15th Annual Conference for Caregivers August 12, 2017 Springfield, IL
I’m looking forward to attending the 15th annual Conference for Caregivers this Saturday, August 12 from 8 am to 2 pm at the Northfield Center, 3280 Northfield Drive in Springfield, Illinois. Presented by the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland, the conference is offered for caregivers of older family members and grandparents raising children to provide information and support.
Following are some of the great sessions lined up, including a couple focused on dementia that I’m really looking forward to hearing. You can still register through Thursday, August 10 by calling the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland at 217-787-9234 for more information. Continue reading →
First, a little bit about the group offering this great eBook sale. AlzAuthors was founded in 2016 by four daughters of dementia who met over the internet because of their books, and formed a friendship and a mission to create a space where caregivers can find solid support, and those who share their stories can find the proper audience. I am pleased to be a member of AlzAuthors.
Vono Medical Supplies now carries Brought To Our Senses: A Novel
Vono Medical Supplies in Springfield, IL is where you need to go for home medical equipment. They carry all the medical products caregivers need to keep loved ones comfortable and cared for at home. And now you can pick up a copy of Brought To Our Senses there too! Look for the novel at the cash registers or on the front table with other educational reading materials. Caregivers will find inspiration in the family drama about four troubled siblings brought together by their mother’s health crisis.
I look forward to the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s in my hometown. It’s gratifying to see people come together in the community for a shared cause—hope for a world without Alzheimer’s. This year I was on the committee to help plan the event too. Thankfully the weather cooperated and the day was almost too warm with no sign of the wicked breeze responsible for the event location name—Southwind Park. Continue reading →
Recently I was delighted to learn the rest of the story from Wendy herself, as she contacted me to answer my question. As it turned out, her mother’s illness had progressed to the point that she needed to be moved to a nursing home. The piano recitals were no longer possible from the new facility, and the therapeutic ritual became another short but sweet memory in Wendy’s Alzheimer’s journey with her mother.
All dementia caregivers have stories to share, events in the progression of this devastating illness that have changed them profoundly. While these stories are all personal tributes to loved ones, there is a bittersweet commonality between them to which all caregivers can relate. Wendy was kind enough to share another of her stories with me, one she originally submitted to her local newspaper for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Thanks to Wendy for filling in the blanks and also allowing me to share her poignant story with others here.
Why do I support the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association each year? Because Alzheimer’s is a runaway train headed at full speed straight towards me and my siblings. I hear the train whistle blaring its approach in my dreams, but I cannot escape this train no matter how I try. Due to my family’s genetic vulnerability from a parent afflicted with Alzheimer’s, we remain helplessly tied to the tracks, unable to escape while dementia bears down upon us. There is no telling when it will arrive and how many it may hit, but from a family of five children it will likely find a target with one or more of us.
While on vacation, I had the chance to read Dignifying Dementia: A Caregiver’s Struggle by Elizabeth Tierney. First and foremost, this nonfiction book is a guide for caregivers offering all the nitty, gritty details of how difficult it is to personally care for a loved one at home through all the demanding stages of dementia from beginning to end. It is more than that, however, because it is also a beautiful love story.
Anyone seriously considering taking on the full-time responsibility of caring for a spouse, parent or loved one with any type of dementia should read this book for an insider’s look at the daunting challenges ahead. Not only are the odd symptoms and behavior of dementia sufferers explained, but also other concerns that caregivers may not think about as important in the earlier stages of the illness, like the extensive medical and personal supplies required, the need for a strong support network offering respite, the backbreaking labor and physical considerations, the importance of geographic location, weather emergencies and transportation issues. Dignifying Dementia offers a helpful guide so that caregivers might recognize potential problems in advance and prepare to eliminate future difficulties.
It was such a treat to participate in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers book signing yesterday at Barnes & Noble as a contributing author along with Jean Ferratier. I want to thank the Springfield, Illinois Barnes & Noble for hosting this local author event, and I’d especially like to thank everyone who came by to see us over the two hours we were at the bookstore. Jean and I both had the opportunity to discuss and read excerpts from our stories. I feel so fortunate to have my story included in this book, and it was wonderful to talk with other caregivers and hear their feedback on my story. So many people shared their own caregiving stories, and it was a privilege to be entrusted with this personal information. Here are some photos that capture this special event celebrating family caregivers everywhere. Continue reading →
I just found out that one of my stories will be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers: 101 Stories of Love, Sacrifice and Bonding, and I’m pretty excited about it! The book will be released in March and include my story titled “Changing My Expectations.” I was just as thrilled to learn that another writer from my hometown of Springfield, Illinois named Jean Ferratier will also be featured in this same book with her story “Dry Her Tears.” What a coincidence that out of 101 stories, 2 of them are from writers living in the same city, especially a small city such as ours. Jean is also the person who encouraged me to submit a story for this book, so I’m grateful to her and happy we are both contributors.
Each year, November is dedicated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It is an especially significant time for me to reflect on how this disease has changed my life. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one struggle and eventually succumb to dementia is forever changed by this gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and incurable disease. By its very nature, Alzheimer’s will destroy you as it claims your loved one. It will chew you up and spit you out as you stand by, helpless to stop the progression and inevitable outcome.
The key to emerging from the devastation for me was to find acceptance by determining what I have learned from Alzheimer’s, and then to use that knowledge wisely, both to make me a better person and to help others when possible. I don’t wish Alzheimer’s on anyone, but I do continue to hope that what people find beyond the finality of Alzheimer’s will help them see more clearly and live more purposefully. This is what I have gained from my mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s disease.
Following are a few of the numerous events to be held in conjunction with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.