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Dotty the Artist : A video

Fear of Living by Ron Kirkwood


Until recently, I never understood the name my Dad chose for his book.

5 Ways To Give Back on the Cheap : The Money Moguls

Repost: By Dan and Shan of The Money Moguls

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on things I would like to do once we have “MONEY.” New car – heck new tires on the existing used vehicle would be nice. Improvements to the house beyond a new coat of paint, although that in and of itself would be fabulous. A new wardrobe or even a pair of shoes that cost more than $9.99!

However, since that day is some time in the distant future I am absolutely content with what I have. A beautiful home, a car that runs, and a family that delights me to wake up to each and every morning. Those very important things make me feel that I do have an abundance of blessings and that I ought to be giving back.

Wouldn’t it be nice to provide funding for a wing of a library or hospital? Or to have a foundation that gave scholarships to youths in need, or even assist my local church with the building fund they are collecting for? Maybe someday!

There are things that anyone can do today no matter where they are along their personal financial journey. How to give back on a budget, you ask? There are endless possibilities! Let me just share a few here with you:

1)      Give of your time! There are countless organizations that could use the special skills you possess. You can donate your time without ever leaving your house in some cases or as far away as you can imagine  if that’s your thing. Help out at the local shelter, be a mentor to a child in need, or even bring in your neighbor’s trash can for him once in a while. You’ll make his day, and you’ll never know in what ways that will get paid forward to make our world a little better.

2)      Give of your body! Ok, hear me out on this one. I am a big believer in donating blood. One donation can help save the lives of up to three people! My parents are always donating and it instilled the habit in me at a young age. You can go every 8 weeks, and United Blood Services even has a rewards program to add a little bit of an incentive into the mix if you are looking for one. We recently lost a loved one to leukemia and during his battle learned a bit about bone marrow transplants. It could mean someone’s life someday if you’d be willing to join the donor registry – so please give it some thought.

3)      Give of your groceries! I have been a bit of a couponer since Daniel and I first moved in together and money has always been tight. Nothing like some of the crazy moms you see on television, but I do get a thrill out of saving money on our grocery bill and sometimes even scoring something FREE! Often the free stuff isn’t something I would normally use, but I know other people can. I was very moved by a

book Daniel brought home for me about a year ago  that talks specifically about donating items you get for free or very little money with the help of coupons. We try to pick up at least one item to donate with every grocery trip and donate to our church’s food bank. You never know who you might be helping!

4)      Give of your old junk! You know you have it. Clothes that haven’t fit in years, old appliances that you haven’t taken out of the box since you received it as a gift at your wedding five years ago, sports equipment, tools, toys that have rarely been played with, you name it. Don’t become a hoarder! Make it a point to go through your things once a quarter. If you’re on the fence about something, go ahead and keep it. BUT if you haven’t used it by the time the next quarter rolls around, out it goes. The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Deseret Industries are some of the major institutions that would love your old, gently used items.

5)      Give of your pocket change! We all have it, but where does it go? Most men I know tend to have some type of large jar where loose change resides into eternity, but I say get the whole family involved. Pick up those dirty pennies you see on the sidewalk – yes they are still worth something! Have a timeframe designated to collect, maybe a year or so, and then as a family decide what worthy cause you’d like to donate to. Then start all over again.

Something else to consider: make sure you keep receipts of items donated if you itemize on your taxes. This should indicate what organization received the donation and what was given (money or property). It may be up to you to place a value on the property that was donated.

What are you waiting for? Find what you’re passionate about and begin the cycle of giving back now! Waiting until you have the “money” might be too late to instill these habits in yourself and in your family. Someone needs what you have to offer today!

The Best Alzheimers Caregiver Tool of Them All, Harvey

I love watching these videos of Dotty & Harvey, her talking parrot. What a neat tool in caregiving for Alzheimer’s & Dementia-related diseases. I can’t wait to bring Harvey with me to work & see him in action live. Thank you Bob DeMarco for all you do! ~ Lark E. Kirkwood

The Best Alzheimers Caregiver Tool of Them All, Harvey.

Alzheimer’s and Music: “Conducting” an Emotional Visit to My Beloved, Demented Romanian Soul Mate

Repost from:


After this improvised “concert” I resolved to stop being upset that my “old Ed” was gone forever. I became determined to relate to him on whatever level I could. I rejoiced in the knowledge that I could make him happy.

By Marie Marley


Family caregivers and others caring for those with Alzheimer’s have long known that music is special to these individuals. It won’t stop or slow the progression of their disease, but it can be of significant benefit to them in many other ways.

Music has the power to reach Alzheimer’s patients on a deep level.

Many can sing songs, including most or even all of the lyrics, long after their dementia has progressed beyond the point of recognizing loved ones, dressing themselves, or even remembering what happened five minutes earlier.

Most importantly, however, music can have positive effects on the health and social functioning of Alzheimer’s patients. After listening to music some are clearly more calm, in a better mood and more outgoing than before, which improves the quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver.

Finally, music has actually been found to help those with dementia retrieve some memories their caregivers had assumed were lost forever.

My beloved 92-year-old Romanian soul mate, Ed, had been a university professor of French and a classical music lover. He loved orchestral music, especially that of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven.

He hated all forms of vocal music, however, and was always telling me he couldn’t stand to see singers on stage “with the open mouth.” Whenever he said that he opened his mouth wide and grossly mimicked an opera star hitting a really high note. I could never figure out how he thought they were supposed to emit sound without “the open mouth.”

At any rate, he’d always enjoyed watching conductors on TV, especially the flamboyant ones. The wilder they were, the more he loved watching them.

Being a former performer who had spent years playing in orchestras, I had tried to convince him that the flashy ones didn’t necessarily obtain any greater result from the players than the more sedate ones, but he never believed me.

When Ed became demented I was emotionally devastated, as are all caregivers at one point or another. My biggest sorrows was that I couldn’t find ways to have meaningful interactions with him. The worst part of it was that he had lost the ability to talk on the phone – something we’d previously done for hours every day.

In person visits weren’t much better. Although he was capable of light verbal exchanges, he wasn’t able to engage in the lively conversations we’d always had. Mostly he would deliver his two long monologues at every visit. They never varied. It was as though this demented man had actually memorized them.

One long monologue was full of praise about how beautiful I was; the other was about how lucky he was that I was visiting him.

I should have been delighted by all the affection and praise in these two monologues, but unfortunately I wasn’t. At that point I wasn’t able to accept his condition. I wanted to talk with him as we did before he became demented – not be simply talked to by him. Not be presented with the same material he repeated verbatim at every single visit.

I wanted my old Ed back. I wanted back the great man I had loved for over thirty years. The one who had been my rock. The man who had always supported me emotionally. Who had always there for me. The man with whom I talked for hours and with whom I laughed heartily during many of our conversations.

I couldn’t accept this new demented Ed with whom I had difficulty connecting, and who usually didn’t understand what I was telling him on the few occasions when I talked about what was going on in my life.

When I voiced my lament to my friends many of them suggested that I look at old photos with him, watch his favorite TV shows with him, or listen to music with him.

I had always assumed that listening to music with Ed would be boring for both of us, but one day I relented and decided to try it anyway since that particular day I couldn’t seem to reach him at all by any other means.

After trying to converse with him for a while and after listening to his two lovely but boring (to me) lengthy monologues, I put on a CD of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and started it at the last movement.

I was greatly surprised by his reaction. Almost immediately his eyes sparkled, his whole face beamed, he sat up straight, and moved in time with the music. It was a joy to see him come to life like that.

Then, for some reason I can’t explain, I began ‘conducting’ the music and I did it in the style of his previous favorite conductors. I conducted with both hands, arms flying around, sometimes in tandem, other times going in opposite directions. That made him really smile, which made me smile and encouraged me to keep going and become even showier.

I pretended I had a baton in my right hand, and cued each section of the orchestra when it was time for their entrances. My background in music helped me pull off this whole charade in a convincing and entirely accurate manner – not that Ed would have known the difference.

Ed continued smiling broadly and moving perfectly in time with the music, which really impressed me. Typically those days he couldn’t do anything remotely near perfect.

I stretched out both arms and bounced up and down on the balls of my feet when the music was loud, then crouched down and conducted in a tiny circumscribed area using only my right hand when the music was soft.

When the music was the most pianissimo, I put my left index finger up to my lips in a “shh . . .” gesture while my right hand continued conducting in small circles. He laughed out loud at these motions which, again, inspired me to continue.

I constantly shifted my gaze to the section of the orchestra that was playing the most prominent role at a given moment.

After the final chord I made a gigantic melodramatic cut off movement, remained completely immobile for a few seconds, then bowed deeply – first to the right, then center, then left.

Ed, who had been sitting in the rocking chair during this entire theatrical production, looked positively radiant. After my final bow he looked at me and said in a soft and almost reverent tone of voice, “What you did was so beautiful.”

It brought tears to my eyes. How wrong I had been. Listening to music with Ed had been anything but boring. It had opened up a new way of relating that was satisfying to both of us. It had brought him great joy and consequently brought me joy as well.

After this improvised “concert” I resolved to stop being upset that my “old Ed” was gone forever. I became determined to relate to him on whatever level I could. I rejoiced in the knowledge that I could make him happy. I could make him smile and laugh – things he hadn’t done for months.

Seeing his joy became enough for me, and I decided to continue these performances he loved so much. All of this confirmed what I should have realized all along – music can indeed reach demented people on a deep level.

I invite all of you share your own stories about using music with your Alzheimer’s loved ones.

Also see:

Marie Marley, PhD, is a professional medical grant writer who, over the years, acquired a keen understanding of many geriatric topics, including dementia. . In Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy she describes her remarkable 30-year relationship with Edward Theodoru, PhD, a delightfully colorful yet wickedly eccentric Romanian gentleman – the love of her life. Learn more about their story at Come Back Early Today.

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Original content Marie Marley, the Alzheimer’s Reading Room

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