Monday, November 30, 2015

Raise Your Voice About Alzheimer's

This is the last in a series of guest posts about Alzheimer’s and caregiving as the #AlzAuthors Ending the Isolation of Alzheimer's campaign comes to a close. Throughout November, I partnered with four other authors of books about Alzheimer's to raise awareness of this horrific brain disease that affects 5.3 million Americans and each of their loved ones, and to honor  their caregivers, both paid and unpaid, during Caregiver Appreciation Month. We also went on a crusade to increase awareness of the importance of annual memory screenings during National Memory Screening Week, November 1-7. 

It has been a whirlwind 30 days of blogging, sharing on Facebook and tweeting our messages to a worldwide audience. With this last post I leave you with a message from Shannon Wiersbitzky, author of What Flowers Remember, a children's book that gently describes Alzheimer's. Shannon urges us to keep the conversation going, to speak out about our concerns and experiences, to let others know they are not alone in their Alzheimer’s journey, and to demand that leaders in government, medical research, and healthcare continue in their quest to find a cure.

Raise Your Voice About Alzheimer’s

Friday, November 27, 2015

12 Titles to Begin the Dialogue About Alzheimer's

My special guest today is middle-grade author and blogger Shannon Wiersbitzky. Shannon is a driving force in #AlzAuthors. Her book, What Flowers Remember is one of the few titles in Alzheimer's written expressly for children. Children are often on the perimeter of Alzheimer's disease, silent observers, sometimes caregivers in their own right. They represent an important part in the collateral damage the disease leaves in its wake. Shannon speaks to us today about a helpful collection of books on this subject for children and adults, books that can help start a conversation about Alzheimer's, books that enlighten and educate. Welcome to Adventures in Publishing Shannon!

12 Titles to Begin the Dialogue About Alzheimer’s

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sharing Our Caregiver Stories Helps Others Cope

Today's guest blogger is Jean Lee, author of the painful and beautifully written memoir Alzheimer's Daughter. Jean reached out to me via Twitter and introduced herself after reading Blue Hydrangeas. She told me she loved the story and that it reminded her of her years caring for her own parents. She said she’d written her own book and asked if I’d be an advance reader. Of course I said yes. Thus began a lovely friendship and a strong collaboration as authors dedicated to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. She is a driving force in #AlzAuthors Ending the Isolation ofAlzheimer’s, a tireless advocate for caregivers, and a brilliant writer. Today she shares a little of her own story, and how writing her own book helps her help others.  She also shares something about the other #AlzAuthor titles in our collaboration. Jean has been featured on this blog several times. Welcome back to Adventures in Publishing Jean!

Sharing Our Caregiving Stories Helps Others Cope
by Jean L. Lee, author of Alzheimer’s Daughter

Caregivers. We are all caregivers. As humans we care for one another, or we should. Most especially, we care for those close to us.

  • As a youth I loved and respected my parents, a form of caring for them in my child-like way.
  •  As a young wife and mom, I cared for my husband and children.
  • As a teacher, I cared for my students.

But the logical timeline of maturation, love, and respect tipped topsy-turvy when my parents reached their eighties. They slowly began to lose their minds, act irrationally, and I became concerned for their safety. I sought out medical treatment, and they were both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease on the same day. 

Over the next decade I became the parent to my parents. I gradually, painfully made decisions, which they opposed in order to protect their well-being. In the process, I felt the guilt of taking everything away from the people had given me everything.

As I struggled to keep the pieces of my life together––my marriage, my own family, my career and the care of my parents––I grasped for resources, but found few. I am a positive person, therefore I sought uplifting resources, but much of what I read was written with a negative undertone about the ill treatment of a caregiver by an unreasonable loved one, about adult siblings who fought, about children who had grown up with angst toward a parent which continued through caregiving years. Even so, every time I found a kernel of truth, I felt as though I could keep going, someone else was brave enough to share this upside down world as well. 

I came to the conclusion that sharing my story might help others.

Alzheimer's Daughter details my journey caring for my parents. It is written with wincing honesty about the cruel effects of the disease, but a WWII love story held together by faith and family is contained within the pages.

Over the past several months, four other authors from across the country and I have crossed paths, all of us affected in some way by Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. 

For the month of November, the five of us have joined together in recognition of National Caregiver Appreciation Month and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month to recognize those unsung heroes, family caregivers. From each other we learned that all of us felt compelled to write our books, hoping to make a difference…hoping that we might make the pathway of others traveling this road a little less painful and lonely. 

Somebody Stole My Iron, by Vicki Tapia

Vicki details the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and painful decisions involved in caring for her parents. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe her book as “brave,” “honest,” “raw,” “unvarnished,” as well as a “must-read for every Alzheimer's/dementia patient's family.” Vicki wrote this story to offer hope to others, to reassure them that they’re not alone.    
What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wiersbitzky

Shannon writes this work of fiction through the eyes of a small-town preteen girl, Delia, whose elderly neighbor, Old Red Clancy is failing mentally. The aged gentleman has to be placed in a care facility, but Delia will not let him wither away. She devises a way for the whole community to remind Old Red how important he has been in all of their lives.

On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s by Greg O’Brien

Diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, Greg O’Brien’s story isn’t about losing someone else to Alzheimer’s, it is about losing himself a sliver at a time while still fighting to live with Alzheimer's, not die with it. 

Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story by Marianne Sciucco

A pair of retired Cape Cod innkeepers struggle with the wife’s Alzheimer’s.

For more information about caregiving and caregivers please follow #AlzAuthors during National Caregivers Appreciation Month, November 2015, or find us on Facebook.

You may read my interview with Jean here and my review of Alzheimer’s Daughter here.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

12 Ways to Reach Out to Caregivers During National Caregiver Appreciation Month

Chances are you know someone caring for an ill or disabled loved one.

This could be due to an illness such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, stroke, or a variety of other conditions. Some provide live-in care, others visit daily or weekly, and some oversee care from a distance or care provided by hired aides or a nursing facility.

No matter how the caregiver performs his or her role, caregiving is a tough job, requiring resources that are often scarce: time, money, support, and assistance.

The CDC tells us that more than 34 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone age 18 and older who is ill or has a disability, and an estimated 21 percent of US households are impacted by caregiving responsibilities.

Almost all of this work is unpaid, typically provided by family members, and often performed around the clock with no breaks. In addition, many caregivers juggle other responsibilities such as jobs, raising children, and managing their own households.

November is National Caregivers Appreciation Month, and a great time to reach out to those providing care and help lighten their load.

In recognition of those who work tirelessly and selflessly to care for a loved one, here are 12 ways to reach out to caregivers, to offer assistance and let them know you care. These people need support, and often that support doesn't cost much, if anything, and takes little time.

1. Ask if you can sit for them a little while so they can run errands, take a break, see the doctor, or attend church or a caregiver's support group, whatever they need to do to take care of themselves.

2. Going to the grocery store? Call and ask if there's anything you can pick up for them.

3. If your employer allows, donate paid sick time, vacation days, or personal time to a coworker caring for a relative who is hospitalized or needs post-hospital care.

4. Volunteer to mow the lawn, weed the garden, rake the leaves, or shovel the snow.

5. Share the bounty, whether from your vegetable or your flower garden. Fresh produce and fresh flowers are cheerful.

6. If you have the skills and tools, offer to change the oil in their car and rotate the tires.

7. Again, if you have the skills and tools, offer a free haircut to the caregiver and/or their loved one.

8. Walk their dog.

9. Ask if they'd like you to wash and clean out their car.

10. Volunteer to take out the trash and bring the barrels out to the curb on trash day.

11. Double cook a meal, preferably one of their favorites, and send over a dinner.

12. Include them in your prayers.

photo by Ocskay Mark via Dollar Photo Club

Saturday, November 21, 2015

New Release Spotlight: Just a Little Bit of Love by Ines Bautista Yao

Hot off the press! Just a Little Bit of Love by Clean Indie Reads YA Author Ines Bautista Yao 

Three short stories about three young girls: Anita, Ina, and Carla. Each one finding her life disrupted by a boy. Maybe it’s because he wanders into the coffee shop where she works after school every Tuesday. Maybe it’s because he won’t leave her alone even if she has made it clear that she is crushing on his football teammate. Or maybe it’s because she’s spent one unforgettable afternoon with him—despite being oh-so-forgetful. Three small doses of love that serve up a whole lot of feels.

Purchase Just a Little Bit of Love on Amazon 

About the Author

Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy SummerWhat’s in your Heart, and Only a Kiss. She has also written two short stories, “Flashbacks and Echoes,” which is part of a compilation called All This Wanting and “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival. She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zonemagazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher. She is also a wife and mom and blogs about the many challenges and joys of motherhood at She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: 5 Stars for Greg O'Brien's Revealing Memoir On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's

Books about Alzheimer's and dementia are difficult reads. Not only are they cruel reminders of a devastating fate that befalls a large proportion of us, they force us to think about and examine all the difficulties it entails. With 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer's and other dementias, it's important for us to learn as much as we can about it, so we can understand what is happening to the individuals who have it, whether they are known to us or not. This is a fate that could happen to someone we love or even to ourselves. Pretending it's not there is not an option. 

Greg O'Brien's On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's is one of those books that should be at the top of the reading list. Written by an award-winning journalist with 30+ years of experience, On Pluto takes us into the deepest and darkest secrets of this disease. 

O'Brien holds nothing back, revealing how his forgetfulness started to unravel the day-to-day details of his life and how he chose to meet the disease head on. He was no stranger to its cruelty after witnessing his own grandfather and his mother succumb to it, leaving him with a "blueprint" of how to live - and fight - with Alzheimer's. 

Diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer's in 2006 at the age of 59, he decided to use his knowledge, skills, and platform to educate others about living with a brain disease that  robs you bit by bit of your memory. It may sound easy to do given his skills and talents, but it is never easy or routine to reveal something so deep and personal as the losing of one's mind. O'Brien rightfully prized his above average intellect, and witnessing its gradual disappearance within the pages of this book is sobering and sad. 

The story he tells is one of loss, fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It's about the betrayal of one's own body, the altered future, the coming years not to be enjoyed. It's a story of growing up Irish, of a Cape Cod life, of a 37-year marriage, of family. It's about a lifelong dedication to a profession that revolves around words, words that the disease steals each day. 

I've read many books about Alzheimer's and this is only the second written by the person affected. The first was Thomas DeBaggio's Losing My Mind, also written by a newspaperman and writer like O'Brien. I thank God that we have men who are able to use their skills to bring us this enlightenment. We need it.

To meet Greg please visit the Living With Alzheimer's Film Project. 

To purchase On Pluto please go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

For a selection of other great books that shed light on Alzheimer's please visit #AlzAuthors.

Follow #AlzAuthors on Twitter. Visit our event page on Facebook where we share information on Alzheimer's and dementia and where you are  welcome to share your own story. 
To win a copy of Greg O'Brien's On Pluto as well as the other books in the #AlzAuthors collection please enter our giveaway. 

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Subscribe here and receive a free PDF of my Kindle short story Ino's Love.