Red meat and Alzheimer's

Not that you need another reason to avoid red meat, but perhaps you'd like to share this article with your steak-loving husband!New evidence points to the idea that red meat may raise our risk for Alzheimer's. That's because red meat raises the level of iron in our brains, which can accelerate the damage done by free radicals.Iron builds up in our gray matter and increases our risk of age-related illnesses, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.Did you know that having a hysterectomy before menopause can also raise iron levels in the brain?Here's what I read:...more

Dear God, Please Help My Mother Die

I am not a religious person.  I’m not even sure I believe in a higher power, let alone one true God.  Even so, for the past several years I often find myself praying.When I do pray, it is always about my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease....more

Every Time You Go Away You Take A Piece of Me with You

There's no good way to lose a loved one. But I've been thinking lately about the differences between someone going suddenly, and someone going bit by bit. I watched my cousin slip away gradually a few years ago — it was excruciating for her, for me, and for everyone who loved her. At the same time my mother started to go away as well. She has dementia, and it was becoming clear as we were that I would have to step in and start helping mom out. So we moved to Florida. ...more

All the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise

"And then ... all the noise! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!If there's one thing I hate ... all the noise, noise, noise, noise!"— How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. SeussI couldn't help it. The nursing home on Sunday afternoon reminded me of this quote from The Grinch. We were visiting in the common room with mom, sitting by the big window and trying to enjoy the view. But we couldn't help but get distracted because of all the noise:...more

Choline intake improves memory and attention in rats (and maybe humans)

So far it's only been tested on rats, but they're actually very similar to humans in many ways (which is why they use them so much). Choline (a vitamin B group nutrient found in things like soy, wheat germ, eggs and beef liver) helps improve attention-holding capacity and long-term memory.In the study, rats were given choline supplements during pregnancy, then their offspring were studied once they became adults.Rats that had the choline supplements in utero did better on memory and attention tests.Rats that had a regular diet in utero did ok, but not as well....more

It's Been A Week

It's been a week. Mom went into the hospital last Monday after a fall. We heard first that she broke her hip. And then that she had a slight bleed on the brain. A CAT scan showed that the break was an old one. They were able to narrow the time of injury down — it could have happened any time from six weeks to six or more years ago. I guess only Star Trek or CSI gets more precise than that. Paging Grissom and McCoy, stat....more

MAJOR breakthrough with new drug for Alzheimer's

A new drug called NitroMemantine reverses the loss of brain connections in people with Alzheimer's.By combining two medicines that are already approved by the FDA, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute has created this breakthrough drug that restores the synapses (the connections between neurons) that were lost as the disease progressed.It's the breakdown of these synapses that leads to memory loss and cognitive decline....more

I Draw the Line at Led Zeppelin (and Billy Joel and ... and ...)

We listen to the radio a lot in the car when we're out and about. I get sick of all the Kelly Clarkson/Taylor Swift/Katy Perry stuff on the pop station that my daughter likes, so we frequently switch to the oldies station — my mom, who has dementia, actually perks up and recognizes all of her favorite artists from times past, like the Bee Gees, Bruce Springsteen, Beach Boys, and the Eagles....more

Saying Goodbye to Caregiving

My mom married my stepfather over 20 years ago. When I first met him, he was strong, forceful, overwhelming. He was a lawyer and liked to bark at people. We didn't get along, but he loved my mother. It was so obvious, and she loved him back.  He was almost 15 years older than her, but it didn't make any difference.  They got married and we all learned to live together. It helped that I was an adult, although barely - I was in college and no longer lived at home full time. ...more

Nuclear tests from the '60s show adult brains DO generate new neurons

Proof that our brains are not stagnant comes from a very strange source: a process based on the amount of carbon-14 found in humans as a result of nuclear testing in the 1960s.Here's how it works: Thanks (or rather, no thanks!) to the above-ground nuclear bomb testing we did in the 1960s, we've had more carbon-14 in our atmosphere. But when they banned nuclear tests in 1963, the carbon-14 started decreasing....more