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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers
Volume 7, Issue 14
July 26, 2003

1104A Murfreesboro Pike
PMB 114
Nashville, TN 37217-1918

Have you ever felt like you were going crazy? I've kind of felt like that this week. I'm not getting much of anything accomplished around here. I guess the grief process plus the stress of being carepartner to my husband has finally hit. I've been really teary..just cry at the drop of a pin. I can't put my finger on what has caused me to be reacting this way and that's bugging me to death. I can usually pinpoint the cause of things and on this one I can't. I can be very happy about some things and can work away but then other things just seem to overwhelm me and I get nothing done. I guess it's time to head to the doctor and see if my antidepressant needs to be upped or changed.


The Ribbon Rules!

Brenda Parris Sibley continues to do a fabulous job of collecting and listing the Top Alzheimer's/Caregiving sites, having grown to over 150 sites! I am proud to say that The Ribbon is still number one!

We have placed in every postion over the last few years, ending up in 6th place last year. We are very proud of this recognition but more than that we are proud to be a part of this growing community of caregivers. I think I can speak for the entire Ribbon staff when I say that we have all found joy in being a part of this family, The Ribbon Family.

Kudos to our chat room darling, Photo AKA Linda, for her untiring efforts in our chat room, The Gathering Place. It, too, is on the Top Sites List, moving up in rank almost daily. Do check it out!

If you or anyone you know needs more help and information on caregiving and AD, check out the Top Sites List.

Sharing is the way we all survive this tragic disease. Our family grows.


It's Hot Outside

by Mary C. Fridley RN, BC

Summer is here again and time to remind you about the hazards of dehydration in your older loved ones and how to prevent it.

Dehydration is a serious problem for older adults that disrupts all body functions including digestion and elimination, temperature control, cellular function, circulation, vitamin and mineral absorption, and detoxification. It is one of the top ten reasons for hospitalization and it is estimated that half of those not treated quickly will die. Bodily water loss of just 10% results in dehydration and 20% is fatal. So what makes your loved one so vulnerable and how can you prevent it?

Normal aging changes contribute to increased risk. As we age, we basically dry up and dry out. Total body water content decreases (especially on the cellular level) due in part to the loss of muscle mass which holds more water than fat mass. Changes in kidney function contribute to an inability to conserve water and a decreased sensitivity to thirst contributes to not drinking enough. Chronic disease processes add to the risk because of decreased cognitive awareness, limited movement or immobility, isolation, and depression. Medication side effects also increase the risk as well as environmental stresses. People bothered by incontinence or urinary urgency may avoid fluids in an attempt to decrease symptoms.

Dehydration can come on fast and become a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms include fatigue, increased confusion and disorientation, dry mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, sudden weight loss, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and difficulty speaking. Orthostatic hypotension, or blood pressure that drops when moving from a lying down position to sitting then standing, also occurs contributing to falls. Some of these symptoms may be hard to identify if your loved one has dementia or is taking several medications that cause related side effects.

Prevention is the working word here and there are several proactive measures you can take. Always be mindful of how much your loved one is drinking. Consult with his or her physician about how much should be consumed in a day. A common formula used in institutions to calculate fluid need is 30cc/kg of body weight. But each individual is different and chronic disease will change the need, so please consult with a physician. Offer clear fluids frequently with water accounting for at least half the fluid intake each day. If your loved one will not drink plain water, offer other clear fluids such as cranberry juice, lemonade, decaffeinated iced tea, and apple juice (check first to see that he or she has no dietary restrictions). I also suggest mixing half water and half-clear liquid. Put it in a sport bottle and encourage your loved one to sip on it frequently. If a loved one has dementia, offer fluids every two hours. Keep in mind that a fluid is any food that melts at room temperature, so ice cream, Jell-O, and sherbet fall into this category. Juicy fruits such as watermelon, oranges, and grapes are also good choices. A word of caution about caffeinated beverages, though, and some diet drinks: they act as diuretics increasing the risk for dehydration.

If a trip out is planned, listen for air quality reports because poor air quality will exacerbate breathing problems. Also try to avoid outdoor activities on those hot and humid days and hot and dry ones as well. If your love one must go out keep it short, moving quickly from one air-conditioned environment to another. The ability to sweat is diminished with age and compromises the body's ability to cool efficiently. Heat exhaustion or hyperthermia can occur rapidly and is a medical emergency. Signs to watch for include fatigue, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and confusion. If you suspect heat exhaustion, get your loved one to a cool environment immediately, offer fluids, and call for an ambulance.

For the loved one with mobility problems who is afraid to drink too much, be sure there is easy access to a bathroom or a commode and offer assistance every two hours. A loved one with dementia should be reminded every two hours and assisted if needed. Provide comfortable clothing that is easy to remove avoiding zippers and buttons that can be difficult to manage.

Keep in mind that summer heat puts you at risk, too. Do yard work and outdoor exercise in the morning and add the tips above to your personal health consciousness.

Have a blessed and relaxing summer.

Mary C. Fridley RN, C is a Registered Nurse board certified in gerontology with more than twenty years of experience in the geriatric health field. She is a writer of advice columns and articles for caregivers as well as a public speaker. Mary will be glad to answer any questions you have and can be reached at P.O. Box 573 Riva, MD 21140, or by email:

Diagnosis Unknown

by Risa Levovsky, from

Many caregivers do not know where to turn when they suspect that someone they know may be suffering from memory loss. In desperation, they look for an answer by reading books, surfing the Internet for information, and visiting numerous doctors who have varying opinions about the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. The search often leads to an improper diagnosis or just to a dead end.

As caregivers in the 21st Century, we must examine all of our options. Many types of medical professionals are available to diagnose and treat Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory loss.

According to the American Geriatrics Society, "A geriatrician is a physician who is an expert in aging-related issues and gerontology, the study of the aging process."

As caregivers in the 21st century, we may choose to employ a geriatrician as a primary care physician. We may also use the geriatrician's expertise to supplement the care providedby an internal medicine, primary care physician or family practice physician.

Geriatrics is a specialized field of medicine. It takes an extensive amount of time, formal education and on the job training to become a geriatrician.

An internal medicine physician, primary care physician or family practice physician may be a good person to consult as you begin your search. If you're current physician does not specialize in diagnosing and treating memory loss, request that he/she provide you a list of specialists in your area.

A neurologist is a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system and brain. Certain neurologists specialize in geriatric care or have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

A geriatric psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in diagnosing aging and mental health issues in older adults. In many cases depression, anxiety, and stress can cause
temporary memory loss, which may be mistaken for Alzheimer's disease.

A word to the wise: No matter what, do your homework carefully when choosing a physician! It is tricky navigatingour healthcare system as caregivers in the 21st century.

Risa Levovsky is the author of Alzheimer's Tips Revealed: Successful Caregiving in the 21st Century. To order a copy of the book, go to
Copyright-Risa Levovsky 2002 Library of Congress

Risa Levovsky - After ten years of research on the front lines, I have developed a simple program that teaches both caregivers and professionals exactly how to provide quality care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory loss. I am not new to this cause. My research was discussed on in an article entitled 'One Caregiver's Struggle with Alzheimer's disease. I also wrote a column entitled 'The Caregiver's Corner, for Southern Lifestyles Magazine. for ten years, I worked on the front lines. My most recent position was The Center Manager at the award winning Weinstein Center For adult Day Services in Dunwoody Georgia. Now I devote 100% of my time to promoting my first book and to fundraising for caregivers. In an effort to raise funds for caregivers, I donate 50% of the proceeds to any organization that promotes my new book entitled 'Alzheimer's Tips Revealed: Successful Caregiving in the 21st Century. Visit the author's web site at

Copyright Notice: It is illegal to reprint articles, in any format (including emails, web sites, etc.), without explicit written permission from the author of this article.

In Passing: Those We Must Remember

Friends, it is with deep sadness that I must inform you of the passing ofDianaL's Mother early on the 16th of July. DianaL is our Friday night chat host, so it is more difficult to pass on this information. DianaL relayed in her email that her Mother passed away peacefully.

I have talked to DianaL several times since then and she seems to be in relatively good spirits considering. She is at peace now that her Mother is not suffering any longer.

Please join me in extending your thoughts and sympathies to DianaL (Dglennox1019) and her family during this very difficult time.

Love Always,

The Wave of The Future

WozNet Could Track Patients with Wireless Network

Most of us take modern technology for granted; things happen. New products come along and we say, "Oh, nice" or "Wow, that's great."

I recently came across this information by chance, as I read about new technology in construction in a newsletter I subscribe to at work. Immediately I saw that this was something that would benefit caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.

It is a wireless network, created by one of the cofounders of Apple Computers, Steve Wozniak. Mr. Wozniak has described WozNet as a simple yet inexpensive wireless network that uses global positioning satellite data and radio signals to keep track of a cluster of inexpensive tags within a one or two mile radius.
It began because of a need to keep track of the family dogs and has blossomed into something with boundless uses. It is akin to the old pager system in use 25 years ago, before the cell phone.

Those of us who have had to deal with the wanderings of an Alzheimer's' patient know all too well how panic sets in when our loved one decides to expand their parameters. Imagine just having to check a base station to immediately locate them. Do you think this would help you in your caregiving tasks? I think it would. And the idea of it being affordable makes it even better.

If you want to read more about this, check their web site: Wheels of Zeus, click on "News" and you will see press releases and details of it's pending availability slated for next year.


Gathering of Friends

Those of you who have signed up, please reply to the email you received from GOF This information is very important!

Two years ago, we were elated at the amount of the donations we received from YOU our Ribbon readers. With your help our donation amount was $3000. We want to meet that amount or exceed it. We are asking for your help again. We have a secure website where you can make a donation to the team of Jane's Angels.

Memory Walk 2003 Nashville - General Donation

If you are not comfortable you may print out the donation form and mail it to the address listed on the bottom of the form. Another way is to send a check to The Ribbon at the address at the top of the newsletter. Remember...all checks are to be made out to The Alzheimer's Association.

With your help, we do make a difference!!

GOFies....please go to this website and click on JOIN OUR TEAM!!!! You will have to click "I Agree" on the Waiver Form in order to walk. We are looking to have 25 or more walking on October 11.

Helpful Links

CNN: Test May Predict Alzheimer's Risk

(July 24) -- A new electrical screening test may detect the earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease long before symptoms of memory loss appear.

Using electrodes placed on the head and spine, the test detects subtle changes in the brain's electrical function that may predict a person's risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

Snail Mail Bag

Dear Jamie,

I was so excited to read in The Ribbon about the award you received. If anyone is worthy of the Family Caregiver of the Year award and Honor it is you! I know God's grace has been with you throughout all the years of your caregiving journey and will continue to be there as you deal with Nick.

My heart is filled with gratitude at how you helped me during our journey with Terry's parents and I will always be thankful for the day in Kroger's that you handed me The Ribbon card, never knowing how much help and encouragement I would receive from it. Thank you for sending it to me. Please use this small gift to continue mailing it to me. I still enjoy receiving it and I pass the info on to others.

May our Lord give you His strength and peace in days to come.


Jamie's note: This was personal to me but I thought it was a good way of showing what can happen when you share with someone else. I always carry The Ribbon business cards and pass them out whenever possible. You just never know when you might be doing a huge favor to someone by refering them to The Ribbon. We are very proud of the work we do and the help it may give to even one person. Our snail mail list is growing as well is our email list. If The Ribbon has helped you then SHARE THE CARE. Share your copy of the newsletter with someone who can use it. Print out our SHARE THE CARE packet to take or mail to doctors, nursing homes, daycare facilities, etc. Share The Word -

EMail Bag


Aloha Brenda, Kevin, Linda and Jamie

If I have forgotten anyone please forgive me I have gone back into the text of this wonderful letter and story 4 times to retrieve these names. I am Jeanne Lee and I have Alzheimer's. You all should be so very proud and I plan to visit sites and buy books. It gives me chicken skin to see people with such dedication to help others have their rewards. I hope to see some of you when I come to Sacramento on my book tour. August 10th and possibly the 11 am if something gets scheduled for then. Again congratulations for jobs well done. Keep those dreams coming true for it is people like you that will make this world a better more equal place for everyone. Aloha Jeanne


Well gang, you know me, I can never sit still for long. I am off to a new adventure on Sunday, August 10, 2003. I will be meeting Jeanne L. Lee, author of Just Love Me - My Life Turned Upside Down by Alzheimer's. Ms. Lee will be doing a presentation and book signing at Tower Books in Sacramento. I just got the book yesterday. I have been able to read a few pages and I am very intrigued. Jeanne was diagnosed in 1991 with EOAD. There have been excerpts from her book included in TheRibbon Newsletter. I am excited to meet Jeanne as everything I have heard- she is truly amazing. I can't wait to update you in the next edition!

Big hugs!

Love Always,

Do you have a good story to tell about Caregiving? Did you find an easier way to do something? Did you write a poem that tells how you feel? Do you want to comment on something you've read? Do you have a book to recommend? If so, send it to us to be printed. We want you to continue to make this YOUR newsletter. Don't be bashful...we all walk in the same shoes. Let us hear from you!!

Hugs and Peace,
Jamie and Karen

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