Each day from October 5-12, I will post one of my mother’s recipes (my favorites of course), how FTD has affected my family and a little bit about the AFTD.
What is Frontotemporal Degeneration?
FTD can affect language and ability to communicate. The person with FTD may develop problems speaking fluently, understanding words, reading and writing. This is known as primary progressive aphasia or PPA and there are several forms. Some people become hesitant in their speech and begin to talk less, but appear to retain the meaning of words longer (non-fluent variant). Others have difficulty understanding words and recognizing objects, but retain the ability to produce fluent speech (semantic variant).
How has FTD affected my family?
Two of the scariest things about this disease began shortly after my mom’s diagnosis. She began having hallucinations and she began wandering. She would see rats in the corners inside the house and snakes outside. She would also see people watching her. She would go to the guest house on their property where my grandmother had lived years ago. She would go there to visit with her. My grandmother died back in the ‘80s. She also had a difficult time sleeping and would get up in the middle of the night and turn on all the lights. This was frustrating for my dad who was losing sleep afraid that my mom would wander off in the middle of the night. Some of this could have been from new medications or it could have been from her brain deteriorating.
Before she got sick, my mom was faithful about walking every day. When the disease set in, she would take their dog and go for walks around their property. She stayed on the path that my dad had carefully manicured. As the disease got worse, she would forget to put her shoes on or tell my dad where she was going. She quit taking the dog with her. One day my dad found her walking down the middle of the street on a hot day, barefooted. A couple of concerned drivers pulled over to make sure she didn’t get hit by a car and called 911. Thank goodness the sheriff’s department was understanding and let my dad get her back to the house.
My dad has had to modify the house to keep my mom from doing something that might injure her or someone else. He has put locks on the doors, he has turned off the hot water faucets to some of the sinks in the house, he’s recently put up a gate blocking off the kitchen so she doesn’t turn on the gas burners. He also found a guardrail for the bed that keeps her from getting up in the middle of the night. This has helped my dad get a better night’s sleep.
How can I help?
The first thing you can do to help is to learn as much as you can about FTD and the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration or AFTD (www.theaftd.org). The AFTD is a not-for-profit organization founded to advocate for more funding into the causes and treatments of FTD as well as provide caregivers and patients with a dependable source of accurate, reliable information and support. The second thing you can do is make a donation to the AFTD. Your support helps to promote and fund research into finding the cause, therapies and cures for FTD. Please go to http://theaftd.givezooks.com/grassroots_fundraisers/alice-s-angels-food-for-thought-2014 and make a donation during our 2nd Annual Food for Thought week, October 5-12.
Alice’s Black-Eyed Peas
2 slices of lean smoked bacon
6 ounces ham, ¼ inch dice
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. salt plus more to taste
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15 ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
In a 10-12 inch skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon and ham till it begins to caramelize, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add the red onion, jalapeno and garlic. Sauté with the meat till veggies begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
Add the dry seasonings and stir till fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
Add black-eyed peas. Stir, bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.