Tuesday, July 22, 2014

AAIC Round Up!

Dear Friends,
Have you noticed the significant uptick in Alzheimer's and dementia related research news over the past week? I hope so! 

Last week, more than 4,000 miles away, the worlds largest gathering of Alzheimer's and dementia researchers are is happening in Copenhagen, Denmark. From diagnostics, to disease targets, to medicine, to social aspects - researchers are gathering, learning, sharing their ideas and announcing their research findings. 

Here are a few of the highlights:


While the press releases are informative, I also like to hear from the scientists. Catch video briefings from scientists by following this link: News Briefs

Seeing the tweets, photographs, and news briefings only strengthen our call to action. Together we can END Alzheimer's, but we have to rally together and keep the momentum going. 

ALZNEWS
Summer Snack
Nothing says summer like an afternoon snack! It is hot, you don't have much of an appetite, the sun is out longer. We often don't actually eat dinner until 8. In the meantime I have to have a snack! And homemade corn chips are my fav. Well, not entirely homemade - I do start with the store bought corn tortillas. You can find them right next to the flour tortillas in the grocery store. Cut them into quarters, spray them down with olive oil, sprinkle on salt and any other flavoring you like (lime zest is also a favorite), then pop them in the oven. A few keys to success: make sure you pre-heat your oven for at least 15 minutes so it is actually 400 degrees. Only cook them for 11 minutes. or until they are golden around the edges. When you let them cool for a few minutes they will be nice and crunchy! 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Muscles, Man

Dear Friends,
I recently celebrated a birthday, which is always exciting to reach the finish line of one trip around the sun and launch into another.

This year, the first birthday card I received was from my chiropractor. A not so subtle reminder that as my twenties grow farther away in the review mirror, so does my ability to bounce back from injuries, periods of inactivity, and illness.

My recent trips to the chiropractor for a sports related injury have taught me the importance of maintaining muscles as we age. As a matter of fact, the injury I was treated for, was blamed entirely on my lack of upper body strength and zero work to improve my upper body strength. (You can literally visualize my Dr. wagging her finger at me!)

As we age our muscles atrophy faster, meaning we have to actually work to keep them around (uggg!) However, our muscles can truly be our best friends as we age, especially as caregivers and individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia. By maintaining our core strength, we have improved balance, meaning less chance of falls; we can carry out our daily activities with greater ease; and even bounce back from illness. Not to mention the stress relief that comes a long with a little exercise. For individuals with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, light exercise has been shown to decrease anxiety and stress including easing the anxiety related to sundowning.

Now I am not talking about becoming a body builder, or even daily trips to the gym. (I actually just cancelled my membership!) The best part about thinking about our muscles is it is never too late to start and exercise happens everywhere, everyday! From chair exercises to things we do around the house, like vacuuming and gardening, you can turn any activity into muscle building.

As a matter of fact, as I am typing I am flexing my foot up and down to strengthen the muscles on the front of my leg to prevent shin splints.

Need a place to start? There are tons of resources out there, but here are a few really great ones!

National Institute of Health: Senior Health
CDC: Physical Exercise (includes suggested exercises with pictures!)

When it comes to our bodies, if you don't use it, you lose it!

ALZNEWS

  • Thank you to everyone who made the inaugural Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month a success! We even were tweeted by the Governor! I loved seeing all of the Go Purple and Longest Day activities. By educated our communities, we can achieve our vision of a world without Alzheimer's. 
  • The count down to Walk to End Alzheimer's has begun! Have you registered your team yet?
  • We have a number of community workshops and Walk events scheduled throughout the summer, be sure to stay tuned to our community calendar for all the latest!  
  • Have you recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or know someone who has? Our early stage programs are for you and your caregiver. Find out more information and an event near you by clicking here. 
  • Cleaning out your garage or getting rid of old furniture? We are on the hunt for a few wing-back chairs to make our family care consultation room more comfortable. Send us an email if you think you have something! wvinfo@alz.org

Summer Cobbler
Summer is the best, fresh fruit and vegetables seem to be everywhere you turn. I love an easy cobbler, and when you make it in individual servings it seems just that much easier. The great thing about this recipe is that the blueberries and pear can be substituted for just about any other kind of fruit.

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Peel and cut two large pears, mix with 1 cup of blueberries, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of flower, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 cup of butter (chilled), and a pinch of sugar. Feel free to add in almond extract or almond paste! Divide the pears/berry mix between your individual sized ramekins, then top with the flour/butter mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown! Serve with ice cream or homemade whip cream!

Until next week!
Laurel K.
@laurelmk
lkirksey@alz.org

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Go Purple, NOW!

Dear Friends,
June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month, so let's paint the town purple! 

When we share the facts, we can change the numbers. Throughout the month of June, educate your friends and families about Alzheimer's disease and brain health; share the facts about Alzheimer's disease; and GO PURPLE at work, at church, at your soccer game - anywhere!

You can even enter your favorite GO PURPLE photo into a contest!

Looking for ideas on how to go PURPLE? Visit the Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month website, or give us a call at 800.272.3900.

ALZNEWS
Holy smokes May was an exciting month. Thank you to everyone who came out to support one of our education or fundraising events! It was wonderful to see so many people in just a few short weeks! We are in the last month of our fiscal year so we are still pretty busy, working to hit our strategic goals and closing out the rest of Caregiver University! Not to mention enjoying a little sunshine!

  • Two Caregiver University events left! If you haven't had a chance to join us for Caregiver University, you still have a chance! There are a few spaces open THIS Friday in Charleston, and Woodsfield Ohio next week. For more information and to register, visit our Caregiver University page. 
  • If you or someone you love is in the early stage of Alzheimer's or dementia, we have a support network of people for you. Our early stage social groups are meeting, and a number of our education events are happening throughout the summer. Visit our Early Stage page for more information. 
  • Is your Walk to End Alzheimer's team registered? Our Walk to End Alzheimer's committees are hard at work organizing Walk events across the state. Start forming your team now!
  • The Longest Day is about fighting Alzheimer's from sunup to sundown, want to learn more? Check out the Longest Day here. 
Grill Baby, Grill!

I am a 365 grill user. It can be a blinding snow storm in the middle of winter, but if I am in the mood, I will happily brave the storm for the great grill flavor. All the more reason to love summer. But, the hot days of summer I also lose my desire for heavy food. That is why I love, love turkey burgers. The turkey takes on any flavor that you love, from Asian, to BBQ, to summer herbs. Here is my favorite recipe (makes four burgers):

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated Gruyere chese
  • 2 tsp. rosemary (picked from the summer garden)
  • 2 tsp. thyme (also picked from the summer garden)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbs. of finely grated onion
  • Salt & pepper to taste (easy on the salt, Gruyere has plenty)
Mix all of the ingredients together, then form into four patties. I like to have my two side burners on medium, and the middle one on high. Grill until the juices run clear. Add toppings to your heart's content.

Until next week!
Laurel K.
@laurelmk
lkirksey@alz.org

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#DoorBumperClear

Dear Friends,
I spent the weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for our annual pilgrimage to the NASCAR All Star race, one of our favorite races all year. They changed up the format so qualifying for the race happened right before the race - meaning we got to sit through all of the excitement. 

Racers were required to complete two laps followed by a 4-tire pit stop, then finish with  a final lap around the track. The excitement came with no speed limit on pit road (normally 45 mph). 

As we watched each driver come screaming down pit road at a cool 180 mph, headed straight for their pit crew, it got me thinking about trust. At those speed, whether you are behind the wheel or behind the wall, trust is all you've got. 

But for those of us at the normal speed of life, we can learn a lot from these high flying teams. Trust makes all the difference. 

A successful qualifying run (leading to a strong starting position) relied entirely upon two aspects: not overshooting your pit box, and the crew leaping across the wall at the very exact moment the speeding car was nearly about to run them over. Time and time again the most successful pit stops happened when drivers had complete faith in the spotters (located high above the track) to give them the cue to start slowing. Those that didn't follow the spotters cue, overshot their box and ended at the back of the pack. 

Spotters and their drivers essentially create thier own trust language. Dale Jr. and his spotter TJ Majors navigate traffic with just a few simple words, door-bumper-clear - leading their team to one of the best in the leauge. But, without Dale Jr trusting his spotter's guidance, they would surely be back of the pack, or worse - wrecked! 

Jamie McMurray won $1,000,000 Saturday night by winning the All Star Race. In the post-race interviews he attributed their team's success to his crew chief's call for a two-tire final pit stop. While most of the other cars were taking four tires, Jamie trusted his expert, and it landed them in the winners circle. 

There are a lot of other things that go into a successful team, hours and hours of practice, excellent equipment, skilled drivers at crews. But, during these high performance, stressful situations - with a million bucks on the line - a foundation  of trust will get you to the winners circle,  or pretty darn close. 

When we think about trust in terms of our lives and caregiving, the same rule applies. So often we hear from caregivers - they just won't care for him\her like I do. That is immediately after telling us they are on the brink of a breakdown from the stress. A friend of mine, put the work in to build a crisis plan in the event her loved one had to go to the hospital. It included a roster of people ready to help and spend a few hours at her loved one's bedside. When an emergency came, she didn't trust the plan or the people she had charged with carrying it out. She ended up spending 4 straight days at her father's bedside declining all offeres of relief - and ended up with pnemonia because of the stress. 

Trust is easier said than done. I am writing this not as an expert, but as a reminder to myself. Sometimes caregiving feels like we are driving 180 mph into turn 3, but we can make  it around the curve  - crash free when we trust the team we have built around us. 

ALZNEWS
Buckle up! We have an exciting couple of weeks around the Alzheimer's Association! 

  • Tickets are flying off the shelf for the Thanks for the Memories Luncheon! Get your tickets before we sell out! We are celebrating Senator Rockefeller with the Alzheimer's Association Legacy Award and Rachel Torlone with the Sylvia Watkins Walk to End Alzheimer's Award. 
  • Check out this great article in the Charleston Gazette on our upcoming Early Stage program. This educational program will be hosted in Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown and Wheeling over the summer. Visit the website or call 800.272.3900 for more information.
  • We are halfway through our Caregiver University events! You have three opportunities left: Bluefield; Charleston; and Woodsfield, OH. Register here! 
  • Join us this Thursday to celebrate two of West Virginia's Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Related Dementias authors! We are hosting a reception on Thursday, May 22 at 5 at Taylor Books. Stop in, congratulate the authors, read their entries, buy a book and get an autograph! See you Thursday! 
  • The Longest Day is 1 month away! Already teams are organizing really cool events! For more information on how you can grab your friends, do what you love and honor individuals facing Alzheimer's disease visit alz.org/tld (You can join other teams forming in your area too!)

Travel Gruel
Over the past seven days I have stayed at three different Hilton properties in three different parts of the country - fortunately they have pretty consistent oatmeal! With a fourth road trip happening Friday, I am growing weary of road food and can't wait to get back home to a home made meal! Fingers crossed for home cooking next week!

Until next week! 
Laurel K. 
lkirksey@alz.org
@laurelmk

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Make the Most of Your Visit

Dear Friends,
Last week I was chatting with a young woman who shared with me that her grandmother has Alzheimer's disease. But, she also shared with me that she does not visit her grandmother in the nursing home because she has Alzheimer's. After I recovered from my urge to shake her, it got me started thinking - and this is a common reaction and part of the stigma of Alzheimer's disease that we need to conquer. 

Visiting a loved one in the middle and late stages of Alzheimer's disease or dementia can often be intimidating and frightening. The nursing home setting can also be frightening, especially for young adults or children. I can understand this young woman's urge to remember her grandmother before this devastating disease took over her mind and body, but as with any loved one facing a serious illness - this is the time they need us the most!

So, if you or someone you know is feeling this kind of anxiety or fear, it is OK and totally normal. But, we have to overcome this fear to be there for the one we love. So, I put together a few tips and ideas:

  • Learn about Alzheimer's and dementia and the disease process. This will help you know what to expect, and be able to separate your loved one and the disease. There is a lot of grief when someone you love doesn't recognize you, but knowing this is the disease and not your loved ones heart can provide a little peace. 
  • Even if you think your loved one doesn't know you there, they know. Even in the very late stages of the disease a loving touch or holding hands, singing or reading will bring a sense of comfort and love.
  • If your loved one can no longer tell you they love you and need you, it doesn't  make those feelings go away. 
  • If your loved one has limited mobility or limited ability  to communicate, you can still do activities together! Think about what they loved in life, were they a gardener, painter, teacher, reader, singer you can modify these kinds of activities so your loved one can still enjoy the experience, and most importantly enjoy it with you. Here are a few ideas: 
    • Look for botany books with large photographs and go through the pictures talking about the flowers
    • Not into flowers? Think cars, birds, oil rigs - the library is a great resource of books with large beautiful pictures
    • Bring a book and read, poetry, Shakespeare, People magazine, national geographic
    • Bring a photo album and reminisce about the pictures
    • Small children? How about finger painting, or stringing macaroni to make necklace
  • Go slow and take your time asking questions and waiting for responses. The disease disrupts the brain's processes, making response time much slower than yours. 
  • Keep visits simple, only bring a few people at a time, and know when your loved one is getting tired. 
Still feeling anxious? Ask the activities director at the home, they have great ideas and will be willing to help! Or give us a ring, we not only have great activities, but also really great books that will help you talk to your children about Alzheimer's or dementia. 

Please, go visit this Mother's Day or on a random Wednesday. Many years ago I wish someone would have shaken me, I learned the very hard way that when someone is gone, they are gone forever. I would give everything to have five more minutes with my Pappaw, even if it was in the last few years of his life during his struggle with Parkinson's.

I can promise you, whatever it is that is keeping you from making that visit can not be worse than a lifetime of regret for missing the opportunity.

ALZNEWS

  • Don't miss your chance to catch Caregiver University 2.0! We have a few events left this year, find one near you and register by clicking here! 
  • Have your or someone you know been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the past year? Join one of our Living with Alzheimer's groups, more information by clicking here! 
  • Please join us in celebrating the immense contributions of Senator Rockefeller to the cause of Alzheimer's disease on May 29 at the Thanks for the Memories Luncheon. This event is one of our largest fundraising events, we hope to see you there! Ticket and table sponsorship here!
  • Join us to celebrate our local authors! We will be celebrating authors, Jennifer Waggener and Susan Young, who were recently published in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's and Other Forms of Dementia. This edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul is flying off the shelves, so this is your opportunity to buy a copy, and spend sometime chatting with the authors while - I bet they will even autograph your copy! The event will be held on May 22 at 5:30 p.m. at Taylor Books, more info call 800.272.3900.
  • PANCAKES! Head to IHOP in Morgantown on May 21 from 5 -10 for Dann's Angel's Walk to End Alzheimer's team! 
  • Speaking of Walk to End Alzheimer's, have you registered your team? JOIN US!
Favorite Things: J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works


I helped put together a cook off a few months ago, and the gal in charge of the ingredients brought this little jar of love into my life. This company is a true family affair, you can read more about their story, here.

The thing about salt, is the more you use - overtime the more you need, which is not always a great thing. I have never used a lot of salt in my cooking so a little goes along way. Their artisan salt provides the perfect amount of seasoning - a beautiful final touch to any dish! 

And, it is a West Virginia product made with lots of love! Find where you can buy a little jar of love here!

Until next week! 

Laurel K.
lkirksey@alz.org
@laurelmk 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weathering the Storm

Dear Friends,
This week friends of mine in Mississippi and families in many other states were devastated by terrifying tornadoes. I have been glued to Facebook feeds to make sure friends and their families survived, along with their pets, homes and businesses.

As the storms passed, communities came together. Mississippi State's baseball team helped build storm shelters, students collected toiletries and cleaning supplies - together entire communities started the process of cleaning debris and rebuilding.

I can't help but pray extra hard for the families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Natural disasters are extraordinarily challenging for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. The chaos and stress, changing locations, getting separated....

Spring brings sometimes violent weather extremes - our area is currently under a flash flood warning. As caregivers we have to be prepared for whatever weather spring sends us. We can't predict the weather, the only thing we can be is prepared.

Click here for tips to get you started preparing for any kind of disaster. For more tips and information call, 800.272.3900.

ALZNEWS

  • Angel's Perch on the BIG SCREEN! Join us Friday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences to watch the beautiful and insightful film, Angel's Perch. Buy your advance tickets HERE! (Don't miss my 15 seconds of FAME!)
  • Caregiver University! It is hard to imagine we are nearly half way through our Caregiver University events! Our friends are Cabell Huntington Hospital are graciously hosting us next week! Find a Caregiver University near you and register! 
  • Thanks for the Memories Luncheon is May 29, please join us to honor Senator Rockefeller with the Legacy Award for his continued and outstanding service to families, not only in West Virginia, facing Alzheimer's and dementia. His footprint on the cause of Alzheimer's disease is great and unmatched. Order your tickets or sponsor a table by calling 800.272.3900 or click here. 
  • Have you checked out our community calendar?
Life is Bananas
Ok, I really do eat very healthy. And it is this healthy eating that drove my desire for my own ice cream maker - so I could whip up healthy sorbets and ice cream concoctions. So what do I make first? Indulgently creamy vanilla ice cream, while we are going rich and delicious might as well go all the way with Bananas Foster and go all the way. Only make and eat after a day of hard labor, really. 


Ingredients
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 tsp of cinnamon  
1 cup of dark rum
2 bananas 

Over med/low heat melt butter and stir in brown sugar and cinnamon, mix in the cream and stir until sugar dissolves. Peel bananas and cut in half lengthwise, then cut in half again. Add the bananas, and continue to cook until bananas soften (happens pretty quickly). As soon as the bananas soften, add the rum on top, turn off the heat and light on fire! 

Spoon out a few bananas on top of a few scoops of ice cream, then drizzle with the delicious sauce. 

Enjoy!

Laurel K.
lkirksey@alz.org
@laurelmk

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tough Conversations

Dear Friends,
Alzheimer's and dementia pose a lot of great challenges for families. In the beginning stages of the disease, some of the greatest challenges are the tough conversations that have to happen. It is time to stop driving; maybe we should talk to the doctor about not remembering; how are we going to pay for care; there might be a time you wander away from home and get lost.

Not to mention family is tough. You know what I am talking about!

These tough conversations are the inspiration behind a new workshop we created called, Conversations About Dementia. The workshop covers three of the toughest conversation you might have as a family, and how to navigate through, as well as options and resources to ease your decision making.

We will be offering this workshop in Charleston on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and in Morgantown on Wednesday at 11 am. For more information call, 800.272.3900.

ALZNEWS

Le Quiche
The egg and egg associated dishes are synonymous with Easter. And, since my mom had all of Easter dinner covered (including my favorite - deviled eggs), I offered to make brunch. 

Well, except that I don't really know how to make any brunch type food. Fortunately, my only reading material at home is a plethora of food and lifestyle magazines full of Easter brunch recipes. So, I landed on Quiche, until we were at the grocery store, and W says, "I hate quiche. I had it in France, and I hated it." Well, bad word. Well, I said back, too late now - this quiche train is leaving the station. 

There is really nothing heartier, and you can make it healthier - but why ruin a good thing? 

I tried to be a hero and make my own crust, my advice - don't be a hero. It was a lot of headache - so the below recipe is just for the filling - you are going to have to be responsible for finding your own crust! 

As it turns out W really liked my quiche - he had seconds! So maybe mine was better than France's? I like to think so. 

Ingredients
2 Green Onions (leeks or ramps are also good substitutes)
1/2 lb of crispy bacon
1 cup of Gruyere cheese (really, don't sub out the Gruyere, - it is a special occasion, make the investment)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
pepper to taste
light salt (there is plenty in the bacon)
1/4 tsp. of chili powder
1 1/4 cup of milk or half and half

Preheat oven to 375. In a pre-baked pie or tart shell, layer bacon, green onions and cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and seasoning. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve with your favorite egg topping (avocado, hot sauce, salsa...) Then tell everyone it is better than France's. 

Until next week! 

Laurel K.
lkirksey@alz.org
laurelmk