Wednesday, July 18, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Karen Severson, MD, author of "Look, I Shrunk Grandma"



By Karen Severson, MD

This book has been in my head for years. It started with the constant frustration of being caught in the middle of disagreements between nursing homes and families. Sent as a representative of the nursing home to address aggressive behaviors, nurses would relate to me how horrible and dangerous the person with dementia was acting. People were getting injured and care was not able to be performed. I would speak to the families and they were angry with the homes. “They are trained to handle these problems. Why do you need medications?” The families felt the homes were medicating for staff convenience.

In the heat of these situations, it was difficult to explain all the medications I have available and all the factors going into my decisions. The nursing home staff would come to me saying the families just didn't understand or acted unreasonable. Families were upset no one was taking the time to understand their parent. There were several families who still had not even accepted their loved one had dementia. How was I going to explain the many facets of dementia in a way to make it clear? I always wished I had a book that I could hand to people, so everyone involved could understand both sides of the issue. Instead of homes and families in perpetual battles, I wanted us to all be on the same team. In this way, the person struggling with dementia is provided the best care possible.

My other motivation for writing the book came from seeing persons with dementia suffering. Many families cling to a natural denial that dementia is terminal. As a result, they ask for medical procedures that could prolong life, but may also inadvertently cause more suffering. When stopping numerous interventions were suggested, we have been accused of being heartless or cruel, allowing someone to die. With the experience from my mother’s death, I wanted to do what I could to decrease end-of-life suffering. Modern medicine has become a curse and a blessing. We need to help people understand its limitations. Unless they understand these limitations, it is unfair to expect them to make the best decisions for their families. Most people don't have a medical background and feel overwhelmed.

The book is newly released, but the feedback has been positive. Nurses reading the book say that they finally feel understood. Part of the book discusses why I feel people have trouble letting loved ones go into hospice care. The families that have read this have felt less guilty in doing so, as well as better able to make informed decisions.

Lastly, I had to write with humor. I find it incredibly hard to read about such difficult subjects and felt humor would make it easier.

About the Author

I am a country girl born in Indiana, but moved to Hartford, Connecticut for my father’s work in the insurance industry. My parents threw me and my siblings outside with a ball all day to keep us out of their hair. As a result, I grew up loving sports and entered Ithaca College to pursue a Physical Education degree. My chemistry teacher told me I had a great memory and suggested I go to medical school. I took my great memory to University of Connecticut and later Brown University to study psychiatry. I always knew I loved the mixture of the mind and the body and had to go into Geriatric Psychiatry. I later completed a fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry at Albert Einstein.

Despite being a psychiatrist, I act more like a pediatrician, as I love to laugh and do it often. I find it hard to be serious. Today I live in Florida and enjoy time with my family. I still play a ton of sports, but get injured way too often. I now work in the addiction field trying to save young lives. Maybe I will write about that someday as well.

Connect with Karen Severson, MD





Wednesday, July 11, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Iris Waichler



By Iris Waichler

I began writing my book, Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents, as a tribute to my father, Melvin Sneider. I knew he was an extraordinary and giving person who had touched many lives. When I began writing he was 95 and in good health after recovering from a cerebral hemorrhage at age 90.

Suddenly things changed. He was hospitalized for pneumonia. As it happens with many seniors, he suffered a cascade of medical problems. They included irregular heartbeat, inability to eat food except if it was pureed, memory issues and dementia, incontinence, and decreased mobility. He was unable to get dressed or bathe without help. His decline continued until his death at age 97.

While I was writing my book I encountered many people who were caregivers. The numbers surprised me. I had been a caregiver for my mother and 2 friends prior to becoming my dad’s primary caregiver. I come to caregiving from 2 perspectives. I have been a medical social worker and patient advocate for 40 years. My work involved helping patients and family members cope with catastrophic illness and helping them to set up additional care post hospitalization.

I chose to blend my personal experience as a caregiver with my professional expertise in writing my book. Many caregivers face universal challenges that leave us feeling overwhelmed and alone. Before he became ill my dad had written his own autobiography. I learned he had become a caregiver from an early age trying to protect his brothers and sister from a father who was emotionally and physically abusive. I decided to use his voice with mine in writing my book. He became a caregiver for many people in his life, something I had never realized until I read his writing.

My book is an unusual combination of memoir and self help. It is also unusual in having the voices of the caregiver and the person who receives care. I use my dad’s life story as a springboard to approach common caregiving concerns. For example, when my dad decides to go into assisted living I have a chapter where I interview a nursing director about what family members and potential residents should know and ask about when considering this transition.

My goal in writing my book was to reach as many people as possible who are struggling with this ultimate role reversal, where the adult child becomes a caregiver for their parent. It is a useful tool for all caregivers. I address topics like coping with grief, memory loss, and confusion, to concrete issues like estate planning and assessing the right level of care.

When I contacted publishers some told me since my father was not well known nobody would care about his story. I have been so pleased to hear from so many people telling me how much they connected with him and how they loved his story as well as my professional input.

The response to my book has been surprising, gratifying, and overwhelming. It has won 6 major book awards. People seem to really respond to the the way I have structured Role Reversal and find the information, resources, and support strategies very useful in their daily lives. This brings me great joy. I am very proud of my book and love the idea that my dad will live on through my readers.


About the Author


Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW has been a licensed clinical social worker and patient advocate for over forty years. She worked as a medical social worker in three major teaching hospitals. This is her third book; her last book, Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster, won four book awards, including “Best Book of the Year” from the National Association of Parenting Publications (NAPPA) and a Mom’s Choice Award. She has also been a Foreword Magazine and USABookNews finalist for best book of the year. Waichler has led workshops and done group, family, and individual counseling with people struggling with a variety of medical problems. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Steve, and her daughter, Grace.




Connect with Iris Waichler





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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Meet Jaclyn Guenette, Author of "I Smile for Grandpa," Children's Fiction




by  Jaclyn Guenette

“How do I explain dementia to children?” has been a question asked to me over and over throughout the years. Let’s be honest, dementia is difficult to understand. There are several disease types so it’s complex and often presents differently for different people. I have been privileged to work on a secured dementia unit with families and individuals living with dementia. My role as a Registered Social Worker allows me the unique opportunity to connect with families and address their specific concerns, questions, and needs. When asked about explaining dementia to children, I would pause. I knew the importance of creating a safe and open dialogue with children. I knew parents could greatly benefit from tools to help them cultivate understanding and knowledge. Throughout my search for children's books and parent resources, I found a wealth of excellent stories and information. I also realized that throughout this journey, my own story developed in my heart.

“I Smile for Grandpa" is greatly inspired by my own three children and their understanding of the dementia. I love bringing my children to visit the patients and residents at the care facility I work in. These experiences are rewarding and enriching for everyone involved. Last Halloween, I brought my children in for a visit, all dressed up in their costumes. My five year old son was dressed as a Police Officer and didn’t break character once. He had a stack of “post-it" notes, given to him from our front receptionist. He would approach the patients and proceed to give out handwritten tickets in a playful and comical way. My heart swells thinking about it. The unit buzzed with a sense of excitement over the visit from the pint sized Police Officer, Star Wars character, and little Genie with pink hair. To this day, there are patients with “post-it" note tickets hanging in their room.

I have learnt a lot from these experiences both personally and professionally. We need to keep children involved and included. We need to be open and honest with kids about dementia diseases. We need to have conversations in language that children can understand. We need to allow kids to ask questions, feel included, and discover their own unique way of maintaining or establishing a connection. That is why, in addition to the story, adults will appreciate the “Tips for Parents” and the “Question & Answer” sections included in this book.

“I Smile for Grandpa” is a look into the relationship between my three children and their grandfather. Soccer, camping, and taking long walks are a few of the favorite activities shared together. As the disease progresses in the story, these activities need to change but spending time with one another does not stop. It was important to me that the book explored new ways to enjoy these favorite activities together. The goal is to maintain a meaningful relationship full of love and acceptance.

My partnership with Kathryn Harrison to bring “I Smile for Grandpa" to life has been a truly rewarding experience. Together we have worked to launch a book that really helps bridge the gap between those living with dementia and the children that surround them. Kathryn’s illustrations create a bright, inviting, safe space for kids to explore the topic. Kids love the adorable little creatures and animals thoughtfully placed throughout the book. The main character “little buddy” is relatable for all children. In fact, all three of my children believe “little buddy” is them. It was wonderful to grow this project with Kathryn and FlipTurn Publishing.

My personal journey learning and exploring about dementia over the years has inspired a deep desire to help create awareness and promote understanding. My hope is that families will benefit from “I Smile for Grandpa" through their journey with dementia.

About the Author

Canadian Writer, Jaclyn Guenette, is a mother of three young children. She is a Registered Social Worker and Designated Capacity Assessor. Jaclyn is dedicated to working with families living with dementia and creating awareness and understanding of this complex group of diseases.

Connect with Jaclyn Guenette

Instagram @jaclynannguenette 

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For more vetted books about Alzheimer's and 
dementia please visit the AlzAuthors bookstore.



Monday, July 2, 2018

New Release Spotlight: "Heartsong," by Annie Douglass Lima


Two alien worlds.
One teen emissary.
No reality she can trust.

Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation.

But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?

If you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. Click here to get your copy of Heartsong now and start the journey today!

For July 1st and 2nd only, the ebook is available for free!

Read on for a sample of the story ...


Heartsong, Chapter One


My love of reading started the whole thing.
  The best place to read on the Laika was in the lifeboats. I’d discovered that on the first leg of the trip, during the flight from Earth to the jump point off of Phoebe. I mean, what else was there to do when we couldn’t see much through the viewports? The view was exciting when there was one, but when you’re far away from anything, space all looks the same.
The hyperspace jump that shot us across the galaxy had been quick, of course, so no time to get bored there. And after we came out of it at the jump point off of Somav, the blue giant that would light my skies for the rest of my life, the flight toward the little moon Soma was pretty exciting, too. I couldn’t stop staring as we passed Somavia, the blue and white planet I knew none of us would ever see close up again. I wondered about the aliens whose home it was. What were they like? The pictures and video Forerunner had sent back, from the few passes it had taken in high orbit, left everyone with more questions than they answered.
Of course, we knew the planet had a breathable atmosphere. If it hadn’t been for the alien race who already lived there — and the tirtellium that we were going to mine on Soma, of course — New Horizons Industries might have decided to set up its colony on the planet Somavia instead of on its moon.
We passed Somavia three days ago, and we’d been orbiting Soma ever since. Which was also exciting, at first. I couldn’t wait to actually get down there and start life on my new home. A home I would get to help create, along with the adult scientists and miners and the rest of the Young Explorers. A home I would never be taken away from just when I was starting to settle in. My forever home. Normally I hated new beginnings, but this one was different. This would be the last new beginning of my life.
Even the colony’s name, chosen by the Samoan astronomer who discovered this solar system, was perfect. Avanoa, which apparently meant opportunity in the Samoan language, sounded to me like a kingdom from some fantasy novel.
Not that life in Avanoa was going to be a fantasy. I knew that starting a colony would be hard work, but that didn’t matter. A real home, with friends I would never have to say goodbye to, would be worth any amount of work.
Soma was interesting to look at, though not as pretty as the planet it orbited. The moon was mostly brown, with splotches of gray-green surrounding the dark blue dots that marked the location of its scattered lakes. With no actual oceans, the moon had just enough water to support a little plant and animal life. Nothing too dangerous, at least as far as we could tell from Forerunner’s pictures. Insects. Some fish and crustaceans that might or might not be edible. Small reptilian or maybe amphibian creatures that lived in and around the lakes. A handful of different mammals, all tiny, that made their homes in the hills. Nothing that seemed likely to bother two hundred human colonists setting up a new home on their world.
Of course, the aliens could be another story. We knew the Somavians had developed a limited form of space travel; we knew they had mines on Soma, too. But whatever they were mining for, it wasn’t tirtellium, and they only had a few tunnel mines in a few locations. We planned to set up our colony hundreds of kilometers away, where if all went according to plan, they wouldn’t even know we were around. Forerunner’s sensors had not detected any other artificial satellites in orbit around either Somavia or Soma, and as far as we could tell, the locals had no instruments capable of detecting Forerunner, no way to suspect we were coming. Its orbit was carefully programmed to keep it out of sight of any of their mines after dark, when it might be visible from the ground as a moving point of light.
The adults all said that hopefully we would never have to encounter any Somavians, but all of us kids hoped we would. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind not want to meet the first real live aliens actually confirmed to exist?
Jessie, who loved science fiction movies almost as much as I loved reading, had often kept Maria and Shaliqua and me awake late into the night back in our dorm room discussing all the possible alien-related adventures that awaited us if we ever made contact. Most of those possibilities were a lot more fun — though some were scarier — than the idea of living in isolation and never letting the locals know we were on their moon.
Anyway, judging by Forerunner’s footage, Somavian culture seemed peaceful, with no evidence of any wars going on down on their home world. If they did find out about the humans in their solar system, hopefully they wouldn’t mind us being there. We wouldn’t bother them, and with any luck, they wouldn’t bother us. And if they did get mad, well, the Laika had some weapons. Not enough to wage war with, but hopefully enough to convince them to leave us alone.
So much to wonder about. So much to look forward to. I could hardly wait to get down to the surface and start my new life. But here we all were, stuck in orbit for three whole days so far. Three painfully long and boring days. Earth days, that is. It had been nearly five Soman days, though we wouldn’t officially switch to using Soman time until we landed.
Atmospheric storms. Who would have thought that storms would be this big of an issue on a world with virtually no precipitation? Our science team had come up with a theory about minerals in the soil reflecting particles and wavelengths from the solar flares that Somav had been throwing out since our arrival. Whatever the case, the result was some pretty impressive windstorms in parts of the atmosphere. Since the spot picked out for Avanoa was directly underneath one of the worst storms, Captain Tyler insisted it wouldn’t be safe to try to land yet.
But no one had anticipated that the flares and storms would go on this long. At first, I was glad of the opportunity to orbit my new home and see what it looked like from space. But after a while the excitement faded, and everyone turned grouchy as we all grew more and more bored and impatient. The movies and games preloaded on our Horizon-brand tablets weren’t good enough to keep everyone happy, not while we had to put the adventure we’d all waited over a year to start on hold indefinitely. And I’d never been a big fan of video games or movies anyway.
So I did what I always do when real people get too annoying. I pulled out my old-school Novareader and turned to my true friends, the ones who never got annoying, who would always be there for me no matter what, who I never had to say goodbye to. And I escaped to the one place I had found on board where nobody would bother me or interrupt my adventures to ask what I was reading or exclaim over their new high score in who-cares-what-virtual-adventure on their RizeTab.
The Laika was designed to be taken apart when we arrived. Its decking and bulkheads would be used to help create Avanoa’s buildings until we could construct permanent residences from local rock, and that was one of the reasons the ship was so large. But big though it was, it had no extra empty space. Every compartment was full of freeze-dried food items, mining equipment, packages of seeds for genetically modified crops designed to grow well in the moon’s dry soil, and educational resources for us youth, because even on an interstellar adventure, there was no escaping school in some form.
So I had discovered in between Earth and Phoebe that the lifeboats were the best place to read. I wasn’t sure if I was really supposed to hang out in them, but they were unlocked, because after all, what would be the point in locking something that people would need to get into in a hurry in an emergency?
I sat curled up on a seat in Lifeboat 1, alternating between reading and looking out to see if anything interesting had come into sight down below. But from this angle, the one window — a wide viewport at the very front — was mostly full of stars, only a tiny sliver of Soma visible from one edge. I could have turned on the screen at the lifeboat’s navigational console and adjusted it to show me any view I liked, but that might trigger some sort of alert, and I didn’t want anyone showing up to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be in here.
So I joined Caz and her friends on their travels across the Granbo system, caught up in their space adventure on my Novareader screen, since my own space adventure had turned pretty dull. Lunch was another two hours away, so I might as well enjoy myself in the meantime.
And I did — until the ship vibrated more vigorously than usual and the fasten seatbelts sign flicked on.
I often felt as though several of me were debating inside my head. For a moment, Cautious Liz wondered if I should return to my seat. But what was the point? Practical Liz reminded me that I would be just as safe here in the lifeboat, and if the turbulence got bad, walking around with the Laika lurching under me would not be the smartest idea.
I already had my seatbelt on, since that was the best way to keep from floating around. Not that floating around wasn’t fun, but there was too little room in the lifeboat to do mid-air flips and spins without banging into things, and drifting around while I read made it hard to focus on the book. Of course my magnetic-soled shoes could have kept me anchored to the deck, but not when I wanted to sit cross-legged.
So I just tightened my seatbelt a little and turned back to The Gypsy Pearl. We had encountered turbulence lots of times in the last few days, thanks to the solar flares. It was no big deal.
But the vibrations grew stronger, and then the ship started lurching under me. I lowered my Novareader and looked around, but there was nothing to see here in the little lifeboat. The stars jumped and jerked outside the window, and if it hadn’t been for my seatbelt, I knew I would have been thrown about and probably injured already.
I waited for the crackle of the intercom and Captain Tyler’s voice to explain what was happening or issue instructions. But I heard nothing, and I wondered if the flares had damaged the lifeboat’s intercom system. They had interfered with the Laika’s electrical systems before, after all. Now I wished I’d returned to my seat while I could. If something dangerous was happening, I would rather face it with the others in the main cabin, where at least I would know what was going on.
Without warning, the lights flickered and then went out. Now that was a first. An instant later, an alarm screeched, making me jump. I gasped, really worried for the first time since we left Earth. The screeching continued as the stars swirled and zigzagged, sending faint but frightening shadows thrashing around me like alien spirits trying to take over the ship. For a second I wondered if that could actually be happening. Maybe the Somavians had powers we didn’t know about. Maybe they were trying to drive us out of their system … or worse.
Then the emergency lights embedded in the deck glowed to life, and I let out my breath in relief. The navigational computer two rows ahead of me powered on automatically, its screen lighting up green.
My relief was short-lived, though. The alarm kept blaring its intermittent warning. Screech! Silence. Screech! Silence. Screech! The turbulence was worse than ever, as though the Laika was a wild horse, bucking and leaping and trying to throw its rider off. And that rider gripped the edge of her seat all alone there in the lifeboat, wondering what in the universe was happening.
Suddenly the whirling stars vanished and Soma swung into view, filling the viewport ahead of me, a blur of brown-blue-gray-green-brown. I barely had time to notice before it was gone and the streaking stars reappeared. Then the moon appeared again.
My stomach was spinning as fast as the ship. Thank goodness I had inherited the Smith Stomach of Steel, or my breakfast would probably have ended up all around me. I could only imagine what a nasty experience that would be in zero gravity with the ship thrashing around like this.
A new noise caught my attention. A mechanical noise, a series of clicks and clinks and the sliding of metal against metal. I had only ever heard it before in simulations, but I recognized it right away, and my heart lurched in terror. “No!”
Words flashed across the computer screen, large enough to read from where I sat. LIFEBOAT LAUNCHING.
“No! I yelled again. I fumbled for the seatbelt clasp and flung myself across the tiny cabin, lunging for the manual override button beside the door. Not a smart move, I have to admit, considering how wildly everything was jerking around me. But I panicked. Can you blame me? None of our training, none of the simulations, had dealt with what to do if the lifeboat you were sitting in alone accidentally detached from the ship.
I knew what to do if a lifeboat didn’t detach when it was supposed to. I knew which lifeboat I was supposed to board in an emergency. Not this one, though they were all the same. I knew who my lifeboat buddies would be — a fairly even cross-section of the ship’s crew in terms of age and abilities, so we would have the best possible chance of survival in case not every lifeboat made it. I knew how to steer the lifeboat and bring it down for a controlled landing, even though I wasn’t the assigned helmsperson in my group. We had all learned all those skills, just in case.
But I didn’t know how to survive in deep space or on Soma’s surface on my own. The cupboards contained emergency rations and survival gear, of course, but not enough to live off of indefinitely. Of course the lifeboat would emit a signal that the ship’s sensors would pick up — I knew they were picking it up already, as of the moment my craft started to detach — but what if no one could come and get me right away? What if I landed on Soma, but the Laika couldn’t land for days or even weeks? They would have no way to rescue a stranded teenager who shouldn’t have been reading in a lifeboat in the first place.
And what if the aliens found me before my people did?
All that went swirling through my brain within a couple of seconds as I slammed my fist into the manual override button again and again. But nothing happened. That is, the hatch didn’t open to let me out into the ship’s corridor. But the incessant alarm finally went silent, and the frantic jerking and thrashing stopped, replaced by a slow, gentle twirl.
For a second, Optimistic Liz dared to hope that the trouble was over. But I knew that wasn’t it.
The lifeboat was no longer connected to the ship.
Too horrified even to yell again, I watched the Laika drift past the window, Somav’s light tinting her silver-white hull a metallic frostbite-blue against the blackness of space. She was still spinning and dancing like some huge bird as the solar flares played havoc with her electrical systems. And then I saw only stars, and then the mottled brown of the moon, then more stars. And then there went the Laika once more, further away this time.
Grabbing the back of a seat for leverage, I shoved off from the deck, thankful for the zero-gravity training. Floating was faster than clomping along in magnetic shoes, and I had to get to the controls now. I had to steer myself back to the ship.
But as I seized the arm of the helmsperson’s chair and maneuvered my body into it, I realized I had no idea how to reattach a lifeboat to its socket on the ship’s side. They had never taught us that. Were lifeboats even designed to reattach once they were separated?
Well, somebody must know the proper procedure for this kind of emergency. Captain Tyler or one of the other adults could talk me through the process. Right?
I fumbled for the seatbelt, twisting my ankles around the legs of the chair so I wouldn’t float off in the meantime. Jabbing the intercom button, I called, “Help! I’m in a lifeboat that just detached! What do I do?”
Realizing how panicked and little-girly I sounded, I took a deep breath and tried again. “I mean, this is Liz Smith on Lifeboat 1, calling anybody on the Laika who can hear me. Come in, please.”
There was no response, and I realized that the communication light wasn’t even on. The intercom was offline.
Great. Dang solar flares.
I took another deep breath. I had never felt so alone.
But the controls in front of me looked exactly like the ones in the simulator. I could do this. It would be just the same as I had practiced.
Except this was no game, where the only real struggle was to beat my classmates, to be the first to land my virtual lifeboat safely.
This was a real emergency.
This was my life at stake.


About the Author

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published eighteen books in a wide variety of genres (science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with Annie Douglass Lima

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Mary Edwards Olson and her Memoir "When the Sun Shines Through"



By Mary Edwards-Olson

I wrote When the Sun Shines Through because of my personal journey. I was a caregiver for my mother and watched first hand as Alzheimer's slowly stole her from us.

My mother, Elizabeth Edwards, lost her fight with Alzheimer's on October 23, 2017.

Caring for my mother was a roller coaster of emotions. You go from crying so hard that every inch of your body aches, to being so overwhelmed with joy when a piece of them perks through the mask of Alzheimer's. I was ignorant to this disease and its cruelty until I watched it slowly take my mother, piece by piece. It was hard as a caretaker to understand that Mom wasn't Mom anymore in terms of behavior. There were days I thought she was being lazy or difficult on purpose and I would get so upset. It breaks my heart I ever thought that. It was the disease, in those moments. Please remember it's the disease. Your loved one is in there, scared and confused. Show compassion and remember to take time for yourself. As a caregiver, we often take a back seat, but remember your loved one needs you to be happy, and emotionally and physically healthy. They may not express it but they understand.

This never-ending pain pushed me to write a book that leads you towards the light, towards the happiness that can often be overlooked because the sadness and darkness will consume you. This was what happened to me; I was so sad -the type of sadness that changes a person. Because of this sadness, I often missed those happy moments that seem to shine through. The moments when your loved one remembers you or a childhood event, or when they smile, or remember to tell you they love you. Hold on to that. Let that consume you. Do not focus on the horror of slowly losing your hero or best friend; that was Mom to me, she was my hero and my best friend. The strongest women I knew was fading.

I also witnessed the toll watching a loved one suffer from this disease had on my children. They weren't just watching their Nana suffer, they were watching their mother break down begging God for a miracle. They were also watching their grandpa become more and more withdrawn, forcing smiles and happiness. I knew there needed to be a book that could help the often forgotten sufferers, the children, but also offer comfort to the adults. Thus, When the Sun Shines Through was born.

Everyone that has purchased the book from me has left with tears in their eyes or a smile on their face. Both children and adults have found peace and comfort in my book. Others have written me or left positive feedback saying my book tells such a painful story in such a sweet comforting way. The words along with the beautiful illustrations remind them to hold on to the good memories they steal from a disease that tries to do nothing but cause heartbreak. It currently has a 4 star rating on Amazon and was on their hot new release list and a top seller on kindle.

Because of this book I have been able to partner with our local Barnes and Noble to turn the store purple and raise over $2,000 to help find a cure. The "Elizabeth Edwards Grant For Hope" was created to help those in our community that can't afford care or supplies needed to maintain a healthy happy life. We had our first event where we raised almost $5,000! The wonderful part was bringing those with the disease together with the community, those that are caregivers, and those that have lost someone they love under one roof. We gave Alzheimer's a face!


About the Author

My name is Mary Edwards-Olson. I'm a writer, a mother, a daughter, a wife. I wake up every day wanting to give up and crawl into a hole, but my drive to find a cure overpowers this emotion. I fight and I refuse to stop! I talk constantly about my journey, the need for a cure, and the pain the hopeless carry. I am a voice and I refuse to be silenced! This is my first book. I have another being illustrated now along with a novel I'm working on. I have been a guest speaker at many local events and hope to spread my message far beyond my community. Thank you to all of you that fight to end this horrible disease!

Connect with Mary Edwards-Olson




Instagram: @Author.Mary.Edwards.Olson




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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Meet Ann Balcom, Blogger and Author of "The Blue Velvet Drape - Dealing with Dementia"


By Anne F. Balcom

Mom was diagnosed with dementia in 2006. From the moment my parents told my sister and me the news I began losing sleep, a lot of sleep. The worry of “How were we going to get through this?” was eating me up. I would lie in bed at night for hours thinking and crying while my husband and kids were sleeping.

After many sleepless nights, I began getting out of bed in the middle of the night, going to the living room and jotting down my thoughts in a journal. I had so many thoughts and concerns that I could not write as fast as my thoughts were coming, so I began to type them. I would print out what I typed and tape it into my journal.

After a while I began wondering if other people who were co-caregivers of family members with dementia were feeling the same as me. I had so many emotions…fear, worry, anger, frustration, and I wrote about it all. ALL of the ugly stuff.


I decided to create a blog. I didn’t really care if anyone read it or not, but I thought it would be a good way to keep family and friends of family current with Mom’s condition, so Dad, my sister and I wouldn’t have to keep retelling what was going on. This is how Dealing with Dementia was born. After Mom passed away, I changed the name to The Blue Velvet Drape: Dealing with Dementia. It truly is my journal.

For years, my father, aunt and I attended monthly support group meetings for family members caring for loved ones with dementia. At one of those meetings, Dad mentioned that I had started keeping a blog of our dementia experiences. The moderator of our support group asked for the link, so she and others could read it.

Months went by, and after she had read my blog she encouraged me to keep writing as she felt it was a good resource for others who were also caregivers. Later she encouraged me to publish my blog. “Oh my gosh”, I thought. “Who would want to buy a book about my family?” I am not a writer by any means; my blog is full of misspelled words and grammatical errors. Regardless, people kept reading, relating and encouraging me about the book. Eventually, my blog reached more than 20,000 views across 12 different countries.

It was 9-10 years before I actually bit the bullet and self-published a book in February 2017. My book IS my blog. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s mine and my family’s experience.

My hope for my book is that it is helpful to others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You cannot do it alone.

Blog Feedback

When thinking of closing my blog after Mom passed away:

Anne,

Take it for someone who has been in your shoes, writing might be the exact thing you need right now. I found it very therapeutic after my father died. Once a caregiver, always a caregiver; your journey is not over yet. You will find that this campaign will stick with you for quite a while. Write about the after affects you go through, it’s important that others learn from your experiences. There’s a course of recovery that every caregiver should know about. 
Stay strong my friend and share your wisdom with others. - Gary Joseph LeBlanc, author of  Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness

I have referred a friend of mine to your blog two weeks ago. She needed a source to learn how to deal with things. I'm glad you are keeping this blog. Even though I haven't dealt with this, it's still therapeutic in other ways. –Amy


Don't close it, Anne...you may need to come back to it someday and it may be that you will want to share this with your children. And like you said, you aren't finished...take it slow and don't rush anything right now...I have enjoyed it, although I never commented. I learned a lot, and I appreciate you and how wonderful a daughter you were to your mother. What an inspiration you are. Loving you Anne! <3 Kim

Feedback on Amazon

"A wonderful book of the daily trials that families face when dealing with dementia. Book offers insight/guidance on how to deal with situations. A must read!" -arrky66

Purchase The Blue Velvet Drape

About the Author

Ann Balcom and her mom
Anne F. Balcom was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She attended Western Kentucky University from 1984-1988. While she did not graduate from WKU, she later attended the Interior Design Institute at Sullivan College in Louisville getting her Associates of Applied Science degree in Interior Design in 1997. In 2000, she married David, the love of her life. They began growing their family in 2001 with the birth of their daughter, Emma. Their son, Wade came along in 2003. A stay-at-home mom for 12 years, she returned to the fulltime work force in 2013 working for Jefferson County Public Schools as an attendance clerk in an elementary school. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends as well as watching her daughter play soccer and her son run cross country. She has recently started taking painting classes at a locally owned art studio.

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Instagram: dealingwithdementiablog


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Lisa Wingate, author of "Tending Roses"


By Lisa Wingate

The Gap

In every story I write, there are bits of real life, nibblets of sheer invention and sprinkles of serendipity. Readers often ask me which parts are which. Sometimes, it’s hard to dissect. Our way of looking at the world comes from our experiences in it. Our passions, the things we care about enough to examine, do as well. I’ve talked about caretaking and the Alzheimer’s journey quite a bit in my books. It’s an issue I know intimately. 

My first novel, Tending Roses, was in part walking that path with my grandmother. She was a storyteller, a keeper of stories. She could wear you out with her stories, but they always came with a lesson at the end. And then, the stories, one-by-one, piece-by-piece, faded away. The newest ones vanished first. It’s a bittersweet journey, the road of memory loss. My straight-laced, sometimes overbearing grandmother lost some of her inhibitions as she lost those stories. There were funny times, tender times, funny things she said that made us laugh until we cried.

There were times we just cried. When laughter seemed an impossible luxury.

Lisa's Grandma Rose
It’s difficult, being with a loved one who is physically able but fading mentally. It’s often a lonely occupation, a painful one. Even friends and family members who would like to help frequently don’t know how to contribute. My hope is that my stories build bridges and create dialogue between primary caretakers and  surrounding friends and family members. Just a few hours out of the house, while a friend or family member takes over the duties, can be an incredible gift.

There’s something to learn from the journey of memory loss, I think. Just like my grandmother’s stories, all journeys come with lessons. Preserve the family stories while you can—that’s the first lesson. Listen. Hear. Record. Write down. Be patient. These are treasures. They’re worth your effort. Later, you’ll be glad you took the time. I could fill a dozen shoeboxes if I had a nickel for every time a reader has said to me, I wish we’d gotten the stories down when we had the chance. Now it’s too late.

Those are the saddest words. I hate those words.

Another lesson from the Alzheimer’s journey — it’s hard. Most of us go through life watching heroic acts on the news and wondering if we’d have what it takes to do the right thing, to do the hard thing. To be heroic ourselves. It’s important to remember that true heroism doesn’t manifest itself only in those who run into burning buildings or cross battlefields to save the wounded. Heroism exists in quieter forms, in entirely unremarkable places, in everyday efforts and little battles. It’s found in those who sacrifice day after day, who love someone who can’t always demonstrate love in return. Someone who can be frustrating, frustrated, sad, confused, unfamiliar, repetitive. Who can’t say, I love you. Thank you for doing this for me. Don’t leave me. I need you.

Caretakers are heroes. Straight up. They stand in the gap between this disease and its victims.

I look forward to the day when they’ll no longer be needed.

Copyright 2018 Wingate Media, LLC

Purchase Tending Roses

About the Author

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and New York Times Bestselling Author of thirty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, The Carol Award, and the Christy Award. Her blockbuster hit, Before We Were Yours remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for over ten months, was Publishers Weekly’s #3 longest running bestseller of 2017, and was voted by readers as the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award winner for historical fiction. Before We Were Yours has been a book club favorite worldwide and to date has sold over one million copies.



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