Meet Shannon O’Donnell, author of Save the Bones

 

Bones coverIn the late 1990s, I joined a writers’ group. The rules were simple: “Bring three pages, double-spaced, to read. Ask for the critique you want.” I wanted to write, not just think about writing.

I wrote and shared a story about a trip my sister and I made to visit our mother in Southern California. It had been an odd time and we were still trying to make sense of it. Writing helped. I kept writing, especially about funny conversations I had with Mom. Continue reading

Meet Rundy Purdy, author of The Sea Is Wide

RundyPurdyWriting the Story by Rundy Purdy

I was twenty-four years old when I became a caregiver for my grandpa. I left my old life and moved in with my grandparents to care for my Grandpa in his journey through Alzheimer’s. There at the very start of my journey, fresh in that new place of life, I sat down and began with the following email to my family: Continue reading

Meet Geri Taylor: Living with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

By Maria Shriver

In June, Geri Taylor spoke in front of participants of my first-ever Move for Minds Alzheimer’s fundraising and fitness event. Move for Minds took place at Equinox Sports Clubs in six different cities across the United States, and Geri Taylor spoke to the group in New York about living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypqYcUpXEF0]

Taylor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. Upon learning about her diagnosis, Taylor sought support from her therapist about her diagnosis however, she was not expecting to hear what the therapist would tell her. Taylor said that the therapist “tried to convince me that the diagnosis was incorrect.” When the therapist did finally give Taylor some advice, it was to “Tell No One!” Saying if she shared the news, people would back away from her life. Continue reading

Meet Kate Swaffer, author of “What The Hell Happened To My Brain?”

Kate Swaffer Front cover

There are currently more than 47.5 million people diagnosed with dementia (WHO, 2015) and I am one of them, diagnosed with younger onset dementia at age 49 as a wife and mother of two teenage boys, working full time and studying as a mature age student at the University of SA. There is also an estimated one new diagnosis every 3.2 seconds somewhere in the world (ADI, 2015). The health care sector, and service providers all told me (in different ways) to “give up work, give up study, to quickly get my end Continue reading

Meet Ann Garvin, author of I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around

Laughter And Alzheimer: A Necessary Contradiction

I Like You Fine_final cvrI write about Alzheimer’s because, it seems, I can’t not write about Alzheimer’s. This wretched disease shows up, one way or another in so many of my essays, even when I don’t plan on it. There are times that I’m clearly writing about Alzheimer’s and the ravages of its footprint on people and family. Then, there are times I’m writing about memory and it’s purpose in our lives, as I did here when performing in the Listen To Your Mother series. I, somewhat humorously decide, in my reading, why we only remember fails of parenting-grace instead of the highlights of our childhood. There is a lot of laughter in that performance but it’s laughter borne of pain. Continue reading

Meet Author Gary Joseph LaBlanc

The Making of a Caregiver 

by Gary Joseph LaBlanc

Staying Afloat CoverBecoming a caregiver started as far back as my earliest childhood memories. My oldest sister was born mentally disabled, living her life equivalent to being around six years old. So it was drilled into me that I needed to hurry up and become her older brother and guardian, always keeping a close eye on her—making sure she was safe. Continue reading

Meet Loretta Woodward Veney, author of Being My Mom’s Mom

LWVeneyBookcoverI decided to write my book because I felt so helpless when my Mom was diagnosed in 2006 at the age of 77. I was stunned that at such a young age, she became the first female in our family to be diagnosed with dementia, especially given the longevity of my grandparents and particularly my great grandmother who lived to be 106 with both her quick wit and her memory intact. I had no preparations in place for my Mom because she had no health problems at all. I thought she’d live alone until she Continue reading

Meet R.J. Thesman, author of the Reverend G Series

RJT - pic for 2nd bookHow a Trilogy about Alzheimer’s Brings Hope

By R. J. Thesman

“We have to park here,” Mom said, as I drove her to the grocery store.

“Why here? Why in this particular spot?”

“Because…when we come out, we’ll know where the car is.”

That was my first clue that Mom’s forgetfulness had merged into something more serious. She always parked her car in the same spot at the grocery store so she could find it when she finished shopping. Continue reading

Grandpa is Losing It: Teens and Dementia

by Laurel Garver

My new young adult novel Almost There  focuses on the complications that arise for alaurel garver photo teenager when a grandparent’s health problems blow one’s grand plans to bits. Dani is about to take a dream trip to Paris when her grandfather suffers a series of strokes that cause permanent brain damage—vascular dementia, the second most common type of dementia. Continue reading

5 Steps to Help Counter a Common Caregiving Side Effect: Guilt

By Gurney Williams

If dementia is a thief, guilt is an accomplice.

My wife Linda’s disease stole years of our marriage until she was wholly dependent on a team of professionals in an assisted living facility. But caregiver guilt began to haunt me on the day we got her diagnosis.

A New York neurologist told us her symptoms—difficulty in writing and speaking—were consistent with a rare dementia. My hand-written notes from that meeting in the doctor’s cramped office were as jumbled as the thoughts in my mind. Long black lines slashed across the page, connecting medical words I didn’t understand, including the name of her disorder, “primary progressive aphasia.” A circle surrounded bold capital letters, “CAN’T KNOW.” That meant no one could be certain about how Linda’s disease would play out. But it was clear she would eventually need full-time help, possibly for the rest of her life. Continue reading