Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Advent Calendar: Days 5 through 8

I am a bit behind in posting these. By about day 5, I was streamlining the process for Quinten. He is having so much trouble with these but there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that he wants to do this for the kids. He is often frustrated (and doing a unique card for each kid was simply too much for him) but he is able to do at least 2 per day. We are up to day 18 (pics will be posted soon) so by Tuesday, we should have the rest of them completed and we can focus on letting him hand them out each night.

Day 5

Day 5. Chapstick and a small chocolate. Note from Dad: “I am thankful that you…”

Day 6

The lighting in my room sucks much of the time so the pictures sometimes turn out crappy. Day 6. Note from Dad: “You are smart.”

Day 7

Day 7. Hot chocolate packets and the note from Dad which says, “I am so thankful that I am your dad. Love, Dad”

Day 8

Day 8. Organic honey hard candies and the note from Dad. “You are handsome/beautiful.”

By now, you may be questioning/judging the amount of sugar in these packets–especially from someone who purports to be changing our diets to combat early onset Alzheimer’s. Again, it’s about balance. I have successfully, except for these presents, gotten rid of most of the sugar in our diet (the little bit that we do get mostly comes from the sugar in semi-sweet chocolate chips). And this whole idea is a way to give my kids something special this Christmas season. No matter how you spin it, their daddy has a terminal disease and is getting worse every day. They are dealing with so much right now and handing them baggies of carrot sticks just doesn’t send the message I want to send right now.

Balance.

We can go back to our sugar-free lives in 2 weeks.

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December is here!

I love the Christmas season!! The tree is up, decorations are placed, and Christmas music is playing.

Today’s post is going to be a little different from what I normally post. I love blogging about our switch to a healthy diet and posting recipes that we are using to help Quinten combat Alzheimer’s. But first and foremost, I am a mom and caregiver. And as such, I spend a lot of time making our “good” time count. I work hard to make sure we are creating memories for the kids.

So, the other night an idea came to me that excited me so much I couldn’t sleep! Of course, it’s not working out quite as wonderfully as I’d imagined…but still….

The idea I came up with is something I’ve been calling The Alzheimer’s Advent Calendar. When the kids were little, we would purchase chocolate advent calendars from the Commissary. Of course, being the absolutely unorganized mom I am, the kids would often find them and devour all of the chocolate well before Christmas actually got here. My goal is always to have an Advent calendar. Maybe this year, it’ll actually work out. ;)My thought for this calendar is to have Quinten write out a card for each of the kids each night (5 times 24 is A LOT of cards!).

The first thing we did is head to Michael’s for crafting supplies. I found cheap little journals for $1.50 each after discovering my planned photo books were well over $10.

advent book

On each book, I found vinyl lettering for their names. I wish I’d gotten letters that were more pronounced since it’s hard to see the kids’ names.

And since each journal page was so flimsy, I am pasting a sheet of card stock into the books before attaching the notes from Quinten.

sample page

As you can see, Quinten  is having trouble with sentences.

With each book, I also added this:

note

Since we were on a roll, I decided to do a few more days’ worth.

Day two:

blog advent Day 2

These were boozy chocolates which are a tradition in our house. 🙂 They do resemble moose droppings in this picture though. 😉

Day 3

Day 3

Slim Jims. Yeah. Not healthy. But I am trying to live my life in balance (and not stress about every little thing) and this was something the kids traditionally liked. Funny thing though, they weren’t impressed by them AT ALL last night (one kid has figured out that nitrates are bad news for him and one of the girls was actually gagging after eating one) and requested the Paleo jerky that I’ve gotten before. I love that they are realizing these things on their own.

Day 4:

Day 4

This one is all wrapped up but inside is a Keurig cup. My kids love the Keurig coffees but we rarely have enough grocery money left over to justify a purchase since I can get a 5 pound bag of organic, free trade coffee from the health food store for a little more than the price of a box of the cups from Amazon. My sons who work early in the morning do buy their own so that they can have coffee before they leave for work. I am not sorry for raising coffee snobs. 😉

We’ve made up a couple more since then but I haven’t had a chance to retrieve them from my phone. I will post them as I am able to. Quinten is having a very, very hard time with these cards and I’m worried about the rest of the month. One of my kids has totally called me on the cards, saying that these are things that *I* would say instead of what Dad would and that he’s never gotten affirmation from Dad like that. 😦 So today, I am googling ‘words of affirmation for kids’ and printing out lists. I will then help Quinten choose the words he wants to say.

I am so, so sad that he is having such a hard time with this. I’ve been told that depending on where the damage from Alzheimer’s occurs, you will get different symptoms of the disease. For Quinten, it definitely is language and abstract thinking. It’s been such a long time since we’ve had a real conversation (probably pre-2008). This makes projects like this insanely difficult and makes important talks (like living will, etc.) difficult, if not impossible.

But for now, I will gladly help Quinten complete this for the kids. He may not have ever said these things to the kids (as evidenced by one child’s comments), but I know at one point he definitely did feel these things. And maybe my kids won’t appreciate the finished Advent book now but I do hope they will someday. And I hope that they can see past the hurt and realize that this horrible disease took Dad from them–it wasn’t Dad *choosing* to be this way towards them. And most of all, I do hope they know they are loved.

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So much for that….

So….the other day, I’m all like “WHOO!! I’ve lost 6.6 pounds by changing my diet in this first month of eating whole foods!!”

I have so much trouble losing weight that those 6.6 pounds are definitely an accomplishment. But tonight I noticed that Quinten’s pants were hanging on him and also noticed that those pants were the pants that were really tight a couple of months ago. So I had him get on the scale. Since his last appointment, he has lost 20 pounds! I’m trying to figure out why. I make sure he’s getting three meals plus snacks every day and that his portions are quite a bit bigger than mine. Besides cleaning up our diet, the only other thing is that we’ve stopped the Axona shakes…..but that’s only been for this month.

I’m searching google right now for suggestions but many of the articles talk about weight loss and late-stage Alzheimer’s. He definitely isn’t late-stage. I have, however, found several articles mentioning the fact that weight loss is common. Several of the articles have mentioned the increased caloric needs of Alzheimer’s patients due to their constant pacing. Definitely something to consider as I’ve noticed that he is pacing more.

I feel that I’ve done well in cleaning up our diets, now I just need to make sure I pack as much nutrition into Quinten’s meals as possible as well as increasing his meals and/or snacks. We haven’t had nuts in the house for the last couple of months and he was eating those like crazy for a while. Maybe I need to make up a trail mix for him.

Looks like more food changes for us!

 

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Alzheimer’s Recipe: Green Smoothie Mix

Another of Quinten’s neurologist’s suggestions for possibly slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s was to increase the number of green leafy veggies into his diet. I have not been great about getting him to eat them. I’ve found that salads seem to bother him and he’s had such awful belly issues anyway that I haven’t been as diligent as I should be. We took a break from the smoothies for a long time but I’m trying to get them back into our diets now. Here is how I do them:

Green Smoothie Mix

2 5 oz packages kale

2.5 cups frozen blueberries

5 medjool dates, seeded

3 bananas

Fill a blender (I use a Vitamix) with baby kale and about 1/2 a cup of water.

Blend, using tamper to push the kale down toward the blades. When you are finished it will look like this:

Continue adding kale and blending until you have used both packages of kale. At this point, I turn my Vitamix up to high and blend for a few seconds to make sure the kale is well blended. Pour kale into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Peel and freeze the bananas in chunks placed on waxed paper. The waxed paper is important. If it’s not used, you will end up chiseling the bananas from whatever you’ve frozen them to.

Once everything is frozen, it’s time to assemble the smoothie mix. Remove the kale from the ice cube tray. You may need to warm the tray up a little under warm water.

Divide the kale ice cubes, banana chunks, frozen blueberries and dates between 5 sandwich bags.

Place each of these baggies into a large freezer bag and freeze.

To use, place contents of one baggie and 1 cup of milk (we’ve used coconut and regular whole milk) and blend until smooth. One serving per bag.

What I really like about these smoothies is the amount of greens I can get into one serving since they break down so much. I’ve also done other greens instead of the kale such as spinach and leaf lettuce. I think I’m going to keep ordering a variety of greens to replenish my freezer stock.

Here are a few links to articles which talk about the importance of leafy vegetables for the prevention of Alzheimer’s:

Livestrong

ABCnews

Science Daily

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Alzheimer’s Recipe: Coconut Chocolate Squares

When I mentioned on Facebook a while ago that I used coconut oil to supplement Quinten’s diet with foods which have shown to improve symptoms, a friend mentioned that a friend of hers made “fudge” to help her mother.

We’ve recently made the decision to stop using the Axona after Quinten began complaining that it was burning his stomach. Since we have seen progression in his symptoms after adding the Axona, the doctor agreed that it would be a good decision to stop giving it to him. However, I still think coconut oil is a good idea so I’ve come back to the “fudge” idea again. I couldn’t remember what the proportions were so I did a Google search. I found the doctor who has been instrumental in researching treatments for her own husband who has Alzheimer’s and an article with recipes (I do not agree with a lot of what CBN puts out there but the recipe is easy to find).

In our quest to clean up our diet, I also wanted to make this recipe with the best possible ingredients I could afford.

 

I ordered the coconut oil from Amazon, but have also used coconut oil from Swanson Vitamins  as well. The chocolate is the chocolate I picked up from my co-op the other day. The brand is Alter Eco and I love that it is soy free and only contains 4 ingredients. It is expensive (I paid over $4 a bar the other day) but so, so worth it. Most dark chocolate makes me gag but not this one. I think it’s going to be my new chocolate bar to order in bulk. 🙂

The tray to the right of the chocolate is Wilton’s square chocolate mold. The mold is nice and flexible to get the squares out once they are solid.

Since I am using a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips, I like to weigh the coconut oil to match the weight of the chocolate.

 

I am a perpetual dieter, so already have a food scale:

 

Place the chocolate (chopped) and the coconut oil in a saucepan and melt over low heat. While you are waiting for it to melt, grease the mold with coconut oil.

 

The coconut oil will melt before the chocolate. Keep on low and continue to stir until the entire mixture is smooth. The mixture will be a lot runnier than you think it should be but, I promise, it will work out.

 

It look me several tries to get that shot–it was that runny.

Quinten requested macadamia nuts this time, so I roasted 10 on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until the nuts are toasted (about 10 minutes). Once they are toasted, I roughly chopped them.

And divided them between the silicone squares

Pour the chocolate evenly among the silicone squares and carefully place in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the chocolate from the silicone. You will need to push each square out. The heat from your hands will easily melt the chocolate. Quickly place each chocolate in a freezer safe container and store in the freezer.

I give Quinten one of these after breakfast every morning to replace the shake (Axona) he was drinking. I’ve read that some people are also giving them to their loved ones another one in the afternoon to keep their levels steady. Since it does melt so fast, I have Quinten place the chocolate in a sandwich baggie to keep the chocolate from melting all over him.

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Day 8

We made it one whole week (plus one day) incorporating the 100 Days of Real Food principles!! No fast food, no soda, no sugar (except in the few things like previously homemade jam and that which is included in chocolate chips and spaghetti sauce), no junk. And, other than the fact that we are at the end of the grocery week and running out of staples, it really has been a good week.

Things I’ve learned this week:

  • We go through * a lot * of food in a week! Holy cow!!
  • I did not buy enough fruit and veggies to last the week
  • I use a lot of onions when I cook
  • My kids have forgotten the thankfulness lessons from when they were younger and need a refresher course. They complained A LOT. Given the fact that the youngest are 15, I am seriously unhappy about that.
  • My kids were eating a lot of junk (turns out mom and dad were too) that didn’t register with me since it was such a common occurrence.
  • I can’t eat popcorn anymore. Even the organic stuff gave me a belly ache.
  • It takes much more time spent in the kitchen to cook this way
  • I am thankful I buy in bulk. I ended up using quite a few items out of the pantry
  • I am more than happy to pay $6 a loaf of bread after reading this. Gross, huh? Given the fact that I am highly allergic to feathers, it’s no wonder walking down the bread isle at the store makes me want to vomit from the smell.
  • It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be

Tomorrow will be a challenge sticking to the plan. The girls have a dentist appointment in the morning and since we are trying to conserve gas this time around, I will be going grocery shopping after their appointment instead of going today. I’m hoping we will be able to find something healthy while in town since we will be there at lunchtime and I am out of bread. We’ll see if I end up with any extra time tonight to make some.

Here is what we ate:

Day 7 (Wednesday)

Breakfast:

Eggs cooked in bacon grease, slice of banana bread, coffee

Lunch:

Peanut butter and jelly, water

Snack:

½ soy-free chocolate bar

Dinner:

Bacon-Wrapped chicken breast (recipe to follow), spaghetti with alfredo (to use up cream that was about to go bad), and a green salad with dressing

Day 8 (Thursday)

Breakfast:

Eggs cooked in bacon grease, slice of whole wheat bread, coffee

Lunch:

Almond butter and jelly, dehydrated organic apples, water

Dinner:

I plan to make this and serve a green salad and dressing with it along with home canned beets that my mom brought up for me the last time she visited.

Snack:

I plan to roast some almonds, allow them to cool and mix with chocolate chips.

Recipe:

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts

Oven: 350

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half

1 (8 oz) package Applegate Farms bacon

Salt, pepper, and smoked paprika

Wrap one piece of bacon around each of the 8 pieces of chicken and place in a baking dish with the ends of the bacon on the bottom so they will stay secure. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

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Day 6

I still feel pretty good about our first week so far. We are obviously short on fruit and veggies but I figure that will all get worked out as I’m able to add more to my grocery budget. The last few months have been tough but things do look like they are improving—at least on paper.

Picking up where we left off last post:

Day 5 (Monday):

Breakfast:

Pancakes and coffee

Lunch:

I made a simple soup with the rest of the chicken broth I made this weekend plus the rest of my onions, several carrots, and some penne pasta. This was topped with a bit of parmesan and served with cheddar crackers (recipe to follow), Bubbies sauerkraut, fresh raspberries, and black tea.

Dinner:

Pressure cooker roast, quinoa, green salad with dressing

Snack:

Caramel Corn

Day 6 (Tuesday):

Breakfast:

Pumpkin pancakes

Lunch:

PBJ on whole wheat bread

Snack:

Banana Bread

Dinner:

Spaghetti and noodles with whole wheat bread and butter

Recipe:

 

Cheddar Crackers

So many of the crackers in the store have long lists of ingredients–even the ones labeled organic. I found this recipe in my recipe box. It’s been so long that I’m not sure who the author is. My picky girls loved these and have been asking me to make them again.

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Kerrygold)

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika (my addition, the original recipe called for a dash of cayenne and skipped the hot pepper flakes. I like both)

dash Aleppo pepper (or hot pepper flakes), to taste

3/4 cup flour

Mix the butter and cheddar together. Stir in the remaining ingredients until a dough forms. It takes quite a bit of mixing to get all of the ingredients incorporated. Shape into a log that is 1-inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (approx. half an hour). Remove from refrigerator, unwrap, and slice into thin slices. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until just starting to brown. Cool before serving.

 

 

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