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Donation helps spark memories for farmers

Dear Readers: We live in a generous community where good ideas have a way of catching fire. In April, I wrote about RDO and their creative idea of giving miniature green tractors to Hospice of the Red River Valley for people with Alzheimer's disease.

Dear Readers: We live in a generous community where good ideas have a way of catching fire. In April, I wrote about RDO and their creative idea of giving miniature green tractors to Hospice of the Red River Valley for people with Alzheimer's disease. Hospice is careful to learn the history of their patients, and if someone was a farmer who loved his (or her) John Deere tractor, then just putting a green tractor into that person's hands can bring back memories and start the person on a memory journey.

I recently received this note from Rob Swiers of HRRV about a new donation that balances things out:

"Hospice of the Red River Valley has seen an increase in patients with Alzheimer's disease and is continually seeking creative ways to improve their quality of life. One of the best ways is to stimulate the senses and to promote the recall of long- term memory.

"For someone with Alzheimer's disease who has been a farmer, setting a miniature tractor in front of him will much more effectively increase recall than asking him a question.

"Something that is important to find out about an individual who has an agricultural background is whether they were "red" (drove Case IH tractors) or "green" (John Deere). Putting a green tractor in the hands of someone who only had red around the farm may well make the situation worse instead of better. Since the local Case dealer is Titan Machinery, HRRV talked about tractors with Kevin Boeder, general manager at Titan Machinery in Casselton, N.D. Kevin Mattson in the parts department took the request from there, ordered the product, and proudly presented the red tractors to a representative from HRRV."

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This, dear readers, is a good time to remind you to visit The Alzheimer's Store at www.alzstore.com . This amazing site offers DVDs with historic images that many people with Alzheimer's enjoy, and even replicated Sears catalogs showing old fashions with old prices. These images can be reassuring and entertaining to someone in mid-to-late-stage Alzheimer's.

Tip for Techs: Within the past year, I've switched to online banking and to paying many bills online. After the sometimes time-consuming setup, I've loved the convenience. What's the problem?

I've done all of my legal paperwork so that my sons will have the documents they need should I be incapacitated or die. However, now that most bills and statements no longer come by mail, my kids would have no idea how to get into my accounts should they need to do so. I must have at least a thousand passwords and login names for all of my online work. This modern problem is something any of us who bank or pay bills online needs to think through. Be sure to put a list of your accounts and passwords with your other legal documents. And when you change passwords, remember to change them on your master list. If you don't, you'll be handing your beneficiaries a modern-day nightmare.

Bursack is the author of a support book on family elder care. To submit questions to "Minding Our Elders" and view past columns, go to www.inforum.com and click on columnists. Readers can reach Bursack at cbursack@forumcomm.com or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

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