alzheimer patient

As I’ve mentioned on this blog, I co-authored a book for Alzheimer caregivers. I learned so much about the burden each caregiver carries. I wanted to include an essay that might be helpful to those whom I have come to admire for the difficult road they travel. If you are a caregiver, or know someone who is, I hope this information proves helpful.

October signals the arrival of the busiest time of year for many of us. It’s a short hop from Halloween to Thanksgiving. Then the head-long rush into the holiday season begins.

For Alzheimer caregivers, this time of year requires extra vigilance. Since many caregivers don’t have the luxury of another safe place for their loved one, it is often necessary to take them shopping.

busy mall

If your shopping plans include taking an Alzheimer’s patient to a crowded shopping center or mall, you can minimize the chance of becoming separated from him or her. A few suggestions:

      • Make sure he or she is wearing a belt, even if the outfit doesn’t call for one. A belt is a handy, quick way to grab hold of a person about to wander away.
    • Call ahead to learn where the shopping center’s security office is. Look for and remember the location of all mall exits, elevators and escalators.
  • Be aware that Alzheimer sufferers have heightened senses. Malls are noisy places normally, but for someone with Alzheimer’s, an announcement over a public address system, either in a store or in the mall itself, can startle that person. That voice could potentially frighten them and they may wander away from the perceived noise.

Wandering is a serious problem for those with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association has a program called Medic Alert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return. For information about this program, go online to or call: 1.888.572.8566. The program has successfully aided in the search for wanderers who have strayed from home.

Even in your own home, wandering is always a possibility. Here are a few simple ways to reduce the risk of losing track of wandering patients before they get beyond their own neighborhood. I know these suggestions sound like common sense, but for many caregivers, this is their first experience in a strange and difficult new world.

If someone with Alzheimer’s lives with you:

    • Make sure all your neighbors know that an Alzheimer’s patient lives in your home. If that person is seen off your property, the neighbors will know to alert you or the police immediately.
    • Give your neighbors your telephone number, especially if it is unlisted.
    • Keep a current photo of your afflicted family member available. If possible, make a video of him or her for police.
  • Keep an unwashed item of clothing that belongs to the person on hand. Police dogs may be able to locate a missing person from the scent left on clothing.

As always, constant vigilance plays a major role in Alzheimer’s caregiving. But don’t forget: Help is close by. The Alzheimer’s Association stands ready to assist all those who ask.

A suggestion for those who would like to help a caregiver in some way. If you turn around this simple sentence: “Let me know if I can help you” to “What can I do for you?” the caregiver may be more likely to suggest a specific way you can be of help.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a wealth of information online. If you don’t have the time or are unfamiliar with Internet use, ask a family member or friend to do some research for you. Remember: libraries have free use of computers.

Here are a few links:

(Image of Cognitive Intelligence courtesy of

(Photo of people in motion courtesy of


pumpkinsPumpkins Patches Are Blooming…

As soon as a nip in the air arrives, my thoughts turn to autumn favorites.

Truth be told, I make pumpkin bread year-round. It is a favorite of my grandchildren, so I make lots of mini-loaves to spread around the pumpkin goodness. My recipe makes six mini-loaves – enough for each grandchild and two to save for my table. They are delicious and moist alone, or scrumptious slathered with butter or cream cheese. They stay moist for days and freeze very well.

As usual, I can’t leave well enough alone. I’ve added nuts, raisins, and dried cranberries to my mini-loaves from time to time. Occasionally, I’ll add a rich glaze of butter, sugar, and rum extract or brandy extract that is poked into the loaves. Yum.

My mini-pans roughly measure 3″ X 5 1/2″. Don’t worry if yours are not that same size. If I add nuts and other goodies, I sometimes get seven loaves from the batter. Just check your baking time a little earlier if your pans are a bit smaller.

NOTE: I finally realized that all those mini-pans are much easier to manage getting into and out of the oven if I place them on a large cookie sheet. Just make sure you leave some air space around each loaf.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mini-loaves take about 55-60 minutes. Grease and flour pans.


3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (more, if you like a spicier bread)

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (more, if prefer)

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin

2/3 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil

Nuts, raisins, dried cranberries (optional) about 1 cup combined


Mix all dry ingredients together in separate bowl. In mixer bowl, add eggs, pumpkin, water, and oil together. Beat until blended. Pour in dry ingredients. Mix Well. Mix in any add-ins you choose. Blend on low. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 55-60 minutes. Cool before removing from pans. (If using glaze, leave in pans, add glaze before removing from pans.)

Butter-Rum Glaze

Melt 1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick) in a small saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in 1 teaspoon rum extract (or brandy extract).

After you’ve removed the mini-loaves from the oven, poke holes in the breads (still in pans) using a fork. Slowly pour the glaze mixture over each loaf. Let stand until absorbed. Then remove loaves from their pans.

NOTE: This recipe will also make two large loaves (9″ loaf pans). Baking time for large loaves is 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Fun Facts About Pumpkin:laughing pumpkins


Six of the seven continents can grow pumpkins including Alaska! Antarctica is the only continent that they won’t grow in.

The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighted over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs, and took six hours to bake.

The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds.

(Photo of Small Pumpkin in Crate-Healthy Vegetable courtesy of

(Photo of Pumpkin Costume courtesy of