Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. –2 Corinthians 9:7
(Note about verse: I always grab a verse that corresponds with the day of the month. I don’t necessarily recommend this form of reading the Bible—you are better served reading a chapter or two a day–but today’s brought a good reminder: I ask for money occasionally, not for me but for the Alzheimer’s Association. If you are a believer. please always give to your local church first, early, and often. While finding a cure if critical in my mind and in the minds of millions, a strong local church is more important.)
Monday Tuesday to all at the Cornbread table today! I fully expect and place my hope in that it will be another great day and I expect and the hope the same for you as well. 🙂 Today is another opportunity to love and care for our loved ones in whatever way we can…let’s make the very most of it, eh?
Today’s topic…brace for it knowing it has been 5 days since I have posted…is the wonderful world of moths and how they relate to dementia…and you know everything does even if I need a shoehorn to accomplish said correlation. Also note: I am not an entomologist, but I can wing it. 😉 Off we go:
A Moth By Any Other Name Would… Just Be a Butterfly
On a Full Moon stage
Her heady perfume
Lures a partner
Shimmering lime, twisted tails
Circling up and around
An “Abrazo” perfected
Actias luna’stwisted tango
Consummates a new
- During their adult lifespan (7–10 days) the moths will never eat or drink as they have no mouthparts.– One of the common tragedies of dementia is when the patient refuses to or is unable to eat or drink. Depending on other conditions, a patient typically lives around 3-4 days without drinking liquid and can live a couple of weeks (even up to 45 days) without food. Consider this a head’s up that you may have to experience this aspect of the disease progression. Is it caused by ability or is it caused by the lack of the will to live? It could be either…and last directives may also factor in. Tragic. Here are some sources on this terribly sad topic: LINK Link LINK
- University of Illinois Luna fun fact: “Like its Saturniid relatives, the Cecropia and Polyphemus moths, Luna Moths have eyespots on their wings. These eyespots are used to confuse potential predators. The moths rest with the hindwing eyespots covered, but when disturbed the wings open, revealing the eyespots and hopefully startling the predator, giving the moth time to escape.” Amazing! In dementia, there is a somewhat parallel-ly sad eye consideration: Field of Vision/Cognition. My mom, in late stage, can be in the same room as me and I be just out of range for her to process…then she jumps when she “sees” me right next to right in front of her. I have said it a million times: make eye contact first to be sure you announce your presence. Your voice may or may not be enough. Make eye-to-eye eye contact, don’t rely on the unreliable periphery.
- Fun fact from Nature.org (The Nature Conservancy): “Moths are great impersonators. Many moths have evolved to imitate other animals as a way to deter would-be predators. The Polyphemus moth has bold eyespots to startle and confuse those looking for a moth snack. The hornet moth looks just like a hornet, but is completely harmless. My personal favorite: The beautiful wood nymph, a moth that has evolved to look just like bird poop.” Lots of ailments impersonate dementia as well. Here are just a few lists of typically treatable conditions that can impersonate…mimic dementia: Link Link Link Allow me to summarize: Not everything that quacks like a duck IS a duck…but many, if not most, are, so figure it out. Talk to your doctor. Get a second opinion from a neurologist. See what symptoms can be treated and treat them. UTIs, anxiety, trauma, and dozens of other things sure look like dementia. Ignoring the warning signs of dementia doesn’t cure anything, nor does it offer real peace. Every minute you can buy becomes sacred later…
- Another intresting fact from the Nature.org folks: “Moths can turn bears into tigers. We’re all familiar with wooly bear caterpillars — but did you know this bear can turn into a tiger? Yep, the wooly bear emerges from his cocoon in the spring as a lovely Isabella tiger moth. Fun fact: Once a cocoon is spun, the caterpillar turns into a mushy soup during Metamorphosis before emerging as a moth.” Metamorphosis is at the heart of dementia and the change can certainly be dramatic. Among the Sweet 17, there were professionals: teachers, accountants, a police officer, and other respected and challenging professions. This disease quickly (or not) causes brain pathology/atrophy to change your loved one from a mental giant to one struggling with the basic activities of everyday living. Other areas of dramatic change: physical acumen. Mom was a walker. She walked miles every day. She worked in the garden, painted the house, rode a bike made for two, and fished. She now is semi-secured in her chair to keep from falling out. All because of the disease. Attitude is also ever-changing. Some enter dementia mild as a church mouse and leave as a potty-mouthed, angry free-swinger. And the reverse. Once the cocoon starts its work, it is hard to predict what will exit it.
- The Missouri Department of Conservation offers this reminder: “As eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults, they are sought out and eaten by a wide variety of predators ranging from bats and birds to wasps, spiders, shrews, and more.” Oh the variety of predators for those with dementia! 🙁 Like a moth near the flame, those with dementia are often killed, if you will, by something else, likely resulting in undercounting. Falls and corresponding head trauma and automobile accidents are common. Infection (bed sores, sepsis in a UTI or other infection) is a common predator. System failure is common. Aspirating food or liquid (or choking, for that matter) are also frequent enemies of those with the disease. This is partially why memory care becomes more and more “necessary” the longer you care for your loved one….there are just too many bad guys out there. (Not to mention non-lethal but terrible scenarios such as scammers stealing their money or vile people abusing them.)
- The Missouri DOC adds this reminder: “Silk comes from the caterpillars of an Asian moth species.” Who knew??? I kind of always had spiders as being the creator of silk. I have no idea how that got in my head, but maybe it was just me. regardless, one of the amazing consortiums going on at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is called SILK. SILK (Stable Isotope Labeling Kinetics) is a technique that “has been used to measure levels of amyloid beta production and clearance in spinal fluid” (Note: Silks are never on clearance at Victoria’s Secret, but the clearance (removal) of Beta Amyloid is critical…and groups like this SILK Consortium learn how BA is removed (in sleep, for instance) and they study interplay between TAU (tangles) and BA extensively so they can better understand if one relates to the other and if either can be spotted earlier in biomarker tests. It is truly an amazing project and I, just today, inquired about being part of these studies. (My transitions from moth to dementia are as smooth as….oh. never mind, you get it.)
- Location of care matters…and can mean big money: The Missouri DOC also tells us: “The beauty of many species has led to a global insect-collecting industry as well as an international boom in “butterfly houses,” special greenhouses designed as butterfly zoos.” Is it good that butterfly and moth houses exist at all? I mean, wouldn’t it better if all of them could live safely in their natural habitat? Would they not bloom better there? That is a matter of debate. However, there are some species that have been helped back from near extinction through the efforts and funding from these and similar organizations. Care in dementia is very complex. While most everyone wants to grow old gracefully and in our own homes, it isn’t always practical and/or possible. Memory care units and skilled nursing facilities are, generally speaking, “much safer” if the goal is quantity of life. Quality of life is where this becomes more debatable and, with the advent of Covid and the resulting Shawshank lockdown, dying safe and alone isn’t all that great. How do you prevent this from being your destiny? First and foremost: prevention. What is good for the heart is good for the brain. Take care of your body, manage your stress/blood pressure/blood sugar, sleep enough, and limit overdrinking. Plan financially. Talk to an Elder Care Lawyer, not a regular one, about your future needs. Not all long-term care insurance covers home care…know what you are buying. Consult with your local Area Agency on Aging and your local Alzheimer’s Association office early and often to determine what resources are available now and what may be available when you need it. If it becomes a forgone conclusion that you will need memory care, research and get on waiting lists early, not waiting until you “need it”. The facility I planned on taking my mom to had a year waiting list. By the time mom had a room available for her there, it was “too late” to comfortably move her. Planning in advance is/was the key.
- Don’t give up– I am sorry about this cliché, but it fits. Dementia is hard. It is ugly. But look for the beauty and the love among the ugly. Will things ever be the same? Likely they will not. But don’t give up. Never stop trying. Search out the beauty before, during and after the metamorphosis. Study. Learn. Grow. Take pictures. And, when it is all over you will know that you did your very best and can rest in that. And, all the while, won’t you join me in fighting to #EndALZ so that future generations won’t have to deal with this one any more?
Update: Mom slept most of today’s visit, but we got her to wake up as we left and she gave a couple sweet smiles and knew we were in her tribe. She is about the same…the rattle is gone, for now, in her lungs. Hoping to get to extend visits soon.
Here is my Walk to End Alzheimer’s page should you want to donate or join my team: LINK You are very appreciated!
Thank you again. 🙂