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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Alzheimer’s Walk Season: I Challenge You…

Sedalia Memory Walk 1998
We are entering Walk to End Alzheimer’s season, and I challenge you to join the fight against Alzheimer’s by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s or donating $100 to support someone who is walking.

I first walked in 1998 with a small group—a couple from Slater, two people from the Alzheimer’s Association, and from Sedalia—Jim and me. Oh, let’s not forget the dog, Victoria. That was it, the Sedalia Memory Walk, 1998.

We are gearing up for Walk season and chipping away at our Sedalia Walk goal of $34,000. Our walk is one week from today—September 6. This morning, I went online and donated $100 in honor of Jim’s birthday. He would have been sixty-nine Wednesday.

Fundraising for a disease is hard work, and it seems that without a “fun challenge” it’s hard to compete for charity dollars. Social media has been abuzz about the ice bucket challenge for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The ice water videos have gone viral, netting $100 million in August for ALS. The movement is still going strong, and is in fact accelerating and gained over $65 million in one week. I’ve seen videos ranging from my grandchildren to mega-star celebrities like Dolly Parton.

I have to say that the ALS Association has been brilliant to latch onto the idea which they credit to Pete Frates, a 29-year-old former Boston College baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. The ALS Association sought to trademark the “Ice bucket challenge” but withdrew the applications after public concern.

Why the heck would the public be concerned? Well, for one thing, the ice bucket challenge began as a pro athlete’s stunt giving $100 to a charity of choice. The dousing began with golfer Greg Norman and motorcycle racer Jeremy McGrath. If you declined the challenge, you were supposed to give $100 to a charity of your choice.

ALS is a horrible disease and when the ice bucket challenge turned exclusively to ALS it gained attention and a huge amount of funding.  According to ALS’s fact sheet 12,000 people in the U.S. have the disease, and my heart goes out to those who suffer from this debilitating motor neuron disease.

Let’s shift to ALZ (Alzheimer’s). We weren’t clever enough to latch onto the ice bucket challenge. Our premier fundraiser is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Our 600 Walks nationwide support more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s. Nearly everyone you meet has lost a beloved relative or friend to this fatal disease. As we age, our chances of developing the disease increases to nearly fifty-percent. Every single one of us has a stake in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

So my challenge to all my family and friends is not to douse yourself with ice water, but to put on walking shoes and head to the nearest Walk to End Alzheimer’s. If you can’t participate in a walk, donate $100 to your local Walk, and then challenge five friends to Walk or donate $100. It is easy to donate online at www.alz.org/walk!

Okay, so I realize that isn’t nearly as much fun as watching someone get drenched with a bucket of ice water, but Alzheimer’s is a scary disease and without a cure, it will become even scarier in the next twenty years as we baby boomers age. So consider yourself challenged, and share the opportunity to End Alzheimer’s Now!

You can donate to Jim’s Team at act.alz.org/WalkSedalia.

copyright © August 2014 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Life Is Short, Live It

Love is rare, grab it.
A few days ago, I came across a saying that really struck home with me: “Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.” The person who came up with these words of wisdom is unknown, but it could be the story of my life, and perhaps yours.

When I was young, I thought life flowed forward with countless days of sunshine. I had that invincible conviction so common to the young. Eventually, I found out how short life was as the hard hand of death entered my life. Schoolmates died from terminal diseases when I was young. In early adulthood, the terminators included drug overdoses and car wrecks.

I also learned at an early age how rare true love is. Of course, I had my heart broken a few times, but when Jim entered my life, it was an entirely different experience. I found out what it meant to love and be loved without reservation, fearlessly, and with all my heart. Then, love blossomed with the birth of our sons, and later when our grandchildren were born.

Jim and I faced the world together, united. I had his back, and he always had mine. He was my protector, my best friend, and my love. When dementia struck, we faced the awful fear of the unknown along with the predictable outcome of the known. When Jim died, I was reminded of the shortness of life, the heartbreak of love lost, and the empty spot that replaced the part of myself that died.

I’ve never been a person to wallow in self-pity so I dumped the anger and began to pick up the pieces. I found happiness with my family and friends. I kept busy—oh, my, have I ever kept busy. My life became full and rich again.

That rare emotion, love, entered my life again, and I said “yes” to grabbing it. On Saturday, August 16, I took the final step to make my life complete when I married my longtime best friend, Harold.

My sons walking me down the aisle
We started our married life with a lovely ceremony surrounded by family. While honeymooning in Branson, we stopped at a scenic overlook. I offered to take a photo of two couples, older and younger. They offered to take a picture of us. When Harold retrieved our camera, he told them we had just married the day before. “Oh, are you going to start a family?” he asked Harold.

“We already have grandchildren,” Harold replied.

An only child, never married, Harold has inherited an instant, large family. My mom and I were talking about the change in his status recently. “I hope the shock doesn’t kill him,” she joked.

Sure, being married again is going to require adjustments for me. I still find it hard to think of Jim as “my first husband.” I’ll no longer have all the personal time that I’ve had in the past. And I’ll no longer have sole possession of the TV remote control. We have a few conflicts with what we record on our DVR’s—after all I don’t want to give up American Idol or The Voice.

In the big scheme of things, those are just minor adjustments. The major benefits of our marriage far outweigh the drawbacks. I now have someone to love—and he’ll always have my back, and I’ll have his. We have good times together, whether it’s working on a project, traveling, visiting family, watching TV, or sitting on the deck, drinking coffee, and playing with our dog Lucy.

Unity Sand Ceremony
Harold and I have joined hands to make one heart. During the unity sand ceremony on our wedding day, Pastor Burton said, “As these containers of sand are poured together, the individual containers will no longer exist, but will be joined as one. Just as these sands can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be a molding of two individual personalities, bonded together forming one heart, one love.”

What can I say? Life is good. I’ve been lucky in love, twice.

When I look back on my life thus far, I have a treasure chest of sweet memories stored in my brain. I appreciate the value of life, and love, and look forward to creating many more special moments.

copyright © August 2014 by L. S. Fisher
http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 10, 2014

You Are My Sunshine: Vitamin D and Alzheimer’s

What’s not to love about bright sunshiny summer days? Here it is summer and some of us have been soaking up the rays whether at the beach, the backyard, or while gardening. When ultraviolet rays shine on our skin, it triggers a vitamin D synthesis. 

When I was growing up, we did not have an air conditioner at home, so naturally we spent a lot of time outdoors. Times have changed, and air-conditioning is the norm. Now, we spend much more time indoors under the comfort of air-conditioning during sunshiny summer days.

This lifestyle change has brought about common deficiency of vitamin D in a huge portion of the population. Most of us know that vitamin D deficiency has consequences. Without an adequate level of it, we cannot absorb calcium which causes inadequate bone development in the young and bone loss as we grow older. This is why milk is fortified with vitamin D.

In addition to fortified milk, other sources of the sunshine vitamin are oily fish (salmon, mackerel, bluefish, and canned tuna). It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone.

The natural source is sunlight, but we have become afraid of the sun. We slather on sunscreen and avoid any exposure. When we do this, we no longer absorb essential vitamin D. The very reason we avoid the sun is to reduce the risk of cancer, but oddly enough, low levels of vitamin D increases cancer rates. Low levels of the sunshine vitamin are also linked to higher blood pressure, heart disease, and Type 1 diabetes in children.

In addition to previously known health issues associated with vitamin D deficiency, researchers have found a link between vitamin D and Alzheimer’s risk. People with moderate deficiencies of this essential vitamin have nearly a 70 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In severe deficiencies, this risk skyrockets to 122 percent.

Researchers believe that vitamin D helps rid cells of beta-amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the leading researchers in the study, David J. Llewellyn, University of Exeter Medical School, said, “It seems to be that vitamin D was actually helping to break down and take away those protein abnormalities.”

Doctor Michael Holick, Boston University, who is an expert on vitamin D recommends stocking up on vitamin D during the summer. He suggests five to ten minutes two or three times a week outdoors between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. wearing minimal clothing and without sunscreen except for the face. Sun deprived people, and breast fed infants, should take a supplement.

Summer will soon be over, so now is the time to stock up on the sunshine vitamin. Just remember, moderation, moderation, moderation!

copyright © August 2014 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com