Breaking the Stigma of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia One Story at a Time

This past weekend I attended a volunteer recognition reception hosted by the Maine Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association. Bob O’Keefe, from North Waterboro, won the Marilyn Paige Founders Award and Deborah Johnson, from Harrison, won the Robert Stram Award for Advocacy. Volunteers in general are remarkable people, in my opinion, but these two individuals blew me away.
Read More

Thanksgiving and Dementia. Yes, Still Cause for a Family Celebration

Your mother always cooked a huge Thanksgiving meal for the whole family and your father was always there at the head of the table, carving the turkey. This year is different because your mother has dementia. You and your father are her primary caregivers and are both determined to celebrate Thanksgiving just like your mother did — complete with all the fixings and Thanksgiving traditions.
Read More

Dementia: Creating Happy Memories at the Hairdresser

As far back as I can remember, my mother Beverly always curled her hair. Way back, it was pin curls. Who remembers pin curls? Then she switched to rollers. Before she went anywhere, she had to “put her hair up.” Here she is about 20 years ago, in her mid 60s.
Read More

Caregivers: Take a Moment Just for You

As Sid Halligan slipped deeper and deeper into Alzheimer’s disease, his wife Ginny realized that if she wasn’t careful, she might lose her own identity. He was 73 when they got the diagnosis, and 82 when he died last January. Until the last five months of his life, which he spent in a nursing home, Ginny took care of her husband at home.
Read More

Alzheimer’s: How to Make Mealtimes Easier

My mother, who has Alzheimer’s, loves chocolate. She always has, as far back as I can remember. She would never buy herself just one chocolate bar, opting for the entire box instead. She went through phases. For a long time, it was Hershey Bars, which she liked to eat soft and nearly melted. When she switched to Peanut Butter Cups, she preferred them icy cold from the freezer. These days my mother’s chocolate of choice is Kit Kat Bars, and beware the wrath of Beverly if you deny her that pleasure. We tried. That was before we had come to understand the world of Alzheimer’s disease. Her doctor said she needed to cut back because it wasn’t good for her and she was gaining weight. I told everyone, “If you take Mom shopping, don’t let her buy a lot of Kit Kats. Steer her away from the candy aisle. Doctor’s
Read More

Alzheimer’s Disease: A Walk with My Mother

She still has far more sense than I will ever have. My mother. Who has Alzheimer’s disease. We decided that it was a lovely day for a walk along the ocean on Portland’s Eastern Promenade Trail. The sun was out. It was really warm. My mother reached into the closet for her fleece jacket. “Ma,” I said as brightly as the sun was shining. “It’s too warm for that jacket. How about something lighter?” “No,” she called over her shoulder with equal brightness. “I’m always cold when other people aren’t. This will be just right. Are you sure  you’ll be warm enough?” On the promenade we rolled into the last available parking space and I hefted her wheelchair out of the trunk, shocked at how chilly it was. I grabbed my thin sweater in the back seat. Why is it that my mother is ALWAYS right?
Read More

Alzheimer’s: Just One Cause of Dementia

If you are confused about the connection between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, you are not alone. The simplest explanation is that Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. We’ll get to other causes in a moment. First a definition of dementia, which is actually a collection of symptoms, or a syndrome, according to Darlene Field, an Alzheimer Care Consultant who works with Advantage Home Care. 
Read More

Alzheimer’s and the Jigsaw Puzzle

An 80-piece jigsaw puzzle. No problem for a 9-year-old. Bit of a challenge for an 86-year-old with Alzheimer’s. My mother loves puzzles. The lower shelf of her plant stand is filled with ones she bought just over the past year at yard sales and second hand stores. Boxes brimming with intricate, tiny pieces — 500, 1000, 2000. As soon as she got home, she’d sit down at her card table and, following the simple strategy she had perfected decades ago, began separating the edge pieces. She would start with gusto and intense concentration, but I think she only managed to finish one of the smaller ones, and not without some help. Before long, it wasn’t doing the puzzles that brought her pleasure anymore, it was finding ones that she liked and adding them to her growing collection.
Read More

Welcome to Our Blog: Aging in Place

Advantage Home Care is happy to provide a blog about aging in place and issues affecting the elderly — whether it be safety, dementia, deciding when more care is needed or when to take the car keys. Please take a look through our posts. We think they are helpful for caregivers and others. We welcome your comments and suggestions for new blog entries. Click on the title of any blog entry to read the entire article. We’d love to hear your stories about aging, whether you are the person who is being cared for or you are the caregiver. You can add comments to any blog entry. Thank you!
Read More

The Holidays Aren’t What They Used to Be

I come from a big family — eight kids. We’re all adults now, with our own families and our own holiday traditions. But no matter how old you are, the traditions you grew up with are an important part of who you are. And so, if something interferes with the way things always were, it can be very unsettling. Before I go any further, let me introduce myself. My name is Diane Atwood and I have the privilege of writing the Advantage Home Care Blog.
Read More