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Thanks for the Memories

Doo, doo, dooooo, doo, doo, do, dooooo. She was singing and swaying. Mildred was in her eighties with dementia. Gram, do you want to dance? She gently took Mildreds hands in hers. They made slowly moving circles. Sarah joined her in the syllabic song. Great grandmother and daughter were making and reliving memories, never to be forgotten by those who watched them swirl. There are currently 5 million Americans living with Alzheimers disease. Named for the first describer, Aloise Alzheimer in 1906, this progressive and fatal brain disease destroys brain cells causing memory problems. It is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Plaque and tangles are the primary suspects in damaging and killing these cells. Plaque builds up between the cells. Tangles are twisted protein fibers called taus. Twenty years ago we felt that we needed to repeatedly correct the Alzheimers victim and keep them in reality. But whose reality was it? No, Mom, I am Jill. Gail is living in Vermont. We tried to force the one we love to remain in our world all the while they were returning to other memories of past life. They asked the same question over and over again but in the flash they relocate to another place. We contradict and correct and wonder why they react becoming withdrawn and hostile. Naomi Fell, a Cleveland social worker, proposed that family members visit the world of the person with Alzheimers rather than unsuccessfully trying to force the person to live in our current reality. Validation therapy gives back dignity to those with Alzheimers. Each year High Peaks Hospice cares for more people in the last stages of Alzheimers disease. In 2006 it was the third highest non-cancer diagnosis. I can almost hear Bob Hope crooning: So, thanks for the memory. And strictly entre nous, darling how are you? And how are all the little dreams that never did come true? Awflly glad I met you, cheerio, and toodleoo, And thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving. Referrals for hospice care are given by physicians, nurses, friends, neighbors, the patient or family members. Call 1-877-324-1686 to learn more about High Peaks Hospice or visit our web site at www.highpeakshospice.com .

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