Here today, Gone today

A story… from a person with dementia’s perspective….

Originally posted on play-grand (or don't play at all):


I awaken to the light, the sun coming through the window. Happily drowsy, fresh from a good nights sleep, I celebrate morning. It’s morning, at last and I get to go sledding with my sister. Momma said we could last night as we watched the snow falling furiously like there’s no tomorrow.

“Mae, wake up” I whisper before turning towards her bed. “They have cancelled school and we get to go sledding,” I say, hardly able to contain my excitement. But, something is strangely different.  I do not see her bed. An unfamiliar armoire looms where her bed should be. I’m confused. How did her bed simply go away? Where did this ugly piece of furniture come from? Where did Mae’s bed go? Where did Mae go?

“Mae,” I yell. But there is still no answer. “Mae!”

It suddenly hits me.  “My God, this isn’t even our room,”  What is this…

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NightSide – Michael Curren and Dr. Rudy Tanzi Are Answering Questions On Alzheimer’s

Don’t miss this!

Originally posted on CBS Boston:

BOSTON (CBS) – Alzheimer’s disease affects over 5 million people in this country. Many people know someone diagnosed with this disease, and have seen the devastating effects firsthand. While Alzheimer’s has no cure, medical research has been making huge strides in our understanding of the disease, as well as what we can do to treat it. Michael Curren and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, both with the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, join NightSide to talk about what we know about Alzheimer’s, what can be done to treat it, and to answer any questions you may have about this terrible disease.

Origninally broadcast July 14th, 2014.

[cbs-audio-player title="NightSide With Dan Rea" artist="Dan Rea" download=false url="URL" station_name="WBZ NewsRadio 1030" station_logo=""]

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Lifestyle choices can cut Alzheimer toll, says study

Our lifestyles may not seem important now when we think of our old age – that far far future that is inevitable. But somehow I think it might just be important to start thinking of the now to prepare myself for those days!

Originally posted on Peace and Freedom:

Volunteers from the 'Kissing it Better' charity read poems and recite songs on October 29 2013, to residents of a retirement home in Stratford upon Avon who have been diagnosed with dementiaVolunteers from the 'Kissing it Better' charity read poems and recite songs on October 29 2013, to residents of a retirement home in Stratford upon Avon who have been diagnosed with dementia

Volunteers from the ‘Kissing it Better’ charity read poems and recite songs on October 29 2013, to residents of a retirement home in Stratford upon Avon who have been diagnosed with dementiaVolunteers from the ‘Kissing it Better’ charity read poems and recite songs on October 29 2013, to residents of a retirement home in Stratford upon Avon who have been diagnosed with dementia

Millions of cases of Alzheimer’s could be prevented by altering lifestyle habits which increase risk of the tragic memory-robbing disease, scientists said on Monday.

Alzheimer’s is an age-related brain condition that experts suspect is influenced by both genes and the environment.

The population boom and longer lifespans mean that more than 106 million people will be living with Alzheimer?s by 2050 compared with 30 million in 2010, according to predictions.

The study, led by Carol Brayne, a professor of public health at at the University of Cambridge…

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It is the little things that count!

Originally posted on It's Easy to Forget:


After a morning at the salon.

It’s amazing how a little bit of pampering can go a long way in helping life seem just a bit more normal. While I’ve written about this topic before I think it deserves a “redo” as I was reminded again this morning of its importance to Mom’s overall wellbeing.

Mom was never a slave to fashion or trends but feeling stylish and pretty has always been important to her.  Pictures from her youth are certainly evidence that she liked to “make an effort” as they say.  I’m sure she probably turned more than a few heads in her time.  And I will forever remember her morning routine in the bathroom before heading out into the world or before going out for an evening with Dad. Let’s just say that it was a relatively lengthy process – I can still hear my Dad worrying that they wouldn’t get where they…

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Kaputu’s History

Kaputu’s History & Her Healing Process

The last time that I visited Opuwo, I met Uapindika, Kaputu’s sister. Uapindika told me stories about Kaputu’s childhood that would make good thrillers.

Kaputu’s father died when she was still very young and her mother then decided to move to Angola to her family. Kaputu’s grandmother decided that Kaputu was not allowed to move to Angola and kept her here on the Namibian side. Why she decided this, I really don’t understand as Uapindika says the grandmother never like Kaputu and she immediately tied her to a tree. Maybe it was because she needed help in the homestead and believed that Kaputu could be rid of the evil spirits that possessed her, who knows? But she took her to a witch doctor to do just that. No evil spirits emerged and on their way back to their kraal (homestead), Kaputu grabbed a rock and hit the grandmother on the head and tried to run away. Needless to say, this was a futile effort and Kaputu ended up being permanently tied to a tree.

A few years later her mother passed away and soon afterwards her grandmother also passed away. Whether this was fortunate or not, I also cannot quite decide as an uncle then decided to take Kaputu in. He basically tied her in the hut during the day and who knows what happened during the night as Kaputu soon became pregnant. During her second pregnancy, she conceived twins but neither survived. Her uncle then decided to contact Canagombe Hembinda to take her away. It is Canagombe who contacted me in November 2013 to come and see Kaputu just after the birth of her fourth child. (Another rape?)

Koos from Epupa Falls Lodge called me about a week ago, very excited. He had just returned from Mbakutuka Komapando (Our Himba Dementia Village) to off load a load of Makalani branches that we needed to use to cover the fence surrounding the village.  The reason for his excitement – while offloading he noticed Kaputu coming from the tent with a bath of water that they use to ‘shower’ in the mornings on her way to water the vegetable garden that we have planted. This is the same Kaputu who could not eat or drink by herself in the state hospital, let alone walk.

And yesterday, 22nd April 2014, Koos calls me again. This time he is even more excited than the previous week. During Koos’s last visit at Mbakutuka Komapando to offload the final batch of Makalani branches, Kaputu sits under the shade of an old Mopani tree and waves for him to come closer. Koos walks to Kaputu and she greets him with a strong voice and even stronger grip, smiling all the while. She then continues to eat her “pap en sous” (porridge with a meaty sauce). The same Kaputu who had to be force-fed in hospital.

UAPINDIKA & CORNELUIS (Translator & Witch Doctor)

Uapindika & Cornelius (Translator & Witch Doctor

It has been three weeks since Koos and I decided not to renew Kaputu’s prescription of psychotic medicine. Koos: “She is becoming human again, Berrie!” And how true are his words?!

Man With Alzheimer’s Proves That Even If The Mind Forgets, ‘The Heart Remembers’

We so often think that people with Alzheimer’s forget everything and that they forget us, their loved ones.

This post on the Huffington Post shows us that we might just be wrong…

Melvyn Amrine, of Little Rock, Ark., may not remember the details of his life since his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but he recently proved that his love for his wife transcends memory.

Melvyn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago and since then it hasn’t been easy for his wife, Doris, CBS News reported. Melvyn at times doesn’t remember details like whether he proposed to his wife, or vice versa. However a recent holiday prompted Melvyn to remember the most important thing.

On the day before Mother’s Day, Melvyn went missing. Considering he normally requires assistance to do any walking, his family was alarmed and notified the police.

When police found Melvyn, he was 2 miles from his house and he was resolute in his goal, according to Fox 16. He was going to the store to buy flowers for his wife for Mother’s Day, just like he had done every year since they had their first child. Read More..




We believe…

… Every person has:


Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia

  • The right to be free: Unchained might it be physical by chain, rope or cloth or chemical by drugs and sedatives.
  • The right not to be isolated for whatever reason
  • The right to do whatever you can still do and prefer to do
  • The right to live on your own as long as possible and it is safe for you.
  • The right to quality of life
  • The right to be heard and to hear
  • The right to be part of the community/ a family
  • The right to die in a dignified way

Brain Fitness: Can physical exercise really improve your memory?

We don’t train to just lose weight… physical training has a more returns than we invest…

Originally posted on FITips:


Short answer … Yes.  An article on my CNN phone app caught my attention yesterday. Titled, “It’s time to get your brain in shape”, it included a list of things you can do daily to keep your brain sharp. You won’t be surprised that one of them was physical exercise. Still, it’s easier to associate improved brain function with mental exercise and a healthy diet. How does physical exercise make a difference, even in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease? The CNN article states that, “exercise enhances the growth and survival of new neurons in the hippocampus – a region of the brain essential for long-term memory – which may be able to replace others that degenerate as a result of the disease.” So read that again … exercise can replace memory neurons that degenerate. So it’s not just preventative, it’s restorative!

For you science geeks interested in…

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Moving to Mbakutuka Komapando

8th March 2014 – Moving to the new village!

- written by Berrie Holtzhausen

We arrived at Kapika’s village (Omuramba) with an army of helpers. Nearly every staff member of Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite was present as well as our friends from the Czech Republic – Martin, John, Als and Susana. (I can’t remember the names of the other two). Although the Czechs are probably used to a lot more, they did not mind travelling on the back of Koos’s pick-up. They helped pack and unpack the Cruiser, clean the area and put up the new tent.

Czechs on Cruiser

Team Czech arriving with Koos on his pick-up

Czech at work

One of the Czech ladies working hard on her holiday.

Since the day I have met Ndjinaa, doors have opened for me both locally and internationally. But what I have really learned is that we as human beings are all equal. We are all children of God and we all need unconditional love. What happened today in Mbakutuka Komapando was a team effort between six Czechs, two Afrikaners, seven Himba’s, three caretakers and four of Epupa Falls Lodge’s staff. This for me is church – the true body of Christ.

Ndjinaa's old home

 Ndjinaa posing for one last photo where she has lived freely since 12 – 12 – 2012 until 7 -3 – 2014.

After the photo, Ndjinaa and Kaputu walked the 500m to their new home. Ndjinaa walked fast and quite far ahead of Kaputu, Venoo and Nancy. It was as if she was in a hurry to get to her new village where she would be allowed be Himba and human again. It was a long wait for her to be acknowledged again as part of her tribe, to be woman and grandmother of purpose again. But she carries a powerful message to Africa: ‘Let the people with dementia live a quality life until they die. Uhuru not only for certain Africans, but for all Africans.’

Venoo & Kaviruru on way to MK

Venoo & Kaviruru on their way to their new village.

Waving Goodbye

Waving the old village goodbye


Arriving at their new village

Ndjinaa in a hurry

Ndjinaa in a hurry to her new village

Upon reaching Mbakutuka Komapando, Ndjinaa and Kaputu sat down in the shade of the many Mopanie trees. It was as if they were watching the progress of their new village. Then Ndjinaa started giving me instructions through the translator. “You need to make a hole” she said. I asked Grace, my translator what she meant. “A whole for water,” Ndjinaa replied. And then I understood. Ndjinaa wanted a bore hole or a well. When she noticed that I started to understand she said; “And then you must build a place to put the water inside so that it can be kept cool.” Then it hit, when the Himba’s built a village, they dug a bore hole and a hut around it where they kept their maize and other food. “We will do that Ndjinaa,” I told her. I could see she was impressed with my understanding. I also realized that she was no longer asking or requesting – she was rather giving orders now as the chief of her onganda (village). She closed off saying; “ I want tobacco from Sesfontein”.

Kaputu & Ndjinaa under the tree

Kaputu & Ndjinaa in the shade…. watching…

For twenty years; “I want tobacco from Sesfontein” was simply her way of asking (begging) for water and food. Ndjinaa now was way cleverer than I realized. She led me step by step to tell me that we were all so busy building and moving that we did not offer her or Kaputu any water. I corrected this ignorance quickly by asking someone to bring them water. On the day I first met Ndjinaa she also used this sentence. Everyone always used to give her tobacco, but I told my care workers to first give her water, then food and finally tobacco when she used this sentence. And it always worked. She either wanted water or food. This taught me to listen, respond and listen to people living with dementia. It is possible to hear people with dementia even if you do not speak the same language or have the same cultural background. It is a choice that one needs to make. And if you really want to and you take time, you can learn a person’s life story.

Hogewey “Dementia Village” | The Future of Dementia Care?

Indeed… wouldn’t this be great! Maybe this is where our ‘Dementia Village’ will one day end? :-)

Originally posted on michele brenna:

I LOVE this and would want this for myself, should I need it. It is brilliant and I appreciate the nurses who came up with it. More than anything, it is a LOVING AND BEAUTIFUL way to honor those with dementia. It offers the most DIGNIFIED way of living for dementia patients that I have ever seen. <3

Hogewey “Dementia Village” | The Future of Dementia Care?.

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