Preventing Dementia – Hope or Hoax

Dementia: Plans for Care

In life’s ups and downs, one gut wrenching and shocking event is when a family finds out that a parent or other close relative needs help.  Older persons have the uncanny ability to hide the fact that they can no longer take care of themselves.  When reality hits the power of attorney or others designated to help in times of family crisis, families can fall apart or come together.

If Mom or Dad have been showing signs of decline in ability to cook, bank, take meds properly, bathe, do laundry, clean house or otherwise, family should start making plans and discuss those steps with Mom and Dad.  However, it is imperative that steps for care be implemented respectfully and with understanding.

The loss of ability to care for self is a gradual process and those experiencing inability to drive safely, keep a clean house, balance a checking account, keep bills paid, etc. will find ways to hide the facts. No one ever wants to admit to themselves or others that something could be amiss and that help is needed.

Persons with power of attorney often feel guilt for not being able to detect the inadequacies of the loved one until there is a crisis such as hospitalization, a car accident or a fall.  It is counterproductive to live in regret.  Go forward by engaging with health care professionals, social services and other entities to set up the best plan for that person.

In any incident in which unusual, erratic or neglectful behaviors are present, a determination must be made to insure the loved one is safe and well cared for.  That requires a meeting of the minds of the family, health care professionals and social services.

Consideration must first start with a complete health assessment with a head to toe physical evaluation.  Infections, blood flow issues, diseases such as dementia, thyroid, heart, liver or kidney can be responsible for depression, forgetfulness and cognitive decline.

Persons with dementia or hearing deficits are extremely adept at glossing over what they don’t understand.  For instance, a person is given instructions for proper dental care.  That person may roll their eyes and say, “that’s stupid” rather than ask the instructor to repeat.

Persons with declining cognitive skills can be embarrassed easily, because self esteem declines with the skills. Therefore, there is a need to convince others that there is nothing wrong with them.  Pride needs to be protected.  Never berate the person, but first agree, then guide the person to accept the right way to proceed. 

In other words, when a woman gets lost and can’t find her way home.  The police locate her driving the wrong way on a one-way street.  After putting her through the usual test, she is ticketed and released to her family.  The car is impounded and eventually returned, and the family is advised to find a way to find other transportation for Mom.  The family makes appointments with health care professionals and extensive physical and mental tests are done.  While searching for financial information, the power of attorney found that Mom had lost the ability to balance her checkbook and it soon became apparent that she had become a victim of fraud.  Her finances were in a mess and she had about a year left in which to take care of rent, food and other necessities.  All the years before, Mom had reported that she had set up college funds for her grandchildren.  There were no accounts set up anywhere for anyone.

For help in setting up a plan to take care of someone in need, become proactive first with the health care professionals, the social services, and the state licensing bureau to start making a plan.  Do all of this with respect, keeping the loved one involved in making the plan. 


Creating the Dynamic Dementia Care Team and Memory Path Care Solutions by Clarice Cook are available in print at and in download audio at






Dementia’s Rainbow

My great grandmother was short and stocky, overweight actually. She could quote the Bible from beginning to end.  I was her biggest fan.  I remember being a small child, about 4 or 5 years old and standing looking up at this monarch of knowledge with complete awe.  We were standing on the southern plank front porch and looking out at a rainbow after a summer rain.  She told me the story of how the rainbow was God’s promise to Noah that the world would never again be destroyed by water.  Great Grandmother Maxwell always looked forward to going home to be with God, but when it came to that day in her late 90’s, she was disappointed that she wouldn’t live to be 100.  She was never diagnosed with dementia.  She was sharp as a tack.  She was a caregiver for her sister who was deaf and didn’t speak.  Her sister had developed dementia.  In her early 90’s, she physically took herself and her sister in to a nursing home.

Many well meaning and some times experienced people will blame aging for dementia.  As we grow older, we become worried every time we lose our keys, forget an appointment or many other human error events.  We are giving way to worry and stress, which experts tell us can be risk for dementia.  My great grandmother complained a lot, but she also gave her worries and stress to God every day.  Perhaps because she didn’t internalize the negativity, she was letting go and didn’t allow stress to take over her life.

At the age of 20, I was more forgetful than my great grandmother.  I was under stress, confused and I was often depressed.  As I grew older, I became more aware and happy, less forgetful and better at problem solving.  As a great grandmother, I can pass the dementia tests and I’m fairly confident that my neurons and chemistry are healthy.

None of us can claim that we’ll never have dementia.  There is no drug, nutrition plan, exercise plan or life path that can ensure that we’ll never fall victim to any disease, regardless of claims.  The best we can do is to set up good habits, eat well, surround ourselves with positive people, and learn to solve problems in less stressful ways.

If we go to bed every night with guilt that we didn’t eat right, didn’t exercise, or do other things that experts say we must do to prevent dementia, we increase our stress and we may not get enough sleep which is also a risk.  However, having said all that, we can feel better and have happier lives by staying active daily, eating properly and keeping the brain active with learning new things.

Great grandmother was a poor hill woman who had never been to a doctor until her 90’s, was a mid wife, ate natural foods, (she loved turnip greens), walked every where she went and worked hard all her life.  She didn’t worry about the future.  She didn’t have the money for earthly possessions and was thankful for what she had. Mostly she kept her brain active and her nervous system quiet by reading the Bible and letting it all go in prayer.  She had a simple life.  Perhaps that is the secret.

Creating the Dynamic Dementia Care Team and Memory Path Care Solutions by Clarice Cook, CDP can be found at in print and in audio download at





Listening Skills Improve Relationships

During the holidays with so much to do, it is easier for most people to put elder ones in a safe place or give responsibility to paid caregivers while we go about the holiday hustle and bustle.  Families sometimes find excuses not to visit loved ones in nursing homes or make the visits quick and off handed.  People living among others who have had no part in their past need that connection. They need people who will listen without judgement, listen to the stories, sometimes repeatedly, and people who truly hear their words.

Dinners end up with chatter, everyone vying to get their opinions or stories presented. Great listening skills should apply to all our contacts and friends, but especially to those with so much to share.  The best way to improve any relationship is to practice great listening skills. Truly listen, looking straight into the speaker’s eyes, never interrupting, but asking questions at appropriate times. 

Listen with your eyes.  People know that you are hearing their words if they have your attention.  This is especially true of those with dementia.  Not only are you creating a one on one connection for that moment, a bond is created that will give the speaker confidence and knowledge that someone cares.

Listen with your body language.  Persons with dementia are especially sensitive to distractions.  For instance, the listener may be biting their lips, rubbing their face, moving their hands or body around or fidgeting in a way that says, “I really don’t have time for this.”  In this case, the speaker knows they are not a priority. 

Caregivers should not take notes or otherwise engage in reading or other action when listening to stories from persons with dementia.  This is a different scenario if the caregiver and loved one (or client) are engaged in an activity.  Nonetheless, it’s important to make sure the speaker is aware that the listener hears them.

Listen with questions. Never interrupt with your own agenda, but when there is a break, ask questions to clarify what the person just said.  This shows that you are truly interested in that person and what they have to say.  If the speaker asks a question about the listener, make it brief and to the point and then turn the attention back to the speaker. Never “Listen with an answer on the tongue.”

Listen with humility.  Many times persons will clam up if they know or feel like their audience is of more importance than them.  Truly listening is to make the speaker feel important, as truly they are.  If a person excels at something, the proof is in the action and not in the telling or as the clique goes, ringing our own bells.

Present a positive attitude.  We all have negative things in our lives that potentially have power over us. If a speaker has a negative spin on things, listen with empathy.  Don’t answer with your own sad agenda.  Everyone has a sad story, however, to share this to someone who is burdened already adds to an already sad day.  Listen fully, offer understanding, and then find a way to turn the conversation to something happier and of interest to that person.  Then listen, don’t dominate the conversation, guide the motivation into laughter and a good time.

Positive attitudes in all things help us become the best version of ourselves.  Have a happy, positive holiday conversation with your loved ones and friends this season.

Creating the Dynamic Dementia Care Team and Memory Path Care Solutions by Clarice Cook, CDP can be found at in print or in audio at 

Precious Memories Leave Lasting Legacies

 Like a wonderful sunset, the brightest and most humble just fade away, leaving a feeling of peace that the legacy left will endure through time.

The spirit of Dr. Russ Mawby left the world on Friday, October 20, 2017.  He was born Feb. 23, 1928 to Wesley G. and Ruby Mawby.  He started his education from a hardworking beginning at a one room schoolhouse.  He didn’t let lack of funds stop him from working his way through Michigan State University after high school, then on to Purdue University.  After serving two years ending as Corporal in the U.S. Army, he came back to Michigan State to complete a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics.  From there, the man who called himself a farmer went on to found, organize, serve and support great causes across the world.

“The many hats of a great and humble man, “could be the title of the story of CEO and agriculturist, Dr. Russell Mawby. This writer had the privileged to interview Dr. Mawby and his wife Lou Ann for our church newsletter.  His wife gave most of the information of Dr. Mawby’s education and his achievements.  Dr. Mawby preferred that I write about the great work of the Kellogg Foundation and the other fantastic projects to help better our world.  However, the truth is that without Dr. Mawby a great deal of this work would not ever have been thought of or accomplished. 

The room at his memorial was packed full with about 300 or so, but it was a small drop of love from the world over.  From those whose lives he came to touch, accolades poured out of a visionary philanthropist who listened and reached out to every one within his world.  “I can’t believe he accomplished so much in 89 years,” one speaker said.  Another said, “…. he was worth 6 million dollars at that point, but he chose to go to truck stops to eat.”  Speaker after speaker talked about how he often wrote grants for projects and did meetings in commute while he drove through the back roads of Michigan to and from meetings or events.  “Back roads” was a key phrase.  “It was taboo to drive the main highways with fast traffic.  He knew every pot hole and pavement of every backroad in the state of Michigan and beyond.”  Of course, when he had to fly to big meetings in New York or Washington to lobby for grants, he had no option but to ride on busy roadways.  But in speaking with him one got the sense that he was happier in the muddy paths of Honduras or Nicaragua or another needy community in the world, seeking out that one great mind that he could get into college or an needed agricultural project for a third world country through a grant that he had obtained from some lucrative company somewhere in the world. He was always seeking someone in need or a funder to fill that need.  He was also a funder and gave much of his wealth to help others.  As a result, he lived a simple life, not in need, but with respect and humility.  On his days at home, he was a farmer.  One young man stated that he met Dr. Mawby when he interviewed with him to work on his farm. The young man thanked him over and over for the opportunity to work with such a great man.  Russ chuckled and said, “I’m just a farmer.  Just call me Russ.” 

“Just call me Russ” was where this great man felt comfortable.  He had grown up the son of an apple grower near Grand Rapids, Michigan.  His name became legendary in the world of philanthropist, dignitaries, and politicians and they all sent condolences to his family. None the less, Russ would be looking down and saying, “I was a farmer.”

He attended church every Sunday in spite of his physical pain and made his way with a bright smile for everyone.  The day before he died, it was reported that he was singing in that great baritone voice, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”