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, August 16, 2017

Welcome Sisters Susan Kiser Scarff & Ann Kiser Zultner, Authors of Dementia: The Journey Ahead

By Susan Kiser Scarff

Within a year of my husband receiving his dementia diagnosis, I had a classic case of caregiver burnout. I couldn't concentrate at work and most of my time was taken up with worrying about my husband's uncharacteristic and impulsive behavior. I was petrified and intimidated about the future…overwhelmed with basic day-to-day activities. Further, I was apprehensive about making the transition from wife to protector, nurse, and mother.

At the suggestion of a health professional, I began documenting the daily struggles of caregiving. After my husband passed away, I realized my daily journaling could be modified and turned into a valuable and timely resource for other caregivers in similar situations. Writing the book, and in turn helping others in similar situations, helped me to feel that my husband’s illness and my own caregiving struggles were not in vain. Something positive was able to come from the horrific disease called Dementia. Hopefully, the book, written with the help of my sister, Ann Kiser Zultner, will help fill in the huge gap between medical and in-home care for dementia patients.

Our book is intentionally designed as a practical guide for dementia caregivers. It begins with the diagnosis, and then moves into dealing with behavioral issues, managing daily living, safety concerns and late-stage. It also includes an assortment of caregiver tools and an extensive list of caregiver resources carers can use to find additional information on a variety of topics. Finally, the paperback version of the book (as opposed to the Kindle version) includes an Index that readers can use to go straight to any topic. I felt this was important since caregivers do not have time to sit down and read anything from start to finish, let alone spend hours researching. Every section also includes how I resolved many of the daily issues while caring for my husband…honestly, I learned everything by trial and error.

My husband, Red, proved to me that patience is a prerequisite, laughter is the best medicine, and a smile is worth a thousand words.

Purchase Dementia: The Journey Ahead - A Practical Guide for In-Home Caregivers, available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

About the Authors


Susan Kiser Scarff

I was born and raised a California girl. I live and thrive in Phoenix, Arizona since 1974. I graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1973 with a BS in secondary education with four and ½ years’ experience as a generational hippy and flower child. I come from a lineage of doctors, psychiatrists, and nurses. Our father and brother were both diagnosed with debilitating disorders shortly after I graduated from high school. I believe the culmination of our/my life experiences and family dynamics prepared me for the imminent role in life as a caregiver, aka, mother of all. I just can’t help it. My collective societal roles range from flipping burgers at the San Diego Zoo, multimedia artist and business owner, coaching junior’s tennis, tennis coordinator, volunteer and staff member at Desert Botanical Garden and last but most challenging …caring for my husband, diagnosed with FTD, for roughly 15 years in our home. It was a very long and difficult labor of love. Candidly, high school lesson plans, country club newsletters, botanical garden training manuals, several magazine articles, and one book sums up my prolific writing expertise. I believe our text is a wonderful starter book for novice dementia caregivers. If you have been a caregiver for a number of years...you can undoubtedly write your own book by now or already have.

Ann Kiser Zultner

I learned about dementia and caregiving through my sister, Susan, and her husband, Red. After Red’s dementia diagnosis, Susan and I would have weekly telephone conversations where she would describe Red’s new behaviors as the disease progressed and her ingenious ways of managing and coping with the resulting chaos and stress. Dementia: The Journey Ahead is designed to be a reference guide for dementia caregivers providing helpful and creative ideas on how to manage daily living. The book also includes some humor since that is the way our family seems to deal with just about everything. (Thanks, Mom.)

Follow Susan Kiser Scarff & Ann Kiser Zultner

Our Facebook page, Dementia: The Journey Ahead Caregiving 101, provides caregivers with much needed advice, support, and guidance, to help prepare and take charge of the challenging and demanding journey ahead.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Meet Bryan Wiggins, author of Autumn Imago




By Bryan Wiggins

No one I know has Alzheimer’s disease. My parents have entered their eighties with their sharp minds intact. Only one of my four grandparents suffered any kind of dementia, and Granny’s wasn’t that severe. So when I forget a name, lose my car keys, or question what the heck I’m doing standing in the basement after clomping down the stairs, I shrug my shoulders and carry on. I could still get Alzheimer’s, of course, but with no family history of it behind me, I find other things to worry about.

But when I decided to write a novel with a protagonist whose mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, my lack of firsthand experience with the disease threatened to damage the one thing most critical to building the fictive world that readers love to lose themselves within: character credibility. So I set out to do the research that could show me what my own experience had failed to teach me. I went to a talk by a nationally known Alzheimer’s expert at my local memory care center. I dove deep into the web. I read Still Alice to see how someone far more qualified than me—a neuroscientist with a Harvard Ph.D. and a grandmother who had died from the disease—built a book that rang true for the readers I was most concerned about pleasing: those who either suffered from the disease or loved someone who did.


Somewhere between my worries about getting things right and penning the final lines of Autumn Imago, I created Mara, the 70-year old mother of my story’s hero, park ranger Paul Strand. Mara’s condition compels Paul to bring Mara and the rest of the family he’s abandoned to his remote Maine campground for a tempestuous ten-day reunion. After the book was published, I was honored to receive letters from a few family members of Alzheimer victims who shared how moved they’d been by my tale. That response inspired me to go back to examine how the largely intuitive process that guided my writing had worked to shape the woman who became the moral center of my story. What I discovered was that I’d built Mara less from an examination of her disease than of the impact she and it had on the family that surrounded her.


For Paul, the kitchen fire Mara starts in the home she shares with Paul’s sister, Kim and her family is the warning shot that brings him back to his family again. It signals the limited time he has to heal the breach between himself and his mother before she finally slips away. Every conversation with his mother becomes a struggle over whether to share the feelings he’s buried from their past or the compassion that can comfort her as she faces a frightening future. For Kim, Mara’s caregiver, Mara becomes the test of selfless giving mandated by her calling as a pastor. Kim struggles to live up to that divine ideal while battling the all-too-human emotions of anger and frustration experienced by anyone whose attended to an Alzheimer’s victim’s long term care. Kim’s husband, Robert, exploits Mara’s condition, as he challenges her failing memory when her instincts get her too close to the secrets he keeps from his wife and family.


Kim and Robert’s fiery teenage daughter, Aida, lashes out at everyone except Mara, revealing the compassionate heart that beats beneath an angry and conflicted girl. Aida’s tubby, shy, and brilliant 13-year-old brother, Aaron, may be the one who sees Mara, and her situation, most clearly. He diagnoses both the early stage of his grandmother’s disease and the mental acuity that still illuminates her while others can see only the dark shadows of things to come. Finally, Paul’s younger brother Tommy, a recently-recovered drug addict, provides the true litmus test for Mara’s competency. When Mara’s slight-of-hand provides Tommy with protection from the prosecution of a crime Paul believes Tommy should pay for, Paul later learns that his brother deserved the second chance his mother afforded him.


Mara, of course, is defined less by how these family members see her than how she sees herself. She possesses a wisdom and will that become more apparent as the story unfolds. And though the progression of her disease escalates the rate at which she breaks her connection to both her family and her world, that loss of every person and place that she loves is, in the end, one we all must surrender to. If writing Mara taught me anything, it’s how much I have to learn from those with Alzheimer’s Disease. They and their families are people who cherish the core component of our identity that I take so blithely for granted. My discovery of a character struggling to hold both herself and her family together before both slipped away reminded me that every day—and every memory we make in it—is a gift.


For me, that’s a lesson to remember.




BRYAN WIGGINS is a Maine-based author whose works have been published in The Maine Review, Canoe & Kayak, and Sea Kayaker magazines. For the past nine years he has been the host of the Pine Cone Writers’ Den, a Maine novelists’ collective, and a regular speaker on the New England writing circuit. By day Bryan works as an advertising agency brand strategist and copywriter. For the past thirty-four years, he has made annual pilgrimages to explore the rugged mountain landscape of Baxter State Park that is the setting for his second novel, Autumn Imago. That recently published story of family and natural drama was one of only three books selected to launch Harper Legend, a new HarperCollins imprint of “visionary fiction.” Bryan is currently at work on 48, the second book in his “Imago Trilogy.” This latest novel is a cautionary tale of personal ambition that follows its protagonist’s lifelong pursuit of hiking New Hampshire’s 48 4000 foot+ peaks. You can learn more about Bryan and his work at wigginscreative.com


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Meet Me Where I am - An Alzheimer's Care Guide" by Mary Ann Drummond


By: Mary Ann Drummond, RN

When I was a young girl I dreamed I would grow up and become a nurse. I seldom left home without my nurse’s kit filled with band-aides, cotton balls, and gum drop pills just in case my services were needed. It seemed so simple in those days to comfort and to heal, or at least that is what my Grandmother led me to believe each time she let me practice my skills on her.

If only caregiving were that easy! The reality is there are wounds a band aid cannot heal, diseases medication cannot cure, and hearts so burdened by the weight of caregiving, comfort cannot be found.

I was motivated to write Meet Me Where I Am – An Alzheimer’s Care Guide to share what I have learned from the greatest teachers of all…those whom I have had the pleasure of knowing and caring for along life’s journey who have dementias such as Alzheimer’s.

Serving many years as an executive in the assisted living industry, my passion for dementia care grew stronger as I continued to see how the application of key concepts created beautiful success stories for the residents, the care givers and their loved ones!

I began to teach my care concepts in support groups, public health seminars and caregiver symposiums. I would often hear from attendees afterward how helpful the information had been and would be asked if I had ever considered writing a book? With this prompting, the seeds to write the book were planted.

Meet Me Where I Am – An Alzheimer’s Care Guide was published in 2014. Writing this book has been a life changing experience. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease requires an abundance of knowledge, patience and love. My goal was to give caregivers a tool that would teach, enlighten, and comfort while preparing them for the journey ahead. I was humbled to hear from the many readers how beneficial they found the book to be. When you have someone bring your book to you with the pages coffee stained, dog eared, passages highlighted, and they tell you it was given to them by a friend of a friend, and the same person is wiping tears from their eyes as they thank you for writing the book that has helped them so much, you say a prayer of thanks for being able to be there when you were needed.

Dr. Lisa Verges of MemoryCare Asheville, North Carolina refers to the book as providing “…useful strategies for navigating this journey with grace. It is an excellent and meaningful book and I highly recommend it.” Dr. Kathleen Hayden of Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Duke University, states “This book will help caregivers and family members understand dementia from the patients’ perspective. Meet Me Where I Am is a must-read for caregivers of all kinds.”

About the Author


Mary Ann Drummond, RN, is the author of Meet Me Where I Am – An Alzheimer’s Care Guide and I Choose to Remember. As the CEO of Angel Tree Consulting, Drummond has a passion for presenting innovative and successful strategies in both caregiver and provider settings to assist individuals with dementia “live their best” each day. With over thirty years of nursing experience and sixteen years as a VP in the assisted living industry developing programs for dementia care, she credits much of her expert knowledge to the greatest teachers of all, those who live daily with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Meet Me Where I Am has entered a third print and has won three IPPY awards including: 2015 Silver Medalist Living Now Book Award for Caregiving, 2016 1st Place Gold Medalist Beverly Hills Book Award for Caregiving, and 2015 CIPA EVVYY 1st Place Book Award for Health and Diet. Ms. Drummond enjoys working with organizations across the country to increase successful outcomes in dementia care.


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