Love is in the air!

One of my Grandkids celebrated his 3rd birthday last Saturday and his family and friends were there to demonstrate their love and celebrate with him. We are fortunate that all our family lives locally, so my eldest Grandson, seen in the picture, and my Grand Daughter were also present to share in the fun. All three of my Grandkids have spent time in the Memory Matters program and classes. The elder two especially have become regular volunteers when school is out and are proud to have their own name badges now. When you witness the kids with our participants you can feel the love that young and old create in a palpable way.

As I reflected on the birthday party I looked ahead to Valentine’s Day this week, and as a Memory Matters volunteer looked back at a terrific first five weeks this year. I have continued to attend both our Compass Program and newly refined Connections Class and  I like what I see and hear.

Memory Matters has also been gearing up for our annual Board and Staff retreat where we review progress against the strategic initiatives put in place last year. As a precursor we recently concluded a thoughtful look at a series of questions that included our perceived “values”. Not surprisingly “Passion” and Dedication” were high on the list, but one person concluded that our principal value is “Love”, yes, with a capital “L”!

I was also reminded today about love being in the air when I read an article by Maria Shriver, the well known TV personality who is the leader of an organization called “The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement””

It is worth remembering that of the 5.4 million Americans who suffer Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million are women! Here is what Maria said:

What I do know for sure is that we all need love. We all crave that feeling. And yet, we don’t always know when someone is really in need of it most.

We never know what someone is going through or what they are feeling at any given moment. That’s why the best way to approach every person or situation in our lives is with love.

Love is a gift. In fact, it’s the best gift that each of us can give to one another. That’s not just true on Valentine’s Day. It’s true each and every day.

As my readers know, the amazing people who attend our Connections Classes are there because “they want to  show up and trust Cathee” (our Senior Program Director and Memory Care Specialist).  They want to keep their brains engaged and stimulated with not just socialization, but healthy debate, and leaning new things. This group of achievers are definitely learning and it is evident that they love doing so!

Since studying the “Art of Forgetting” (my last blog) a few weeks ago our Thursday Connections class has debated the true meaning of optimism, taken a personality test and shared things they enjoy doing and the reasons why. They have shown compassion in the way they help and support each other in our failure free environment. I loved that  at home they were encouraging their care givers or spouses to not complain if they forgot something! Some of them said that they encouraged forgiveness.

This group of people debated why, if they were an animal, they would in most cases choose to be a dog! The conclusion was that dogs are focused, go after what they want, are smart, and would be loved unconditionally!


They also debated what it was like to be 15 years old, 30 years old and then, what it is like to be 65 plus. I could write a small book on this conversation, but suffice to say that eagerness and career and family building transformed into wisdom, helping  hands, no alarm clock, medicare and Grandkids to love.

Love often brings families to Memory Matters. A husband or wife realises that a memory is a little impaired and the sooner they make contact with us the more we can help. Although I focus many of my words on the people who have memory loss, frequent readers of these chronicles will know that I have often described the really difficult and most important work we do is with the care giver. I have some personal experience in this regard and once explained in this blog that taking care of my Mum in England was the hardest thing I have ever done. For these reasons I was delighted to recently be invited to a mens caregiver support group, superbly facilitated by our Licensed Counselor  – Ashley. She was supported by Chuck, who doubles as the Memory Matters Board VP and who knows what it is truly like to have a spouse suffer Alzheimer’s Disease. Chuck understands the “longest journey”. There were two other Board members present. Both have wives or mothers in care. One of them a 96 year old lady who still attends our Compass program.

On the day I attended there was a room full of care givers, all passionate about their loved ones and there to learn and support each other. It was an interesting and heartening experience for me and I definitely felt the love and empathy in the room. I came away wanting to return and learn more in the future.

Now the musician and Beatles fan in me has to finish with a song: 

All you need is Love, Love is all you need.

Happy Valentines Day to Everyone!

If you know of someone who has a slightly impaired memory, don’t delay, come and see us for a confidential baseline memory test. Or just call and make an appointment to speak to one of our professionals. Call 1 843 842 6688




Only Elephants Never Forget!

There is no shame in forgetting!

Today, our new 2018 Connections Class openly debated forgetfulness and concluded, both passionately and, at times emotionally, that it is really OK to forget.

As I enter my 70th year I am prepared to admit that I cannot remember everything that I used to recall as a young man, at times almost instantaneously, and with accuracy. My hippocampus must have shrunk a little, but that is the process of normal aging as we enter this new territory! The memory center in our brain may be small but my goodness it is so powerful, which is just one reason why Cathee Stegall (Memory Matters Senior Program Director and Memory Care Specialist) has spent years seeking the best teaching solutions to enable us all to enjoy brain health longevity.

When I was 25 years old I would write a “to do” list on a piece of paper and every morning in my business career I would read it. Every evening I would read it again. When I was 40 years old and running a sizable business I kept a mighty long list, because even then it was possible to forget. We are God’s human beings and we are not perfect.

Now I have technology – Apple iPhone “reminders” to help me and Google Calendar, but I still keep a written ‘to do’ list and, if all else fails, I have my lovely wife Barbara to remind me! As a fall back – I have two sons, their wives and three Grandchildren! Oh yes! Did I mention my overseas sister-in-laws last week?! One English, another Welsh and then, there is the Italian!😉

Cathee has spent considerable time over the past several months updating and rewriting the course work for our Connections class. Just to be clear, Connections is suitable for people with mild memory loss, or an early diagnosis of a dementia. It is a brain stretching class and differs significantly from our Compass program, a social day program for people with mild to moderate degrees of dementia.

Most of the people now attending this 3 hour Connections class are independent people and do not need to rely on someone to bring them to Memory Matters. For the most part they themselves have chosen to attend Connections because they want to learn and practice the memory loss interventions that we promote and teach.

Today was such a great Brain day!

Cathee’s mantra is Show Up! Trust Me!

We first developed a list of around 50 synonyms for the word “happiness” and debated them. The class then explained why some of their words were lateral in context, ranging from joyful to elated or ecstatic, and relaxed to song. This was but the prelude for a much deeper conversation.

Cathee asked everyone to write down their thoughts and responses to these eight statements.


  1. Increase involvement in mentally stimulating activities.
  2. Engage in better nutritional habits.
  3. Increase physical activity.
  4. Socialize more with optimistic people.
  5. Learn how to decrease stress in a variety of ways.
  6. Use memory enhancement techniques.
  7. Use humor often in everyday life.
  8. Celebrate all you can do rather than focusing on what you can no longer do.

The written responses were openly and at times emotionally debated but in a most supportive way. The class participants were there for each other. The responses to statement 4 in particular are profound. At Memory Matters we call this a “mission moment”. It can be quite moving for the staff and volunteers.

In the same order as the eight statements above here is a précis of both written and spoken words: (A quick thank you to my good friends and volunteers Judy and Bob for helping me pull together the salient points)

  1. Puzzles, bookclub, bridge, music, go to Memory Matters.
  2. No sugar, no snacking, healthy habits, good food often based on the Mediterranean lifestyle ingredients and cooking. Make sure your vitamin B12 level is adequate.
  3. Exercise, walk, gym, get oxygen to the brain.
  4. Hang with the winners! Don’t be around people who “Nega-talk”.
    1/2 full is better than 1/2 empty. Don’t let people say: “I told you that before”! Telling  people they do not remember leads to anger, frustration, a feeling  of being attacked and its degrading and leads to a feeling of shame. It is flat out wrong. There is nothing wrong about forgetting. We have a right to forget. Forgetting is a great opportunity to learn again or learn something new! Walk over the negative.  Stop saying “don’t you remember “? Instead accept your memory loss and forgive.
  5. Amen! Exercise, yoga, be positive! Hang with the winners again.
  6. Lists, and learn how to forget the forgets! Every problem is an opportunity.
  7. Laugh, have fun and live in the “now” moment.
  8. Be an optimist. Power of positive thinking. Love what you remember and smile.

During the interaction between Cathee, class members and volunteers one gentleman said this:

When my short term memory began to deteriorate I noticed that my wife would ask me about a task or phone call that I was supposed to make and I would draw a blank and my wife would say “ But I told you that”. I did not like the way I felt when my wife would say “I told you”, so we made an agreement to drop that phrase “ I Told You That” from our conversation and instead silently agree to forgive the forgetting that we each did.

No, there is no shame in forgetting. It’s normal and to be cherished along with other aspects of our lives on earth. As one class member remarked, (with passion), “What you forget is an opportunity to learn”!


I realize that I have just written an upbeat chronicle and my passion for Memory Matters is considerable. Some of the people in the class today have had an early diagnosis of a dementia, but they are brave, and have decided to seek our help. That means they “show up and trust Cathee”.  So for perfect clarification and transparency let me add that we know that Alzheimer’s is the disease still with no cure, but until there is a cure – there is Memory Matters. A great 20 year old not-for-profit organization with experienced, caring and professional staff supported by over 100 volunteers.

If you found this blog interesting and you believe we might be able to help you or a loved one, or a friend, then please do not be afraid, call us at 1 843 842 6688. All calls and free memory screening are treated confidentially. 




Our Connections classes continue to grow in size this year. Why is that? It could be any one of the many things I have written about over the past 18 months, through the eyes of this volunteer.

In truth it’s a blend of everything we do: the art, yoga and music therapy, socialization, a place to meet friends on a regular basis, brain stimulating exercises involving numbers, words and sometimes a healthy debate about life in general. The classes always have a theme and typically there will be a new theme each month allowing different facets of the theme to be taught and debated. However, there is one constant we strive to achieve each and every week and that is simply laughter!

Whether it is caused by an amusing idea or conversation, laughter is in the air that we breathe.

We continue to offer a failure free and dignified environment, and our Connection class participants work really quite hard to stretch their brains and keep them positively exercised.

This last week the theme of our Connections program was “Community”. The world, continent, country, state, county, town or island. Church, business segment, university alumni association, family, and so on. Our participants came up with many more.

Having eased into the subject the challenge this week was to stretch our imagination at first individually, and then as a team. So four tables of approximately eight people had to decide what they would take with them if they were to be abandoned on a desert island. They were each allowed one individual item and one food item. Oh, yes! Marilyn Monroe, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and George Clooney were not allowed! Laughter!

I can report that there were some intriguing and innovative ideas created to help get them back off the island or to provide for the building of a community. Building on the indivdual items the four teams developed their islands and to say this was fun would be the understatement of the year!

The islands were called:

  • “Motel 6 Island” specializing in literary groups where driving red Ferrari’s seemed to be the order of the day.
  • “Nutty Island” partly due to the inhabitants crazy ideas, but also because of the abundance of beneficial coconuts. This was an interesting island that specialized in community outreach to the other three islands and enjoyed music from a variety of sources.
  • “Healthy Island” specializing in spa treatment and healthy foods with a wonderful Winnebago to call home.
  • “Magic Lamp Island” with a plethora of books and writing materials and the magic lamp itself, whereby the women who were stranded on this island could summon “young men” to come and visit them! Most of us were disappointed with the “young” tag, but we laughed a lot about this too!

My favorite quotation at Memory Matters is by Dr. Seuss. “sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory”

Memories tend to be reinforced by laughter. I guarantee that our participants will long recall the laughter this week and the islands they created.

They will remember some of the words to the 59th Bridge Street song (Feeling Groovy) that we played and sang together and, they will remember laughing at the charades we played at the end of the day.

Laughter is one contagious thing that heals … try to laugh every day!


For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality. Ask about our Connections program and make an appointment to sample a Connections day in our memory care center.

Memory Matters Vision is to Optimize Brain Wellness





It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m already planning something new, interesting and fun for when I meet with my friends in the Memory Matters Compass Program on Tuesday. Similarly for Thursday when I volunteer in the Connections Class. Long ago my good friend and fellow volunteer Bob Engle taught me to regularly bring something new to Memory Matters. He challenged me to use my own brain to learn something entirely new each and every week. Often he will send me a message with a theme to contribute to, and/or ask me to learn a new song by an artist whose birthday it is (or was) on the upcoming Tuesday.

There have been a few classic challenges such as last week when I tried a Mamas and Papas song. Playing guitar and singing “California Dreaming” as a soloist without their illustrious four part harmony was certainly a challenge, as was “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to mark the recent total eclipse of the sun.

Bob and I, and our other volunteers, attempt many different interactive topics including stories about famous people, poems, rhymes, limericks, funny stories or real news items that can help stimulate the mind and allow our friends to be engaged. The results are nearly always rewarding and we are stretching our brains too. We always emphasize opening the mind and encourage learning something new every week!

Coincidentally I read an interesting article earlier today by Maria Shriver, herself an “architect of change”, a thinker and a huge supporter of the Alzheimer’s movement, both for seeking a cure and supporting care-givers everywhere. I include an extract of her writing, not as a political statement, but more as a reality check for the world we live in and especially the world of Memory Matters for which I am a passionate supporter and worker.

“Understanding the mind—our own and that of others—will lead us to all be better to those with mental health challenges. It will also lead us to be better and kinder to ourselves. Open minds and open hearts are what our world needs more of now. We need healthy, curious minds if we are to solve our most pressing problems: Alzheimer’s, climate change, health care, nuclear proliferation and more.

We need new ways of thinking. New ways of approaching challenges. Every day that the news gives us something to think about, the world also gives us something to do to help our fellow human beings”.

We spend so much time opening the minds of those attending our Memory Matters classes using the power of verbal communication and engagement, so it was a surprise to me that we had not before studied “non-verbal” communication. Last Thursday in the Connections Class we studied all forms of facial expression. In other words we tried to find out how many different emotional expressions were known to the Class.

Try it yourself. Smile, frown, anger, pout, frustration, thoughtful and so on. These are some examples. Under Program Director Maureen’s guidance our Connections Class came up with 62 different emotional facial expressions. Can you beat that?! Please let me know! Our Connections Class members never fail to surprise me with their engagement and competitive attitude.


Later the Class wrote short essays about an imagined conversation between a dog and a cat. Simple I know, but there is a joy in sharing the fun results with friends.

So now I am ready to learn a John Denver song made famous by Olivia Newton John. It’s her birthday on Tuesday. The song title is called “Follow me”.

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

Memory Matters Vision is to Optimize Brain Wellness



If a picture paints a thousand words,
then why can’t I paint you?
The words would never show,
the you I’ve come to know . . .

David Gates – Bread

David Gates beautiful, expressive and memorable song entitled “If” is the prelude to the second class in Cathee’s August program with the theme being: “Words“.

Last week our Connections class focused on “words”, and the way in which different areas of the brain interpret words. For example the word “saw” can be understood as to having seen something, or to have met with a person, or it could be a tool, or someone in the process of cutting up a log. Different compartments of the brain view these words in different contexts.

This week Cathee led the class further and we debated whether a picture is more descriptive and memorable than words alone. To assist with the debate (and a good debate it was!), the Club members first were asked to visualize “the sun” and write down as many associated words as possible. Later they were asked to describe “love” in as many words as possible.

Here is a selection of our Club members really thoughtful written responses. Notice the frequent connections between “Sun” and “Love”.

Cathee later asked the Club members to draw “the sun” and “love”. Suffice to say the pictorial representations varied, and we discussed this too.

The Sun Love
Beauty Marriage
Burning Happiness
You are my sunshine (song) Everywhere
Radiance True love
Powerful Deep
Light for life Can’t live without it
Ultimate source of energy Family
Source of heat, light and comfort Devotion
A blinding and inpenetrable ball of fire. A warm and wonderful feeling when we are chilled.  In a song it could be a way of expressing a feeling of love and happiness Love is a feeling of closeness, of sharing and being supportive. Of wanting to share your life with someone. Of holding on to a moment, holding on to a memory.
Extinguishable energy of life Intangible object that transforms us all in ways that would seem virtually impossible to describe in natural terms
My dog Love is feeling of comfort and assurance
Son of God Peace
Power undefined Forgiving
Engulfed energy All you need is love (song!)
Sun and love God is love
Heat and warmth Love makes the world go round

The general consensus conclusion was that we needed both words and pictures to describe things, to educate, to express emotions and to represent our vision.

An example was given of the way the Italian church employed famous Renaissance artists such as Cimabue and Giotto in the 13th and 14th centuries and later, in the 15th century and 16th centuries, da Vinci and Michelangelo, produced sculptures, oil paintings on canvas, and frescoes on ceilings and walls, dipicting stories from the Bible or about a Saint.

The frescoes in the Upper Basilica in the Cathedral of St. Francis in Assisi are a classic early example. Giotto used 28 huge frescoes to describe the life of St Francis. For those who already knew the story it was easy to interpret the paintings but for those illiterate people in medievel times (and there were many), the Priest would use the paintings to describe the events in St. Francis life in pictures and words. It is easy to stand transfixed before these masterpieces and delve into their meaning, using words of your own. Then there is da Vinci’s most famous mural of the Last Supper in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan; and the greatest and most influential frescoes in the history of Western Art created by Michelangelo: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall.

From these examples we learned of the power and influence of art and pictorial story telling,  but concluded that without the original words they would not have had such a profound impact on mankind.


Please share this if you believe it would help someone.

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.


IMG_1304Source of image and video: Nature – International weekly journal of science 

Another great “Brain Day”!

I particularly like to write about fun and rewarding happenings in our Connections program. Last Thursday provided us all, Club members and volunteers alike, with fascinating new information as to how our amazing brain works, and how it handles “words”.

Here is a paragraph written by one of the Club members incorporating eight words that we were all given to use, namely GO, NIGHT, DREAM, SUMMER, BIG, BUTTERFLY GARDEN, WIND:

One summer night I had a dream that I was outside in my Mother’s flower garden. I looked over and there was a big Monarch butterfly making its rounds to every flower. All  of a sudden a big wind came up and the butterfly had to go on its way so it wouldn’t get hurt.

I should add that I have faithfully copied this gentleman’s written word including his punctuation!

Here is a second paragraph from a lady Club member:

It was a black summer night. I was walking through the garden and saw a big beautiful butterfly. I asked the butterfly, “what are you doing out at night? Wait a minute, is this a dream? Butterflies don’t fly at night”! Said the butterfly “Well I am a very special butterfly and it’s a nice night to go out because there is no wind. But I’m tired now, so let’s both go back to our dreams”.

Again I have included the author’s precise punctuation.

My abiding recollection from days like these is the sheer effort that the Club members make to contribute, and to read and/or discuss their own ideas.

Cathee Stegall, our Program Director and Memory Care Specialist kept us fully engaged for all five hours, describing in easily understood terms the science of neuroplasticity. Even though the brain is made up of different regions, each associated with different functions such as reasoning, emotion and balance, Cathee explained that there is no one region of the brain that processes and stores all the words and concepts in our vocabulary.

For example if you hear the word “top”, a small area of the brain called the middle frontal gyrus will light up in recognition. However other regions of the brain will also light up depending on the context in which the word is used. So think of the brain as an atlas where one person might think of the word “top” as a peak, others a toy, or another an exam result. In each case the region of the brain responding to the word might be different. The brain really is so smart. It uses neurons in just about every pocket and fold to organize the meaning of words into logical groups. So words like “Mother”, “Father” and “family” are in one group area and next door you might find “home”, “owner” and “tenant”.

Here is an interesting brief explanatory video. The Brain Dictionary.

Last Thursday at Connections we had a lot of fun interpreting words in different ways. If you want to experience interaction and engagement in practice, participate in a Connections class! As usual this group of people had some surprisingly lateral thoughts! They all attend our Connections program to stretch their minds, and keep them as young as possible. I have known some Club members now for over two and  a half years. They joined long before I started volunteering, and they and their care givers have all have benefited from their weekly or twice weekly (Tuesday and Thursday) brain exercise in our failure free environment. There is clear evidence to show that brain wellness programs can succeed in combating symptoms of an early diagnosis of dementia, mild memory loss or mild cognitive impairment.

Cathee is currently developing new, and exciting additions to our popular Brain Boosters program and receiving much appreciated help and guidance from Memory Matters friend and contributor, Dr. Lisa Schrott (Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care at the Hilton Head Island First Presbyterian church) herself an expert in neuroplasticity. Cathee also benefits from her close colleagues input, all who have contributed to and/or led a Brain Boosters program. So I recognize here, Karen, Ashley, and Melissa too.

Remember we have a Brain Boosters class starting on September 18th at Memory Matters facility on Hilton Head Island, and another commencing on September 21st at Hampton Lake in Bluffton. Both run for 8 sessions for two hours on the same day each week. The cost is only $199 for all 8 sessions. More details can be found on our website or at the end of this blog.

As my readers know, we often lapse into song and on this occasion the key words I mentioned earlier led to impromptu renditions of Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” and the Everly Brothers “Dream”. Later we sang “Words” by the Bee Gees.

Talk in everlasting words
And dedicate them all to me
And I will give you all my life
I’m here if you should call to me

You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say

It’s only words, and words are all I have
To take your heart away

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test,

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.



I’m 69 years old (yes I admit it) although my Grandkids probably think I’m older than that, or “really old”! I hope that along the way I have become a little wiser than I was as a pre- teenage kid, but sometimes my mind wanders back to when I was ten years old.  I remember happy times playing cricket or soccer with my Dad or putting 18 holes in the local park. I think back to school and the friends that I made, the games we played and the best teacher in the world. Her name was Mrs. Packham and I trusted her implicitly.

But with the benefit of wisdom would I have acted differently? Would I have made different choices or added to my selection? What difference would the onset of 59 extra years have made if I knew then what I know now?

The French writer- philosopher – Honore de Balzac – concluded  “Because wisdom cannot be told”! He was quoted in a 1940 Harvard Alumni Bulletin with this conclusion as its title. Balzac actually wrote” “So he had grown rich at last, and thought to transmit to his only son all the cut and dried experience which he himself had purchased at the price of his lost illusions; a noble last illusion of age”.

So if, with wisdom, I was able to go back in time and write a letter to myself when I was age ten, would I be able to impart my 69 years of wisdom to myself in order that I might live my life over differently?

This question is the very same one that Cathee, our Memory Care Specialist posed to our Connections  Club last Thursday. The answers the Club members wrote varied from straightforward to touching and, from ingenious to profound.

In these blogs I have often challenged my readers to come and visit Memory Matters and learn how to be a volunteer in our Memory Care center and to be rewarded for taking the time and sharing their talent and kindness of human spirit. While we offer critical help to caregivers and their loved ones experiencing issues with dementia our role in the Lowcountry community is significantly broader. We optimize brain wellness! Our mission is to ensure that everyone who enters our facility or engages anywhere with our Memory Care Specialists and trained volunteers, enjoys a motivational and exhilarating “brain day”. 

Typically our Connections club members have been diagnosed with an early indication of dementia or simply mild cognitive impairment or mild memory loss. Our job is to exercise the 3lbs of “squidgy” muscle that is their brain, to stretch it, and stimulate its processing power. This we do in a failure-free environment with a wide variety of programs that include problem solving, communication and questions that require in-depth thought. Our members achieve this week after week, but some weeks yield  exceptional results, which is why I want share with you the letters our Club members wrote to themselves back in the the time they were ten years old.

We started the class by discussing some examples. These included:

  • Forget about being the best at everything.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff
  • Treat cruelty with kindness
  • Laugh at yourself.

Then with this little background our Connections Club members went to work and I am going to share their thoughts and words verbatim. I am incredibly proud of these people with their amazing brains and zeal to make the most of their lives for many, many years to come. I am more than proud to be one of their friends. There is no thought of sitting around on a couch watching TV, or reflecting on nothing. These folk are pro-active!

Here are their messages to themselves as a ten year old (not in any particular order and I have not included duplicates):

  1. Be at peace with others -they have problems of their own.
  2. Show loyalty to your friends and family.
  3. Listen to advice from teachers and parents.
  4. Study history of those who have succeeded at some task.
  5. See how those who succeeded stayed with their beliefs.
  6. Try kindness to others. It is productive.
  7. Whistle while you work. It’s attitude that is important.
  8. Learn from your friends.
  9. Make more friends.
  10. Take up a hobby.
  11. Be a friend to someone.
  12. Hug more.
  13. Kiss more.
  14. Climb trees.
  15. Trust yourself.
  16. Walk more.
  17. Wear sun block.
  18. Adapt yourself wherever you go.
  19. Follow your dreams.
  20. Try new foods.
  21. Learn something new each day.
  22. Be kind to others.
  23. Speak kindly.
  24. Have a hobby.
  25. Be good to animals.
  26. Read more.
  27. Learn to dance.
  28. Read and study the Bible more.
  29. Read widely.
  30. Buy more stocks.
  31. Smile more.
  32. Study
  33. Love
  34. Sing
  35. Tell your parents you love them.
  36. At age ten not passing an exam is NOT a failure.
  37. Pray more.
  38. Learn a second language.
  39. Learn a musical instrument if you are given the chance.
  40. Buy Apple, Google and IBM stock.
  41. Save money.
  42. Mind your own business.
  43. Being an only child is not all bad.
  44. Listen more and talk less.
  45. Wish everybody a great day!
  46. Tell someone you love them.
  47. Hug your children.
  48. Fill your car with gas. Don’t let it run empty.
  49. Call your family.
  50. Take someone to lunch.
  51. Pay your bills.
  52. Write thank you notes.
  53. Clean up NJ politics!
  54. Tell Mom how great she is.
  55. Love your sister (and brother)
  56. Be nice to Joe F.
  57. Have better manners.
  58. Learn to cook.
  59. Help with multiplication tables.
  60. Make money through work -there is no free lunch.
  61. Babysit your little sister.
  62. Have more fun.
  63. Listen to your Mom and Dad. They want the best for you .Tell them you love them.
  64. Play fair – do NOT cheat.
  65. Make friends with boys and girls.
  66. Enjoy your summer play and sports. It builds character.
  67. Be gracious. Don’t be a sore loser.
  68. Dream Set some goals.
  69. Be polite to your teachers, clergy, and older family members.
  70. Study what others need!
  71. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  72. Love the Lord.
  73. Work hard.
  74. Stick with learning the piano.
  75. Tell Bill M. to stop beating up that other boy.
  76. Eat less.
  77. Have fun!
  78. Listen to music.
  79. Tell good stories.
  80. Attitude is important.
  81. Learn to love yourself.

Creating the environment in which intelligent people can exercise and stimulate their brain is something we do every day. Is it always easy and straightforward to get these fine people to open up their hearts and minds? No! However, with perseverance, gentle persuasion and trained memory care techniques and experience the results are often beyond our expectations. This was a case in point. The 81 one-line thoughts they wrote last week were carefully solicited and thoughtfully composed by our Club members.

Think about it yourself. Write down the top five things you would want to tell yourself when you were ten years old. Be honest with yourself and be brave! Our Connections Club members were so.

If any of my readers would like to share their own story that we can in turn share with our Club members to further engage them, then please comment via our website at, or to

Meanwhile have a great brain day!


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.




“I Believe”  Elvis Presley
I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows
I believe for everyone who goes astray, someone will come
To show the way
I believe, I believe

I believe above a storm the smallest prayer
Can still be heard
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word

Everytime I hear a new born baby cry,
Or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why, I believe

A few weeks ago, in a blog entitled “Music to My Ears”, I wrote about the encouraging studies both in the US and Europe with regard to the positive impact personalized music playlists can have on a dementia sufferer and the help it can give to caregivers working with a loved one. 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 people.  Their 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 behavior and less need for medication.

Maureen Gleason is one of our wonderful Memory Care Specialists and was particularly  inspired to explore this new idea with our Connections Club program members.

So last Thursday Maureen and the volunteers patiently encouraged each Club member to list their ten most favorite songs or music passages. This transpired to be a really engaging and enjoyable process for us all. Maureen intends to share the results with our Caregivers.

So here is the combined list of our collective most popular songs or pieces of music. As you can see it is quite eclectic!

Memory Matters Group Playlist- Top favorites in the Connections Club

I have purposely deleted the Club members names from the list

  1. When a Man Loves a Woman (Percy Sledge
  2. Cold Cold Heart (Hank Williams)
  3. God Bless America (Irving Berlin)
  4. Heart Aches by the Numbers (Guy Mitchell)
  5. Show me the way to go Home (Frank Crumit)
  6. Desperado (Eagles)
  7. Hotel California (Eagles)
  8. I Believe (Elvis Presley)
  9. You are my Sunshine (Johnny Cash)
  10. Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet)
  11. I Can’t Stop Loving you (Ray Charles)
  12. Forever in Blue Jeans (Neil Diamond)
  13. How Great Thou Art
  14. Beethoven’s 9th
  15. I am so Blessed (Karen Drucker)
  16. Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)
  17. Feeling Groovy (Simon & Garfunkel)

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, his last and most famous choral work made the list. Perhaps the “Ode To Joy” will be played more often at Memory Matters!

Now I would really appreciate my readers engaging in this process! Please respond on our Facebook page, Memory Matters website, or simply to in a comment:



Your answers will assist in our on-going program. THANK YOU! 😀👍

Meanwhile our Club’s all-time favorite recorded by dozens including Johnny Cash and Bing Crosby is:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away…

Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell in 1939

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.




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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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! 


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.


“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”.

MM 4

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

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 or by email to


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