish line whether they win or lose but I get a sick feeling in my stomach when the intensity turns to personal attacks. One famous rivalry was between Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit. I came across the article below and thought Coach Auriemma had some great comments on forgiveness, reflection, and some ways he has changed since Coach Summit retired due to Alzheimer’s.


  • Do you have some things you need to address with someone? What are you willing to do while there is still time?

  • What are some specific steps you have taken that were effective in restoring damaged relationships?

  • Do you share your conflict with anyone who will listen or do you try to contain the damage?

  • How do you make peace with your past?

What a Beautiful Sunset!

God made this for you, Mom

God made this for you, Mom

One of the most significant changes in my relationship with my mother as her Alzheimer’s progresses is how we converse. There are definitely challenges but I am so thankful in many ways! First, I still have her with me physically. Second, she still remembers me and recognizes me. Third, she still retains the personality I have known her to have throughout my life.

Like most mothers, she has several ‘mom-isms’ that stick with me. Now my children and grandchildren get to hear some of my favorite ones:

  • If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.
  • I done went and et too much!
  • I think I have I little fur booties on my teeth.

Perhaps my favorite one is this:

  • Did you see the sunset last night? It was so beautiful! I almost called you to go outside and look at it but I was afraid I was calling too late.

I love this for several reasons. Alzheimer’s has taken away a lot of things from her but it hasn’t taken away her love for the simple things that I can take for granted – the sunset that comes every night. You see, her memory is now such that she doesn’t remember much more than a few minutes at a time most days. She is not recalling last night’s sunset. Instead she is recalling how much she loves God’s sunsets that come each and every night. Isn’t that amazing?

Also, she still thinks of others. She wants to share that happiness that she feels with me and our family. And she shows some level of concern for us.

My mother is undoubtedly greatly affected by Alzheimer’s at this stage in the disease. I don’t want to minimize that. I am so thankful to share some of her daily delights, however.

For some of my other posts about our journey into Alzheimer’s, please visit my page listed at the top titled Journey Into Alzheimer’s.

I appreciate your honesty

John LennonOver the last year I have journeyed with a dear friend as she watched her mother’s health fail. Initially there was hope that the situation was a temporary setback. A few months revealed that was not the case. This particular friend is an extremely busy person who gives back to her employer, family, friends, and community. I made myself available, and when she had free time we labored together as we watched each of our mothers decline. Things spelled downhill rapidly and her mother passed away recently. The funeral was out-of-state so I sent flowers and checked on her each day. Imagine my surprise when she drove by my home once then twice without even stopping or offering more than a slight wave after she returned home. Had I done something? Said something? She sent a few brief texts saying she was not up to talking yet.


A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. – Prov. 17:17

It’s perfectly fine for my friend to have this response. I respected how she handled her emotions. I deeply value my friends who are honest with me, even when it isn’t what I want to hear. Sometimes we put an unattainable and unnecessary goal on others to respond to their grief in the same we would and in the same time frame. It is impossible to know what is going on in another person’s thoughts. More than that, are you prepared to hear it if they pour out the details to you?

Healthy Boundaries

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. – Prov. 27:17

I have another friend who regularly apologizes for saying she is brutally honest. In reality she is one of my most trusted friends. Do you value the friend who tells you when you have food sticking between your two front teeth. The friend who doesn’t deliberately post the worst photo of you on Facebook simply because it is the best picture of her or him? The friend who tells you when you need to work on your attitude or outlook? My closest friends protect my trusted information. They challenge me consider my options, use the wisdom of others, to pray more, be a kinder person to both the lovable and the not so lovable, to give more generously. To be less like myself and more like Jesus. I’m a work in progress with a long way to go. I need friends who look me in the face and speak the truth in loving words.

Your Face Mirrors Your Heart

Become wise by walking with the wise;  hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. – Prov. 13:20

Most of all I cherish the friends who love me enough to listen when I want to talk, pray when I’m silent, and share their burdens with me also.

What are some of the most important qualities in your friendships?



Light up your world

The last several weeks have weighed heavily on us and many dear friends as we waited for the outcome of a tenuous matter. Our concerns came to a fruition yesterday, wrought with all kinds of emotions. Some voiced relief, angst, confusion, doubts, frustration, and even anger. Does that describe a similar situation for you?

We moped around our house yesterday trying to escape the topic at hand. Everyone handles challenging situations differently. As for me, I prefer to be alone to ponder things. I get no comfort from hashing and rehashing things. Even a warm pot of ham and beans for dinner wasn’t lifting the mood in our house, however.

We have been preparing for some guests over the past few weeks, and kept ourselves busy most of the day. By early evening we had run out of things to do and we were making excuses to run errands. It was a valiant effort to break the silence.

Do you find yourself in a rut sometimes? Sometimes the answer is right in front of you.

We headed off for an errand. As I waited in the car at a store, the most obvious thing was staring back at me. Christmas lights. At this time of year, they are seemingly everywhere. In the same way that the emotions had crept up on me, so had the Christmas lights.

‘Let’s take a drive to see the lights.’ It was such a random comment. Our children are grown and we have gotten away from some family traditions that were once an annual tradition. In just a few minutes the world seemed a lot brighter, both internally and externally. We cranked up some traditional music, and off we went.

What other time of the year can you think of when people give of their own time and money just to bring a little joy to strangers?

We cheered and clapped for the neighborhood that had synchronized lights and music. We oohed and ahhed for the shimmering lights hanging from the rooftops. Yes, we even spied on one resident working hard to wrap gifts in their brightly lit dining room. Some streets were so beautiful that we came back for a second glance.

As if with a collective sigh, the evening tour was over. Life seemed a little lighter, joy had returned.

Sometimes we need to change our scenery to see our circumstances in the correct lighting.

Whatever your faith is, my prayer is that you find joy in the simplest things around you. They are there. I promise.

Discover the joy in everyday things.

Discover the joy in everyday things.

How to say Thank You

I always want to appreciate the generosity and kindness of others. In a perfect world, I write a thank-you note promptly for every person who has reached out to me. In a perfect world, I have beautiful and inspiring words that express these emotions. Sometimes that calls for gushing emotions that overflow with flowery words. Other occasions recall details of the changes in me or others who benefit from someone’s generous time and gifts. Some times I come up so short of expressing any appropriate acknowledgement. Today is one of those days.

For a little background, I took a course in college. As that occurred approximately 100 years ago, I can no longer recall the name of the course. It was something on American history in the 60’s? (I’m making this up. It is the closest detail I remember.) Just before the Thanksgiving break, we were given the assignment to interview a veteran. I smelled an easy A. Nice!

I wrote out my questions for the interview, timed out the appropriate setting, and began the interview with my dad. The fallacy of my theory about an easy A was to assume he wanted to be interviewed. He did not. I believe his words went something like this: ‘If I had wanted to discuss my time in World War II or the Korean War, don’t you think I would have mentioned it before now?’ Ouch!

My gentle giant of a father did not have mince words when necessary.

I suspect I went whimpering away after the abrupt notification that the interview ended off before it ever started. What had I done wrong? My mom told me I had no idea what the answers might be, and he didn’t get joy from some of the more painful memories. Not every experience feels better by recounting it over and over. I saw this comment on a friend’s Facebook page this week, which seems to sum up the experience.

Are ya going to listen to past trauma or today’s truth? I choose truth.

I muttered words of thanks over the years to my dad. I wrote papers later that showed his heroic character without the need for graphic detail.

I will always name my dad as my hero. He is the example.

My dad was a freshman in college at Indiana University when he was drafted for World War II. He finished that first year of college, served his country faithfully, and resumed his studies in Business at Indiana University.

He continued on with life. He wandered into a hat shop one day to purchase a gift for his mother. He encountered two of the most lovely women – my mother and my grandmother. I think you know what happened next. Chapel bells were ringing. They didn’t ring for very long because he was home from the Korean War just long enough to say his marriage vows. Within days he was back to serving his country after being drafted a second time.

I heard these men and women referred to as The Greatest Generation as years passed. Truer words were never spoken.

My dad went on to have a successful career as an entrepreneur. He and my mother owned a number of successful businesses. They spent many long nights working to ensure their employees would have another paycheck during a recession in the 1980’s.

He loved family life. He was an only child who had six children of his own. Many people never knew about two of his children, Ann and Alice. They were the first set of twins in our family. My parents had no idea they were expecting twins until they were born. Neither child survived. I was vaguely aware of this as a young child from the whisperings of a great-aunt who would explain the significance decorating graves on Memorial Day each year.

My dad finally realized he needed to put his health first when he approached age 60. Soon he was walking several miles every day. All those years of ice cream and fried chicken had beat him to the punch. He suffered a massive stroke at age 62. The remaining eighteen years of his life were spent in a wheelchair, permanently paralyzed, until he passed away. To this day I can hear his laughter. I don’t hear his voice complaining. He would tell you he had a great life. I saw trauma after trauma in the unfolding of his life. He saw joy and victory. His final words to me were to thank me. Thank me? He wanted me to know how highly he thought of me as his daughter.

In the final days of his life, he was thinking of everyone but himself.

These are just a few of the reasons we call them The Greatest Generation. Tom Brokaw wrote a book titled as such. One reviewer noted that, ‘In this book, you will meet people whose everyday lives reveal how a generation persevered through war, and were trained by it, and then went on to create interesting and useful lives and the America we have today.’

To all the heroes, thank you. How do I adequately sum up my appreciation? I don’t know. I stumble over the words until I tumble into a torrent of inadequate musings and exaltation. Perhaps less is more. When we meet any servicemen or veterans, we sum it up with these words:

Thank you for your service.

Would you like an order of fries with that?

I heard a message this past week on a topic that causes many to cringe. The speaker even called it the ‘S’ word. . . submission. Suddenly people shrink in their seats and mentally check out. I walked away with one thought on my mind: McDonald’s.

Our daughter worked at McDonald’s during her high school years. One of the first things they train their employees to do is to up-sell their orders. Order a hamburger and you should expect to be asked if you would like an order of fries as well.

Spend more than you intended.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. If I flip the question upside-down to a statement, it sounds like this:

Let me offer you more than you expected from me.

What a great model for serving others with my life. Do I give the least required so that I have minimum effort to claim a success? Or am I willing to give more than I expected, more than I intended, more than I thought I was up to giving?

Today my goal is to beyond that. I am going to offer to super-size my time, my service, my gifts.

Can I super-size your request, please?

What are your thoughts?

What I hope for you today

Hope changes everything. Hope precipitates the route to joy. Hope brings internal strength when external circumstances look daunting, perhaps impossible. My prayer for you today is to keep faith in your situation. If hope is nonexistent, pursue it diligently.

“”I’ve always talked to players about perception and reality. I don’t worry about perception. There may be some of that, that people want to attach to a good name, but the reality is that some good things can happen.” – Tony Dungy

What is on your list of impossibilities today? What has worn you to such fatigue that you can’t crawl out of that mental or physical manhole

“Always direct your thoughts to those truths that will give you confidence, hope, joy, love, thanksgiving, and turn away your mind from those that inspire you with fear, sadness, depression” – Bertrand Wilbertforce

Do yourself a favor today, perhaps an eternal favor. Take a chance to believe again. Faith is the cause.  Joy is the result.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

Let me know what you have renewed hope in today. Encouragement feeds encouragement in others. Someone else  needs to hear about your story of hope. Your journey to joy.

There Is Power – from Lincoln Brewster (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)” on YouTube

“There Is Power”

Where two or more
Are gathered in His name
He is there
For all who come
Who run to Him in faith
He is there, He is there

There is power
In the name of Jesus
There is power
Power in His name

No fear, no lie
Can stand against us now
He is here
The Word has come
To silence every doubt
He is here

There is power
In the name of Jesus
There is power
Power in His name

One name, one name can save
One name breaks every chain
One name, always
One name, Jesus
One name, one name remains
One name, we will proclaim
One name, always
One name

There is power
In the name of Jesus
There is power
Power in His name

There’s power in His name
There’s power in His name


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