Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

“Tell Your Mother That I Love Her”

June 5, 2014

This incredible story from Rachel Namoi Remen‘s book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, is eerily reminiscent of my own experience with my father near the end of his struggle with Alzheimer’s. While my experience wasn’t as chilling, it was just as real.

There is no medical explanation for the story below. So how did it happen? Only God knows.

kitchen-table-wisdomFor the last ten years of his life, Tim’s father had Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the devoted care of Tim’s mother, he had slowly deteriorated until he had become a sort of walking vegetable. He was unable to speak and was fed, clothed, and cared for as if he were a very young child. As Tim and his brother grew older, they would stay with their father for brief periods of time while their mother took care of the needs of the household. One Sunday, while she was out doing the shopping, the boys, then fifteen and seventeen, watched football as their father sat nearby in a chair. Suddenly, he slumped forward and fell to the floor. Both sons realized immediately that something was terribly wrong. His color was gray and his breath uneven and rasping. Frightened, Tim’s older brother told him to call 911. Before he could respond, a voice he had not heard in ten years, a voice he could barely remember, interrupted: “Don’t (more…)

“I Saw His Heart”

May 26, 2014

Given that my dad succumbed to Alzheimer’s, I was especially touched by this On the Road segment from the CBS Evening News on May 23, 2014. Here is the transcription, courtesy of CBS News.


Doris and Melvyn Amrine

Doris and Melvyn Amrine

Remembering 60 years back is hard for anyone, but for Melvyn Amrine, it’s especially challenging.

Melvyn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago. For his wife, Doris, it’s been hard to watch. But she says something happened recently to remind her that the man she fell in love with is (more…)

Forget Me Not

October 19, 2013

If I lived in Thailand, I would buy life insurance from this company. Heck, i still might! I have a soft spot for commercials that embrace what truly matters in life, what truly has meaning.

I wish nobody cold relate to (more…)

A Father and Daughter’s Second Chance

July 5, 2011

Forgiveness meets acceptance meets wisdom in this powerful story of healing between a father and daughter. The story, written by Patty Rose of Livermore, California, appeared in Guideposts. May you know the peace and joy of healing any relationships in your life that are in need of it.

She left home at 18, certain she’d never see her father again. Suddenly, with the help of God’s grace, she was caring for him like he’d never done for her.

Patty Rose and her father

The phone call came one cool winter day. It was the manager of the trailer park where my father lived. “Mrs. Rose, something is seriously wrong with your father,” he said. “Would you come down here and check on him?”

It had been a long time since I’d seen my father, and I wasn’t in any hurry to change that. I had left home years ago and never looked back. I married a good man and (more…)

Juggling Living, Breathing Human Beings

October 1, 2010

A friend of mine sent me an update on her caregiving challenges that took my breath away, not only because of the magnitude of what she’s dealing with on a daily basis but because of the grace, beauty and wisdom contained in her final paragraph. With her permission, I am sharing her words so other caregivers can find hope and inspiration in her compassionate approach to dealing with loved ones who can no longer take care of themselves.

You may know that for seven years I’ve been caring for four elderly members of my family, in various states of illness and decline, and slowly cutting back [my workload]. Our 99-year-old died around the first of the year; a very good thing for her, as life was miserable.

My husband is now 91 and in seriously failing health, with congestive heart failure that we’ve not been able to stabilize, and advancing prostate cancer. The drs. are having a hard time finding the right balance of diuretics and beta blockers, and I’m concerned about adding two more serious drugs (that block testosterone production) for his prostate cancer.  He loses abilities from week to week, and you will understand that he is number one priority for my time.

In addition, I’m caring for my very (more…)

Lisa Genova’s Video Update on “Still Alice”

July 29, 2009



Medical Miracles Brewing at the U of M

March 30, 2009

I interviewed four trailblazing researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School for Twin Cities Business magazine. I was stunned to find out that, over the next few years, Alzheimer’s disease and type 1 diabetes may be as scarce as polio, the severe organ donor shortage may be resolved and we might be much closer to being a tobacco-free nation.

All four of these ambitious, audacious initiatives are well under way at the U of M. Here are profiles of Doris TaylorKaren Hsiao Ashe, Meri Firpo and Dorothy Hatsukami.

Medtronic Bakken Professor of Medicine and Integrative Biology/Physiology,
Director of the
Center for Cardiovascular Repair


Doris Taylor

Doris Taylor’s favorite video is The Matrix, a stunning achievement which suggests the possibility of an alternate reality. No, not the film starring Keanu Reeves, but the short movie of a beating heart that was emailed to her at 3 AM by her then-colleague Harald Ott in the spring of 2005. “The sad but true fact was that it was three in the morning but I was in my office,” Taylor recalls. “Harald sent me the video and then called me. I watched the video, called him right back and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ It was a Eureka, fist-in-the-air, yes! moment.”

Why all the fuss? Because that beating rat heart may revolutionize organ transplants and save millions of lives. Through a process called whole-organ decellularization, all the cells were slowly drained from the heart, leaving only the extracellular matrix—the framework between the cells—intact. “You can think of it as a scaffold, a bare wooden frame for a house,” Taylor says.

The heart was repopulated with (more…)

“Still Alice” by Lisa Genova

January 6, 2009

My video interview with Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice

I read the first page of Still Alice and thought, Wow, this is really well written. I’m going to enjoy this. And enjoy it I did. It’s a novel about Alice Howland, a 50-year-old Harvard professor who begins a sudden descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. If that doesn’t sound like an entertaining bedtime read, I urge you to reconsider. It is written with great compassion and insight, and largely from Alice’s point of view. And did I mention it was well written?

still-alice-book-coverI e-mailed Lisa to tell her how impressed I was with her book and we struck up a conversation. To my surprise, she asked me to write a testimonial for the back cover. She had self-published the first edition and it had subsequently been purchased by Simon & Schuster, which chose today as the release date for 250,000 copies.


Lisa Genova

FYI, most books get a first printing of perhaps 10,000. Such a large run is indicative of how huge this book is going to be. Anyone who has ever been touched by Alzheimer’s or knows someone who has is going to want to buy multiple copies so they can give it to current and future caregivers to prepare them for what lies ahead.

Here is my full testimonial:

I wish I could have read Lisa Genova’s masterpiece before my dad passed away following a10-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. I would have better understood and appreciated what was unfolding in his confused and ravaged mind. I knew that he was “still in there” somewhere, and yet . . . I might have been able to more compassionately accompany him, as Lisa so brilliantly put it, beyond “the choking weeds and sludge in [his] mind to a place that was pristine and still intact, hanging on.” This book is as important as it is impressive, and (more…)

Dad Had Alzheimer’s But Was “Still In There”

August 4, 2008

My dad, Kent Bolsta

Three years ago, my first book was published. It was a business book, and I brought it to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to give a copy to my mom. On my way back home to Minneapolis, I stopped at the nursing home to see my dad. He was sitting in the day room in the Alzheimer’s ward, waiting for lunch. Well, that’s not entirely true; he wasn’t waiting for lunch, or waiting for anything for that matter. He was just sitting at a table, slumped in his chair, his mouth hanging open, a vacant look in his eyes.

As usual, he didn’t react when I walked over to him. I sat down and said, “Dad, I wrote a book. See, my name’s on the cover.” He stared blankly ahead. I told him that, all my life, whenever I wrote something I was proud of, that he was the first person I wanted to show it to. And then something amazing happened—he started to cry. Hugging him, I told him that I knew he understood what I was saying, and that that meant the world to me. He cried twice more before I left. Here I thought he had left us long ago, but somehow, some way, he had broken through the barrier of his ravaged mind to let me know that he was still in there, and still proud of me. Three months later, he was gone. (more…)

Transcending Life as a Flowerpot

July 30, 2008

My dad, Kent Bolsta

This is a story from my book, Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World,

On an otherwise ordinary Thursday night, my dad slept in his own bed in his own home for the last time. He didn’t realize it, and never would. He was to spend Friday night—and all the rest of his nights—in a nearby nursing home.

His memory had been failing for at least a decade but it wasn’t until a warm September evening six years before that I truly became alarmed. In my mind, it was the night he veered off the main highway of life and began weaving erratically down Alzheimer’s Avenue.

He had worked on the stats crew for University of Minnesota Gopher football games for forty years, and, as was his custom after home games, he was going to drive the twenty minutes to my townhouse and sleep over rather than drive an additional seventy miles to his home in St. Cloud.

I expected him around midnight; at a quarter to one, the phone rang. He was lost. He was calling from the Hopkins House Hotel just a few miles down the road. I cheerfully told him that all he had to do was head east on Highway 7. He said he didn’t know which way east was, which startled me. I then heard five words that sent a chill up my spine. In a soft, sweet voice, he said, “I’ll (more…)