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.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Author, Shannon Wiersbitzky

In July I wrote a blogpost about a lovely book I'd read, written through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl, What Flowers Remember.

Shannon Wiersbitzky and I have recently come in contact and here is what she told me about her beautiful book. 

Tell me about your book, Shannon.
In What Flowers Remember, due to a shared love of flowers and gardening, Delia and her elderly neighbor Old Red Clancy dream up a seed and flower selling business. The two make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he can’t be cured. He’s forgetting places and names and getting cranky for no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red’s stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help.

What Flowers Remember is a story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.

What inspired you to write this story?
I spent my childhood summers with my grandparents in a small town in West Virginia, not totally unlike the fictional town of Tucker’s Ferry. As a result, my grandparents became like second parents. When I was in my twenties, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t forget me. But of course, the disease doesn’t work that way, and I was forgotten along with everyone else he loved. The moment I realized he no longer knew who I was is something I will never forget. It broke my heart. And it was that nugget which inspired this story.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
I did research on Alzheimer’s as I wrote the novel. The Alzheimer’s Association has a wealth of information. While I knew what my grandfather experienced, I didn’t know if that was typical or if there were other signs and symptoms which might be worth including to make it more accurate. Most people only think of Alzheimer’s as losing memories, but it can often cause changes in mood, and even result in a loss of smell. I included both of those in the book.

Alzheimer’s isn’t typically a disease associated with children. Why include this as a topic in a middle-grade novel?  
I never set out to write a book “about Alzheimer’s”. I wanted to write a story that spoke to my own truth, about how it feels to be forgotten by someone you love. Within the context of fiction, I imagined what a young girl might do, and what an entire town might do, if they felt they could, in some way, prevent memories from being forgotten.

The reality is that according to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors will suffer from some type of dementia. One in three. That is an astounding number. It also means that there are many children who will be impacted by the disease. The current estimate is that 250,000 children ages 8-18 provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Whether it is grandparents or parents, or someone else they know and love. I hope the story will help kids and adults discuss the topic and help them, even in some small way, heal.

Thank you, Shannon, for introducing yourself to my readers.

If you know a preteen who is struggling to understand the reasons an aging loved one acts in uncharacteristic ways, I highly recommend Shannon's book, What Flowers Remember.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Highly Recommend BLUE HYDRANGEAS by Marianne Sciucco

At the time I was caregiving for my parents, I read everything I could find to guide my journey. One of my favorite books was 

Blue Hydrangeas
by Marianne Sciucco

Today Marianne's book
has a beautiful new cover!

Cover design by Perry Elisabeth

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn't remember your name? A pair of retired Cape Cod innkeepers struggle with the wife's Alzheimer's. A beautiful love story written by a masterful storyteller who happens to be a nurse.
Amazon-rated 4.7 out of 5 stars
Goodreads rated 4.11 out of 5 stars

Readers say:
Heartbreakingly beautiful.
I felt drawn to Jack and Sara from page one and find myself wondering about them even now.
The book is very well-written and believable.
A heartfelt tender story that is entertaining and emotionally gripping!
A real page turner and it gives you insights of the daily life events living with this crushing disease called Alzheimer’s.
While not a "happily ever after" love story, Blue Hydrangeas is sure to be one you will ponder for some time after you have finished reading it.

Purchase Blue Hydrangeas in ebook, paperback, and audiobook

About the Author
Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Self-e Selection, a 5-star Readers Favorite, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award, 2014. She's currently working on a YA novel, Swim Season, about the new girl on the team who challenges a longstanding school record, to be released in 2015. A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves books, the beach, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.
Connect with Marianne Sciucco
Why did I Write a Book about Alzheimer’s?

Connect with Perry Elisabeth

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ino's Love by Marianne Sciucco

If you are interested in books about eldercare, aging, and compassionate caregiving, you'll love Marianne Sciucco's latest release, Ino's Love. 

If you don't have time to read, you can download the audio version!

Below is a guest post by Marianne Scuicco about the premise of Ino's Love and the process of making her book into an audiobook.

I adore audiobooks, so naturally I want other audiobook lovers to be able to listen to my stories. This summer I teamed up with veteran television reporter and co-anchor Terry Murphy to bring my short story Ino’s Love to life. Terry is best known for her nine years (1990–1998) anchoring the tabloid show Hard Copy and, since 2003, reporting for the entertainment show Extra.   She has done a fantastic job with Ino's Love and I can't wait to hear what readers have to say. (Read on for my interview with Terry.)

Why turn a short story into a 28-minute audiobook?
Short stories are enjoying a resurgence these days as more and more people have instant access to books, including audiobooks, on their smart phones. Shorter reads are easier to digest; a reader can finish a story and experience a sense of resolution in a matter of minutes. And audiobooks make this even more convenient because they’re hands-free. I love listening to a great audiobook while I’m driving, cooking, and cleaning house, even when I’m lounging in the pool. Others do too. So making all of my books and stories into audiobooks is part of my marketing plan.
Of all of the stories I’ve written, Ino’s Love is one of my favorites. I absolutely loved writing it. I don’t remember what inspired me to create the characters of Ino and Ruby, but it must have been work-related because I was working as a hospital case manager at the time. My days were filled with helping patients (and their families) find ways to remain comfortable and cared for at home when faced with long-term illness or disability.
I also did a short spell as a home health nurse myself, and had a lot of experience as a nursing assistant caring for the elderly in nursing homes and as an LPN and RN in the hospital. I have a soft spot for patients like Ino. I respect those who care for them with integrity and help them to maintain their dignity.
This story displays the love that can exist between caregiver and client. There may be a few questionable actions on the part of Ino and Ruby (no spoilers!), but it’s the love between them that stays with the reader.
Ino’s Love was originally published in Kaleidoscope magazine, 2009.

Ino prepares a Christmas feast for her successful CEO son, but when he's too busy to spend the holiday with his mother, she shares her dinner and gifts with her home health aide. Sometimes, the people who love us best are not family.

Interview with narrator/producer Terry Murphy
What is it about Ino’s Love that motivated you to audition for the role of producer/narrator?
“Ino’s Love really touched my heart. Sadly today, so many adults either ignore or forget about their parents. And as I’ve gotten older, I realize it’s the little things from my sons that make me the happiest now. Ino also beautifully illustrates how simple gestures from a stranger can bring such joy to a senior citizen’s life.”
Were there any challenges to preparing for or performing this role?
“The biggest challenge for me was trying to capture Ino’s personality in my voice. And it was equally difficult alternating between Ruby and Ino’s ages. Ino’s Love was my first fiction recording, and I am very proud of my collaboration with you.”

Since its publication as an ebook on Kindle in December 2013, Ino’s Love has been steadily gaining great reviews and is rated 4.9 stars on Amazon. Here’s what a few readers had to say:
“The author packs so much into so little space. This is what a short story should be.”
“Such a tender story of love, receiving love; reminding us again that it's not the "things" in our lives that are important, but the relationships.”
“A great writer can make you fall in love with a character quickly. Ms. Sciucco proves to be such a writer with this short story.”
“All I had left when the tale ended was the question: ‘Why isn't this included in the full disclosure for new home health aides?’ Because it is such a delightful short read, and yet it depicts just how important these people are to the patients they serve.”

Purchase Ino’s Love
Ino’s Love in audiobook is available on Amazon for $3.46, on Audible and iTunes  for $3.95. It’s also available as a Kindle book for $.99, and is free on Kindle Unlimited.

Connect with Marianne Sciucco