Articles/interviews

Articles/Interviews

     July 12, 2014     http://bit.ly/1kRT7J2          

Perception, Loss of Memory and The Brain  

                               
How Do We Remember And Why Do We Forget         
                             
The premise of the TNT series Perception surrounds a Dr. Daniel Pierce, a brilliant schizophrenic neuropsychiatrist.  Because of his precise powers of observation and deduction he serves as a consultant for the FBI. In a recent episode that aired 7/2/14, Dr. Pierce’s character describes memory beautifully.

“The brain stores memories in different ways.  Short term memory, where you left your keys…are managed by the hippocampus. But the hippocampus doesn’t keep them for long.  It kicks them out to the cortex where they strengthen or weaken depending on how often you visit them.

Every time you access a memory, neurons are activated and that memory grows stronger.  But ignore a memory too long and you may loose it forever…

Even for all its incredible power, that tangled mass of neurons that you call your brain is a remarkably fragile organ. Take it out of its bone helmet and it’s just Jello vulnerable to the slightest wound…

The hippocampus, by the way, is a seahorse shaped formation in the brain that is involved in the establishment of new memories and consolidating information from short to long-term memory.

In Alzheimer’s disease the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage; memory loss and disorientation are included among the early symptoms.

Traditional Memory

To shore up important or quasi-important information like your boss’s spouse’s name, repeating it either silently or out loud helps to reinforce memory and recall. If that memory is not used again it certainly will fade away in the future. Your new garage door code however it reused repeatedly, solidifying the memory in your cortex. Sounds benign enough, right? Not so fast! Some recollections of relatively little significance are imbedded in cement and may never fade away.

Enter, the Adrenaline Rush

I can vividly recall every detail right down to the boring, sage green institutional wallpaper in my OB/GYN’s office the day I found out I was having twins. That was 36 years ago in real time and yesterday in my brain.

From the moment the receptionist saw me, to being ushered down the hall, to the sign she scribbled with the word TWINS that she not so discreetly held up for the doctor to read, to the non verbal head nods and smiles shared between various staff and finally the exact moment after sitting down in his office when he uttered the words “The ultrasound shows you are having twins.”

My memory of that day and especially those 15 minutes is chiseled in my cortex! I can still play it out in my head. It’s understandable that literally five days before they were born and I found out there were two, was an experience I’m not likely to forget. This unexpected news had a lifelong impact! But depending on how old you are, you remember the events of 911, where you were when the space shuttle exploded or when Kennedy was shot. However horrifically tragic these events do not impact our lives as directly, so why exactly do we remember them?       Adrenaline!

“Professor of neurobiology James McGaugh, University of California at Irvine, is credited with the research that Adrenaline is the glue for long-term memory, it makes our brain remember better. If you recall being rejected, insulted, threatened or failing, you can still retrieve those memories because of Adrenaline. http://www.meetingsupport.org/node/715

Adrenaline is released in the “Flight or Fight” scenario where we face fear, trauma, stress, shock; your heart may race or you just stop whatever you’re doing to process gut wrenching news and wonderful surprises!

Alzheimer’s Changes

Alzheimer’s Disease plays serious havoc with the hippocampus causing it to shrink.  Because of this hippocampal atrophy, indications of memory impairments are often early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. And the cortex steadily shrivels up too with Alzheimer’s, damaging the precious areas involved in thinking, planning and remembering.

These pathological changes destroy the very essence of the individual by robbing them of the memories that has made up there entire life.  It trusts them into a “reality (that is) anything but real.”  (I Will Never Forget, Chapter 38 Houdini Mom)  Judgment, rational thinking, personality and everything else that defines and separates one person from another, dissolves.
If you’re reading this post, you know exactly what I mean.  Like you, I’ve lived the very real, very ugly, very powerful journey of accompanying my mom through Alzheimer’s. But I love this line from the song by 3.8 Special.  It helped me get through the roughest days.“Hold on loosely but don’t let go.”

   

     June 8, 2014             http://bit.ly/1oZrvqe

Maintaining Connections

 As Your Loved One Declines, Show Up; Don’t Give Up!

Although Alzheimer’s affects individuals differently, there are irrefutable common threads.  One of the most disturbing outcomes is when the individual no longer “knows” their loved ones. Indeed they may reach a point when they can’t “say” the name of their family member, but they probably still “know” them.

From I Will Never Forget:

Mom’s recovery from surgery was painfully slow. Her first audible words didn’t come (for days).  “That feels good,” she mumbled when I rubbed lotion on her face, but her voice was raspy and weak.

“How do you handle it?” Mom’s nurse for the day, Carol, asked me.

“Handle what?” I honestly didn’t know what she was referring to.

“That your mom doesn’t know you?”

Unbeknownst to me, Carol had overheard me on several occasions ask my mom who I was. Mom’s responses had been either absent or inaudible. Carol offered that her father had early-onset Alzheimer’s and that his not recognizing her was the worst part of the disease. It was my biggest nightmare too. Mom had known me, but since her surgery, I hadn’t gotten anything.

The next day, after applying lotion to Mom’s pitifully dry skin, I tried again to jump-start her recollection of my familiar face. This time, however, when I asked Mom who I was, she finally answered, “Elaine.” I smiled and was reminded of Carol’s question just the day before. So far, anyway, I was still accessible to her fleeting and failing memory.

It is emotionally draining to watch your loved one with Alzheimer’s slowly fade away, helpless to change the outcome.  There is very little validation or reward for you from them.  As painful as their blank stare, mumbling, or “who are you” is to experience or hear, having a better understanding of the disease process and why this occurs, is critical to acceptance and continuing to visit.

Show Up, Don’t Give Up!

Alzheimer’s is a very real neurological disease!  In one way or another our brain controls and/or coordinates absolutely everything we do!  Tragically, as with virtually every neurological disorder, language is adversely affected by Alzheimer’s.  Meaningful verbalization wanes dramatically as Alzheimer’s progresses, sometimes to virtual silence. Although Alzheimer’s may rob a person of their voice, not every mechanism of awareness and expression is destroyed.  Other forms of communication are still viable and vital.

Case in point: From I Will Never Forget:

Then slowly, subtly, a very distinct, bright glimmer of awareness came over Mom.  She sat up, leaned forward, and looked purposefully at Christie (her granddaughter) with Lillian (great granddaughter) sitting on her lap. Mom’s piercing blue eyes had not shown so brightly for some time…There was absolutely no doubt that my mom recognized Christie or, at the very least, knew Christie was an important person to her.

It’s not easy.  It’s not always enjoyable and it’s certainly not always validating to show up to visit your loved one with Alzheimer’s, but don’t give up. Their mumbled speech may be the only verbalization they still have, so make better eye contact. Their flailing arm movements may be more purposeful if you engage them with family photos.    

 

April 24 , 2014       http://bit.ly/1mMp35M Multitasking And Memory Skills

The Two May Be Mutually Exclusive

My six-year-old grandson is consistently better than I am at the memory games!  We have played enough times by now that I know it’s not a fluke and I am not letting him win either.  But why? An article written by Matt Richtel entitled Multitasking Takes Toll on Memory, Study Finds may shed some light on why I’m less adept at childhood memory games and other short term attention tasks. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/multitasking-takes-toll-on-memory-study-finds/

A growing body of research shows that juggling many tasks, as so many people do in this technological era, can divide attention and hurt learning and performance. Does it also hinder short-term memory?

That’s the implication of a study being published on Monday (4/11/11) in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, a respected journal. The research shows that multitasking takes a significantly greater toll on the working memory of older people.

Researchers said the key finding of the new study is that people between the ages of 60 and 80 have significantly more trouble remembering tasks after experiencing a brief interruption than do people in their 20s and 30s.

“As your brain ages, it’s harder to get back to the task at hand after an interruption.”

Dr. Gazzaley’s study looked at a type of memory called working memory, which is considered a precious and finite resource that people tap into when they are engaged in a task, like doing a work project or having a conversation.

But Dr. Gazzaley said the study sheds more light on the reasons that short-term memories seem suddenly to go empty, as when someone stands in front the refrigerator, forgetting what it is he went to get.

“Events such as these increase in frequency as we get older — the classic senior moment. We now understand that this is not necessarily a memory problem per se, but often the result of an interaction between attention and memory,” he said. “For example, a phone call or text that interrupts us on the way to the refrigerator will negatively impact our ability to remember what we were going to the refrigerator to get in the first place.”

From personal experience it’s not always a literal interruption that distracts me from remembering what I wanted from the refrigerator, but simply allowing my thoughts to drift to something else, like what’s next on my to-do list.

I’m great a multitasking. Balancing three or four activities at once is not a challenge. My son-in-law is pretty amazing in the simultaneous skills department also. I’ve watched him balance his thirteen month old on his left hip with his left arm tightly cradled around the toddler while flipping pancakes with his right. And intermittently he was juggling drinks and using the side of a fork to cut pancakes for his other two kids.
But we and other multi-taskers are possibly doomed to have declining working memories as we age. Balancing physical activities like flipping pancakes and pouring drinks does not adversely tap the brain’s concentration and attention.
However, answering a question, jotting down a reminder note to ourselves, or mediating a squabble between the kids over their deafening non-stop protests does zap our “precious and finite working memory”.
This is a warning I plan to heed, as should the rest of you, as I am so guilty of perceiving down time as wasted time and usually have two or three concentration heavy projects underway at any given time. If Dr. Gazzaley’s study is correct long term, before I/we exhaust our possibly finite working memory, we need to step away from the keyboard, take a deep breath and clear our head, before it’s empty!

PS:  Just for the fun of it, I asked my multitasking wizard son-in-law and my one-thing-at-a-time-only daughter to play several rounds of memory games with my grandson and record the score.  Although my casual “study” doesn’t meet any statistical standards, it was nevertheless interesting that my daughter can match wits with her son much better (8 wins in 10 games) than Dad.  My son-in-law lost 5 out of 7 matches.  Maybe further study is in order!

 

           April 15, 2014            http://bit.ly/1hFRXm7

Accepting Alzheimer’s 

Why Being Cloaked in Denial Doesn’t Help.  

There are many diseases and medical conditions that we fear: a diagnosis of cancer, heart attack, stroke and many more of course. Most conditions have at least some treatment or lifestyle management options, however there are exceptions.
And one of those “exceptions” is Alzheimer’s. Quoting Dr. Oz, “Soon there will be two kinds of people in the world. Persons that have Alzheimer’s and persons that know someone that has Alzheimer’s.” If we’re not already there, we will be very soon. And, being brutally honest, Alzheimer’s is a fatal, progressive, neurological disease from which no one recovers.
It’s not easy to accept the void created when someone you have known for decades may no longer know you, when their memory fades into an abyss and their reality is anything but real. It’s natural that we grab hold of denial, hoping their memory will get better or at least not worse, all the while wrestling with the gnawing truth that they won’t improve, ever!
We try rationalization, logic, reasoning, any and all methods we can employ to preserve their waning essence. Fighting the winless battle of how Alzheimer’s Disease affects our loved one is not only frustrating, it’s futile and wastes precious time better spent engaging in the moment.
Like many situations over which we have little or no control, the operative word is Acceptance. We may not be able to stop the moving train of dissolution that Alzheimer’s creates, but we can jump aboard and ride it to the end. It’s tough.
I know;  I’ve been there. I rambled on and on trying to convince my mom that no one had stealthily snuck into her apartment to steal a roll of stamps – surely misplaced, again – or her black shoes – next to the bed in plain sight – and the coup de grace, a piece of lint! “It was right there,” she snarled, poking the chair armrest over and over.  It was a ridiculous waste of time and energy on my part.
When I finally experienced the proverbial epiphany, a story so laden with drama and absurdity it would take a chapter in a book to tell (oh wait, I wrote that chapter already in I Will Never Forget)  acceptance made all the difference.
Mom had Alzheimer’s. There. I said it!  And with acceptance came a peace. I could not change the outcome, but I could accompany Mom on her journey and be there every step of the way. I found tapping Mom’s past brought some harmony in her disposition.  She smiled when I asked about my grandmother, Mom’s mom, who died when I was six.
She shared snippets of her childhood, things I didn’t know, and stories of her brothers and goofy older sister. The shared moments were fleeting sometimes, and truthfully sometimes absent. But on her good days it was delightful to see her calmer and engaged.

Acceptance is not complacency. 

We still need to advocate for the ones we care about, who can no longer advocate for themselves. We still need to visit, engage, talk to and with, touch, smile, sing to – they won’t notice or care that your voice really should never leave the privacy of your shower or car – connect via every avenue there is with them and often.

Denial and ignorance circumvent the truth and just leave frustration in its wake.  Acceptance, however, empowers us into action in enriching and productive ways.

 

         March 17, 2014    http://ow.ly/uZftR

‘I Will Never Forget’, Award Winning Dementia Memoir By Elaine Pereira Achieves Top Amazon Rankings 

[Detroit MI, March 26, 2014]   ‘I Will Never Forget’, the multi-award winning dementia memoir by Elaine Pereira, recently took the number one position on Amazon in its genre!

Elaine Pereira has written the one book on Dementia that no one else could write. She is a daughter who has lived the Dementia drama, an occupational therapist who understands the neurology and an unwavering caregiver. Pereira’s exclusive perspective has enabled her to produce a one-of-a-kind book about Dementia that encompasses several uniquely special approaches.

While most authors unveil theirs stories chronologically, Pereira’s memoir unfolds in dynamic and creative time shifts, revealing her mother’s decline in a “then and now” format, transitioning beautifully between past and present. “I’m thrilled, ecstatic and humbled,” Pereira stated, “to have finally achieved this prestigious milestone and also grateful to all the supporters who made it happen. 

Like most authors, I have worked tirelessly to promote my Mother’s Story as it is Everyone’s Story.Truthfully my mother’s journey through dementia was difficult, bewildering but also touching as those who have walked in my shoes understand so well.  Alzheimer’s is a horrific disease that robs us of our loved ones and ‘I Will Never Forget’ is a tribute to caregivers everywhere.  As I donate from each book sold to further Alzheimer’s awareness and research, rising to the top spot helps me help others.”

While Dementia is a serious disease not to be trivialized, Pereira believes there are humorous one-liners and anecdotes in all of life’s dramas. She blends her mother’s Dementia induced tragic mishaps, episodes of illogical thinking and agitated behaviors with tasteful hilarity as well as her ridiculous but funny remarks.

The end result is a book about Dementia that is unlike any other book on Dementia ever written. ‘I Will Never Forget – A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous And Humorous Journey Through Dementia’ has received numerous, high-level industry awards. 

 

 

So the next time you engage in a conversation with someone with dementia, broaden your interpretation of what’s said.

Don’t Take Them Quite So Literally. Our ability to use language, specifically the spoken, read and heard word, is what defines us as humans. Language, real meaningful reciprocal dialogue, is intricately complex. It involves precise synchronicity in the brain of hearing what is said, processing the meaning of the spoken word and executing a response, all in microseconds.

Conditions and diseases that affect the brain impede the delicate flow of language. Consider the changes in Dick Clark’s articulation post stroke, Gabrielle Giffords after her gun shot injury to her head, or how Multiple Sclerosis impacted Annette Funicello’s speech abilities.

And then there’s Alzheimer’s, an insidious, neurological disease that pretzel twists the gray matter as it gobbles up brain cells. Deteriorating communication skills is just one of many abilities adversely affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Even as many with Alzheimer’s still talk, what they say and how they say it also “speaks volumes” and we need to “listen” with a different set of ears! I’d like to share the following true story with you. Clearly the message needs to be interpreted less literally and more figuratively.

David’s widowed mother Mariam was experiencing significant decline from Alzheimer’s. Neither he nor his sister Carolyn lived anywhere close geographically to their mom, so they decided to move Mariam into an assisted living center near David’s family in Newport. In that way, his wife, the grandkids and he could then visit Mariam more regularly.

David clearly witnessed his mother’s steady decline. She needed increasing help with all self-care, was wobbly and often confused. David accepted that his mother probably knew he was important or familiar to her, but Mariam had ceased referring to him by name for some time.

Then one weekend Carolyn came into town to see her mom and family. As soon as Carolyn walked into her mother’s room, Mariam perked right up, calling Carolyn by name much to David’s surprise.

Naturally he was expecting his mom to acknowledge him by name too, assuming his mother was having one of her rare but wonderfully lucid moments. Mariam looked at her son and said, “Who are you?”

Masking crushing disappointment he replied, “David.”

“I know a David. He lives in Newport. He use to run track for the Newport high school Huskies, but he’s grown now. He’s about your age, manages his own company, married and has two kids, a son Jonathan. That was my husband’s name, although we called him John; he’s dead now. And a daughter Katherine; Katie they call her. They visit me and bring cookies, my favorite, Snicker Doodles.

Do you know David?”

Mariam’s David was stunned!

She had just described him in perfect detail, except of course for referring to her son as “another David.”

He managed to muster the reply “No, I don’t” before leaving her room to regroup emotionally.

This story was shared with me by a woman – Patricia.

Pat knows Carolyn personally who had shared the incident with her. Carolyn had very mixed emotions about and was bewildered by her mother’s remarks.

I smiled to what I perceived as a delightful story that the family was probably misinterpreting too literally. Patricia looked perplexed initially until I explained.

Although I can’t guarantee it, I am confident that Mariam was referring to her son when she described “David” with such warmth and accuracy. She may have “articulated” the relationship connection incorrectly, but she was talking about her son and grandchildren.

For someone with Alzheimer’s, words really do get “lost in translation”What they say and what they mean are not always in synch, but I, like many others, strongly believe the message is the same.

So the next time you engage in a conversation with someone with dementia, broaden your interpretation of what’s said. Think outside the parameters of the literal spoken words and be willing to hear the intent behind them.

“They” are still in there and it’s up to us to find the best way to interact with them.

 

February 6, 2014 http://its-not-all-gravy.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-mythical-interview-with-betty-ward.html

A MYTHICAL INTERVIEW WITH BETTY WARD

Please welcome Elaine Pereira as Wednesday’s Guest this week. She had some fun with a mock interview with her mother, Betty Ward, whom Elaine refers to as “the heroine” of her recently released memoir. Sunday I reviewed her book, I Will Never Forget, in which she shared the journey she took with her mother throughout her life, most especially in the years that her mother suffered with dementia.  I thought Elaine and her mother might like a Danish and a cup of coffee while they visit. You can join them. There’s more in the kitchen to share.

Photo Courtesy of Gluten-Free Canteen where you can find lots of gluten-free recipes.

Thank you, Maryann for inviting us here today and for the refreshments. First I’d like to just give a quick introduction to my mother. In 1945 she graduated with a BS in chemistry then went to work at Upjohn CO in Kalamazoo, MI where she met and married my father, Wayne Ward.

They had three children before Betty went back to school for her masters in education. The ‘Life is Good Years’ continued until my father’s stroke in 1995, followed in 2004 by both his death and my brother Jerry’s, and finally my mother’s rapid decent into dementia.

From the ashes of her eventual passing arose I Will Never Forget.  I hope you enjoy meeting my mother in this brief interview in which I pretended to be a reporter.

ECP:   You and Wayne had three children, two sons Gerald and David and a daughter Elaine.  Tell me a little about her.

BW:  Elaine was adorable but spunky and always testing the limits.  I use to say about her and at times to her: “There was a little girl who had a curl right in the middle of her forehead.  When she was good she was very good, but when she was bad she was horrid”

ECP:   That’s funny!  She did stay “horrid?”

BW:    No, but she did remain spunky, which was an asset when I needed an advocate to speak for me when I no longer could.

ECP:   Despite being Catholic, you have some liberal views on certain issues.  Tell us what you don’t agree with?

BW:    I had three children on the rhythm method of birth control so obviously that doesn’t work. Also, I wanted to have our daughter’s name be Elaine but was told by some opinionated nun that there was no Saint Elaine so I couldn’t use it.  Back then the church was pretty strict about using names of saints for our children. We had just buried our 20 month-old son David in August so the idea that the Church would dictate our child’s name while we were experiencing such unspeakable grief, was unacceptable.  Our Parish Priest however overruled the nun indicating that Elaine is a derivative of St. Bernadette.  I laughed! Lastly, I am not an advocate of pro-active measures to end life prematurely but I strongly support a quality of life.

ECP: How sad that you lost your son. What happened?

BW:  It was a car accident. I was four months pregnant with Elaine when it happened, killing little David. The rest of us were injured and the accident created financial devastation. The only thing I could be thankful for was that I didn’t lose the baby I was carrying.

ECP:   You mentioned Elaine was your voice when you couldn’t advocate for yourself.  Can you tell us more about that time?

BW:    Well due to Alzheimer’s, I don’t remember everything (Ha!) but she was my rock!  At times when the dementia fog lifted though, I knew everything she was doing for me and thanked her.  When reciprocal communication was beyond my control I “spoke” with my eyes and she listened.

ECP:    You wandered from your care facilities on two occasions with dire consequences.

BW:    The first time I thought I needed to take the groceries out of the trunk.  It was a crazy, misguided notion because I didn’t have a car anymore, wasn’t driving and hadn’t gone grocery shopping in the middle of the night. Alzheimer’s really plays terrible tricks on your mind!  I fell hard outside and couldn’t get up. The last time, my dementia-induced hallucinations had me seeing my own mother, a wonderful woman who died when I was in my 30s.  I felt compelled to find her, thinking she was across the street and needed me to take care of her.  On a cold winter night, wearing only thin red flannel pajamas, I was able to wander out the front door of my locked facility because someone forgot to reset the alarm.  Five hours later I was found literally near frozen to death in severe hypothermia.

ECP:    Tell us how you feel about having your life immortalized in a memoir.

BW:  Unlike Elaine who shines in the limelight, I’m more private.  She has my blessing though because the intent of her book is to support others on their journey through dementia as well as supporting Alzheimer’s awareness. She and I have always been able to express ourselves verbally and in writing with passion, integrity and honesty. I am proud that Elaine’s legacy is telling this story, one that had to be told, as it is everyone’s story. I am especially proud that she donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of I Will Never Forget to support Alzheimer’s research.

  January 22, 2014  IN THE NEWS Elaine Pereira, Author Of ‘I Will Never Forget’, Concurs With A Comprehensive Approach To Help Delay And Manage Dementia

Author Elaine Pereira believes activity, both mental and physical, is a primary key to delaying the onset of dementia. Pereira has written the one book on dementia that no one else could write. ‘I Will Never Forget – A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia’ is a dementia memoir that present her mother’s story told from three perspectives – as a daughter, as an occupational therapist and as a caregiver.

http://www.freepublicitygroup.com/release_elaine_pereira_dementia_book_jan114.html#sthash.jyfMGaV5.dpuf  or   http://ow.ly/sPv82

Elaine Pereira, speaker, Certified Dementia Practitioner and Caregiver and author of the award-winning dementia memoir, ‘I Will Never Forget’, promotes a 5 pronged lifestyle approach to help delay the onset of dementia to manage its effects.

 

[Detroit MI January 22, 2014]  A recent video on CBS Morning featured CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook and Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.In their opinion, clinical trials of medications to treat Alzheimer’s have failed because they target the early stages when in fact researchers now know that by the time someone is symptomatic for Alzheimer’s Disease, they are well past the early stage. Hence the medications don’t work.

Elaine Pereira, author of ‘I Will Never Forget’, a compelling and unique memoir on dementia, believes that brain healthy habits, both physical and mental, are of key importance in regards to delaying the onset and managing the effects of Dementia. “It should come as no big surprise,” Pereira stated, “that, quoting Dr. Tanzi, ‘What’s good for the heart is good for the brain’. The collective ‘we’ have known for decades that a diet low in fat and keeping active physically bode well for cardiac health.  It is true for brain health also.

In addition Dr. Tanzi sites being mentally and socially active and one more key ingredient, sleep.” “This five-prong lifestyle approach of Exercise, Diet, Social Interaction, Intellectual Stimulation and Sleep collectively increase brain synapses and the production of endorphins – or ‘internal morphine’ – those awesome analgesic causing peptides that hang out in our brains.”

Elaine Pereira has written the one book on Dementia that no none else could write. She is a daughter who has lived the Dementia drama, an occupational therapist who understands the neurology and an unwavering caregiver. Pereira’s exclusive perspective has enabled her to produce a one-of-a-kind book about Dementia that encompasses several uniquely special approaches.

In addition, while most authors unveil theirs stories chronologically, Pereira’s memoir unfolds in dynamic and creative time shifts, revealing her mother’s decline in a “then and now” format, transitioning beautifully between past and present.

While Dementia is a serious disease not to be trivialized, Pereira believes there are humorous one-liners and anecdotes in all of life’s dramas. She blends her mother’s Dementia induced tragic mishaps, episodes of illogical thinking and agitated behaviors with tasteful hilarity as well as her ridiculous but funny remarks.

“So walk with your friend(s) to a local café for a light lunch,” Pereira concluded, “discuss the latest news worthy topic and at the end of the day, tuck yourself in for a night of brain refreshing sleep.”

 

January 22, 2014  On MariaShriver.com http://bit.ly/1eeEFqG

Lessons I Learned About Life From Someone Approaching Death

“You were so polite,” I said to my brother Jerry as he hung up the phone from yet another solicitor.

Technically one of the three calls that weekend had been a survey, but regardless Jerry was very pleasant with the anonymous person on the other end.

“And why not?” He replied rhetorically.  “They’re just doing their job.”

Of course they were. I dropped my head and turned away as I fought back the cascade of tears welling up in my eyes, again!  My husband, mother and I had traveled to Atlanta from Michigan to visit him. Jerry had scheduled some appointments for us earlier in the day to introduce me to “key people,” the bank liaison for his estate and his insurance agent.   We also popped in the grocery store for a few things and consistent with his gregarious nature he chatted with the cashier, bank officer and waved at the mail lady.

Despite everything he had already and was still going through, he was the pillar of kindness and an amazing role model for everyone. Our family had experienced devastating personal losses and crushing news since 2001.  Married for more than twenty-five years, Jerry’s wife Wendie was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, glioblastoma, on New Year’s Day, 2001.  She lived only a month from diagnosis to death.

Jerry’s world imploded with the passing of his beloved wife and despite my brother’s professions to the contrary, I’m convinced he never really recovered. As the months passed, even under crushing emotional loss, my brother always projected an upbeat demeanor, camouflaging his inner hell.  He never retreated into a cave of self-pity or wallow in depression, not that he wasn’t entitled.  In time he even expressed hope that he would find another special lady. I wished that for him too. But it was not to be.

Our lives and consequently schedules were fairly different, so we corresponded mostly by email.  In late winter 2003, Jerry started alluding to “some news” but kept me dangling with innuendos and vague comments.  Finally in early April, I was convinced he was up to something and pressed for more information. This time he wrote back, “I’ll call you tonight with the news.” Then like a truck it hit me; he was getting married! “That stinker,” I thought. I couldn’t wait for his call that night. I was so happy for him and simultaneously a little miffed he had been keeping “her” a secret.

“So what’s up?” I asked quickly when I saw his name on the caller ID. Jerry could ramble on forever so I hoped he would fast-forward to the punch line. He did.

“I saw my doctor today,” he said. “I have stage four esophageal cancer with perhaps a year …”

I never heard the rest. I had gone from being so ecstatic for him to complete devastation in the three seconds it had taken him to tell me. Stunned. Shocked. Horrified. Words could not describe what I was feeling. And my poor brother! To have suffered Wendie’s loss and now his own impending demise was simply not fathomable!

When the initial shock subsided, Jerry discussed his treatment regimen including chemo and powerful medications designed to wage war on his cancer’s destructive demons. As an Occupational Therapist with a strong medical background, I validated his positive efforts, but was very guarded about any likelihood of remission.

A year later in April 2004, our dad died from stroke complications. Our mother had been his selfless caregiver for nine years post stroke. Free to travel, she accompanied us on our trip to Atlanta. Jerry’s ability to project an outward appearance of composure was remarkable. But beneath his façade of strength, lurked the insidious, proliferating cancer that had been stealthily cloaked by his grief.

Jerry either ignored or couldn’t distinguish the symptomatology of his disease from the real physical pain caused by Wendie’s tragic death.

“How do you do it?” I asked him one time.  To his blank look I added “How do you project such a positive attitude with what you’re going through?”

He smiled and shared his wisdom.

Jerry died December 30, 2004.  My husband and I were at his side when he took his last breath. A few hours later, still very numb and fragile, we left Jerry’s hospice facility for the last time and stopped in a local restaurant for some dinner.  Some details are still sketchy but I distinctly remember how patient the waitress was as I struggled to talk or decide what to order.

In the schema of life, and death, food was so trivial. We place such inordinate value on insignificant “things” sometimes. And then I smiled at her the way Jerry had smiled at me months before and remembered his reply.

“Always treat others with kindness. You never know what they are going through. People can’t look at me and know that my wife died or I have terminal cancer.”  He had said.

Although truthfully, near the end, no one could look at Jerry’s completely pale, ashen face, distended abdomen and bald head, and not suspect that something was terribly wrong.

Regardless, his words ring true! I try hard to remember that when the receptionist is abrupt or the teller curt as I don’t know what they might be going through either.

 

January 1, 2014      

Abbreviated version.  Please read the entire article at:  http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2014/01/five-reasons-to-keep-records-on-your.html 

Five Reasons to Keep Records on Your Loved One with Memory Issues                                                                     

Being a Parent to your Parent is an uncomfortable responsibility.  We are accustom to being cared for by them, not the other way around.  But if your parent is experiencing memory issues, ignoring or excusing them puts them at risk on so many levels, the most significant of which is their safety.

As difficult as it can be, keeping tabs on them, their medications, appointments, whether they still drive or not (another dramatic issue with significant safety ramifications), etc is critical.  It’s important to keep a log, journal, post-it notes, or the techies might prefer their iPhone, but no matter how you accomplish it, do it! Posted on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room

 

 

Author Interview with Elaine Pereira by Kristina Aziz

Read the entire interview at:

http://kristinaaziz.blogspot.com/2014/01/author-interview-with-elaine-c-pereira.html

Book that changed your life:  Honestly?  Mine!

Why any human should plunk down cash money for your book: (I’m chuckling reading the question and trying to think of a funny comeback equal to the task, but …)

My book is not a side splitting humorous tale of a crazy dog like Marley and Me; I get that.  But it is not a dark, foreboding, depressing, boring story just about someone’s tough life at the end as they’re old and gray anyway.

I Will Never Forget is a powerful, true account of a kind, brilliant, trailblazing woman who earned her BS in chemistry, of all things, in post WWII and then uprooted as a single woman to move across state lines for a new job!

We are an international world today, but it was very, very different in the late 1940s. This memoir is rich in descriptive detail, character development and presents honest and sometimes humbling stories of a family in various stages of crises alternating with happiness and calm.

 

Book Review of I Will Never Forget by Kristina Aziz

http://kristinaaziz.blogspot.com/2014/01/review-i-will-never-forget-by-elaine-c.html 

 

December 20, 2013  My Interview by Lorraine Reguly.

And a very sincere and complimentary review!  Thank you so much Lorraine.  The complete interview is on her/this site:

http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/my-interview-with-the-author-my-review-of-i-will-never-forget/

 

December 6, 2013 

Buckets And Other Lists:

A Guest Post from Award-Winning Memoirist, Elaine Pereira

Please read the entire article at:

http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/buckets-and-other-lists-a-guest-post-from-award-winning-memoirist-elaine-pereira/

Buckets And Other Lists: Writing A Book Was NEVER On My Horizon

“I’m one of those annoyingly organized people: a multi-tasking extraordinaire who makes lists for practically everything.  When my mental To-Do list tops three items, I grab paper and a pen and scribble away.

Yeah, I know, all of you techno wizards are rolling your eyes:  paper and pen!  How archaic!  I’m trying to convert to using the Note section of my iPhone exclusively, but it’s a work in progress.  In the meantime, there are far more stashes of pencils, pens, markers and an occasional lipstick tube when I’m desperate and just remembered something important than there are iPhones.”

And thus the book emerged.  Rambling drafts became polished paragraphs, punctuated, written, scrapped, rewritten, reorganized and re-edited.  A wealth of delightful childhood memories took life in black on white as I passionately chronicled my mother’s story.  Superb vignettes from her past and mine were juxtaposed with dramatic, almost unbelievable, events reflecting her steady break from reality under Alzheimers’ spell.

Even as my mom was slipping away to “Rejoin Her Boys” her memory, her story, her journey, were being immortalized for the benefit of others.  I am humbled and honored to have been able to give back to the woman who gave so much and blessed to have many great friends and family who supported me in my endeavor to write I Will Never Forget.

 

November 2013

Christmas Magic Is Returning Through Mom’s Spirit.

Please read the entire article at:    http://bit.ly/1eKq6Of

My mom was an amazing woman. I was incredibly fortunate to be her daughter, a fact I clearly did not appreciate during my feisty teenage period. But except for a few ugly years of my mouthy disrespect when she couldn’t do anything right, Mom and I were best friends!

My mother was truly one of a kind: a petite, poised, beautiful lady with a hint of rebel spirit thrown in. In the shadows of World War II, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry and later a Masters in education. Mom made Christmas magical for the family.

October 20, 2013

Five Alternative Ways to “Talk” With Someone Living With Dementia.

Read the entire article at: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2013/10/five-alternative-ways-to-talk-with.html

 

September 3, 2013       Alzheimer’s Confounding Contradictions  

Read the entire article at: http://mariashriver.com/blog/2013/09/alzheimers-confounding-contradictions-elaine-pereira/

 

August 2013 A BIG thank you to Tom Matt from Boomer’s Rock at http://cosozo.com/radio-show/boomers-rock for the great radio interview time.   http://cosozo.com/radio-show-episode/i-will-never-forget-daughters-story-dementia

 

July and August, 2013   My 5 Part Series: 

How to Communicate With Someone With Alzheimer’s

        When Traditional Words Fail, Try Connecting Through The Senses

Endear For Alzheimer’s:          http://www.endearforalz.com

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are devastating conditions that rob us of our loved ones. One of the most tragic outcomes is their dissolving memory of events, stories, faces and conversations that connect us as humans. It’s heartbreaking when reciprocal conversation wanes into oblivion. I, and many researches, maintain that for the most part, our loved ones are still in there and it’s up to us to find the connection that “speaks” to them. Communication takes on many forms and in the subsequent five articles, I will expand on how to connect through the five senses: Touch, Vision, Hearing, Smell and Taste.            Elaine C. Pereira, MA OTR/L CDP, CDC

When Traditional Words Fail, Try Connecting Through The Senses, is a 5-part series written by Author and former caregiver; Elaine Pereira. We will post each new article in her series on Friday for the next 5 weeks. Her articles are powerful and extremely helpful if you are trying to communicate with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Please read all 5 articles as they are best used in conjunction with one another. Click the links at the end of the article to read all parts of this dynamic series.              Carlos Barrios, Founder Endear For Alzheimer’s

Part 1:  Touch                7/28/2013         http://blogforalzheimers.com   

               Talk More With Touch and Less With Words

 

Part 2: Sound                   8/2/2013         http://blogforalzheimers.com 

               Speak More With Sound and Less With Words

 

Part 3:  Aroma/Smell     8/9/2013          http://blogforalzheimers.com                

 The Power of Aromas as Positive Memory Triggers 

 

Part 4: Taste                    8/16/13           http://blogforalzheimers.com                  

Use Your Tongue To Communicate Through Taste

 

Part: 5:  Vision                 8/23/13           http://blogforalzheimers.com                                   

A Picture Really Can Say a Thousand Words                             

 

 

Tuesday August 6, 2013         People with Alzheimer’s Say The Darnedest Things http://bit.ly/15FdE0y    

            Collectively navigating the uncharted waters of caring for a loved one with Dementia is always a work in progress. The only predictable aspect of Alzheimer’s is its unpredictability.  My mom was different from one day to the next and typically within the same day. Her patchwork quilt of reality was a blend of her “real” past and her created present.  Read the entire article at:  http://bit.ly/15FdE0y It’s up to us to adapt to our loved ones with Dementia wherever they are at any given moment: past, present or future.

By Elaine C. Pereira +Alzheimer’s Reading Room

 

Wednesday July 24, 2013

This is a recent post on Ionia Martin’s blog                ReadfulThingsBlog.com

DEMENTIA’S SILVER STARS – A FEW THOUGHTS FROM ELAINE PEREIRA

          I would like to welcome my good friend and fellow author back to Readful Things. Elaine has been doing a tremendous amount of work promoting her book and teaching others about the field of Alzheimer’s research. She is also a very kind person, who has been there for me through my own struggles having a family member who is going through this disease. If you have ever wondered about what this cruel disease can do to a person, a family and the patient themselves, Elaine’s uniquely personal perspective may very well be of use to you.

Dementia’s Silver Stars

Tragically as our Baby Boomer generation matures into the Silver Stars, some of those “stars” don’t shine as brightly as they use to, mostly due to Dementia. Alzheimer’s specifically is a devastating condition that robs us of our loved ones.

It also allows for some of the most bewildering events, remarks and experiences that defy logic, reasoning and reality. Since I have literally walked, actually more like trudged, in the shoes of a caregiver to my mother with Alzheimer’s, I am able to share the humor with the heartache; explore the mystifying with the plausible; describe the agitation and the calm…..

Read the entire article at:  http://readfulthingsblog.com/2013/07/24/dementias-silver-stars-a-few-thoughts-from-elaine-pereira/ http://bit.ly/13EN0SS

 

Tuesday June 4, 2013 And again it’s been a great week for this Michigan author, this time in Dayton Ohio! 

You can see them by clicking on the links or go the Media Header on my Home Page and see the videos there.

 

Fox 45 – A wonderful opportunity with Megan on Fox 45   http://fox45now.com/shared/news/features/morning/stories/wrgt_vid_2085.shtml

 

And Living Dayton  An awesome interview opportunity with Vanessa!  http://bit.ly/13FucAO

 

Tuesday May 28, 2013             on Fox 2 Detroit with Deena Centofanti!

See the full interview and the incredible colored MRI brain images comparing a normal and an Alzheimer’s Diseased brain:               http://bit.ly/115zLX0

I so appreciate every opportunity to discuss my memoir, my intent to donate to Alzheimer’s research and help others know they are not alone!  Thanks!

DSC05754 DSC05755

May 28, 2013   WXYZ Detroit, Channel 7 invited me to the studio for a taped interview about my memoir I Will Never Forget and discussion about dementia and aging issues. Getting miked up for the interview.

Channel 7 Detroit with Malcolm Maddox shown Sunday 6/2/2013

http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/about_us/as_seen_on/dealing-with-a-loved-one-who-suffers-from-dimentia

 

May 7, 2013    5 Tips for Finding an In-Home Caregiver or Home Care Facility “Finding a responsible in-home caregiver, or a reputable Home Care Facility, can be a difficult and delicate undertaking,” says Pereira, “but it’s critically important to follow these steps whether you use an agency or hire your own”

Read the entire article at: http://www.newsreleasewire.com/NRWire/Releasedetails.aspx?id=44137  

 

May 7, 2013        A Tribute to Great Moms Everywhere 

My older brother and I were fortunate to have a great mom. Growing up, I thought my mom was amazing until my obnoxious teenage period, when she couldn’t do anything right. And, except for those years of my mouthy disrespect, Mom and I were best friends.

Read the entire article at: http://mariashriver.com/blog/2013/05/a-tribute-to-great-mothers-everywhere-elaine-pereira

 

April 25, 2013       Interview with Jerry Kenney from WYSO, Dayton Ohio

http://wyso.org/post/i-will-not-forget-author-recounts-mothers-journey-through-dementia

 

April 26, 2013    The Story Behind the Poem   

Have you ever looked up “Alzheimer’s Disease” in the dictionarynoun Pathology .  a common form of dementia of unknown cause, usually beginning in late middle age, characterized by memory lapses, confusion, emotional instability, and progressive loss of mental ability. In 28 sobering, apathetic words, a disease so catastrophic is defined with such ridiculous impassion.

Read entire article at:   http://mariashriver.com/blog/2013/04/the-story-behind-the-poem-elaine-pereira

April 17, 2013

Subtle Signs of Mother’s Dementia

We all need to be circumspect of subtle changes in personality, balance, judgment, memory and anything else uncharacteristic in our friends and family. Be Proactive and we can be less Reactive… read the entire article at:

http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2013/04/subtle-signs-of-mothers-dementia.html

 

April 4, 2013

Thank you Tron Simpson  @ KCMN-AM  News/Talk

http://1530kcmn.com for today’s lively and live interview opportunity.

And Bill Martinez on  Cable Radio Network  http://crntalk.com/ for his great questions and sharing his personal empathy.  I look forward to his invitation to return for a longer, afternoon show.

Plymouth Observer & Eccentric

Tough road: Book tells of mother’s dementia http://bit.ly/11iQRDw

Written by  Julie Brown  Staff Writer    

Author Elaine Pereira of New Boston wrote “I Will Never Forget: A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia.” Pereira’s mom, Elizabeth Ward, was nearly 87 when she died in 2011. She began to show signs of illness in 2005, her daughter said.  Pereira’s book came out in May 2012 and is a first book for the retired school occupational therapist who worked with special needs children. “The story needed to be told,” Pereira said. “It’s a daunting responsibility.” Her mom was in a facility, but Pereira lost her brother and dad the same year, and made the decisions on her mom’s care. She agreed issues of dementia and elder care are key as the baby boomers age. “It’s not a European lifestyle here where family takes care of family. Caring for family can be quite an undertaking,” she said.  She’s pleased with good reviews and “overwhelmingly positive” reaction to her book. Pereira (www.IWillNeverForgetBook.com) hopes to cover costs and donate to Alzheimer’s research efforts “so my girls don’t have to write a book about me.”  jcbrown@hometownlife.com

 

March 31, 2013       YouTube Video Book Trailer  of  I Will Never Forget http://youtu.be/wv-TS3QeC6M 

Thank you so much to Scott Lorenz, President, and his superb team at         Westwind Communications for the poignant promotional Book Trailer of my memoir/

 

March 30, 2013           Guest Post on Bookingly Yours Blogspot

Please check out the wonderful guest post on Bookingly Yours.  Thanks Jenai – I so appreciate the opportunity for such a lengthy promo spot, links and the new YouTube Trailer as well.

 

February 28, 2013    Rick and Steve from NetCastleStudio Audio Interview http://netcaststudio.com/elaine-pereira-author-of-i-will-never-forget/

This is a wonderful interview with well thought questions from both gentlemen touching on respect of our elders, how dementia’s journey impacts both the individual and the family and so much more!

 

February 20, 2013      An Academy Award for Caregiver’s 

Caring for someone else on a long-term basis is both a powerfully rewarding and an emotionally draining task. I know; like many other people, I’ve been there. If you are a friend or family member, you do it out of love and caring for someone who deserves your support. And typically you do a better job because you have a relationship with and a vested interest in the person in your care. But it comes at a price, doesn’t it?

…read the entire article at:  http://mariashriver.com/blog/2013/02/an-academy-award-for-caregivers-elaine-pereira

January 16, 2013     

Dementia Caregiver’s Survival Strategy – The Humorous Side 

Apparently my mom was adamant that someone had stolen her pants. Out of sight on the other end of the phone, I rolled me eyes. Someone stole her pants. How ridiculous, I thought.  
Not to make light of memory loss issues and exhaustive caregiver efforts to patiently redirect an agitated and/or bewildered individual, but dementia has a funny side too.Some stories border on unbelievable were they not so real… Read the entire article at:
December 23, 2012  
Christmas Memories Past and Present 
My heartfelt thoughts are with all of the caregivers, families and friends of anyone with Alzheimer’s as you approach the present Christmas and also for those, like me, who have already lost someone and have only memories of Christmases past.  Read the entire article at:  

November 24 2012 

Seatbelt Controversy:  Safety or Restraint  

After more than 35 years working as an occupational therapist, originally in an adult rehabilitation setting but for most of my career as a school therapist, I have received considerable training in maintaining client safety.

Seatbelt  Safety  Therapists perceive and use seatbelts as safety belts. Belts secure physically challenged children and adults in wheelchairs so they can be transported safely or mobilize themselves without the risk of falling out and/or over.

Seatbelt Restraint  By striking contrast however “seatbelts,” those same innocuous strips of webbing referred to so affectionately as safety belts, are perceived as unacceptable restraints in some populations, mostly non-ambulatory adults with disorienting dementia!

Read the entire article at:http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2012/11/seatbelt-controversy-safety-or-restraint.html    or   http://bit.ly/WL1Bd6

 

November 6, 2012  

Alzheimer’s Changes-It’s Not Just Trains They Forget 

“I will never forget that train ride,” Mom said. “That was really something.” Ultimately, however, she did forget it, like virtually everything else.  Read the entire article at:   http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2012/11/alzheimers-changes-its-not-just-train.html

 

October 29 2012      WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin            http://www.wgvu.org/wgvunews/?id=tmsdetail&sty=18719

 

October 24 2012      Book Goodies with Deborah Carney            http://bookgoodies.com/elaine-c-pereira/

 

October 24, 2012    McNights Long Term Care & Assisted Living Magazine

        What a Professional Caregiver Should Never Forget

Regardless of your role providing assistance to another, never forget that the screeching, defiant woman whom you are helping to dress is someone’s daughter, mother or best girlfriend. The man who desperately needs assistance with oral hygiene but has his teeth clenched tight refusing your help, might have been an administrative CEO.

Read the entire article at: http://www.mcknights.com/what-a-professional-caregiver-should-never-forget/printarticle/264397/ 

 

September 11, 2012  The Reviewing Shelf Pragya Sharma 

I believe it is extremely difficult to write a book like this. Being so close to your loved one, watching them die and then to be able to pour it out into words needs extreme courage.

Read the entire review at: http://wp.me/p21FJY-19l

 

August 18 2012   The News Herald   by Andrea Blum

Elaine Pereira’s relationship with her mother was similar to that of many other daughters. But the last few years of her mother’s life were anything but typical.  Those years tested the strength of their bond and taught Pereira the true meaning of unconditional love. Her mother — Elizabeth Ward — suffered from dementia during those years, and Pereira found herself dealing with a person who very often was unlike the loving, accomplished mother she’d known growing up.

Read the entire article at:  http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2012/08/18/life/doc502e6379328e8788203208.txt 

 

August 2, 2012    Third Age: 

      Health Close-Up: “I Will Never Forget”

On Christmas morning, 2009, I prompted my mom to join me in the kitchen so that we could begin dinner preparations. Company cauliflower was a long-standing holiday favorite. I got out the coveted recipe card and put it in the recipe holder that Mom had cross-stitched for me years before. I noticed that she was staring at the recipe. Then it hit me: Mom couldn’t process what the recipe instructions were telling her to do. It was mind numbing! This woman had taught high school calculus and now couldn’t read a simple amount like “a half cup of milk” and know what to get out or how much to pour.

Read the entire article at: http://www.thirdage.com/caregiving/health-close-up-i-will-never-forget

 

June 2012        A Caregiver’s Journey 

Growing up, I thought my mom, Elizabeth Ward, was amazing. That was, of course, until I ventured into the obnoxious teenage period, when she couldn’t do anything right. Except for those three or four emotional roller coaster years of my mouthy disrespect, Mom and I were best friends. Now, my best friend is gone. Alzheimer’s has claimed yet another victim, choking Mom’s kind, talented spirit to dust, last July 8, 2011.

Read the entire article at:http://mariashriver.com/blog/2012/06/i-will-never-forget-caregiving-journey-elaine-pereira

 

May, 2012   MLive: Kalamazoo Gazette on-line paper   Mother’s Day Tribute        For Mother’s Day, Kalamazoo native shares tale of mom’s struggle with                        Alzheimer’s, focuses on happier times.

http://www.mlive.com/opinion/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2012/05/for_mothers_day_daughter_share.html

 

If you wish to contact me, I would love to hear from you, but due to spam issues, the Comments section below is disabled.  Please email me directly at elainep@iwillneverforgetbook.com