FEED YOUR BRAIN WITH OLIVE OIL: Benefit with improved brain health!

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Above photo was taken last week at the Memory Matters Mediterranean Lifestyle & Cooking demonstration at Sun City.

This short blog is merely an “overture” to a story that is older than written history. I refer to the story of olives and wine in the southern Mediterranean before I fast forward to today and describe the postive benefits that olive oil in particular can bring to those who embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle.

The “extra virgin” oil that is cold pressed from the olives has been the principal source of healthy nourishment in Greece, and southern Italy for thousands of years. Today we can include southern France and Spain too. Olive oil is the most fundamentally important ingredient in the Mediterranean lifestyle diet. There is substantial evidence to prove that people who follow the Mediterranean lifestyle live longer, with less incidence of heart disease, other ailments or dementia, and on average experience healthier lives than those living in Northern Europe and other parts of Western  Civilization including the USA. In fact I wrote a blog about this back in March entitled “Where People Forget to Die”. It contains important research data to back up the claims made by proponents of the Mediterranean diet, and you can count Memory Matters as one of those enthusiasts.

The olive was native to Asia Minor and spread from Iran, Syria and Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean basin 6,000 years ago. It is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world.  It was being grown on Crete by 3,000 BC and may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan kingdom. The Phoenicians spread the olive to the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Southern Europe. Olives have been found in Egyptian tombs from 2,000 years BC. The olive culture was spread to the early Greeks and then the Romans. As the Romans extended their domain they brought the olive with them.

This story also mentions wine. Yes, taken in moderation, wine is an important part of the Mediterranean lifestyle! Two five ounce glasses per day is a typical recommendation for those who like me, enjoy wine.

Like the olive, the grape arrived in the southern Mediterranean a long time ago. Wine arrived with civilization from the East and the Egyptian tombs and paintings are evidence. Then in the Mediterranean world developed first by the Phoenicians and later the Greeks, viticulture and wine production blossomed and, of course, the Romans added their disciplined and practical abilities to the creative flair of the Greeks. So wine became a huge industry vitally important throughout the southern Mediterranean and was promoted by the Church and especially the Benedictine, Cistercian and Franciscan orders.

This “chronicle” is in four parts, namely:

  1.  A discussion of what comprises the “Mediterranean diet”.
  2.  A short review of a recent and thoroughly enjoyable cooking demonstration sponsored by Memory Matters in Sun City.
  3. Importantly an up-to-date account of how a US University research team has made dramatic progress in the fight to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. You will not be surprised to hear that extra virgin olive oil is front and center of this exciting progress!
  4. Imagination. Just for fun, I will conclude by taking you on a short “imagined” journey to sample the Mediterranean lifestyle in southern Italy!

Wherever possible Memory Matters is intentionally offering our Club Members, families and volunteers a Mediterranean lunch diet. Our two caterers are working with us to provide, healthy but tasty meals. For example: delicious tuna sandwiches on whole-grain bread, served with fruit.

 

1. The Mediterranean lifestyle diet includes:

Lots of plant foods
Fresh fruit as dessert
High consumption of beans, nuts, cereals (in the form of wheat, oats, barley, corn or brown rice) and seeds
Olive oil as the main source of dietary fat
Cheese and yogurt as the main dairy foods. Feta cheese and Greek yogurt are prime examples.
Moderate amounts of fish and poultry
No more than about four eggs each week
Small amounts of red meat each week (compared to northern Europe)
Low to moderate amounts of wine. It is suggested that be no more than two five ounce glasses per day.
25% to 35% of calorie intake consists of fat
Saturated fat makes up no more than 8% of calorie intake

Fats – the Mediterranean diet is known to be low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fat, and high in dietary fiber.

Legumes – the Mediterranean diet includes plenty of legumes. Legumes are plants in the pea family that produce pods which slit open naturally along a seam, revealing a row of seeds.

Examples of legumes include peas, chick peas, lentils, alfafa, fava (broad) beans and green beans.

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Even if you have not yet had the opportunity to travel to Italy or other southern Mediterranean regions, it is important to note that people there are discerning, and live to eat. Eating should be a pleasure! 

In regions such as Umbria and Apulia in Italy food choice is simple and rustic but still qualitative, fresh, organic, and cooked with care and attention for the properties of the ingredients, attention for the balance of flavour and harmony of the ingredients.
Recipes are mostly simple, condiments are basic and natural (as much as possible). Salt is used judiciously since many organic foods already have salt content. So why add more!
The use of locally sourced and seasonal vegetables and fruits are essential parameters. If they are on sale at your local farmers market, it’s a good time to buy!
Their seasons play a big part: you eat products available in a given season and others in another season.
Locations play an important part too: temperatures, humidity, elevation (mountain, seaside, countryside etc.) and you determine the products available and their nutritional parameters (example: in winter in the mountain you would eat richer food than say in summer at the seaside).
They choose earthly and not processed (or lightly processed) food, with little chemical manipulation, with mostly vegetables and fruits. These are key elements of a daily consumption, as are meats from organically fed animals, and simple foods rich in Omega 3, including non-farmed fish like sea bass (Branzino) shrimp, sardines or squid. In our fantastic Lowcountry we would choose shrimp, grouper, snapper, trout, and mackerels.

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I learned from my Italian relatives that eating in the southern Mediterranean is a pleasure! It is NOT a healthy obligation! However look at the benefits:

  • improved cognitive function with decreases in dementia
  • protection against heart disease
  • help to control blood pressure and cholesterol
  • protection against many kinds of cancer and diabetes
  • reduced obesity
  • reduced risk of dementia including Alzheimer’s
  • reduced risk of arthritis
  • reduced risk of depression

All the five senses controlled by our amazing brain are active when pairing nutritious food, wine and music (never forget the power of music therapy!) in harmony. Scientists have proven that our memory functions work better when we use all or at least multiple senses to store memory.

2. Brain Health: Mediterranean Lifestyle & Cooking demonstration at Sun City.

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We recently commenced a new series of practical demonstrations at Sun City. The series is entitled “Brain Health with Memory Matters” and the first in the series was “The Mediterranean Lifestyle & Cooking”. It featured a live cooking demonstration by one of our volunteers, Chef Kim Baretta. Kim is a trained Chef with extensive experience in catering and teaching cooking classes in the US and London, England. She has also worked in Paris, France. Kim gave a tremendously enjoyable and informative demonstration that, without exaggeration, garnered rave reviews from around seventy attendees!

The demonstration included a Mediterranean style lunch being served, paired with a red wine. The complete entree comprised half an aubergine (eggplant) stuffed with ground lean lamb and lentils, and other mouth watering ingredients were extra virgin olive oil, onion, minced garlic, diced green pepper, diced plum tomatoes, cumin, mint, red chili flakes, salt and pepper, brown rice, Italian parsley and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.

A Tzatziki was prepared to spoon on top of the finished entree and the ingredients were fat free Greek yogurt, English cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, fresh mint, salt and pepper.

The eggplant and tzatziki were complimented with a full Greek salad topped with feta cheese. The empty plates seemed to confirm the guests enjoyment and Chef Kim further complimented the entree with fresh macerated strawberries drizzled with a blend of lemon juice and high quality aged balsamic vinegar.

For those of you who would like to know more about the Memory Matters Brain Health programs and demonstrations at Sun City, please contact Debbie Anderson at 1 843 842 6688.

3. The results of a recent US university study into the benefits of extra virgin olive oil in the fight to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

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The following good news is “hot off the press” and was published in Medical News Today

I have summarized the key findings but please read the whole published account by clicking on the link for Medical News Today.

The new  research explores the neurological benefits of extra-virgin olive oil and finds that it may help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
New research suggests that extra-virgin olive oil – a key component of the Mediterranean diet – may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Mouse experiments revealed changes in both cognitive performance and the appearance of nerve cells.

The new research moves closer to a prevention – and potentially reversing – strategy, by studying the effects of extra-virgin olive oil on the cognitive performance and brain health of mice.

The new study – published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology – was carried out by a team of researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) in Philadelphia, PA.

Lead investigator Dr. Domenico Praticò – a professor in the departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at LKSOM – explains why several studies have singled out olive oil and hailed it as the main reason why the Mediterranean diet is linked to so many health benefits.

“The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats,” he says.

Studying the effect of olive oil in mice

Dr. Praticò and team used a traditional Alzheimer’s transgenic mouse model to study the effect of the oil. The rodents were genetically modified to have the three main characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease: memory impairment, the buildup of amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles.

Neurofibrillary tangles are the result of twisted strands of a protein called tau. In a healthy brain, tau helps with the transportation of nutrients and other molecules that the brain cells need. In Alzheimer’s disease, this protein gets tangled up inside the brain cells, which happen to be dying because essential nutrients no longer reach them.

Amyloid plaques are the result of the excess production and buildup of beta-amyloid, a fragment of the protein called “amyloid precursor protein.” In Alzheimer’s disease, these plaques build up in the spaces between neurons.

Dr. Praticò and colleagues split the rodents into two groups: one group was fed a chow diet with extra-virgin olive oil, and the other group received a regular chow diet with no added oil.

Alzheimer’s characteristics begin to develop in a rodent model quite early on, so in this experiment, the oil was added to the diet when the mice were 6 months old, before any symptoms could have appeared.

The researchers evaluated the mice’s cognitive abilities by administering tests for their spatial memory, working memory, and learning skills.

Olive oil preserves brain cell health

In terms of general appearance, no differences were noted between the two animal groups.

But, when the mice were 9 months and 12 months old, the mice that had been fed the extra-virgin olive oil diet performed much better in the cognitive tests.

Dr. Praticò and his team also analyzed the brain tissue of these mice, and the studies revealed striking differences between the appearance and functioning of the nerve cells.

Firstly, the integrity of the synapses – which are the parts of the brain cell that facilitate communication among neurons – was preserved much better in the olive oil group. Secondly, the brain tissue in the mice fed olive oil revealed a “dramatic increase” in the autophagy activation of the nerve cells.

Autophagy is a process that sees nerve cells disintegrate and eliminate the toxic debris that tends to accumulate between the cells.

In this experiment, the increase in autophagy led to a decrease in the amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.

Dr. Praticò says, “This is an exciting finding for us. Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory, and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced.”

“This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr. Domenico Praticò

Next, the researchers plan to introduce olive oil at a later stage, when Alzheimer’s symptoms will have already emerged. In the case of mice, this would mean at 12 months of age.

“Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present,” Dr. Praticò explains. “We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease.”

4. Imagine!

The discovery described in this Temple University study offers hope for the future, but there is a long way to go. As I wrote in my opening paragraph, the story of the olive and its oil is older than written history. Over thousands of years it has prospered and been a healthy food to millions of people. That history certainly encourages us to hope! So let us now take a short imaginary tour and dwell in the land of the olive……………………………..

Imagine traveling south in Italy during a Tuscan summer, pausing along the way to revel in the remarkable history and stunningly beautiful countryside peppered with cypress trees, standing like Roman sentinels shimmering in the sun, and immersed in fields of girasol. Why venture even further south while being mesmerized by the enchanting Tuscan medieval hilltop towns where the food and wine too are simply wonderful?

But you the brave traveler, in search of the quintessential Mediterranean lifestyle, will leave behind the charms of Tuscany’s Siena, Pienza, Montalcino and Cortona – to name but four –and travel further south, into Umbria, Lazio and maybe Apulia with its “white towns” such as Ostuni, owing much to early Greek development. You will be rewarded!  An abundance of historic places to discover and explore, fabulous renaissance art, mountains, lovely rustic countryside, and a seemingly endless choice of great places to relax and dine simply, but gloriously, while soaking up the unique ambiance.

In Umbria you soon arrive in Assisi, the final resting place of St. Francis, where in a beautiful Duomo you stand transfixed by the mighty and evocative frescoes painted by Giotto. Close by Assisi and clinging to the western side of the alkaline limestone Apennine Mountains you find Trevi, a tiny hillside town which arguably is the center of one of the southern Mediteranean’s finest olive oils! Stop, linger and enjoy! 

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So just like my imaginary Italian traveler please do take the time to study and enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle and its olive oil basis. All the indications are that it is really beneficial to the health of your brain!

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test,  call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness.

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community.

THE ART OF AMOS HUMMELL

“A man paints with his brain and not with his hands.”
― Michelangelo Buonarroti

Hickory DaiquiriThere are many local people and businesses that generously give of their time, talent or treasure to support the work we do for Brain Wellness and Memory Care Services. Some give all three and Amos Hummell is one of those.

I have previously written about our artist in residence – Art Cornell – who does an amazing job for us in the Memory Care Center, and I have written about how music and art play a large role in “exercising the brain” and improving brain wellness and the sense of overall well being.

Amos is the husband of Lynne Cope Hummell who herself did such a stellar job in editing our coffee table book “Meet Me Where I Am”, an uplifting collection of creative expressions centered on our caregivers. Those of us who have been privileged to meet Amos know he is special! A warm hearted and quietly spoken man with a mischievous twinkle in the eyes that define the incredible gift of expressive talent that he embraces in life.

As my readers know we have many kind people who “volunteer” for Memory Matters and every now and then I give them a “shout-out”. This is an unreserved shout-out for Amos Hummell!

The story starts with Amos offering to produce a painting “live” for us at our signature gala back in April. It takes a certain courage to produce a large format painting of the quality that Amos achieved while surrounded by nearly 250 guests, and be able to offer it for live auction there and then! Needless to say the beautiful painting was finished and after a tense and exciting bidding “war” was purchased by our own Board member Brad Wilson on behalf of Charter One Realty. It now hangs prominently in Brad’s office. In the photograph below is the painting with Amos and a justifiably proud Brad. “The Missing Poissons”.

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For those of you who don’t know Amos yet you will have an opportunity very shortly to do so . His new collection “Five O’Clock Somewhere” will take place shortly at the Arts Center – July 7-29, 2017
Hosted by the Art League of Hilton Head,
in The Walter Greer Gallery
Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, 14 Shelter Cove Ln, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
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I encourage you to go and view the paintings like the signature Hickory Daiquiri Dock at the beginning of this blog and others that follow. There will be amusing poems and limericks too describing the art you will see before your eyes.

Hummell Full Tilt

Amos has lived on Hilton Head Island for 36 years. His artistic career began in the 1990’s when he discovered the art of polymer bead making and for several years was known locally as “the Bead Man”.  Then he started painting signs, often on tin. Soon he was inspired to paint on many different materials using a bright, vivid palette with vibrant colors, characters and experiences of the Lowcountry. His work is best described as non-conventional and with tremendous creative expression. It has also been described a type of “Folk Art” and has its roots in African and Jamaican imagery.

His earlier work can still be seen at Marleys Island Seafood Grille in Park Plaza.

Amos happily described to me the way in which he develops a piece of art and anticipates the mind of the viewer. For example in the “Missing Poissons” painting produced for our gala he could imagine the viewer discovering more hidden detail with each martini they consumed! That’s five o’clock somewhere! 

Following the art show at the Greer Gallery Amos has plenty of plans to further his career including producing a coffee table book.

When you meet with Amos you are left with no mis-understating as to the genius of his expression. His mind is alive with ideas and just like Michelangelo his brain is driving his artistry.

Hummell The Landing

Amos is especially keen on involving children in the creation of their own on-stage art. He continues to be a strong advocate of arts education, and has supported the Island School Council for the Arts as a participant in “An Evening of the Arts” for two decades.

He has come a long way from his first family reunion here on Hilton Head Island back in 1965 when he used a bicycle to get around the sandy tracks on what then looked more like Hunting Island than that we know today. He loved the place then and is happy to have called it home for so many years.

You can contact Amos via his web site at http://www.hummellstudios.com or by email to hummellstudios@gmail.com.

THANK YOU AMOS! YOU ARE A STAR, AND MEMORY MATTERS IS SO HAPPY THAT YOU ARE OUR FRIEND.

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, please call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MUSIC TO MY EARS!

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“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It’s easy”.

John Lennon – The Beatles – from “All You Need is Love”

I have some really good news! Please study the content of this blog. The story makes  good and encouraging reading!

Last week I posted a blog entitled “The Sounds of Music” featuring our musicians, a visiting Welsh singer and the Sun City Dulcimers. Singing in a “lead” role with the Dulcimers was one of our Club Members who performed an inspirational rendition of Amazing Grace.  At the same time I also posted, on Memory Matters Business Facebook page, a video of this gentleman singing with his heart, mind and voice!

Together with my friends at Memory Matters I was gratified to note that together the two posts reached over 8000 people on Facebook in just seven days. Having written over fifty blogs in the past year it is notable that our readers often express especial interest in our description of the therapeutic benefits of music.

Now let’s take this a step further with exciting news of a new and relatively simple and inexpensive approach using music to help caregivers, Memory Care Specialists, and dementia sufferers everywhere!

A study by researchers at Brown University in Rhode Island was published on May 10th, 2017 describing how they found that individual music playlists had a calming or pleasurable effect on Care Home residents.  Caregivers and Memory Care Specialists, including our own, can look to the results of the first national study to compare key outcomes in homes that implemented an individualized music program called MUSIC & MEMORY with similar homes that did not adopt the program. A total of 98 care homes used the program called Music and Memory which trains care workers to create music playlists for residents based on their personal history and music preferences. Residents’ mood, behavior and their use of anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medication  were all recorded at the beginning of the study and at the end, with care homes reporting an improvement in residents behavior and less need for medication.

In addition to the Brown Study that you can read via my link I can report that the British  national Care Home organization that helps to regulate, advise and provide quality standards, has already ‘jumped on’ the Brown study this month and quickly provided the following interesting and practical report from its own focussed work. The British organization is CareHome.co.uk 

Suffice to say, Memory Matters will be following up too!

“Time consuming but worth it!

It can be time consuming for care workers (caregivers or Memory Care Specialists) to find out each resident’s favourite music. However Orii McDermott, senior research fellow at Nottingham University, believes it improves their quality of life so it is “time well spent in the long run”.

Balhousie Care Group in Scotland has trained up some of its care workers on compiling personal playlists. It joined forces with the charity Playlist for Life which was founded by broadcaster Sally Magnusson, who lost her mother to dementia.

Playlist for Life wants every person with dementia, whether living at home or in a care home, to have a playlist of personally meaningful music from key moments in their life, available on an iPod, tablet or phone.

The charity believes personalized music playlists can also reduce pain. It has a very useful Personalised Music Assessment Tool which measures the impact of the playlist on pain as well as a number of other factors.

Abbeyfield Society, which runs care homes and extra care housing, has also now embraced the concept and is training over 200 care workers and volunteers to become music detectives and compile different music that has significant meaning for people with dementia.

Therapeutic benefits amplified.

April Dobson, head of dementia and innovation at Abbeyfield said: “Therapeutic benefits of music are already well documented, and there is growing evidence that personally meaningful music can amplify those effects.

“We can all think of music that gives us ‘that flashback feeling’ and transports us back to another time, person or place in our lives. That music can become a lifeline if you develop dementia because it is deeply attached to your memories and emotions. It can soothe, calm and comfort and also make us feel alive. That’s exactly the experience we want to be able to provide for people living with us who have dementia.”

Abbeyfield staff are being trained up as it can be difficult piecing together songs which are significant to someone with dementia. “They may not be able to speak or remember the songs that have left an audial footprint on their lives. That’s why we are training up staff and volunteers to become music detectives looking for clues and identifying music that triggers autobiographical memory and instils a sense of identity and belonging for people with dementia,” added Ms Dobson.

Music is ‘neurologically special’.

The Abbeyfield Making Music project uses tools and training developed by Playlist for Life, with the project being supported by The People’s Postcode Trust. For more information read here: Playlist For Life.
Abbeyfield Stow Park resident Trudy Morgan with psychiatric nurse, Peter Clark
Playlist for Life chief executive Sarah Metcalfe said: “Abbeyfield is the first care group to deliver playlists into every one of their homes in this strategic way. It is really exciting to be working with them as they lead the way on personal music for dementia.

“Music is neurologically special because it stimulates so many parts of the brain at once. Even if dementia has damaged one part of the brain it can still reach those other parts almost as if it gets ‘in through the back door’ to access memories and abilities that had been thought lost.

“We teach people to become music detectives, giving them skills and tips about how to find the music that is personally meaningful to an individual. Were they part of a choir? Is there old sheet music about? Do relatives or friends remember them enjoying a particular film or going to the cinema?”

Care workers are then taught how to incorporate the playlists they have built into care plans and use the music to help people do the things they may find difficult, like eating or bathing.

“Music helps to make people more grounded in their own sense of self. It can help manage their mood so they have better visits with their family – it’s a way of reminding them who people are. It builds better connections between care home staff and the people they are caring for. Carers learn so much more about an individual just by looking at the person. They learn so much about them and their life story, which is enhanced by the cognitive benefits of music. The two just come together,” says Ms Dobson.

‘I have seen the difference it can make’

Anita Pascoe is an activities coordinator at Abbeyfield Stow Park in Newport, Wales which is set to become the first certified Playlist care home in the UK.

She admits she was “sceptical about the project at first” but says: “I have seen the difference it can make. Many of the people living with us have very complex needs, but the music can help on so many levels. It helps relax them, helping at meal times and bathing – and it does unlock their memories, which is lovely for their families. To see couples who have been so devoted to each other being brought together by music which connects them brings a tear to your eye. It is lovely.”

Creating a personalized playlist is not just about saying someone liked Elvis or Jonny Cash. It’s about going back further: Finding out the songs they would sing in their courting days, or that you could remember them singing before their memory shut down, she says.

Harry and Margaret.

Craigielea care home in Renfrew in Scotland has seen huge changes in their residents due to personalized playlists. Harry who has severe dementia and his wife Margaret were the first couple Playlist for Life worked with at the home. Margaret came every day to see Harry and left most days in tears, as he had stopped responding to her. However something as simple as a personalized playlist got Harry smiling and talking again and he now listens to songs with his wife and they both sing along.

Sheila Inshaw, manager of the home which was recently named as one of the Top 20 care homes in Scotland by the leading care home reviews site carehome.co.uk, reveals that they were looking at some form of medication for Harry as he was so withdrawn “to bright him up a little and get him to interact a bit more. But this is so much better than a chemical intervention. It doesn’t cost anything and we have Harry back for nothing!”

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, please call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community

 

 

THE SOUNDS OF MUSIC!

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The Sun City Dulcimers and one of our Compass Club Members singing Amazing Grace.

Please note that I am separately posting a video of this event.  It is essential viewing !

To all our volunteer musicians: Thank you for the music!

I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
But I have a talent, a wonderful thing
Cause everyone listens when I start to sing
I’m so grateful and proud
All I want is to sing it out loud

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me.

From the song by ABBA

We play and sing music every day in our memory care center. We dance too, and then sometimes we sing karaoke style as the words appear on our big screen.

We sing while we exercise our bodies and we listen to patriotic music and watch an exercise team performing in time to the music.

Then on other days there are guest appearances from wonderful local choirs, bell ringers who have amazing chimes, and other talented musicians.

Nine years ago our Memory Care Specialist and Administrative Officer-the lovely Melissa- joined Memory Matters and brought with her Dale Nordby and “The Band” together with the amazing Norm Reeves who has just turned 101 years of age. Norm provides funny stories, ministry and prayer. The Band recently lost its wonderful bass player Pete but Dale, Desi and Joe continue to provide enjoyable and inspirational music to the Memory Matters Club members every Friday morning. Songs like “Wagon Wheel” which everyone likes to dance and singalong with, to the moving “Surely the presence of The Lord is in this place”. “The Band” as we know and love them were once called the Island Chaplain Minstrels and they still play and sing at Preston Hall in the Cypress community too.

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In the photo above are Dale, Norm and Desi with Cathee (never shy!) entertaining  our Club members. 

We are blessed to have Dale and his friends join us for other events too. e.g the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party.

On Tuesday’s we are joined by the Memory Matters Merry Minstrels comprising any number of people and led by Kirby Sullivan. Regular contributors are Annie, Mike, Frank, Gregg and Bob. They even invite Volunteer Mike to play with them!

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Kirby and friends: The Memory Matters Merry Minstrels.

We have wonderful choirs who visit on a regular basis, and these include the Belfair Singers.

The Sun City Rafferty Singers are a welcome group too as are another group from Sun City called “The Chimers”.

Another of our volunteers – Trish Elliot – plays violin and on a Monday will sometimes bring with her friends who play stringed instruments and the flute.

At every Thursday Connections class the lovely Gayle leads her custom designed yoga class that ends with therapeutic music and meditation

A Message to all Pianists in our Community

We have a beautiful Grand Piano in the memory care facility and we are currently searching for a volunteer pianist to entertain our Club members for up to an hour each week. If you are interested in volunteering you will be welcome! Please call Pat Cleary if you are interested in learning more. 1 843 842 6688.

We have so many artists and professionals who freely give of their time and talent to help our Club members living with memory loss, and I would be remiss if I did not include three fantastic solo guitarists who are regular contributors, namely Mitch, John and the amazing Dr. Paul!

 

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Above in the colorful hat is our friend Mitch.

This last Tuesday we enjoyed a unique musical interlude from my niece Efa Harris-Davies who is visiting us from Wales. Now everyone knows that there are no finer voices anywhere in the world than those from the Welsh Valleys, and Efa proved that she is carrying forward this noble tradition. Volunteer Mike somehow managed to provide the backing to Efa’s beautiful rendition of the Welsh National Anthem (“Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” or “Land of my Fathers” in English). Efa sang in Welsh and then unaccompanied sang an enchanting version of the Welsh Hymn “Calon Lan” which translated means “A Pure Heart”. I must admit to being enthralled by Calan Lan, and later, prompted by Efa, showed a video recording of a 133 voice Welsh Boys Choir singing the song at “Britain’s got Talent” It is a captivating performance by “Only Boys Aloud” and the Club members loved it. So I played it again for the Club Members on Thursday who clapped and cheered the inspirational performance! I am attaching the link so that others might enjoy this too. Calon Lan

Efa Harris-Davies

Last week we were entertained to a virtuoso performance on the Clarinet by Volunteer Bob’s grand daughter Rachael.

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IMG_2565Bob and Rachael

Wednesday was another special musical day. We were joined and entertained by the Sun City Dulcimers. Wow! These folk are fantastic!

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The Sun City Dulcimers with our Club members

Here is a little background to their music:

During the period from 1700 to the mid-1800’s, early forms of the mountain dulcimer were developed in the Shenandoah River Valley region of southwestern Pennsylvania and western Virginia. These early forms were a blend of British and Scottish musical traditions and European folk instruments, especially the German scheitholt and the Swedish hummel. The mountain dulcimer is classified as a diatonically fretted “zither” – a “zither” being an instrument with strings stretched across a box from end to end, and having no neck as do guitars and violins. “Diatonic” means that the instrument plays only the eight tones of a scale such as: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.

Due to their simplicity in form and construction, dulcimers were popular for the music of the day in the mountain areas and were typically played by fretting the stings with a wooden dowel and strummed with a quill often made from a turkey feather. After the folk revival of the 1950’s and 60’s the dulcimer began to gain popularity. Today numerous dulcimer clubs have formed throughout the US, playing many forms of music including folk, gospel, and Americana. The Sun City Dulcimers is one such group and its members enjoy music and camaraderie on a weekly basis.

In the heart of the Lowcountry, just minutes from the sandy beaches of Hilton Head Island, Sun City may seem like an unlikely place to hear the twang of mountain music.

But these fine folk practice, play and tour.

The more people hear them play, the more they become interested in the sound of the dulcimer and the mountain music.

What do we learn from all of the above?

Music therapy provides a path for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. It provides positive sensory stimulation for the brain and enhances a person’s sense of well-being.  Music aids the cognitive process and perceptions. Music is an outlet where all of us can express our emotional feelings. It makes us feel great when we can recall songs of yesterday, rhymes and lyrics. It provides relief from stress and tension. Music takes us to a happier place. It can change an emotion in a moment from frown to smile! Try singing in the shower! Music heals!

“Music expresses that which cannot be said, and on which it is impossible to be silent”. Victor Hugo

 

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For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, please call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community

YOUNG AT HEART

IMG_2563I hope that you will be able to read many more blogs like this one! Our Club members not only have amazing brains but they are young at heart and love young people who have the “knack” to engage them, listen, share stories and entertain in that most human of ways.

It never ceases to amaze me the way that young people, (in the case of this story, teenagers), can engage and interact with our Club Members.  We were running both Connections and Compass classes on Tuesday and at some point merged them together. We will often do this when individuals express a desire to participate in a specific activity, or where we know from experience that there is benefit. Music and Art therapy are classic cases in point. Both can appropriately and significantly stimulate the brain, and both forms of therapy are fun! To watch our friends produce stellar artwork in our new ‘Blue Room’ is simply a revelation to be savored, and to hear them sing and dance with us is a joy impossible to explain with mere words.

So it was on this Tuesday when my good friend and volunteer, Bob, brought his visiting Grandchildren to Memory Matters. These are wonderful “kids” who have visited us before and know what to expect and, importantly, how to help make a difference. Rachael, Sarah and Luke were really welcomed by our Club members and were entertained by first Rachael, on the clarinet, and later by Sarah on the piano. Luke did not have his saxophone with him this time, but he has performed in the past. Rachael’s rendition of the “Music of the Night’ from the Phantom of the Opera was simply fabulous.

I have to add that the kids Grandpa Bob tried really hard to master the background music technology, but judging by his grandchildren’s smiles and laughter, this is a learning process! The above photo shows Rachael and some of our Club Members and volunteers enjoying the moment. Remember that you never know when a moment will become a memory for our Club members.

The next photo shows just how good Volunteer Bob is at shag dancing when he entertained us to his best impersonation of “Fred Astaire” while Cathy (a Club member) was his “Ginger Rogers”.

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Then Rachael took over again with a little sophisticated music.

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After which Bob returned to his role of compere and told a few of his stories and, as they say in Las Vegas, once heard by the Club Members, these stories stay in Memory Matters! You can see that Rachael enjoyed the stories, but I just hope that she didn’t tell them to Bob’s wife Carrie!

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Not content with music alone our young friends ran a competitive bingo session with Luke an admirable number caller. Suffice to say every Club member was a winner.

Do you have children or grandchildren seeking to engage in rewarding and fun community activity this summer? It’s always good to add to their resumes. We have opportunities this summer for volunteering and we are flexible on times. If you know of students who would like to volunteer at Memory Matters please call Cathee Stegall or Pat Cleary at 1 843 842 6688. Thank you for your consideration.

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Last Tuesday really was a fun and memorable day. We were honored to receive representatives from the Friends of Callawassie who came to view the outstanding therapeutic art program led by our Artist-in-Residence, Art Cornell,  and our own Cathee Stegall. The Friends of Callawassie Island are supporting our Therapeutic Arts program with a grant for art materials/supplies. They observed the artists in action and left with signed, original artwork. A huge THANK YOU to them!

Left to right in the photo below are Sheila Strand (Executive Director Memory Matters) Cathee Stegall (Memory Care Specialist) and from the Friends of Callawassie Mike Anderson and Nancy Sinick.

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Additionally our Club members enjoyed news, stories, information, music trivia and singing with “Bob and Mike in the morning”, followed by exercise to music and, singing and dancing with Kirby Sullivan and friends aka the Memory Matters Merry Minstrels!

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, please call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community

AT 98, ‘STILL NOSY’ ABOUT THE BRAIN

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Our Executive Director, Sheila Strand spotted this article in the New York Times on Tuesday May 16th in the Personal Health section. It is superbly authored by Benedict Carey and tells the story of an amazing 98 year woman – Dr. Brenda Milner – who has already changed the course of global brain science forever, and at age 98 is not intending to stop work anytime soon!

While the full NYT article is certainly compelling, one paragraph in particular caught Sheila’s eye: “People with early signs of dementia can have trouble with imagery, and by the time the disease is advanced they’ve lost that ability,” said Joelle Crane, a clinical psychologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute. “One area this new work might help us with is in training people to learn in a more visual way.”

One thing we experience every day at Memory Matters is the power of visual learning, especially when making art. I have previously spotlighted our amazing volunteer artist-in-residence, Art Cornell, and his ability to spark the brains of our early-dementia “Connections” club members. It is thrilling to see his “visual training” in action, indeed!

Please enjoy reading this article which I include below in its entirety.

MONTREAL — The driving instructor wiped his brow with a handkerchief, and not just because of the heat. His student — a grown woman, squinting over the dashboard — was ramming the curb in an effort to parallel park.

“We reached an agreement, right then and there: He let me pass the test, and I promised never to drive,” Brenda Milner said, smiling to herself at the decades-old memory. “You see, my spatial skills aren’t so good. That’s primarily a right-brain function.”

Dr. Milner, a professor of psychology in the department of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill University in Montreal, is best known for discovering the seat of memory in the brain, the foundational finding of cognitive neuroscience. But she also has a knack for picking up on subtle quirks of human behavior and linking them to brain function — in the same way she had her own, during the driving test.

At 98, Dr. Milner is not letting up in a nearly 70-year career to clarify the function of many brain regions — frontal lobes, and temporal; vision centers and tactile; the left hemisphere and the right — usually by painstakingly testing people with brain lesions, often from surgery. Her prominence long ago transcended gender, and she is impatient with those who expect her to be a social activist. It’s science first with Dr. Milner, say close colleagues, in her lab and her life.

Perched recently on a chair in her small office, resplendent in a black satin dress and gold floral pin and banked by moldering towers of old files, she volleyed questions rather than answering them. “People think because I’m 98 years old I must be emerita,” she said. “Well, not at all. I’m still nosy, you know, curious.”

Dr. Milner continues working, because she sees no reason not to. Neither McGill nor the affiliated Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital has asked her to step aside. She has funding: In 2014 she won three prominent achievement awards, which came with money for research. She has a project: a continuing study to investigate how the healthy brain’s intellectual left hemisphere coordinates with its more aesthetic right one in thinking and memory.

And she has adapted to the life as an undeniably senior senior researcher. “I come into the office about three days a week or so, that is plenty,” Dr. Milner said.

“And I have some rules,” she added. “I will take on postdoctoral students, but not graduate students. Graduate students need to know you’ll be around for five years or so, and well” — she chuckled, looking up at the ceiling — “well, it’s very difficult if they have to switch to someone else, you know.”

Dr. Milner’s current project is, appropriately enough, an attempt to weave together two of brain science’s richest strands of research, both of which she helped originate a lifetime ago.

One is the biology of memory.

Dr. Milner changed the course of brain science for good as a newly minted Ph.D. in the 1950s by identifying the specific brain organ that is crucial to memory formation.

She did so by observing the behavior of a 29-year-old Connecticut man who had recently undergone an operation to relieve severe epileptic seizures. The operation was an experiment: On a hunch, the surgeon suctioned out two trenches of tissue from the man’s brain, one from each of his medial temporal lobes, located deep below the skull about level with the ears. The seizures subsided.

But the patient, an assembly line worker named Henry Molaison, was forever altered. He could no longer form new memories.

Concerned and intrigued, the surgeon contacted Dr. Wilder Penfield and Dr. Milner at the Montreal Neurological Institute, who had previously reported on two cases of amnesia in patients treated there. Thus began a now-famous collaboration.

She started taking the night train from Montreal to give a battery of tests to Mr. Molaison, who was known in research reports as H. M. to protect his privacy.

In a landmark 1957 paper Dr. Milner wrote with Mr. Molaison’s surgeon, she concluded that the medial temporal areas — including, importantly, an organ called the hippocampus — must be critical to memory formation. That finding, though slow to sink in, would upend the accepted teaching at the time, which held that no single area was critical to supporting memory.

Dr. Milner continued to work with Mr. Molaison and later showed that his motor memory was intact: He remembered how to perform certain physical drawing tests, even if he had no memory of learning them.

The finding, reported in 1962, demonstrated that there are at least two systems in the brain for processing memory: one that is explicit and handles names, faces and experiences; and another that is implicit and incorporates skills, like riding a bike

“I clearly remember to this day my excitement, sitting there with H. M. and watching this beautiful learning curve develop right there in front of me,” Dr. Milner said. “I knew very well I was witnessing something important.”

The other strand her new research project incorporates is so-called hemispheric specialization: how the brain’s two halves, the right and the left, divide up its mental labor.

In the early 1960s, scientists including Dr. Milner had shown that the brain’s left hemisphere specializes in language and reasoning, and that the right makes holistic, more aesthetic judgments — it is more sensual than intellectual.

Still, in people with brain injuries, particularly to the frontal lobes behind the forehead, the two hemispheres could compensate by working together in subtle ways.

In an era before precise imaging technology, standard pencil-and-paper testing could not easily detect the deficits caused by specific injuries.

In a series of studies, and using the same knack for exhaustive observation, Dr. Milner demonstrated that several kinds of tests could help characterize frontal lobe injuries. One of these, for example, is called the verbal fluency test, which assesses a person’s ability to generate words in certain categories or beginning with certain letters — a test of left hemisphere integrity.

“She didn’t just give the person a test and mark down the score,” Dr. Marilyn Jones-Gotman, a longtime friend and colleague, said. “No, she sat down with people, paid attention to everything they did and said, and wrote it all down. That all went into the record, and gave you clues to what was actually going on in their minds that the scores by themselves couldn’t.”

The new project is aimed at understanding how hemispheric coordination aids memory retrieval under normal circumstances, in people without brain injuries. Dr. Milner leads a research team that has been taking exhaustive M.R.I. brain images from participants while they solve problems and take memory tests.

Does the artistic right hemisphere provide clues to help its more logic-oriented other half retrieve words? If so, which kinds of clues seem most powerful?

In one experiment, participants in the brain scanner tried to recall a list of words they had just studied. Some of those words were concrete, like dog or house, conjuring specific imagery; others, like concept or strategy, were not. The scans carefully track activation across hemispheres moment to moment, as retrieval happens.

“We’re just going through the data from our current study now,” Dr. Milner said, gesturing through the open doorway to Ami Tsuchida, who was working on a computer

For this particular experiment, Dr. Tsuchida said, “We’re looking at the pattern of interactions between left and right hippocampus for words rated as highly imageable relative to those rated as not very imageable” to see if there’s any difference.

The findings hold tremendous potential to help people with early dementia, some brain injuries and even learning disabilities.

“People with early signs of dementia can have trouble with imagery, and by the time the disease is advanced they’ve lost that ability,” said Joelle Crane, a clinical psychologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute. “One area this new work might help us with is in training people to learn in a more visual way.”

For Dr. Milner, after a lifetime exploring the brain, the motive for the work is personal as well as professional. “I live very close; it’s a 10-minute walk up the hill,” she said. “So it gives me a good reason to come in regularly.”

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, please call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.  

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community

ARE YOU AN OPTIMIST?

I can do itSome days are definitely better than others! In our Connections program, some days are amazing and you don’t want the day to end because of the electricity in the room and first class contribution from the Club Members themselves.

We live for days like these. When our Memory Care Specialist and Program Director – Cathee- briefed us on the theme for the upcoming day, I had an inkling that this might be a really good day. The theme being “Optimism”. However I had no idea just how dynamic and dramatic the day would be.

Cathee started by comparing optimism and pessimism and seeking to find out how our Club Members and volunteers perceived themselves. She briefly described how we should avoid negative thoughts and the “Cortisol Connection”. For those who have attended our Brain Boosters program we know that cortisol is a potent chemical that surges when we become stressed or worry over nothing. Research has shown it can act like a drug and shrink human brains. Cortisol shuts down learning, creates anxiety and can cause depression.

We talked about worry. Did we mean worry or did we really mean “concern”?

Some of us admitted that we worried about our children even in later life when they have children of their own; and we all worried about the world in which our grand children will live when we are gone. The ‘trick” being to turn that worry into a positive, or an opportunity. This was the moment when our Club Members stepped up, and before Cathee could go into her pre-planned program, we changed course!

One gentleman suggested that we break the discussion into three separate elements: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. We did so and there followed a great discussion where everyone seemed to want to contribute quite profound thoughts. So below this paragraph I am posting a replica of the thought process that evolved, and which we recorded in précis form.

OptimismFollowing the debate we completed a questionnaire specially structured to determine whether we were naturally pessimistic, or slightly or strongly optimistic. The results probably surprised some since nearly everyone was determined to be at least slightly optimistic and many very optimistic, even though these Club Members had earlier perceived themselves to be less than optimistic!

Later in the morning, after our yoga session left us relaxed and mellow we chose to sing some positive songs chosen by the Club Members and  these included: “I’d like to teach the  world to sing in perfect harmony”, “You raise me up” and “The Wind beneath my wings”. Later in the afternoon we closed with “Wonderful World” and “Happy Together” by the Turtles!

After lunch Cathee found time to return to the theme and asked us to list all the things we find positive now we are older (and maybe wiser)!

It was an interesting list and as one Club Member called Tom reminded us, “its an infinite list and we have to find space and time to continue to extend it”!

I repeat, in no particular order:

  • Medicare
  • Grandkids
  • Discounts
  • Going to bed when we want
  • Getting up when we want
  • White hair
  • No need to visit the barber
  • The sense of being alive
  • Relaxing
  • Children invite you to dinner!
  • Good health
  • Easier parking
  • Time to self
  • More choices
  • More time to try new things
  • Learning to play music
  • Learning to dance
  • Learning to sing
  • Reading more books
  • Travel to new places
  • Making new friends

Yes, we agreed with Tom, the list is endless. Tom told me that even busy working people  should be able to find ‘space’ to do most of the above, but it seldom happens. Retirement opens up the choices, or perhaps facilitates the optimistic thought patterns. Good choices today open up infinite possibilities for tomorrow, and so I repeat my favorite mission moment quotation from Dr. Seuss:

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Being a volunteer at Memory Matters has certainly introduced me to new friends, both staff and Club Members, and days like today help to keep us all positive and feeling young!

I could not finish this blog without a mention of one of our Club Members who was celebrating his 60th Wedding Anniversary. Cathee, Karen and I were present when he presented his wife with a lovely bouquet of roses. It was a very special moment and capped off a super day.

IMG_2481.JPGPlease share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential. We offer memory screening too. We are a phone call away here in your local community.

RAISE YOUR VOICE!

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Let me start by saying that I make no apology for returning to a theme discussed elsewhere in my posts over the past year! Neither is this a political commentary. It is about fact and reality, passionately stated on behalf of our caregivers and their loved ones who are entrusted to our care.

Every now and then I cast my eyes beyond our memory care center at 117 William Hilton Parkway and report on issues relevant to Memory Matters . Those of us whose families have been touched by the insidious disease carefully follow the statistics published by the  Alzheimer’s Association and read every update from the pharmaceutical companies that are developing new products to attempt to cure the disease. Sadly none has yet been successful.

America is blessed with many first class research scientists including Dr. Rudolph Tanzi who has made huge contributions already. Dr. Tanzi co-discovered three of the first Alzheimer’s disease (AD) genes and has identified several others in the Alzheimer’s Genome Project, which he directs. He also discovered the Wilson’s disease gene and participated in the discovery of several other neurological disease genes. Most recently, he has used AD genes to create a three- dimensional human stem cell-derived neural culture system that recapitulates AD plaque and tangle pathology. Using this system, Dr. Tanzi is also developing therapeutics for AD including gamma secretase modulators and metal chaperones to lower beta-amyloid and tangle burden in the brain.

All of the above and more requires huge sums of research dollars. Fortunately the US Government came to a new budget agreement this week for the balance of 2017 and despite some efforts to cut the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget, they were given an additional $2 billion funding over the next five months. The NIH  additional funding bump includes an extra $400 million to research Alzheimer’s disease.  It also boosts spending on two of former President Barack Obama’s big science projects including the BRAIN Initiative, which will get an extra $110 million to support work mapping the human brain.

There are some things we should never forget and they need to be constantly repeated so that the Alzheimer’s Association message is not diluted. We must ensure that politicians of all persuasions hear and read about the indisputable facts surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. So let me again quote from the Alzheimer’s Association:

“Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, slowed or cured, and leading independent researchers have determined it has become the nation’s most expensive disease, with costs for this year alone projected to be $259 billion. In 2016, for every $100 the U.S. government spent on Alzheimer’s research it spent $16,000 in Medicare and Medicaid costs caring for individuals living with this fatal disease. Now the $400 million increase has been signed into law this week, Alzheimer’s research funding at the NIH will be nearly $1.4 billion. Leading experts have said this FY2017 increase was needed to remain on track to meet the first goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s — to effectively treat and prevent Alzheimer’s by 2025”.

QUICK FACTS

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In conclusion, even though there is as yet there is no cure,  progress has been made and I hope and pray for a cure in my generation’s lifetime. Whenever you have the chance please let your political representatives know just how important it is to maintain research funding going forward, in real terms.

Thank you for reading my blogs and sharing them. I started this  process a year ago and have enjoyed writing about the many positive changes and happenings at Memory Matters. In its 20th  Anniversary year the organization continues to support the Lowcountry community with innovative Brain Wellness and Memory Care initiatives.

Please watch this space!

Please share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential. We offer memory screening too. We are a phone call away here in your local community.

SOMETIMES SAYING “THANK YOU” IS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH!

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This blog is intended to give a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who contributed their time, talent and treasure to making our signature Gala – “April in Paris” – such a great success!

Let me start by thanking the renowned Fine Artist Amos Hummell (see above) for gracing our 20th Anniversary Signature Gala held on April 25th at Sea Pines Country Club. Amos gave a live painting exhibition and his beautiful donated work was auctioned during the evening.

This was a truly wonderful evening where the Lowcountry community came together and made a significant donation to our not-for-profit Brain Wellness and Memory Care resource.  In excess of $100,000 was raised for Memory Matters through the goodwill, generosity and pure human kindness of many, many people.

My words of thanks include everyone. By emphasizing this word I include all those people who could not attend the Gala but thoughtfully and generously donated to the event. It would be impossible to list all the names, but you know who you are! Thank you all!

Similarly there were so many kind and anonymous donors present at the Gala. Your generosity was tremendous. Again, I cannot list names, but as my wife’s Irish family would say, thank you a thousand times. 

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To our event sponsors, we reach out once more and say “thank you so much”. Without your financial support we could not have been so successful. 

At the top of this list of sponsors are our wonderful Dosal Family friends who gave at the Platinum level. Brookdale, Benton House, and Bloom Senior Living gave generously at the Gold level, and at the Silver level we also received generous donations from Beacon Insurance Group, Boys Arnold & Company, Coastal States -Raymond James, Kroger, South State Bank and Tidewater Hospice.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special “THANK YOU” to Sea Pines Resort who helped secure some imaginative auction items and to Whole Foods who provided 8 dozen roses to help beautify the venue.

To the Board of Directors of Memory Matters who graciously gave of their time, talent and treasure: thank you!

Thank you to those community volunteers who serve on some of our committees. We value your input and efforts on our behalf.

I saw a number of our regular Memory Care Center volunteers at the Gala and for everything you do for our care givers and their loved-ones in the Memory Care center, another thousand thank yous!

Last and by no means least a special thank you to the Memory Matters staff who worked tirelessly on their day jobs and the Gala. As a volunteer in Memory Care, you are my friends and I am proud to be able to work alongside such a passionately dedicated team of people.

For those of you in the Lowcountry who may be reading about Memory Matters for the first time, or are someone who knows of our well-respected contribution to the local community and are interested in updating yourself, I will briefly touch on the key note address given by our Executive Director Sheila Strand. Sheila took over the reins from Eddy Hoyle who retired this year. Over a twelve year period Eddy did a fantastic job establishing Memory Matters as we know it today, and she will never be forgotten.

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Now in a short space of time Sheila Strand has already inspired her team to pursue exciting new initiatives and to grow our service offerings still further. In her address Sheila spoke of:

Our VISION:

Memory Matters Optimizes Brain Wellness.

Our MISSION:

Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, caregivers and our Lowcountry community.

“Brain Wellness”. We already provide community education for brain wellness. It’s more than what some might call brain health. Wellness has been described  as a state of “being”, whereas health is about our “body”.  These are perhaps semantics so let me use my own words to review Sheila’s address. Let’s consider this holistically but in a practical way.

Many of us attend a gym and work out. Some of us just walk, jog, ride a bike or practice yoga. We then monitor our weight, muscle build up and BMI (body mass index). We are complimented for loss of weight and muscle build up, and then we are chastised by the physical training experts for an increase in BMI! Wow! We need to eat more regularly and more often and sometimes simply more! We always need to balance carbohydrates and protein.

With our heads reeling from all this knowledge we are now encouraged to adopt a southern Mediterranean diet! Now that is a pleasure, and anyone reading my recent blog on the nutritious value of Italian food can perhaps start to relax a little! Even drink a glass of red wine in moderation.

All of the above makes eminent sense to those of us who are determined to maintain their fitness for life as the years seemingly move faster by. These fitness and nutrition plans are so important and are frequently adopted, but how many people do you know who deliberately combine brain wellness programs with exercise and nutrition? How many have daily plans to exercise their brain?

If you would like to know more about this subject then please call us and make an appointment to speak confidentially to one of our Memory Care Specialists. By adopting simple techniques and programs we can help you to develop a holistic plan.

My wife and I like to think that our aging memories are relatively intact, but we both benefited hugely from the Brain Boosters program last year and, speaking as a person who volunteers twice a week in our programs, I am constantly learning and finding new ways to exercise my brain. In fact I would recommend volunteering at Memory Matters to anyone looking to give back to the community and, at the same time, improve your own brain wellness.

So please continue to follow these blogs as I seek to describe the evolution of Memory Matters in our community. We are not short on ideas, knowledgeable people or motivation to succeed. We are also “listeners” and I would encourage you please to call us with your ideas and needs.

We are not just based at 117 William Hilton Parkway! We are constantly moving through the community from Hilton Head to Bluffton, Sun City and beyond. We are educating through our Purple Angel project and teaching sensitivity where appropriate. We are developing new brain wellness programs which we can bring closer to your home.

In summary: our vision to optimize brain wellness is evolving, and our mission to optimize brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals and care-givers in the Low Country community is taking place now!

We desire to partner with you to spread the message that our brain wellness education is available to all.

Let me finish by reiterating my thanks to EVERYONE who contributed to our Gala in a modest or substantial manner. You are all important to us at Memory Matters and your visible renewal of confidence in our future was truly humbling. 

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!

Please share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential. We offer memory screening too. We are a phone call away here in your local community.

DR. SEUSS AND LAUGHTER

My European relatives, friends, and potential volunteers often ask, “just what happens in a typical day” in our Memory Care facility. A year or so ago I would give lots of examples of the various activities in either the Connections or Compass program. Now I tend to preface that description with the words, “there is no such thing as a typical day”.

Every day is different. It has to be since we live in the world of people suffering with varying  levels of dementia or, in some cases just mild cognitive impairment and occasionally Parkinson’s disease. For those suffering with even moderate dementia we have to accept that their world is their reality and we have to live in it. So although every day commences with a program plan and briefing from the Memory Care Specialists and Program Directors Pat and Cathee, we have to accept that changes often need to be made in a dynamic fashion. In fact, it is rare for us to complete a days program without at least one diversion or response to a new and developing situation.

This ability to be flexible and follow a new reality is one of the things that separates Memory Matters from others.

Every day is different, and not only do we flex to accommodate our Club Members needs, we deliberately plan to build variety into the programs. For example, some days will emphasize art, others will introduce news items, brain stretching puzzles, poetry, time in the courtyard garden and every day will feature music and singing. Dancing and live music is a regular feature.

As I reflect on another busy and rewarding week working on both Connections and Compass programs there is one common denominator. A vitally important ingredient that touches the heart and soul of every participant irrespective of their mind and physical condition.

Laughter! 

Children will always cause us to laugh………a lot!

I took my nine year old Grandson Brody to Tuesday’s Compass Program and my good friend (volunteer Bob) stepped back from the “Bob and Mike in the morning” news hour and gave way to “Brody and Mike”. A casual observer would have recognized that the Club Members loved having Brody in attendance. They laughed with him and willed him to succeed in answering my Star Wars quiz with $5 riding on a 50% or more pass rate. They kindly asked if they could help him answer the questions, but Brody dominated my quiz and scored 28 out of 30, easily pocketing his Grandad’s money! They laughed at some modern children’s rhyming poems and laughed again when Grandad showed his lack of modern day technical knowledge.

Brody chose our ‘word of the day” himself. It was COUNTENANCE. The smiles and facial expressions were great and continued over to the late morning  when our band entertained us and Brody led the dancing, and everyone laughed again.

The sweetest moment came when Brody invited an elderly lady to dance. The lovely lady has quite severe short term memory problems, but remarkably remembered Brody and the dancing some twenty minutes later when she told me how much fun she had enjoyed! Another mission moment!

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Thursday’s Connections Club focussed on just how important “Laughter” is for our brain wellness. For the second week in a row Cathee devised an ingenious and fun task which exercised everyones imagination. The level of interaction and enjoyment was palpable as four teams constructed answers to questions posed by a volunteer regarding a 1930’s black and white photo of a marathon dancing contest. Some of the asides and answers were hilarious!

Later we saw some really amazing “slapstick” movie clips from Lucille Ball, Abbot and Costello and the Three Stooges. We laughed a lot.

Later still we laughed at Kaley The Wonder (therapy) Dog who performed some amazing tricks, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the birthday surprise for two of our Club Members, both remarkable human beings celebrating a 95th birthday in the case of the lady, and 71st for the gentleman. Oh yes, and Cathee and Pat, our Program Directors sporting the rather amusing noses!

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Yes, another “typical” week at  Memory Matters.

Tell the truth. Sing with passion. Work with laughter. Love with heart. ‘Cause that’s all that matters in the end.

Kris Kristofferson

Please share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential. Consider joining our next Brain Boosters program or finding our more about our Connections program. We are a phone call away, here in your local community.