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July 23, 2009
Early Indicators, Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

June 17, 2009
Differential Criteria: Normal Aging vs Dementia

June 4, 2009
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Posted: July 09, 2009

Caregiving Lessons Learned

And Now, for the Rest of the Story!

Since the last several columns bordered on a "serious note", I thought it would be appropriate for a change of pace.  In fact, I recently received an e-mail that made me think about how we all complain about life and the many trials and tribulations we often encounter -- especially as we grow older.  But this e-mail featured a column written by “90-year-old” Regina Brett, a columnist for the The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, that really got my attention, given the writer’s “age.”

I’ve used the quote marks above because while it turns out that Regina Brett actually is a columnist for The Plain Dealer, she is not 90 years old. She is only 53 as of May, 2009!  Check out her website for the rest of the story.  Turns out that someone converted her age "50" to "90" in the e-mail.  Her original column was published May 28, 2006, when she really did turn 50!  I "Googled" "Regina Brett The Plain Dealer" for the "rest of the story."

Regina introduces her column by saying that on Sunday, May 28, 2006, "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.  It is the most-requested column I've ever written.  My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here is an update -- Regina Brett's 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on.” Here’s what we found:

  1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don't take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don't have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone.  It's more healing than crying alone.
  8. It's OK to get angry with God -- He can take it.
  9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.
  10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  13. Don't compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  14. If a relationship has to be secret, you shouldn't be in it.
  15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.  But don't worry -- God never blinks.
  16. Life is too short for pity parties.  Get busy living -- or get busy dying.
  17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  18. A writer writes.  If you want to be a writer, write.
  19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood -- but the second one is up to you and no one else.
  20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take "no" for an answer.
  21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie -- don't save it for a special occasion.  TODAY is special!
  22. Over-prepare -- then "go with the flow."
  23. Be eccentric now.  Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
  24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
  27. Always choose life.
  28. Forgive everyone everything.
  29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  30. Time heals almost everything -- give time -- time.
  31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  33. Believe in miracles. 
  34. God loves you because of who God is -- not because of anything you did or didn't do.
  35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
  36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
  37. Your children get only one childhood -- make it memorable.
  38. Read the Psalms.  They cover every human emotion.
  39. Get outside every day.  Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
  41. Don't audit life.  Show up and make the most of it now.
  42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  44. Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.
  45. The best is yet to come.
  46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  47. Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.
  48. If you don't ask, you don't get.
  49. Yield.
  50. Life isn't tied with a bow -- but it's still a gift.

If you have received a similar e-mail, know that this is the ORIGINAL as published in The Plain Dealer on Sunday, May 28, 2006.

Also, know that these "words of wisdom" can have a significant impact on your life as a family caregiver.  I was especially impressed with #43 -- "all that truly matters in the end is that you loved."   As readers of this column know, I was the 14-year, 24/7 family caregiver for my wife of 57 years, Carol, who died of Alzheimer's disease in June 2008.  My mantra during those last 14 years was "loving is giving . . . giving is loving."

By the way, on June 6, 2009, Regina's column was headed "Life's lessons speed up on Internet; 90 years of living in 50: Regina Brett," and on July 7, 2009, "The thing about being 90 is you savor every day: Regina Brett."  Interesting how things can go awry on the Internet when people forward e-mails -- and often make changes thereto by distorting the intent of the original.  Obviously, Regina has become an icon as a result of these misrepresentations of her original May 28, 2006, column.

And that brings up an important point for all family caregivers to consider -- do not take everything that you read on the Internet as gospel (except my columns, of course!).  Too often, what you read may be said with good intention -- but without a level of expertise you can trust.  Before you follow what is suggested, make sure the suggestions are valid and that the source is trustworthy.

The bottom line -- in all cases, check with your family doctor before any serious efforts are undertaken on behalf of your loved one as a result of what you read on the Internet.

Please e-mail me at with your comments and/or reactions.  I will include them in a future column with your permission.  Please provide your full name and address.  In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state.  Thank you.


"If virtue precede us, every step will be safe."
Seneca (5BC-65AD)

Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in the progression of the Alzheimer’s Disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at

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