My Story “Mom’s Unexpected Birthday Guest” is Published in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s New Book “Mom Knows Best”

Marianne Sciucco with CS4S Mom Knows BestI’m proud and thrilled to announce that one of my stories was recently published in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul “Mom Knows Best.” It’s one of 101 heartfelt stories about life, love, and…  moms. The story, “Mom’s Unexpected Birthday Guest,” was inspired by my mom on the occasion of her 90th birthday party.

Mom loved birthday parties, especially her own, no matter how big or how small. The 90th was a big one, but, unfortunately, Mom had broken her hip and was laid up in rehab. We had to improvise to celebrate her special day, but in doing so something wonderful happened that made all the difference.

The book is a wonderful collection of stories and will make a terrific Mother’s Day gift. It’s available on Amazon and where all books are sold. 

I will read my Chicken Soup story at a book sale and signing on Sunday, April 28th, from 2 pm to 4 pm in the Community Room at Middletown Thrall Library, 11-19 Depot Street, Middletown, New York 10940. Stop by and say hi!

1553041706

AlzAuthor Rosalys Peel Shares her Alzheimer’s Caregiver Story in “Mike & Me”

FeaturedImageRosalysPeel

By Rosalys Peel

Every two minutes someone in America is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Most will face this discouraging illness with their wife, husband or partner at their side. And yet the typical “Alzheimer’s couple” has no idea how to make the most of what lies ahead.

This is the predicament my loving husband Michael and I found ourselves in when we discovered that Mike had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Over 35-plus years of marriage we had always dealt with problems together. But now we were advised to start preparing ourselves for the day when Mike would surely be moved from our home to an outside care facility. We simply weren’t ready to accept that.

“I don’t want to leave you and our home,” Mike told me—and so we made a deal. Despite all the scary stories we were hearing about this disease we decided to stand up to Alzheimer’s and defy the statistics as long as possible. Together we would go right on pursuing our hopes and dreams as husband and wife, confronting the disease together in our own home, and living the fullest life possible…for as long as possible.

Mike&Me CoverWriting a book was the last thing on my mind at that time, but I did start keeping a journal. At first I was just trying to record new information and treatment advice from our doctor. But it turned out that journaling became a very empowering and comforting companion for me over the entire nine and a half years that Mike and I dealt with his Alzheimer’s.

My journal was a safe place where I could give words to my worries, concerns and fears. It’s where I logged the frustrations and setbacks that Mike and I encountered, but also where I recorded and celebrated our many victories, large and small. Day by day, my journal chronicled the astonishing power of mutual love, patience, compassion and stay-at-home care. Over time I became convinced that other couples and caregivers might be able to benefit from some of the new approaches Mike and I were learning.

Despite Mike’s illness we eventually exceeded virtually every typical Alzheimer’s expectation. Together, we travelled to several countries, helped care for our granddaughter, maintained our romance, kept Mike on his feet, celebrated every milestone, and found new ways to communicate with our friends, family and each other. We also saved countess thousands of dollars by caring for Mike in the familiar surroundings of our own home right up to the very end.

Mike eventually died, but he died as we all wish to die—with dignity and grace. And not before we had enjoyed nearly 10 full years of life, love and, yes, laughter together.

Gradually, there was the birth of a new idea in me. Looking back to when Mike was first diagnosed I could remember how I had searched the bookshelves in vain for a book that would help couples like Mike and me navigate the Alzheimer’s journey together. Later, I had a chance meeting with an experienced and caring writer who gave me this quote by author Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I took that quote to heart and set out to write Mike & Me as my gift to other Alzheimer’s couples and their families who are just now starting their journey. While the word Alzheimer’s usually triggers pessimistic feelings, Mike & Me is an optimistic book, and for good reason.  It chronicles the changing face of home care among Alzheimer’s couples. And it shows how the astonishing power of love, patience, compassion and stay-at-home care can help Alzheimer’s patients defy the usual statistics and live a longer, fuller, happier life despite this discouraging disease.

Writing this book has been a work of heart, and I know Mike would be happy that what we learned together on our Alzheimer’s journey is now helping other couples, families and caregivers.

About the AuthorPeel_Rosalys_396_culledb

Rosalys Peel is a Registered Nurse, a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator, and a Gottman-certified couples’ relationship facilitator. She teaches classes at Seattle’s prestigious Swedish Medical Center and has been featured on NPR and The Today Show. She remains a tireless teacher, writer and speaker, and a caring advocate for Alzheimer’s couples, families and caregivers everywhere.

 In more good news, Mike and Me has been named a Finalist in the 21st annual Foreword INDIES “Book of the Year Awards.”

Connect with Rosalys Peel

WEBSITE  www.MikeAndMeBook.com

FACEBOOK.  https://www.facebook.com/mikeandmebook/

TWITTER:  @PeelRosalys

EMAIL:  Rosalys@bainbridge.net

**

For more vetted books about Alzheimer’s and dementia please visit the AlzAuthors Bookstore. 

Reprinted with permission from AlzAuthors, the global community of writers sharing their personal Alzheimer’s and dementia stories to light the way for others.

The Writing Life: Write What You Know and Then Some – Researching My Young Adult Novel “Swim Season”

DSC_0209

My daughter had been swimming competitively for five years when I came up with the idea to write a novel about girls’ varsity swimming. Sitting on those cold, hard bleachers season after season gave me more than a sore you-know-what. It sparked my imagination, creating a story line and cast of characters that would show in written form what high school swimming is like for these girls. As I wrote the story, they were always at the heart of it. I wrote it for them. And I wanted it to be as accurate and realistic as possible.

In many ways, writing Swim Season was natural and easy. Through many autumns, I’d watched my daughter and her team swim their hearts out, beside parents rooting for their own swimmers. In the beginning, I knew next to nothing about the sport, about swim meets. But as the years went on, I learned.

I learned simple things, like the order of events. Try finding your kid on a pool deck swarming with dozens of young swimmers in caps and goggles when you’re not sure which event it is, or whether your child is swimming in it or not. Impossible.

I chaperoned the waiting rooms where dozens of youngsters waited for their next event. Try to keep all that adrenaline in check.

I volunteered to time the races, and stood at the blocks, race after race, helping to make things run smoothly, making sure the right kid was in the right lane.

I helped out at the concession stand, serving up bagels and cream cheese.

I was involved with the fundraising activities, Picture Day, and put together the program for Senior Night for a number of years.

I went to 99 percent of the meets with my husband (we missed one when it was an hour away from our home on a week night.) Continue reading

With Recipes, Poetry, and Prose Author Miriam Green Shares her Alzheimer’s Story in “The Lost Kitchen”

Green, Mirian Meme

By Miriam Green

When my mom, Naomi, was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I felt relieved. The doctors had finally acknowledged what our family had surmised for almost a year—Mom was losing her memory. Ok, I thought, what now?

Little in our lives changed at first. Mom still rattled around in her kitchen, she was still an avid music lover, conversationalist, and sweet companion. She could maintain her household, and even stay by herself in the evenings when my dad, Jack, was busy. But the signs were everywhere.

There was the day she tried to unlock the front door to her apartment with the wrong key. It didn’t occur to her that she should try another one, or even ask for help. I was waiting patiently on the other side as she jammed that key into the door over and over, swearing in language I had never in my life heard her utter. Daddy rushed from the shower, thinking she’d hurt herself with all the screams. It took a while to calm her down.

What did change dramatically in my life was a commitment I made to visit my parents once a week. I traveled 2½ hours each way by public transportation to be with them. Mostly, I was there for Mom. Those were wonderful mornings. We would do all manner of activities together, ambling around the city, drinking coffee, and enjoying the sunshine. I used those visits to organize my parents’ kitchen and cook them food for the week.

cover 7b Top to Bottom FadeI was privy to Mom’s anxiety over her waning memory. I held her as she cried bitter tears and told me she felt confused. It was the first indication that our roles would soon be reversed, that I was losing my mom by degrees, that the only way forward was a painful decline that inevitably led to death.

It’s been more than seven years now. I’ve learned a few things along the way— to avoid questions in my conversations with Mom; how a person’s gait can define their ill health; that front-closing bras are an Alzheimer’s intimate friend; and how to judiciously use her memory loss for our gain.

I don’t think we can ever be prepared for the strange turns and curves life throws us, but I do know that it helps me to write about them. First came the poetry. Then, what was initially a project I started with my dad as a humorous initiation into the world of cooking and caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s—we called it “The Man’s Emergency Cookbook”—eventually morphed into its current composition. Thus were born my cookbook and my weekly blog. I didn’t need to be alone in my frustrations, fears and struggles. I could connect with the community of Alzheimer’s patients, their families and caregivers who were only a short click away.

And through it all, I cooked. I took what Mom had taught me when she was still active in the kitchen and used that as a basis to experiment with easy recipes that fed my spiritual and emotional hunger. My book, The Lost Kitchen: Reflections and Recipes from an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, is a combination of recipes, poetry, and prose about my family and how we have shared the demands of Mom’s Alzheimer’s.

About the Author

Green, Miriam headshotMiriam Green writes a weekly blog, The Lost Kitchen,  featuring anecdotes about her mother’s Alzheimer’s and related recipes. Her blog also appears on the ALZ Blog from the Alzheimer’s Association.  Her poetry has been published in several journals, including Poet Lore, The Prose Poem Project, Ilanot Review, The Barefoot Review, and Poetica Magazine. Her poem, “Mercy of a Full Womb,” won the 2014 Jewish Literary Journal’s 1st anniversary competition. Her poem, “Questions My Mother Asked, Answers My Father Gave Her,” won the 2013 Reuben Rose Poetry prize. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bar Ilan University, and a BA from Oberlin College. Miriam is a 20-year resident of Israel, and a mother of three. You can find Miriam on Facebook and Twitter at @thelostkichen.

 

* * *

Continue reading

How Saying “Yes” Helps Caregivers: Introducing “Start With Yes!”

Braxton canva

From the AlzAuthors Blog

By Cathi Braxton and Tami Neumann

Janna, a resident in a memory care facility, woke up one night and found a few staff members congregated around the nurses station.  When a nurse asked Janna what was wrong, Janna told the group that there were alley cats outside her window making all sorts of ruckus.  Several of the nurses seemed dismissive of  Janna with their sideways glances and eye rolling, but one staff member, Terry,  approached Janna with a kind but concerned smile on her face.

“Janna, let’s go see what all that ruckus is all about.  I suspect alley cats get hungry at this time of night.”  With that the two of them headed back down the hallway and disappeared into Janna’s room.

A few minutes later Terry returned content.  The other staff were less confident, “Oh, she’ll be back out… Just you wait and see.”  But Janna never came back out of her room that night.  She was checked on 30 minutes later and was fast asleep.  “How did you do it?” the nurses questioned.  Terry explained that it was as simple as “Yes, And…”  Intrigued, they all huddled together to learn what this really meant.

“Yes, And…” is the foundational rule to improv and improv, at its core, is all about creating relationships.  The concept of “Yes, And…” puts into perspective the value of creating and maintaining a relationship above all else, allowing the flexibility to create something meaningful out of nothing.

Copy of Start With YES CoverWith our first book, Start with Yes! we dive into two profound improv rules anchored in connection. This quick read was tested amongst various age groups and caregiving abilities, proving to be accessible to all readers!  Additionally, Start with Yes! was formatted in such a way that even the busiest caregiver could glean insight and practical concepts immediately.  By committing just 10 minutes per night, the book can be accomplished in less than a week.

Confidence becomes shaken when a novice caregiver feels overwhelmed by multiple steps, instructions and long dissertations.   It was important for us to create a book that was digestible, funny, entertaining, educating, and most of all, insightful. Start with Yes! is a book that embraces neutral terminology, assisting caregivers in better understanding themselves and therefore the situation around them.

Here’s what readers are saying:

“This book is required reading for anyone caring for a person living with dementia. The Dementia RAW method is an innovative and compassionate approach that shows, through the rules of improv and the four pillars of empathy, how communications can move from disruptive frustration to peaceful understanding and ease. Cathy and Tami’s signature tell-it-like-it-is style coupled with their years of clinical training and research will transform your caregiving experience.” – Colleen Kavanaugh, Owner of The Longest Dance

“I read Start with Yes! late in my journey with my wife, Maureen, as her Alzheimer’s progressed. I was working hard to understand what my wife was thinking, and was not always successful. Start with Yes! gave me another, easy to remember method to keep my focus on what my wife was experiencing. I have found great peace and comfort in knowing that going into my wife’s world made all the difference for her and for me. We avoided so many confrontations in her last year because I paused and tried to agree with her, even knowing we could not always follow through on something. Maureen was satisfied that I had said “yes”.  She did not have to become agitated and angry. Our journey was hard and saying “yes” can be challenging but I don’t regret a minute and thank God I was able to peacefully walk her home. I regularly mention the Start with Yes! book when I talk with friends who are going through the same journey with a parent or spouse.” – Bill, Alzheimers Support Group Attendee

“Start with Yes! is a must-read for all those who interact, work or live with people living with dementia.The content will change the way you see dementia and will give you an arsenal of tools and a clear process on how to effectively interact, listen and respond to those with dementia in a collaborative fashion.  Collaboration makes the person living with dementia feel valued as you tap in to their past and present emotions, memories, likes and dislikes. The method you learn in Start with Yes! proves to be a win-win for everyone touched by the challenges of dementia. – Allison Elkow Lazicky

Purchase Start with Yes!

About the Dementia RAW Method

The cofounders of Silver Dawn Training Institute, Tami Neumann and Cathy Braxton, created the Dementia RAW Method, an introspective improv approach to communication. The goal was to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia by educating, building confidence in and empowering all types of caregivers with a simple yet profound manner of connection. Cathy and Tami focus on alleviating difficult jargon, streamline the concept of communication, build confidence and create a “lifestyle” of connection that could be attained by anyone regardless of age or education level.

Braxton

(l) Cathy Braxton (r) Tami Neumann

About Author Tami Neumann

As the Chief Operations Officer of Silver Dawn Training Institute, Tami believes in taking the unconventional steps needed to create a change in culture that the aging community is in desperate need of.  This is reflected in the Dementia RAW Method, CDCS Certification Program and the Dinner Series in which they talk openly and honestly about Death, Dying & Aging, and Sexuality.  Tami is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and completed all coursework in Nursing Home Administration while spending over 20 years in the Aging Industry.  Over the past 4 years she has hosted the Wego Award Nominated podcast, Conversations In Care & compiled a book based on the conversations she has had on her podcast. Currently, she studies improv under the direction of Antoine McKay and recently launched her new podcast Unscripted:  Life Improvised.

About Author Cathy Braxton

As the Chief Education Officer of Silver Dawn Training Institute, Cathy believes in creating thought-provoking educational content.  Her unapologetic style, allows caregivers to dig deep into empathy and provides a safe space for exploration into this important foundational concept for the Dementia RAW Method, and the Certified Dementia Communication Specialist Training.  She is a published author and blogger for The Chicago Tribune and was the Co-Ambassador for the Chicago Chapter of Aging 2.0 2015-2017.  Cathy has received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Illinois and has completed all coursework for her M.A. in Health Psychology and Gerontology Studies.  Cathy has been in the industry over 20 years in the aging industry managing memory care units, directing activity programs, providing case management and service coordination, and facilitating support groups.

Connect with the Authors

Facebook

Instagram

Email: sdti@DementiaRAW.com

Website

* * *

For more vetted books on Alzheimer’s and dementia please visit the AlzAuthors Bookstore. Reposted with permission of AlzAuthors, the global community of authors and readers whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s and dementia. I am a co-founder and admin.

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Sarah B. Smith Shares her Mother’s Alzheimer’s Story in “Broken Beauty”

It’s my hope through our story that readers will feel the power of love. (4)

By Sarah Bearden Smith

Writing a book was never a dream of mine. A stay-at-home mom driving an SUV, aka “shuttle bus,” I carpool kids to and from school, soccer, flag football, lacrosse, basketball practices, games, and tournaments. As I became a caregiver to Mom, God began drawing me closer and closer to Him through my pain and sorrow.

BOOK COVERBroken Beauty is the story of my mother—known as “Beauty” to our family— and our family’s journey through the devastating world of early-onset Alzheimer’s. I was a young mother in my thirties when my mother’s illness struck, and our family’s shock and pain at the disease’s manifestations has been nearly unbearable. At the time of her diagnosis, Beauty was still young and fit and my best friend. It’s a powerful and personal story about a daughter facing the unthinkable and the love I found to carry her through.

It’s my hope through our story that readers will feel the power of love. No matter the disease, struggle, or difficult circumstance, you are loved and can get through anything with God. My story is not so much about losing the mother I knew as it is an honest story of a family who has chosen life, not death, and who celebrates victory over tragedy. I show complete vulnerability and give readers who may be facing similar situations important insights into the lives of family, friends, and caregivers; memory care facilities; emotional and mental suffering; and heartbreak. But above all, it’s a story of searching for and finding hope in the storm, and finding forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation in the process.

Also, for anyone going through early-onset Alzheimer’s, I hope they feel that this book gives them an authentic glimpse into the power of the disease and what is to come, and that no matter what they may tell themselves, they are not alone and there is no shame or guilt for any of the feelings they feel. It’s normal, and it’s okay. I want people to know there is purpose through pain, and I hope our journey opens every reader’s eyes to a unique kind of love. It is a love that is everywhere within the pages of this book and within the walls where Beauty resides.

And as for me, I don’t want to live with any regrets. I will continue to look into her heart, and eyes, and facial expressions, and will do my best to co-labor with God in her new world each day, being grateful that He is allowing me to shine light during this strenuous and laborious time. Mom is a human being with a name, and although this disease is a mystery and I want it to be cured, her life and my relationship with her are important, significant, and worthy of attention. Life matters, and every human being’s life should be valued.

About the Author

Sarah Bearden Smith is a housewife, mother of three, and a woman of deep faith, who has lived in Texas all her life. Sarah’s childhood was anchored by her family’s faith and their participation in church activities. She was a gifted athlete and reached elite status in competitive gymnastics by the time she was thirteen years of age. Sarah was born and raised in the Houston area and remained there until her departure for the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a speech communications major, a varsity cheerleader, and a member of Tri Delta Sorority. Following graduation, she remained in Austin, working in the software and high-tech industry. After her marriage to Thad Smith in 2002, the couple moved to Dallas, Texas. Through their years in Dallas, Sarah and her husband have served on various boards and committees, including the Greer Garson Gala, the Presbyterian Hospital Healthcare Foundation, East-West Ministries, AWARE Dallas, and the Providence Christian School of Texas. They actively serve with their children in assisted living and memory care facilities and support organizations such as Council for Life, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, and Community Bible Study. Sarah and her family are members of Watermark Community Church.

Connect with Sarah

Facebook – Beauty in Alzheimer’s

Instagram @beautyinalzheimers

Website 

***
For more extraordinary books about Alzheimer’s and dementia
please visit the AlzAuthors Bookstore.
Reposted with permission of AlzAuthors, the global community of authors
and readers whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
I am a co-founder and admin.

From the AlzAuthors Blog: Occupational Therapist Barbara Smith Teaches Alzheimer’s Caregivers New Skills in “Still Giving Kisses”

Smith, Barbara graphic copy (1)

By Barbara Smith

I am an occupational therapist, specializing in developmental disabilities. I had never planned to work in the area of geriatrics. But when my mother developed Alzheimer’s disease, I was thrust into the world of home care, Medicare, assisted living and nursing homes. I read numerous books and learned the lingo of lawyers, the health care bureaucracy and gerontology.

Fortunately, as an occupational therapist, I have years of experience adapting environments and creating activities to promote functional skills and quality of life. I wrote this book to share how I helped my mother enjoy her life as best as possible, as she regressed through the stages. I could not help but notice that the residents in my mom’s assisted living and then her nursing home had few visitors.

I believe that there are many reasons for this, but common ones are:

  • Friends and loved ones are scared and confused about the person’s decline
  • Friends and family do not know how to relate to a person who may no longer speak or seem to recognize them.
  • And most sadly, friends and family think that the person has so little awareness that their presence is of no value.

still giving kisses copyMy primary goal in writing Still Giving Kisses: Helping and Enjoying the Alzheimer’s Victim You Love was to offer an alternative to the above situations. Like many others, I was in the “sandwich generation.” My son was a tween and teen during these years and had many developmental and social challenges related to autism. The time crunch from work and family obligations naturally made spending time with my mom difficult–as I’m sure is true for millions of other caregivers. However, when loved ones learn how to help and actually enjoy being with this person, the relationship takes on a beautiful and mutually beneficial meaning. Given the right information and support, family and friends can learn how to spend quality time with a loved one that will create positive memories.

The title of this book reflects one of the few remaining motor acts my mother was able to perform during the last few months of her life. When she was no longer speaking, non-ambulatory and unable to eat independently, she was still able to pucker up her lips to communicate “I love you, come over for my kiss.” This was a highly significant motor act, one that symbolizes a continuing connectedness between myself and the Alzheimer’s victim I loved.

There are many books on the market that describe the symptoms and stages of Alzheimer’s disease and behavioral interventions that promote function. Often this information is dry and overwhelming. There are also many highly readable memoirs that give the spouse, adult-children or the victim’s point of view. In writing, Still Giving Kisses, I strove to provide both.

You will read a compelling memoir of a woman whose earlier mental health problems compounded the many challenges of memory impairment. The many therapeutic techniques, adaptations and teaching tools I share are all tricks of the occupational therapy trade, along with my own unique touch. Extensive resources and medical, legal and care-giving information provide survival tools.

Although I wrote this book primarily for friends and family of Alzheimer’s victims, Still Giving Kisses provides a framework for health care professionals entering the field of geriatrics. Indeed, I wish this resource had been available when my mother began showing the earliest symptoms. I hope that my book helps you to enjoy a journey that nobody chooses to take . . .

Purchase Still Giving Kisses

About the Author

Barbara Smith is an occupational therapist specializing in developmental disabilities. She discovered a penchant for creating highly effective therapeutic activities out of household materials such as detergent bottles, cardboard boxes and newspapers. Her book The Recycling Occupational Therapist describes how to fabricate and use these activities.

Barbara’s second book From Rattles to Writing: A Parent’s Guide to Hand Skills (published by Therapro, Inc. 2011) is written for parents with typically developing children from ages birth through five years to help develop the skills needed to read and write. In addition, the activity adaptations make learning easier for children with sensory, motor or sensory challenges.

From Flapping to Function: A Parent’s Guide to Autism and Hand Skills is written for parents of children who have or they suspect may have an autism spectrum disorder. Readers will learn how autism impacts the development of hand skills and to use the teaching strategies and adaptations that help children reach their potentials to perform everyday functional activities and academic skills in school.

Connect with Barbara Smith: books, courses, educational videos and social media

Website

Blog

Educational Videos

Facebook 

Twitter 

***

For more extraordinary books about Alzheimer’s and dementia
please visit the AlzAuthors Bookstore.
Reposted with permission of AlzAuthors, the global community of authors
and readers whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
I am a co-founder and admin.