09.01.18 Brain Healthy Foods, Reposted from 09.01.15

blueberriesSeptember 1, 2018 – I wrote this three years ago, seems like yesterday.  My blood sugar and A1C are significantly better than they were back then.  My blood pressure (without medicine) is now under control.  Not sure about recent cholesterol since I stopped taking medicine for that.  I have an appointment with Dr.Valdes to go get current blood testing and check all of my medicines to determine what I should still be taking.

Our eight blueberry bushes are being moved into the full sunlight in a week or so where hopefully they will make blueberries in abundance for me to gobble up on since this is one of the best brain foods around.  They are fairly expensive in the grocery but they are so helpful!

 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 – Several months ago the focus of my shrinking brain journey turned to eating brain healthy foods as a way of pumping up what’s left of my brain!!!  I really don’t know if it’s working but I have lost 20 pounds and know that just overall healthier eating is good for my whole body, not just my brain.

I also have Type 2 diabetes and have had difficulties controlling my blood sugar.  Since eating most of the items below and cutting out most of the junk I previously ate, my blood sugar levels have also come down some.  If you’re concerned mostly about sugars look each food item up and learn about that aspect.

I’ve been asked several times what is considered brain healthy food. Sometimes I forget some of it, so I thought if I put it all down here you’ll know it and I will have one place to go to remember it!!  This information comes from various sources.

Every source I’ve checked lists blueberries, spinach and nuts as the three highest foods to improve brain health.  I can’t say in what order all the rest melonsare ranked in brain healthiness so pick what you love and eat those!!

The list below tells the name of the food, the recommended daily amount if it is known and what I actually eat.  I consider this a list of foods I previously would have felt were splurge foods.  Since I’ve cut “almost all” unhealthy foods out of my diet I have the money to eat the “splurge” foods and really enjoy them!

I offer this list as someone who is absolutely not an expert in great brain food.  If you’re 60 or older and have noticed some cognitive decline, give it a try.  If you’re young and want to eat foods now that may help you later in life, give it a try!  If you’re a caregiver for someone with dementia, absolutely give it a try.

Eliminating as much sugar and bad fats are key!  If something below contains that, eat in moderation if you must eat them.  Also, WATER, WATER AND MORE WATER are a must. As much as you can, as often as you can and then drink some more!

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Blueberries – 1 cup a day in any form, fresh frozen or freeze dried – These are the very best for your brain and I avocadoeat them everyday.  Always keep frozen ones available for when the fresh run out.  Adding frozen blueberries to hot oatmeal is delicious!!!  Haven’t tried freeze dried but I’ve had blueberries covered in yogurt which are delicious.

Strawberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, huckleberries – Not as high as blueberries but delicious and worth adding to the diet.  I eat all of them whenever I can get them.  I try to keep on hand frozen strawberries, pineapples, blackberries and mangoes.

yogurtYogurt – a cup a day – I buy low fat Dannon vanilla yogurt because of the low fat, it tastes good and it’s fairly cheap.  I buy two large containers each week and that gives me a cup a day to add to smoothies or fruit bowls.  I’ve learned that smoothies are best for if you don’t have time to sit down and eat a bowl of fruit but the bowl of fruit is the better of both choices for you.  I daily make either a smoothie or a bowl of three types of fresh fruit, granola, flax seed and chia seeds mixed together.  You don’t taste the flax or chia seeds but they are very good for you.  You can buy small pouches of them for under $1 each that last for a couple of weeks.

Salmon, albacore tuna, sardines – 4-ounce serving, two to three times a week. – I love tuna in just about anything!  The others won’t make my grocery list!!

Mangos, bananas, kiwi, grapefruit, pineapples, cantaloupe, watermelon – at least two servings a day.  I eat all of these as much as I want!

Green and black olives – a few a day – I eat a can of black olives whenever I want to about once or twice a week.

Nuts and Seeds – an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. – Walnuts and Pecans are the best, I eat at least 10 a day of nuts2walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, shelled or in the shell peanuts, and sunflower seeds.  I sprinkle flax seed and chia seeds on anything I’m eating in a bowl.  See my note about this in Yogurt. Also sunflower seeds (peeled) make a delicious addition to any salad!!

Avocado – 1/2 of an avocado to one daily. – I make avocado and sliced cucumber sandwiches , put them in salads and eat them with some italian dressing, and guacamole!!!  If you do not like mayonnaise use the avocado instead of mayonnaise on any sandwich!! This is a new addition to this information:  Avocados can be frozen by cutting them in half, taking out the pit, putting them in a freezer ziplock back and removing all the air (I use a straw).  When they come out of the freezer and thaw they are perfect!

Red wine – one glass a day – I don’t drink this every day but sometimes.

Celery, carrots and peppers – I buy a bag of fresh carrots and whole celery every week and much whenever I feel the need for something crunchy.

Broccoli and Cauliflower – 1 cup a day –  Raw is best – I love it that way and cooked (I only buy fresh, not frozen)

Whole grains –  Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice – I choose kaleoatmeal and whole grain breads.ark Leafy Vegetables –

Kale (a super food), collard or turnip greens, spinach – a handful a day – I stick with kale and spinach.  Kale or Spinach in a fruit smoothie is my preferred method of eating it.  You do not taste the kale in the smoothie but you’re getting the benefits!!  Kale can also be baked in the oven – toss in some olive oil, salt and pepper it, layer on a pan and back until crisp.  Spinach I love in salads also.

Beans – 1/2 cup of any beans will do.  I prefer red beans but then there is the sausage and fat that goes into the flavor so I skip beans mostly1

Pomegranate juice – Because pomegranate juice has added sugar (to counteract its natural tartness), you don’t want to go overboard,so approximately 2 ounces a day, diluted with spring water.   – This hasn’t been on my list but I’m going to give it a try!

Freshly brewed tea – Two to three cups a day of freshly brewed tea — hot or iced – Must be fresh brewed, not powdered.  Don’t add all the sugar and cream, a day of lemon juice adds an interesting twist!

Dark Chocolate – One-half ounce to 1 ounce a day

Crabs (also shrimp, lobster, crawfish to a lesser degree) – Eat as much as you want, I do!!! Crabmeat salad and boiled crabs, shrimp and crawfish. Fairly certain that only boiled seafood should be eaten for any type of diet!!

Tomatoes – one a day, don’t really know.  I buy enough to eat one a day whole if I want to.  Feels more like a treat that way!!shrimp crawfish crabs crabs

Curry contains Turmeric.  Haven’t tried it yet.

Eggs specifically, the yolks – one a day or more at once.  We eat egg salad sandwiches, scrambled eggs, sliced eggs on sandwiches, omelets, etc. but  not very often.

Pumpkin seeds – a handful a day – gonna add that one soon!

Add high, but safe, levels of B6, B12 and folic acid through vitamins.

I’m sure this isn’t every food that is brain healthy.  If anyone has additional items that should be on this list, let me know and I’ll add them.

I’ve enjoyed getting to splurge on these treats knowing they are helping, not hurting, me!

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08.25.18 Rewiring My Brain and Stepping into Alzheimer’s World, by Bob DeMarco

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Once you start to understand how things work in Alzheimer’s World – you get calm and comfortable.

Once you get calm and comfortable you give off a better “vibe” to someone that has Alzheimer’s.

Over time as you learn how to understand, cope and communicate with a person living with dementia you will find that instead of being at odds most of time you begin to relate better to each other. Once you start to relate to each other you find that it is much easier to operate in a world filled with Alzheimer’s disease.

The key word here is relate.

You relate well and get along best with your closest friends don’t you? Well in order to relate well with a person living with dementia – you have to adjust to the circumstances. I decided I would find a new way to communicate with my mother who was living with Alzheimer’s disease. I wrote that on my da Vinci pad in 2004. This was at the same time I was coming to another conclusion, something had to change and that something was me.

I did not perceived the changes in communication as being difficult. After all, I had been studying communication and decision making all the way back to college days, and ever since. I figured some practice and I would get the hang of it.

What I did not immediately perceive was how difficult it would be to change all the things I had learned over the course of my life.

For example, I had to learn how NOT to feel bad when my mother said something mean spirited to me.

I knew consciously that every time my mother said something “mean” to me, she didn’t mean it. I knew this because she never said any of those things to me before dementia started affecting her brain. Her ability to think and feel.

So, I knew it was Alzheimer’s that was causing her to be so “mean”.

Nevertheless, when Dotty said something mean, and even though I knew she didn’t mean it, I still felt sad, angry, and often snapped back at her. In other words, I reacted the way I would react to anyone that treated me in that way.

All I can say is, Wowie Zowie. It is very hard and very difficult to change patterns of behavior that you learned over 50 years.

I had to rewire my brain.

I decided it would be easier if I could put myself in a new place. This is why I invented Alzheimer’s World. Instead of trying to relearn my entire life, I decide I would start a brand new life, a second parallel life.

My new second life would reside within the confines of Alzheimer’s World. In Alzheimer’s World all the rules, feelings, and methods of communication would be different.

I started developing some ideas about how I would communicate effectively with someone that couldn’t remember they were mean to me, and really couldn’t remember my “too long” explanations of this and that.

In order to get control of my emotions I knew I had to move fast and seamlessly into Alzheimer’s World. I had to get there before the anger came up. Anger, even though I knew I shouldn’t be angry.

I came up with an idea that worked. As soon as the craziness started, I would take one giant step to the left. An actual physical step to the left. As I made this step, I would tell myself that I was going into Alzheimer’s World.

It took a while, but it worked. My brain was rewired. More or less segmented into two parts, real world and Alzheimer’s World. Over time I learned to separate one from the other.

Once I learned how to step seamlessly into Alzheimer’s World something wonderful started to happen. Dotty finally, after a few years, stopped saying all those mean and nasty things to me.

She started telling people, Bobby is a good boy.

Here is the best part. The better I became at communicating in Alzheimer’s World, the sweeter and more cooperative Dotty became. Not that the world is perfect. Dotty is still Dotty and she can still be a big pain in the butt.

You see, once I accepted that I needed to communicate and interact with Dotty in her new world she became happier and easier to deal with.

Now, we didn’t leave the real world. Alzheimer’s World is a combination of the two worlds. In Alzheimer’s World it is understood that the person can’t remember the now. They can’t remember the sentence before this one.

In Alzheimer’s World it is perfectly fine if someone asks the same question 20 times in a row.

This is how communication goes in Alzheimer’s World. In Alzheimer’s World it is perfectly fine if a person says NO 20 times a day. NO does not have the same meaning in Alzheimer’s World. In fact, in my opinion NO has no meaning in Alzheimer’s World.

Once you start to understand how things work in Alzheimer’s World you get calm and comfortable. Once you get calm and comfortable you give off a better “vibe” to someone that has Alzheimer’s. If you can get to the “vibe”, the person living with Alzheimer’s becomes calmer and feels more secure.

Let’s put it this way. If you were sent to live somewhere where all the people were purple and they spoke so fast you couldn’t understand a word they were saying — how would you feel?

If you felt like all the purple people didn’t like you — how would you feel all day long?

If you were stuck in this purple world and couldn’t figure out how to get out, and couldn’t understand how you got there in the first place — how would you feel?

Alzheimer’s World can be a wonderful place. In fact, most Alzheimer’s patients are very sweet once you get to know them. They are very appreciative.

Keeping stepping to the left. You’ll find the door to Alzheimer’s World.

This article is a repeat of an article that was published previously. It ranks in the top 25 most frequently read articles on the ARR, and has been widely shared via on Google+ and Facebook.

https://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2011/06/rewiring-my-brain-and-stepping-into.html

By Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer’s Reading Room

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

08.08.18 How stress affects the brain

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 – We tend to think of stress as an immediate problem: The boss hovering over our desks; the mad dash to the subway at the end of a long day. And in the short-term, stress makes us feel irritable, anxious, tense, distracted and forgetful. But that’s only part of the story.

Over time, elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can chip away at our physical, mental and emotional health. The link between chronic stress and the potential for mental health conditions — such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders — is well-established. But what kind of changes — both fleeting and lasting — are actually taking place in the brain when we experience a stressful event?

Here are four ways stress changes your brain.

Stress could trigger a chemical change that makes you irritable

Many of us know that we’re not pleasant to be around when we’re stressed out — we may get irritable and grumpy. Under pressure, many people get distracted and forgetful and this could be a sign of the destructive effects of stress in the brain.

French researchers discovered an enzyme, when triggered by stress, that attacks a molecule in the hippocampus which is responsible for regulating synapses. When the synapses are modified, fewer neural connections are able to be made in the area.

“These effects lead subjects to lose their sociability, avoid interactions with their peers and have impaired memory or understanding,” a university press release explained.

Chronic stress can shrink your brain

Stressful life events could harm your brain’s memory and learning capacity by reducing the volume of gray matter in brain regions associated with emotions, self-control and physiological functions.

Chronic stress and/or depression can contribute to lost volume in the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with emotional and cognitive impairment. Researchers found that this is particularly true of people with a genetic marker that can disrupt the formation of synaptic connections between brain cells.

A 2008 study on mice found that even short-term stress could lead to communication problems among brain cells in regions associated with memory and learning.

One stressful event can kill brain cells

As we learn new information, we constantly generate new neurons in the hippocampus — a brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion. But ongoing stress can halt the production of new neurons in the hippocampus and may also affect the speed of connections between hippocampal cells, according to Scientific American. What’s more, an animal study found that a single stressful event can destroy newly created neurons in the hippocampus.

University of California at Berkeley researchers found that the brain in a state of chronic stress generates more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than a typical brain would, resulting in excess myelin (an insulating layer of protective coating around neurons) in the hippocampus.

“The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to ongoing emotional distress, because of the damaging effects of cortisol,” psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote in Social Intelligence.

Stress can disrupt memory by triggering the brain’s threat response

While cortisol hampers the activity of the hippocampus, it increases the size and activity of the amygdala, the brain’s main center for emotional responses and motivation. The amygdala is responsible for fear processing, threat perception and the fight-or-flight response. Increased activity means we’re in a state of reacting to perceived threat, which can have the effect of restricting our ability to take in new information. It can also heighten emotional reactions.

“After a day when a student gets panicked by a pop quiz, he’ll remember the details of that panic far more than any of the material in the quiz,” Goleman wrote.

Carolyn Gregoire The Huffington Post
I can personally say that what this article is about is so very true.  When I was first diagnosed in 2011 and seeing the doctor regularly in 2012 I was under considerable stress from many directions.  The main thing the doctor told me was to eliminate the stress.  Unfortunately eliminating the stress was out of my control.  This was around the time that Roy and I decided to live full time RVing.  That was the biggest stress reliever imaginable and helped my brain deteriorating to slow down.
Now when I’m under stress my brain truly shuts down.  The best way I can think of to describe it is that there are less things going around in my head.  The things that are there don’t have a connection to either the next step or another thought related to it. I was hopeful when I started writing this that I’d be able to share more.  It’s just not happening.  So I’ll say good bye now.
Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

08.10.18 Alzheimer’s and Dementia from the patient’s perspective reblogged from January 2015

August 14, 2018 –  Since I originally wrote this in 2015 I’ve found two very interesting dementia patients who still communicate pretty well.  One, Rick Phelps, started a Facebook group called Memory People. Here is a link to that group: Memory People on Facebook   I’ve shared some of Rick’s writing before and plan to share soon one he just wrote about “anticipatory grief.”

The other dementia patient, Peter Berry, publishes on Facebook a weekly video on different dementia topics and an update on how he is doing. Here is a link to his facebook page: Peter Berry On Facebook

10460724_539323889537944_4082775068952904086_nThis week I want to share about Alzheimer’s from the patient’s standpoint.

“I’m Still Here” is a song about dementia, written from the patient’s point of view. It can be a helpless feeling after you get an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and the support of your loved ones can help ease the stress that this disease causes. Click on the photo below to watch this short video!

i am still here graphic to go with song

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ALZHEIMER’S PATIENT’S PRAYER BY CAROLYN HAYNELI

Pray for me, I was once like you. Be kind and loving to me, that’s how I would have treated you. Remember I was once someone’s parent or spouse. I had a life and a dream for the future.

Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don’t understand what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of which I can still relate.

Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle. Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain. Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.

Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer’s. I was full of life, I had a life, laughed and loved you. Think of how I am now, my disease destroyed my thinking, my feelings, and my ability to respond, but I still love you even if I can’t tell you. Think about my future because I used to.

Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now. Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and can’t let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me, but Alzheimer’s. I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I still need you to love me.

Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death. The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will live forever.

How you live and what you do today will always be remembered in the heart of the Alzheimer’s Patient.

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The following links are to stories from Alzheimer’s patients. Please spend some time reading each one of these stories told in a way that only they can:
|108I just found this blog called Welcome to DementiaLand by Wayne who does have a last name but I couldn’t find it just now.  I don’t know whether it’s my brain issues or his that make navigating his site difficult.  His level of sharing is great though and I felt strongly it should be included here.  

http://dementialand.chewtor.co.uk/#category2

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Interview with Alzheimer sufferer Richard Taylor: ‘You turn into a person you don’t know any more.’

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/interview-with-alzheimer-sufferer-you-turn-into-a-person-you-don-t-know-anymore-a-688049.html

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An author and former physician, Dr. David Hilfiker was diagnosed in 2012 with a progressive mild cognitive impairment. His doctor thought it was Alzheimer’s but additional testing proved this initial diagnosis to be wrong. Now David must learn how to come to terms with the reality of worsening cognitive issues that appear to have no cause.

http://www.agingcare.com/Blogger/David-Hilfiker

108Harry Urban has lived with Alzheimer’s disease for seven years, “We have no typical days. You have your good days, your bad days and your Alzheimer’s days,”

http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/alzheimers-patients-share-their-experiences-153702.htm

1d-5guilt.

The video below  of a five year old singing “Peace in Christ” seemed appropriate to me to share with you today.  As a Christian with dementia, having peace in Christ is what gets me through every day. I hope you enjoy hearing this song!

Until next time,

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01.16.2015 Very little construction update! Roy’s birthday and other updates…

It’s been a slow week at our house construction site so we’ve taken care of ordering things and Roy’s worked on the storage shed.

The well man came to move the tank from the blocks it was on to its permanent slab home!

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Roy planted the two bay leaf plants we took with us from our house in Hammond.  We left the new homeowners plenty of the plant, but since it was originally a plant from Roy’s mother’s home in Metairie we wanted some of it to follow us and now they have found their new home.  We’ve also learned that they have an exceptional ability to keep flies away and since we have cows visiting all around their “leavings” attract flies!  It’s working really well so far! If you come visit us and you want some, just ask, we’re always happy to share.

20150116_170622The men who built the form for the slab came back Monday to remove the form boards so now we have a finished slab.

e slab without forms

Roy mixed up some cement and prettied up the appearance of the patio slab sides and step.  There were some small holes around the side and ground level and he made those go away. He did a great job.  We will be bringing in more dirt around the patio to make the ground more level.

e patio slab 1 e patio slabThe framers will be here on Tuesday (as always if weather conditions hold up) and hope to have it framed by end of the week.  Remember it is a smalllll house!

Madisyn, Braxton, Bentley, Chip and Kim came to visit last Sunday and we got to walk Kim around the property to show us this little land we love.  The boys loved running around but were not real wild about being toted around in our new wheelbarrow!!

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We enjoyed sitting on the house slab with Madisyn and Chip last Sunday and figuring out where each room will be.  aa priceless grandchildrenMadisyn asked if “her room” can be decorated in Hello Kitty.  Had to explain that we won’t live in the house for a while but when the time comes “her room” can be decorated however she wants!  I’m sure when the boys get older they’ll be wanting “their room” too!   Madisyn decided to share a “ghost story” with us while sitting on the slab in the sunshine and we were all appropriately frightened by her story!  What a hoot she is.

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It was Roy’s birthday dinner/party and we enjoyed some delicious crawfish corn soup that Chip made for us.  aa happy-birthday-cup-cakes-graphicI made the desert and what a disaster that was………….   The first step is to bake a yellow cake in a sheet cake pan as directed.  I put everything together correctly and put it in an aluminum pan.  I cooked it in the convection oven preheating it correctly.  Then I mistakenly clicked the “Time Cook” button which causes the microwave to kick in.  After 14 minutes of the 26 minutes cook time I smelled something burning and opened the oven door to find a very mis-shaped cake that was burning in spots.  I tasted one of the good spots and decided it would be okay to serve.  Well I basically wasted the rest oaa stupid things cake  f the delicious ingredients that go into and on the cake (condensed milk, powdered sugar, cool whip, coconut) because it was really burned throughout the middle and didn’t taste worth eating!  So I’ve promised Roy I will make another, this time baking it correctly!   To those of you who own a combination microwave/convection oven LEARN FROM THIS!!!

We met our contractor, Ronnie, at Gabriel Building Supply in Ponchatoula and picked out our windows, interior doors, hinge color, and shingles.  Ronnie invited us to his house to see his exterior window trim which we really like and will use instead of shutters.  I’ve seen it on other houses but never up close and Roy needed to see it up close to be comfortable with it.  He and Debbie have a beautiful comfortable home and I enjoyed seeing all the things they have that we are picking out now.  Went to Lowe’s and picked out our medicine cabinets (oh the discussions we had about that one – Roy and I had very different ideas on that one so it became a big deal) and the exterior front and back doors.  Then on to Mayeaux’s Siding to pick out our columns and change the height from 8′ to 10′ to match the interior family room ceiling height.   All this is on order since some of it is needed for the framer to get their work done accurately.

I stocked up on cold weather food to cook on my trip to Sam’s.  I cooked vegetable beef soup this morning and am starting a pot of chili next.  Gumbo will be up next and I bought enough of all the things to make two big pots of each.   I’m hoping it all fits in our fridge and freezer.

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Chip’s coming to spend the night and help his dad put the walls up for the storage building  I’m sure he will help us eat up some of it!

I visited my neurologist this week and wrote a post about it on my Alzheimer’s aa Big-God-no-lights-e1339783629638blog.  Instead of repeating it all here, if you are interested you’re welcome to click here and read the story.  This condition has been going on quite a while but I’ve managed to cover it most of the time and have only shared with a few people.  If my sharing will help someone then I want to share now. My God is such a BIG God, sufficient for all my needs.  He never leaves me alone during any of the difficulties I’ve faced in life and I know he will not now.

The weather has turned sunny and beautiful and will continue that way for a few days so I’m hopeful we can get the storage building finished (I have a ceiling light, wall light and one medicine cabinet living on my bed – the storage building is very much needed!), more of the cleaning out around the pine trees and starting on our flower gardens I want to develop.

Here’s pics of some of the progress Roy’s made on the storage building. We bought paint for the building to match the color of the vinyl siding that will be on the house

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The pile of building materials is shrinking as the building is growing!

e shed a e shed b e shed d20150116_170915

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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Wacky Wonderful Wednesdays published on Wednesdays

Some Things I Learned About Alzheimer’s published on Fridays