Archive for December 2011

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Advice from Leeza Gibbons: Breathe, Believe, Receive

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Advice from Leeza Gibbons, TV Personality and Caregiver: “Breathe, Believe, and Receive”

Breathe: Start by taking 10 purposeful breaths; breathing in sheer certainty that you are doing your best. Breathe out all the negativity that weighs heavily on you. This can change your physical and emotional state so you can better cope with your caregiver stress.

Believe: Now is the time to be an optimist. Know that your efforts will be enough. Believe that you can get empowered by others who have achieved this before you.

Receive: Everyone has limits. Know that real strength comes from knowing when to ask for help. When someone says, “Do you need anything?” say “yes,” and be prepared to tell them a specific way they could help.

Source: This is a shortened version of interview with Leeza on CNN, April 26, 2011.

Note: After Leeza Gibbons’ grandmother and mother died of Alzheimer’s disease, she decided to help other family members caring for their loved ones with the disease. She created Leeza’s Place, a facility for Alzheimer’s caregivers.



“Silly Saturdays” Post: An Alzheimer’s Tricky Thief

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

When Ed was living at the Alois Alzheimer Center he developed a most unusual habit. After each meal he would carefully clean his spoon with a napkin, wrap it in another napkin, put it in the breast pocket of his sport coat and take it to his room.

I tried many times to convince him not to do this.

In exasperation one day when I was visiting him with my sister, Freddie, I told him rather loudly, “Ed, don’t take that spoon. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the facility.”

“Oh! No, Kitty,” he announced. “I take them every day with no remorse!”

Freddie and I immediately burst into laughter, which made him laugh, too.



Alzheimer’s Patients and Planning for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Holidays can be stressful for both the person with Alzheimer’s and the rest of the family. Consider these tips to help make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.

1. If you’re caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s at home:

Tone down your decorations: Blinking lights and large decorative displays can cause disorientation.

Host quiet, slow-paced gatherings: Music, conversation and meal preparation all add to the noise and stimulation of an event. Yet for a person who has Alzheimer’s, a calm, quiet environment usually is best.

2. If your loved one lives in a nursing home or other facility:

Celebrate in the most familiar setting: For many people who have Alzheimer’s, a change of environment — even a visit home — causes anxiety. Consider holding a family celebration at the facility.

Minimize visitor traffic: Arrange for a few people to drop in on different days to avoid the commotion of having several visitors all at once.

Schedule visits at your loved one’s best time of day: Your loved one may appreciate morning and lunchtime visitors more than those in the afternoon or evening.

Shortened from:



Alzheimer’s Patients and Jigsaw Puzzles

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

PUZZLES TO REMEMBER is a 501(c)3 organization that provides puzzles to nursing homes, veterans facilities, and other facilities that care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Puzzles To Remember was founded in 2008 by Max Wallack, now a student at Boston University Academy in Massachusetts. Max recognized the calming effect of puzzles and many other benefits on people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Puzzles To Remember has already distributed 8,412 puzzles to over 900 Alzheimer’s caregiving facilities in all 50 states and in Canada and Mexico. Many similar programs are being launched in the United States, Portugal, and Australia. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation go to:




Alzheimer’s and Humor: What If You Had a Fire in Your Kitchen?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Alzheimer’s is such a deadly serious topic and deservedly so. But sometimes laughter is the best medicine. So I’ve decided to make a “Silly Saturdays” post every week with some sort of amusing story about Ed when he was demented. Here’s the first one. I hope you enjoy it. Please send me your own “silly” stories and I’ll post them, too.

What if You Had a Fire in Your Kitchen?

Ed answered the knock on his door and found a pretty young lady in her mid 20s standing there. He smiled and gestured for her to enter. “Hello there! Oh, I’m so excited to see you again. How have you been? Come ‘een’! Come ‘een’!” he bid her.

Only thing was, Ed had never seen her before. That alone pretty much fulfilled the purpose of her visit. Kristi, Director of Admissions at the Alois Center, was there to evaluate Ed for placement. I’d warned her I couldn’t promise he’d even allow her in, let alone talk with her, so I was immensely relieved he was agreeable that day. Ed was oblivious to the real reason I’d arranged this interview. I told him she was a friend of mine who worked in a nursing home and she wanted to practice interviewing elderly people. It was only because of his dementia that I had to do it and it was only because of his dementia that I could get away with it.

Ed and his apartment were reasonably presentable that afternoon. He sat in his recliner, which served as the centerpiece of the living room from which he watched his precious political talk shows. Kristi, her white summer dress flecked with little green flowers matching the freshness of the sunny and breezy late August day, took a seat on the sofa near his chair. Not wanting to interfere, I sat at the far end of the sofa, planning to just observe.

She explained the real reason she was there. He didn’t seem to understand, but he was in an excellent mood and readily agreed to talk with her. I assumed it was mostly because she was so young and pretty. He loved all young and pretty women.

Kristi consulted the paper that was attached to a manila folder with a large paper clip, turned her body directly toward Ed, and began asking the usual questions, enunciating each word clearly and loudly.

“Can you tell me who’s the President?”

“Boosh,” he blurted out, grinning.

“Can you tell me what date it is today?”

He thought for a few seconds, then his head began to slowly shift downward as he simultaneously turned his left wrist inward a little.

Well, I’d be damned! His mind isn’t totally gone. He’s alert enough to remember his little Timex has the date on it.

That gave me some comfort. He stated the correct date and we all laughed about his cleverness.

Kristi continued with many more questions. Some he was able to answer. Most he couldn’t.

Kristi then asked the last question: “What would you do if you had a fire in your kitchen?”

He thought for a minute then a sly grin slowly appeared on his face. He stretched out his arm, pointed to me with his shaky finger and proudly announced, “I’d call her.”

Kristi and I laughed, which made Ed laugh, too.