Don & JerryThis is the second installment of a series of articles published by Methow Valley resident Don Reddington which will explore the issues of living with Alzheimer’s Disease. The articles were written in collaboration with Raleigh Bowden, M.D., andMethow Valley News reporter Laurelle Walsh and originally published in the Methow Valley News. Read the entire series “Living with Alzheimer’s”. Click here to read Pt. 1 of Preventative Strategies

5. Diet and drugs: Jerry and I eat very few fatty foods but enjoy eating lots of fruits and vegetables. We also take omega-3 fish oil and a variety of supplements each day. Jerry also takes coconut oil. We watch our diets and try to avoid sugar. However, Jerry and I have a cookie desire! One cookie a day (thanks Josephine) is just what Jerry and I need! Jerry and I both tried a variety of AD medications suggested by our doctors, but we stopped taking these medications due to adverse side effects. However, I still take one medication, an antidepressant, so that I have a happy day. Jerry and I would prefer quality of life! As Jerry once said: “I would prefer to remain true to myself as opposed to taking a medication that altered the true me.” Like Jerry, I want to enjoy my remaining life!

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Don and Jerry read the first installment of “Living with Alzheimer’s”. Photo Credit Laurelle Walsh/Methow Valley News

6. Intellectual stimulation: Jerry and I like to read but it has become difficult for both of us. Loss of memory is taking it away. We both started seeing speech therapists. We both got activities and written exercises to work on. Jerry did puzzles and played games, as well as reading. He can no longer do any of these, but it hasn’t stopped him. Jerry still participates in a book club. Although speaking is difficult for Jerry, we have discovered that we can talk together. What is great is that I get responses from Jerry to our discussions. And when I get home to write these chapters on the computer, I have noticed that it really helps me with my memory loss. Missing words come back! According to Dr. Raleigh, it helps preserve cognitive function and prevents cognitive decline.

7. Music: Jerry and I both love music. Jerry will sit down and listen to it. He also enjoys musical shows, movies, and live musical theater. He is able to comprehend the emotion of music better than he can comprehend the content of a verbal exchange or dialogue. I love music from the 1950s and ‘60s! My new iPod and headphones (thanks Donni and Rick) has changed my world. Music helps me so much to put negative thoughts aside. When I go out and work on my tractor or around the farm, listening  to ‘50s and ‘60s hits is something that has helped me focus on the positive things.

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Don and his wife, Ginger, at Blue Lake in the North Cascades, photo credit Donni Reddington.

8. Social engagement: For Jerry and me it can be hard to answer questions when someone asks. We are blessed that our wives will help interface conversations with other people. We don’t want Alzheimer’s to be the only topic, however. We have other important things going on in our lives! We will talk to people who make eye contact and take time to talk to us; otherwise, it is a waste of time for both parties. Jerry and I enjoy talking to people one on one; for us, smaller social gatherings and groups are easier. It is helpful to get introductions from known friends and acquaintances to assist with names and context. It might be awkward initially, but we live the small community of the Methow Valley where the majority of people are kind, understanding, and compassionate.

Living with AD is not easy! Our thoughts are with you,

Don Reddington and Jerry Bristol – AD League

Written in collaboration with Raleigh Bowden, M.D., for the Lookout Coalition, and Laurelle Walsh, reporter for the Methow Valley News, and Katie Bristol for her dad, Jerry Bristol.

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