Meet Candy Abbott, author of “I’ve Never Loved Him More”

9781938796081 COVER - Front RGBBy Candy Abbott

A Husband’s Alzheimer’s, A Wife’s Devotion

“Mom,” my daughter Kim said, “You know you’re going to have to write a book about how you’re dealing with Dad.”

I recoiled at the thought. It was all I could do to get through each day of unknowns and added responsibilities. “No, hon. I have to live this before I can write about it. I have no energy to think about ministering to others right now. Maybe after it’s all over—maybe then, I could think about writing—but not while I’m dealing with all this raw emotion. I’m still finding my way.”

A couple of weeks later, I shared my struggles as an Alzheimer’s caregiver with Delmarva Christian Writers’ Fellowship. During the coffee break, Claire Smith touched my arm and looked deep into my eyes. “Candy, you need to write a book about this, you know.”

I flinched and felt my face flush. “That’s what Kim said, but I don’t think so. Not for years, anyway. I have to get through this first.”

She tilted her head and said with a knowing look. “We’ll see.”

I wanted to smack her encouraging prophetic face. Instead, I smiled sweetly. But a seed had taken root. I felt it in the core of my soul.

And then came the phone conversation with my writing mentor, Nancy Rue.

“Everywhere I turn, people are telling me that I need to write about this, and I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination.”

“Well,” she said, “don’t think of it in terms of writing a book. Just try capturing some scenes now and then that seem significant. I think it could be therapeutic for you. No pressure, no goals, just get some of these things out of your head and heart and onto paper where you can look at them. It’ll give you a little bit of control, and it won’t be hard. Just capture some scenes.”

Nancy was on target. Right from the beginning, my manuscript began teaching me things about myself as I recorded my raw emotions and the mysterious changes taking place in Drew. I shared parts of the manuscript with Sara Lewis, and she said, “Candy, people need this NOW. You have to publish this as soon as possible.”

And so I did. Drew is still in the moderate phase of Alzheimer’s, and I have to hide all evidence of the book as he thinks he’s perfectly fine. But I have peace that I’m doing the right thing by releasing our story while he’s still living.

One woman said the first few pages brought healing of unresolved grief over her grandfather. Another said she overcame guilt over how she had cared for her husband until she recognized herself as a Proverbs 31 Woman. A seven-year-old granddaughter with severe anxiety reads the book with her grandmother every night. “She may not understand everything,” Sharon said, “but she feels the love.”

What pleases me most is that people see hope between the pages. I suspect my hardest days are yet ahead, and I’m still writing. But this I know: Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to break you. It can make you trust God more and teach you to appreciate living in the moment. It’s all about finding a depth of love you didn’t know you had in you.

About The Author:

Candy October 2013 teal - sm

facebook.com/candyabbott

Twitter @CandyAbbott

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Pinterest CandyAbbott

www.fruitbearer.com

 

 

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Meet Christina Britton Conroy, author of “How to have Fun with your Aging Parents”

978-1934912-77-5 cvr 2By Christina Britton Conroy

When I was twenty-seven, my sixty-year-old mother died of cancer. I was left to care for my temperamental, over-controlling, eighty-year-old father. While grieving for my mother, I was also angry with her for dying young. Taking care of her elderly husband was supposed to have been her job, not mine.

Dad was bored, lonely, and wanted me to come over daily. I was a fulltime musical theatre performer struggling to build a career, find a husband, and a start a family of my own. An aging father did not fit into that equation.

We had never had fun together, and I didn’t know what to do with him. I finally figured out that the only thing he enjoyed was talking about himself. I didn’t know it, but reminiscing with him was the start of my work as a Creative Arts Therapist.

I bought Dad a small cassette tape recorder and he recorded his stories. Every time he held a finished tape in his hand, he felt happily fulfilled. He died peacefully at the age of 92.

The next Christmas, I was hired to sing carols at a nursing home. I took my small Irish harp and entertained a half-dozen residents at a time in several locations around the building.

Unlike singing on a stage with a faceless audience in the dark, these few, frail people stared vacantly. I started singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Suddenly, like wilted flowers given water, they seemed to bloom with new life. Shouting out the lyrics, they sat up singing with pure joy. For the first time, I realized that music could be much more than just entertainment.

That night changed my life. I applied, auditioned, and was accepted into NYU’s Music Therapy Master’s Degree program.

Years later, I was the director of a senior center for the well-elderly. One member was 67-year-old Bill, crippled from polio and waring leg-braces. He had never attended academic school, but only a trade school where he learned make costume jewelry. He was shy and bored, had little musical ability, but enjoyed singing in my chorus, and playing in musical improvisation sessions.

After about a year of improvising, Bill and a few other center members asked me to start a band. Shocked, but intrigued, I carefully explained that playing “real music,” meant they had to learn to play musical instruments. They were still adamant, so the band was formed.

Bill played the bass drum, loved it, and his self-esteem grew. He became so proud of himself; he volunteered to teach a jewelry-making class. Before long, his two-dozen elderly students opened a store and were selling jewelry. The sales made money for the center, and he was suddenly a very important guy. If Bill had never tried playing a drum, he might never have gained the personal confidence to teach a jewelry-making class, rediscover his old passion, and create a product that benefitted so many.

Learning a new skill can rekindle passion in an old one. Sharing a passion, can ignite passionate joy in others.

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“To all adult children, caregivers, professionals read this book! Conroy’s approach aligns with ‘Positive Psychology’ – focusing on one’s passions and strengths.

Gerald Solk, Ph.D., CUNY, Psychologist, Gracie square Hospital

“…an insightful, unique approach to helping people cope with the demands of dealing with the elderly.”                     

John J. Daly, M.D., NYC Police Surgeon, St. Vincent’s Hospital, NYC

“…social workers, nursing home and community center staffers, psychologists and family members… could all benefit from this information.”

Judy Foust, R.N., U.S. Army Hospital, retired, Low Vision Specialist, Lighthouse, NYC

About the Author

IMG_0813Christina Britton Conroy, M.A., L.C.A.T., C.M.T. is the founder and Executive Director of Music Gives Life, bringing musical performing into the lives of senior citizens. Many of her elderly showstoppers, ages 60- 101, never performed in public before joining Christina’s program. NY1 – TV NEWS named them NYers of the Week. A former senior center director, nursing home music therapist, and primary caregiver for two elderly family members, Christina has unique insights into the joys and frustrations shared by geriatric patients and their caregivers. Also a classically trained musician/actor, Christina toured the world performing musical theatre. She lives in Greenwich Village, NYC with her husband, actor/media-coach/cartoonist Larry Conroy.

www.ChristinaBrittonConroy.com
www.linkedin.com/in/ChristinaBrittonConroy
@ChrisBritConroy

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Meet Lori LaBey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

A Gift in a Strange Package

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By Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

I have to admit caring for my Mother with dementia was not on my bucket list. In fact, the possibility never crossed my mind. Dementia crept into our lives slowly. Its visits were spontaneous and behavior changes subtle, giving me the perfect excuse to live in denial.

Mom’s dementia symptoms began our thirty-year journey down the yellow brick road. We were off to see the Wizard. Yet along the way, I found I had the answers I needed: acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and unconditional love. All were tools my Mother taught me growing up. I also needed to acknowledge and embrace our new lives. You see, dementia was not just my Mother’s disease. It was “our disease,” hers, mine and everyone she encountered. I found each of us has a choice on how we are going to live with dementia.

Will it Be a Gift or a Disaster in Your Life?

Through illness, I was taught life lessons I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. The beauty of each lesson can’t be put into words, but each is embedded in my heart and my soul. Each is a memory of magnificent proportion. Each was brought forth by a simple question I would ask myself.

“What’s the Lesson?”

Each lesson was wrapped in a love deeper than I previously knew. By asking this simple question when I felt pushed up against a wall, simple answers came.

Answers Changed My Career and My Life

I felt strongly that old ways of caring and serving those with dementia weren’t working, and for me, working in a broken system wasn’t an option. So, in 2009, Alzheimer’s Speaks was born. My goal was to raise all voices, share knowledge and empower all to shift our dementia care culture from crisis to comfort.

Today, we are an advocacy group and media outlet making an international impact. We provide education and support for those dealing with all forms of dementias. Two of our educational platforms are: Alzheimer’s Speaks Radio, believed to be the first program dedicated to dementia in the world, and a webinar series called “Dementia Chats™”, whose experts are those diagnosed with some form of dementia.

 

Loriand Maria

Maria Shriver honored La Bey as an “Architect of Change” for Humanity.

LoriandDr.Oz

Named the  “#1 Influencer Online for Alzheimer’s” by Sharecare and Dr. Oz

People kindly refer to me as the spark igniting the first Dementia Friendly Community in the United States and for helping expand the UK’s Memory Café concept in America.

There is nothing like finding your purpose and passion in life which allows you to help others. This fall we are setting sail with a Dementia Friendly Symposium and Cruise which will be an exceptional experience as we live gracefully together with dementia.

Makers of the Hollywood film, “His Neighbor Phil,” consulted with me to design a marketing plan. I was thrilled they were willing to try something new. The response has been remarkable as I have taken the film around the country doing talk backs. The film has proven its extraordinary ability to connect with audiences, remove stigmas and give hope.

As for the future, I will continue to keynote, speak, train, write, advocate, collaborate and push innovation forward developing new delivery systems and attitudes towards those living with and dealing with dementia.

For additional information, resources, or to be a featured guest or sponsor visit: www.AlzheimersSpeaks.com

 

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Meet Margo Rose, author of “Body Aware Grieving”

 

BAG cover FRONTThe Last Christmas Present

By Margo Rose

The first client with advanced Alzheimer’s who I worked with as a fitness trainer was named Gwen.

When I met her, she was 92 years old and had already lived for five years in the dementia section of an assisted care facility.

I never met Gwen’s adult daughter, who had seen on the internet that I work as a fitness trainer doing on-site senior wellness. My only point of contact was a phone call from the daughter asking me to help her frail mother stay as strong as possible, and a monthly check that arrived in the mail.

I didn’t know much about Gwen’s personal life, or what she had been like before Alzheimer’s had influenced her personality.

Gwen was so sweet and easy to love! She never remembered me, but was happy to meet me twice each week. Since she was physically so weak, we would do some exercises from her bed and others from her wheelchair and still have time remaining in our one hour session.

“Would you like to go explore the garden, Gwen?”

The answer was always “yes,” so I would roll her wheelchair out to a shady spot on the beautiful patio.

It was hard for Gwen to make conversation and since I didn’t really know her, I would guess at what keywords might trigger happy and fond memories for her. Do you like to have picnics? Have you been to the beach? What are your favorite drinks? Do you enjoy lemonade?

Soon after my first Christmas with her, I was surprised, but not really, to get a phone call from her daughter letting me know that Gwen had passed away peacefully.

What the daughter said next remains to this day, my favorite and most touching compliment ever as a fitness trainer. She told me that after five years of extremely depressing Christmases with Gwen’s declining conversation skills, during this recent and final visit Gwen had been more able to talk with her family.

I do not claim to be responsible for the improvement in Gwen’s communication abilities. Her daughter, though, said to me, “You’ve given our family a beautiful gift. Our last memories with our mother and grandmother are very loving, and we will cherish them.”

Wow. It is such an honor to be invited into people’s families and to meet their parents, who are still so beautiful, despite their decline and challenges.

I send love to each of you reading this who are caring for someone. One thing I have seen in every caregiving circumstance so far, is that your friend or family member who is struggling with the frustrations of aging and/or illness appreciates your help much, much more than they are able to express to you directly.

image2About the Author:

Margo Rose is a fitness trainer, author, and radio podcast host.

She has created a system of self-care called Body Aware Grieving that helps people avoid accidents, injuries, and stress-related setbacks during times of loss or grief.

Margo Rose’s first book, Body Aware Grieving, A Fitness Trainer’s Guide to Caring for Your Health During Sad Times is available on Amazon.

More info, blog and podcasts on her websitehttps://www.bodyawaregrieving.com/ 

For bulk discounts on books, or personalized consulting Margo can be reached by emailhttps://www.bodyawaregrieving.com/contact/ 

Twitter: @BodyAwareGrief

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/BodyAwareGrieving

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Meet H.A. Robinson, author of “The Pebble Jar”

HAR_Pebble_Ebook_Rveal (1) (1)By H.A. Robinson

When I sat down to write The Pebble Jar around this time last year, I had no idea of the personal journey the book would take me on. In March of 2016, my little Nana passed away at the age of ninety-one after a long and painful battle with Alzheimer’s. By the time she fell asleep for the last time, we had almost completely lost the essence of who she had once been, leaving us with a shell of the person we loved. Continue reading

Welcome Sisters Susan Kiser Scarff & Ann Kiser Zultner, Authors of Dementia: The Journey Ahead

51meTGNSoXLBy Susan Kiser Scarff

Within a year of my husband receiving his dementia diagnosis, I had a classic case of caregiver burnout. I couldn’t concentrate at work and most of my time was taken up with worrying about my husband’s uncharacteristic and impulsive behavior. I was petrified and intimidated about the future…overwhelmed with basic day-to-day activities. Further, I was apprehensive about making the transition from wife to protector, nurse, and mother. Continue reading

Meet Bryan Wiggins, author of “Autumn Imago”

WIGGINS_AutumnImago_NewCover copyBy Bryan Wiggins

No one I know has Alzheimer’s disease. My parents have entered their eighties with their sharp minds intact. Only one of my four grandparents suffered any kind of dementia, and Granny’s wasn’t that severe. So when I forget a name, lose my car keys, or question what the heck I’m doing standing in the basement after clomping down the stairs, I shrug my shoulders and carry on. I could still get Alzheimer’s, of course, but with no family history of it behind me, I find other things to worry about. Continue reading

“Meet Me Where I am – An Alzheimer’s Care Guide” by Mary Ann Drummond

Meet-Me-Where-I-Am-AMAZON (3)

 

By MaryAnn Drummond, RN

When I was a young girl I dreamed I would grow up and become a nurse.  I seldom left home without my nurse’s kit filled with band-aides, cotton balls, and gum drop pills just in case my services were needed.  It seemed so simple in those days to comfort and to heal, or at least that is what my Grandmother led me to believe each time she let me practice my skills on her.

If only caregiving were that easy!  The reality is there are Continue reading

Meet Suzka Collins, author of “Wonders in Dementialand”

BK-Dementialand-COVERBy Suzka Collins

Ah… the wonders I found living with my mother in Dementialand. It all started almost minutes after she was diagnosed with progressive dementia. The cause was meningitis encephalitis. There seemed to be no choice at the time. I had to leave my bohemian life in the art world in California to return to a Chicago suburb where my mom was living. I am a painter. This had all the markings of a disaster. Continue reading

Meet Emily Page, author of “Fractured Memories”

Book cover 1By Emily Page

Writing about dementia came about fairly slowly and organically. I’m an artist, so when my dad was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at the age of 65, my natural inclination was to start doing paintings about our journey as a sort of self-prescribed art therapy. I used an elephant as both a symbol for and a talisman against dementia, because “an elephant never forgets.” As I created paintings, I posted them on social media with an explanation of their meaning, and people really responded to them. At the insistence of a friend, I started a blog to help Continue reading