Hi ho, merry old souls! Happy Monday, 4/27 to you! While I have about 12 or 13 articles started on other topics related to memory diseases, I am going to fiddle around with numbers a little more. I am still keeping track on the Shawshank
Redemption Re:Dementia days because it helps (?) to carve hash marks on the wall so we don’t forget what day of living in the hole we are on.
So what can we make of this odd little number, 427, and, more importantly, how does it relate to Alzheimer’s and related dementias? It works better than you would expect.
Top Ten Things You Can Learn About Dementia From the Number 427:
- Climate Change. According to their website, Four Twenty Seven is the leading publisher and provider of market intelligence on the economic risk of climate change. I will leave the topic of
Global Cooling Global WarmingClimate Change to the politicians, who seem more interested in it than the general population, but know that I do love our little blue ball of mush and don’t want to pollute it. Regardless, climate change is HUGE in the dementia world too. Why? Temperature relates to the disease in several ways. For one, there have been studies suggesting that the disease slows with warmer core temperatures. Unfortunately, our core body temperature tends to decrease with age. While this will not likely indicate a restorative therapy, who knows if there is something there that may slow the disease progression? Another (related?) aspect of the topic is when temperature regulation centers in the brain (or areas that depend on them) suffer, the patient may be cold all of the time. While we don’t want them to suffer from heat stroke or dehydration, we should help them be comfortable with blankets, stopping drafts, and the like (while keeping them hydrated with water). If you can wade through the volumes of ads and popups (come on, WebMD!), this is a helpful piece in this area: Article.
- 427 Cobra. The 427 Cobra, also known as the Shelby CSX-6000, is one of the most beautiful cars on the planet. The Shelby name has been synonymous with powerful, yet beautiful cars for generations. They are amazing…look them over. Here is one from days gone by. The body of the newest version comes in two versions: fiberglass and hand-formed aluminum. This aluminum model starts at $180,995, not including the engine and transmission. It is stunning, but I am not sure my non-profit salary would cover it. Aluminum also has a place in dementia research as well. In 1965 there was a study in which large amounts of aluminum were injected into rabbits. This (savage) research resulted in tau tangles developing in the brains of thee lovely creatures. Therefore, aluminum causes Alzheimer’s, right? Nope…lots of research says that this is not the case although naturally-occurring metals in the body may have some role. Here are some good self-study pieces on the topic, but don’t stress…: Link Link Link Link.
- 427 Credit Score. OK…I cheated on this one and did a rerun. Yes…a 427 credit score is bad. My point on this piece that differentiates it from the previous one is regarding finances and pre-planning. SeniorAge, my employer, offers a nifty book called “It’s All About Me“. This super handy workbook offers the reader many, many pages with questions and topics to use for pre-planning, whether or not a person has a dementia diagnosis. My point here is to remind all seniors to please make it obvious to their posterity, with this book or another format, where you keep important financial information. A safe deposit box is an option (or you can get a book like ours and keep it in the safe deposit box). Life insurance forms. Deeds. Passwords. Anything that will cause a challenge if it is lost forever. Very often I hear of stories of family members unnecessarily struggling, often while trying to mourn, because of missing financial things. Store this stuff safely before dementia strikes…and progresses.
- 37 U.S. Code § 427.Family separation allowance. This little piece of federal law addresses help for families that have a loved one in the military. It reminds me of dementia because of the statistically higher number of people in the military who end up with dementia when compared to the population as a whole. I have written several pieces about this topic over the last year. It is the nature of the job to do things in the military that increase your odds of having the condition. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of many example of risk enhancers as is stress, depression, and PTSD. There is no easy answer to this problem as it is the nature of the job, but there are things you can do. Guard your head. Get therapy. Manage stress. Protect your heart since everything that helps/hurts the heart can do the same to the brain. Thank you for your service. Know we care and are doing what we can to improve these numbers.
- Brady Model B-427 labels. I have no doubt these are nice wire labels. Nothing is worse in IT and electric work than to lose a label and have to scramble to relabel things. In dementia, labeling can also help your loved one. Label drawers with simple words or, better, pictures of the contents. Put signs on room doors. Put pictures of red stop signs on exterior doors so that your loved one doesn’t wander outside without knowing why and forget how to get back in. Sadly, this happened to my mom several times in the memory unit. She wasn’t necessarily trying to escape…she just didn’t know where she was. There are lots of memory aid options that can help…use them. I am also reminded of Buffalo “Mary”, one of the many patients mom has been friends with in the unit. She had a laminated sheet right next to her bed that said “‘Your name is ‘Mary’. You are here because you have problems with your memory. This problem started 5 years ago. Your son and daughter will visit very soon. They love you. Your room number is 205.” Not unlike the movie 50 First Dates, this damsel in distress woke daily with a blank slate. She had very, very little short-and medium-term memory. This memory aid and her labels elsewhere helped her. I wish they were a fix, but anything that can help is worth a consideration.
- Error 427. Windows (Cisco) error 427 relates to a VPN. If you care, a VPN is a safe (encrypted) connection over the internet from a computer to a network elsewhere. There is a handshake involved in which your computer says “Howdy, network. I want to hop on using this username and password, with some software/hardware help, and pretend like I am onsite and access stuff you have on the server. You ok with that?” If something goes haywire, it may kick out a 427 error. Think of it as being two places at once. For patients with dementia, there is kind of a duality a lot of times as well. They remember some old memories, perhaps jumbled a bit, but lose the memories from now. It is like they log on to the old memories (on the old network via VPN) and things generally work, but they just check on the desktop/home page of their own computer, right there in front of them, and things are completely foreign/confused. If you aren’t a techie, this may not make as much sense…and if you are a techie you may be annoyed by the simplification, but it fits to me. 🙂
- 427 Gallery. Found in Latvia on the Baltic Sea port in a community called Riga, this gallery has all sorts of unique, sometimes offensive to the sensibilities art. Art is a very individualized experience. One man’s art is another’s trash….but it sticks with you. Mom’s art and, especially, her music are still a very crucial part of who she is even in end-stage dementia. Those portions of the brain must be uniquely interwoven into the fabric of memories in a unique way. Scroll through older posts and see mom’s piano playing. It will amazing you and break your heart a little. I did a post last week about Dr. Seuss in which I made a poem from some of her art work and words on a piece she completed while in the worst few weeks of her life. I am just fascinated at this whole process and will pursue it further again at a later date.
- Cartoon 427 from XKCD.com, one of my favorite oddball cartoon strips.
Briefly, I will point to hallucinations and missing what is right in front of your eyes as a frustrating facet of dementia. Lewy Body dementia has, as a common symptom, hallucinations, but other types do as well. In addition, as I mentioned last week, field of vision can also be severely hindered in various forms of dementia. One of my very favorite ladies in the Sweet 17 experienced both. She warned me of the “snakes in the hall” often…but also would miss that I was standing right next to her until I made eye contact. Such a tragic part of the disease!
- 427: Year of the passing away of Tao Qian, Chinese poet of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (b. 365). Tao Quin’s poetic fable “The Peach Blossom Spring“, written in 421 AD, is shown on this page: Link . This fable reads thusly:
“During the Taiyuan era of the Jin Dynasty there was a man of Wuling who made his living as a fisherman. Once while following a stream he forgot how far he had gone. He suddenly came to a grove of blossoming peach trees. It lined both banks for several hundred paces and included not a single other kind of tree. Petals of the dazzling and fragrant blossoms were falling everywhere in profusion. Thinking this place highly unusual, the fisherman advanced once again in wanting to see how far it went.
The peach trees stopped at the stream’s source, where the fisherman came to a mountain with a small opening through which it seemed he could see light. Leaving his boat, he entered the opening. At first it was so narrow that he could barely pass, but after advancing a short distance it suddenly opened up to reveal a broad, flat area with imposing houses, good fields, beautiful ponds, mulberry trees, bamboo, and the like. The fisherman saw paths extending among the fields in all directions, and could hear the sounds of chickens and dogs. Men and women working in the fields all wore clothing that looked like that of foreign lands. The elderly and children all seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves.
The people were amazed to see the fisherman, and they asked him from where he had come. He told them in detail, then the people invited him to their home, set out wine, butchered a chicken, and prepared a meal. Other villagers heard about the fisherman, and they all came to ask him questions. Then the villagers told him, “To avoid the chaos of war during the Qin Dynasty, our ancestors brought their families and villagers to this isolated place and never left it, so we’ve had no contact with the outside world.” They asked the fisherman what the present reign was. They were not even aware of the Han Dynasty, let alone the Wei and Jin. The fisherman told them everything he knew in great detail, and the villagers were amazed and heaved sighs. Then other villagers also invited the fisherman to their homes, where they gave him food and drink. After several days there, the fisherman bid farewell, at which time some villagers told him, “It’s not worth telling people on the outside about us.”
The fisherman exited through the opening, found his boat, and retraced his route while leaving markers to find this place again. Upon his arrival at the prefecture town he went to the prefect and told him what had happened. The prefect immediately sent a person to follow the fisherman and look for the trail markers, but they got lost and never found the way.
Liu Ziji of Nanyang was a person of noble character. When he heard this story he was happy and planned to visit the Shangri-la, but he died of illness before he could accomplish it. After that no one else ever looked for the place.
My notes: Without regard to the amazing history behind this poem, it could tell the story of my mom just as well…Mom was an avid fisherman late in life. My stepdad and mom would very often come to our house on Stockton Lake back in the pre-symptomatic days of the 2000s and 10s and babysit all night and fish all day. Mom, like the fisherman, is currently lost, only to meet some wonderful folks (in the memory ward) who are “avoid(ing) the chaos of war (and viruses) during the
Qin Dynasty Trump years…and who (their) ancestors brought to this isolated place, so we’ve had no contact with the outside world (to keep safe in some hard times).” Not perfect, but pretty darn close… The villagers in the fable didn’t even know what year it was or who was in charge any more. Not bad, if you ask me… One thing I do disagree about, however…it IS worth telling others what I see in this village.
- Proverbs 4:27. This amazing book is so full of wisdom! This verse says “Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” The temptation in dementia is to jump around from fad treatment to despair or from faith to sadness/less faith. Keep your head up, reader. Stay strong. Ask for more faith. Educate yourself, but also work on your spiritual side. Pray. Read the Bible. Seek other believers to join with you in both. We will get through this mess and some sweet day we will live in a place with no dementia…or tears… at all. 🙂
Update: All is the same with mom as of early this morning. I Facetime with her soon and will be hearing from Hospice as well.
Diet update: Keep plugging along. Lost another 2.6 this week for a total of 56+. It was slower in April than the previous months, as expected. If I can keep losing 1-2 per week, I will be fine. 🙂