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.


  • 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. 

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. 


Laurel K.

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.


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. 

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.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Complacency will get you nothing

Dear Friends,
Greetings from inside the beltway (Washington, DC)! Our group of advocates descended upon the city Monday for the Alzheimer's Association Advocacy Forum. Depending on your perspective it is the culmination or launch of a year of advocacy work (or both). 

Sometimes our volunteers tell me that advocacy work seems ambiguous or intimidating. The slow turn of democracy also makes your efforts sometimes feel futile. 

This is my 5th year of attending the advocacy forum. My first year attending in 2008 I was overwhelmed with the crowd of 400, this year there are nearly 1,000 advocates in attendance! This advocacy thing is really catching on. 

To put it simply, we have to make our lawmakers understand the growing crisis of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is THE most expensive disease in our country, with costs only expected to skyrocket. This year, Alzheimer's cost more than $200 billion! 

What is this going to cost me is one of the most common questions we get at on the Hill. And one advocate said it best: 

What is my mother worth?

Don't we owe it to our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren to raise our VOICE?

Congressman Tonko from NY said it best:

Complacency will get you nothing. Advocacy will get you everything. 

Follow our journey to DC at: #AlzForum or

Award Winning Memorable Mac&Cheese
As you know our Charleston office rallied to support the Childhood Language Center's Mac&Cheese cook off on Saturday. We came together and built a recipe using each of our favorite parts of our personal Mac&Cheese recipes. I know it sounds gross but it actually came our amazing! We stole the stove top stuffing topping from Kaarmin, fire roasted tomatoes from Jennifer, I offered up my love for spicy Mac&Cheese, and Kelsey's healthy version didn't really fit the bill but her selection of noodles was key. 

You won't believe this, but WE WON!!! By ALOT!!! People were calling their friends to come down to the cook off to try our Mac&Cheese! We even beat the restaurants! SO, without further ado our AWaRD WINNING Memorable Mac&Cheese!
1/2 pound Cavatappi
1/2 pound Mezzi Rigatoni
1lbs- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 8 oz. White Cheddar Jalapeno Cheese 
1 c. butter
1 c. flour
1.c half and half
1.c milk 
Palm-full and a half of Tony Chachere's Canjun Seasoning
Half palm-full ground mustard
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
1 can fire roasted tomatoes 
3/4 package of Cornbread Stuffing, crushed with hands or pan
Boil pasta according to package directions. Remember, your pasta water should taste like the sea! I would also recommend pulling the pasta out just shy of al dente because pasta will soak up the cheese and continue to soften just a bit while in the oven. While pasta cooks, add crushed stuffing, half palm-full of Tonys and some cheese together. Set aside. In separate pot, melt butter. Add flour and stir together until combined. Let cook for a couple minutes so that the raw flower taste can cook out. Add milk and half and half and stir to combine. Allow sauce thicken. Once thickened add mustard, Tony's and pepper and stir to combine. ONce combined, add cheeses a little at a time, giving each addition time to melt into the sauce. A little more salt and pepper may need to be added, depending on taste.  

After all the cheese is melted and the sauce is a delicious, velvety dream, add to pasta, along with fire roasted tomatoes. Stir. Add topping and bake, 375 for about 20 minutes or until top is golden brown. Try not to eat the whole pan in one sitting!!

See you back in Charleston next week! 
Laurel K

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Caregiver University Preview

Dear Friends,
Our first Caregiver University of the year is happening next Friday in Belpre, OH. Over the next three months we will host Caregiver University events across the state. Caregiver University is a one-day mini-conference for family and professional caregivers. This year will mark the third year for Caregiver University, we've seen tremendous success over the past two years and look forward to really successful events this year! 

Since this is the third year for Caregiver University, we looked back at our previous two years of feedback from participants and made a number of tweaks and changes. Namely incorporating more time for discussion, questions and activities. 

Here is a preview of the topics: 

Behaviors Revisited: An ABC Approach
This workshop will incorporate your challenges as a caregiver with meaningful discussion and interactive activities to practice the easy to implement communication techniques. This workshop will address challenging behaviors, bridging the communication gap with your loved one, and how to incorporate activities into your daily routine. 

Legal and Financial Considerations
Back by popular demand Senior Legal Aid's Cat McConnell will walk us through the maze of legal and financial issues you may face as a caregiver. Her easy to understand advice makes these complex issues a little less daunting. Our Ohio CU events will feature one of the most well respected elder attorneys in the Mid Ohio Valley region, and even the state, Gerald Townsend. We appreciate both of their time and dedication to Caregiver University.

Caregiver Cafe
A number of our events will once again feature Dr. Shirley Nietch and the Caregiver Cafe. He practical advice to coping with your family through caregiving is a session you don't want to miss. Dr. Nietch links you with not only practical caregiving advice, but how to de-stress and resources to help you through your journey. 

Understanding and Coping with Care Transitions
This is a new addition to Caregiver University and will be featured at Belpre, OH; Romney, WV; and Bridgeport, WV. The focus of this workshop is looking at the transitions in care that often accompany Alzheimer's and dementia. From home to long term care or hospice, this workshop will give you the tools to plan for the future. 

Safety & Preparedness with Persons with Dementia
Wandering, driving, hospitalization, kitchen appliances, family valuables - the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease increase safety risks for persons with the disease and those who care for them. But, when you plan ahead you will be able to better cope when incidents happen. You will leave this interactive workshop with plans to cope with a variety of potential safety concerns. 

In Other News! 
Follow us at the forum! Next week a group of advocates are headed to Washington, D.C. to meet with West Virginia's Congressional delegation on the crisis of Alzheimer's disease and how they can support efforts to help caregivers and researchers. Follow our journey on Facebook or Twitter! You can also follow the hashtag: #alzforum or #endalz

Pimento Cheese!
In our activities training we talk about how even the simplest of activities can activate memories from the brain. Often cooking is one of those every day activities that can be a great reminiscing activity with your loved one. From smell, to taste to touch and the physical actions can trigger favorite memories. Classic recipes, like pimento cheese, are perfect for these type of reminiscing activities.
One of my earliest memories of my dad is his love of pimento cheese. For some awful reason I HATED pimento cheese as a child, but lately my mom has been whipping up a homemade version that I can't get enough of. So, when we were grocery shopping for our Mac&Cheese Cook off supplies last week, I got the cheese bug and whipped up the best tasting pimento cheese on the planet! 

Side bar: Yes! Mac&Cheese cookoff! We really love food at our office and jumped at the chance to support the Childhood Language Center here in Charleston. Our team was featured this week in the Charleston Daily Mail! BUT, the cookoff isn't until Saturday - so stay tuned for our winning Mac&Cheese recipe next week! 

Back to the pimento cheese!

It doesn't last long!
1 8 oz package of cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/4 8 oz package of jalapeno cheddar cheese (shredded)
Diced pimentos or other type of roasted pepper to your liking
1 tsp. Worcershire 
1 cup of mayo 
1 tbs. finely diced or grated onion

Directions: Dump into food processor and blend! We determined it was tasty with the pretzel chips, but they were too breakable. Old fashion club crackers won out on the taste testing, second to bagel chips! So easy, so homemade, a true walk down memory lane! 

Until next week! 

Laurel K.