Author Judith A. Levy, EdM, OTR, has been an occupational therapist for the past 40 years, providing professional geriatric care. In more recent years she has been the caregiver for her mom, who contracted dementia at 88. Through her extensive experience both as a professional and as a caregiver daughter, Judith has created a book chock full of ideas and activities to enrich daily life for your loved one, making the time spent together more enjoyable.

This book can prove to be very helpful for a first-time caregiver, as it points out medical concerns to be addressed initially for the well being of a parent or loved one when differences in behavior or functional skills are first noticed. What follows are suggestions about scheduling a physician visit for the loved one and how best to be prepared for the appointment.

As activities are introduced, suggestions are provided about the best time of day, where and how to do an activity, alleviating distractions, where you should be seated, and even how you speak with your parent or loved one during the activity.

Speaking from a voice of experience, the author emphasizes keeping in mind that what your parent or loved one wants most is to please you.

In the author’s words: “In your parent’s past, everything might have come easily to him or her; with the onset of dementia, however, you will find that this ease has markedly changed. He or she will become frustrated, as will you. So step back and take a deep breath. Offer directions in simple one- to two-step commands, repeating them as needed to help stimulate his or her memory. Don’t forget to offer words of praise. Tell him or her, “What a good job you have done” or “I am proud of you.” This reinforcement will go a long way toward his or her success.

If your parent or loved one remains frustrated with an activity you have chosen to do, stop. Assess what you are doing. Why isn’t it working? Is your parent hungry or physically uncomfortable? Is it a beautiful day? Would he or she rather be outside? Is he or she too tired? Does your parent just not like what you are offering? Ask him or her. Though your parent or loved one may have dementia, he or she still has opinions.”

The author says some activities she has included might seem juvenile to us; however, she found that her mother enjoyed doing them. She encourages us to try them. What’s important is that the activities are familiar and stimulate long-term memory. Lastly, most of the activities included in this book were with her mother in mind; however, they are meant to be gender neutral, suitable for males and females.

An assessment sheet is offered after each activity. It can be used to document how well the activity went. Also, it can serve as a reminder whether something didn’t work well and how you changed it. The assessment sheet can also be used as a framework for teaching someone else what to do, enabling consistency when he or she acts as your replacement.

To order your own copy of “Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Dementia“, order from Amazon.com. This book can be a great resource for facility activities directors.

A recent article I read from “Dear Abby”, I want to share with you. I will paraphrase it as read.

A caregiver had gone to live with her mom who was afflicted with dementia. One afternoon the caregiver went looking for the albums of photos from when she and her brothers were kids, family vacations, etc. After searching high and low and not finding them, the caregiver asked her mom what had happened to the albums.

Turns out, her mom had thrown them out because she didn’t remember any of the people in the pictures anymore! Imagine the devastated feelings of that caregiver – The caregiver couldn’t be angry with her mom, as it wasn’t her fault.

Reading about that experience with the photo albums caused me to remember an experience I had with a good music friend from several years ago.

My friend had been been a very fine pianist and teacher, and she had collected an amazing library of piano music for both her own enjoyment and also for her teaching. I had been stopping by often to check on her, sometimes taking her out if she were willing to go.

One afternoon as I arrived, the first thing I noticed upon entering her living room was the huge mound of music in stacks on the floor. I asked, “Dottie, what is all this? Are you giving away your music?” She replied, “I can’t play it anymore!”

As soon as I left her home, I called her son to ask him to be on the lookout for the music, not to let it go to the trash.

Hoping you haven’t experienced similar losses! If anything, let this be a wake-up call to sit down with your loved one if he or she is able and review the family pictures while memory is still intact, writing on the backs of the photos the dates or approximate dates and who was in them. Photos are a precious link to the past.

Suggestion: Set aside a few photos to have your loved one describe. You can use your phone to photograph a picture and record a brief story. Gradually, over time you may discover you are amassing a life story!

Reliving the Good Times

Time with a loved one restricted to window visits presents quite a challenge for most of us. Along with straining to hear through glass, our loved ones are having a time understanding the reasoning behind not being able to receive our hugs. All these complications may fill us with a bit of dread for how visits will go.

Here is an idea that just might coax a happy memory from your loved one: If your love one is residing in a care facility, take a few minutes before departing from home to select a few photos that your loved one might enjoy. To scan the pictures, magnifying them a bit, might be helpful.

Here is a suggestion: As you introduce the first photo, you might say something like, “Bob, remember that Christmas when we made snow cream? Mom surely did know how to make it good, didn’t she! We went out early right after that snowfall to gather the fresh snow to make the cream. Boy, it surely did snow that year, didn’t it!” (Hopefully, your loved one may smile. If he nods in agreement, that’s also a winner.) You might also say, “Those galoshes we wore were so heavy, weren’t they! Remember our sled?” (Perhaps your loved one may describe where you sledded.)

So essentially, you are building a story that your loved one may possibly add to.

Now, what if your loved one is unable to speak. If that’s how it is, you are in charge of telling and even perhaps embellishing the story (making it more fun!). If you gain a smile from your loved one, then mission accomplished – you have made the day more special!

As I remember the times with my mother, especially after she became unable to speak anymore, she seemed to love just being near us family members as we talked.

If you can find a picture that pokes a bit of fun at yourself or another sibling, all the better. And of course, keep in mind that pictures from earlier days may be more easily recognized.

Holding On

I have a friend whom I have known and respected for over the past 30 years.  He has been a highly successful entrepreneur, engaging in a number of businesses over his lifetime.  His most recent work was assisting businesses with sales liquidations.  Over time he has also survived some significant health challenges.

Now, over the past year he has returned to the company he helped to found over 50 years ago – but this time serving as a greeter for incoming customers.  Unfortunately, over the past few months he has been dogged by short-term memory issues.  Specifically, he frequently would forget the route home after work, particularly after dark.  His wife now drives him to and from work.

As my readers may remember, I was connected with the retail music business for a number of years, having founded their music department back in the 1980s.  And, like my friend, I now help out as a greeter part time at this business, along with processing music sales.

Yesterday, I arrived at my usual time for the late afternoon work shift to find my friend already there.  He told me first that he had been summoned to come in and help due to a busy influx of customers.  Then he told me he just decided to come in and help out yesterday.

What to do – am I not needed today?  Who was entitled to receive pay for hours worked?

I am sharing this story, because of the compassion and understanding shown by the company staff.   

I was instructed to stick around and work the afternoon.   I eventually learned how the store owner managed the schedule situation with his long-time business partner.   With a light-hearted smile his words were, “Sure, Jim, I won’t charge you for coming in to work today!”  (haha)

Usually, I am never around during the time my friend is on duty. But yesterday for the first time, I actually got to watch him in action.  As prospective piano buyers entered the sales floor, he took on his well-practiced sales persona honed from many years of experience, qualifying the customer until an official sales person became available.

There was no awkwardness whatsoever between us as we both did what we were comfortable doing.   My friend was able to enjoy the special feeling of contributing, thanks to an understanding former business partner.  There will inevitably come a time when my friend will no longer be able to make it in. But until then, there is room in this business for him.

No matter our age or station in life, the good feelings generated by being able to contribute never wear out.


Tasteful Memories

Apple growing was the main livelihood for generations in my mother’s family, whose farm was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. My mother loved to tell about the many trips her ‘Papa’ made by horse and wagon packed to the brim with large, plump apples to sell at the city market. He would leave before daybreak in order to obtain a good spot for sales. As a four-year-old she would wait up into the night to hear the squeak of the wagon wheels as he drove through the gate to the homeplace. Now, driving a horse and wagon through the mountains after dark was not an easy thing to do. ‘Papa’ followed the creek bed.

The family didn’t just grow apples to sell. Apples were a staple in the family diet. There would be apple butter spread on homemade hot biscuits at breakfast, there would be skillet-fried apples, baked apples, and apple sauce always available for a snack. As a child I remember watching ‘Papa’ (my grandpa) even top his cereal with applesauce at breakfast.

For most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, the sense of taste and smell can trigger memories. Thinking ahead to the holidays makes me want to bring out a time-worn family recipes for baked apples. As you might imagine, my mother and her two sisters each had their own twists for making the best baked apples.

To this day a big part of my joy, particularly at Thanksgiving, is digging out my mom’s recipe for apple muffins. They are so good, I want to share them with you:

Apple Muffins

Peel and finely dice 4 cups apples. Sprinkle over them 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Thoroughly combine the apples with 3 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon soda, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups Crisco oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup walnut pieces.

Add 2 beaten eggs along with 1/3 cup water. Half fill muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. As muffins come out of oven, let them rest for 5-10 minutes before gently removing to serving plate.

Back when our mom was healthy, she would pack a box full of those muffins along with a baked ham and her angel biscuits on trips to visit us in Ohio.

Gift Idea in Dementia

To my readers, I am sharing a second article written by Dr. Cheryl Achterberg, Ph. D. I invite you to visit Dr. Achterberg’s blog: “About Caregiving and Dementia. Mostly.” which can be accessed by going to cherylachterberg.net.

Her article follows:

Gift ideas for loved ones with dementia are few and far between. It usually boils down to slippers, pajamas, maybe a shawl to keep warm. Gift ideas that are therapeutic are rarer. But my friend, Pat White, has something special to offer.

As a carer herself and volunteer for more than 10 years in assisted living homes, Pat knows the power of pictures to elicit fond memories from the past. She began showing family pictures to various residents to encourage them to talk. She also reviewed the literature and found that “reminiscence therapy” is real and more powerful than simply chatting or socializing among individuals with dementia. What would most of us give to create warm fuzzy feelings in our loved ones? It has become an important and urgent need in this COVID era when many of us are not even allowed to visit our loved ones in person. Thus, the seeds were planted for the start-up of a compassionate business of making posters for families who have loved ones with dementia.

The idea is that each poster is unique to each person it is made for. The posters are meant to capture special happenings in a life and/or to remind a person of their past and the special people in it. Long term memories are held longer than nearer time memories in dementia, especially those memories associated with adolescence and the early 20s. Seeing these pictures can provide comfort to a person with dementia even if no one else is present. They can also be a conversation starter with any visitors, family or staff who are present. The research indicates that individuals who have Alzheimer’s and memories elicited and talked about in this way are happier and healthier than those who merely socialize.

I’m guessing that personalized posters would make a terrific gift for the holidays. Pat provides choices as to size and the number of pictures displayed. There were five pictures for my husband’s poster because he is advanced in his disease and I didn’t think he could process more than that at a given time. I chose a picture of himself, a picture of his family growing up, a picture of our wedding, one of his children, and a picture of the plane he flew into Antarctica on. Up to 20 photos can be accommodated in posters ranging from 16 x 20 inches to 27 x 40 inches in size.

Pat’s products and website are clean and colorful. The instructions are clear, the order is built online, and the posters take about a week to produce. A proof is sent to you before finalization too.


I didn’t mean for my blog to be an advertisement site, but I was so impressed with Pat’s work that I wanted to share it with you too. And again, I think it might be a perfect gift idea for the upcoming holiday season.

For More Information:

For more information, see Patricia White’s site, www.MemoriesfromMyLife.com

Pat also keeps a blog about caregiving and Alzheimer’s that you can check out at: https://memoriesfrommylife.wordpress.com

With permission from Dr. Cheryl Achterberg, Ph.D., I am sharing her informative article with you:

Why is there no cure for dementia? It is a common lament, especially among family members and caregivers. There are three main reasons that I can tell. First, dementia research is underfunded. Second, the science is hard. And third, the brain does not regenerate. Let me explain.

Dementia Research is Underfunded

Dementia research is underfunded, receiving only 5% or less of what cancer or heart disease research receives. Even though dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease in particular, has been identified for more than 100 years, it has not had much public attention until recently. We have an aging population and the aged are living longer. So, there are more cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia now, and many more people are afraid of the disease. Sadly, it is not viewed as an urgent problem.

Dementia is slippery. It sneaks up slowly and is often dismissed or hidden until it can’t be brushed aside anymore. There is also a stigma attached to this disease that curbs attention broadly. Other more urgent issues tend to dominate. Today, for example, COVID-19 has taken up all our attention. However, public pressure could help change policy and win more funding for dementia-related research.

That said, I am pleased to share with you a new initiative starting September 30, 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (P.L. 115-406). Three recipients will establish dementia-focused Public Health Centers of Excellence and Public Health Programs. The University of Minnesota is one of the recipients and they will focus on dementia caregiving. The national Alzheimer’s Association will focus on dissemination of public health strategies and resources aimed at reducing risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

The Science is Hard

The science is hard. Money isn’t the only issue. Dementia presents an especially difficult problem set. I say “set” because there are many kinds of dementia with different causes and different courses, but the same end or outcome. A common saying is, “It’s not rocket science” when confronting a challenge. But brain science is more challenging than a dozen different rockets. The brain is far more complicated with an estimated trillion cells, and trillions upon trillions of reactions happening constantly. It is, of course, nearly inaccessible despite new imaging technologies. We can’t just open people’s skulls for study without very good reasons. Yet, we know the brain is “plastic.” That is, changing or adjusting with time but constantly organizing and coordinating its own and all the body’s other reactions as well.

Since Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias take so long to develop, they are extraordinarily costly to study. Participants should be followed for 20 years or more, to observe the “before and after” along with what happens in-between. Animal models are limited for dementia too. Finally, recruiting human subjects into research studies about dementia is difficult, especially in diverse communities. People are reluctant to sign up, in part due to the stigma attached to the disease. It will take dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of scientists to figure these diseases out.

The Brain Does Not Regenerate

The brain does not regenerate. Dementia in all its forms causes the brain to self-destruct. A “cure” would rebuild or replace the tissue that was lost. We can rebuild muscle therapeutically and joints mechanically, and we can replace kidneys or livers by transplant. These options are impossible with the brain. When brain cells die, they are gone forever. If relatively few cells are injured or killed, the brain will often compensate. Other cells will take over that function inside an individual. But the lost cells are never replaced. In Alzheimer’s disease, it is typical to lose 1/3 of the brain’s volume. Compensation can’t cover for that loss.

The hope for more research is to find a drug or combination of drugs that will halt the destruction. That is the best we can hope for along with diagnostics that will identify the disease before symptoms become obvious. Then, some of the new therapies might have a better chance of working.

What Can You Do?

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and YOU can help.

You can donate to Alzheimer’s research at:

You can participate in Alzheimer’s and related dementia research studies by contacting:

  • Alzheimer’s Association Trial Match (for individuals diagnosed and not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease at tmatch@alz.org or 1-800-272-3900

And you can learn more about funding and research at:

For my mother, her own personal identity seemed to slip away with her memory. 

According to Dr. Esther Oh, an associate professor in the division of geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, people like my mother suffering from dementia tend to withdraw from social engagements, conversations, and everyday activities.  But reminiscence therapy “really draws them out of their shells, because they’re able to tap into their past and things they’re very familiar with.”

My mom found a way to tap into her past by slipping a few framed pictures of herself with her family into her suitcase when she would be traveling from our home in Ohio to visit my brother.  Photos provided that connection for my mother; but, actually, reminiscence can use all the five senses – – not just sight but touch, taste, smell, and sound – – to help folks with dementia remember events, people, and places from their past lives.  

Gerontologist Robert Butler, author of the Pulitzer prize-winning 1975 book, Why Survive?  Being Old in America, and founding director of the National Institute on Aging, established Alzheimer’s disease research as a priority.  Dr. Butler is credited with pioneering Reminiscence Therapy in the 1960s.

How reminiscence therapy works:

As we age, we have an increased tendency to remember things that happened to us between the ages of 10 and 30 years, with events from the late teens and early twenties remaining most prominent.  Psychologists call this ‘the reminiscence bump.  For people with dementia ‘reminiscence bump’ memories usually remain vivid (until their illness is very advanced) and can often be recalled quite easily with the use of some simple triggers.

Memory triggers:

Photos may include pictures of close family members, a special life event such as a graduation or wedding, a special athletic skill, or a special trip of a lifetime.  Perhaps placing a hand in a well-worn ball glove might bring back a few glory days of Little League stardom.  Biting into a cold slice of watermelon might conjure up family summer outings.  Pipe tobacco smoke may bring back memories of quality time spent with a dad – – and on and on. 

Reminiscence therapy can occur in a group or individually.  At Western Reserve Masonic Community’s Pathways Memory Care a unique program of reminiscence was instituted in recent years, using volunteers who met individually with Pathways residents once a week using meaningful photos supplied by family to encourage the sharing of memories about special people, places and events from a lifetime.  The review of data recorded from these sessions over a period of months showed marked changes in mood and the ability to verbalize a simple story, the goal being to share a few recorded stories with family.  Due to the onset of the covid virus, this program is now on hold.     

Benefits to reminiscencing:

  • Encourages communication skills  As Pathways residents began sharing a few memories from their past, their ability to communicate increased.  When they talked about their past, sometimes they might laugh in delight and emotion got involved.
  •  Reduces symptoms of depression  As with my own mother, elders often become isolated from their identities as their memories begin to falter.  A re-connection with their past may increase feelings of self worth.
  • Promotes physical health  Something as simple as recalling past experiences can also improve one’s body.  According to the book, I Remember When:  Activity to Help People Reminisce by Howard Thorsheim and Bruce Roberts, seniors who reminisced showed lowered blood pressure and heart rates.  At Western Reserve Masonic Community Pathways Memory Care, caregivers recorded fewer instances of falls.
  • Reduces stress  The simple activity of reviewing a few pictures from a photo album can be soothing for an elder.
  • Helps eliminate boredom  Reliving a happy experience from the past can offer relief, especially for seniors who are less mobile.  It can take them out of their current situation and help them relive more active days.
  • Preserves family history  This author volunteered  in a Central Ohio nursing home a few years ago and had the special privilege of interviewing a young mother who had suffered severe burns at the hands of an abuser.  Over several weekly visits she was able to share some precious family stories using earlier photos that were recorded for her children.
  • Increases caregiver regard  When a caregiver can view a few pictures of an elder at a younger, healthier time and hear him or her talk a bit about life as it used to be, they may regard that elder in a new way.
  • Increases self-esteem  Reminiscing may help seniors feel heard.  This author recalls hearing another senior who had been a gymnast taking such pride in a picture of himself as a young athlete.     
  • Promotes new pathways in the brain  Often when we watch someone retell a story, we watch them come alive with memory and emotion.  Research has shown new pathways in the brain form as a patient remembers the past.

Dr. Gregory Quirk quotes from his research done at University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (taken from NIH Research Matters 2/2/15) that “while our memories feel constant across time, neural pathways supporting them actually change with time.”

In terms of Reminiscence Therapy for seniors with dementia, one important question has been whether it is the therapy itself or simply the increase in social interaction that leads to cognitive and behavioral improvement.

Two studies in 2007 and 2008 tested a group of elders treated with Reminiscence Therapy and a control group that discussed everyday topics.  Both reached the same conclusion:  the seniors with dementia who received Reminiscence Therapy had stronger verbal skills, were happier, with improved quality of life, compared with their pretreatment and with the control groups.


Reminiscence Therapy – US News & World Report 2019

Reminiscence Therapy for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care, The Kensington at Redondo Beach

Effect of Activity Reminiscence Therapy as Brain Activating Rehabilitation for Elderly People with and Without Dementia – Psychogeriatrics, 6/3/2007 as reported by T. Yamagami, M. Osawa, S. Ito, and H. Yamaguchi

Effects of Short-term Reminiscence Therapy on Elderly with Dementia:  A Comparison with Everyday Conversation Approaches – Psychogeriatrics 2008; Y Okumura, S. Tanimukai, T. Asada

Does Prevagen Do Anything?

A concern of many of us family members who have a parent or blood relative with dementia is our own futures – whether we are more susceptible to contracting dementia through inheritance. I had begun paying more attention to the TV ads for Prevagen.

However, I have reconsidered after reading the following article, well documented, by Dr. Cheryl Achterberg who is a caregiver. With Dr. Achterberg’s permission I am sharing it with you today:

Does Prevagen Do Anything?

Does Prevagen do anything? According to the company, it is the #1 brain health or memory supplement on the market today. You can’t miss the advertising for it if you watch the evening news. Prevagen is made by Quincy Biosci in Wisconsin. It has been on the market for about ten years. Consumers have spent over $165 million dollars on it according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

Locally, it costs $59.99 for a 30-day supply of “Extra Strength.”

Prevagen is unique on the market. It is made of a protein extracted from jellyfish called apoaequorin. Jellyfish are not known as big-brained creatures, nor highly functioning creatures. There isn’t any science to suggest that this protein will hurt you, but there isn’t any good science that it will benefit you either, brain or otherwise.

What happens when you take Prevagen? The body does the job it always does when confronted with content in the stomach. It breaks down the stuff into its constituent parts. Simply put in this case, protein is broken into amino acids and some waste. That’s what digestion does. The body reassembles the amino acids it needs into human proteins for use when and where needed. So, you don’t have any beef, quinoa, or rhino protein anywhere in your body. You wouldn’t have any jellyfish protein either if you took Prevagen.



Prevagen is sold as a supplement, not a drug. The company gets away with their marketing claims because they do not mention any specific disease in their advertising.  This practice skirts the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) rules. In plain language, Quincy Biosci is not regulated. They say it helps with “mild memory loss,” thereby distancing themselves from any form of dementia. You suffer mild memory loss after a bad night’s sleep for instance. But that’s temporary! If you check out the official website below, the company lists an important caveat in fine print at the bottom: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”  

Brain and memory health supplements, like Prevagen, have become such a lucrative market that a new category and name has been given to them. They are called nootropics.

There are two types of nootropics. One group is pharmaceutical. These are manufactured substances, usually combinations of different vitamins and stimulants. Some have a fatty acid thrown in. The other type is herbal. These are “natural” substances which are supposed to increase blood flow to the brain and/or decrease inflammation. Both types tend to be over-hyped with little science behind them.

For A Healthy Brain

The bottom line for a healthy brain is what is good for the heart, is good for the head too. Increasing blood flow to the brain is good. You can do that with a good cup of coffee. Decreasing blood flow to the brain is bad. You do that over time with a poor diet and lack of exercise. Certain nutrients, such as Vitamin D or Vitamin B12 will enhance brain function and brain health if you are deficient in them. Both vitamins are often low in older Americans. Ask your doctor; they are easy to check on a routine blood panel. You might also consider a fish oil supplement (for omega 3 fatty acids) and turmeric (as an anti-inflammatory). One caution: Too much of anything is bad.


If you are bound and determined to waste your money, there are literally hundreds of nootropic supplements on the market that are purported to enhance brain health or memory. I hope you don’t buy them. Each will take you for hundreds of dollars per year.






Dr. Achterberg is the dean of The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology.

Identify Your Team

I have had the special privilege of sitting in with an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group for their past two monthly meetings. I thought I knew most everything there is to know about caregiving – – – well, almost everything!

Last night I was blown away by a point made by one of the caregivers in our intimate group of eight: Making the best use of offers to help involves knowing your team!

Each of us as caregivers, over time, have been overcome by the generosity of some friends and family. And at other times when we have been let down when others did not or could not come through has been rather devastating.

After that revelation from the caregiver at the support group meeting last evening, I began reflecting back over 50 years to when my dad’s dementia set in and remembering the mixed feedback our family received from his minister friends. (My dad was a United Methodist minister.)

The majority of his friends, perhaps not knowing what or how to respond to the word that my dad was very mentally ill, avoided our family and my dad.

But two minister friends stand out in my mind to this day as I recall how they reacted. The one, when he found out our family would have nowhere to live after my dad’s forced medical retirement from his church appointment, set about finding us at least temporary housing.

He also knew that I was entering college in the fall. Through a foundation of which he was a board member, he engineered a most generous educational stipend for me that covered all expenses after the initial scholarship I had been awarded by my university. My parents then had no financial worries about me.

The second minister friend extended his friendship to my dad by calling him and sending him regular, personal, handwritten letters over my dad’s remaining lifetime. I believe that close friendship helped him make it through many hospitalizations and times of deep loneliness caused by the frontal temporal dementia. That minister’s daughter remains my friend to this day.

So here, we had friends of two types: 1) those who helped us through by physical actions; and, 2) those who provided emotional support.

Looking back over the 40 years of my dad’s extended illness, my family could have saved ourselves much disappointment by identifying those friends and family members who we could count on, whether it be through loving, helpful acts of kindness or through emotional support through letters, phone calls, or visits.

A fortunate few caregivers may be blessed with a family member or friend who is able to provide both as a doer and as a listener. And those folks are a kind to angels!