AlzAuthor Leah Stanley on Surviving Double Dementia Duty: A Story About Two Loved Ones Needing Care Simultaneously

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By Leah Stanley

I began writing Goodnight, Sweet: A Caregiver’s Long Goodbye in 2001. For me, committing the story to print was a cathartic experience following the deaths of my grandparents two years earlier. Edward Meade had battled an unspecified dementia while his wife Clara was afflicted with Alzheimer’s. As their designated caregiver, a role which I had gladly—and sorrowfully—taken on, I walked alongside them down that tedious road while loving, caring for, and protecting them.

Every afternoon when my then almost two-year-old son would go down for his nap, I would sit at my computer and write diligently, reliving the moments which, when put together, told the full story; I would laugh and I would cry as I remembered the decisions and recalled the words, reactions and facial expressions of those around me. I felt it was imperative that my experience as an Alzheimer’s/dementia caregiver not fade away with time, but that it be shared because I came to realize there were so many others following that same winding trail I’d walked, and I remembered how I was always encouraged when I could talk with someone who had been engulfed in a similar circumstance. I believe it’s one of the ways God designed us, being able to meet on the common ground of shared events.

Following the birth of my daughter in 2002, the manuscript was shelved for several years as I took on the role of full-time mom. By spring 2016 I began to sense it was time to re-enter the story-telling mode and finish the work I had started fourteen years earlier. Additionally, I was spurred on by the sheer number of people I encountered who were facing the same issues I’d dealt with myself. I think I was strangely astonished when I had to acknowledge the disease had not “died” with my grandparents; it had marched through the years with aggression, and a shocking number of people had been devastated by it.

Goodnight SweetThe book details my entire experience from the moment I received the first phone call to settling their estate nearly four years later. I have consistently heard people say my writing is very transparent as I share the range of emotions which accompanied caring for my grandparents; several readers have stated they couldn’t put it down—encouraging words for any author to hear!

When the book was complete, I began hand-picking readers to endorse it—I chose a medical social worker, two former caregivers and a physical therapist. Their responses were overwhelmingly positive, and the medical social worker even said the book is an excellent resource for people who are anywhere on the path of providing care for a loved one.

It is such a blessing to know my grandparents will be remembered, and our painful experience wading through Alzheimer’s and dementia may be able to guide others to the realization that there is hope, and caregivers do survive.

Goodnight, Sweet: A Caregiver’s Long Goodbye was released on March 1, 2019.  Purchase an eBook or paperback copy on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.

About the Author

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Leah Stanley was born in Memphis, Tennessee, where she grew up and attended college, meeting her husband, Chris, during their freshman year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Memphis and has a background in corporate communications and freelance writing. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, son, daughter, and their boxer/beagle rescue dog Brooke.

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

New Release Spotlight: “Uncharted Destiny,” Inspirational Fiction by Keeley Brooke Keith

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Bailey Colburn is safe in the Land, but her father figure, Professor Tim, never made it to Good Springs. When Bailey discovers Tim is lost in the Land’s dangerous mountain terrain and out of his life-saving medication, she sets out to rescue him. Even with the help of intriguing native Revel Roberts, Bailey faces an impossible journey to save Tim. The mountains are shrouded in dark folklore and full of deadly surprises.

Revel Roberts never stays in one place too long. No matter where he travels in the Land, he avoids the Inn at Falls Creek, his boyhood home and the business he will inherit. But when fearless newcomer Bailey Colburn needs Revel’s help to find her friend, he joins the mission and is forced to return to the place he’d rather forget.

Bailey and Revel’s friendship strengthens as they need each other in ways neither of them imagined. But nothing can prepare them for what awaits in the Land’s treacherous mountains.

Uncharted Destiny, the seventh installment in the beloved Uncharted series, weaves faith and adventure while delivering long-awaited answers in this inspirational story of life in a hidden land.

Release Date: June 3, 2019

Publisher: Edenbrooke Press

Book Links:

Signed paperback copies available here.

Uncharted Destiny is available on Amazon.

Add Uncharted Destiny to your Goodreads shelf here.

About the Author

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely Brooke Keith was a tree-climbing, baseball-loving 80s kid. She grew up in a family who moved often, which fueled her dreams of faraway lands. When she isn’t writing, Keely enjoys teaching home school lessons and playing bass guitar. Keely, her husband, and their daughter live on a hilltop south of Nashville, Tennessee.

Connect with Keely Brooke Keith

Website   Facebook   BookBub

New Release Spotlight: “Souls Astray,” Historical Fiction by Kellyn Roth

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Adele has been lost for a long time now …

Adele Collier has sought a carefree lifestyle ever since her tragic childhood. Determined to never allow anyone or anything to control her life or emotions again, she consistently seeks distraction in gaiety. But shaking her ghosts isn’t as easy as she’d like.

Troy Kee has been alone in the world since the Great War took his parents and left him in care of his younger sister. When she marries, he’s left to seek after his goal of a healthy, complete family. But how can he focus on his dream when trouble plagues his family vineyard?

When Adele and Troy meet, a whirlwind romance begins—but can two lost souls have a healthy relationship?

Publication Date: Saturday, May 4th, 2019

Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ A Special Review Defining the Content Level ~ My Website

Genre:

Historical Drama

Can it standalone?:

Yes, but you’re gonna want to read book 1 when you finish for sure! 😉

What Folks Are Saying

“A tragic, well-crafted story of romance, family dynamics, and pain in the years between WW1 and WW2.” ~Jana Tenbrook

Souls Astray is a heartrending novel, full of poignant themes and topics that are important even today. It is a captivating read and will leave you wanting more.” ~Michaela Bush

“Souls Astray contains characters who will tug your heartstrings, a story that engages on the first page, and leaves you hungry for more.” ~Angela R. Watts

“Engaging, heartbreaking, and a thoroughly good ride. Definitely a must-read for historical fiction lovers!” ~Lilian S.

“Souls Astray is an intriguing story with amazing writing and a whole lot of emotion!” ~Liz Franklin

“Souls Astray is a real, real story of raw emotion and clear truth, unafraid to touch the darkness with a thread of light.” ~Merie Shen

About the Author

Kellyn Roth is a Christian & historical author from North-Eastern Oregon. Kell is a ranch girl, homeschool graduate, proud sister of four, proud auntie of five, and owner of two goofy border collies, two presumptuous cats, and a very active betta fish. Check out her website, kellynrothauthor.com, for more info.

Facebook Party  May 8th (10:00-3:00 PST):  Minor giveaways, excerpts, links, and more will be posted throughout the week.

And:

Giveaway Graphic for SA blog tour

Giveaway

Enter the giveaway to win a signed paperback copy of Souls Astray and a $20 Amazon gift card. Open to international entries. Enter Now!  This giveaway will close for entries on the 11th of May.

AlzAuthor Bobbi Carducci Offers Hope to Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregivers in a New Anthology of Inspiring Stories

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By Bobbi Carducci

Caregivers very often become isolated as the needs of the one-in-care progress. Even well-intentioned family and friends begin to drift away, leaving caregivers wondering if anyone understands what their life has become.

I know that feeling very well. A caregiver for my father-in-law, Rodger, for seven years, I often felt as if the rest of the world had moved on to work and family life, believing my days were easy.

Some questioned how hard could it be to stay at home and cook his meals and take him to the doctor now and then. Surely I exaggerated the difficulty.   

Worse was when I doubted myself. Was I the only one who questioned whether my loved one was faking sometimes? Or wondered why someone I cared about and rearranged my life for was suddenly treating me as the enemy? Did anyone else get angry and lose their temper or was that a character flaw unique to me? Toward the end, after weeks of little sleep and constant stress, when I prayed for it to be over, I questioned my humanity. I didn’t want him to die. I wanted the pain to end. But still, was I the only one holding that silent wish in their heart?

After speaking with caregivers and interacting with them as caregiver support group leader, and through online groups and as speaker at caregiver conferences, I heard many caregivers express the same doubts and fears inspiring me to write my second book for caregivers.

Caregiver You Are Not Alone

Caregiver –You Are Not Alone is an anthology of caregiver stories representing varying ages, genders, and family dynamics all doing the hardest job they ever had to do. Although they may be slightly different from our personal experience, they are our stories too.  

Each story is followed by an essay reflecting on my personal experience and feelings while caring for Rodger, when I felt very much alone.

About the Author

DSC_2388.JPGBobbi  Carducci is a national speaker on the subject of Alzheimer’s and dementia, how it affects entire families and how to Prepare to Care – What Adults need to Know about Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Before and After It Strikes Home. Her first book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver, can also be found in the AlzAuthors bookstore.

Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver is available on Amazon and through Open Books Press and her website www.bobbicarducci.com.

Follow her on Twitter @BobbiCarducci2

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Reprinted with permission from AlzAuthors.com. For more vetted books about Alzheimer’s and dementia please visit the AlzAuthors bookstore.

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!

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

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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.

 

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From the AlzAuthors Blog: Ellen Smith Discusses Her Alzheimer’s Novel “Reluctant Cassandra”

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By Ellen Smith

Reluctant Cassandra came to me first as a title. I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology and especially with the character of Cassandra. She was given the gift of prophecy along with the curse that her warnings would never be believed. In Greek mythology, Cassandra’s story ends with the fall of Troy—a tragedy she foresaw but was unable to prevent.

What would it be like to see the future and still be helpless to change the outcome? Unfortunately, I’ve lived that experience. Many of us have. When I wrote my own version of a modern-day Cassandra story, I imagined a woman whose father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She could see clearly that his health was deteriorating, but it was still so hard for her and her family to accept the future that was unfolding.

Reluctant Cassandra LargeThe journey that my characters took through anticipatory grief was very similar to what I had just been through in my personal life. I actually wrote Reluctant Cassandra the year after I lost my son. Living through his diagnosis and passing was a heartbreak I hadn’t been able to put into words, but when I stepped into this fictional world, the pain of my own Cassandra experience poured out.

While writing Reluctant Cassandra was cathartic, the story continued to take on a life of its own after publication. Only a week after my release date, I received my first letter from a reader. She had connected strongly with the story because it mirrored her own experience after her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I was so touched that she reached out to share that with me—in fact, I still have her email printed out and pinned over my desk! Her letter was later joined by more notes from other members of the Alzheimer’s community. Here I had written this story at a time when I felt so alone and now it was connecting with readers from all over.

In the three years since Reluctant Cassandra was published, I’ve continued to write and advocate for those with Alzheimer’s. I released a short story collection loosely based on the setting of Reluctant Cassandra on Channillo for Charity, with all proceeds going to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Even though I didn’t know anyone with Alzheimer’s when I was first writing Reluctant Cassandra, this disease now has many faces for me. I see those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s themselves, as well as their families, friends, and caregivers. I’m grateful to them for telling me their stories, and honored that they are willing to hear mine, too.

This is the true gift of a story: it reaches across the barriers of time and place and circumstance and allows us to connect with each other. The Greek myth of Cassandra was first told hundreds of years ago, and yet the story still impacted me as a 21st century reader. My novel was inspired by a grief I couldn’t put in to words, but writing this story allowed me to become a part of the Alzheimer’s community. I could never have imagined where the book would lead me when I first thought of the title years ago. I am beyond grateful that it brought me here.

author headshotAbout the Author

Ellen Smith is the author of Reluctant Cassandra, Every Last Minute, and the Channillo for Charity series Ghosts of Eagle Valley, which benefits the Alzheimer’s Association. When she isn’t busy writing, Ellen can usually be found reading, crafting, or playing piano. No matter what she is doing, Ellen is always wondering, “What if?” Ellen lives with her family near Washington, DC.

 

 

Connect with Ellen Smith

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.