Thursday, March 27, 2014

MoneyMoneyMoneyMoney. Money!

Dear Friends,
Last week the Alzheimer's Association released the 2014 Alzheimer's Association Facts & Figures. The first F&F was released the year I joined the Alzheimer's Association in 2007. We realized there was no compilation of data - actually no one was actually really looking at Alzheimer's statistics as a whole - especially not law makers. Through Facts & Figures we have not only had data, we have also been able to drive data collection, which is so important when trying to understand the impact a single disease has on an entire nation.

Even as a novice advocate I learned quickly the first question will always be, "What is this going to cost me?" I am naive sometimes, always have my rose color glasses on - but in our dog eat dog world I've had to come to the realization that sometimes it is truly all about the Benjamins. Answering back with, you would be saving millions of lives by increasing research funding, by passing the HOPE Act you would make the process of diagnosis, care, hospitalization for millions of families 1,000 times easier.

SO, last year at the Advocacy Forum we came up with the best answer yet, "Here is what it is costing you by ignoring/under funding the future solution." (see picture to the left - yes they had to blow up the picture of the research funding because it was so small compared to Medicare/Medicaid spending)

As we prepare for the 2014 advocacy forum in just two short weeks, I am beefing up my money talking points. For example: 1 in 5 Medicare dollars are spent on Alzheimer's and dementia care; $220 billion is the value of unpaid care provided by friends, family & neighbors; As a country, Alzheimer's disease costs us $214 billion - including $150 in Medicare/Medicaid costs.

Don't worry, for those of you unable to make the trip to D.C. we will have a virtual visit set up so you can tell your Congressperson not to ignore Alzheimer's disease and dementia.


  • Dancing Through Time was AHAMAZING! You should have been there - actually we were pretty much at standing room only!! HUGE thank you to our generous sponsors, dancers, committee, volunteers and everyone who attended!!! Can't wait for next year, want to join the committee? Email Kim, 
  • Investigating the Research: The Newest in Alzheimer's Studies is a free, open to the public workshop THIS Friday, being hosted in Morgantown and Charleston. Visit the community calendar for more information.
  • Calling all Marketing Gurus! We are looking for a Marketing Chair for our Charleston & Wheeling Walk to End Alzheimer's!! For more info email Kaarmin, 
  • Caregiver University! Register Now!! Our best year yet, we have a full day of fun (yes, I said fun!), learning and interacting!! Click here to find an event near you!  
TLC in a Bowl (AKA Chicken Pot Pie)
This past week a great friend of mine had a beautiful baby! I was out of town over the weekend, so I knew the moment I got back I wanted to whip up a ready-made meal for her and her husband. On Monday, W had a really tough day so I knew we needed some comfort food to cure our case of the Mondays. 

One of the questions we are asked frequently at speaking engagement is, my neighbor is caring for her mother and I want to help but don't want to be too intrusive. Preparing a ready-made meal is one way you can always help a family in a caregiving situation. 

That is why this one is the WINNER of all. It produces enough for your dinner AND someone else! (There is no real recipe so I will just walk you through this one)

  1. Roast chicken - literally any cut, or if you have one of those handy rotisserie chickens, even better! I happened to have breast halves in my freezer. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast at 350 until temperature reads 180. 
  2. In a dutch oven or large pot, over medium heat melt 3-4 tbs. of butter (or 1 tbs. of butter and 2-3 tbs. of olive oil). 
  3. Add an entire onion, diced. Followed by 3-4 carrots, 3 cloves of garlic, 4-5 celery stalks (all diced) (any other vegetable you happen to enjoy in pot pie!)
  4. When the onions turn translucent, sprinkle 1/4 cup of flower (or more if you have more vegetables - they should all be coated) Add in 2 tsp. of thyme and rosemary, ample salt and 1 tbs. of pepper. 
  5. Stir in 1 carton of chicken stock (low sodium please! we have to watch the blood pressure)
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then it is your discretion - if you like a runny sauce in your pot pie, turn of the stove. If you like it a little thicker, keep it simmering for a few more minutes. Remember, the sauce will thicken in the oven. 
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven, shred then add to vegetable mixture. 
  8. PAUSE -> if you would like to make your crust by hand, I highly recommend this one from Martha Stewart. Sometimes hand made crust doesn't travel well when you are delivering - so store bought pie crust or even better a roll of crescent rolls is just as delish on top!
  9. Fill a pie pan or individual ramekins about 3/4 way to the top. Don't bake the dish you are delivering (or put the top on) go ahead and pop that one in the freezer, so it can be used when your neighbor sees fit! 
  10. For your dinner pot pie - top it with an amazing crust (be generous with the crust) and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 or until crust is slightly browned. 
WARNING - it is really hot, and smells amazing, don't try to eat until cooled slightly. Sincerely, my scorched tongue.


Until Next Week, 
Laurel K.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

101 Activities To Do With Your Loved One

Dear Friends,
In a few weeks we are helping a church do a short training for a group of church members who are starting a shut-in outreach. While some of our training will be about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's disease, a big focus will be engaging activities during a visit.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a GIANT list of activities you can do with your loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia. Keeping a loved one engaged with daily activities can ease anxiety and agitation, and most importantly help maintain independence and motor skills. If you have other favorite activities you would like to suggest to other caregivers, feel free to add them in the comments below.

Click here for 101 Activities!


  • There are a few spots left in our training on Thursday, Alzheimer's Disease: Basics of Best Care. This training meets the 2-hour dementia care training requirement for long term care staff. The training will be held in Charleston, to register call 800.272.3900 or email
  • Dancing Through Time THIS WEEKEND!! WOHOO!! We can't wait, dancers have been hard at work practicing and raising funds!! There are still tickets available, click here to order online OR call 800.272.3900.
  •  2014 Alzheimer's Association Facts & Figures will be released on Wednesday, March 19. This is the Association's annual compilation of statistics about Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for important updates and new statistics. 
  • Caregiver University is right around the corner! Click here for a list of events happening near you AND to register! 
  • Walk to End Alzheimer's Corporate Sponsorship: We are in the process of finalizing our corporate sponsorship for the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer's season! Corporate Sponsorship is a great way to support an important cause, while getting your name/logo on thousands of t-shirts, posters, post cards and events across the state. For more information contact, Kaarmin Ford, or 800.272.3900. 
Old Standby
Each week I share a recipe with you as a reminder to take care of yourself. For me, cooking is my favorite de-stresser. However, there are some nights that it is more stress than I can handle. And that is when I lean on my favorite ingredients to make a dull weeknight meal a little bit more special. 

So, this week I thought I would share my FAVORITE weeknight spicer-upper. Rendezvous Famous Seasoning. I can still remember my first trip to Rendezvous, up the alley from the Peabody in Memphis, TN. Rendezvous seasoning once was only found at the famous rib shack - but now through the wonders of the internet you can order it right to your doorstep. The seasoning is not just great on ribs but, adds spice to burgers, chicken and pork chops! It sure made last night's pork chops seem like a weekend gourmet! 

Until next week! 

Laurel K.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NEW: I Have Alzheimer's Page

Dear Friends,
We can not say, you are not alone, enough. Over the past year our national program staff, early stage Alzheimer's advisory members and web developers created a website for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Here is the opening video:

Here is the link to the I have Alzheimer's page:

You are not alone.

Please share!


One Pot Wonder: Jambalaya
When you travel the country, and even around the world you discover that even though each culture has different names for favorite dishes - there so many common themes. For example, the easy to take to work meal - in the West Virginia coal mines it was the pepperoni roll, in the cotton fields of Mississippi it was the tamale - small, portable, one-handed consumption and delicious. Jambalaya is no different, every culture has a "throw what you have on hand to make and inexpensive meal" dish. Jambalaya happens to be the one I grew up with. It is so easy to make, it will become a week night favorite. 

This is a list of my favorite ingredients, but you can sub out whatever protein & vegetables you have on hand. This recipe fed four hungry people.
  • 1 large chicken breast (cut into bite size pieces)
  • 2 links of chorizo (Andouille is my fav, but other types of smoked sausage is also very delicious)
  • Olive Oil for pan
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 celery stocks
  • 1/2 bag of okra
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • Bay leaves
  • 1 tbs. Creole Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp (or more) hot sauce
  • 3/4 c. rice (or quinoa is tasty too)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 12-15 peeled shrimp
How To
Heat a large saucepan to med/high heat. When the pan is hot pour in 1-2 tbs of oil, and add chicken. Allow the chicken to brown, then add sausage to brown. A lot of people take the meat out at this point. But...I think it tastes better if you just make it all in one pot. Add the onion & garlic followed by celery and okra. When the onions begin to turn translucent, add the diced tomatoes - including the juice. Add bay leaves, creole seasoning, salt and pepper, Worcestershire & hot sauce. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then add rice and liquid, bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is soft. (Warning, if you use brown rice, it will have to cook FOREVER!) At the very last moment add the shrimp and allow to cook until the shrimp turn pink! Serve with a heaping slice of cornbread. 

Until next week, 
Laurel K. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Watch This, Now Add Your VOICE

Dear Friends,
Advocacy is no longer calling in or meeting with your legislators. We have to deploy a variety of methods, sometime all at the same time to ensure we are building pressure to make things happen. From in person visits, to emails, to phone calls, to social media. Last week we orchestrated one of the most effective advocacy efforts - the Congressional hearing.

As you probably saw on TV, radio, Twitter - Seth Rogen testified at a Senate appropriations committee. But, what you may not have seen is the whole testimony from a variety of experts. Dr. Francis Collins brought a team of experts from the National Institute of Health to talk about the latest advancements in research and Congressman Dennis Moore testified about living with Alzheimer's disease and the challenges he and his wife faced after his diagnosis.

You can watch the entire 2 hours by clicking here. 

We learned from Dr. Francis Collins about the latest advancements in Alzheimer's and dementia research - but most importantly we learned what the extra $100 million in research funding will fund. Exciting and cutting edge science that otherwise would not happen.

This team of experts has now set the tone for the next team of experts - YOU!

You are the critical lever of our advocacy force. We are hard at work scheduling our meetings for the Advocacy Form in Washington, DC and our meetings before and after the forum to meet with in-district staff. If you would like to join us on these meetings, email or call 800.272.3900. We need your VOICE to tell Congress, address Alzheimer's disease now!


  • Living with Alzheimer's POSTPONED. Due to incredibly terrible weather we are postponing our Parkersburg and Charleston Living With Alzheimer's events until next Monday at 2 pm. For more information call 800.272.3900
  • Caregiver University ONLINE Registration is OPEN! Register now for a Caregiver University near you! Space at a number of our venues is limited, so register early! 
  • Dance to END Alzheimer's! Join us for Dancing Through Time, March 22 at Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown! This fun event raises funds to support our mission! You can vote for your favorite dancing star and buy tickets online! 
  • Calling all Marshall's shoppers! Marshall's is once again collecting donations at their cash registers to support the Alzheimer's Association! Visit your nearest Marshall's store between March 2 - 15, and be sure to thank the cashier for supporting our important cause! 
  • Alzheimer's Disease: Basics of Best Care on March 20! This 2-hour training meets the OHFLAC annual dementia care training requirements and includes social work or nursing continuing education. Space is limited, pre-registration required! Email or call 800.272.3900
Bring the Chile Back

Something about apocalyptic storms makes me crave a giant pot of chili. Let me tell you, it was probably my best pot yet. I will post the recipe next week. But, I want to offer up my secret ingredient. Which, if you have been following this blog for a while you know know the answer.

Leaving Texas, I found that the chile is no longer the base of chili. Most recipes call for chili powder - which is good. But you lose so much of the rich and complex flavors of real chiles. I make what I call chili paste as the backbone of my chili (which it isn't really paste at all, more of a liquid) but you can use this for all kinds of things. Pour over your taco meat, base of enchilada sauce, spice up your boring chicken breast. So yesterday I made a little extra to keep in the freezer. My favorite bi-product of making chili paste is the chili water. It adds so much flavor and a little bit of heat to any soup our stew you are making.

You can buy a number of different kinds of dried chiles at your local grocery store, yesterday I used New Mexico chiles, they offer a slow burning after heat that is perfect for a spicy chile. So try different ones to see what kind of flavor you like best.

In a medium sauce bring 3 cups of water and 5-7 chiles to a boil, covered. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Depending on your time frame you can go ahead and blend your chiles now, or you can let them soak for as long as you want. When you are ready to blend, remove stems (I keep the seeds, but you can also remove the seeds) and place in a food processor or blender. Add at least 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the chile water. BLEND! You want to blend until the mixture is smooth. Use what you need in your recipe and then freeze the rest.

Then IMMEDIATELY WASH YOUR HANDS! A step I often forget and my lips or nose burn the rest of the day!

Until next week!

Laurel K.