There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  Current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, but they can temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms.  After decades of research and billions of dollars spent by pharmaceutical companies, there is still no cure.

I read volumes of material on this disease after Sarah was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  I wanted to educate myself so I could better understand this disease and to look for a way to help her.  There are many articles on vitamins, supplements and many alternative treatments.  Nothing struck me as promising until I came across a book written by a physician who only lived 35 miles north of where we lived in Florida.  The title of the book is, “Alzheimers’ Disease–What if there was a cure?” by Mary T. Newport, M.D.  Her husband was in his early 50’s when he was diagnosed with “early onset Alzheimer’s disease” and she did extensive research in trying to help her husband.

One of the “damaging effects” of Alzheimer’s is the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that contribute to the degradation of the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and the subsequent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  The current research has found no way to remove either the plaques or the tangles.

The second “effect” of Alzheimer’s is the problem of insulin deficiency and insulin resistance in the brain.  Some researchers even call this “type 3 diabetes.”  Glucose is the primary fuel for our cells and insulin is required to allow glucose to enter our cells.  Brain cells die if the glucose cannot fuel the cells because of insulin resistance.

Our brains have the ability to use certain alternative fuels if glucose is not available.  During starvation, we begin to tap into our stores of fat and release fatty acids, some of which are converted to ketone bodies.  Ketone bodies do not require insulin to enter the cell, but rather are transported into the cell by a much simpler mechanism than glucose.  Instead of starving yourself, an easier and more pleasant way to provide ketones is to consume foods that contain medium-chain fatty acids.  And finally, this brings me to the discussion of coconut oil.

Coconut oil is nearly 60 percent medium-chain fatty acids.  When you eat coconut oil the medium-chain fatty acids are partially metabolized in the liver to ketones and enter the bloodstream.  Ketones readily cross the blood/brain barrier and can be used by the brain cells as fuel.  And, ketones are a more potent fuel than an equivalent amount of glucose.

Finally, a book that made sense to me from a scientific and practical viewpoint.  I read her book and digested the information.  The overview I have provided is just a small portion of her research into coconut oil.  Dr. Newport’s book goes into very extensive explanations of ketone bodies and how they work.  It also is a detailed account of her husband’s Alzheimer’s journey.

I read this book a couple of years ago, but had a hard time getting the coconut oil into any food Sarah would eat.  I would use the coconut oil when I would scramble eggs for Sarah or fry other foods.  Dr. Newport put coconut oil in her husband’s oatmeal, cereal or yogurt.  Sarah never liked any of these foods.  Thus, my dilemma.  Until my daughter-in-law, Michelle, found a recipe for chocolate that is made with coconut oil.  And, who does not like chocolate?

I initially gave Sarah a small amount of chocolate made with coconut oil on a daily basis.  My goal and hope was to increase the daily amount as Dr. Newport did with her husband.  A side effect of too much coconut oil is diarrhea.  I would not have an issue with this if Sarah was mobile, but she is bedridden.  So, I started to give her the chocolate every other day.  Now, I give it to her based on how her body is functioning.

I saw an improvement in Sarah within a week of starting the chocolate made with coconut oil.  I saw an increase in alertness and interaction with me and other family members.  Other aspects of her personality stopped declining and have stabilized, ie, her listening comprehension and her sense of humor.

All of her improvements have stabilized.  I am amazed on a daily basis on her interactions with me.  Of course, she still forgets my name or who I am at least a half-dozen times a day, but any improvement is a Blessing.  I don’t know how long the effect will last, but EVERY DAY COUNTS.

Chocolate Recipe:

1 cup Coconut Oil

1/2 cup Raw Honey

3/4 to 1 cup Cocoa Powder

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Salt

Warm the coconut oil in the microwave (coconut oil will transform from the solid form to a liquid one at temperatures above 75 degrees F ).  This usually takes about 1 minute.  Add the Honey and mix.  I just use a whisk instead  of a mixer so there is less to clean-up when you are done.  Add the Vanilla Extract, salt and then the Cocoa Powder.  Whisk until well blended and smooth.  Pour the mixture into a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Place in the freezer for about 1/2 to 1 hour.  Break the chocolate into large pieces, put into a freezer bag and store in the freezer.  Take out as needed.  The chocolate will soften quickly so you can eat it as soon as you take it out of the freezer.  Sometimes I add 1/2 cup of peanut butter if I want to increase Sarah’s protein intake.  Yum.

Original Recipe link:

Two types of coconut oil are on the market:  unrefined and refined.  The label for unrefined coconut oil normally reads “virgin” or “extra virgin,” may read “raw,” and most often also reads “organic.”  The unrefined oils are usually pressed from freshly harvested coconuts and usually are not exposed to high levels of heat.  Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut flesh and may pick up mold or off-flavors in the drying process so it needs to be refined to be palatable.  I use the brand “Tropical Life” which is unrefined, extra virgin, organic, expeller pressed and with no trans or hydrogenated fats.  I buy my coconut oil at Walmart.

Any treatment has risks and benefits so make sure you check with your physician or pharmacist before starting this dietary intervention.

Again, I do not know how long this improvement in Sarah’s Alzheimer’s will last, but I know that each day we have together is a Blessing.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16, NIV.














(Second In A Series)

GET OUT OF MY BED.  What did you say?  I DON’T KNOW YOU.  GET OUT OF MY BED.  This was how Sarah greeted me one evening as I was about to get into bed for the night.  Her Alzheimer’s had advanced to a new level.  I did not want to agitate Sarah any more than she already was so that night I slept in a lounge chair we had in our bedroom because I knew I needed to stay close to Sarah.  Well, I tried to sleep, but first I knew I needed to get down on my knees and pray knowing God would show me His plan.

God directed me first to The Book of Job.  It is possible that no person in the Bible endured more trials than Job, but we should remember him for his patience and his Faith in The Lord.  God is patient, but little did I know how my patience would mature through our journey.  I somehow knew that patience would not be enough to help Sarah.  More prayers.

Finally God led me to Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  (NIV)  Through His Word, The Lord provided all that I would need to take care of Sarah.  Patience would play a big part in her care, but The Holy Spirit filled me with His Fruit and showed me so much more.

There are many lessons I have learned on this journey and I would like to pass them on to other caregivers.  Many of them have evolved over time as I have matured.  You may have other lessons that worked better for you.  You should pass them on to other caregivers so we may benefit from your experiences.

  1.  This journey is “NOT ABOUT YOU”.  It is about the Alzheimer’s patient who has no control over their disease.  Sarah is totally dependent on me as your loved one is totally dependent on you.  This is a huge responsibility just as it was when you took care of your child or grandchild and they were dependent on you.  So, you need to commit fully to this journey.  You need to let go of your ego, arrogance and humble yourself because believe me–you will be humbled.

James 4:6 “But He gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  (NIV)

     2.  COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE.  Always tell your loved one what you are going to do before you do it.  I always tell Sarah I am going to put on her socks BEFORE I even touch her feet.  She cannot anticipate what I am going to do.  Surprise gives rise to anxiety.  This applies to anything you are going to do.  If you are going to adjust their pillow or cover them with a blanket, etc. —tell them BEFORE you do it.

     3.  GENTLENESS, GENTLENESS, GENTLENESS.  Always be Gentle.  Do not be aggressive or in a hurry to accomplish your task.  Yes, you sometimes want to hurry things along because you have a million things to do.  But, if you are aggressive your loved one will react in the same way and become aggressive with you.  NEVER, NEVER NEVER be abusive by hitting or slapping or raising your voice.  Yes, raising your voice or screaming at someone who is defenseless is abuse.  This will only lead to like behavior.  Again, this is abuse.  Walk away, take a deep breath and start over.  I think everyone wants to multi-task now and that does not work with someone with Alzheimer’s.  You need to focus on one task and focus only on your loved one.

Proverbs 15:1  ” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  (NIV) 

     4.  ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE.  Routine is paramount.  I greet Sarah each morning in the same way by saying, “Good morning beautiful Sarah”.  She may react negatively some mornings, but I still keep to the routine.  I may change the words to try and distract her, but I am always POSITIVE in my greeting. It is all worth it when she responds with her beautiful smile.

I try to have meals at approximately the same time each day.  Now, Sarah tells me she is hungry as I am preparing our meals.  If you want to finish something you are working on and it will interfere with meal times, stop ahead of time, and get back to your routine.  Remember, it is not about YOU.

I try to get Sarah ready for the day the same way each morning.  First I bathe her, then she gets dressed then I brush her teeth.  Again, I go through a certain routine and she responds to me.  Following the communication step above,  I always tell her what I am going to do before I do it.  No surprises.

     5.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.   Do everything in the Spirit Of Love.

Remember The Golden Rule:

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

How would you like to be treated if you were suffering with Alzheimer’s?  Think about it.  You would want to be treated with LOVE.  Caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is not easy.  Not easy at all.  But, for me it all came down to attitude.  I always have to remember that my wife is, “STILL SARAH.”

Anytime I needed strengthened I went back to the Bible so my soul would be nourished with His Word.

Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  (NIV)

Sarah knows me more now than she did when she shouted out, “Get Out Of MY Bed” many years ago.  But, the reason is for a future article.  Stay tuned.

Our Journey Together

Sarah was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over a decade ago.  The tears rolled down my cheeks as we were listening to the doctor explain the results of his testing.  I heard very little of what he said after hearing the word Alzheimer’s.  It was not a surprise.  But, before the tears were dry on my face I knew in my heart that this journey would be one we would embrace together.

God had brought us together many years ago for His Purpose.  Over the years He has challenged us, but through prayer and obedience to His Will He has provided the answers and the strength we needed to overcome many obstacles.  This one would prove to be the biggest challenge we ever encountered, but with His Grace we faced it head on.  Little did I know what a challenge it would be.  The key I knew would be prayer and following His Will.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.

I have been considering doing a blog for many months.  I know it will help me express myself, but more importantly I hope it will encourage and maybe help other caregivers.  I do not know how often I will write as it depends on the daily responsibilities I have.  I called it “Sarah’s Alzheimer’s Diary” , but it will be retrospective as so much time has passed since her diagnosis.

Initially, I know many situations can be overwhelming.  They were to me.  I hope many of the “trials” I experienced and overcame can help other caregivers.  The blog will not be focused only on the “disease” and care of my wife, but also on the many funny and happy situations we have experienced.

My main focus will be to stay true to the title of this blog which is “Still Sarah”.  Alzheimer’s may have MASKED many of Sarah’s characteristics, attributes or her personality at times, but SHE IS STILL SARAH to me.  Now, the tears of sorrow are coupled more with tears of JOY.  PRAISE GOD.