As we approach Memorial Day, many will be gathering with family and enjoying the outdoors. Those who have family members with dementia, whether from Alzheimer’s or other reasons, need to take this opportunity to make their own day special.

The focus of Memorial Day is “memories” and ironically that’s the one area that seems to slip away from those who are aging with dementia. However, if you have family gathering for one day out of the special weekend I’d like to point out some ways to bring your loved one into the action without causing upheaval. Some things to remember when dealing with a dementia patient:

• Let those you know and will be with during your picnic or celebration that your loved one is suffering from dementia. Ask for an extra set of eyes to just keep an eye and make sure that your loved one doesn’t wander. This will let you drop your own guard a little bit.
• Take the time to introduce your loved one to everyone they are sitting by. Remind them who the person is and if possible what relation they are to the person. They may not remember but they won’t feel as lost if you continue to address people by name.
• Remind them who people are. Tell others that when they approach your loved one to let them know who they are, even if they’ve been “introduced” a number of times throughout the day.
• Make sure that before you leave your home your loved one has their clothing marked with their name & your cell phone (which should be kept with you at all times). If they should wander away & the police find them they will look for information on their clothing. If at all possible, have an ID bracelet made for them that is fairly difficult for them to get off. If you can get them to wear all of the time as a part of their daily outfit, it can be a life saver. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a bracelet engraved with the words Dementia Patient – a contact & if possible their first name. Basically you want to make sure that if they wander off & are found, someone understands that they are a dementia patient and who they belong to.
• Bring items that will keep your loved one busy. Remember that it is often like taking a toddler with you. Most parents would pack a bag of items needed for their child to keep them busy; the same should apply during outings with dementia patients. 


-from Blue Ridge Now
Henderson County resident Gary Stammer was part of a group that recently traveled to the state capitol to advocate for services and funding for Alzheimer’s disease.

N.C. State Advocacy Day, hosted by the western and eastern North Carolina chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association, was held March 22 in Raleigh. The day included meetings with state legislators and an advocacy session.

“I advocate for efforts to improve support services and prevent Alzheimer’s disease because of the severe challenges faced by caregivers and patients living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” Stammer stated in a news release from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Stammer and other Alzheimer’s advocates shared with elected officials their top priorities, which include:

Supporting House Bill 456, which requires dementia training for all skilled nursing facilities’ direct-care workers.
Expanding home- and community-based services in response to the poor health outcomes that impact caregivers due to stress. The N.C. Alzheimer’s State Plan calls for a 10 percent additional appropriation, bringing the 2018 total to $806,000, and to be increased by an additional 10 percent a year for the next nine years.
Making Alzheimer’s a public health priority in 2018 in North Carolina in response to the large and growing burden of this disease. The group requested a budgetary appropriation of $250,000 to the N.C. Department of Public Health to include Alzheimer’s data on the N.C. Department of Health website, to introduce public health education programs on Alzheimer’s in North Carolina, and to create public awareness campaigns in rural and minority communities.
“NC State Advocacy Day 2018 was a tremendous opportunity for the public and those affected by Alzheimer’s to take action and speak up for the needs and rights of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families,” Katherine L. Lambert, CEO of the Western Carolina Chapter, stated in the release. “We appreciate everyone who took the time to join us and participate in turning North Carolina purple for Alzheimer’s.”

An estimated 5.7 million Americans, including 170,000 North Carolina residents, are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That number is expected to grow to 16 million by 2050.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease or the Alzheimer’s Association Western Carolina Chapter, visit or call 800-272-3900.

Fitness DVDs
There are plenty of exercise DVDs that offer 10 minute workouts. These are perfect for people who have only a few minutes to spare each day or for people who are just getting into a daily routine. Check out the reviews before you purchase though, as with all things, some are significantly better than others. Reviews will often tell you whether the exercise stress a certain area.
Swimming is the best exercise for toning up your whole body as you are working almost every muscle you have. If your swimming skills leave much to be desired then perhaps try water aerobics. As you’ll be under water and essentially ‘weightless’, it will be much easier to do simple exercises and easier on the joints. Check for local classes.
Going on a walk together is one of the best basic ways to stay healthy. It is also a great time to talk with your loved one, reminiscing or just hearing about their day.
Asking about “the old times” as you stroll can be a fun thing for both parties. Enjoy pointing out the flowers and trees as they come to life this spring! Just get outside and have fun.


To Help Others, One Couple Talks About Life With

Early-Onset Alzheimer's-It’s not a fun topic when you find out that you have Alzheimer’s. But it must be discussed as a family and that’s what this couple did. They shared their experience with NPR, so that they may be of help to others who re finding themselves in this same situation.

"We're facing a lot of practical questions about finances and wills and whether Bella will keep working or retire," he says in the first episode of the podcast. "And we're facing personal questions as our relationship is challenged by this. And as we react to the changes it brings." After a pause, he adds, "It's a journey."

See more here.


Holidays are great times to get the older folks in your life invigorated and enthusiastic. Here are a few ideas for the next upcoming holiday-
St. Patrick’s Day.

Dress Up
Put on green and take them out on the town! Go to lunch or dinner, a parade or an activity where they can be seen inter green finery.

Have an Irish-themed meal
Choose traditional Irish Foods or just choose green foods! Make sure they are foods of interest to your elders. Decorate the room or table with shamrocks or other St. Patrick’s items. Invite others over and make a party of it!

Play Bingo
Who doesn’t love Bingo? St. Patrick’s Day bingo boards are available online, or just use regular bingo boards and have small prizes available. Shamrocks. little pots of gold candies, a four leaf clover pin are a few prize ideas.

Make a Craft
This can range from making a four leaf clover pressed bookmark to painting a flower pot and planting a shamrock. You can also consider a photo album of photos you have taken and printed out earlier in the day.