Confabulation, Alcohol Abuse, and Alcohol-Related Dementia

Confabulation breaks trustOne of the lifelong struggles we, as human beings, do – or should be doing – battle with is being consistently honest both with ourselves (I submit this may be the hardest part of this battle because our capacity for self-deception seems to have no limits) and with others.

I have written here before about the interconnected relationship between honesty and trust. When we are dishonest with someone, we break their trust. Continue reading

Hospitalization, Delirium, and Dementia

Hospitalization for our elderly loved ones can begin or deepen cognitive impairment and dementia and this is linked to deliriumFor our elderly loved ones who are hospitalized, one of the frequent but often unexpected results is delirium. The onset of delirium can occur within hours of hospitalization, or it can emerge gradually throughout the length of the hospitalization.

As medical advocates for our elderly loved ones, we need to be aware of and understand all the possible causes of delirium resulting from hospitalization because delirium can either initiate permanent cognitive decline – dementia – or it can exacerbate cognitive decline in cases where cognitive impairment already exists. Continue reading

Profiles in Dementia: Helen French Garrison (1930 – 2017)


Helen Garrison as a young womanOne of my best and closest friends, who is a sister to me and I to her, lost her mom, Helen French Garrison, to dementia on Sunday, January, 29, 2017.

While my friend shares many traits and characteristics with her dad, she shares just as many with her mom, including, to name a few, her mom’s Southern charm, her grace, her kindness, and her generosity.

Helen Garrison was a beautiful lady inside and out. I’m thankful that both Mama and I had the honor of calling her both family and friend.

In tribute to Helen, and with the family’s permission, this profile in dementia is written by my friend about her mom and her dad, who faithfully and lovingly kept his in-sickness-and-in-health promise as Helen’s primary caregiver during her long journey through dementia, and their lives together as husband and wife.

Lloyd Helen Garrison wedding day“I’ve always been so thankful for the blessing of my devoted, loving, godly parents. And this week I’m thankful to have been with them for the final days of my mother’s life. In the past few days my dad has been recalling and sharing so many stories and memories of their life together. They were a very special couple who worked together to keep their promise of for better or worse, til death. Together they brought up two children and are the grandparents of six and great grandparents of nine. Now my dad is trying to figure out where to go from here. After 64 ½ years of marriage, he has to change his mindset from “we” to “I” – quite a challenge for him at age 87.

My mother was born February 20, 1930 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At the age of twelve, she moved with her parents and sister Blondie to Sheffield, Alabama where she finished her schooling. In 1952 she graduated with every honor from Florence State Teachers College, now the University of North Alabama, with a teaching degree.

Three months later she married Lloyd Garrison, and they moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where he was stationed at the Air Force Base. When he was discharged, they returned home to Alabama where my brother and I grew up.

Mother taught elementary school for decades and was much loved by her students and their parents. After retiring from teaching, she ran the office for the very busy Garrison Electric Company which my dad started. She was energetic and full of life, love, and joy which she radiated to her family, students and friends. Also, she was an amazing hostess and cook, and she thrived on having groups of friends and family over for meals and fun. She hosted many family Thanksgiving, Mother’s and Father’s Day and anniversary events! For our pre-wedding dinner for family and wedding party members, she killed, skinned, and cooked a dozen chickens in addition to all the side dishes and dessert!

Interestingly, my mother’s many strengths and talents were my dad’s growth or challenge areas, and conversely, my dad’s many outstanding talents were my mother’s growth areas. They relied on each other, and together they made the complete package!

Lloyd and Helen Garrison in their golden yearsOf course this is a bittersweet time for our family — the bitterness of the loss and void, and the sweetness that finally Mother is at peace, no longer struggling and suffering. We are focusing on the many cherished memories of life with such an outstanding loving and beautiful lady. And we rely on our faith in the promises of God that we will see her again.

Helen French Garrison died on January 29, 2017.”

Antidepressant Use and the Increased Risk of Developing Dementia

The Link Between Antidepressants and Dementia is Becoming More EvidentSeveral studies released recently – here we will focus on two of them: one a two-year study with a large group of elderly (over 65 years of age) participants and the a broader study tracking neurological changes associated with dementia that included participants of all ages – have raised significant red flags about the use of antidepressants and the increased risk of dementia associated with that. Continue reading

Book Review: “He Wanted The Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter’s Quest to Know Him” – Mimi Baird

He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know HimHe Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter’s Quest to Know Him by Mimi Baird
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will break your heart in a lot of ways, but I highly recommend it.

Mimi Baird’s father mysteriously disappeared from her life at age 6 without any real explanation from anyone, including her mother, as to why. The oldest of the three Baird children, Mimi had the only vivid memories of her dad, of their connection, and, subsequently, she alone felt and mourned his sudden absence the most. Continue reading

A Force Was With Us and What A Force She Was – Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016)

Carrie FisherAlthough this post may not seem relevant on a blog devoted to caregiving and the myriad aspects and factors that come into play in the development of dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, I assert that, in many ways, it is entirely appropriate.

It serves as both a cautionary tale, which Fisher herself told in many ways and many times over the course of the last 30 or so years, and as a fond goodbye to a lady, who despite her many mistakes and many flaws, has left a legacy of character traits to respect. Continue reading

Good Sleep: A Key Factor in Neurological Health

How much sleep and the quality of that sleep plays a key role in the health of the brainSleep – how much and the quality of it – has a profound and lifelong impact on the brain. When we get enough sleep and that sleep is deeply restful, the brain does beneficial housecleaning that sweeps away the toxins and waste products that accumulate in the spaces between brain cells during our waking hours.

Many of these toxins, including the beta amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, if not removed, are directly responsible for neurological damage and decline, resulting in eventual cognitive impairment and dementia. Continue reading