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, October 16, 2019

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

Reposted with permission from

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

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.


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 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.