Monday Hearts for Madalene

Page Hodel creates beautiful hearts as a tribute to enduring love
Handmade heart of branches

You’re still tangled up in my heart

It’s an honor for SevenPonds to share with our readers the story of the Monday Hearts for Madalene project, a true account of the power of enduring love.The project began in 2005, when Page Hodel first met Madalene Rodriguez and fell “instantly, dizzyingly in love with her.” Soon afterwards, Page began leaving handmade hearts on Madalene’s doorstep every Monday.

“To start her week with a visual reminder of our beautiful love.”

Just seven months later, Madalene was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died on June 20th, 2006. To remember her, Page continues to make a heart every Monday in celebration of her life.

To learn more about Page and the Monday Hearts for Madalene Project, please visit her website, Monday Hearts for Madalene.

See more Monday Hearts for Madalene here.

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Diabetes Drug Shown To Reverse Memory Loss In Mice With Alzheimer’s

The drug could eventually be used to treat humans with dementia

Researchers from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom have found that a type 2 diabetes drug significantly reverses memory loss in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.

Though the benefits have only been seen in mice so far, researchers believe that the potential for human use is great. The fact that the drug has already been approved for human consumption adds to its allure.

Graphic of a human head portrayed as a tree with leaves falling away symbolizing memory loss

Credit: radio.krcb.org

The diabetes drug “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead researcher Christian Holscher.

Dr. Doug Brown from the Alzheimer’s Society in the U.K. spoke about the importance of studying already-approved drugs for humans and their potential benefits for Alzheimer’s patients.

“With no new treatments in nearly 15 years, we need to find new ways of tackling Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Brown said. “It’s imperative that we explore whether drugs developed to treat other conditions can benefit people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. This approach to research could make it much quicker to get promising new drugs to the people who need them.”

The diabetes drug is a triple receptor agonist and appears to protect brain cells from degeneration in three different ways, as opposed to a single approach. The study notes that the drug activated and enhanced the GLP-1, GIP and glucagon receptors at the same time, which are all growth factors.

Growth factor signaling has been shown to be reduced in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. So by using the triple receptor agonist, the idea was to regenerate damaged brain cells and protect against further damage.

The drug was tested on mice that were genetically modified to have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss, synaptic loss, formation of amyloid plaques on the brain, etc. Mice in the advanced stages of neurodegeneration were treated with the drug.

In a water maze test, the mice treated with the diabetes drug had improved learning and memory formation. The drug also:

  • reduced the amount of toxic amyloid plaques in the brain;
  • reduced both chronic inflammation and oxidative stress;
  • slowed down the rate of nerve cell loss.

“These very promising outcomes,” said Professor Holscher, “demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes but have shown consistent neuro-protective effects in several studies.”

Alzheimer’s and Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and also seems to promote rapid advancement of the neurodegenerative disease.

Elderly woman holding forehead and looking down showing frustration

Credit: caring.com

The connection could be a result of improper insulin distribution between cells. Insulin is another growth factor known to protect cells. Insulin resistance, which is the biological mechanism that drives type 2 diabetes has been observed in patients’ brains with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers have been studying diabetes drugs and their potential to help Alzheimer’s patients for some time. A study on the type 2 diabetes drug liraglutide showed that it improved symptoms of Alzheimer’s and reduced the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain.

It’s far from a sure thing that this triple receptor agonist drug will benefit human patients with Alzheimer’s. However, that a multi-approach drug has shown promising results is definitely cause for optimism.

More than five million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050 there could be upwards of 16 million, so new treatment options are badly needed. And if drugs originally intended to treat other diseases can also help Alzheimer’s patients, we should be looking into that as much as possible.

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Eric Lacombe Examines the Boundaries Between Life and Death

The French graphic designer and digital artist creates creatures suspended between both worlds

It wasn’t long ago that humans believed the line between life and death was clean and clear-cut. Someone was dead when their breath no longer fogged a mirror and no heartbeat could be heard with an ear to the chest. But today, science and technology have blurred those boundaries to an amazing extent. We no longer look at life and death as distinct entities, but as part of a continuum. And more than ever before in human history, we are now grappling with the question, “When does life end and nothingness begin?”

Eric LaCombe drawing

Untitled # 264 by Eric Lacombe
Credit: inspirationfeed.com

Eric Lacombe is an artist whose work addresses that question in stunning and unexpected ways. A graphic designer, digital artist and painter who lives and works in Lyons, France, Lacombe creates mixed-media pieces that depict the ephemeral nature of consciousness through the juxtaposition of life, death and decay. Combining stark realism and pure fantasy, they invite us to contemplate the nature of life and death and the intellectual boundaries we erect to separate the known from the unknowable.

Mixed media painting by Eric Lacombe

TWOS_P_ 104 by Eric Lacombe
Credit: lastritesgallery.com

“I love the quiet drama the living exude whenever they are asleep, or tired of life, or even dead,” wrote Lacombe in a statement for his 2016 exhibition “The Weight of Silence” at The Last Rites Gallery. “Imagine the very moment before death, when life slips away and something new begins: this moment is truly precious, because everything is silent,”  he adds. 

 And, indeed, Lacombe’s subjects appear suspended between worlds, neither wholly alive nor wholly dead, neither wholly human nor wholly something else. The images are neither violent nor disturbing, but rather solemn and melancholy — as if the subjects have been caught unaware, stunned into silent introspection as they contemplate the fact of their own demise. The contrast between the intricately detailed figures and the subtlety of the backgrounds further enhances this effect. The viewer senses that he is watching a life dissolve rather than end, and is prompted to ask the question, “What comes next?”

Mixed media painint by Eric Lacombe

In this untitled painting by Eric LaCombe, two figures seem suspended in the act of saying goodbye
Credit: ericlacombe.com

Of course, no one can answer that question, which seems to be the dominant message in Lacaombe’s oeuvre. Life is followed by decay, and the disintegration of the known into the unknown. Beyond that, at least for the foreseeable future, that is all any of us can know.

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How Can a Care Manager Help You?

Interview with Amanda Lambert, Part Two

For this piece, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Lambert. Amanda lives in Utah where she is a care manager and co-author of the book “Aging with Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home.” Over the last 25 years, she has worked in mental health, home health and, most recently, care management and consultation. Certified as an Advanced Aging Life Care Specialist through the Aging Life Care Association, Amanda has written multiple papers and given presentation on how to work with older clients. You can find her webpage at mindfulaging.com.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Care Manager Amanda Lambert

Credit: amazon.com

Debra Stang: Hello again, Amanda. I know many older people with medical needs want to stay in the home. What are their options?

Amanda Lambert: Hello, Debra. Sometimes friends and family will be able to provide the necessary care for an older adult to be safe in the home. If not, the client will need to have private-duty care. Some long-term care insurance policies cover this, but Medicare and supplemental policies do not. When I work with a family as a care manager, I’m very frank about the costs. I send many of my clients to elder law attorneys to help them protect their assets.

Debra: When the finances are worked out, what do you tell clients to look for in private-duty home care?

Amanda: First of all, determine exactly what care the agency provides. Can they administer medications? Help with bathing? Prepare meals?

Next, ask the agency whether your loved one will receive care from a certified nurses aide – CNA – or a personal care attendant – PCA. Ask the agency what the caregivers can and can’t do. For instance, in some states, CNAs can’t give medications.

Finally, ask who in the agency you should speak to if a problem comes up. Can you call this person for regular progress reports? Will the agency call you if caregivers notice a change in your loved one’s condition?

Debra: What options exist for adults who can no longer remain at home?

Amanda: As a care manager, I deal with this issue on a regular basis. One solution is assisted living. Most assisted living facilities are owned by private corporations. They may appear to be quite luxurious, but a fountain in the lobby doesn’t necessarily mean good care. Talk to the administrator or admissions coordinator about the services provided. Be sure to ask about the costs involved. Some facilities raise their rates as a resident’s needs increase.

Another option is long-term care in a nursing facility. Many people think Medicare will pay for this, but unfortunately it doesn’t. If your loved one has few or no assets, you can help him or her apply for the state’s medical assistance program which will cover the cost of long-term care.

It is important to get your affairs in order

Credit: nia.nih.gov

Debra: How do your clients feel about the prospect of leaving their homes?

Amanda: Most of them don’t like it. They would rather age at home where everything is familiar. But the interesting thing is that when older adults leave their homes, they often do better. Many older adults living at home become socially isolated. At a facility, they make friends. Older adults who have health problems and who live at home alone tend to skip meals or eat junk food. The facility can ensure that your loved one is getting proper nutrition and hydration.

Debra: Are there any topics that I should have touched on but didn’t?

Amanda: I’d like to mention that falls can wreak havoc on an older person’s health. It’s important for your loved one to get some kind of exercise to improve balance and flexibility. As a care manager, I also recommend removing fall hazards like clutter on the floor or area rugs from your loved one’s living space.

Finally – and this concept is difficult for the families I work with – people have the right to make bad decisions. As long as an older adult is not incapacitated by a mental illness or dementia, he or she can choose to live in an unsafe environment or to refuse medical care. I can mediate between older adults and their families, but I can’t force my clients to do anything.

Debra: Amanda, thank you so much for your time and for your insights. I’ve enjoyed talking to you.

Amanda: Thank you, Debra. I’ve enjoyed talking to you, too.

Did you miss the first part of Amanda’s interview? If so, please catch up here.

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Book Review: “Keep Calm and Color On,” Illustrated by Katie Martin

A book that shows us that picking up a colored pencil can help ease the pain of grief

Suzette's "Keep Calm and Color On" book as mediation for the grievingI realize that “Keep Calm and Color On: The Coloring Book for Your Inner Creative” is not a book that qualifies as actual reading material. Yet as a form of mediation for those who are grieving, the genre should not be overlooked. Those who have experienced that horrible (you could hear a pin drop) moment of hearing bad news, whether its the sudden death of a loved one or a terminal diagnosis,  know that life suddenly turns completely upside down.

Case in point, when my closest friend Tedi’s father died years ago, she sorrowfully said to me, “Suzette, I couldn’t do the most rudimentary things, like driving a car.” I’ll never forget how she sounded when she said this to me. I could feel her pain through the phone many states away. Had I thought of it then, I would have sent her one of these beautiful adult coloring books. Coloring inside the lines would have been one of the few activities she would have been able to deal with while trying to cope with her extreme grief. Coloring is  a form of meditation that would have helped calm her mind while her emotions were spinning and her heart breaking. I regret I did not think of such a gift.

“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”

~ Pablo Picasso

Quote from “Keep Calm and Color On”

"Keep Calm and Color On" book quote as mediation for the grieving“Keep Calm and Color On” is beautifully illustrated by Katie Martin, and intentionally designed as a “stress reliever.” Each double page features a different floral or geometric- inspired design for you to color in as you wish. And each beautiful 
"Keep Calm and Color On" book as mediation for the grievingdesign is accompanied by an inspiring quote. Since I am personally not one to meditate, this would be my choice of channeling my emotions too. Sadly, I have been there many times, but failed to think of one of these books as an alternative to help me cope with my pain.

“Art therapy for my soul”

~ Reno

Quote from “Keep Calm and Color On”

I’ll keep this review short since “Keep Calm and Color On” is short too. But while it’s not a book of many words, it is in our SevenPonds Healing Library to give you an idea of things to do when life deals you, or someone you love, a hard blow. The book is especially lovely because you can order it personalized with a friend’s name and include a message too. It’s a perfect gift for someone who is wrangling with the reality of the unreal. And it comes with a set of colored pencils, to help them (or you) let  emotions flow while idling the hours away.

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Check Out The My Good Grief Journal For Kids App

An iPad app to help bereaved children process their feelings

Our Tip of the Month  

Front page of My Good Grief Journal for Kids

Credit: iTunes.apple.com

My Good Grief Journal For Kids is an iPad app for children who have been touched by the loss of a loved one. The app was created by John Lemasters, a former hospice Bereavement Services Coordinator who, in the course of his work, observed the tendency of bereaved families to grieve in silence. There are many reasons for this lack of communication. Anxiety keeps people from sharing their feelings. They fear saying something that might trigger other family members and add to their pain. And confusion about how to talk to children about death prevents adults from having potentially healing conversations with grieving children. And some people buy into the philosophy of avoidance –if I ignore my grief, it will go away. But grief doesn’t go away when we ignore it. It only festers and casts a shadow over everyone’s life.

My Good Grief Journal for Kids aims to provide the tools to help children express their own feelings, and to facilitate conversations between bereaved children and the adults in their lives.

G.G. parrot from the My Good Grief app

Credit:taps.org

How-to Suggestion  

The app uses personalized content to make the experience of using it more intimate. Users provide name and relationship information about themselves and their loved one who died. Then the app uses that information to guide the user through various activities. The My Good Grief Journal for Kids app contains 20 pages of activities that help children remember their loved one and process their feelings as they move through their grief. Children can create an unlimited number of journal pages to process their feelings through writing. They can also incorporate tools such as photo frames, audio and video recordings, drawings and emoticons into their journaling. A friendly cartoon parrot named G.G. Parrot serves as a guide throughout the activities. Every day G.G. Parrot encourages the user to journal, offering various prompts or “Write Ideas” to help them get started. The app allows for unlimited users, and each child can create up to three journals within their account.

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