Pure maple syrup for most of us is enjoyed as a rare treat on special occasions.  Nothing satisfies my ‘sweet tooth’ more than warm maple syrup over pancakes and even ice cream as a dessert!  (And usually I am admonishing myself to its enjoyment in moderation.)

However,  we may be changing our attitude toward this tasty treat as we learn more about its healing properties.

At a first ever global symposium on “Chemistry and Biological Effects of Maple-Derived Food Products,” presented at the 253rd annual conference of the American Chemical Society, scientists from around the world shared results of their research on maple’s potential impact on several areas of the body affected by chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation has shown a potential link to brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

As caregivers seeking to learn all we can about brain health, such research news demands attention.  A portion of the news release follows:

Can Pure Maple Syrup Help Reduce Chronic Inflammation?

This global symposium convening on April 2, 2017 was organized by Dr. Navindra Seeram, who currently serves as chairman of the Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Seeram has extensive experience examining the impact of phytonutrients in foods such as berries and pomegranates. In collaboration with the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, Dr. Seeram has been studying the unique properties of maple in his laboratory at the University of Rhode Island since 2009. The results of his research stimulated the interest of the global scientific community, which has uncovered additional health benefits of pure maple products.

A new University of Rhode Island study, highlighted at the symposium, revealed the presence of inulin, a type of carbohydrate recently discovered for the first time in maple syrup. Inulin is a complex carbohydrate (natural dietary fiber) that acts as a prebiotic and works to encourage the growth of “good” or beneficial bacteria in the gut. Inulin joins the other beneficial polyphenols, vitamins and minerals already identified in pure maple syrup. This latest discovery could allow maple to be classified as a functional food.

In addition, a new study conducted on animals, also revealed at the symposium, focused on the beneficial effect of a symbiotic (prebiotic and probiotic) maple sap drink in recovering gut flora balance, which can be lost for several reasons, including treatment with antibiotics.

“A healthy gut, with a balance of beneficial bacteria, helps to stimulate and support a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system, then, can help protect the body against chronic inflammation,” said Dr. Seeram. “Chronic inflammation has been shown to have a potential link to brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. As such, this research provides additional information linking pure maple syrup, a unique natural sweetener, to brain health. However, additional animal studies, along with eventual human studies, would be required to confirm these initial findings.”

This year, two newly discovered additional compounds with antioxidant properties and potential health benefits have been identified in the lignan family, bringing the total count of known phytonutrients in maple products to 65. This may help support discoveries made over the past few years on the inherent properties of maple syrup from Canada that comes directly from the sap of the maple tree, making it an all-natural product with unique health benefits. Discovered in 2011, a unique, polyphenolic molecule in maple syrup, Quebecol1, and one of its analogues (isoquebecol, recently synthesized), have demonstrated that it significantly decreases the production of inflammation mediators.

“The 7,500 Quebec-based maple producers are committed to pursuing funding of new research to help further identify the positive health impacts of pure maple,” said Serge Beaulieu, President of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. “This is why we have chosen to work with Dr. Seeram along with other researchers. Dr. Seeram’s tremendous experience studying the impact of phytonutrients in plants and fruits has propelled maple research since he began studying the natural sweetener in 2009. There is still much to discover about maple’s health benefits, and the scientific community has only uncovered the tip of the iceberg. We will continue to allocate resources to research on maple products to discover its impacts on the human body.”

Inflammation is a normal part of a healthy immune response, and is a biological process that helps heal injury and fight infection. When inflammation becomes uncontrolled or chronic, it plays a role in exacerbating a variety of health-related issues. There are several ways to help prevent and combat chronic inflammation. A diet rich in foods that contain polyphenols, such as green tea, red wine, fruits and vegetables – and potentially pure maple syrup from Canada – may be beneficial for supporting a healthy immune system.

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers does not promote an increase of sugar consumption. When choosing a sweetener for moderate use, it appears that 100% pure maple syrup from Canada has more healthful compounds compared to some other sources of sugar.

About the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and Maple Products from Quebec

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ) was founded in 1966. Its mission is to defend and promote the economic, social and moral interests of some 7,500 Quebec maple businesses, as well as to develop initiatives that collectively market the products that flow from Quebec’s 44 million taps. The quality work of these maple producers has made Quebec the source, on average, of 72 percent of the world’s maple syrup production and 90 percent of Canada’s maple syrup output. Together, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia contribute the other 10 percent of Canadian production.

FPAQ proudly promotes the reference brand Maple Products from Quebec in addition to coordinating the international promotion and value creation of Canadian maple products on behalf of Canada’s maple industry. In this capacity, the FPAQ leads and directs the research efforts of the Réseau international d’innovation des produits d’érable du Canada.

1 Li, L., & Seeram, N. P. (2011). Quebecol, a novel phenolic compound isolated from Canadian maple syrup. Journal of Functional Foods, 3(2), 125-128.

SOURCE Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers

Thanks to Blake Mirzayan for such timely information.


Short Sighted

As you may know, every two or three months I visit my dad’s sister, Aunt Eunice, who lives in a nursing home in rural Virginia.  I took my mother’s place as her guardian and power of attorney.

Aunt Eunice will soon be celebrating her 90th birthday.  Due to a developmental problem with walking and osteoporosis she is confined to a wheelchair.  And now with increasing macular degeneration she is very visually challenged.

She is in my opinion very blessed to have a roommate much younger than herself who has lots of energy and loves to keep their room sparkling clean.  It is nothing for her roommate Juanita to spend time cleaning even the bedsprings!

However, as I discovered this weekend, I have fallen far short in keeping tabs on the snacks that are sent to my aunt via mail from other nieces and from my physical visits four times or so a year.  I have depended on my aunt and her roommate to tell me what she likes in the way of snacks and toiletries she needs.

After our excursion yesterday, riding in the car to the shopping center and my gathering the usual snacks and toiletries that have become a habit to purchase, we returned to the nursing home and her room.  I decided this time to assist with putting away the stuff we had purchased.   In the process, having run out of space, I discovered in her closet boxes filled to the brim with unopened crackers, cookies, cereal, numerous toothbrushes and 5 unopened tubes of toothpaste!  I loaded my car with an equivalent amount compared with what I had purchased that day at the store.  I guess I won’t be buying chips, cereal, toothpaste or toothbrushes for a while!

My aunt claimed that her roommate hid her stuff in the closet.  For Aunt Eunice that’s the way it was for her.  In reality her roommate, in trying to maintain some measure of order and neatness in their room, had placed things in the closet.  Then both forgot what was there.

Aides and nurses would not be permitted or have time to sort or discard personal property belonging to a resident.  Due to my aunt’s vision challenges her toothbrush holder was indescribable and truly unsafe for use.  I threw that out immediately along with foodstuffs that were out of date and probably unsafe to consume.  A small refrigerator posed no problems.

Lesson learned.  In the future I will make time to check what’s there before we go out to shop.  With living on a retirement income, I can surely benefit from making more careful choices when we go to the store.

People like my aunt who have vision challenges need an extra set of eyes to keep up with food and even clothes that need replaced or repaired.  This goes also for loved ones dealing with a fading memory.

As caregivers of loved ones dealing with dementia, we as a brother/sisterhood have our own dementia-related health concerns.

I regard myself as reasonably healthy for my age, although I do take an acid suppressing drug for acid reflux, which I developed several years ago.

Co-incidentally, I have very recently discovered an online resource, a self-help navigation resource, for people with little or no resources available to find personalized recommendations for medical conditions.  XpertDox.com was founded by a team of doctors, IT specialists, and business professionals based in Birmingham, Alabama, Scottsdale, Arizona, and San Jose, California for patients with serious medical concerns to empower them with information specific  to their condition, guiding them to seek the best possible care for their condition, and finally providing support by helping them connect with peers suffering from a similar condition.  Use of this service is free of charge.

Although at the time I did not regard myself as having a serious medical condition, I decided to check out the site, http://www.XpertDox.com, to gain advice about my acid reflux condition.  After visiting their homepage, my first stop on the XpertDox website was to check out their blogs.  Scrolling down, this heading stopped me dead in my tracks:  “Drugs for Acid Reflux and Heartburn Can Cause Dementia– Dr. Garima Agarwol, M.D.

The essence of this article for me was that the use of acid suppressant drugs (proton pump inhibitors known as PPIs) inhibit the body’s absorption of Vitamin B-12.  Vitamin B-12 actually aids in keeping at bay the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques that are known to be present in the brains of persons with dementia.

Increasing my concern is the knowledge that I have pernicious anemia, which my mother had.  Pernicious anemia is caused by my body not absorbing Vitamin B-12 naturally.  I found that indeed I do have a potentially serious problem.

With all this in mind, I set about using the XpertDox site for my own medical need.  The first step was establishing a login with my email and a secure password.

I then keyed in my condition, Acid Reflux.  The next screen gave me a choice of an Xpert Doctor, Xpert Hospital, or Support.  I clicked Xpert Doctor.

I then learned that XpertDox through a unique system of algorithms or steps in processing has pulled together over 7,000-plus diseases/conditions and evaluated over a million doctors and 4,500 hospitals to provide unbiased, objective, well-rounded and personalized recommendations for patients without the influence of industry or hospital/physician groups.  Results are personalized for each disease or condition.

The XpertDox search in no way depends on patient reviews.  In fact I learned that patients who see doctors with high satisfaction ratings may have a higher chance of dying!

My search for Xpert Doctors produced a list of doctors for my condition, beginning with 100% for an expert match and a list of successive profiles in decreasing order.  My search came up with a doctor in New York City as a 100% match for my condition acid reflux.

I then noticed I could further refine my search by checking a box for my particular state/zip code.  For my state of Ohio I found two doctors with a 75% match in my home city of Columbus.  I could have come up with a higher percentage match with doctors in Dayton and Cleveland.

A bonus to each doctor profile is a listing of their research papers related to a specific disease or condition.  By clicking on the paper title, a summary or abstract of the paper pops up.  (Of course, the content is specific for medical professionals and a bit difficult for a lay person like me to comprehend.  But at the same time, the research paper summary is readily accessible.)

Another offering of this site is the provision for family support peer to peer with tips and advice.

With the information obtained from XpertDox.com, I feel empowered with contact information for experts in my city Columbus, Ohio to obtain their recommendations about my acid reflux condition in view of my family history of dementia.

You may have your own questions or concerns related to dementia.  To access a section of the XpertDox.com site devoted specifically to dementia, click here.

Again, use of this site is free of charge.  Go to:  http://www.XpertDox.com.

Our trip to select a Christmas tree had become a tradition, as we made our way to the same lot year after year.  My husband John would start reminding me about the tree soon after Thanksgiving!

Now I had standards about the tree to be picked – it must be tall enough not to need placement on a table top and it must be fresh.  I remember the Christmas before my brother was born in January 1947 and my disappointment in our family’s little table-top tree.  Little did I realize my parents were doing well to have a tree at all that year.  Of course, in my four-year-old mind’s eye I wanted the tallest one possible.

My mother would let me assist with the icicles.  They were not to be thrown on but carefully placed one by one so most of the icicle fell straight and free.

My mom rarely missed a year putting up a live tree, even into her ’80s.  Fast forward to this day in 2016, I knew the tree selection was going to be different, as I would be doing it alone.  And this year I would also be selecting a wreath for my husband’s grave site.

I made it to the checkout without breaking down.  But when the cashier willingly assisted me with carrying my purchase to the car, I took her up on it.  Driving around to the back for pickup, I had my live tree placed in the car trunk.

Remembering the joy and contentment of years past as my husband and I would leave the lot together, I silently sobbed on the drive home.  So much was different.  Since March the year has been filled with many firsts.

I remember the first time I voted after his passing, my meltdown right there in the middle of everything, and the kind worker who left her post to give me a hug.

Fortunately for me today I had a place to be in the afternoon, my part time job at a local business.  Upon getting into my car to drive home that evening, I didn’t feel like facing an empty house, so I made a detour to a local cafe.

Given a choice of seating I requested a booth in the back, ordering coffee and my favorite dish – fresh fruit with chicken salad on the side along with a warm blueberry muffin.  As I sat down I noticed a couple sitting to my left, who appeared to be a bit younger than my husband and me.  I guess I must have mused about their happiness.

The time arrived for me to request a check.  But as she came over, my waiter was muttering something that sounded a bit strange, like “Your bill has been taken care of…”

The waiter then explained that the couple who had been sitting to my left had paid my bill.  What an amazing thing – my meal had been paid for by strangers.  And I had done nothing to deserve it!

This kind and caring act as I processed it in my head, told me that I had been the recipient of what a real Christmas is about.  As I drove home I felt a peacefulness hard to describe, realizing what that couple had done.

I then began remembering a few of the many kindnesses that I have received from caring friends and neighbors over past months.  And I began to realize perhaps there are opportunities waiting for me to make a difference, just as it had been done for me.  Rather than my earlier focus on what I have lost, I know I now have a choice.












Recognizing Caregivers

As I reflect on my own caregiving, both when my mother was with us and in more recent years for my husband, meal preparation became at times a chore.  I guess the part of it that was such a challenge were the restricted choices.  Am sure you know what I mean.  Depending on a loved one’s flexibility, many times dietary needs and mobility issues limit what you can do.

A contest for caregivers recently caught my eye, and I want to share it with you!  How does some deliciious meals delivered to your door sound!  Here goes:

Seniorlink, Inc. Announces Call for Entries to “Thank You Caregiver Nation” Contest

Family Caregivers to Receive Free Meals Monthly Throughout 2017

Contest Goal is to Spotlight the Value and Selfless Commitment of Caregivers

BOSTON, Nov. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Seniorlink, Inc., a leading caregiver solutions company, announced a call for entries for “Thank You Caregiver Nation” – a new contest focused on raising awareness of family caregivers – the many silent heroes who provide care and comfort to a loved one.

The contest will feature twelve winners, with one winner selected for each month of 2017. Each winner will receive a credit to purchase meal options from PeachDish, a nutritious meal kit delivery company. The winners can use their PeachDish credit to order fresh, farm-to-table ingredients to cook meals for their families, and reduce the stress of food shopping and meal planning.

There are an estimated 44 million caregivers in the United States today.i They are the partners, spouses, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones who carry out a daily mission of compassion, hope and assistance. Through their commitment they provide dignity and comfort to a family member or loved one in need of care.

“Seniorlink stands alongside family caregivers as they fulfill their vital role in their loved ones lives,” said Thomas P. Riley, CEO of Seniorlink, Inc. “Caregiving can take a physical, financial and emotional toll. This contest is our way of saying thank you – and showing our unwavering commitment to provide the highest quality resources, advocacy and insights for caregivers and their families.”

Individuals wishing to nominate a caregiver, or themselves if they are a caregiver, have until midnight on December 31, 2016 to register at www.tycaregivers.com. All that is required is an email address and a short written entry outlining why the nominated caregiver should be recognized. Winners will be randomly selected from a pool of applicants and notified via email.

See www.tycaregivers.com for complete contest terms and conditions.

About Seniorlink, Inc.

For more than 16 years, Seniorlink has pioneered solutions for caregivers across the nation, helping them provide their loved ones with the highest quality care. Seniorlink’s unique in-home care solution, Caregiver Homes, dedicates experienced care teams to work alongside caregivers and their families, offering coaching and support at every step. This model, known as Structured Family Caregiving, was the first home and community-based service in the nation to receive the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) highest level of Accreditation for Case Management.

To move from supporting thousands to millions of caregivers, Seniorlink has developed Vela, a caregiving platform that brings compassion to technology and assists caregivers as they navigate the complex and sometimes overwhelming world of caregiving. Vela transforms the caregiving experience by connecting care partners directly with caregivers to provide them with the coaching and insights they need along their journey, ultimately improving outcomes and lowering costs for their most complex, vulnerable members. To learn more, go to www.seniorlink.com and follow on Twitter @SeniorlinkInc.

About PeachDish

Celebrating the freshest ingredients with Southern-inspired food full of innovative flavor, PeachDish delivers a refrigerated box to your doorstep with ingredients and recipes to cook dinner at home. Customers choose from at least eight different menu options each week, including at least three vegetarian dishes. While purchasing produce at the season’s peak to achieve the most flavor and nutrition, the company works directly with farmers and purveyors to source ingredients local to the Southeast, which has an especially long growing season. Boxes are priced depending on number of servings ordered, and shipping location around the U.S. Order as often as you like, with free shipping for regular subscribers.

i AAPR & Public Policy Institute (June 2015). Executive Summary: Caregiving in the U.S. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/caregiving-in-the-united-states-2015-executive-summary-revised.pdf

Going Through a Loss

Dear reader, I am talking about adjustment to the death of someone close to us.  I thought I knew what loss meant, after experiencing the death of my parents and some dear friends.  But losing a life mate is in a whole category to itself.

We did not have a perfect marriage by any means, but we shared a lifetime together, almost 48 years.  It’s the little things.  We would often have oatmeal for breakfast.  This morning I was finally able to make a dish for myself.  We shared the love of classical music.  I have made a number of road trips out of state over the past several months to be with adult children and grandchildren.  I have driven in a quiet car.

My thoughts go out to you who have had to endure this life change while maintaining your employment or keeping a household together when there are dependent family members to be cared for.  Perhaps you may say it was easier, being forced to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

As I wrote back in March of this year, my husband suffered a severe spinal cord injury from falling off a treadmill at the health club he had recently joined.  He lived two weeks.

The pain of not having been with him when he did his workout that particular day has been almost more than I could bear.  Forgiving oneself I believe to be one of the most difficult challenges of life.

For me it has been a daily and many times an hourly struggle to keep it together.  Grief counseling initially was helpful.  Through the hospital I qualified for Hospice counseling.  The one-on-one  over four months was most helpful.

I also got out my notes for the grief recovery method that I described in an earlier blog, July 8, 2013.  I have done the major portions and am now attempting to finish up with support from my friend who is certified as a grief recovery method counselor.

Prayer has become more important to me than ever before.  Our niece early on sent me a Dayspring publication, “Jesus Is Calling” a collection of meditations by Sarah Young.  This can be accessed at http://www.dayspring.com.  I never miss a day.

I realize that the loss you may have experienced may have been quite different to what I have been describing.  That does not make any difference; the steps of grieving come out the same.

Friends have been a great comfort and strength.  And as much a cliche as it sounds, keeping busy does help.  A Dutch friend of mine, who was a teenager in Amsterdam during WWII, told me about the women of Holland.  She said to me, “Pat, they worked at it – focusing on what they could do with what they had to work with.”  I believe she was telling me to put one foot in front of the other and do what I can.




I am delighted to share with you a new read that you possibly won’t wish to put down, a gripping novel about a dysfunctional family and Alzheimer’s disease – seemingly a recipe for disaster.

The author of Brought to Our Senses, Kathleen H. Wheeler, in her debut as a novelist draws from her own personal experience, growing up in central Illinois as a child of divorce and later working with siblings at odds with each other as they are forced to deal with the Alzheimer’s disease of their mother.

This story invites the reader to meet 34-year-old Elizabeth Miller, a mama’s girl, whose life is upended as her mother receives a dementia diagnosis and becomes a volatile patient.  Elizabeth struggles to look after her mother alongside a brother and sisters who all hold a grudge about their upbringing.  The situation is further complicated by an attorney who derails a much-needed power of attorney agreement and the mom’s boyfriend who proposes marriage in a last-ditch attempt to skirt nursing home placement.

The antagonist is the mother of the family named Janice.  While causing all sorts of problems for her children, she deals with the heartbreaking reality of dementia.  She refuses to go down without a fight, and her denial and hostility stems from fear as much as cognitive impairment.

This book tackles the difficult journey through legal guardianship, why that’s necessary and how it is accomplished.

Forced into the role of caregiver, Elizabeth’s challenge is to care for her mother in the best way possible, which is difficult with siblings who don’t agree on what’s best.

She travels an unexpected path of reconciliation with a brother and sisters, who are called to put aside their differences as they come together to support their mother.

This novel is about coming to terms with a family in conflict and caring for aging parents.  Most importantly, it’s about finding the way back home to family when they’re needed most – when the going gets tough.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review, has this to say about Brought to Our Senses: “..one of the most true-to-life, gripping accounts on the complexities of interconnected family relationships that has appeared in recent years.. Very highly recommended as a striking jewel that is a glowing standout from the growing stack of dementia fiction sagas.”

To get the jump on a bonus offer of Brought to Our Senses ahead of the release date, November 1, click here.