Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Let Me Clear My Throat

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Friends,
Last week President Obama signed a funding bill into law that included an unprecedented $122 million increase to Alzheimer's research, education, outreach and caregiver support. The increase includes a $100 million increase for the National Institute on Aging dedicated to Alzheimer's research.

What is important to note, this funding bill had to pass through both the House and the Senate before arriving on the President's desk, and in the event you have been living under a rock - they haven't quite been agreeing on much lately.

Congress doesn't just sneeze out $122 million for any and every important cause. This increase, has been years in the making - blood, sweat, lots of tears and hours and hours of work by Alzheimer's Association staff and volunteers.

We are far from our $2 billion research goal - as a mater of fact this increase barely brings us over $500 million for Alzheimer's research at the National Institute of Health. But the momentum is in our favor, and here are a few reasons why:

  • We've recruited some really politically savvy staff members;
  • Our sister organization, Alzheimer's Impact Movement, has provided game-changing strategy to compliment our work on the ground; 
  • We have gotten savvier with our media strategies - including social media and advertising to get some attention. 
All organizations have access to similar infrastructure. But, the true and ultimate GAME-CHANGER is our nationwide network of more than 600,000 passionate and dedicated advocates who are working within their communities to recruit more advocates and share their message of a world without Alzheimer's. 

Our ground-swell is what will help us ultimately achieve our vision and end this disease. But, we need you. We need your VOICE. Help us turn the tide against Alzheimer's. Add your VOICE now.  

  • Speaking of advocacy - we are taking our VOICE to the West Virginia Capitol! Join one of our three advocacy days. No experience needed! Click here to register, for more information contact Kelsey Clough 
  • Stay tuned to our Community Calendar for the latest education and support events! 
  • Walk to End Alzheimer's planning committees are organizing all across the state. Join their efforts!
  • Have you seen our website for individuals with Alzheimer's disease? Find it here.
Crock Pot Chicken
It never dawned on me that making a chicken in a crock pot would be possible, not to mention delicious! But during the great water crisis, my few meat choices included a whole chicken. Since I usually am cooking for one or two I never buy a whole chicken - but this won't be the last time! Susan, our finance director gave me this great recipe. 

1 onion
2-3 carrots
3-4 celery stalks
1 carton of chicken stock
1 tbs of thyme
salt & pepper to season

Slice the onion into large half moons, and rough chop the carrots and celery. Dump all of the vegetables into the bottom of a large crock pot. Wash the chicken and pat dry - make sure you remove the giblets! Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Pour in chicken stock, then seasonings. Cover and turn on the crock pot for 5 hours or until the chicken is done. It literally falls off the bone! 


Until next week, 

Laurel K.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Expect the Expected

Dear Friends,
I started writing this blog post more than a week ago when the temperatures were expected to dip well below zero, as I am sitting here making the finishing touches I am anxiously awaiting for my zone to be called so I can flush the toxic chemicals out of my water and finally wash and bathe.

The frigid temperatures, followed by a Silver Alert inspired me to write about one of the topics I am most passionate about. I know I have written about safety and Alzheimer's before, however I won't apologize for writing and rewriting on this topic over and over again. My staff is probably weary of me talking about safety, we are even including an entire workshop on the topic at this year's Caregiver University. But, it is just that important.

I will admit, I am so hyper about this topic because it does not come naturally to me. W grew up in rural West Virginia, where preparedness is absolutely necessary. W's anal retentive (and I mean that in a loving way) checks and re-checks, processes and plans were at first a bit of an annoyance. And then West Virginia hit a series of natural disasters, during which I would have probably starved, died of heat exhaustion or froze to death without his obsessive pre-planning. Yes, I am spoiled - I always imagined the grocery stores would be stocked with ample food, the electricity would only be out for an hour or two, solutions to all basic need problems would be fixed in an instant.

What W has taught me, and continues to remind me over and over again is that there are things in life you can expect to happen, and when you prepare for them, the unexpected is nothing you can't handle. Solve all problems? No way. But, make life a little easier? Big time. Survive? You betcha. For example, we know due to our beautiful geography, weather patterns and plethora of trees the power is going to go out at some point. W keeps a few extra cans of gas and monthly starts the generator just to make sure it is functional. (This is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on and on about the planning, stocking, organizing - think a few steps back from doomsday prepping.)

Alzheimer's disease is no different. When we get a diagnosis of Alzheimer's there are so many variables to think about it can often be overwhelming. But when we sit down and analyze a number of situations we know we will face, and how we can prepare for them, and what will happen during the situation - it will not only make our lives easier - but could potentially save the life of our loved one with Alzheimer's disease and our own. Here are a two expected scenarios to get you started:

  1. Going to the hospital -> What paper work will you need? Are medications stored all in one place for easy access? Is there a phone tree in place to notify family/friends? Is there a list of all of my loved one's doctors and their contact information in one easy place? Transportation?
  2. Wandering -> Is my loved one enrolled in a safety identification program? Click here for more information.  Is there a neighborhood phone tree to notify neighbors to be on the look out? Family phone tree? Have I filled out a wandering assessment that might give clues as to first places to look? (For more information call our office at 800.272.3900)
Can having a plan prevent things from happening? Not always. Can we be prepared for every situation? Heck no! But, by having a plan you will be one step ahead of the storm. Our office has a lot of information about safety and preparedness and Alzheimer's disease, please call at 800.272.3900 or email wvinfo@alz.org


  • Despite the water challenges, our Charleston office is open! All of our office activities, include the community workshop tonight, will happen as scheduled. (Just don't inhale too deeply, we, like most of you, are a little smelly)
  • ADD YOUR VOICE! Join us for one of our three advocacy days at the WV Legislature - help us show our WV Legislators the importance of supporting individuals and families facing Alzheimer's or dementia. Click here for more information! 
  • Dancing Through Time launches THIS Wednesday! We are kicking it off with a press conference, stay tuned to find out who will be dancing to end Alzheimer's this year! Think you would be interested in helping to plan the details of this fun event? Contact Kim Matras!
  • Have you looked at our AWESOME Community Calendar? Check it out here! 
  • Calling all Charleston Young Professionals! Join our Starry Night planning committee! An opportunity to meet other young professionals who care about the cause of Alzheimer's disease! Contact Kim Matras!
  • Walk to End Alzheimer's Leadership Summit. Join us, Friday, March 7 for the 2nd Annual Walk to End Alzheimer's Leadership Summit. A chance to meet and network with others across the state that are passionate about Walk to End Alzheimer's! More information? Contact Kaarmin Ford
No Water? No Problem, Braised Country Pork Ribs
If there is a silver lining to the chemical spill (obviously looking at it through an extreme cup half full mind set), based on the meat selection at the grocery on Saturday morning, there were a lot more families eating home-cooked meals, together than there have been in a long time. Needless to say, the moment the ban is lifted I will be ready to hit my fave local food spots!! All that cooking and togetherness wore me out! W and I decided a one-pot meal was the way to go, so looking at the very very limited meat selection I decided upon boneless, country style pork ribs. Ok, a challenge I thought, not something I would normally pick up - so what can we do!

Turned out amazing! W and I ate the entire pot! Aside from the meat and a few vegetables that we picked up at the store, everything else we happened to have on hand. 

Braised Country Style Pork Ribs
  • Country Style Pork Ribs (bone-in would be preferred, but in a state of emergency boneless was just as good!)
  • 2 Carrots, large pieces
  • 2 Celery, thick chunks
  • 1 Onion, thick half moons
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup wine or red wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 carton Chicken Stock
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. Humphrey's BBQ sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) 
  • 1 tbs. thyme
In a dutch oven or crock pot add onion, carrot, celery, garlic. Stir in tomato paste, wine, hot sauce and chicken stock. Add thyme. Place pork ribs on top of onion, carrot and celery mixture. Season with salt and pepper. If using a dutch oven place in the oven for 4-5 hours at 350. (I actually left it in for 6 because we were rubber-necking at the water company/nation guard workers outside of the house - at the 5 hour mark I turned it down to 250.) If using a crock-pot turn on high for 5 hours or until pork is done. You will know it is done when the meat just falls apart. Soo good on a waterless Saturday night! 

Stay safe! 

Until next week, 
Laurel K.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Talking About a Resolution

Dear Friends,
Happy 2014! The new year is a time of resolutions, a fresh start. Don't eat this, exercise more, save more. I am terrible at New Year's resolutions. Even when I think of something to resolve, I don't write it down or do anything to move myself toward my resolution.

While perusing Pinterest one day over the holiday, it dawned on me where I fail. I never make a resolution + action plan. I just say, I am going to exercise more and hope my will power kicks in before I fail completely. FYI, will power is not reliable.

The "pin" on Pinterest literally said, resolve for a cleaner house, which is one of my greatest downfalls. I hate cleaning. I painted my kitchen and bathroom over the holiday and discovered the dustiest, grossest baseboards in the world. I was horrified. The pinner's secret to success was all about her daily maintenance action plan. She made a list of all of the chores that needed to happen - mop floor, vacuum hall, clean toilet, clean shower - and assigned them to a day. Laminated the list so she could check off each day the chore she completed.

Viola, a plan! So far it is working. Instead of having one giant chore day, that can be forever and ever pushed off based on better things to do, if I tackle one or two small chores each day I build out a habit. And my inner school-girl loves checking boxes.

Just like resolving for daily house maintenance, it is just as important as caregivers to resolve for daily self maintenance. But, we can't skip the most important part of our resolution, the action plan. What are the things you plan to do daily to care for your self? Monday spend 30 minutes on your favorite hobby; Tuesday cook your favorite meal; Wednesday exercise for 45 minutes to 1 hour; Thursday sleep in; Friday date night with yourself - go to dinner and a movie or catch up with friends; Saturday give yourself a manicure, hair treatment or masque; Sunday attend church or make a traditional Sunday brunch. And we can't forget about adding monthly activities to our action plan, like attending a support group.

When we spend just 30 minutes to an hour on ourselves each day, filling our cup back up we can manage the stress of our caregiving duties better and keep ourselves happier. Just like chore day, we can alwasy come up with a reason to put it off. Resolve to keep your cup full everyday.


  • PLEASE READ & SHARE: The temperatures are predicted to be dangerously low this week, meaning we have to be extra vigilant when caring for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia. Specially those loved ones in the middle stages of the disease who may not be able to communicate their wants and feelings. Think about how this weather makes you feel: anxious, frightened, bored from being indoors? Think about common activities during this kind of weather, was your husband the one that always shoveled the driveway? That might be the reason why he is itching to get outside. Here are some tips when caring for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia during extreme weather. It is imperative during these low temperatures to prevent wandering, period. And, more importantly to have our action plan in place in the event your loved one does wander. Need activities to do while you are stuck inside on this snowy day? Call our office, we are available 24/7 and have a plethora of activities designed for any stage of dementia. Check out our safety center at alz.org/safety for more information about safety and Alzheimer's. 
  • Upcoming Workshops:
    Basics of Alzheimer's
    January 13, 4 pm
    Alzheimer's Association, Charleston

    Basics of Alzheimer's
    January 13, 4 pm
    Alzheimer's Association, Parkersburg

    Basics of Alzheimer's
    January 21, 2 pm
    Princeton Health Care Center, Princeton, WV

    For more information about these workshops call, 800.272.3900. To see our entire listing of workshops and activities click here
Brie Bites

Cheese may be the greatest invention, ever. And is a go-to party staple, especially during the holidays. I love baked brie, but it can sometimes be cumbersome especially if you are headed to someone else's home. Our Special Events Coordinator, Kim, offered this great recipe - then I added my own twist. The great thing about these brie bites, you can add anything you want on top, from savory to sweet. 

1 box of phyllo dough cups
1 brie round
1 jar of your favorite preserves 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the brie into bite size pieces and place in a phyllo cup, add the preserves on top. I love the peach amaretto! Bake for 8-10 minutes until the brie is bubbling. Watch them disappear! 

How easy and festive! 

Stay Warm!