Alzheimer's Daughter

The Story

Alzheimer’s Daughter introduces the reader to my healthy parents, Ed and Ibby, years before their diagnosis, then recounts painful details as our roles reversed and I became my parents’ parent.


Their disease started as translucent, confused thoughts and ended in a locked memory care unit after a near decade of descent into the opaque world of Alzheimer's.

I began writing Alzheimer’s Daughter one week after my mother's death––when I was stunned, realizing Dad had no memory of her or their 66-year marriage.

I write to pay tribute to the undying spirit at Ed and Ibby's core, and with the hope that the story of their parallel decline might be helpful to others.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Susan G. Miller, a spouse caring for her husband with Early Onset, writes My Life Rearranged

Please read this week's AlzAuthors post by Susan G. Miller. She writes a moving book about caregiving for her husband with early-onset Alzheimer's in  her memoir "My Life Rearranged."
Susan writes:

"When my husband passed, I took a hiatus from both writing and Alzheimer’s. Later on, at the urging of friends and family, and especially my granddaughter, who called it “my purpose,” I returned to writing. I knew I wanted to achieve three things. First, I wanted to support caregivers who are often forgotten, who are the second or silent victims, and who can become isolated by the nature and duration of the disease. As a part of that support, I wanted to give voice to what many givers can’t or are afraid or say."

Read the entire post here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

New Children's Book by Mary Edwards-Olson; Grandpa, Is That You?

I'm so happy to share this new children's book by Mary Edwards-Olson featured on AlzAuthors.com this week, Grandpa, Is that You? 

Mary writes: 
"My newest book, Grandpa, Is That You?, is another children’s book about the changes a loved one will go through when facing Alzheimer’s. This book differs from my first book, When The Sun Shines Through, in that instead of focusing on the good moments that shine through, it encourages the reader to continue to include their loved one in activities and social events no matter the changes that are taking effect. I find it so important to encourage children to ask questions, interact, and feel comfortable when Alzheimer’s becomes part of their loved one’s life."

Read the entire post here.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Juliet Rix, "Travels With My Granny"

This week AlzAuthors.com welcome Juliet Rix, with her new book, Travels With My Granny. 

Juliet writes: 
"Granny is a great traveller. These days her legs won’t carry her much further than the door, but she still travels and sometimes she takes her grandchild with her. The grown-ups think Granny is confused and doesn’t know where she is, Grandchild thinks differently: Granny knows exactly where she is, it just isn’t where the grown-ups are."

Read the entire post here.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Meet Cassandra Farren, author of "I've Lost My Mum"

Shared with permission from AlzAuthors.com

By Cassandra Farren
Dementia is soul-destroying. Not only for the person who is diagnosed, but for anyone who loves and cares about them. I have been told many times that I have coped surprisingly well since my mum’s diagnosis in November 2014. But I am human. I still have moments when I sob over the awful injustice of watching the strong woman I once knew fade into a distant stranger I no longer recognise.
I am still experiencing the harrowing and lonely journey which has the potential to rip your world to pieces. Last year I was at breaking point when everything got too much, and I had to take my mum to live in a permanent care home. Having received very little support, I have had to find my own way. There have been countless times when I have felt afraid and scared.
Somehow, I have found the strength to share our journey in my new bookI’ve Lost My Mum.  I have bared my soul as I do not want another family to feel isolated and alone on this horrific journey.
I have lost count of the number of tears I have cried whilst writing my book. I had to relive my heartbreak over and over again. There were moments when I questioned ‘Why am I writing this book?’ but I held onto the thought that our story could make a difference to someone who needs to get through the next hour or the next day.
I believe my book can help to end the stigma that surrounds dementia by creating meaningful conversations that bring lasting change. The condition is often misunderstood so my intention was to openly share the truth of loving someone who is lost between worlds.
Publishing my book has definitely helped me to heal and I feel at peace with what I have written. It has been very cathartic, especially since receiving such a huge amount of support from my readers.
“This is a wonderful and honest insight to coping with dementia. Fantastic story couldn’t stop reading.”
“Well written and full of emotion, I defy anyone to read this book and not be moved”
“I truly believe that this book could be someone’s lifeline”
Carers have thanked me for being their voice, friends of dementia sufferers have thanked me for sharing insights into how they can offer support, and health care professionals are now reading my book as part of their training.

My mum was always a huge supporter of my work. Mum would often say to me, “If you can do something that will help just one person, then I think you should do it.”
So, that is why I have written I’ve Lost My Mum.
Cassandra Farren is the author of four books and the mother of two amazing boys. She mentors heart-led authors and has recently  been commissioned to write books as a soul-writer. When she’s not mentoring authors or writing life-changing books, Cassandra can often be found relaxing by a beautiful lake or having a dance party in her kitchen.
Social media links
Twitter: @cassandrafarren
Facebook/ cassandrafarren1

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Meet Senia Owensby, author of "Finishing Well: Finding the Joy in Dementia"


Reposted with permission from AlzAuthors.com



By Senia Owensby

Dementia was not even on our radar. When my sister and I found ourselves devoting extra time and energy into caring for Mama and Daddy, we simply assumed that their diminishing abilities were a natural part of the aging process. Symptoms were easy to excuse and explain away. Resistance to taking medicine was perceived as non-compliance, not forgetfulness. Failure to tell us what the doctor had said was perceived as unwillingness, not forgetfulness. Reluctance to eat was perceived as a lack of appetite, not forgetfulness.

Dementia didn’t begin with a bang or a diagnosis from a doctor. It didn’t announce itself and take over. At first it seemed that something was simply odd or out of place, but as time went on, we began to put it all together: medicine not taken, meals neither prepared nor eaten, no letters written or crossword puzzles started.

Bits and pieces of activities from everyday routine gradually disappeared. Dementia had snuck in quietly and stolen away parts of Mama’s life – her memories and abilities.

When my Dad passed away in 2005, we took over the full responsibility of caring for Mama. By then, we had a better idea of the gravity of her situation.

Since we had not traveled this path before, we didn’t have any roadmaps to guide us. Resources, other than health journals full of medical jargon did not offer much help.

We made a decision that no matter how this all played out, we would make every effort to help Mama experience as much quality of life as possible. That resolution launched us into a decade-long journey to help Mama ‘Finish well’ while searching for joy in dementia.

We stayed busy. We sang, went to church, ate at restaurants, attended concerts, watched her favorite musicals, played two-square with my exercise ball, took walks, watched yellow finches flit and fight at birds feeders, enjoyed water activities, went for long car rides – anything that she felt up to doing and enjoyed.

Mama’s decline into dementia was a long journey filled with both challenges and joys. Over the next several years, we found ourselves sharing ‘Mama Stories’ with others who found themselves in the same situation.

Over time, we realized that others walking along the same path could benefit from our experiences. We collected a number of stories and distilled them into short, easy-to-read chapters on our new lifestyle with Mama - along with our philosophy of joy. The purpose of Finishing Well: Finding the Joy in Dementiais to provide hope for fellow caregivers. Amazon was a perfect method for publishing, and we were delighted at the response we received.

In addition to the book, I launched a blog: finishingwellinlife.comin my never-ending quest to help caregivers as well as share ideas on how to prevent dementia.

About the Author

Senia Owensby has always loved to write. Her passion for writing has produced a broad variety of literature, including short stories, several children’s books and an assortment of articles for numerous publications.

Senia is a Certified Life Coach who lives in a small cottage in North Carolina. She’s married to the love of her life, and is also a mother and grandmother. Since retiring, she spends her time both writing and working in her garden.



Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Meet Susan Straley, author of “Alzheimer’s Trippin’ With George”

Reposted with permission from AlzAuthors.com


By Susan Straley

 My finger hovers above the mouse button. The curser pauses over the orange “publish” button on the screen of my laptop. I am sitting at our motel room desk in northern Idaho. We are a long way from our home in Florida.

It is after midnight. George has been sleeping for hours while I have uploaded the day’s pictures and written about the amazing and… interesting experiences of the day.

I sit in the late night silence, hesitant to click, my brain flipping over possible consequences. A single tear traveling down my right cheek has now stopped mid-stream as if it too is waiting for a decision.

Earlier that cold, rainy day we had hiked up Pulaski Trail outside of Wallace, Idaho. Parts of the climbing mountain trail were narrow, bordered by steep cliffs on one side and precipitous declines on the other side. It was a great walk with kiosks along the route that told the story of a great fire and a group of fire-fighters that survived. We probably walked over 3 miles, maybe over 4. This was something to celebrate because an early symptom of George’s dementia was loss of balance and walking had become a challenge. We had been doing exercises to keep George mobile. The work was paying off. We were about 1⁄4 mile from the end of our trek and I stopped and turned to George behind me to give him a hug and a cheer. He was shivering from the cold.

Then I felt an unexpected warmth. I stepped away and looked down. There was a dark spot growing on the crotch of George’s pants. He also looked down, but did not seem to comprehend what was happening and what to do about it. I guided him to finish his urination into the bushes.

So here I am, sitting at the desk in the dim motel room. I had been encouraged by the growing audience of readers of the blog to tell all and be open and honest about our experiences. “It will help so many,” they told me.

Already I was hearing from other caregivers that they excitedly checked for my posts every day. The posts helped them feel they were not alone in their emotions and experiences.

So I had written openly and honestly about this day. But now I sat in doubt. What about our friends? What about the children? What if George has a cognitive moment or … what if he recovers and the diagnosis was wrong? This man, this respected Mechanical Engineer and Computer Programmer is losing balance, language, and control of his bladder and bowels.

The tear that was resting on my cheek is now being pushed down further by more tears behind it. It dangles from my jaw and then falls onto my wrist. My finger goes down and I hear the click… Published.


SUSAN STRALEY BIO

The first book in the Trippin’ series, Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George – Diagnosis to Discovery in 10,000 Miles, is the journal of George and Susan’s “last hurrah” trip after learning that George had progressive dementia. The book is getting great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. A common comment, “I love it! I couldn’t put it down!” Even those who have never cared for someone with dementia have found the book informative, fun, and gripping.



The second book is a continuation of their story after they return from their road trip. The story demonstrates that life can still hold great joy for both the caregiver and the one living with dementia. The Journey Continues – Alzheimer’s Tripping with George, Over The Bumps with Friends, Family and Community Support was just released in spring of 2019. The e-book version will be launched in the fall.



Susan Straley was born with an urge to wander. “My parents were often searching for me. At three years old they found me several blocks away playing in a mud puddle,” said Straley.


In 2008 Susan and George semi-retired and moved all their belongings into storage except what they needed for a long bicycle trip on their recumbent tricycles (reclining seats on three wheels). They pedaled around Wisconsin. The journey took 40 days and was the start of Susan’s writing career as she uploaded pictures and stories to an on-line journal.

The Straleys then moved to Inverness, Florida, a small town is located along the 46 mile Withlacoochee bicycle trail.

Susan and George have since gone on several other tricycle trips, the longest was from Northern Illinois to their home in Central Florida.

Susan still enjoys riding recumbent tricycle with friends.

Susan invites you to join in the fun as she keeps trippin’ at SusanStraley.com. Sign up to receive a chapter from The Journey Continues FREE and to be notified when Susan launches a book or starts another travel journal.

You can also join in the fun on Facebook at Susan Straley Writes.






Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Meet Zoe Fishman, author of "Inheriting Edith"


Reposted with permission from AlzAuthors.com



By Zoe Fishman

Our parents. They raise us; they tolerate us; and if we’re lucky, they love us even when we’re terrible.

And then one day, you wake up and look in the mirror. You are not bright eyed and bushy tailed, you have eye bags and patchy skin. Your two-year-old has been up since five am, watching cartoons at your parents’ house, the house you grew up in, the house that you are visiting now as an almost forty-year-old adult. You pad into the kitchen, pour yourself some coffee and sit. You look at your parents, your mother on the couch next to your son, your father at the kitchen table next to you with his basket of medicine and you realize that if you are oldish, then they are old. And then you realize that you are all just going to keep getting older, God willing, and that the tables will turn and you will take care of them; just as they took care of you. You drink more coffee and worry about what exactly that will entail.

That’s what happened to me, back in 2014. I drank my coffee and thought about how I would essentially be inheriting my parents and then as the caffeine began to wake my brain I thought about how nice a windfall inheritance would be, but then remembered that nothing comes without any strings attached; there is always a catch. And thus, Inheriting Edith was born.

Initially, Edith was not going to have Alzheimer’s. But then I spoke to my mom on that same trip home, sharing my idea, and she asked me what exactly was at stake for Edith? My grandmother, my father’s mom, had had Alzheimer’s, and upon further thought I realized that Edith, not having a choice about the loss of her memories, and Maggie, her reluctant caretaker, willingly repressing hers, created an interesting dynamic. So, thank you to my Mom.

One of my biggest fears in writing this book was that I would unintentionally undermine or misrepresent Alzheimer’s. I asked my father about how hard it must have been for him to witness his mother’s decline, and he told me something she said at one point in the early stages of her disease. She said to him, “Ethan, I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.” The naked vulnerability of such a statement struck me deeply and it, along with much research, became my guide in realizing Edith’s journey.

It has been a source of great joy for me that so many of my readers have commented about the accuracy of my depiction of not only Edith’s Alzheimer’s, but my depiction of her relationship with Maggie. It’s a delicate dance to say the least, and to have it resonate with others in this position, to know that it may have made them feel less alone in their struggles, has been a true gift.

Bio:




Zoe Fishman is the bestselling author of the upcoming Invisible As Air, which will be available in September 2019, as well as Inheriting Edith, Driving Lessons, Saving Ruth and Balancing Acts. Her books have been translated into several languages and she’s the recipient of myriad awards, including an IndieNext Pick.

Zoe worked in the New York publishing industry for thirteen years. She was recently the Visiting Writer at SCAD Atlanta and currently teaches at Emory Continuing Education and The Decatur Writers Studio, at which she is also the Executive Director. She lives in Decatur with her family.

You can visit her website at www.zoefishman.net, like her on Facebook/ Zoe Fishmanand/or follow her on Twitter at @ZoeFishman76.