Episode 39

June 19, 2023


#39 | Katie Skvarce | A Hopeful Future

Hosted by

Tony Siebers Bina Colman
#39 | Katie Skvarce | A Hopeful Future
Parent Projects - Aging In America
#39 | Katie Skvarce | A Hopeful Future

Jun 19 2023 | 00:55:01


Show Notes



Today, we are talking with Katie Skvarce, Communications Director at the Alzheimer’s Association. There is hope for the future, and Katie is going to share with us some very easy, practical lifestyle interventions that clinical trials are proving to be working in helping slow the progress on cognitive decline, as well as some great advancement in medications.


Phone Number: 800-272-3900


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00:00 – Intro

00:40 – Welcome to the Show

02:01 – Introduction to Katie Skvarce

02:53 – Alzheimers vs Dementia

04:47 – Katie’s Call to Action

09:34 – ComForCare Ad

10:34 – Early Signs of Alzheimers

14:38 – Men Vs Women Response to Alzheimers

22:20 – The Early Stage Planning

28:44 – Music and Alzheimers

30:52 – Alzheimer’s Association

37:00 – Skysong Tour

38:12 – Risks of Alzheimers

44:04 – Making Positive changes

46:05 – Don’t Coddle

48:54 – Wrap up

51:08 – Final Thoughts



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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Stop doing. If you're, if you're doing that, I gently say, don't do that. Because what's happening is that, um, when you leave the situation, the feeling that your parent or your loved one feels when they leave, stays the emo that that emotion, right? So if they're sad or frustrated or angry because of how your, you got your conversation went, they're gonna carry that. But they won't remember the conversation, maybe, perhaps in and of itself. They won't remember why they're upset, but they'll be upset and they'll carry that forward. So it's so, so important to kind of manage that a bit so that they're, you're keeping them content and happy so that they're carrying that emotion forward and not the opposite. Speaker 2 00:00:44 As our parents grow older, it can be difficult to guide them through their golden years, while still respecting their autonomy and fitting it into our already complex lives. Welcome to the Parent Projects podcast, where our guest chair, practical wisdom to tackle the issues that impact adult children of aging parents. I'm Tony Sievers, thanks for joining us today. Speaker 3 00:01:08 Welcome in this week, guys, and we are talking all this month of our Alzheimer's awareness side. Uh, we're lifting up that, that whole end, you know, you, you may have heard those statistics, uh, that, that sometimes apply a little bit of fear that after every five years after 65, you're seeing, uh, an increase, in fact, a doubling of the risk of, of Alzheimer's and, and dementia memory problems. But today, we're gonna talk with, with Katie Ska FARs of, uh, the Alzheimer's Association, who's gonna break down with us and work through some practical interventions that are happening today. Way to recognize some of those early steps that we all get to take into dealing with recognizing, mitigating and dealing with, you know, Alzheimer's, if that's something that's a part of your parent project. So, stay tuned with, with Katie and I here on the Parent Projects Podcast. Speaker 3 00:01:58 Hey guys. Uh, look, Katie VARs, communications Director with the Alzheimer's Association. She's located here in our home market that's out here in the desert Southwest. Uh, but nationally, this is an organization that does a lot of great stuff to help families like mine. And I'm gonna imagine if you're watching this today, maybe families like yours understand how to recognize and how to start working our way through a parent project, uh, that might have Alzheimer's or dementia that's involved, uh, other forms of dementia that have, that's involved here. Maybe you don't know the difference between the two, uh, or where all of that comes through. Katie, thanks for joining us today to help break all of this down. Speaker 0 00:02:35 Uh, thank you, Tony, for having me. Glad to be here. Speaker 3 00:02:38 So, you know, this is a, this is probably one of the first questions is if you, if you're wandering your way into, um, into memory care or memory challenges, or you're recognizing just to kind of maybe wash at the top line, can you talk about how Alzheimer's fits in with the dementia spectrum or where that, where that works, or how people typically look at that from a high level? Speaker 0 00:03:00 It's actually a really perfect place to start because even people who have had loved ones that are, um, on a dementia journey don't always know the difference. So dementia is really the umbrella term that's used. So we always say that we kind of think of it like an umbrella, and there's different types. So the same way you think of, um, cancer, right? There's different types of cancer, cancer, there's prostate cancer, there's breast cancer, um, et cetera, et cetera. Same thing with, with, um, dementia. There's types of dementia. And a lot of times I think that the reason that Alzheimer's is kind of interchangeable with dementia is because it's the most common form when diagnosed. So 70% of the cases, um, typically, um, are diagnosed as Alzheimer's. So that would be the main difference when you're talking about, um, it's a set of symptoms, dementia's a set of symptoms, and then there's the specific types, right? Um, the target, different par parts of the brain, really in the B brain functionality. Speaker 3 00:03:54 So do you guys with Alzheimer's Association, are you guys really then focused on really those, that kind of element underneath the umbrella to how to help families that are kind of in that one particular challenge? Then Speaker 0 00:04:06 Actually, um, it's actually the converse. If you, if you looked at the Alzheimer's association's like technical name, it actually is like an all related, it's like very long, but it's, it's pared down to Alzheimer's Association, and that's how we're branded. That's how we're known. So, um, but no, we serve all families. We have, um, plenty of families that might have Lewy body dementia, um, dementia with Parkinson's, um, all the neurodegenerative, you know, um, diseases in that, in the, in the dementia space. So, yeah. Speaker 3 00:04:34 That's great. And thanks for letting pull that outta you because it's been, it was important for an understanding and sometimes I think we get that kinda backwards from that. So, hey, so talk to us about, I mean, how did you, how did you come to settle your gifts and talents around dealing with this educational issue and, and the challenge? Speaker 0 00:04:54 Well, interestingly enough, I had kind of a, right before I started, I've been with the association since 2017, the summer. Um, and about six months prior, I had my second daughter. And at that time I had just been, um, lost a position while I was pregnant in the midst of that pregnancy. And I thought to myself, oh my goodness. Like I'm, I have now two kids that are, you know, under the age of three. I'm trying to balance all these things, but I, I knew I wanted to get back in, in, into the workforce. And I, it was really a by, you know, by luck that I, I stumbled on the association. I had a friend that, um, had heard about the position opening and was approached about it, and then ended up, um, reaching out to me and said, I think you'd be perfect for this job. And I just, it has been a calling, honestly. Um, when I started, I had met a colleague of mine that had said, oh, do you have a personal, a personal connection to the disease? And I, I, I was like, no, I, I don't, but I am really passionate about health, right? And, um, he said, oh, we'll just, just wait. And it was such a sobering moment for me. I thought, well, that, that doesn't seem right. That's odd. That's an odd thing to say. At the time, it Speaker 3 00:06:05 Was rude, right? You're like, huh, right, Speaker 0 00:06:07 Right. Of course. I was like, I dunno, you know? Um, but, but there was so much truth in that. And in fact, that's actually what we say to a lot of people now, even because I think it's, it hits home, right? Because I think most people, as we get older and as we do come upon a, a connection of some kind, and so for me, it's my, my grandmother. I have both my maternal and paternal grandmother actually both living, but it was during, um, the summer of 2020 that, um, family, um, back in Wisconsin sort of started to notice some major changes with my grandma. And, um, obviously at that time, it was a rough time to try to figure something out because the world was trying to cope with, oh, yeah, you know, everything being virtual. Anyway, so we waited a full year to get a diagnosis and actually in to see a, a, a, a specialist, a neurologist, um, and at that time it was confirmed that it was Alzheimer's. And so, um, yeah, just less than at the time, it was five years into my, as my, my employment with the association that I, I discovered my own, we had our own personal connection. So, Speaker 3 00:07:08 Yeah. Well, and those are with the risk going up. And, you know, neither one of us are physicians obviously. So these are best with these physicians, by the way, you know, our safe harbor conversation here for everybody, by all means, like, find, find a physician in your area that, that's credentialed in your, and licensed in your states, um, that can, that can walk through these things for you and knows the situation. But that, that said, um, you know, we are learning more and more, it seems every day of the connectedness of our bodies and things that we deal with, right? From what we take for dealing with, um, with, uh, cholesterol, or what's the impact of that, or how that comes to the brain, different, different parts of the brain, brain all being related to these other parts of the body that we are still just learning about. So I would imagine over time, uh, we're just gonna, we'll continue to learn more and more about, um, how we get into this problem, right? Speaker 0 00:08:01 Yeah. And the brain, I mean, think about it, how the brain is so complex. There's so much we don't know, and it's so different person to person. So even trying to determine different pathologies and things in the brain, just person to person is difficult enough. So sometimes I think that's the biggest challenge that researchers face, just trying to, it's not a one size fits all, I guess you could say. But we do know that there's a heart head connection, and that applies to everyone, right? So what's good for the heart's, good for the head, so it doesn't do harm to kind of exercise and do those same, those same things you do for heart health that you would wanna do for your brain health. Speaker 3 00:08:38 That makes a lot of sense. Actually. That makes a lot of sense. So let's, uh, we're gonna, we're gonna take our first break here, uh, in, in a quick little tactical pause when we come back off of this, you know, again, what we're always constantly trying to do is move our families, help our families move out of the fear and the guilt of jumping into the situation, get 'em moving a little more forward with a little bit of sometimes love and laughter and that, that lighthearted nature, this is a hard thing to, to laugh about, and it's not something that you laugh at, right? But there are ways to kind of understand and live with this disease. It can be pretty darn beautiful. Uh, and I'm hoping soon we get back in here. And, uh, with, with Katie Spars, we're, we're gonna talk through some of those things that you can actively look, look for, uh, those signs, and we'll start working your way through that. So stay tuned for us here at the Parent Projects Podcast with Katie SKAs. Speaker 4 00:09:33 Sometimes I'd like to smack old age, right in the kisser. Ow I always get the best parking spot. I think she needs a little more help. Monday, what I really need is a boyfriend that can drive at night. I can make a fashion statement out of anything. I will be fabulous. I have a little crush on my pharmacist Speaker 5 00:09:56 With comfort Care at your side, you can live your best life possible. We know families can't be there 24 7, which is why we can help with as much or as little home care as you need from medication reminders and meal prep to everyday chores and errands so you can live in your own home on your terms. Speaker 4 00:10:15 I wouldn't let aging stop me from being me. Speaker 5 00:10:18 Call Comfort for Care now and let us create your personalized care plan and find the perfect caregiver match. Can Speaker 4 00:10:24 You show that number again? She was texting Speaker 5 00:10:28 Together with Comfort Care, you can both live your best life possible Speaker 3 00:10:32 And welcome back. You know, this week we're breaking down, uh, dementia in a little different way. We're, we're walk. We're seeing as we walk into this, what it might look like and, and how we can start to pick up those signs that maybe might look a little different than even just forgetfulness, but some other stuff that sits around that helps us wander into these conversations a little easier and a little sooner than maybe we would've before. Again, we're joined by Katie sc Farris with the Alzheimer's Association. Thanks for joining us this week, Katie. Speaker 0 00:11:00 Thanks, Tony. Speaker 3 00:11:03 Uh, so one of the, um, I think one of the top things to start walking into this, that, that helped our family, um, start to unpack or see stuff was not necessarily like mental forgetfulness. Like normally as you'd think, like, you know, the same story again and again, or something to that nature or forgetting where everything was at, this really is at an early stage, kind of like a series of crutches that we kind of started to recognize. Is that something that seems to be kind of common across the board here for, for families? Speaker 0 00:11:37 Yeah, absolutely. I think, I think with any health issue a person's gonna naturally try to cover, right? Like, I think even if it's your, whether it's yourself or your loved one, you're trying to kind of cover for 'em a little bit. Cuz you're trying to think, well, it can't be this, right? You're trying to redirect. But even memory I think is often like, misinterpreted because some, as we age, we're, we're gonna have memory. I mean, I, half the time my sunglasses are on my head and I'm running like physically around the house saying, who took my sunglasses? And it's like, then you feel silly, right? Those are normal. Speaker 3 00:12:12 Yes, yes, yes. Speaker 0 00:12:12 Under, under stress and under, like, you know, especially as parents, right? Like, if you, you have kids and you're doing all these things under stress, you're gonna, you're gonna misplace things, you're gonna, it's, it's the ability to really retrace your steps and eventually go, okay. Oh, there, you know? Right. Um, and it's also maybe misplacing things in, in bizarre places. Uh, we've heard, we hear a lot, um, from folks, um, and families that we, we encounter that the keys will show up in the refrigerator, the kids, the keys show, keys show up in sh inside shoes, things like that, that are really, really abnormal. I mean, your keys might show up on a shelf in the closet because you were doing something and you set 'em there, and that's a little more typical, but this is like abnormal things and things like that. So the memory stuff is really disrupting the daily life, right. Speaker 0 00:12:59 Not the, the typical things we were just talking about that we'll all encounter. Yeah. As we age and just normally anyway. Um, and, and there's other signs and symptoms present too, like, um, difficulty completing a, a normal task. I think you kind of talked about it before with dri like dri if you're driving somewhere and you're, you're familiar, right? You should know that route probably without thinking. It's almost like, I hate to admit this, but I think it's something everyone can relate to. Do you ever find yourself driving on a, a familiar patch and you feel like maybe minutes went by and suddenly you're like, did I just drive for five minutes and not really be zoned in on the road? You almost do it by, by memory, right? Um, can be a little, but that, that is the truth of it. You're very familiar with it. Speaker 0 00:13:44 You're driving, you're kind, you're thinking about things and next thing you know, um, but in the case of somebody in the early stages potentially of dementia or in a any stage of dementia might, you know, it might be going right up the road to the grocery store and suddenly they find themselves five miles off course and they don't know why. So these are really things where you have to start to kind of, there's always anon anomalies, I think, when it comes to things like that. But if it's happening and it's, you know, there's a pattern, I mean, it's definitely worth, um, exploring. I think you shouldn't be fearful of that, uh, what you might find and rather empowered by what you might find. I think so, yeah. There's, Speaker 3 00:14:22 That was, yeah, well, go ahead. What, what I was gonna say is on that specifically, like, so I, I've also, I'm starting to see a trend, and I don't know if it's legit, you've seen way more cases than I have. Men seem to be handling the diagnosis differently than women handle it. In my family, at least where a few generations now that have had to work with this, the, the men in my family on, well, all sides of my families that, that have faced this tend to take it in a really kind of frustration. Like, I remember my grandfather being like, that doctor's an idiot. We're not going back there. Like, literally that's what he said, right? And, and he loved this guy just like 10 minutes before, but all of a sudden he's an idiot. We're not going back there. My mom on there said was like, yeah, okay, well, like, she almost seemed relieved, like, oh, okay, well I know what this is and where this goes. And then we got to, then we, then we got to maybe understand why we were gonna have what conversations we were gonna have. I, I, it seemed to just mean something a lot different to her mind than it did. And I, and I almost see this, I don't know if it's a straight male female thing, but, but boy, I, I mean, those are some commonalities that, that I've kind of seen across the board where there's, you know what, yeah, Speaker 0 00:15:33 Yeah, there's, you hear that a lot from folks in that ok. That finally got a diagnosis and then they were like, oh my gosh, I'm not going crazy. Like there's a reason, there's a disease in my brain. There's a reason for this. And I think, again, I think it empowers and it puts it back on the person to go, okay, now I have a answer, and now I can figure out what I can do about it and I can explore, right? And in a new era of potential treatments and, and, um, things that we can do for, um, the modifiable, you know, in our health and our diet, I think that that's empowering for people to know. But I will say women are more impacted, um, by the disease. Um, two thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women, um, and a large percentage of of caregivers are women. So the Alzheimer's burden, either as a caregiver or a person living tends to be female. And so, um, there's actually a ton of research being done about why is that? What, what's happening in the female brain opposed to maybe the male brain that puts them more at risk. Um, and it's, it's really interesting the things that they explore in that, in that realm, I feel. Speaker 3 00:16:40 Well, and I also like how you, you, you, uh, tackle this to note that there, it can open the conversation of now you can open the conversation of research and it not be a big blue ocean or of what's happening out there for trials or, you know, as all this stuff that they're starting to learn on once you understand what it is. But we've used, that's been successful models in everything from alcoholism and drug, you know, drug use to understand once you, once you can overcome the stigmas of the things, you're able to actually make effective ways forward and ahead off of all of that. And not that, you know, it doesn't directly relate in the same way of, of some of those things, but it's there, there're places where the brain get disconnected right after some of those uses. And when you understand that those substances go from that, now you're just working to heal the brain and get it back on track for what that is. And in this, in a case of something like this, it's maybe it can be healed, maybe, maybe it can't, maybe it can be slowed, maybe it can't, but you at least know out of the big blue ocean what your river could be and, and, and how you can navigate it smoothly and feel a little better on it. Right? Speaker 0 00:17:47 Exactly. And, and if I'm a patient, and I think that I really do feel really strongly that early detection and diagnosis is gonna be really key, especially as we move in the future. But while I know that there's a lot of people that probably don't wanna know, and I've, I've heard that a lot, right? Like I just, if there's something wrong with me, I don't wanna know. Um, but on the flip side, you have the ability then to plan with your family opposed to if you kind of ignore or push things down or your family ignores and then you reach a stage where maybe you're not capable of making those same decisions anymore, and then it's sort of out of your hands. And in this way we can plan as a family, right? Opposed to having those decisions before us. Speaker 3 00:18:28 Yeah. Well look, okay. So there isn't, to our audience, therein is a crux as to why to do this and why to act against this. Because, you know, whereas maybe your, your risks here are doubling every five years after 65. Maybe it will, maybe it's not. Maybe they'll never face this particular thing. One thing a hundred percent of us will all face is it'll all die, we'll all die at someday. And, and those last decisions that are made with us be it just remains and how that might be handled are not made by us. They're going to have to be carried out and executed by our loved ones. So the earlier and the more information that we can help them have, whether it's just think about how much comfort it would be to know what your parents want done with their remains, so that you're doing what they really, really wanted. Speaker 3 00:19:17 Let that extend all the way downstream into how to handle this element of their life. And it's a, we've seen that as a beautiful approach to helping under, you know, parents don't want to be a burden on us. They say that it's the number one thing we hear. I didn't want to be a burden on my kids. They have so much going on in their life. Great, let's not do that. Like, let's, let's know when I have to step up, what's my roadmap? You know? And, and those I think could be this, this could be one of those enablers to say, oh, well, hey, now we know that there's gonna be maybe a prolonged period of time that you're not going to be able to make all the decisions yourself, all the more reason for us to start some early conversations, Speaker 0 00:20:00 Right? And a lot of, like, there are several new drugs within the last couple years that are approved by the FDA for the early stage of it. So I think that that's critically important for people to understand, is there, we now are on the precipice of, of actual treatments. Now there's still work to be, be done in the accessibility and affordability of those drugs, but just in the drugs alone, you'd have to be in the early stage. So that's why it's kind of critically important to kind of get it, get in there early, because then you're eligible to receive those treatment options too. So, um, it we're no longer kind of in that place of, I know years ago, a lot of doctors were, you know, they would, they were probably hesitant to diagnose because they didn't have a treatment plan for their patient. It was like, okay, you have Alzheimer's, okay, goodbye. Speaker 0 00:20:49 Um, and good luck. But, but that's changing now. And there are so much done, not only in the pharmaceutical space, but just like I said in the modifiable, um, so much research is being done around, um, exercise and social aspects, things like that, think tangible things we can all do and change even in the ear mild cognitive impairment phase, which is kind of that pre-phase to dementia, right? Some people might have mild cognitive impairment and never, never evolve into full dementia. Um, but if you do have dementia, you would've passed through a mild cognitive impairment stage. And there's so much that we can do in lifestyle interventions in that stage that could potentially, um, you know, cut it off at the past, which is I think what that would be. Give us more time with our families. And like you said, it's inevitable. Unfortunately, we're all human, so we are going to die at some point, but we, what I think our goal is, is not to die before we're really ready, right? Like we've had that time with our family, we don't wanna be robbed of, of some great years that we could potentially spend with them Speaker 3 00:21:52 Or, or be able to not have a clear idea how to help someone really execute their, their god-given dignity in their life when they're unable to do it for themself. And that's something that I think a lot of us with parent projects, that's what we share. We have a passion to help a family member realize that dignity in, in what they're doing. So, um, you know, one of the, you reminded me, uh, of an important thing that I think we, and I have talked about, we talked about before, when, when we got a early diagnosis with, um, with my, with one of my family members, the, the doctors were able to explain to us of how important it was going to be. She was able to, she was able to rock her environment that was around her here. And so he helped understand where that, the roadmap that would play, and we all were, we were all we're really pot committed to keeping her there as long as possible. Speaker 3 00:22:43 And it even made some pretty impossible promises. <laugh> keep her there until, you know, until the last possible second, which can work so long as we know how we would execute the last possible second minus one day, right. And how we would do that in a good way. But that takes planning and conversation. But I digressed the, the doctor had made that point and he said, well, really look, so if you wanna make a change in that environment, you should do that in the next nine months. Uh, because after that next nine months, it's gonna be pretty important that it is something that she's now got built into the routine so she can drive it, right? Without thinking about it down that pathway, man, did that clear stuff up for us, that made it really a lot easier to understand, okay, how are we tackling it and what's our timeline? And that, that gave us the goals we're looking for. Speaker 0 00:23:30 Yeah. It's a beautiful thing when you do it as a family too, right? Um, sometimes it's difficult when you don't have family support. You have maybe one child helping, like a parent, for example. It can be a, a heavy burden, but if you have multiple, multiple, um, kids involved or, or aunts, uncles, whatever it might be, it does help, um, when everybody's comes together and, and kind of executes together, right? Speaker 3 00:23:55 Yeah. Right, right. And that's an easier thing to do with time. It's very hard to do in a condensed period of time. Right? Right. So, um, hey, you know, one other thing we talked about that I think is a really good one is when we notice stuff. So we all, you know, if we have siblings and, and you're blessed to still have a sig sibling to, to work through these issues, a lot of times you've, while you were raised in the same household, maybe over the first 18 years of life, you went off and you've had totally different life experiences and you have different relationships that have kind of developed or evolved over time in different ways that you look at stuff. Some of us and tho those different approaches, see, allow us to see things a little differently coming into it. And that can be an awesome thing, but it can be a really difficult thing. Speaker 3 00:24:41 One thing in particular we talked about was kind of proximity to mom and dad, and I've heard other people refer to this as snow blindness sometimes when you're, when you're like in the throes every day in and out, maybe you live next door down the street from mom and dad, you're checking in constantly. You just kind of miss, you miss some stuff that your brother or your sister that flies in for Thanksgiving or Christmas or 4th of July that they kind of see, is this, is this kind of something you guys notice at the Alzheimer's Association and something to play through? Speaker 0 00:25:12 Absolutely. It's around the holidays that we really kind push the 10 signs, right? To kind of say, Hey, we know you may be traveling, like you said for Thanksgiving or, or Christmas or, or the, for summer plans, right? And you might see your parents for the first time in six months, possibly a year. Um, and they are aging, right? And, and there's so many things to kind of just, just pay attention. Don't, don't push things back if something doesn't seem right. You know, your parents, you grew up with them, you've, you know, 'em probably, you know right. Maybe not as well as they know you, but, but pretty close, right? And so, yeah, look for those, look for those things that might not seem right, even if it's, um, personality or mood changes. That's kind of a big one that I think is, was that was really the, the fundamental change in my grandma was the, with the personality, she was, um, starting to get really agitated and aggressive, more like suspicious, almost like of, of things, right? Speaker 0 00:26:08 That she was always the calmest, you know, sweetest. And I don't wanna say she still isn't, but it's, there was some mood changes, right? Some personality changes in her that were, were I think the first thing that, um, my dad and and his siblings really noticed. Um, so don't, don't just push those back as well. Mom, mom or dad isn't in a good mood, right? It could be Yeah. That they just can't help. There's something going on, um, in their brain. Um, but yeah, all those things just decreased judgment. If you go back and all of a sudden typically your parent for a holiday birthday, maybe let's say they purchase you a very like, modest gift and all of a sudden outta nowhere they're buying you a car, you might wanna be like, Hmm, this seems, this seems like a, a judgment call that dad wouldn't make. Speaker 0 00:26:54 Right? Um, so I say that kiddingly, but also seriously, there are, there are, um, there are those things that might happen where, um, there's a decrease in judgment and there might be big financial things happening, big donations potentially somewhere, or that that is outta out of what they normally would do. That could, could trigger it. But, um, yeah, I really do think that sometimes, I mean, think about think about it, even when you haven't seen someone, you know, like a friend in, in a while and you see 'em again and they go, oh, you've, you've lost weight or you're, you notice those things when you don't see someone the same would apply. Sure. I think, you know, obviously with our, with our, with our memory and our memory changes, so just, just knowing that and and being aware doesn't mean you have to assume that they're happening, but it's always good to just just have the information. Speaker 3 00:27:42 Well, and, and I think too of those, those how they handle things, even today, if, if I'm missing my sunglasses, so I've got, I've got five kiddos, my three boys in the middle, if I'm missing sunglasses, uh, chances are one of them have grabbed a pair of raybans, right? And they are, that, that's just kind of where my mind goes off of that. I would like to think, but probably eight times outta 10, the raybans are where I left them last when I was walking through. But it's says two times, I remember that they took my raybans. Right. And I can see that, that process, and that hasn't changed. I mean, we, I gotta imagine as I get older, more and more, I'm gonna be thinking, well, who did that? Then? Where did that go? And my, and I could get lost within that process and that would agitate me and get frustrated. Speaker 3 00:28:28 Right? Is that right? So that just makes a lot of sense to me when you start talking about those things. Um, yeah. Hey, something else that I found really, really curious in this conversation would love to hear if you've got a, an opinion on, um, comes to music. I've heard just the use of music as and, and its ability to activate all the areas of the brain and being a, you know, a lover of music myself. Um, what, what is, uh, what do you sing around that or what do you guys hear around that these days? Speaker 0 00:28:56 There is actually a lot of interesting research around music and why it, you know, embeds itself and why in, even I'm sure you've seen it in movies and maybe even docuseries, right? Where they hear a song and it brings, they, they're suddenly like brought outta some things they remember. And I mean, yeah, we actually have some funded research here in Arizona that's around that at the University of Arizona around, specifically around music and, and, um, and, um, in focused in on the Latino population and how that, um, you know, impacts memory. Right? Um, I think when it comes to music, I mean, think about it, when you're in the car and you listen to something that maybe from, for me, it's like, okay, there's specific decades, maybe high school where you, you have this connection to a song and it just takes you back there. Speaker 0 00:29:46 And I think those are deep in our brain, right? The music kind of sits deep in our brain, because what ends up happening is when you're losing your memory, when it is associated with dementia, I, we always talk about it like a bookshelf. The new memories are kind of at the top of the bookshelf, and the older memories are at the bottom. So if you start shaking that bookshelf, what's gonna come off the shelf first, the books at the top, which would be the, the newer memories. So those deep rooted memories. And a lot of times that music is deep rooted. You have connections from your wedding. Music kind of connects to all facets of our life. Um, maybe it's music we heard, our parents listened to growing up, and we, we feel very connected to that. So music is very fascinating and it's used for therapies. Um, and it's interesting to see as research continues to come out on that, how they'll continue to utilize music to really, um, you know, maybe learn kind of where, where that's all coming from. But, um, definitely some great therapies around music, um, and, and dementia patients. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:30:47 And, and how is it that, uh, can, can, so talk to us, this is probably a great time to introduce the Alzheimer's Association, your guys's website, what families can really do with the Alzheimer's Association today, um, to kind of help them in a little bit of their journey. Speaker 0 00:31:03 Yeah, so the Alzheimer's Association's a, it's a voluntary nonprofit health organization. So we really focus on care, support and research. So we fund research for the, the na the, the largest private funder of research in the world. Um, and so we, we spend a lot of money, um, investing in different high, potentially more, you know, different projects that maybe the US government who also invests in research might not be able to because they're, they're focusing more on, we have this much money, we're gonna do high yield projects. And so the association really has the power to maybe pick some of those other projects to focus in on. And that might be, um, like a high reward project. So we're just excited to be part of that. And then care, support and support are so important for the families on a journey to understand they've gotten this diagnosis. Speaker 0 00:31:50 So they may, might suspect something and then it's sort of like, holy, holy cow, what do I, what am I supposed to do now? Where do I start? And there's so many educational aspects in the beginning to kind of know about, just so that you can equip yourself to be able to be the best caregiver or whatnot. Right? Um, and then there's a 24 hour helpline for, for folks. So, um, you're up in the middle of the night because you're caring for your mom or your dad or your spouse and you're, you're exhausted and you're frustrated and you don't know what to do. Um, we offer 24 4 7 help and over 200 languages. So folks can call and, and just master's level clinicians are on, are on hand to help people, guide people through. They might just have a question, they might just need a minute. They might, um, need to ask a question or just to be heard. Right? So, um, just some really, really great things at the association. I'm so proud to be a part of it. Um, helping families arm and numb with information, their support groups, um, and things like that. So, Speaker 3 00:32:50 Yeah. And, and support. Uh, and I'm gonna imagine as you guys have come through, loaded questions, you guys have come through, uh, this really covid virtual period off of that support groups can come into virtual context as well. Is that right? It's no longer just having to carve off someplace else. Speaker 0 00:33:08 Sure. And you find that some, everybody's different, right? Some people kind of liked the virtual format and they really were like, this is great for my life. Like now I can, I can join this, but I can also be home. Right? And in other cases, there are people that were thirsty to get back, I think, to, um, in person in some capacity. And we, we have, there are still support groups now that have resumed in person. We have some still virtual, um, same with educational opportunities. I kinda just think it depends on the person, but I do think sometimes that if it's a caregiver support group, I think they, they need that minute to go away from the computer away from the home and have that time to just sort of work through what they're experiencing. Cuz it is a really heavy burden for, for caregivers and it's 24 hours a day, um, typically, right. So, yeah. Speaker 3 00:33:56 Yeah, it's a lot to see. Especially I've noticed, um, you know, sons looking to moms, daughters looking to fathers. There seems to just, when you watch that kind of happen, that's where sad. You, you can really see some hard sadnesses and, and, and, uh, and you wanna protect them, right? You're, you hate to see that, you hate to see them in those situations. So being able to process those emotions in a healthy manner is fantastic. What can, what can you tell us about, um, is there, is there anything out there that's for helping mom and dad that's going through that and support groups for them as, as they're working their way through these diagnoses? There's, there's support groups that, right? Speaker 0 00:34:36 Yeah. There's, there's support groups for, you know, specifically for early stage. So early stage, um, and younger onset as well. So younger onset would mean anyone that's not in that typical 65 and older category. So we do ok, we do assist a lot of families where, where it's, we're talking people in their early fifties that were diagnosed. So they may potentially have lost their job or have had to, you know, back away from their job. So they might have a spouse that has to take on some of the, if they were both working, they might still have kids in the house, they might be part of that, you know, sandwich generation. So there is a slew of different support groups that hone in on different aspects of the disease, right? Um, diverse support groups, Spanish language support groups. So, um, you name it. And you can find that what fits for you and where you're gonna find, um, that rep, you know, that outlet that you need. Speaker 0 00:35:30 Um, and then I just wanna circle back real quick to that 800 number cuz I, I was remiss in not mentioning what that 800 number is. Cause I think it's critically important for people to have it. In fact, we always encourage people, put it in your phone, know that you're not alone, right? Um, that number is eight, it's 802 7 2, um, 3,900. So, um, yeah, I would encourage people if they ever feel like they need, you know, just somebody real quick to listen or they, maybe they need more involved help, maybe they're curious about, Hey, is there a support group near me? And they, they're not maybe wanting to go on a exhibition, uh, an, uh, go online and try to find it, that, that they can call and they can up with that as well. So Speaker 3 00:36:11 I love that. Yeah. I, I love that. And, and look forward to, to seeing us integrating that into the parent projects, AI platforms as well, and making those recommendations if it's catching or seeing those problems. Expect to see that kind of pop up within your feed for those of you and families that are utilizing our parent projects, our, um, parent projects format and, and platform. Well, we're, we're gonna take one kind of our last little break that we're gonna run through here, get ourselves together when we come back here. Uh, we're gonna sit down, we're gonna digest a couple of those, those, those great topics on how to recognize some of those early signs in a soft way and approach with it with a little love and laughter, uh, of dealing and recognizing Alzheimer's, uh, and other forms of dementia here as we continue working through on our interview with, with Katie VARs. Standby. I'm Tony Siebers. I'm the founder of Parent Projects and I'm gonna take you on a quick tour of the organization. Come on. The organization is full of surprises and if you've seen one parent project, you've seen one parent project. So generally we just try to be mission driven, objective, virtuous, empathetic, and dependable. We call it being moved. Come on and let me show you the insight. Speaker 3 00:37:23 So our organization lives inside the Arizona State University, SkySong Innovation Center, and Scottsdale, Arizona. It gives us an opportunity to be around a lot of creative people and creativity. Well, sometimes it turns into trouble, but most of the time it's gonna turn into quality content for you. I just want to take this moment to tell you, we're pleased to have you here. We look forward to helping you. If there's anything at all that you need, please reach out, follow us on the other socials that you like best in the platform that's your favorite. And until you and I get an opportunity to talk one-on-one, behold and be held Speaker 3 00:38:10 And welcome back as we continue our Alzheimer's Awareness Month. And we're doing so with, with Katie SCO Varsity Association, uh, with the Alzheimer's Association. Katie, I'm gonna welcome you back in. You are reminding us that we are not alone and great ways that we can start working through or recognizing some of those earlier signs, you know, as we start landing the plane a little bit in this episode. Cause I can see we should do, we could do a lot of talks, <laugh>, we could do a lot of this stuff. Um, let's add to this in some of those overall risks, uh, and some of the impacts of this, like wa walk us through a little bit of, of that. Speaker 0 00:38:49 Yeah. So just based on each individual person, there are certain things that are going to be, um, risks that are non-modifiable. And, and then there's those risks that are modifiable. So what do we mean by that? So things we can't change are the non-modifiable, right? We can't change our gender, and by virtue of being female, I'm more at risk than you, Tony. But that doesn't mean that, you know, but just by nature of our gender, right? Right. Additionally, race and ethnicity plays in, we do know that, um, black African-Americans are twice as likely than Caucasians to develop Alzheimer's. So there's a lot, um, of research that is being done in that realm and, and focusing in on, and then Hispanics are one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's. Wow. So there's ethnic differences in the disease that, that are, um, risk factors that increase. Obviously we know about age as we age, our risk factors in, in increase, and we can't change that as much as we'd want to. I'm still looking for the fountain of youth. I haven't found it yet, but I wish, wish I could. Um, and then, um, uh, genetics, our genetics play. So we, we can't control those things, but the things that we can control is how much sleep do you get at night, Tony? Do you get eight hours, five hours? You have kids, you said you had five kids, so maybe, maybe less. Speaker 3 00:40:07 I, I, I can get, what, what I really do is I sleep in three hour blocks. And so six hours or nine hours would be where it would go. Six is usually what that is for me. It's my REM cycle. Okay. But, but my wife would really, really, really like me to have seven to eight hours. She'd like that to be at the other end of that. And, and she of course, being an oncology nurse, like, like, like I get that right. <laugh>, but, uh, but what's that mean? Yeah. What does that mean in Yeah, Speaker 0 00:40:33 You should listen. Well, you should listen to your wife now. Well, that should always be Speaker 0 00:40:41 Sleep. There's connections to sleep and, and dementia. Right. You know, so yeah, kinda getting the, like a solid sleep is one of those modifiable risk factors that we can control, right? How much we sleep. Um, a cardiovascular help, we touched on it a little with exercise. Um, I think this is a really interesting study that's kind of still, um, there was some initial, um, results to a, a phase one readout of it, but it was so compelling that they, that they, it was, you know, touted because it was like, well bef we know we need to continue this trial, but we're finding this is so interesting that we're gonna, we're gonna kind of shout it from the rooftops. And it was, it's called the exert study. And it is, um, cycled around, um, centered around exercise and exercise in the extent of like, they would introduce either mild exercise, supervised mild exercise or stretching to, um, folks in like mild cognitive impairment stage or early stage of, of, of dementia. Speaker 0 00:41:41 And then they had a placebo group where they also had a mild cognitive cognitive impairment or early stage, right? But they didn't introduce the exercise and they wanted to see how they would progress in the disease and in the illness, right? And so they studied them for about, it was close to a year, and they found that it was stunning how the clinical decline was almost stalling out in the group where they introduced the exercise and even just stretching, which surprised them. They thought, oh, stretching might not do it. Right? But, um, again, I wanna emphasize this was a controlled environment, right? We don't wanna say like just if you're in the early stage, go exer, like do exercise that it was a supervised in, in things, but it was very, um, very intriguing, right? So, um, exercise, cardiovascular exercise in the brain, the heart health connection again, that is so critically important. Speaker 0 00:42:32 Um, and then additionally we know education, right? And social and social aspects. So, um, we saw a huge decline in, uh, increase in, in, in, um, the number of people who, who passed away with like a type of dementia during the covid period because everyone was isolated. No one was socializing, right? So there's a connection there where they're currently doing more research in that realm because they're trying to determine what did, what was really, you know, what's at the root of that, right? Um, so, and then, you know, learning new things, trying to challenge yourself a little bit. I know it can be difficult as we get older and sometimes you get into your daily routine and you get accustomed to things. And so introducing new things might not be, um, you know, possible, but small little things and little changes to challenge yourself are gonna be good for your brain, right? Speaker 0 00:43:18 Something outside the normal don't, you know, it gets conditioned to do the same things, but if you kind of challenge it from time to time, that's all shown to be, um, be really, you know, head healthy. Um, and then our diet, right? Um, the Mediterranean diet, as they say is, is the, is the best, you know, brain health, um, diet. So just eating healthy, trying to do the best things. I know it's not always possible a hundred percent of the time, but I think it's really, if you make these small incremental changes now, um, long term down the road, it could be really be really great for the brain health. Speaker 3 00:43:51 Well, and, and like we were talking about before, some of the, maybe, maybe, maybe those are really hard change. Maybe you've had a hard time getting a family member to make some of those changes or get them to go to the gym or do those things. And maybe at the backside, maybe one of these diagnosis is early would help understand, okay, well we've got, now the goal isn't to change everything in your life, it's just simply to get yourself in a muscle memory of stretching every morning for the next nine months, you know, but during this time period so that as you get older, you'll continue to do that and that will, that will continue to help you keep that, that autonomy, which is another big thing we really want, right? It's to give the, you wanna give our family members that autonomy as long as possible. Speaker 3 00:44:35 Yeah. Um, and that, that is, these, these are great ways to do that. Diet is another great one. Yeah. Yeah. Especially if you've had a, a change in, if you're gonna have a change in a family situation, a loss of one, one spouse to another one, there is going to be a change in how the house runs, right? Food's gonna be prepared differently. There, there just, there always is, whether it's divorce or death. So when those things happen, they're great opportunities in a parent project to start leaning towards those. And, and if, if you think that memory care is going to be someplace down the line genetically or due to one of these other non, you know, uh, non-modifiable, you know, um, things that we're talking about, risk factors that, that are out there and this is a good time, maybe that's a nice push to move towards. And it gives you that reason to do that in a consultive way to mom and dad instead of as a, you know, you will do this. You, you will do this. Which is what we, obviously we all wanna avoid that if we can. And they sure as heck don't wanna hear that. Cause we wouldn't wanna hear it outta our kids. Speaker 0 00:45:37 I think that's the mistake that, that that is made can, can be made sometimes unknowingly, right? Is that, you know, you're, you might have a parent with that starts showing, displaying some memory issues, right? And you start talking down to them and that can actually be counterproductive, right? Yeah. So the conversations that you're having are so Speaker 3 00:46:00 Coddle them, right? Like we had a great last week's interview w um, was just fantastic around this. And she was, she's explained as, you know, living with, with dementia now for like 10 years. She had explained and we listened to her talk about it. She's like, well, everybody grabs my arm and they're walking me through. She's like, I, I didn't, I don't need that. I'm, I'm okay. I've got, I've got some of this. We don't intend to do that. We just, it's kind of almost maybe part of our own processing, right? Speaker 0 00:46:28 Correct. And I think we think we're helping sometimes, or I mean even in how you, how you talk about, for example, well mom, I told you that five times. Like no, we did, you know, they, you're asked repeated the question and there's a frustration cuz maybe naturally, like you said, maybe, maybe they are raising kids and they're, you know, trying to, you know, help with the parent situation. And so there's this frustration, I'm tired, I'm exhausted. And so it's like I told you that that is honestly stop doing. If you're, if you're doing that, I gently say, don't do that. Because what's happening is that, um, when you leave the situation, the feeling that your parent or your loved one feels when they leave stays the emo that that emotion, right? So if they're sad or frustrated or angry because of how your, you got your conversation went, they're gonna carry that, but they won't remember the conversation maybe perhaps in and of itself. Yeah. They won't remember why they're upset, but they'll be upset and they'll carry that forward. So it's so, so important to kind of manage that a bit so that they're, you're keeping them content and happy so that they're carrying that emotion forward and not the opposite. Speaker 3 00:47:37 Yeah. And, and you know, we, we've seen actually, I've personally seen that generationally in my family, one of the biggest offenders of that have been my loved one's siblings because they've got this like comfortable, familiar relationship, but they're one of the biggest ones to say, well we already talked about that, or I told you that before, or I did this before. Yeah. And they're both older, is there? Yeah. I mean there's, you know, yeah. But, but you end up in fact in multiple, multiple times for my grandparents too, where I'd have to just remind, oh, not the best thing to say here, right? Like, this is, it's not, it's not helping that. But I didn't exactly know how to qualify why that might be. You did an excellent job of laying that out. Yeah, exactly. They're gonna hold, they don't even know where that might be. But that does hold, um, some level of a resentment and it can make it difficult and stretch that relationship that's really critical for them, right? Like it means a lot. Yeah. It means a lot and, and nobody intends anything. Know, we just Sure. This is, you've talked to your siblings, you know, for years that way, right? Speaker 0 00:48:34 Of course. Yes. Absolutely. Speaker 3 00:48:37 Love it. Well, okay, so I, I love seeing those, those non-modifiable, those modifiable things. I got it on sleep. We talked again. I'm gonna list those cause those seem super important that we talked about sleep. Yeah. Tell me if I took good notes. Ok. Um, the excerpt study, honestly, I would love if offline if we can catch that. Yeah, I would love to grab that from you and put that down in the show notes. Um, it, I know our doctors immediately started talking about that when we were dealing it with our last diagnosis. So like I, yeah. That, that's already out there. Like people are running with that. I'd love to know what sits behind that and if somebody's looking to, to understand a little bit of that, that's what it is since it's still new. Figure out what it means maybe for you and your family. Speaker 3 00:49:17 Um, education, we talked about that in continuing to learn and keep themselves actively involved in socializing. You know, one thing I also noticed in that is once we retire, we, we tend to lose track of what's happening within the days. I, it's amazing how much we pen around raising kids and working that I know what day of the week it is and I know what a schedule is and I know the end of the day and, and, and I hear from a lot of retirees memory or not memory problem. I'm not, at first they don't care. I don't care what time it's, I don't care what day it is. I just know I'm gonna go play golf unless I gotta know it for tee time or this or that. But, but where it can get interesting is, or difficult or challenging is when medical issues start coming in and it's them eating dinner at one o'clock in the morning because their, their clock is off. Because they don't, they don't have those bookends of regular like something to do. And that was the established pattern going into this. So getting them back to a good established daylight pattern will help them have some of those heart, brain health, you know, as they're going into that. I really like that you talked about that and that it's modifiable something to work with, um, particularly into the diet. That Mediterranean diet is something that sounds like now how'd I do get Speaker 0 00:50:32 Good? You did, you nailed it. Speaker 3 00:50:35 Awesome. You also made reference to the, to the 10 warning signs or a 10 warning signs you guys particularly push at the holidays? I would, I'd love that. If you shoot that over, I'd love to put that out to the audience. We'll, we can put down the show notes. Yeah. Uh, we'll also put it up online at, at parent projects do com and send everybody between those, link those two things up because I, I, I just, I think it's wonderful what you guys are doing. Speaker 0 00:50:58 Thank you. I appreciate it. Speaker 3 00:51:02 Uh, Katie, parting words or, or anything, uh, for, for certain that you think you wanna squeeze in today or to help with these families as we're really looking to this hopeful future? Speaker 0 00:51:12 Yeah, I just, I just really wanna reiterate that you're not alone, right? Like if you're, if you're dealing with something or you're, you're fearful, you're not alone. There are so many people that are also going through it. And I think there's so much, um, in parenthood, right? Generally, like I always equate it to parenthood cuz I think it's similar, right? We don't talk about different challenges in raising kids because you think, oh my gosh, I'm supposed to know this. I'm supposed to be perfect in this, right? And, but when you start to talk to other parents about challenges you feel or um, frustrations or whatever, you start to feel empowered, right? You're like, oh my gosh, other people are feeling this way. And I think it's same with, um, in the dementia space, right? If you're, if you empower yourself to connect to others and know that you're not alone, um, you can get the help and the education and just the information that you need to kind of navigate it. And, and so, um, I think that's imperative. So, and, and I have to say caregivers are superheroes. What they do daily, um, to help their loved ones, um, is nothing short of amazing. And so I give a shout out to all of them who, um, you know, may be navigating a slew of other things while, while trying to do, um, do that and not potentially in the home. So, Speaker 3 00:52:30 Well, and I think it's great for you to share and, and reinforce that reaching out. I mean, one thing, there's a couple things in the parent projects we point out one, one, if you've seen one parent project, obviously you've only seen one pair project. All of it's different. They all look unique to each family. But that's, and it's, it's also something that you might do maybe once, maybe at most four times for you, for your parents, and then for your, for your spouses, your partners parents. This is not something that you're going to be an expert against, and that's okay. That's why there's networks of people that can pour in. So, you know, if you can get yourself in that mindset of, of being, you know, really just understanding the big picture and know that you're an information collector and a relayer as that, that advocate and then be able to pull that information at the right time in, I, I think that's a, you know, you're moving in a much healthier thing instead of taking on the guilt and fear that you have to be the expert at all of these things. Right? It's just not something you're gonna do enough in life to be that expert at. Right. You're not gonna spend enough at it. Yeah. So you did a great job of laying that out. Boy, Katie, it, it was a pleasure. It was really a pleasure to, to hear from you today. And, and again, you know, God bless you and the Alzheimer's Association and all the great work that you guys are doing. Thanks for coming on today and sharing your time, your talents, and your treasures. Speaker 0 00:53:46 Thank you, Tony. Appreciate you. Speaker 2 00:53:54 Well, that's it for the team this week, and thanks for joining us. If you've enjoyed the content, remember to subscribe and to share this episode on the app that you're using right now. Your reviews and your comments, they really help us expand our reach as well as our perspective. So if you have time, also drop us a note. Let us know how we're doing for tips and tools to clarify your parent project, simplify communication with your stakeholders, and verify the professionals that you choose. You can find us on YouTube, follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks again for trusting us. Until our next episode, behold and be held. Speaker 6 00:54:26 Thank you for listening to this Parent Projects podcast production. To access our show notes, resources, or forums, join us on your favorite social media platform or go to parent projects.com. This show is for informational and educational purposes only. Before making any decisions, consult a professional credential in your local area. This show is copyrighted by Family Media and Technology Group Incorporated and Parent Projects llc. Written permissions must be granted before syndication or rebroadcast.

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