Wednesday, May 21, 2014


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. 

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 (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.

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.


  • 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.