By Lynda Everman
“To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!” – Pope Francis
I really can’t tell the story of our book, “Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers” without first telling the story of ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition, as they are the result of the following loosely connected series of events.
Like many others, I was away from organized religion for many years. Late in 2009 a neighbor invited me to attend Sunday services with her. I had just reluctantly and painfully moved my husband to an assisted living facility.
Early the next year George and Trish Vradenburg launched their non-profit, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. I was immediately drawn to their bold vision of stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020 and joined them as a founding member of both the Activists and Women’s Networks. Over the next few years, I came to believe that a network of interfaith clergy would offer an important and powerful voice in our efforts to advance better care, prevention, and ultimately, a cure for this merciless disease.
In 2014 UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Director Ginny Biggar and I set out to create ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and were quickly joined by an amazing team of passionate volunteers: Max Wallack, Rabbi Steven M. Glazer, Rev. Dr. Richard L. Morgan, and Dr. Daniel C. Potts.
We initially hoped to recruit about 20 interested clergy to be founders; but in just 4 months, we had over 110 founding members and went on to recruit additional clergy, laity and faith organizations.
With our interfaith network in place, it was Dr. Potts who suggested the idea for a book of meditations with these words, “Here is something to think about…” Literally, overnight, our thoughts melded into this project with an outline, a book title, original artwork, and a strategy for implementation; and in 5 months we published “Seasons of Caring.”
Our book was written to offer hope, encouragement, compassion and empathy to those on the difficult journey of caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
The book is organized around themes and metaphors of seasonal transition, with each of the four seasons paralleling the various stages of life. The 141 entries open with quotes from scripture, sacred text or other inspirational text. The original writings by 72 authors representing a great diversity of spiritual traditions range from thoughtful meditations to poignant personal stories, moving poems and meaningful songs. Each is followed by a prayer and words of comfort and encouragement.
We are grateful to our authors, caregivers themselves, who so generously gave of their time, experience and counsel.
The words of Pope Francis bear repeating as they well describe the intent of ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and “Seasons of Caring”, “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that…let us become bearers of hope!” Visit www.SeasonsofCaring.org to learn more about our mission and work, and to find resources for faith communities, including sermons, books, programs, and actions you can take that will help us defeat Alzheimer’s.
About the Author
Lynda Everman has spent most of her adult life – 24 years – as a caregiver, first for her mom who was paralyzed by a stroke and later died from complications of diabetes, then for her dad who, in 1994, showed symptoms of vascular dementia, and finally for her husband who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in 1997 and passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012.
It was because of these experiences, especially those related to the relentless individual and societal toll of dementia that Lynda was called into advocacy for increased awareness, better treatment, prevention, and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
She and fellow advocate Kathy Siggins have mounted a national campaign for a semipostal (awareness and fundraising) stamp for Alzheimer’s research and have created the Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer’s facebook community to further this effort.
Lynda is a board member of B.A.B.E.S. (Beating Alzheimer’s By Embracing Science), a founding member of ActivistsAgainstAlzheimer’s, WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s, and has recently served as founder and convener to ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s. She is an editor and contributor to “Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers”, an interfaith volume with more than 140 original meditations from seventy religious leaders and care specialists representing seventeen faith traditions. She and her husband, Dr. Don Wendorf, have served as editors for the Leader’s Guide for Seasons of Caring and Treasure for Alzheimer’s, both written by Dr. Richard Morgan, a fellow Clergy Network founder and well-known author on issues of aging and caregiving. Because of her relentless advocacy, she has been recognized by Maria Shriver as a woman of influence in the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and included on Maria’s “Big Wall of Empowerment”.
A retired Human Resources professional from the University of California, Lynda is determined to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease through public policy, increased funding for biomedical research, and recruitment of volunteers for clinical trials. Lynda is honored to speak on behalf of those with dementia and their loved ones and has addressed caregivers with her powerful message of being “The Voice: Advocating for your Loved One.” She may be contacted via the Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer’s facebook page, on Twitter @helpstampoutalz or by email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.