Sunday, August 31, 2008

Strong DNA

Last night, two of our associate research staff from the Emerson Avenue Center for Early Childhood Development were observed investigating the anti-aging effects of the highly ritualized aerobic mating ritual known as square dancing at the Philip Foster Farm's Annual Barn Dance. Sam and Joy also played croquet, ate barbeque beef, played in the barn and listened to live bluegrass. 

More than one barn dancer noted the family resemblance between Dennis and his great great great great grandfather, Philip Foster.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Interview with Marcie Sims

The Fremont Street Center for Healthy Aging research staff includes Marcie Sims, whose approach to nutrition here at the Center has been effective in retarding everyone's aging, not just Mother's. Marcie is an experienced caregiver as well as being an acupressurist, Thai masseuse, gardener and cook. This summer, she has been perfecting her recipe for borscht.

We sat down with Marcie to talk about her success in returning Mother to better health, and ask how she did it.

Q: When you started this job, what were your goals, nutritionally, for Jean?

A: To introduce a well balanced diet throughout the day.

Q: Have you done this before?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you already have a plan?

A: No. I started from scratch, and used trial and error.

Q: What was your plan?

A: Besides serving well balanced meals, we started going out more. I did both things. Its hard to separate which one had the most effect.

Q: What did you find worked well for Jean, in terms of meal planning?

A: Adding more vegetables. Always having a salad.

Q: I know you are a vegetarian. What kinds of protein do you serve Jean?

A: Quinoa, beans, tempeh, tofu.

Q: Did you end up going by Jean's preferences?

A: Yes. She likes avocado and tomato salads, especially for lunch.

Q: What about portion size?

A: She eats more at lunch.

Q: Like what?

A: Apple and peanut butter. Mixed vegetables, curry, grain salads. Soups.

Q: Were you surprised to see her become more trim? (Ed. note: Mother hasn't lost alot of weight. But she has lost inches in circumference. Now she fits into her own clothes, the ones she wore before her dementia.)

A: I think it all has to do with eating right and going out.

Q: What are her favorites foods?

A: She really enjoys spaghetti. She likes vegetables.

Q: What would you like to see more of in her diet?

A: The only thing I would put more of on the menu would be spinach, kale and chard. But I can't do this because of the interactions with her blood thinner.

Q: Do you think Jean gets the 5-7 recommended fruits & vegetables every day? 

A: She gets that many just in breakfast and lunch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Marcie has returned! Mother celebrated this morning by dancing with Marcie to country western music in the living room. Mother & Marcie have danced together in the past, but Marcie said Mother was so happy to be dancing today that they danced - whole body moving, arms, legs, you name it - for an entire song

Friday, August 15, 2008

Porch Swing: Antithrombogenicity Agent

Based on raw data supplied by the Fremont Street Center for Healthy Aging, the Morningside Heights based Health & Well Being Project has uncovered a possible link between time spent on the porch swing and the mysterious increase in the antithrombogenicity of Mother's blood.

Early in August, the Kaiser Coagulation Clinic, which tests Mother's blood every two weeks, found she no longer needed as high a dose of bloodthinner. Her blood had begun thinning itself. Marcie and Margaret were quizzed closely about changes in Mother's life habits. Had her diet changed? Had her activity levels changed? Was she under a lot of stress? 

Everything in Mother's life has changed, of course. But it changed in February when Marcie and Margaret arrived, and the Fremont Street Center for Healthy Aging opened for business. Nothing had recently changed, and this change in her blood was recent. Marcie and Margaret kept saying "No" to all the questions from the Coagulation Clinic. Everyone was bewildered.

I reported this development to Sarah R. , at the Health & Well Being Project in Manhattan. Famous for its fish oil research, the Health & Well Being Project specializes in non-medical life style change as an avenue to increased health. Sarah pointed out that there had been a drastic life style change in Mother's daily routine. The porch swing now meant that Mother was spending up to two hours a day in (shaded) sunlight.

She hypothesized that the increase in exposure to sun resulted in an increase in Vitamin D which had significantly changed Mother's blood levels.

Quick perusal of existing literature on her part revealed a study, done on mice, where it was proved that Vitamin D "played a pivotal role" in determining levels of antithrombogenicity (ability to fight clotting). 

The take home lesson here: go outside and get some sun.

Mother had been improving her blood levels with every minute she spent outside, sitting on the swing.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jenna's Addendum

I forgot to add:

Halfway through our walk,  Grandma stopped and said "You know I think its kind of funny." She touched her forehead and pointed to mine. I said "What? Do I have something on my forehead?"
She said "You have these. You know...." 

I said "Wrinkles? Do I have wrinkles?" She said "I just think its funny. You're getting older."

I am sure Grandma Jean knows exactly who I am.

Jenna & Mother & Archie

Visiting research associate Jenna Bott reports that Mother had an unusually high functioning day today, and was especially verbal.

Here's Jenna's report on their morning walk.

First of all, she wanted to go out, and I didn't have to coax her. Once out on the front steps she stopped me and said "Let's try this." she pointed to where she wanted me to stand, and said "Put your feet here." Once she had me positioned, she stood very close to me, and looking straight at me eye to eye, she said "I feel like we're....." and she reached forward and pulled my head to hers so that our foreheads were touching. We stood there for a minute. Then she laughed, and we continued on our walk.

Getting to the bottom of the steps, she said "Let's take a left." She said this at every corner as we went around the block. While we walked,  she talked to me about people passing by and when we passed the Morrison's we stopped and talked to John Morrison's wife. We also saw a little cairn terrier. I said "That dog looks like Archie." 

She didn't agree. I said "Archie was a good dog. I think he was a little off his nut, though." Mother immediately objected "Well, I don't!" and was so huffy that I apologized to her for my offense.

This entire morning, I felt Jean knew who I was. When she first saw me she said " I'm glad you're here." She related to me as my grandma, not as a person tolerating the company of a friendly stranger.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brain Health Playdates

We are not the only people experimenting with a multi generational model for Alzheimers care. A group in Australia has been doing the same thing, bringing preschool children to nursing homes to play with Alzheimers patients.

The Prime Minister of Australia observed that the model works well for people with Alzheimers "because memory and communication are not essential to enjoying positive and meaningful relationships."

A very interesting insight from a politician!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ultrasound Scan Results

On July 31, Mother went in for a follow up ultrasound to see if the blood clot in her right leg had dissolved. 

Mother was not happy about the procedure, which involved pressing the scanner deep into her thigh. Margaret's professionalism carried the day. She was able to gain mother's cooperation, and despite Mother's discomfort and protests, the technician was able to finish the job.

The results came in the mail two days ago.


INDICATION: Followup for DVT in right lower extremity. Patient had deep venous thrombosis on the previous examination.

FINDINGS: On today's examination, there is no evidence of residual thrombosis in the right common femoral, superficial femoral, or popliteal veins. All veins demonstrated normal response to compression and augmentation. Previously identified thrombus has resolved on the current examination.

IMPRESSION: Interval resolution of deep venous thrombosis of the right lower extremity with no thrombus identified on the current examination.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Another Mother (Project)

I've learned there is another The Mother Project. Tierney Gearon took a series of photos of her mother, who lives alone and suffers mental illness.