Our daughter Charissa, Cindy and I will hike the 2666 mile Pacific Crest Trail, starting this June 15.  This will complete the Triple Crown of long distance hiking for Cindy, the top item on her bucket list as she deals with her early onset Alzheimer’s.  In the coming months the blog posts will focus on both Alzheimer issues and the PCT adventure.

We will use the hike as a a platform to raise awareness and funds for research that correlates physical activity with improved cognitive function.  Researchers at the University of Maryland will also gather data from our experience hiking the PCT to further their understanding of how physical activity enhances cognitive function.  See the Help Out page for how to contribute to such research.

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The Beauty of Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Cindy and I did not talk much to each other while hiking the 5,000 mile American Discovery Trail.  Part of this was due to being around each other 24/7.  What news did we have for each other? “What did you … Continue reading

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Trail Games

Hiking thousands of miles over a few months involves a fair bit of potential monotony.  Personally, my mind and spirit are perpetually engaged when hiking above treeline, or when following a creek, but there remains stretches of miles upon miles … Continue reading

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The Activity of Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Back in my former persona as a blogger, three or four long weeks ago–back when I focused on the virtues of kindness, community and humanity–much of the foundation for what I wrote came from my study and understanding of early … Continue reading

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Cindy’s Perspective

Cindy knows that I am sharing her story on my blog and will be writing a book that shares her story as well.  That begs the question of how she feels about that.  Here is Cindy’s perspective about her early onset Alzheimer’s.

As it became increasingly apparent that Cindy had mental health issues she accepted that people in this small town would know.  We never had a phase of tap dancing around the issue with folks; we came right out and told them.  Nothing changed once those mental health issues had the official label of Alzheimer’s.

Living in a loving community we assume that people have our best interests at heart.  If anything, Cindy is glad that most people in town know.  There is just two things that depress her.  One is people being concerned about her affliction in her presence.  She knows there is something wrong; though well-intentioned being absorbed with concern just reinforces that point.  The other thing that bothers her is people ignoring her because of her affliction.

The same general principles apply to sharing her story in cyberspace.  We both feel she is doing something inspirational with her life, rather than allowing life to now pass her by.  She feels that by sharing her story perhaps others can be inspired and even helped as they deal with Alzheimer’s as an affliction or as a caregiver.

I won’t be just sharing Cindy’s story.  After all, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with our daughter Charissa is an adventure worthy of its own stories.  Stay tuned.

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The Simplicity of Hiking the PCT

This past week Cindy and I started going for walks wearing almost full backpacks.  We are training for our five-month, 2666 mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that will start in June.  On the first day Cindy could not put on her pack; by the third day she still needed assistance but at least could get the process started.

This reminds me of our recent year long hike along the American Discovery Trail.  At the beginning of the hike I had to set the tent up myself; towards the end of the hike she could put the tent up by herself.  In other words Cindy could learn, even though we now know her Alzheimer’s afflictions stretches back to before that hike.

Learning anything in the context of our “civilized lives” is more difficult for Cindy.  I suspect that some of that is due to the complexities of civilized life.  Most of this is so ingrained we don’t give it a second thought:  how to use a computer, driving a car, tidying a room, etc.  On the trail there are very few things to remember: packing and putting on a backpack, setting up a tent, cooking and cleaning are the sum total of daily chores.

The more stimulating a “civilized life,” likely the more complex that life will be.  Not so with long distance hiking.  Someone like Cindy does not have to sit around at a loss for something she can learn and do, rather she can be actively engaged in something exciting and stimulating while yet capable of doing the simple chores such a lifestyle warrants.

The simplicity of this long distance hike is one of several themes I will report on during the months ahead.

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Alzheimer’s: To Know or Not to Know

Should a person know whether or not they have Alzheimer’s?  My mother did not know, but this was at a time when senility was thought to be the common plight of aging folks.  There were medications back then as well, … Continue reading

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The Costs of Alzheimer’s

The title of the article revealed that Alzheimer’s afflicts women more than men, both as victims and as caregivers.  This alone is deserving of an article, as the title implied, but the article soon morphed into being about the economic … Continue reading

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Alzheimer Economics

I’m focused on raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s these days, yet my social systems awareness from earlier endeavors impacts my approach.  As I search for Alzheimer’s articles to comment on here, or post on other social media sites, I … Continue reading

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Can There Be Too Much Caregiving?

I read a blog entry today that reflected on a hazard of caregiving, becoming addicted to being the caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s.  As the disease progresses you have to do more and more for the person until, in … Continue reading

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