Shaken and Stirred

Teaching is a pursuit I really enjoy. Creating syllabi, designing presentations, setting the pace and structure for the instillation of concepts are all fun for me. I have a lot of information to share, and having the opportunity to disseminate what I know to enthusiastic seekers is a privilege.

This year, at Bergen Community College, through the Institute for Learning in Retirement, I am conducting a course called Dementia Sucks: The Class.” My book is the basis for the material, but I’ve gained a great deal of new insights since the book’s publication, and I’m eager to share them.

While I’ve delivered a number of classes and talks on this subject matter before, I have to admit this session was a little unsettling for me. I like to ask attendees why they come to my talks to ensure that I hit on topics people really want covered. This time, I got a surprise.

Two of the eleven students in attendance had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. This was a first for me. I am accustomed to speaking to people who are caregivers, or who are in the red zone for becoming caregivers. One gentleman was accompanied by his wife. The other was still high functioning enough to drive and conduct an independent life, but he was clear that he had this dire diagnosis and wanted to learn all he could while he could.

The way I structured the course, the first class was designated to introduce my qualifications, define dementia and outline the most important considerations for potential caregivers and potential dementia sufferers before the worst happened. The second class was about preparation and the third was about surviving. And I promised that in the last session, I would be discussing the latest exciting research and suggesting resources.

I had to gently change up my approach, because I didn’t want to upset the folks who were already in the grasp of this dreaded disease. And their situation is more urgent. Waiting to take action is particularly dangerous for them.

Something Substantial to Offer

In the last few weeks I have been lead by several different people to look at “The End of Alzheimer’s” by Dr. Dale Bredesen. I had noticed this book at my library recently, but I was in the middle of another book on the subject, so I passed it up.

Then I got followed by someone on Instagram whose handle is “Alzheimer’s Has Been Reversed.” I didn’t pay much attention, because I thought it was probably a scam of some sort.

At a business seminar, I spoke with a wellness coach following his talk. He suggested I read Dr. Bredesen’s book.

And then, leaving a business expo in New York I met another wellness coach. We actually had dinner together and she recommended the book.

Looking more closely at the Instagram message I’d initially disregarded, it was, in fact, about Dr. Bredesen’s work!

So I went back to my library, found the book and took it home. Apparently, everything I believed to be true about Alzheimer’s Disease, that it was caused by a variety of ailments and could be treated, successfully, with lifestyle changes, better nutrition, supplements, exercise and meditation, was empirically documented.

I don’t know anyone personally who has benefited from Dr. Bredesen’s protocol, but the reputable sources validating the work made it clear that it is legitimate. I emailed a link to my student (the independent gentleman) suggesting he investigate further.

The universe is miraculous, and I am grateful to be witness to this incredibly important development. I suspect the mainstream media will not be announcing this discovery anytime soon. There’s too much money to be derived from advertising the ineffective drugs that don’t work, and all the expensive ancillary services that reap profits from the misery of others.

It is my sincere hope, that while the rest of the world shakes their head over the latest political affront, that we will quietly guide those in need to this non-medical solution to a hideous epidemic and solve it before millions more succumb.

And I’m happy to do it, three to twelve students at a time if need be.

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Numbers Games

Statistics have always annoyed me. Depending on who is providing them and what the agenda is, numbers can be used in all kinds of unsavory ways to persuade people to do things that may not be in their best interest.

I’ve also learned that no matter how you present compelling data, you will not influence anyone to change their mind unless there’s a good story to illustrate exactly what the numbers mean.

Here are some numbers that I find troubling and I am going to attempt to show you WHY you should find them troubling too.

10,000 people are turning 65 every day in the USA, and that will keep happening through 2030.

That means 3.65 MILLION PEOPLE are becoming eligible for Medicare every year, and 70% of them will have a long term care event. Long term care events (incapacity that requires assistance from another person) are not covered by Medicare. And these sick people are likely to live into their 80s and longer with deteriorating health, escalating expenses, and requiring that they receive help from others to get through their days. Where will they get this help? Will you be a helper? Will you, yourself, require care?

Over 40 million people in the US are family caregivers, most of them working and/or running businesses.

What’s the problem there? Family caregivers rarely get paid for their services, wind up paying for many of their loved one’s needs, often suffering illnesses and stress without getting proper care themselves. Many of them are Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. A growing segment is Millennials, and they are not getting the support they need. Being younger, they tend to believe they are invincible and don’t ask for help until they are in crisis.

Approximately half of family caregivers of people with dementia die before the people they are caring for. (For spouses in that position, the number is 63%).

If that doesn’t give you a panic attack, consider this: if the primary caregiver of a person with dementia dies, what happens to that person who needs care? SOMEONE will have to step up and fill in. Will it be you? The state? No one? Are any of those scenarios even remotely acceptable to you? Me neither.

What can you do?

  1. Get educated. There are things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones, but you have to get moving BEFORE crisis strikes. Human beings don’t like to be proactive. They would rather deny that there could be a problem, and when they can no longer deny the truth, they will procrastinate on taking meaningful action. Finding out what needs to be done while you and those you care about are still healthy gives you leverage and choice.
  2. Be courageous. Initiate the tough talk BEFORE crisis strikes. (But back off when you get pushback and try again when things cool down. Don’t give up!).
  3. Team up. It’s easier to make meaningful progress with another grown up in your corner. Seek out people who are respected by those you are trying to persuade.

Three problems Three steps to start addressing them. Sounds easy, right? Spoiler alert: it’s not. But if you want a “cheat sheet,” ask for this awesome FREE eBook: “8 Topics You Must Discuss.” It will help you get started with those three items on the to-do list above.

Want a good story that illustrates why being proactive is a great idea? Read my book, “Dementia Sucks.”

And if you’d rather not do anything right now, know that you’re in the majority. And that’s fine. You could, conceivably, beat the odds. Or you could be another sad statistic.

The Myth of Retirement

Once upon a time, I believed what I saw on TV. When I heard the term “retirement,” it brought a most pleasant time of life to mind. I watched my parents get there. I was happy for them when they’d arrived. Having worked hard all of their lives, it was nice to see them living it up and enjoying themselves.

The myth of retirement looks something like this:

  1. You stop working
  2. Start spending money
  3. Spoil your kids and grandkids
  4. Travel
  5. Do all the things you dreamed of doing when you were working and couldn’t
  6. Die peacefully in your own bed
  7. Angels escort you to heaven; cue heavenly choir

Unfortunately, for most people, this is fantasy. If you’re lucky, and you managed to put some money away, then steps 1 through 5 are certainly a possibility. However, there’s a significant step that no one wants to consider before you get to 6 (and your step 6 may not be “peaceful” or “in your own bed,” either).

For the vast majority of us, there will be a period of 20 to 30 years of “post retirement.” This is that sad time when we’re no longer able to travel at will and do whatever we want, because we’re sick or disabled. We are seeing doctors more than our loved ones. The time and expense of these visits puts a strain on our assets and our energy reserves.

If this is bumming you out, I apologize, but, dear reader, you need to wake up. Very few people have the luxury of going to bed healthy and happy and simply not waking up.

So here’s a suggestion: read a book that will introduce you, gently, to some harsh realities. Sit with the feeling for a little while. Then take action. Review the 8 Topics (they’re in the book). And if you want help from there, ask for it. Don’t myth out.

Have You Considered “POST-RETIREMENT”?

Folks love to think about retirement: travel to exotic places; golfing during the week; seeing the grandkids whenever you like; leaving the office behind.

But what about AFTER retirement? For most of us, there’s a period when we can no longer maintain an active lifestyle. Age and illness eventually catch up with us, and we can’t play tennis or jump on a plane at a moment’s notice. We often require help from others to get around. Healthcare needs can escalate dramatically.

Have you considered who you might call upon for help? What resources you might draw upon for the expenses? Where you might have to go to meet those needs?

These are questions that are tough to ask. But raising them while you’re healthy can save you and your family a great deal of anguish and money.

If you’ve ever thought “I don’t want to be a burden to my kids,” NOW is the time to act on it.