Retirement

This Week’s Good News!

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TODAY IS WORLD COMPASSION DAY. LET’S SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS!

This story is a grand way of illustrating how being in the right place at the right time can mean the difference between life and death.

This Week’s Good News!

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This story out of Ashton, Maryland is sure to pull at your heartstrings. A pound dog was saved just in time to become a very welcome resident of a senior living residence. So much joy abounds in this story – I thought it would be the perfect Good News to close out the month of October.

This Week’s Good News!

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Angels exist everywhere, and if you’ve ever been touched by one, you’ll agree. This story out of Milford, OH will touch you like none other. I certainly hope each of us meets an angel like the one portrayed in this brief story. If you’re having a not so great day or week, this angel is sure to improve your outlook.

12 years ago seems like yesterday

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Twelve years ago today, my father died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. That morning I had received a call from the memory care unit where Dad had lived for several years. The nursing manager of that unit said if I wanted to see my father again before he died, I should come as soon as possible. (I had spent a week with him the month before and knew that his prostate cancer would most likely hasten his death.) I first called my husband at work to let him know I would find a flight from Seattle, WA to Medford, OR and be gone…for how long? I didn’t know. Then while on the phone with my brother and sister, I booked my flight online with a tentative return, threw the very minimum of clothing in an overnight bag, and headed to SeaTac International Airport.

If you have read my novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, you’ve pretty much read the account of what transpired for me at my father’s bedside; some of the happenings that day/evening were altered, but the gist of what transpired are contained in Chapters 41 & 42.

Upon my return to Seattle, my energy level was depleted yet still on alert. When you have a loved one with a debilitating disease, a state of alertness is the norm – the status quo of constantly being in a state of emergency, if you will. You keep waiting for the phone to ring with the latest development – such as it did for the last time on October 13, 2007 – but that phone number’s appearance on my Caller ID had ceased.

What hadn’t ceased was the business of dying – all the financial and estate matters one cannot ignore – but because of my father’s diligence and organization leading up to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, much of what I needed to do on behalf of his estate and us survivors, was readily dispatched in the months that followed my father’s death.

But the “now what?” of life post-caregiving was front and center for me. Initially, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with anything having to do with dementia. I continued to financially support my local Alzheimer’s Association and participated in one more Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but that was it. Then my heart called and I became an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator and shortly thereafter, I entered the world of long-term care advocacy by becoming a Washington State LTC ombudsman, both of which I did for five years.

Then my heart spoke to me again, this time it said, “How about writing about your experience as Dad’s caregiver?” I ignored that thought until I no longer could – it wouldn’t leave me alone! I dragged out all of Dad’s records and my numerous journals, sat at my dining table, and over many months’ time, outlined how I would honor my father’s journey and my family’s experience within the pages of a book that might benefit others.

That was five years after my father’s death. My book was published five years later.

Now twelve years after the end of my father’s Alzheimer’s journey,

my book still manages to make its way into the hands of those who need it.

If you, or someone you know, needs encouragement and a renewed sense of hope,

please make your way to your favorite bookstore, or find it right here.

Blessings to you today, and always.

This Week’s Good News!

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I’m returning to 35,000 feet for this story of a retiring pilot’s glorious send-off by passengers. You will be wonderfully entertained by what you hear.

This Week’s Good News!

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Last week’s good news spotlighted a couple in their 100s who got married to live happily ever after in their remaining years. This week’s post spotlights the wedding industry again but shines the light on an unexpected flower girl who nailed her flowery performance!

This Week’s Good News!

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This story warmed my heart in a very big way. The newly married bride is 103 and her groom is 100. Between the two of them, they have four spouses whom they loved dearly before they departed this earth. It looks like these two love birds hold the secret to happily ever after. Wait until you read about their Ohio-based love!

Status Quo or Same-O Same-O

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How often have you felt defeated because your day-to-day existence is somewhat routine and boring?

The life of a family caregiver, attending to a loved one with a disease or malady that is all-encompassing, is never Same-O Same-O. Any semblance of status quo flies out the window shortly after taking on this learn-as-you-go caregiver role. The boring life about which the family caregiver used to complain no longer exists as she or he memorializes that long-abandoned way of living. My memorial to status quo existed while attending to my father during his Alzheimer’s journey.

Requiem for the Status Quo speaks of that memorial to things that once were.

This Week’s Good News!

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The following good news comes from the town in which I live, Redmond, Washington. This story proves you’re never too old to have a grand ol’ time.

This Week’s Good News!

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Last week I posted an article that focused on the impact children can have on adult lives. This week’s article shines a spotlight on the doggies in our lives.

One Week Only: discounted books about Alzheimer’s and other dementia

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AlzAuthors is celebrating their four year anniversary as an entity by offering many discounted books for an entire week, but that’s not all. The Longest Day – which starts this discounted week-long period – is known in the Alzheimer’s community as a day to celebrate and honor those with the disease, and those who have passed from the disease.

AlzAuthors honors each caregiver – past and present – who has experienced the struggles inherent with helping a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or any other disease under the dementia umbrella; they are offering this discounted book purchasing opportunity to everyone who might benefit. If you know of someone in that category, please share this post with them – you will be doing them a great favor. Click right here to discover the discounted prices, then click on the book cover (or covers) of the books you wish to purchase, and you’ll be directed to the purchase page for each book. It’s that easy!

Sustenance for the family caregiver

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In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, New York Times columnist and author, David Brooks, eloquently responded to Oprah’s statement where she said, “I hear that authors write the books they need to read.” Mr. Brooks’ response:

We writers are beggars who tell other beggars where we found bread.

He further explained that statement by saying:

We found it here, we want to share it with you.

That is what the more than 200 AlzAuthors have in common. Each author may describe their quest or mission somewhat differently, but no doubt many of them would agree that the impetus to write about their personal experiences was a call to action they could not ignore.

As a member of the AlzAuthors community, I personally feel that the more mainstream the conversation surrounding the Alzheimer’s and dementia experience becomes, the more the AlzAuthors’ vision will be realized:

Our vision is to lift the silence and stigma of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

May you find sustenance within the AlzAuthors community.

This Week’s Good News!

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A subscription-only magazine, The Week, provides this week’s good news:

Bill Waldschmidt used to work on classic cars, but now he’s fixing a different mode of transportation. The retired Minnesota engineer contracted polio at age 4 and spent most of his childhood on crutches. He regained enough strength to walk as an adult, but 10 years ago, post-polio syndrome put him in a wheelchair.

With a new sense of purpose, he removed the vintage cars from his garage and began buying and refurbishing power wheelchairs, which he then gifts to people who can’t afford them. “He’s the kindest man on the planet,” said Don Johnson, a disabled Vietnam vet, and owner of Waldschmidt’s chairs.

Thank you, Bill, for contributing so much to so many!

This Week’s Good News!

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You will absolutely fall in love with this story about a retiree who improves the lives of numerous children, every school day. He does so much for this school in Washington state that is located in an impoverished area just south of Seattle, he was assigned his very own parking space right at the front of the property. There are school volunteers, and then there’s Mr. Preyer, a man who has something to offer every single child at Tukwila Elementary School.

This Week’s Good News!

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Wow! Talk about making lemonade out of lemons! Joe Bahr suffered the loss of his brother, Marty, to Alzheimer’s disease. Joe and Marty made a deal before Marty passed on. Check out here what that deal entailed. What a legacy Marty left for the rest of us!

This Week’s Good News

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Guess what the currency of media is? OUR ATTENTION.

Don’t invest in bad news, invest only in the good!

Ron Robert doesn’t believe in giving up even after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was a retired man who was extremely bored with his life and when he received the diagnosis so many of us fear, he enrolled in University to get off his butt and once again get involved in life. Read this astounding article that contains some of the best news about Alzheimer’s I’ve heard in quite some time.

BREAKING NEWS: Goodness abounds!

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Goodness abounds, yes, it does.

We don’t hear or read about it enough but trust me, hatred and evil have got nothing on goodness and kindness in our world.

It has been said that it is the horrific stories that make headlines and quite frankly, that is true. Newspapers, magazines, television and social media news outlets clamber after Breaking News in their attempts to be the first to offer their take on ongoing incidents. Clamber means to “climb, move, or get in or out of something in an awkward and laborious way.” Can’t you visualize hungry journalists doing just that: pushing others out of the way, pulling yet others down in their singular effort to be first?

I am all for free journalism; without it I would not be writing this 990th post, so bring it on in all its raging color…however, wouldn’t it be rewarding to have our day interrupted by Breaking News that reports on the good and kind incidents that occur as well?

All right, I’ll do just that. Allow me to introduce you to two wonderful souls who have brought light into the darkness. This is Breaking News of the very best kind.

Sophie Andrews is a person who learned the hard way – one of the hardest – that The best way to help is often just to listenSophie was on death’s door – you have to listen to the 14-minute TED talk to learn of the details when a volunteer at UK’s Samaritan helpline picked up the phone and changed 14-year old Sophie’s life forever. Years later, Sophie gave back and paid it forward by starting a helpline for some of the most vulnerable human beings in society who are lonely and without access or means for socialization. Her Silver Line fields more than 1500 calls a day, making the lives of more than 550,000 UK senior citizens brighter, fuller and healthier each year.

Dixon Chibanda, one of 12 psychiatrists in the entire country of Zimbabwe – a country of 16 million people – created a program to treat individuals in need of psychiatric or psychological counseling: The friendship bench program – or why I train grandmothers to treat depressionThis program was birthed when a desperate young woman didn’t have the minimal bus fare needed to commute the 15 kilometers to meet with him in person and who suffered the tragic consequences. Dr. Chibanda created a program that brings care and hope to those in need powered by a limitless resource: grandmothers. Sitting on a bench, talking to someone who listens without judgment serves to make a difference in the mental health of thousands across his country and other countries as well – including the United States where a similar program has been started. Please take 12 additional minutes out of your day and listen to the TED talk I have linked above.

Listening – a free resource that is oftentimes not employed when needed the most; listening that actively tunes into the person speaking.

If you are someone who sets resolutions or intentions for the new year, perhaps practicing the art of listening might be at the top of your 2019 list.

I know it is on mine.

Your link to highly discounted eBooks about Alzheimer’s!

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All of the books shown in this graphic are part of the AlzAuthors Caregiver Appreciation week-long sale, starting today, November 7th. You’ll see my novel, Requiem for the status quo, in the upper right corner that is priced at 99 cents from Nov 7th through 13th. To link to all the books you see above, click on the AlzAuthors link here. Simply click on the book’s image and it will take you directly to its page on Amazon, making it extremely easy to purchase as many titles as you please. And don’t forget to gift others with titles as well. It’s so easy to do and the recipients of your gifts will be so pleased that you’ve thought of them.

Grandma and Grandpa pods

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I wrote this article five years ago and I’m posting it again today because it is one of the most viewed posts on my blog. Financial figures are five years old so current, 2018/2019 figures will be considerably higher.

I read a fabulous article in the “Home” section of today’s Seattle Times newspaper.  It’s a throwaway section that I always read before I toss it into the recycle basket.

Publicity photo of Will Geer and Ellen Corby a...
Publicity photo of Will Geer and Ellen Corby as Grandpa and Grandma Walton from the television program The Waltons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All of us are getting older – there’s no cure for that other than not growing older by leaving this earth before you’re ready – so where are all of us going to live – especially Granny and Pappy who can no longer safely live on their own?

Long-term care (LTC) facilities have priced themselves out of most households’ bank accounts and the alternative solution of having grandparent sitters is cumbersome and expensive in itself.  What’s an adult child to do?  If you have space on your property to have a guest house newly built or better yet, if you’re willing to turn your sunporch or guesthouse into accommodations for mom and dad, the original outlay of funds will pay for itself because you will have avoided the need for a facility’s ultra-expensive long-term care services.

One company that makes the pods spotlighted in the Seattle Times’ article is called Home Care Suites.  Disclaimer: I am not advocating for this company’s product.  I am merely pulling information out of the article and presenting it to the reader so you can do research that applies to your situation and your budget.

The pods made by this company range in size from 256 to 588 square feet with prices ranging from $42,000 to $83,000.  This is no drop in the bucket but let’s consider the cost of facility care.  Genworth (who sells long-term care insurance) states that the average monthly fee for assisted-living (AL) was $3,300 in 2012.  I think that’s a very naive figure based on my experience of having worked in the LTC housing industry.  Maybe Genworth’s lower number is just the cost for monthly rent – but what about care services?  Cha-ching!!!  Now you’re looking at double that amount and the cost will only go higher as care needs increase.  But even at only $3,300 per month, that amounts to $158,400 for a four-year period.  See how do-able the pod concept seems now?

Many of the AL service needs are simple monitoring of a resident – tasks that you can do for your loved one: waking them up, helping them get dressed, a certain amount of medication assistance, meal provision.  Many seniors living in AL facilities don’t need the massive hands-on care of bathing assistance, toileting services, physical therapy, etc.  I know for a fact that if a family member has the time – and a little patience – they can provide these lower acuity services on their own for quite some time before securing hands-on medical care for the elder member of their household.

Skipping ahead to after Grandma and Grandpa/Mom and Dad have passed on, you now are left with an added structure on your property which you can transform back into the porch or game room of its earlier existence, or simply leave as is as a guest room that may accommodate someone else in your family.  I have to believe that your initial investment in constructing a pod is an investment that you won’t regret.  And don’t forget – the costs for such a project aren’t necessarily out of your own pocket.  Perhaps Grandma or Grandpa are willing to pull some of their savings out from underneath their mattress and contribute to the cost of this alternative living arrangement that would certainly be more attractive to them than a lengthy stint at an AL facility or nursing home.  Just saying.

The Alzheimer’s Community

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I have been closely involved in matters regarding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia for eighteen years now: long-term care (LTC) housing, memory care, Alzheimer’s support group facilitator, and Washington State LTC Ombudsman. But it took me becoming a published author of a novel that focuses on a family’s Alzheimer’s disease experience before I finally found my Alzheimer’s community.

AlzAuthors is a group comprised of over 170 published authors (as of this writing) who have published fiction and non-fiction books reflective of their personal Alzheimer’s experience. The six members of the AlzAuthors Management Team (Team) is the Alzheimer’s community about which I speak.

The Team’s motto says it all:

We can sing a lonely song, or form a choir and create harmony.

Without exception, the authors featured on our site and each member of our Management Team had the experience of struggling with the learn-as-you-go-task of caring for someone with cognitive impairment. We all made mistakes, and we learned from them, but we also had successes, and we celebrated them.

As a recent addition to the AlzAuthors Management Team, I became even more convinced that my personal Alzheimer’s community resides within this group. The support, the kindness, the giving nature reflected within the Team is incomparable in my experience, and we are not just keeping it to ourselves. AlzAuthors is spreading their influence into numerous parts of the world…which is kinda why they asked me to join the team as their Global Outreach Coordinator. The six of us know our presence is evident in more countries than just the United States, but our imagination and passion is boundless so we have set out to become a household word in small and large communities throughout the world.

Why AlzAuthors? Because this 100% volunteer group has brought together some of the best books on Alzheimer’s and other dementia in one central location: our bookstore. We’ve categorized those books to make the personal caregivers’ or professionals’ shopping experiences an easy one with categories such as: Caring for Parents or Grandparents, Caring for Spouses or Partners, Living with Dementia, and Children and Teen books, to name a few. We know a caregiver’s “free” time is limited or non-existent, so we’ve done our best to make their shopping experience an easy one. They simply click on the cover of the book they’re interested in and they are taken directly to Amazon to make the paperback, eBook, or audiobook purchase.

We’re working hard so you don’t have to.

And finally, we understand the journey of unpaid (family & friend) caregivers because:

  • We have experienced the loss of a loved one with dementia.
  • We know the pain of being forgotten.
  • We all have witnessed decline.
  • We have provided countless hours of caregiving.
  • We know many others have experienced the same and we believe in the power of sharing those stories.

Sorrow Passes and We Remain

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I found a letter dated July 28, 1883, written by Henry James to his friend Grace Norton, in a reference book. He wrote a letter of encouragement to her as she was desolate, depressed, and determined not to live. I post portions of it here should anyone out there feel as Grace did, in need of life-saving encouragement.

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You are not isolated, verily, in such states of feeling as this – that is, in the sense that you appear to make all the misery of all mankind your own; only I have a terrible sense that you give all and receive nothing – that there is no reciprocity in your sympathy – that you have all the affliction of it and none of the returns.

I don’t know why we live, but I believe we can go on living for the reason that life is the most valuable thing we know anything about and it is therefore presumptively a great mistake to surrender it while there is any yet left in the cup.

Sorrow comes in great waves, but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it (sorrow) is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes, and we remain.

My dear friend, you are passing through a darkness in which I myself in my ignorance see nothing but that you have been made wretchedly ill by it; but it is only a darkness, it is not an end, or the end.

Don’t think, don’t feel, any more than you can help, don’t conclude or decide – don’t do anything but wait. Everything will pass … and the tenderness of a few good people, and new opportunities, and ever so much of life, in a word, will remain.

You are marked out for success, and you must not fail. You have my tenderest affection and all my confidence.

Kindness Fridays

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This week’s kindness spotlights the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) a fabulous group for writers of women’s fiction. Most if not all the administrative staff is volunteer – the reason why their kindness is this week’s selection. As a member of this organization, I was given the opportunity to have a podcast recorded for their Hear Me Roar program because I’m a debut author. Although my novel, Requiem for the status quo was released a year ago, it was my debut publishing effort.

This podcast is approximately 30 minutes in length, and although my novel is certainly the focus, much attention was spent on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the world. Perhaps this podcast will keep you company on your commute in the next few days; although it may seem a bit choppy, I think it’s worth hanging in there to hear my, and the host’s, provocative discussion.

Lighten up Mondays

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Vacation/beginning-of-summer humor:

  • I don’t make enough money to go on vacation so I’m just going to get drunk until I don’t know where I am.
  • “How was your vacation?”  “I’m analyzing it now. I only got eight likes but one of them was from someone really influential.”
  • I don’t need a vacation, I’d be happy with a trip to the bathroom by myself…said every mother of young children.
  • Being on vacation with my family has brought me so much closer to my iPad.
  • I don’t need a vacation, I just want time to sit, read, snack, and take a nap. Basically, I want to be in kindergarten.
  • I’m sorry your post-vacation workload has negated all the benefits of your vacation.
  • Honey, pack your fat pants, we’re going on a cruise!
  • There should be sympathy cards for having to go back to work after vacation.
  • If you answer “Awesome” to the question, “How are you?” you are either a) drunk; b) practicing your sarcasm; or c) on your last day before vacation or retirement.

The Man of the House and the Little Woman

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This real story takes the place of this week’s Lighten up Mondays.

Most of our utility bills are in both my husband’s name and mine. Our Frontier phone/internet bill, for whatever reason, is only in my husband’s name.

We’ve lived in our current house for over fifteen years. Approximately one year into our residency at our current address I called to make a change to our services. I found out that because only my husband’s name was on the bill, I was not permitted to even talk to the Verizon (now Frontier) customer service rep. Jerry was home at the time so I requested his presence in my office and told him he needed to talk to the utility person to authorize me to do business with the utility. He did so, they supposedly noted his permission/authorization in the file, and I was able to complete my service request with the utility. Over the years, it took at least three additional calls to Verizon/Frontier before they stopped asking my husband to intervene to authorize everything I said to them. Dilemma solved, right?

WRONG.

We recently upgraded our internet from Frontier’s DSL, also known as slow-poke broadband, to internet service provided by our cable TV company, Wave. The new cable modem/router was installed and voila! Instead of a Download speed of 9.6 mbps, Wave’s Download speed is a wapping 100+ mbps. The primary user of our iMac computer – that would be me, The Little Woman – is thoroughly ecstatic with the improved service.

The day after unplugging Frontier’s DSL and plugging in Wave’s extraordinarily fast internet service, I called Frontier to cancel our internet service – but still retain our landline phone service with them – and the technician said, “Is this Jerry I’m speaking to?” to which I responded, “No, I’m, Irene, Jerry’s wife.” “I’m sorry, you’re not authorized to make changes to your service, is Jerry available?”

Imagine the top being blown off a pressure cooker on my end of the phone line.

“Oh, do not go there. My husband authorized my involvement with this account almost fifteen years ago and did so repeatedly each and every time you questioned my authority to the point where you finally stopped requiring Jerry’s personal authorization.”

“I’m sorry Ma’am, but if your husband is there to make the request, we’ll take care of this for him.”

I hung up on them. Five minutes later I called back to make the cancellation of service request, speaking in a lower voice and identifying myself as Jerry, and the customer service rep simply asked Jerry’s birthdate, which I provided, and presto-chango, our cancellation of internet service request was granted. Keep in mind, in the past when I successfully was able to get through to Verizon/Frontier to talk about our account, I had to provide Jerry’s birthdate, our account number, and the private PIN provided by the utility to verify my authorization capabilities. If they had asked that of Jerry – the authorized person – he wouldn’t have known where to find such information. Why? Because The Little Woman is also the Finance Manager for the Olson household. Bills get paid utilizing bank account resources because I set up these recurring charges to be paid automatically just as so many of you do for your own household. I move money around from one account to another, set up new accounts, fund them and the like because as the household Finance Manager, I am dedicated to keeping us financially organized, healthy, and comfortable in our retirement.

Am I mad at Jerry as a result of this fiasco? Not in the least. He was out of the house when this most recent matter occurred and when I relayed it to him he said, “Oh oh, I hope you didn’t hurt anyone too badly.” He thinks this whole authorization requirement is a joke, especially since he relies on me to manage everything having to do with our finances. He knows I’m quite accomplished at taking on these tasks and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to mess with the minutiae of managing this aspect of our lives.

I guess I can say I had the last laugh, however. Lowering my voice and using language patterns that might be common for the Man of the Household allowed me to wield the authority that up until now had fully evaded The Little Woman of the Household.

Kindness Fridays

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One way of expressing kindness is by expressing gratitude.

Anytime we think we don’t need to thank someone for something they’ve said or done that meant something to us, we do them a disservice.

My husband and I have been gifted with daily gratitude each time we take care of our grandson during our daughter and son-in-law’s work week. We have a routine: our daughter drops off our grandson and all other items needed for his day with us and as she gets into her car she always says, “Thank you.”

Our son-in-law picks up our grandson after a grueling day of work outside and after securing our grandson into the backseat of his truck, he says, “Thanks you guys.”

We’ve been caring for our grandson a few days a week since early August and now with September coming to a close the routine is pretty much set in stone but what isn’t set in stone, what is always fresh and affirming, is that our grandson’s parents bend over backwards to express their gratitude for what we’re doing to enable them to go to work and not have to worry about the care their son is receiving.

Big deal, right?

It is absolutely a big deal. We thoroughly enjoy the time we spend with our grandson – it is such a privilege we have been given – and we enjoy seeing his parents each caregiving day.  Their expressions of gratitude never get old; every time they say “Thank you” I am filled with warm fuzzies that carry me through the day and the night. Such delightful adult children.

 

The secret of Alzheimer’s disease

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I discovered something shocking during the weeks that followed my novel’s release:

Alzheimer’s disease is still a secret.

I know; we’ve all certainly read about it, especially when a celebrity is diagnosed with the disease. Every once and awhile there might be an Alzheimer’s Association commercial on television…that is assuming we don’t fast forward through it or walk out of the room. Another reason we’re familiar with the disease is that it is happening to so many people with whom we are acquainted – whether intimately or tangentially.

But it’s still a secret. The very definition of the word speaks to its intent: adj. not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others; n. something not properly understood; a mystery. from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

In many of my promotional posts and boasts for my novel Requiem for the status quo, I’ve indicated that my book tour would probably look more like a senior center tour than what is normally the route for authors: readings and signings in major and independent bookstores. That’s the tact I took, approaching numerous senior centers in Western Washington. 25% of those I approached booked my author event on their activity calendars.  But when I approached a major senior housing community foundation to get on their speakers’ calendar, I was told the residents pushed back at the foundation’s previous efforts to enlighten and inform when they hosted those who spoke to the reality of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

Damn. Read the rest of this entry »

Author Celebration: Books about Alzheimer’s disease

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To celebrate my own book’s July 20th release, a book that’s about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, I am tooting the horn of other authors who have done the same, a few of whom I know personally.

There’s a high degree of sadness surrounding this list because almost without fail, those authors who have written memoirs, story collections, fiction, and non-fiction books have done so because of their own personal Alzheimer’s journey.

Ann Hedreen, Her Beautiful Brain – A Memoir. Ann lives in Seattle, Washington, and has provided valuable support to me through my own publication journey. To quote Amazon.com:

Her Beautiful Brain is Ann Hedreen’s story of what it was like to become a mom just as her beautiful, brainy mother began to lose her mind to an unforgiving disease.

I can not imagine the struggle Ann endured while being a new mother whose time and energy was already spread so thin when life happened to her and her household, in a manner hardly believable to so many of us.

Collin Tong, Seattle journalist, Into the Storm – Journeys with Alzheimer’s, a compilation of true stories that starts with the very personal story of Collin’s caregiving journey with his wife, Linda. Collin’s support of my project, telling me not to give up when so many agents and publishers wouldn’t give me the time of day, inspired me to keep on keepin’ on. His story collection is amazing. Again, quoting Amazon:

In his compelling new anthology, Into the Storm: Journeys with Alzheimer’s, twenty-three writers, journalists, educators, health practitioners, social workers, clergy and other family caregivers from across the United States share their intimate stories of caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Each of the twenty-three stories are gems that you do not want to miss. I know you will be as impressed as I was by each and every one of them.

The next entry contains numerous authors and their books, found in one central location: AlzAuthors. The purpose for their site states:

We are AlzAuthors. In some way, each of us who have come together on this site have been affected by Alzheimer’s Disease/dementia. We share our experiences to bring knowledge, comfort, and understanding to others on this journey.

Click on this link to the AlzAuthors Bookstore to discover a wealth of informational and engaging books that will meet the needs of those who are caring for parents or grandparents, spouses or partners, those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, fiction books, books for children and teens, and those offerings that provide helpful information for one and all.

3rd Act Magazine, not a book, but a publication addressing the third act of one’s life, usually heavy on those of us who are Baby Boomers. This publication has so much to offer its readers. I, for one, am pleased that the subtitle of their magazine reads, Aging with Confidence. You got that right! You’re not done with us yet; we have so much to offer the world that is spread out before us.

And yes, all of the above-mentioned projects prove that a lifetime of experience – the good and the not so terribly good – equates to having something to say, and not being afraid to say it. Which brings me to my part in that effort:

Requiem for the status quo is currently available at just about any bookstore you can walk into or find online. If a particular store doesn’t currently stock my novel, simply request that they order one for you and you should be able to get your hands on it in short order. You can order Requiem at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Be sure to shop around for the best price, you won’t be sorry you did. And for those of you with eReaders, the eBook will be available at most online book retailers on, or about, July 27th. Additionally, would you like your local library to carry my novel? Simply ask them; quite often they are quite willing to accommodate individual requests.

Requiem for the status quo is dedicated to my father, Don Patrick Desonier, who wore his disease with the dignity it did not deserve.

I love you Dad.

 

 

 

 

The family caregiver’s hope quotient

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Each person reading this post has experienced a time when their hope quotient was at an all time low.

The definition of hopeless: 1) feeling or causing despair about something; 2) inadequate, incompetent.

When life happens, as it always does regardless of our preferences, we’re bound to find ourselves unable to manufacture even a modicum of hope to get us through the circumstances in which we find ourselves:

  • The loss of a job and the financial repercussions resultant from that loss.
  • Crimes against our body or our property.
  • Relationship disruptions.
  • The devastating diagnosis of a debilitating disease: cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease.

Hope isn’t what a person feels when the rug has been yanked out from underneath them and their very existence as they knew it, maybe even just five minutes earlier, takes an irreversible turn.To be sure, that’s how quickly hope can take a nosedive. Equally as quick, we can not imagine we will ever feel happy again, nor can we imagine not being overwhelmed with how life has showed up. In an instant, our level of hope took a nosedive. Read the rest of this entry »

Kindness Fridays

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Today’s installment combines two passions of mine: kindness and hiking.

Since my husband’s retirement in April of 2016, we’ve managed to hike every week except during the winter months. Now with the snow a distant memory on most of the Pacific Northwest trails, we’re well into this year’s hiking season.

On Tuesday of this week, we headed out to Barclay Lake located in the lower Stevens Pass area of western Washington. This was a new hike for me and one perfectly suited for a sprained right foot, mine, needing a bit of coddling while on its healing journey. The hike was just under 5 miles and only had an elevation gain of 500 feet.

About two miles into our hike and a half mile from the lake, a couple in their late 60s were making their descent and as I always do for every hiker we meet on the trail, I greeted the man and woman which then encouraged them to pause and spend some time with us. This couple hiked 30 times last year – to our 18 times – which seriously encouraged me to continue our hiking activities during the winter season, albeit on trails at lower elevations to avoid snow encounters along the way. The kindness extended was the mutual sharing of favorite hiking destinations: for us, it was Margaret Lake, for them, Bowen Bay.

My husband and I, geared up.

The excitement from each couple describing their particular trail favorite created a commonality of experience that went beyond any differences we may harbor within ourselves, be they political, religious, life experience, or otherwise. The four of us agreed that being out in nature and accomplishing our individual hiking goals contributed greatly to our quality of life.

On the trail, differences in beliefs or political leanings simply don’t come into play. And that, my friends, is a glorious way to experience kindness.

 

The Alzheimer’s caregiver: NOT a fictional character

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REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO, to be released July 2017, contains fictional characters right out of yours and my reality. If your life hasn’t been impacted by caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, you are at least tangentially connected to someone who has been.

  • A parent’s senior moments transform into hair-raising episodes of wandering and getting lost at all hours of the day and night during varied seasonal temperatures that may very well threaten their lives.
  • The husband who was Mr. Fixit for all home repairs, big and small, no longer knows how to use a screwdriver, and becomes combative when challenged.
  • A sister’s successful writing career is derailed when she can no longer write coherently or understand the written word.
  • The middle-aged next door neighbor pounds on your front door demanding entry to his home and threatens to call the authorities if you don’t immediately vacate the premises.

Variations of these scenarios abound, and within those story-like confines exist the caregivers who have been thrust into a role for which they were not prepared, derailing their status quo – their normalcy – beyond recognition. These same caregivers had very full lives before their days became what has become the caregiver’s  36-Hour Day. Any down time they enjoyed prior to stepping into their ill-fitting caregiver shoes has been filled with doctors’ appointments, loved one-sitting, and putting out fires. Carefully crafted family and retirement plans are no longer feasible because life as the caregiver once knew it no longer exists.

REQUIEM will give readers an intimate look at a caregiver’s day-to-day reality while also endeavoring to provide hope for what lies ahead. To be sure, there are no happy endings, but promises of resolution and lightness spring forth in the least likely of places and during some of the most awkward of times. Whether you are a caregiver, a former caregiver, or know someone who is, REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO will become a most cherished and often-read bookshelf addition.