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Tender Book Teaches Children about Alzheimer’s Disease

Trailblazing Teen Researcher

Wins Accolades for Best-Seller

 Tender Book Teaches Children

about Alzheimer’s Disease

max_book_cover

July 18, 2013, Boston, MA– At age five, Max Wallack learned to cope with his great-grandmother’s Alzheimer’s symptoms. Forgetfulness was the least of her problems: Max experienced her fears, episodes of irrational behavior, incontinence – even escape attempts. But Wallack didn’t just cope. He devoted himself to easing her suffering. By second grade, he had invented adaptive equipment to help her with mobility, and at age 12 he founded www.PuzzlesToRemember.org, a non-profit charity that distributes therapeutic puzzles at no cost to Alzheimer’s facilities worldwide.

Wallack continues to dedicate his life to improving the lives of those with Alzheimer’s, but his heart has longed to calm the fears of the disease’s youngest caregivers, like the one he once was, himself. With this goal in mind, the 17-year-old college junior reached out to his teacher and mentor, Carolyn Given, to co-author a book uniquely aimed at teaching caregiving and coping strategies to children. The result is a tender, poignant story of hope, love, and learning as seven year-old Julie navigates increasing lapses in Grandma’s behavior.

Amazon’s #3 best-selling children’s book throughout its June 29 release week (and currently a Top 100 best-seller), Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator? shares easy-to-understand explanations of what happens inside the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and how to cope with memory loss, a missed holiday, or even a missing Grandma! This 40-page, fully illustrated children’s book lovingly shares strategies, scientific insights, and lessons of dignity to which children and adults can both relate, and from which caregivers of any age may richly benefit.

As is Max’s way, the bulk of all proceeds will benefit multiple Alzheimer’s causes.

 Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear In The Refrigerator? provides insight into what families around the world deal with on a day-to-day basis. Max’s easy-to-understand presentation makes it perfect to help teach children about Alzheimer’s disease.

 — Lori La Bey, CEO of Alzheimer’s Speaks

 You should buy this book for any child who has a relative facing Alzheimer’s Disease…. This book is an incredible inspiration. Thank you Max Wallack for sharing from your heart.

 — Cheryl Greene, co-founder, Dr. Greene.com

Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator? should be required reading for every person that teaches, guides, or interacts directly with children (worldwide).

 — Bob DeMarco, founder, Alzheimer’s Reading Room

Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator?

 By Max Wallack and Carolyn Given

 $12.95

 Available at Amazon.com

The Authors:

WALLACKMax Wallack is a 17 year old junior at Boston University as well as a researcher in the Molecular Psychiatry in Aging Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine. Max was a caregiver to his great grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease.  In 2008, he founded http://www.PuzzlesToRemember.org, a 501(c)3 organization that has supplied more than 23,000 puzzles to Alzheimer’s facilities around the world. A Max Wallcke cropped 2member of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, Max gives research presentations at national conferences and publishes articles in respected scientific journals. He has received numerous national awards for his work on behalf of Alzheimer’s patients, including the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award and the President’s Call to Service Medal. Max plans to become a geriatric psychiatrist, working with Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.

max wallack with grandma

Carolyn_GivenCarolyn Given is an experienced caregiver herself and an acclaimed middle and high school educator with particular interest in intergenerational programming. Prior to her teaching career, she served as her town’s Council on Aging Director and later became cover-story writer and editor of The Senior Advocate (now called the Fifty Plus Advocate Newspaper), a Massachusetts-based mature market publication. Most recently she was the recipient of an award from the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women. Wallack and Given have created a book that is a necessity for the 35.6 million families worldwide currently touched by this incurable disease.

For More Resources Check Our Alzheimer’s Speaks

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Giving Alzheimer’s Patients What They Want

 

Alzheimer’s, named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, could affect as many as 5.1 million Americans with more than 11 million acting as caregivers. http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/adfact.htm Typical treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are meant to reduce the effects of symptoms, but do not reverse the disease. This ends up with the quality of life for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s spiraling down the drain in a way that is inevitably painful to watch for their caregivers and others who love them. However, one nursing home has found some success with a new procedure that has raised some eyebrows. The Concept? Give Alzheimer’s patients whatever they want.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/health/01care.html?_r=2

Beatitudes nursing home in Phoenix seems like a typical nursing home, but there is one noticeable difference from similar facilities. Alzheimer’s patients at Beatitudes are allowed anything they want. This includes granting such requests such as chocolate bars, toys, or nightcaps. a The state of Arizona once tried to cite the facility for prescribing chocolate, an item the state said was not a medication and could not be categorized by  medical coding as any sort of service performed.   A nurse at the facility disagreed, asserting that “it’s better than Xanax.”

The approach that Beatitudes uses it not a random new treatment, but a method with some basis in scientific findings. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that dementia facilities with brighter lighting resulted in a decrease in depression and a noticeable return of functional abilities. http://health.msn.com/healthtopics/alzheimersdisease/brightlightsmayimprovedementiasymptoms  It shouldn’t be too out of the ordinary that good lighting and a little chocolate, things which can make the rest of us happy, should have an effect on the morale of patients with Alzheimer’s. A 96-year-old woman at Beatitudes illustrates this point- having been previously kicked out of several nursing homes because of her uncontrollable behavior, at Beatitudes she has been much happier, calmer and more relaxed.

The facility has improved its lighting and routinely grants patient’s requests any time of the day or night. This includes giving patients a bath at 2am or a light snack at 4am. The approach is based on research suggesting that positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer’s patients reduces distress and related behavior problems. The National Institute on Aging and the Administration on Aging are financing joint studies on ways to ease the burden on those who care for Alzheimer’s patients and to make the life of Alzheimer’s patients better. M. Stahl, of the Institute on Aging, has called the new method a “good nonpharmacological technique” based on initial results.

Alzheimer’s care facilities have been experimenting with different techniques to keep patients both happy and safe. A facility in Germany has placed fake bus stop signs outside to prevent patients from wandering off of the property. Patients wait for a bus and then eventually get tired of waiting and go back into the facility. Beatitudes has placed black triangle shaped pieces of carpet in front of elevators to prevent Alzheimer’s patients from going into the elevators unescorted. The patients think of the carpet as a cliff or hole and are discouraged from going any further. Additional research is necessary before such techniques are adopted on a widespread scale, but early results are certainly encouraging.

Article submitted by Pat Walling

 

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