Category Archives: Uncategorized

Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias, 2019; a growing Epidemic that affects us All

 

Alzheimer’s victim     en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

My wife passed away almost two years ago, a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. I stay in touch with the Alzheimer’s  Association because I want to keep abreast of advances and other news that pertains to this illness. Yesterday I received the 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report for 2019. Since this disease ignores all human boundaries, I thought I might share some basic info about this topic.

It is important to remember that Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia are two different things. Alzheimer’s is a form of Dementia while Dementia is a syndrome or a symptom of a cognitive disorder. There are many other causes of dementia besides Alzheimer’s disease such as Vascular Dementia, Huntington’s Disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, to name a few.

A football player may develop dementia from years of head trauma received while playing his sport. A retired fighter may be deemed as being “punch drunk” because dementia has taken hold of his brain after thousands of punches to the head. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease requires a special evaluation by doctors and trained psychologists in the field before the Alzheimer’s label is officially given the patient.

My wife first exhibited “forgetfulness’ during her chemo treatments in 2011. I had heard of “chemo-brain” and asked her oncologist about her chemo treatments being the cause. He could not answer and said we would have to wait and see.

It was not until the summer of 2014 when the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease given. And that came only after an MRI, evaluation by a neurologist, and having her and the family interviewed by two psychologists.

She lived three years after diagnosis. Some Alzheimer’s patients live up to fifteen years, especially those who are diagnosed in their early fifties. The course of the illness is unpredictable, but the results are very predictable. Alzheimer’s disease cannot be slowed or stopped. It just keeps at it until its mission is accomplished.

According to the Alzheimer’s Associations 2019 report, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. The projected number by the year 2050 is 14 million. Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease and more than 16 million Americans, (mostly family and friends) provide unpaid care for people who have Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.

Heart disease has always held the title as being the number one killer in the United States. The good news is that between the years 2000 and 2017 deaths from heart disease decreased by 9%. At the same time deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased by a whopping 145% making it the sixth leading killer in America.

Today in America one in ten people over the age of 65 has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They have determined that among seniors who are 85 or older, 32% have the disease. As modern medications and healthy eating and cleaner lifestyles promote lengthier life spans tne number of folks living into their nineties continues to climb. Along with that comes an increase in Alzheimer’s cases.

Finally, early symptoms of dementia may include confusion about location or what day it is; poor judgment; unable to find familiar items; or simply mood and or personality changes. But PLEASE—do not diagnose someone you know and love as having dementia. Many things can cause a memory lapse or forgetfulness. We all are victims of those things. Only trained and qualified personnel can diagnose such a serious disease.

The best thing we all can do when confronted with these situations is pray hard and call our doctors.

Lastly, never forget to ask the Patroness of those with dementia and mental illness for her intercession. Her name is St. Dymphna  Click on her name and say “HI.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Dr. Lena Frances Edwards—This Pro-Life, African American, Catholic Mother of Six changed the Face of Medicine in America

Dr. Lena Frances Edwards                                              aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

Lena Frances Edwards was born in Washington, D.C., on September 17, 1900. Her father, Thomas Edwards, was a dentist and an oral surgeon. Her mom, Marie Coakley Edwards, was a homemaker. They were not only African American, but they were also devout Catholics.

Lena’s mom devoted her time to instilling the faith into her four children. Teaching them civic responsibility, developing personal self-worth, and a philosophy she called  “Lift as you Climb’, Marie Edwards left no stone unturned in doing her best to raise well-rounded youngsters. In 1917, Lena graduated at the top of her class at Dunbar High School and was the valedictorian. Mom had taught her well.

Lena then attended Howard University and earned her baccalaureate in three years he moved on to Howard University Medical School and graduated from there in 1924. While in medical school she and a fellow student, Keith Madison, became a couple and upon graduation they married. Between 1925 and 1939 they would have six children.  Following her mom’s example, Lena raised them with their Catholic faith always at the forefront of all they did.

After completing their internships at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., Lena and Keith moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, to establish their medical practices. During Lena’s early years of practice, she had to work from home and delivered most of her patient’s babies from the small clinic she had set up there.

It was during this time that she also became a public speaker about women’s health issues and an advocate for natural childbirth. She was also a staunch defender of life from conception and on. She spoke about public health and social issues at local churches and the YWCA. She helped organize the People’s Charitable League which included a day-care center which she provided with ongoing medical visits.

Her career changed when she was granted admitting privileges to Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City. Unfortunately, because of her race and her gender, she was prevented from being given a residency in obstetrics and gynecology until 1945. When she finally decided to sit for the National Board Examinations, she had to fight to garner the necessary hospital endorsements. Obstacles to her advancement were always in front of her, and with prayer and grit, she always seemed to knock them down.

In 1954 Dr. Edwrads returned to Washington, D.C. and took a position at Howard University teaching obstetrics. In due time she was offered the job as a department chair, but she rejected the offer because of her strong, religious objections to abortion.

While in Jersey City, she had focused on treating the poor Eastern European immigrants. Now, in the nation’s capital,  she turned her attention to working with the poor black. She became part of the Urban League, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, the Social Work Advisory Committee, and the Catholic International Council. She also served on boards for unwed mothers and local maternal welfare organizations.

In 1960. Lena moved to Hereford, Texas to help in starting Our Lady of Guadalupe Maternity Clinic for poor Mexican migrant women. She served there until 1965 when a heart attack cut her career short. She went back to Washington and resumed work at the Office of Economic Opportunity and Project Head Start. She retired in 1970, her heart too weak to continue working.

During her life, Dr. Lena Edwards was foremost a devout and ardent Catholic woman. In 1947, she became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis. Her son, Thomas, joined the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and was ordained a priest in 1962. He was the first African American priest to be ordained in the Society of the Atonement.

In 1964 Dr. Lena Frances Edwards was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the governments highest peacetime honor, honoring her lifetime of work and service for those in need.  She continued to lobby against abortion and programs that she felt demeaned and hindered the progress of the poor.

Dr. Edwards, always fortified by her Catholic faith, overcame many obstacles considering the prejudice and discrimination that was so prevalent during the first half of the twentieth century. She was truly a remarkable woman and a shining example to all people, no matter what their ancestry. She passed away in Lakewood, New Jersey, on December 3, 1986.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

 

Loneliness in America; a growing and deadly Epidemic

Loneliness                                        stockvault.net

By Larry Peterson

My wife passed on almost two years ago and when you become “widowed” there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including the seemingly happy and contented and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

Even though loneliness does occupy a unique place in the widowed equation, as it does for those who may have lost a child, a parent, or even a dear friend,  loneliness reaches out and grabs many unsuspecting folks who, on the surface, have happy and contented lives going on. It has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions that has swept across America and is affecting millions of our neighbors.

When a man and a woman have been together for a long time, and one of them dies, the one left living is deeply wounded. But as painful as that may be, it makes sense; part of who they were is now missing and they cannot get that part back. Over time the wound will scar over and the intensity of the pain will diminish yet never leave. But what about the others?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness is an actual epidemic in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale) which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How scary is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

If we think about the actual numbers these percentages refer to it is mind-boggling. In s nation of 330,000,000 people, 20 percent is 66.000,000 of us. When we say 47 percent, we are almost at 150,000,000 people. How can almost half the population of the United States of America, feel alone? How can 66,000,000 people feel close to no one or have no one to talk to?

The answer may be right in our face, but the secular world will never factor it in. You see, nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings. And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered.

Over the past 25 years, there is a 58 percent drop in attending club meetings, a 43 percent drop in family dinners, and a 35% drop in having friends over. Children have regulated play time, and they are deprived of social development. We reach in our pockets and pull out electronic devices that allow us to instantly reach each other day or night anywhere in the world, but how many of us are talking to each other.

Is our main mode of communication now email? How many young people can even write a letter or address an envelope? Job applicants interview over the phone or skype, couples break up via text message.

Loneliness is brought upon us by things we have no control over such as death, injury, accidents, and natural disasters. This we understand, this makes sense. But for so many, especially the young, to feel so alone with no one to turn to, is one of the saddest commentaries of our era. This does NOT make sense.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

Interestingly, the first three words of the Bible are; “In the beginning—”  Could the Bible or an app for the Bible be the beginning for someone to believe that they are NEVER alone?

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

An unexpected Evangelization Moment—Distributing Ashes on Ash Wednesday in Walmart

Celebrating Lent                                                                    allevents.in.jpg

By Larry Peterson

The USCCB states that evangelizing means bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation. So how can we everyday Catholics always be prepared to evangelize?

Our behavior and our actions and the words we use are tools for evangelizing. They show that we are Christian. Saying grace before meals while in a restaurant with family or friends or simply having an “I Love Jesus” bumper sticker on your car gives a powerful message. You get the idea.

Many times things happen that are “in our face,” and we have only a moment or so to decide what to do; should we stay and help or keep on walking?  It is very easy to “ignore,” a situation, but that is not what the Good Samaritan did, is it?  What follows is an example of one of those unexpected moments.

I am an  EMHC, and on Ash Wednesday, on my way home after distributing ashes and Holy Communion, I decided to make an unplanned stop at Walmart. I did not have to go there; there was nothing specific I needed, but there was the store and the next thing I knew, the car was parked.  As I walked toward the entrance I decided I needed “double A batteries.” I did not need them but I guess I had to validate my being there.

Walking into the store, the express lanes were ahead and to the right.  Ahead and to my left was McDonald’s. Outside McDonald’s was a bench and sitting in it was an elderly lady I knew from church. We have been friends for a long time and her name is Rachel. I walk over to her to say “hi”, and she looks at my forehead and says, “Oh, Larry, it’s you. We forgot today was Ash Wednesday. We didn’t get ashes.” Let the unplanned evangelizing begin.

Rachel weighs about 70 pounds soaking wet and she is in her late eighties. Her husband, Jim, has Parkinson’s disease and is about the same age. They were both widowed and have been married for about fifteen years. I was still in my shirt and tie and wearing my EMHC cross. Next thing you know I am sitting next to Rachel praying with her and placing ashes on her forehead. When I finish I ask her, “Where is Jim?”

Jim was on the line in McDonald’s. The entrance was about fifty feet from where we were sitting. As I got up to find Jim,  I noticed there were about a half-dozen people standing there watching us. It dawned on me that there were some people wondering why I was smearing dirt on an old lady’s forehead. I simply looked at them all and said, “Hi folks, today is Ash Wednesday. You can Google it.”

I turned and headed into the restaurant. There is Jim, standing there about eighth in line with about ten more people behind him. The place is packed and the poor guy is standing there with his left forearm and hand trembling unmercifully. I walk up to him and he is stunned to see me. I say as quietly as I can, “Jim, I just gave Rachel ashes. Would you like to have them too?”

As I stood praying softly with Jim, our audience began to grow. By the time I placed ashes on his forehead more people were coming over to see what was going on. I did hear some people mention, “Ash Wednesday.”

That was my impromptu queue. I turned and faced the gathering crowd and raised my hands in the air. “Hey everyone, today is Ash Wednesday. I am Catholic as are my friends here who I just happened to bump into. They were unable to get to Mass today so they are receiving ashes which remind us to “remember that we are dust and into dust we shall return.”

I actually gave several more people ashes but then I had none left. I know a lot of people, religious and non-religious alike, watched the unscripted distribution of the ashes. It was an evangelization moment for sure and it all happened in less than fifteen minutes. I also know it had to be my guardian angel who helped me pull that steering wheel to the right leading me into Walmart.

A sidebar to all of this; I never got the batteries.

copyright© Larry Peterson 2019

This Blessed Mother statue was carved by an Angel; Our Lady of Liesse aka Our Lady of Joy

Our Lady of Liesse aka Our Lady of Joy                  amercianeeds fatima.com

By Larry Peterson

During the time of the Crusades, it happened that one day three of the Knights of St. John were caught in an ambush and captured by the Saracens. The three prisoners were brothers and happened to be from the highly regarded family of Eppes in northern France. They were all loyal and true to the faith, a trait that would be immediately tested.

The men were taken to Cairo and brought before the Sultan. The Sultan thought he could convert them to Islam by offering them lavish gifts, but that proved to be an effort in futility. The Sultan angered at their obstinance,  threw them into prison. The three men were then subjected to all kinds of torture and hardships, including starvation. It did not matter; they refused to waiver.

Exasperated at his failure to convert the men to Islam, the Sultan tried another approach. He sent his beautiful daughter, Princess Ismeria, to try and win them over.

Princess Ismeria knew the cruel death that awaited the three Knights if they did not give in to her father. However, when she would try to coax them with promises of riches and high positions they would quote scripture to her. She began to weaken, and then they told her of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They told her that the Virgin Mary’s image was enough to capture every heart, convincing it to love her.”

Princess Ismeria, curious about this beautiful image, asked the brothers to create an image of this Divine Mother so she could see what she looked like. She gave them wood, brushes, paints and all the necessary tools to make such an image. Then she went away.

The brothers, having no idea how to make a statue,  fell into a deep sleep. As they slept an angel, sent by the Virgin Mary, came and carved a statue of the Madonna with a face that was filled with kindness and love. Soon after finishing, a brilliant light awoke the three young men.. When they saw the figure, they immediately knelt before it and began to pray.

Early the next morning, Princess Ismeria arrived and saw the statue. She was astonished and fell at the foot of the icon. She began pleading with the Virgin Mary to make her Christian through Baptism. That night, as the princess slept, the Blessed Mother appeared to her in a dream and told her that the three knights would escape from Egypt and take her to France with them

When Ismeria awoke she rushed to the tower and found the big doors opened. She led the knights out of the fortress giving them their freedom. They made their way to the banks of the Nile, and a boatman was waiting to it take them across. When they reached the other side the man vanished. He had been an angel sent by Our Lady.

As evening approached, the four travelers sought out some shelter to rest for the night. Exhausted from their long day’s journey, they quickly fell asleep. When they awoke, they discovered that they were in another place. Confused, they asked a traveler where they were. He told them they were in Picardy, which was near  Eppes. They all knelt in prayer realizing that another miracle had occurred bringing them to safety.

They had carried the statue from Cairo and began walking toward their villa in Eppes. As they neared the villa, the statue became so heavy they could not move it. They were in the town of Liesse, and they immediately knew that this was the place Our Lady wanted her statue to stay.

The three brother Knights of St. John were greeted with great jubilation by their relatives and friends. They were all fascinated by Princess Ismeria who renounced her former life. The Bishop of Leon baptized her and gave her the name of Mary. Her prayers had been answered. The people built a church to receive the Statue of Our Lady of Liesse.

As time went by the church took on the name of the statue and then the entire region. Eventually, the Basilica of Notre Dame de Liesse also became known as Our Lady of Liesse and Our Lady of Joy. Pilgrims come from all over the world to see the statue and there is an annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Whit Monday (the day after Pentecost). The Feast day is December 2.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Meet a few of the Hidden People of Lent

LENT–fast–give–pray                                                                allevents.in.jpg

By Larry Peterson

I left church on Ash Wednesday and, just like everyone else, I had freshly smeared ashes on my forehead.  I was ‘ready” to embrace the Lenten season. There was one difference. Four of us had small vials of ashes in our pockets along with our pyxes which contained the Holy Eucharist. We are EMHCs,  (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) and, besides Holy Communion,  we are privileged to be able to distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday.

My three friends were going to different places: one to the hospital, and the others to different nursing homes. As for me, I make individual home visits and I had five to do.

Three of the people I saw were in their mid-nineties, and one was eighty-six,  Then there was the “baby” of the group; TERRI. She is all of fifty-nine. This poor woman, because of a botched hernia operation last May, almost died, has had several surgeries since and faces another eight-hour operation in April. Through it all, when I arrive,  she always has a ready smile on her face. How uplifting that is to see.

So please; come with me as I stop at the homes of a few more of these “hidden” Catholics. You might enjoy the change of venue; (I will just use their first names).

EVELYN My first stop is at Evelyn’s. She is 94 years old and is always impeccably dressed when I arrive. Her hair is done, her makeup is on, and her lipstick has been perfectly applied. Evelyn is from New Jersey, and we get along great. I have been seeing her weekly for three years. She always asks, “Larry, when do you think God will take me. I’ve lived long enough.”

 I always tell her she is only “upper middle-age” and God needs prayer warriors so that is her job and to get out her Rosary and get busy working.

She smiles, reaches over to the table, and lifts her beads. “What do you think these are. I’m wearing them out.”

We both laugh, I hug her, and it was on to see Marie.

 Marie is 95 and is “all business.” She is waiting at the door for me, and it opens before I even knock. I ask her how she is, and she will answer, “Oh, I’m fine, thank you.” I am usually only with her for about five minutes. She smiles and tells me to have a nice a week and asks me to pray for her son who is having car trouble. I tell her I will even though he has “car trouble” every week.

“BIG JIM” Jim is an 86 year old ex-Marine, former Greyhound dog trainer and a baker. I arrive at his place, and after about fifteen minutes, I  will leave with three packages of freshly baked cookies and a loaf of still-warm banana bread. Jim has been sick since Thanksgiving with a deep infection that went into his lungs and caused blood poisoning; I know he is better because he is baking again. Praise the Lord.

VIRGINIA The highlight of my entire Lenten Season may be what happened next and I just wanted to share it with anyone who might read this. It just shows how little things can mean SO MUCH to someone.

My friend Virginia rarely has any visitors. Sunday she told me that her birthday was March 6, and she was going to be 97 years old. I knew she would spend the day alone. So Tuesday night I stopped in the supermarket and got her a small red-velvet cheesecake topped with cream and a cherry.

 I walked into Virginia’s small apartment and she was just sitting there as she always is. I said to her, “Before we do anything I have something for you.”

I took the small cake out of the container, placed the candle I had in my pocket in it, and lit it. Then I said, “I can’t sing Virginia but this is for you.”

I began to sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ and the biggest smile broke out on her face. This was followed by tears running down her cheeks. They began running down mine too. It turned into an unexpected special moment and her reaction demonstrates how sometimes the tiniest kindness can mean so much to someone, especially a lonely person in her late 90s.

Wishing everyone an uplifting and spiritually rewarding Lenten Season.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

A Priest and his Bishop defend the Faith in Kansas

By Larry Peterson

Once again folks who reject the teachings of the Catholic Church are claiming ‘victimhood.” That is because the Church will NOT accommodate their blatant rejection of Catholic teaching.  St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Village, Kansas refused to accept a child into their kindergarten class. The reason was that the child’s parents are two lesbians who are “legally married” under state law.

The pastor of the Church, Father Craig Maxim, stood by Catholic doctrine. Here is an excerpt from CCC 2357: —“Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that  ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life—-under no circumstances can they be approved.”  (Click here for entire link)

The Archbishop of Kansas City, Joseph Nauman,  gave his priest his full support. Kudos to both of them because, first and foremost, they are the spiritual guides to the lay Catholics within their authority. They did the right thing. They stood tall in the face of the “social justice” mantra and the secular onslaught that has grabbed hold of so many in our culture. “Social Justice” is a fallacy because all it means is that it is OK to do what is pleasing to you. That is also called secularism, and that has even fooled many Catholics into embracing it.

Using the guise of compassion and tolerance and Christ’s love, they reject church teaching in favor of what makes them feel good.  According to WDAF-TV in Kansas City and FOX4kc.com within a short time more than one thousand signatures were on a petition demanding the church rescind their ruling and allow the child to attend St. Ann’s.

One parent, Joe Skates, who admits he does NOT like organized religion but sends his kids to another Catholic school nearby, was quoted as saying, “The hypocrisy is so insane. I just don’t really get it. They need to change. They need to modernize.”  But it is Mr. Skates and those who agree with him who are the hypocrites. The church is defending its principles. That is NOT hypocrisy.

The petition that has been submitted reads as follows, “Respectfully, we believe that the decision to deny a child of God access to such a wonderful community and education, based on the notion that his or her parent’s [sic] union is not in accordance with the Church teaching in Sacramental marriage, lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ’s message.”

Why do Mr. Skates and so many others “not get it?” This is church teaching. These are part of the rules. They do NOT have to send their children to Catholic school and then demand the Church reject its teachings to accommodate their wants and desires. It does not work that way and it is time for this “political correctness” nonsense to be shut down.

The microcosm of society is the family. The Catholic church has always defended and honored family.  Once again we can reference the Catechism at CCC 2202. “A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is before any recognition by public authority. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationships are to be evaluated.”

The child’s lesbian parents want their child educated in a Catholic school and to receive teaching that goes against the very core of what they believe. The school will teach that marriage is ONLY supposed to be between a man and a woman. The child will learn that God created man and woman and that children can only be a result of the bond between them.

What should the child think when her “parents” are two women? Why would they want the child to go there? Why would they want the child to come home to a family that is being taught as improper? There are many other alternatives, and they are free to enroll their child in any other school. This makes no sense whatsoever.

As far as Father Maxim and Archbishop Nauman are concerned, They displayed courage and conviction in defending the faith and I, for one, am proud of them.

 

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019