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.

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