I agree with Bill Gates – Let’s Cure Alzheimer’s

Recently, Bill Gates pledged fifty million dollars of his own money in a quest to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Mr. Gates cited the growing economic and emotional toll Alzheimer’s has on families worldwide for the reason for his contribution.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2017 Americans spent $259 billion caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The Alzheimer’s Association also estimates that you have a nearly 50 percent chance of developing the disease if you live into your mid-80s. Research indicates African Americans and Latinos are more likely than whites to develop Alzheimer’s.

I am certain many of you reading this post know of a friend or family member with Alzheimer’s.

In my family both of my grandmothers and an aunt have died of complications from Alzheimer’s. My mother is in the final stages of a decade long battle with the disease which has now also gripped two of her sisters.

As Mr. Gates noted despite the increase in disease scientists have yet to figure out what exactly causes Alzheimer’s or how to stop the disease from destroying the brain.

Finding A Cure – Three Things We Can We Do?

The 50 million given by Mr. Gates will go to the Dementia Discovery Fund a private fund working to diversify the clinical pipeline for Alzheimer’s treatment.

While you and I may not be able to drop 50 million we can become part of drive for a cure. Check out three things we can do.

One: Inform Yourself About Alzheimer’s

Our friends at Alzheimers.net have a wonderful infographic that you can share on your favorite social media site — simply use the one-click buttons at the top of the page. The infographic includes effective ways you can join the fight against the disease, from joining clinical trials to writing your congressperson. We hope you’ll find it a great tool for raising awareness. And, after learning and sharing, it’s just one more step to start doing.

Two: Participate in National Memory Screening

The National Memory Screening event aims to provide free memory tests with the goal of early detection and treatment for those showing signs of cognitive impairment. You can be a source of encouragement and strength for friends, family and loved ones simply by participating, but if you would like to do more to raise awareness, host or visit a site near you. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America provides the materials, and you locate a willing health care professional to administer the testing. Visit their website for more information.

Three: Make a Donation to an Alzheimer’s Organization

There are truly so many ways to donate, and there are numerous opportunities listed on the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America web pages, if you need a place to start. You can simply donate money online and it will go towards the fight to end Alzheimer’s, but there are other ways to donate, too — you can donate stock or an old car and receive some tax benefits to boot; you can donate to the cause of a participant in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s; you can plan a bequest in your will; and much more.

It’s Time For A Cure

Alzheimer’s is one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States and it is the only one without any meaningful treatments that are reversing the trend.

Bill Gates knows that a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia spends five times more every year out-of-pocket on healthcare than a senior without a neurodegenerative condition.

Bill Gates knows that unlike those with many chronic diseases, people with Alzheimer’s incur long-term care costs as well as direct medical expenses that will last for decades.

Bill Gates knows how difficult it is to watch a loved ones suffer from cognitive decline and slowly disappear.

I agree with Bill Gates, let’s cure Alzheimer’s

Marben Bland, is the pastor of Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Sparta, Georgia and is the Chairperson for the Handcock Health Improvement Partnership. Read more of his posts at www.marbenbland.com

Holiday Tips For Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Some 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and more than 13 million family members care for them. Families in every town, in every state across the country that are dealing with the realities of Alzheimer’s disease during holiday season.  And my family is one of them as we care for our Mother, during this most wonderful time of the year.

Alzheimer's Map

Caregiving is plenty trying at any time however, the holidays can bring extra emotions with family celebrations, holiday parties and the hoopla that the end of year can bring.

alzheimersawarenessFormed in 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association advances research to end Alzheimer’s and dementia while enhancing care for those living with the disease.  From the association’s research and the personal experience of our family here are some caregiving tips to make the holidays more manageable.

1.Set Realistic Expectations About Your Relatives’ Current Condition

Feeding Alzheimer'sIt may have been awhile since relatives and friends have seen the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  During that time changes could have taken place in the person’s cognitive abilities.

Alert visitors in a phone call or email prior to the visit so they will know what to expect.   Ask for their patience in not interrupting or correcting; giving the person with the condition time to finish his or her thoughts.

2.Involve The Person With Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Understand the delicate balance between involvement and overload for the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Family

For my mother, with the exception of church, large groups with lots of conversation are difficult for her to follow.  However, what we have found that music in the singing and playing of holiday songs both old and new brings her great comfort.

Research has also found that keeping a normal routine for the person is good.  While that may be impossible during the rush of the holidays, our family has found that planning breaks for Mother with a quiet time and place for her to get away from the action of the party and all of those people and conversations works best.

3.Encourage Smart Gift Giving

Gifts2By all means, the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia should share in the magic of receiving a gift during the holiday season.

Recommended gifts include: An identification bracelet (available through MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®), comfortable clothing, audiotapes of favorite music, videos and photo albums.

For the caregiver of a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, I can suggest no better gift than the gift of respite care.  Consider giving a gift certificate to the nail salon where both the caregiver and the loved one can be pampered at the same time.  Or give a gift certificate for a house cleaning, providing needed relief from household chores. Last year, a trusted family friend offered to look after my mother for one afternoon each month, giving my sister an opportunity for much needed rest and relaxation.

4.Tips For Loved Ones Living In A Care Facility

While our family has not made the difficult decision of placing our mother in a care facility, I have friends in the Alzheimer’s – Dementia community who have.  They share these holiday care tips: 

alzheimers-frontpage

  • Never forget the holidays are still to be celebrated regardless of the location.
  • Join your loved one at facility-planned holiday activities
  • Bring the person a favorite holiday food to share
  • Visit your loved one on Christmas Day and other holidays

Final Thoughts –You Are Not Alone

Alzheimer's in the windIn the midst of the festive frenzy of people, the holidays can be lonely for the caregiver of a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association and the millions of us who have the honor of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia understand your loneness and we pledge to help you.

Go to Alzheimer’s Association webpage alz.org  Or call the 24/7 Alzheimer’s / Dementia Helpline at 800.272.3900 for help.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and thanks for all you do for your loved ones.

Living my best life with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's List

I don’t have Alzheimer’s but my mother has it; my grandmother had it.  Therefore, I am thinking that I may have a good chance of getting it. I write this not as a morbid fact; but rather as a factor that I must consider.  Similar to all the factors an aging man must consider like writing a will, obtaining life insurance and designating my final resting place.

So, while I don’t yet have Alzheimer’s, I think it would be fair to consider how I should live my best life in light of my family’s history.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that attacks the brain.   I have seen firsthand, the decline in the mental ability that transformed a highly intelligent, independent and functional woman into a dependent shrill; mounting a daily all-out struggle, using all her sizable intelligence, grit, and faculties to retain a sense of herself.  And it is in that daily struggle that my respect, adoration and love for my mother has grown each day.

So, it in her struggle, that I must consider how to live my best life with Alzheimer’s.    Here are some principals of that life I have developed:

1. I will put my total trust in God’s will

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

As mental ability declines, people with Alzheimer’s become almost completely dependent on others.  Clearly, I will have to depend on others, if I have Alzheimer’s.   However; God is who I will depend on.

2. I will accept the suffering but not with an attitude of defeat  

Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.” (Job 42:17) 

Despite his time of suffering, Job was restored by God and lived a fruitful life. I am under no allusions about the final outcome of my life; if I develop Alzheimer’s. However, I will not accept that God will allow the disease to defeat me.  Instead, whenever that may be, He will allow me to die like Job after a “full life”.

3. I will learn the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and will tell others.

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

End Alzheimer'sWhile the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s is about me; really, it is not about me.  It is about spreading the word to others and working to find a cure.  So I plan to use my voice, this blog space and other media to inform, educate and raise funds for a cure. As I seek to potentially live my best life with Alzheimer’s.

 

Marben Bland is a successful entrepreneur who brings his faith to his business life. Read more of his post on faith, business and life at www.marbenbland.com