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, December 27, 2017

Meet Crissi Langwell, author of "Come Here, Cupcake", a novel

The story of Come Here, Cupcake focuses on an aspiring baker, Morgan Truly, and the magical ability she’s discovered that allows her to infuse her baking with feelings. If she feels sad while baking, anyone who eats it will feel sad. If she feels happy, her baking will make people feel happy. And if she bakes while feeling romantic…well, you can guess what happens to anyone who tries it. This new ability, along with finding new love, is confusing enough. But adding to Morgan’s life changes is caring for her mother, Karen Truly, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Morgan moved back home to help care for her mom, unwilling to put her in any kind of care facility. She hired an aide to help with Karen’s care, but Morgan still found herself caring for her mom in ways she never had to worry about before. At one point, Karen shatters a glass on the floor in anger, endangering her bare feet. In another scene, she tries to burn the house down. Later, she runs away.

The theme of Alzheimer’s has found its way into more of my books than just this one. In my book, The Road to Hope, one of the main characters is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, experiencing bouts of forgetfulness. In the sequel book, Hope at the Crossroads, this character’s Alzheimer’s has advanced rapidly, and she is unable to remember anyone. In Come Here, Cupcake, Karen doesn’t recognize her own daughter, mistaking Morgan for a variety of different roles.

When certain themes show up in my writing, it’s usually because I’m working them out in my real life. Alzheimer’s is no exception. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s before she passed away in 2010. I remember the last time I saw her. She’d kept her eyes closed most of the visit, almost as if she were ignoring all of us. When my aunt announced who was there, she opened her eyes when she heard my name.

“Well,” she said, one of the only words I heard her say that day. I’ll always remember that word from her, even the way she said it. That word let me know that she remembered me, even when she’d forgotten everything else.

Knowing my grandmother had Alzheimer’s, I sometimes wonder if this is my fate. Even at just 40, I’ve recognized a few holes in my memory. I blame it on the abuse I suffered in my first marriage and my memory’s protection by forgetting certain traumas. That forgetfulness has haunted me. A few years ago, I went for a run in my neighborhood, and then stopped when I realized I’d run to an unfamiliar street. Panic welled up inside me as I looked around, trying to make a connection to where I was. Everything seemed both strange and familiar, and I knew I was supposed to recognize my surroundings. As my clarity slowly returned, I realized I was only around the corner from my house, and I was on a street I’d been on many times before. The fact that I’d forgotten my own neighborhood was more jarring than actually being lost.

I may face Alzheimer’s again, whether through my parents, my relatives, or even in myself. It’s something many of us have to face. In the meantime, I work out my thoughts and feelings about Alzheimer’s through my characters, letting them make mistakes or figure out triumphs on my behalf, and hoping that someone else who is caring for someone with Alzheimer’s will find a friend in the story.
About the AuthorCrissi Langwell
Crissi Langwell is a writer, blogger, and novelist. She has 9 published fiction and non-fiction books and lives in Northern California with her husband, their blended family of three teens and a ridiculous teenage dog. You can find her at
Purchase Come Here, Cupcake

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Meet Irene Frances Olson, author of "Requiem for the Status Quo"

My name is Irene Frances Olson, and I survived being an Alzheimer’s caregiver for family members…twice.

My father, Don Patrick Desonier, to whom my novel Requiem for the Status Quo was dedicated, was the first such family member. The second family member was my sister-in-law who was diagnosed with mixed dementia just one month after my father’s death in 2007. My brother was an extraordinary caregiver for his wife; I was just the go-to person for advice, direction, and the occasional caregiving day. I guess having been front and center on my father’s three year Alzheimer’s path gave me an “edge” on experience.

My life after Alzheimer’s saw me volunteering as an Alzheimer’s Association support group facilitator. Concurrent with that work was my job as a certified long-term care (LTC) ombudsman for the State of Washington as an advocate for adults living in LTC facilities. All those experiences culminated in the writing of my first novel.

I started to write Requiem for the Status Quo five years after my father’s death. Back in 2012, it just seemed to me that what I experienced as my father’s caregiver was meant to go further than the confines of my own heart and experience. I was pretty certain a debut author wouldn’t make a ton of money, but that was okay with me because my goal in writing Requiem was to encourage and educate others who might be called upon to take on the role of family caregiver. I figured if I could ease the way for some, then I could at least celebrate that my family’s journey benefited others.

A peek at Requiem’s storyline:

Family caregivers are oftentimes ruthlessly challenged by uninvolved family members who are quick to condemn, but reticent to offer assistance. Such is the case for Colleen Strand, a widow who recently found her own footing who takes on the task of caring for her father, Patrick Quinn, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Her older brother, Jonathan, criticizes Colleen at every turn and verbally abuses the father when he has the gall to exhibit symptoms of his disease. In short, Jonathan travels down the road of denial, leaving Colleen to deal with all matters regarding their father’s care.

Connected tenuously to a father who barely remembers her and a brother who has become an enigma, Colleen faces the moving target that is Alzheimer's disease, determined to clothe her father with the dignity he deserves, while struggling to squeeze every minute of time she can from him.

Now several months after my novel’s release, I take comfort in the blessings my novel has bestowed on others. Shortly after its release, reviews started pouring in from those who indicated that they could relate to the characters I chose to include in my story. Some readers even indicated they wished they had had access to my novel while they were still on their caregiving journey because they felt it would have opened their eyes more clearly and given them positive direction in the way things might have gone for their loved one.

Many readers, male and female, said they were glad to have a box of tissues handy, both for the sorrowful episodes and the humorous ones found on the pages of my novel. As anyone who has gone through this experience can attest, humor can certainly be found, even in one of the least humorous diseases known to man.

My current journey remains to get my book in as many hands as possible. I continue to hold author readings at senior centers and long-term care housing communities and I offer my novel at a highly-discounted rate to those seniors. If they are not able to pay, I simply ask for whatever donation they are able to provide. As long as they read my book and pass it along to others, I’ll be a happy camper, regardless of the bottom line.

It is such an honor being a part of the AlzAuthors community. I consider my membership in this community as a major highlight in my publishing career.

My author site:

My personal blog:, also known as Living: the ultimate team sport.

Facebook author page: RedmondWriter

Twitter handle: @Boomer98053

Instagram: irenefrancesolsonauthor

Friday, December 15, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Meet author and blogger, Wendy Mitchell

Imagine yourself being given a diagnosis of Young Onset Dementia. Your life falls apart, you feel worthless, and of no use to anyone any more. Services are nonexistent, so you feel abandoned
That’s what happened to me in July 2014, when I was diagnosed with young onset dementia at the age of 58, and still working full-time in the NHS. I retired at the age of 59, due to ill health, thinking there was no alternative. Then I sat waiting for services to kick in, but, of course, nothing happened. There were no services.

I could have given up and gone into a deep state of depression, but I knew there must be more. We all had talents before a diagnosis of dementia; we don’t suddenly lose all those talents overnight when we get a diagnosis.

Opportunities started to come my way, first with research. That was once I’d gotten over the barrier of health care professionals thinking it was their right to deny me the option. Taking part in research gives me hope and I need hope. I could be helping create a better future for my daughters, so taking part in research was a no-brainer for me. Many people, when they hear the word ‘research’ have an image of men in white coats handing out dodgy drugs. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Social and technological research is equally important while we await that elusive cure. I’ve taken part in drugs trials, but also social research to find the best ways to live with dementia and care for those no longer able to care for themselves. I’ve tested apps, I’ve commented on web sites. Yes, me a person with dementia. After all, how do the so-called ‘experts’ know they’re getting it right if they don’t ask the real experts – those of us living with dementia now?

My blog, is for me, simply “my memory.” I couldn’t tell you what I did yesterday unless I read my blog. That other people all over the world choose to read it is humbling, plus it’s enabled me to raise awareness. All I'm doing in my own little way is to show others what can be achieved and not to give up. I also hope it will help others look at dementia differently.

Oh, and I've just finished writing my book, Somebody I Used to Know, which is due out in the UK in the New Year and America in May, along with a little “firewalking” in October for my local Hospice.

So, as you can see, I’m a great believer in concentrating on what I still CAN do and not dwelling on the issues that dementia throws at me.

About the Author
I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia on the 31st July 2014 at the age of 58 years young. I might not have much of a short-term memory, but that’s one date I’ll never forget.
I have two daughters and live happily in Yorkshire.
Twitter:  @WendyPMitchell

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Meet Dr. Don Wendorf, author of "Caregiver Carols"

By Don Wendorf

I wrote CAREGIVER CAROLS: A Musical, Emotional Memoir to cope with my own emotional struggles as a caregiver for my late wife Susan with her strokes and vascular dementia and to help other caregivers deal with their feelings. I wanted them to see that their emotions, while often complex, intense or unpleasant were normal; to know they were not alone, while encouraging them to ask for even more help than they thought they needed; and to suggest very practical things for them to try to manage their feelings better. So, I told my/our story and shared a wide range of my experiences and emotions, including some of the hardest and least discussed, particularly anger, guilt, shame, sexuality (gasp) and grief. One selection even talks about my wishing she might die, which she actually prayed to do. And, I don’t imagine I’m the only one who ever fantasized about that. Despite being a psychotherapist myself and “knowing all about this” I got massive burnout and I didn’t want anyone else to go through that.

I wrote the book in a combination of regular prose and song lyrics/rhyming verse to make these difficult, scary, often painful reflections or topics more easily absorbed, processed, retained, recalled and used. I hoped the humorous, artistic, metaphorical, creative, entertaining format would help people deal with their own “stuff” but I also found that the creative, expressive arts may be as helpful to caregivers as they have been increasingly found to be with persons living with dementia.

The process of composing these songs or lyrics gave me a nurturing, safe retreat to go to; a place to step back from my daily stresses and emotional struggles and look at things from another perspective; a source of insight into what was going on with me (and us); and even enjoyment in the act of creating. I found I would jump into a passage I was working on in my mind as I ran for exercise or did errands or cleaned up or cooked or dressed Susan or changed diapers. I would have verses or rhymes pop into my head when I was upset or tired or anxious or bored with the routine or frustrated with her. So, I’ve become an advocate for the expressive arts for caregiver self-care as well as for caregivees and I push it as much as healthy diet, regular exercise, restorative sleep, seeking help, staying socially involved and constantly challenging our brains to learn and grow. I perform several pieces from the book when I speak at conferences or to support groups, as well as quoting some passages to demonstrate what I mean.


Where’s my road map, my directions? Where’s my GPS? How will I know where I am going? Trial and error? Guess? Where’s a road sign? Find a landmark. What am I to do? I’m just groping in the dark and haven’t got a clue.


Caregiving comes without handbooks or rules, No set of instructions, no box full of tools.
I want to choose rightly, I want to do well.
But making decisions is caregiving hell.

Dr. Don Wendorf on Facebook.

Don Wendorf, Psy.D. is a retired psychologist and marriage & family therapist, who practiced over 40 years, specializing in marriage therapy. He retired in 2013 to be the full-time caregiver for his increasingly stroke-disabled wife Susan, after taking care of her and working for 15 years. She passed away in March 2014. He also helped to take care of his mother-in-law (cancer), father (Parkinson’s) and mother (Alzheimer’s). Don has been a professional musician since his high school days, playing in a variety of jazz and bluegrass bands as well as writing songs. He combined all these interests and experiences in two books, one on marriage (Love Lyrics: The Musical Marital Manual) and one on the emotional struggles in caregiving (Caregiver Carols: a Musical, Emotional Memoir), both written primarily in song lyric (rhyming light verse) form to be most easily accessed, absorbed, recalled and applied. He has two sons, two daughters- in-law and five marvelous grandchildren. Don and his wife Lynda are also avid hikers and advocates for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research. They met when he contributed to her book, Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers and together they have edited several additional books for caregivers.