Barbara Louise Foraker, 73, passed away during the early morning hours of 21 October 2017. Natural causes, stemming from her ongoing battle with Lewy Body Dementia, contributed to her death. She endured a rapid and unexpected decline in her health over the past month, after experiencing a fall. Continue reading
As time passes between my parents’ deaths, I find more and more Daddy and Mama are together, the two of them and sometimes with my sisters and and sometimes just with me, but we all seem to be younger, when our lives were more together than they are now and we shared the little things that glued us together.
Robin Williams was a man of great intellectual depth and many diverse talents. He burst on the scene as the quirky, but engaging Mork on the TV series Mork and Mindy in the late 1970’s. It was clear even then that his talent was bigger than the small screen could contain, and he quickly made the transition to the big screen in films that brought him great acclaim (Dead Poet’s Society, Awakenings, Good Morning, Vietnam, and What Dreams May Come, to name a few) as a serious actor, writer, and producer.
Williams, a graduate of Julliard, began his career as a stand-up comedian. His style was unique: rapid-fire, insightful, and always extremely funny with the undercoating of serious truths lying just beneath the humor.
Early in Williams’ career, he battled the same demons of drug and alcohol abuse that seem to disproportionately haunt the most talented among us mere mortals. He successfully overcame both, but I am inclined to believe that the years of substance abuse were a contributing factor to his development of Lewy Body dementia in the couple of years of his life.
Williams’ widow, Sharon Schneider Williams, recently wrote an essay (published in the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology) describing her husband’s last year as Lewy Body dementia consumed his brain.
It is hard at times to read (I saw many things there that I saw in my own mom’s Lewy Body dementia), but it captures the essence of Lewy Body dementia in real time in a way I have not seen described before.
Robin Williams, unable to continue to humanly fight the unseen, but increasingly-threatening terrorist that had permanently taken his brain hostage, took his own life on August 11, 2014.
This is the second part of a three-part series that looks at the latest research into Lewy Body dementia (click here to read Part 1 of this series). My goal in presenting this research is to try to make it understandable and accessible so that we as caregivers of our loved ones who have Lewy Body dementia can have better insights into what is happening neurologically and why it is happening.
You might ask why this matters. Perhaps the vast majority of the people who subscribe to this blog and follow it on the various social media venues, yet seldom ever actually read the posts, don’t really care about the details, preferring instead to read pithy or “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” posts that decry or moan about the day-in-day-out behaviors of these neurological diseases that always end up asking “why?”
The irony never escapes me that many of those people are subscribed to and/or follow this blog which, along with the two books I’ve written, not only gives the “whys,” but also gives practical application information about how to address and respond to the things they and their loved ones are experiencing. Continue reading
Today, February 7, 2016, the 50th Super Bowl game in NFL (National Football League) history will be played by the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss the other dark and dangerous side of this football game – and all the ones played before and all the ones that will be played after – before it is played.
Super Bowl games have become extravagant and lavish productions in the last ten years or so, intended to bring into the audience people who normally either don’t have interest in the game or don’t normally watch football. Super Bowl games also represent an obscenely huge financial windfall for the NFL and for advertisers with enough money to pay for the coveted and outrageously expensive advertising spots during the game. Continue reading
In my profile of William Shakespeare’s character, King Lear, from the play of the same name, it was clear that Lear was suffering from dementia and, most probably, Lewy Body dementia.
So I thought I’d share my review of The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro to get a wider perspective on the year that saw Shakespeare give a title character in one of his plays many of the behaviors and symptoms of advanced cognitive impairment and Lewy Body dementia.
This book explores how the world around Shakespeare (beginning with the Gunpowder Plot on November 5, 1605 – now commemorated annually in England as “Guy Fawkes’ Day” – which had deep political and religious roots) during the early part of the reign of King James I, with an especially tumultuous year in 1606, influenced his writing that year.
Much of what was going on politically, socially, and emotionally in England at the time is reflected in the lines of King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra, all of which are among Shakespeare’s tragedy plays and all of which Shakespeare wrote in 1606.
The Gunpowder Plot in late 1605 triggered much of the political and religious climate that overshadowed 1606. The plot, engineered by English Catholics who feared greater persecution – they got it – and more “do-or-die” pressure to abandon their Catholicism – a prescient fear even they didn’t realize the extent or depths of of James I – underscored the continued intense subterranean battle between England’s Catholics and Protestants.
While the plot was thwarted by the usual treachery and intrigue (it would have obliterated much of the heart of London government – buildings and people – and would have significantly changed the overall physical landscape of London), James I – as King of Scotland first, he was viewed as an interloper by much of the English population – reacted ferociously with a wide net that touched every English citizen, including Shakespeare, determined to have his will – the union of Scotland and England under one umbrella – no matter what he had to do to make it happen.
It seems James I did everything he could to alienate his English subjects, including moving, by disinterring, the graves of the royals in Westminster Abbey.
Most notably, he disinterred Elizabeth I and buried her on top of Mary I (“Bloody Mary,” the religiously-fanatical daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, whose main accomplishment on the throne was a religious pogrom against Protestants, of whom Elizabeth I was one), then moved his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots (one of Elizabeth’s staunchest rivals for the English throne), into Elizabeth’s grave and giving her a greater position of status in the cemetery.
Shakespeare, who lived in the heart of London most of the year, had a front row seat to all of this as part of the King’s Men, who were patronized by the crown, as they had been during Elizabeth I’s reign.
1606 was a year of fear (the plague hit London particularly hard during 1606, adding to the political and religious fear that was rampant in the city) and division (political and religious) and nostalgia (although by the end of her long reign the English believed Elizabeth I’s rule had become stagnant, the actions of James I made them long for her “good old days”) that punctuated the year.
I highly recommend this book even for people who may not know or really appreciate the incredible talent and acute, heart-of-the-matter insight that Shakespeare brought as a writer to his plays. Perhaps it will be a catalyst to go and read at least these three plays through the eyes of 1606.
In 2015, a significant amount of research was dedicated to better understanding what I believe is the least understood of the major types of dementia. That type of dementia is Lewy Body dementia.
This post will will begin to summarize the findings of this latest research in way that is both accessible and will hopefully better educate us as caregivers of loved ones with Lewy Body dementia. Continue reading