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, June 28, 2017

Meet Judy Cornish, author of "The Dementia Handbook"



By Judy Cornish

Seven years ago I left my law practice in Portland, Oregon, in search of a small town where I could semi-retire and practice elder law. I found the community I was looking for in Moscow, Idaho, but not retirement. Instead, I’m now the owner of two businesses, an author, and the creator of the DAWN Method, a unique approach to dementia care that helps families keep their loved ones at home with more comfort and less stress. It all began with a courageous, sweet, whitehaired woman who lived across the street from me.

She lived alone, with no children nearby, and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years earlier. When her family said they were moving her into a care facility because she could no longer drive, I volunteered to help her stay on at home. Within a few months, I was helping so many neighbors it became necessary to hire staff. Palouse Dementia Care was born.

From the start, my goal was simple: I wanted to help her—and each of my new clients--continue to live where they wished to live, with dignity and autonomy. My training, however, was not in medicine or social work. I was a lawyer with a classical education.

And yet, my background became an asset: it caused me to see my clients’ dementia from a different perspective. In their changing abilities I saw a pattern. They were experiencing distress over the loss of rational thought but, if I encouraged them to communicate using intuitive thought, they relaxed and found comfort and success. And, although they were losing both memory and memories (their remembering selves), when I joined them in experiencing the present, they were delighted and blossomed, because their experiential selves were intact.

At first I trained only my staff, but soon families were asking what we were doing that helped their loved ones become so comfortable. In 2014, I formed the Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network® (DAWN) and, in 2015, started writing.

The Dementia Handbook: How to Provide Dementia Care at Home was published this spring. It explains the simple pattern of abilities and disabilities I first saw in dementia. My second book, Dementia With Dignity: Using the Tools of the DAWN Method, will come out this fall. It details the emotional needs caused by dementia and provides specific techniques for responding to each of them. I wrote both books for us—the families and friends of people who are experiencing dementia.

The response to my dementia care approach has been very positive from the start here on the Palouse, with many people volunteering and helping me make it available to a wider audience. The response to the book has been positive, too. On Amazon.com, we’ve been on the first page of dementia books almost from publication.

Although my retirement goal changed, my goal in working with and writing about dementia has never wavered. I want to help us, as families, to provide the kindest dementia care possible, enabling our elders to live longer at home with dignity and autonomy. Thank you, AlzAuthors, for the opportunity to share my hope with you and your readers.

About the Author 

Judy Cornish is an elder law attorney and geriatric care manager who has spent the past seven years working with families and people experiencing dementia in northern Idaho. Prior to her work in dementia care, she practiced law, worked in vocational rehabilitation with traumatic brain injury, and spent a year as a psychosocial skills trainer in an enhanced care unit for the mentally ill. With her varied background—and education in literature, languages, fine arts and the law—she brings a diverse set of skills and a unique approach to dementia care. Her DAWN Method enables families to keep their loved ones at home longer, with less stress and more comfort. Today, Judy runs Palouse Dementia Care, providing case management and care services on the Palouse, and the Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network® (DAWN), through which she consults and provides training in the DAWN Method.

The Dementia Handbook on Amazon

Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network® (DAWN):


judy@thedawnmethod.com
www.thedawnmethod.com




The DAWN Method Facebook Page
The DAWN Method Twitter
The DAWN Method LinkedIn




Judy Cornish, JD:
Judy Cornish Public Figure Facebook Page
Judy Cornish Twitter
Judy Cornish LinkedIn




Judy’s dementia care company in Moscow, ID:
www.palousedementiacare.com
Palouse Dementia Care Facebook Page

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AlzAuthors eBook Sale





AlzAuthors was founded in 2016 by four daughters of dementia who met over the internet because of their books, and formed a friendship and a mission to create a space where caregivers can find solid support, and those who share their stories can find the proper audience. I am honored to be a member of AlzAuthors.

June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month, and June 21st is The Longest Day. Sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association, these important events increase awareness of Alzheimer's, related dementias, and brain health. In recognition of these events, AlzAuthors has put together our very first eBook sale!

Starting June 21 through June 28, you can take advantage of this excellent opportunity to check out some of our books at reduced prices, ranging from 2.99 to free. We offer a variety of genres, from fiction, memoir, and non-fiction. Many of our books are also available in paperback and audio, so check them out too.

Our books are written from a deep place of understanding, experience, knowledge, and love. May you find one - or two, or three! - to help guide you on your own dementia journey. 


Click on the book title to visit the book's Amazon.com page. Please check all prices before purchasing. AlzAuthors is not responsible for ensuring price reductions. All prices are in U.S. dollars. Links provided with permission by AlzAuthors.com, an Amazon Affiliate.



Alzheimer's Daughter, memoir, Jean Lee, 2.99


http://amzn.to/2rVqJjmWhat would you do if both parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? At the time of their diagnosis, Ed Church struggles to his feet, yelling, “How dare you use the A. word with me,” while Ibby wags her finger at the doctor scolding, “Shame on you.” They protect each other, Ibby by asserting, “We’re not leaving our home,” and Ed reassuring, “We’re just fine.” About his driving Ed defends, “I’m an excellent driver, I’ve never had an accident.” When their daughter, Rosie, finds dings in Ed’s car, he dismisses, “Someone must have bumped into me.” After Rosie moves them to assisted living, convinced they are on a second honeymoon, they break the news, “We’ve decided not to have more children.” In the late stages, they politely shake Rosie’s hand, inquiring, “Now, who are you?” In Alzheimer's Daughter readers journey with Rosie Church from her first suspicions that something is awry to nearly a decade later as she is honored to hold Ed and Ibby’s hands when they draw their final breaths.


Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story, fiction, Marianne Sciucco, .99


BlueHydrangeas EBOOK coverWhat if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn't remember your name? A care facility is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can't bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

Brought To Our Senses: A Family Saga Novel, fiction, Kathleen Wheeler, .99

When all is lost, family begs to be found. Elizabeth Miller is a thirty-four-year-old mama’s girl facing a crisis. Her divorced mother Janice receives a deadly diagnosis and becomes a volatile patient, and her fractured family tailspins toward their last resort—legal guardianship with disastrous fallout. Elizabeth soon exposes her mother’s long-held secret, which lies at the root of her family’s problems. With the lines blurred between right and wrong, she travels a path of reconciliation through the heartland of elder care in a family saga as memorable as Still Alice and as poignant as We Are Not Ourselves. From the Great Depression in Nebraska to the 1970s divorce boom in Illinois, Brought To Our Senses chronicles the lives of five generations of family over seventy-five years. The rocky relationships of four siblings complicate efforts to care for an aging parent diagnosed with the mother of all maladies in the new millennium.



Providing dementia care is profoundly stressful for families and caregivers. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s experience emotional distress, which leads to behavioral complications and the need for institutional care. However, if families and caregivers are able to identify the emotional needs caused by dementia and understand which skills are lost and which remain, they can lower the behavioral complications and their own stress. As the founder of the Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network® (DAWN), Judy Cornish approaches dementia care with clear and empathetic methods that not only improve the lives of the individuals with dementia but also of those caring for them. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are very personal and individual experiences—they vary from person to person. However, Cornish has identified a pattern in the abilities and disabilities of people living with dementia. Based on her findings, Cornish was able to develop methods for caregivers to ease emotional distress, which can quickly and safely resolve behavioral complications. Though people with dementia lose a sense of self, they are still the same person you always loved. Judy Cornish understands this. The Dementia Handbook: How to Provide Dementia Care at Home is the supportive guide you’ve been looking for as you walk alongside your loved one on this difficult—but potentially rewarding—new path.


The Dragons of Alsace Farm: A Story of Redemption and Love, fiction, Laurie Lewis, .99

In need of his own redemption, Noah Carter finally confronts his childhood hero, the once-beloved uncle who betrayed him. Instead of vengeance, he offers forgiveness, also granting Uncle John a most curious request—for Noah to work on the ramshackle farm of Agnes Deveraux Keller, a French WWII survivor with dementia. Despite all Agnes has lost, she still has much to teach Noah. But the pair’s unique friendship is threatened when Tayte, Agnes’s estranged granddaughter, arrives to claim a woman whose circumstances and abilities are far different from those of the grandmother she once knew. Items hidden in Agnes’s attic raise painful questions about Tayte’s dead parents, steeling Tayte’s determination to save Agnes, even if it requires her to betray the very woman she came to save, and the secret her proud grandmother has guarded for seventy years. The issue strains the fragile trust between Tayte and Noah, who now realizes Tayte is fighting her own secrets, her own dragons. Weighed down by past guilt and failures, he feels ill-equipped to help either woman, until he remembers Agnes’s lessons about courage and love. In order to save Agnes, the student must now become the teacher, helping Tayte heal—for Agnes’s sake, and for his.


Finding Ruth: A Daughter's Quest to Discover Her Mother's Past, memoir, Cynthia Hamilton, Free

A writer turns to detective to learn what her mother's life had been like before Alzheimer's stole her memories. A true story of forgiveness and healing. As fiercely independent Ruth struggles to stay self-reliant at the age of 86, each day brings her closer to an event that will alter her life forever. While her author daughter shifts through Ruth’s possessions prior to her move into a skilled nursing facility, she discovers a previously unseen photo from 1949 and realizes how little she knows of her mother’s life. As Alzheimer’s continues to warp Ruth’s once sharp mind, she can no longer shed any light on the past. Yearning to know who her mother was as a person in her own right, the author painstakingly reconstructs Ruth’s life from photos, letters, public records and firsthand memories. What emerges is a portrait of a bright, beautiful woman who is propelled through decades of broken promises and heartache, bouncing from one ill-fated relationship to the next, but always staying strong, always surviving. Through a timeline going back sixty years, the author gleans a much better understanding of the woman she had known only as Mom.



Do you know what love really is? What does it look like? This sweet little book is full of inspiration for any of us who love, but especially for caregivers. It shines a light on the beauty that may otherwise be hidden in our relationships, sometimes along with the hard realities that must be faced. It used to be that nine months or so after a traditional wedding, couples would announce they were pregnant. In Alan and Karenna's case, nine months after they married and before their first honeymoon year was over, they were instead adjusting to the symptoms of Alan’s newly diagnosed dementia. This is Karenna's account of their passionate midlife romance and marriage cut short by early onset dementia. It’s the unique story of her grief process, which began only months after her wedding to Alan, a man to whom she felt bonded physically, emotionally, and above all, spiritually. The story addresses the universality of love and loss and the need to go through the grief process, no matter how much we'd like to avoid it. It also touches on the larger philosophical question of how we are connected to one another and what creates a bond that feels like destiny, two souls meant to be together.


Invisible Ink, fiction, Pippa Kelly, 4.32

London lawyer Max Rivers has it all - a burgeoning career, a beautiful girlfriend, an exclusive address - but he harbours a long-buried secret that threatens to destroy his carefully constructed world. Invisible Ink is a mesmerising novel of guilt, loss and betrayal within a family - of sibling jealousy that threatens to run out of control, a mother's life all-but forgotten through the fog of dementia and a son who longs to, but cannot, escape his past. Pippa Kelly's haunting debut offers a deft exploration of the complex emotions hidden beneath the surface of our lives; drawing its readers into Max's story and leading them, step by careful step, towards its inevitable dénouement.


I Will Never Forget, memoir, Elaine Pereira, .99

It is painfully difficult to watch loved ones decline as dementia ravages their mind, destroying memories, rational thinking, and judgment. In her touching memoir, I Will Never Forget, Elaine Pereira shares the heartbreaking and humorous story of her mother’s incredible journey through dementia. Pereira begins with entertaining glimpses into her own childhood and feisty teenage years, demonstrating her mother’s strength of character. Years later, as Betty Ward started to exhibit bizarre behaviors and paranoia, Pereira was mystified by her mom’s amazing ability to mask the truth. Not until a revealing incident over an innocuous drapery rod did Pereira recognize the extent of her mother’s Alzheimer’s. As their roles shifted and a new paradigm emerged, Pereira transformed into a caregiver, blindly navigating dementia’s unpredictable haze. But before Betty’s passing, she orchestrated a stunning rally to control her own destiny via a masterful, Houdini-like escape. I Will Never Forget is a powerful heartwarming story that helps others know that they are not alone in their journey.


Love Finds a Way: Book II in the Ligonier Romance Series (The Ligonier Romance Series 2), fiction, Karen Malena, Free

In the historic small-town of Ligonier, nestled in the Laurel Highlands, romance may be in bloom along with the spring wildflowers. McKenna O’Malley, a young housekeeper at a senior care facility, has always longed for love. Though she harbors a dark secret, she dreams about breaking free of the legacy of her father—a convict she’s never met--and the shrouded mystery surrounding her mother’s death. Tim McMillen struggles with his own demons. Plagued by alcohol, fueled by anger, he finds himself jobless, homeless and alone. When Tim and McKenna meet, they find one another as kindred spirits. But the challenges they face may threaten all chances for happiness and even push McKenna to the very brink of sanity. In the sequel to Love Woven in Time, we revisit Harry and Rose McMillen, whose love in their senior years is an inspiration to all who know them. But as Rose senses that her beloved is losing precious memories more rapidly, she begins to wonder how long they really have together before the ravages of time and age erase precious moments forever. Step into a quaint Pennsylvania town that will welcome you, warm your heart, and take you into a journey of longing, faith, and ultimately, lasting true love.


Managing Alzheimer's and Dementia Behaviors (Health Care Edition), non-fiction, Gary Joseph LeBlanc, Free June 21th-25th, then 1.99

The primary purpose of this Health Care Edition of Managing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Behavior is to assist both Healthcare Professionals and Family Caregivers alike in providing the best care possible to those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases. No less important, however, is another objective; for the information contained within these pages to be a catalyst in creating a better understanding on managing behaviors and proper ways to communicate with our patients and loved ones. We are also hoping that this shared knowledge will help build a better bridge of communication between professional caregivers and the family members caring for those living with dementia. Communication between these two factions is paramount. It is our hope that this book will be read individually or in groups, discussed openly and, after putting some of the tips now learned into practice, discussed again. Always remember, each patient is unique, but at the same time, the disease can often be manageable with the use of common sense, diligence and, most importantly, with love. The ultimate goal is to make sure those with dementia are getting the best quality of life, for this is truly the best scenario for both parties involved. We need to educate all hospitals and health care communities to become dementia-friendly.


Meet Me Where I Am - An Alzheimer's Care Guide, non-fiction, Mary Ann Drummond, .99

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease requires an abundance of knowledge, patience and love. There are many obstacles along the way to discourage and overwhelm even the most well rounded individuals. Meet Me Where I Am is an essential resource for Alzheimer’s caregivers, designed to teach, enlighten and comfort while preparing for the journey ahead. Providing real life scenarios commonly encountered, along with solutions to some of the more difficult tasks, makes this book a “must read” for anyone seeking a better understanding of how to meet the needs of those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.


Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories, non-fiction, Carol Bradley Bursack, 2.99

Minding our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories is a portable support group, a reminder you aren't alone. Each story about caring for the elderly is self-contained; each person telling his or her story knows your pain in watching a loved one suffer, the joy of giving of oneself, and the emotional and physical exhaustion of the whole experience. It is an intimate and powerful resource for caregivers, filled with true stories about seniors and aging parents.


Motherhood: Lost and Found, memoir, Ann Campanella, .99 on 6/21; increases each day until it reaches regular price 7.99

Alzheimer's disease, infertility and love of horses intersect in this award-winning memoir. At age 33, author and poet Ann Campanella returns to her home state of North Carolina ready to build a horse farm and start a family. Ann's foundation is shaken when she experiences multiple miscarriages at the same time her mother spirals into Alzheimer's. Ann's connection to horses sustains her as she cares for her elderly parents and her window of motherhood begins to close. As her mother's memory fades, Ann receives a final miracle. The voice in Ann's memoir has been called constant and abiding, her imagery indelible. Her graceful, exacting language rises above the grief of infertility and the struggle to care for aging parents, connecting the reader ultimately to the heartbeat and resilience of the human experience. This memoir was a finalist in the Next Generation Independent Book Awards, the world's largest not-for-profit independent book awards.



A poignant mother-daughter memoir, Not Going Gently fuses story and science together into a unique book. Constance L. Vincent, PhD, shares her mother’s personal experience living with Alzheimer’s, intertwined with her own professional research into the disease.




Scattered: My Year As An Accidental Caregiver, memoir, Jana Panarites, .99

In November 2009, Jana Panarites was scrambling to make ends meet in LA. Her career spiraling out of control, she didn't think life could get any worse until she learned of her father's sudden death two days before Thanksgiving. She flew east for the funeral, and was forced to confront her future head-on at the sight of her devastated eighty-year-old mother. After living her entire adult life in LA and New York City, the second generation Greek-American decided to move back into her childhood home in Maryland--determined to save her career and her one remaining parent. In Scattered: My Year As An Accidental Caregiver, Panarites takes readers on an unvarnished, hair-raising journey of reinvention, inspired by love and a dwindling bank account. Her tale of attempting to advance her career while attending to medical appointments, household chores, and a flood of grief-related emotions raises issues of family loyalty, the strain of caregiving, resilience, and the repercussions of a romantic marriage for those left behind after death. Fast-paced, compelling, and filled with dark humor despite the seriousness of the subject, Scattered sheds a much-needed light on the plight of baby boomers everywhere, eager to thrive in their own lives but put to the test by aging parents--and often unprepared for what lays ahead.



Navigating the waters of dementia can be frightening, unleashing a myriad of emotions for everyone involved. After Vicki Tapia’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, followed closely by her father with Parkinson’s disease-related dementia, she struggled to find practical, helpful information to light her way. Somebody Stole My Iron began as a diary to help her cope, but emerged as a road map for others. It offers a glimpse into her family's life as they rode the waves of dementia, sometimes sailing, other times capsizing. This engaging memoir offers useful information from experts within the field of Alzheimer's research, personal lessons the author learned along the way, and ideas and tips for managing the day-to-day ups and downs of dementia.


Trading Places, Becoming My Mother's Mother, memoir, Sandra Bullock Smith, .99

Caring for an elderly parent can be extremely challenging. The role reversal involved is emotionally and intellectually demanding, and many caregivers find themselves unprepared to undertake such a difficult task. In Trading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother, author Sandra Bullock Smith shares her personal experiences spending ten years caring for her ailing mother. This heartfelt look at the trials and tribulations of that decade offers powerful insight and encouragement for anyone entering into a similar period of life. Smith’s touching stories share the heartbreaking, and sometimes comical, moments she experienced while providing assistance to her aging parent—and how they mirrored similar events from her own childhood. In a very real sense, the two women traded places. Smith found herself uttering phrases she heard all too often as a child, such as, “Don’t give your food to the dog” and, “You’ve had enough sugar today.” Smith began jotting down the things she said, and thus this charming book was born. Filled with respect, compassion, and love, this uplifting and amusing memoir is for anyone involved in elder care or who may face the role in the future.


Weeds in Nana's Garden, illustrated children's fiction, Kathryn Harrison, 1.99

A young girl and her Nana hold a special bond that blooms in the surroundings of Nana’s magical garden. Then one day, the girl finds many weeds in the garden. She soon discovers that her beloved Nana has Alzheimer’s Disease; an illness that affects an adult brain with tangles that get in the way of thoughts, kind of like how weeds get in the way of flowers. As time passes, the weeds grow thicker and her Nana declines, but the girl accepts the difficult changes with love, learning to take-over as the garden’s caregiver. Extending from the experience of caring for her mother, artist Kathryn Harrison has created this poignant children's story with rich illustrations to candidly explore dementia diseases, while demonstrating the power of love. It is a journey that will cultivate understanding and touch your heart. After the story, a useful Question and Answer section is included. $1 from the purchase of this book will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. The Alzheimer Society is Canada’s leading health charity for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Welcome Ann Richardson, author of Life in a Hospice

By Ann Richardson


Some years ago, I was taken to a hospice by a friend, who happened to be doing an errand. I immediately felt that this was the kind of tranquil place where I wanted to spend time. Soon after, I began to volunteer at a local hospice every Saturday afternoon. I did so for four years.

This experience had a strong impact on me, lasting even to the present day. Death – as with birth – is a very special time and I felt privileged to help people, even in small ways, in their last days.

As I was a writer, I thought the views and experiences of hospice staff would make a fascinating book. I had developed a technique, based on the kind of research I did for a living, of creating books formed around the direct views of people acquired by long and intimate interviews. Like a television documentary, it allows people to talk directly to the reader.

I undertook 31 interviews in two hospices with a whole range of staff – nurses, doctors, chaplains, managers and even a very reflective cook. They talked about the many ways in which they tried to make patients’ last days peaceful and meaningful, about the impact of such work on their own lives and, most importantly, about what they gained personally from such work. Like myself, they often used the word ‘privileged’ for being with people at the end of their lives.

The resulting book, Life in a Hospice, was, in my humble view, the best I had ever written – and I anticipated that many people would be keen to read it. It was very well reviewed, there was an article in the Times newspaper about it and it was even Highly Commended by the British Medical Association, despite not being a ‘medical’ book at all. All this was hugely pleasing.

But, alas, the breadth of the readership was very disappointing. The book was bought by many hospices and others working in end of life care, but it never took off with the general public. I quickly realised there were two reasons. First, most people do not have my fascination with end-of-life care and, indeed, avoid thinking about anything to do with death. And, second, the book was much too expensive, the price having been set by its medical publisher.

I couldn’t do anything to overcome the first problem, but I took back the rights to the book and re-launched it as a very inexpensive e-book ($3.75), so that anyone who wants to read it will not be deterred by the price. It is again receiving some good reviews on Amazon. I must admit I have never heard anyone say they were not deeply moved by it.

My one caveat for this website is that the hospices in my book did not cater for people with Alzheimer’s. I can only say that the attention to the very individual needs of patients would go far when it comes to people with dementia of any kind.

About the Author


Ann Richardson was a self-employed social researcher for most of her working life and wrote books and articles about her research. But she found that her real love is writing narrative books, in which people’s exact words from interviews form the essence of a book, allowing them to speak very directly to readers. Her other books of this kind are Wise Before their Time, about people with AIDS/HIV, and most recently, Celebrating Grandmothers, about the joys and challenges of being a grandmother.

Purchase Life in a Hospice

Connect with Ann Richardson



Facebook: @Lifeinahospice

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Meet Karenna Wright, Author of "The Grapes of Dementia"



by Karenna Wright

It used to be that nine months or so after a traditional wedding, couples would announce they were pregnant. Not with Alan and me.

Nine months after we were married, and before our first honeymoon year was over, we were instead adjusting to the symptoms of Alan’s newly diagnosed dementia.

He passed less than five years after that diagnosis. He was 67 years old, I was 59.

Since then, I've been writing about our lives with early onset dementia, as well as my grief process.

I'd been writing all my life, had published in journals and magazines, so the thought of writing our story came naturally to me. And really, it wasn't an idea at all. It was something I did as instinctively as a mother loves her child.

At first I randomly jotted down brief notes, a shorthand to capture all my memories.

Several years later, Alan fell at home, then had a bad reaction to an anti-anxiety drug given him in the hospital.

He suffered disorienting, disturbing hallucinations and excruciatingly painful muscle spasms. Under the influence of the drug, he clawed at me, grabbed me, pulled me close to him, and fought me off—all at the same time. He squeezed my hand so tight I thought it would break.

When I got home at eleven o'clock that night, physically beat up and emotionally broken, I wrote down everything that happened that day.

My writing was raw, uncensored. I wrote for my own mental health. I needed to share my agony, to find a glimmer of hope in it, then offer it to others.

I anticipated the acceleration of Alan's dementia—memory loss, confusion, personality changes. But I didn't expect the profundity in it. I didn't expect to frolic in the deepest regions of love, to see the joy within the sorrow, to cry and laugh at the same time.

I didn't expect to discover that the kernel of hope and truth dwells in moments of seeming despair.

Placing your entire presence and awareness into caregiving (or any other activity) heightens the senses beyond the knowledge or experience of what we'd otherwise observe. It lifts us above what we think is happening, gives us a bird's eye view of the situation, and reveals a way for us to respond that transcends our personal normal.

And that is my message for caregivers and their loved ones.

The high road shows us how to love someone and what loving and serving another looks like—anyone, not necessarily someone who is ill. Anyone. This is how you treat another human.

Readers have said I've offered a glimpse into the hidden nature deeply buried in illness, trauma, and our perceived fears of loss, that my writing touches the heart, soul, and funny bone.

They've commented on the joy present even in the turn of heartbreaking events, the amazing strength we can find to just keep going.

They've realized that simply being there is more important than anything else.

About the Author

Karenna Wright is retired from a global telecommunications corporation, where she managed one of the company's technical libraries and got to buy lots of cool books. She holds a BA in Communications, with an emphasis in Literary Journalism and a minor in Women's Studies, from the University of Denver. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and local publications. She also writes a column about her life as a caregiver for Senior News in Humboldt County, California. Her first book, The Grapes of Dementia: My Journey of Love, Loss, Surrender, and Gratitude, highlights her experiences and insights as a caregiver to her late husband Alan, who was diagnosed with dementia shortly after they were married. Karenna's second book is in the planning stages and will offer practical guidance to caregivers.

Karenna is wild about playing her djembe drum, which she discovered while a caregiver. The therapy and health benefits inherent in the drum contributed to her ability to cope with taking care of and losing her husband. She has enjoyed living on the north coast of California the past two and a half years and dipping her toes in the Pacific Ocean while gazing upon the giant redwoods. However, Karenna and her partner are in the process of selling their home and moving back to their families and friends in Colorado, where they have both lived for 35 years. Her brief sabbatical by the ocean did wonders toward healing her heart.






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Meet Paul M. Hornback, author of God Still Remembers Me


By Paul M. Hornback

GOD STILL REMEMBERS ME

I’ve been living with early onset Alzheimer’s disease for over seven years. Soon after my diagnosis, God kindled within me a deep desire to do something positive for people who were struggling with this disease. I wanted to help them maintain their faith as they face the challenges of living with early to mid-stage dementia.

My faith has always been strong and God has blessed me in so many ways. After my diagnosis, I knew God still had a plan for my life and would continue to allow His grace to flow through me. His grace enabled me to write words of encouragement for people struggling with dementia.

I have always loved reading devotions, so it seemed natural to start writing devotions centered on living with Alzheimer’s. As I started writing, God seemed to guide my thoughts and my hands as I typed devotions filled with encouragement, peace, contentment, joy, hope, and faith.

God Still Remembers Me is unlike any other book written by an Alzheimer’s patient as it is filled with humor, joy, honesty, and praise for a God who helps me every day. In its pages you will find new coping strategies for the changes going on in your life, thoughts on planning for the future, personal methods for fighting depression, ways to share the news of your diagnosis, and positive Scriptures to rekindle your faith and draw you closer to God.

Living with this disease is not all doom and gloom as many books tend to profess. I continue to have many joys in my life, lots of activities that keep me busy, and a peace that surpasses all understanding as I deal with the daily demands of dementia. In this book, you will discover it is possible to be at peace with Alzheimer’s as you trust in the Lord.

I remain positive and faithful knowing all things work to the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes. I pray you will find encouragement in the pages of God Still Remembers Me and you will draw closer to the Lord as you read. God is my sole source of strength, hope, peace, joy, comfort, and contentment along my journey with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He can be the same for you!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Hornback has faced challenges as a United States Marine Corps pilot, government engineer, lay speaker, and church leader but the greatest trial was his diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 55. With courage and positivity, Paul has turned a seemingly disastrous event into a faith building milestone while battling Alzheimer’s.

Paul has been a tireless advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness about the disease. He has spoken across the country about living positively and faithfully with the disease. He has served as a National Early Stage Advisor for the Alzheimer’s Association and currently serves as a member of the National Board of Directors for the Association.

Paul has been featured in numerous videos for the Alzheimer’s Association and the University of Kentucky dealing with clinical trial research and living with the disease. He has also participated in two clinical trials for Alzheimer’s. Paul is part of a long-term study with the University of Kentucky that chronicles his steady decline and upon his death receives his brain for further research into the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease. Paul and his wife live in Hodgenville, Kentucky and have three grown children.

Paul’s blogsite: faithfulfoggyliving.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Meet Poet Tracey Shorthouse


When I was first diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and Posterior Cortical Atrophy in 2015, I wanted something to focus on. All my life I have helped others through being a nurse, and I still wanted to do that.

The brain needs stimulation to keep going, so after the initial shock at being diagnosed and the relief that it wasn’t MS as what I first thought and feared, I took stock of what I could still do, and if I couldn’t do something I persevered until I relearned old skills. I had an occupational therapist who used to come and see me, and she got me in touch with groups that promote positivity in dementia. So I joined The SUNshiners, a network for people with a diagnosis of dementia living in Dover Deal and Shepway, Kent, UK. I also attend meetings for the Dementia Action Alliance when I can, and get involved with other things, like talks.

I talk to post diagnostic groups - people who have recently been diagnosed with dementia - and the public to bring awareness that dementia can affect all ages, not just the elderly. Last May, I gave a talk to the local police. I also go to a creative, inspired writing group weekly. I started writing a blog on Facebook, as a way to keep a journal and to help others in the process.

I started writing short stories at first to keep my brain active, but I found them too complex to carry on. So instead I started to write poetry. At first it was cathartic to write about my dementia and get it out of my system, but I didn’t want to focus on it as dementia is only a part of who I am. It doesn’t define me. So I wrote about nature, life, and then stories that came into my head as poems.

I didn’t know I was going to write a book until I showed a friend one of my poems and she suggested getting it published. Then she saw how many poems I had and it stemmed from there. I found a self-publishing company who took an interest and read my poems.

I was excited when the book was finished. I chose the cover because I love nature, especially trees and the different seasons. The leaves disappearing gradually are an indication that my brain cells are disappearing slowly, and at the end the leaves are on the ground. With nature, nothing goes to waste, and there is always a chance for things to regrow, or in my case relearn. The photographs inside are my own, taken from the area where I live. Nearly everyone who has read the book has given me such positive feedback. It’s a blessing.

I wanted the book to show anyone with a medical condition that they don’t have to give up. As a nurse, I saw too many people give up when they got their diagnosis. Life is for living to the best of our abilities. For me, it’s precious, so I am hoping that people will take what they need from the book in their own way.

A Poem from I Am Me

Dementia and Me

Sometimes I think there is a race

Between my dementia and me

Although it is going at a slow pace

I still wish I was free

My memory used to be hot

Especially with knowledge and spelling

Now I am really not

My brain is its new dwelling

It is like having an alien residing in my brain

At times it takes control

And I feel a lot of strain

As my memories unroll

What did happen yesterday or last week

I really don’t remember

I sigh as everything looks bleak

Since I was diagnosed in December

I want to yell and scream

And tell it to go away

Maybe it is all a dream

But then again I know it will be okay

Because I am a fighter

And in control

And have become a writer

Even though I am not on a pay role

I retired as a nurse in May

Even now that is becoming a distant memory

But at least I can be gay

But the dementia still takes my energy

I hate feeling tired all the time

Having to pace myself

But I am still in my prime

Even though the books remain on the shelf

I miss reading and listening to music

Remembering and concentrating is really hard

But at least I am still lucid

And still write the odd card

My perception of things is often off

I stumble and my speech is sometimes slurred

I worry that people might then scoff

But at least my vision doesn’t get blurred

Damn you dementia! I want to yell

I want to get cross and stamp my feet

But it is only a short spell

Then I feel a bit of a cheat

As the dementia has no voice

It can neither see or hear

And I know I have a choice

But sometimes I wish I was a seer

To see how long I have before the dementia takes over

But I think I wish to live my life to the best of my ability

I could never be a rover

And at least I prefer some tranquillity

So although my life is a fight

Between the dementia and me

I will win just out of spite

And kick the dementia with glee

©Tracey Shorthouse 2016

Follow Tracey Shorthouse on Facebook

Purchase Tracey's Book on Amazon

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Meet Celia Koudele, author of The Little Book for Alzheimer's Caregivers


By Celia Koudele


This book was my legacy for the next generation, putting in writing as much as I could about my experience helping caregivers of dementia patients.

My mother, grandmother and aunt all died from a type of Dementia, mostly Alzheimer’s.

I became my mother’s caregiver after my Dad died of cancer at 75. When my Mom had Neuropathy, the doctor at Mayo’s did a memory test and concluded she too would probably get Alzheimer’s. Even with our family history, we went through that period of denial.

I also went to work at the local Alzheimer’s Association, thinking I would learn more and be there to hear about a cure first-hand before I too possibly developed the disease. I was a Help Line Specialist and learned from over 65 callers a month about the many journeys of Alzheimer’s. My job was to listen, comfort, educate, and try to give them ideas to make their daily life better.

I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING FAMILIES AFFECTED BY ALZHEIMER’S.

Fast forward several years ago and I realized I had lots of ideas from my own experience of caregiving my mom and helping others. These solutions, experiences, and ideas would die with me if I didn’t share them with others. My goal in writing this book was to help other Alzheimer’s families learn from my experiences and ideas to make their life with Alzheimer’s easier in any way. People don’t know these behaviors can happen, what to do once they have a diagnosis, or how to talk and interact with people with dementia. Ignorance is not bliss. It can happen to anyone.

I knew what it feels like to be exhausted, afraid, and sad because the Mother I knew was slipping away, and I didn’t have the energy or knowledge to make it better. This Alzheimer’s Caregivers book is short and simple. When I began the journey of caregiving, “The 36 Hour Day” was a popular resource, but it was a large book, and by now I was caregiving for my mom and also my mother-in-law, so there was little time to read all of that large book! My book is purposefully “Little” because caregivers are exhausted, busy and need an answer to their problem quickly. It covers the emotions, daily living problems, and the big decisions about placing them in a facility. It is for all of you pretending they “aren’t that bad” while quality time slips away. Denial hurts everyone. There are ideas to cope with anger, bathing, and wandering. Always remember no one is promised forever, we all get one day at a time.”

I often share my books with doctors, people in stores, friends, strangers, and anyone struggling on this journey. No one should have to fight this disease alone with no help or support. I also often find support groups and church groups to speak to and to help with the many facets of this. God Bless them.

I receive feedback from Amazon, social media, and friends who have purchased the book and come back to buy more. Sometimes I give presentations at assisted living centers and support groups and people come up to ask questions and purchase the book.


Social Media:


Instagram: Alzcaregivers