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Archive for the ‘Alzheimers’’ Category

Book Review: Slow Puncture: Living Well with Dementia by Deb Bunt and Peter Berry

I wish I had read this book while I was caring for Mom and Dad.

In this cooperative project about dementia, friendship, and adventure Peter Berry, who received a diagnosis of early onset dementia at the age of fifty, and Deb Bunt, a world traveler who retired to rural Suffolk, share a candid account of what dementia looks like from the inside as well as the outside. Berry fights his dementia monster by reducing him to a cartoonish caricature and by devising biking challenges, accepting speaking engagements, and writing this book. The insights he drops into conversations with Bunt over coffee and cake are insightful and often stunning, but they are almost immediately forgotten – but not by Bunt. He says that having her to chronicle their journeys and adventures is like having a memory outside his head.

Berry’s insights and his approach to life give those of us on the outside a tiny peek at what the world looks like through a mind clouded by dementia, and Deb’s empathetic responses give the rest of us some idea of how to have a respectful and loving relationship with those with dementia. Berry says that he tries to make life about the “I can do’s” rather than the “I can’t do’s.” Bunt says that while others suffer from dementia, he has learned to live with it – with an emphasis on the living part. But just when his coping mechanisms and showmanship lull the reader into thinking dementia is not so bad, he says something like this: You know, in life, most people walk towards the light, but people with this condition are walking away from it. So, here’s my plan, when I have to, I’m going to walk backwards so I will still see the light.

This may have been the easiest five-star rating I’ve ever given. I loved this book and highly recommend it.

Blessings,

Linda

Buy at Amazon

A Long and Winding Road – 99 cents through Monday, 11/15

My first memoir, A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos, is bargain priced in ebook format. Less than three days left to get your copy for 99 cents. To tweak your interest, here’s the first several pages that tell about how I survived a game of chicken between my motorcycle and a dump truck – and that was the highlight of my day!

2004

Thursday, September 9

Change

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee:
 he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

There it was—a dump truck, coming straight toward me on a road with no shoulders and no place to go. The Department of Transportation’s motorcycle safety course teaches you to look where you want to go, and the bike will follow your line of vision. That would probably have worked, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the truck. Instead, the world around me abruptly shifted into a slow motion action sequence with a one-sentence caption that crawled across my mind: You’re going to die.

Avoiding a collision should have been easy: slow a little, push a bit harder on the  right handgrip, and then swing back into my lane My adrenaline-drenched muscles were tensed for fight or flight, though, so easy wasn’t happening, and I leaned hard into the curve. With a death grip on the throttle, I revved the engine, straightening my trajectory and sending the bike straight into the path of the truck. The right footrest screeched against the asphalt and gave way under the weight of the 700-pound motorcycle. I pulled my left leg up toward my chest; rubber crunched metal as both the front and back wheels of the truck hit the bike.

I don’t know what happened next. I don’t know if a heavenly hand reached down and plucked me off the bike or if I tucked and rolled, bouncing up at the end like a gymnast after a tumbling run. The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by bike parts: a headlight; the footboard, where my left foot had rested; and various, unidentifiable bits of chrome.

The bike was a blue 2002 Harley Heritage Softtail that I called the Blue Angel. She was beautiful, loud, and had chrome in places where most bikes don’t have places. When I rode her, I was powerful and beautiful and shiny, just like her, and I rode every chance I got. Now, she was lying on the side of the road with a trail of broken bits and pieces behind her.

In a daze, I wandered over and said to no one in particular, “I guess my riding days are over.”

My husband David was leading the ride. Out of sight around the next curve and deafened by the roar of his pipes, he was unaware of what was going on. James and Peggy, our neighbors and riding buddies, were bringing up the rear. James pulled up beside me and made sure I was still breathing before speeding away to catch up with David.

I watched him until he was out of sight, and then I sat down in the weeds to take inventory. Unlike my Angel, I was bruised and shaken, but not broken. My helmet was scraped, and the visor hung from one snap. There was a slight cut on the bridge of my nose from my glasses. My left foot hurt, so I took off my boot to check the damage. I didn’t find anything major, but my instep was swollen and turning blue, so I put my boot back on before my foot outgrew it. My elbows were skinned, and the length of my right thigh stung from road rash. A dull ache on my left hip presaged a huge bruise—but I was alive.

Peggy and the truck driver had just dragged my bike out of the path of oncoming traffic when an Arkansas Highway Patrol car arrived. The next few minutes were a blur of activity. I watched it all from the cocoon of numbness that surrounds you after a traumatic event. I answered questions when they were asked and signed my name when it was required, but mostly I thought about what had just happened.

I had been following David like always. He rides a black 2000 Harley Road King Classic. As we had been winding through the trees and hills on a beautiful two-lane road, I’d felt good, enjoying both the memory of David’s compliments about what a good rider I was becoming and the elegance of his riding style. Even after a couple of decades as a civilian, he still had his military posture, and he looked almost regal in the saddle. He had pulled ahead of me a bit, so I had given the Angel a little more gas—a little too much as it turned out. I had gone into a right-hand curve a little too hot and swung out just over the yellow line.

If I could just hit the rewind button and take that curve one more time.

Once the formalities were done and the shiny, twisted remains of the Angel had been towed away on a flatbed trailer, I climbed onto the buddy seat of the Road King. I was once again riding two-up behind David, leaning against his back with my arms around his waist the way I had the first time he took me riding when we were dating. shrunken caravan rode off in search of a place to eat dinner and lick our wounds.

Sitting on the back gives you time to think and pray. I thanked God for His mercy, amazed at what I had survived. I also asked why it had happened and if my riding days were really over. The only response I received in those moments of quiet meditation was a sense that I’d know when it was time to ride again. So far, I’m still riding two-up behind David.

Back at the condo, I took some pain reliever and soaked in a tub of hot water to ease my aches and pains. The pills and hot water worked on the physical woes, but they did nothing for the shock and horror of the images in my head, images of that truck coming toward me again and again. I joined the rest of the group in the living room and snuggled up next to David, looking for the warmth and comfort of his touch.

I was beginning to relax and unwind a bit when the cell phone rang. A flutter of anxiety made me catch my breath as it rang a second time. Only a few people had that number, so when it rang, it was usually serious. My first thought was of Mom and Dad who were over two hundred miles away.

In the fall of 2003, Dad had a mysterious neurological infection that landed him in the hospital for two weeks and in a rehab facility for three more. With her world turned upside down, Mom had an emotional breakdown, so she had stayed with us temporarily. She had delusions that Dad had died or run off with another woman, and when she saw him at the hospital, she called him “Mama.” Their snug two-bedroom house was not her secure little nest without him there, but she was afraid to be anywhere else.

Trying to meet their needs without neglecting my job or my husband did a number on my world, too. My neat, orderly little life turned into a chaotic mess. My perfect daughter, superhero alter ego took over, and I flew to the rescue.

I was the only one who could get Dad to eat, and I was afraid if I didn’t show up at the hospital three times a day, he would starve to death. I also spent hours with Mom, trying to calm her fears and cure her insecurities. This was when I experienced my first close encounter with the caregiver’s secret fear that it was my sole responsibility to see to the welfare of my parents. I thought that if I did everything right, my parents would get well and things would go back to normal. If they didn’t get well, it would be my fault.

After several months, Mom and Dad had both recovered from the trauma of his illness, but things had changed. They were back in their own home, but I still dropped by every day on my lunch hour to say hello and check on them. The yard on their little corner lot had been, at one time, well-tended and frequently admired by neighbors and passersby, but now it was unkempt, brown, and weed-choked. The hedges that had once been neatly trimmed now sprouted wild branches in every direction.

Inside was worse. The smell of unwashed bodies greeted me at the door, and the sigh of Mom and Dad sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, waited for me in the living room. The books and crossword puzzles that used to occupy their attention lay forgotten on the coffee table, along with piles of unbalanced bank statements and unpaid bills. The pantry and refrigerator that had once been stocked with fresh, nutritious food were either empty or filled with pre-packaged meals and snacks or leftovers that looked like a science experiment gone bad.

“What did you have for lunch?” I asked.

Each looked to the other for a response.

“I don’t remember.”

“You did eat, didn’t you?”

“I don’t know. I think we had a sausage biscuit around ten o’clock.”

Answers to questions about medications and doctor’s visits were equally vague. I reluctantly began to research care options, arming myself with as much information as I could. Eventually, some decisions would have to be made.

Not today, though. Today was supposed to have been a good day. We were on a motorcycle adventure with our neighbors, spending several days exploring new scenery and finding the curvy Arkansas roads that are like a Disney World thrill ride for bikers. The morning was beautiful, a perfect start to a day of forgetting about the real world for a while. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t so perfect after all.

When we stopped for a mid-morning rest, David whipped out his cell phone and called his buddy Roger, also a biker. Knowing Roger was at work, David greeted him with his usual taunt, Hey, man, where ya’ at? This morning, though, Roger had news. Delta Airlines, where David had worked for sixteen years, had announced that the DFW maintenance hangar would close and relocate to Atlanta in January. David was only fifty-six, too young to retire. He could relocate, but I wasn’t sure if I could work out a transfer with my employers. Starting a new career wasn’t appealing to either of us. Plus, what would we do about Mom and Dad? Then there was the truck, and now the phone was ringing.

The phone rang a third time, and I picked it up with a trembling hand.

“Hello?”

“Linda, this is Mary.”

Mary and I were running buddies before I met David, and we were still closer than she and her twin sister. She explained that she had received a panicked call from Mom.

 Mom had asked her to go check on Dad. He had gone to my house to pick kup the mail and feed the dogs, and he’d been gone for long enough that she was worried.

My heart was in my throat, unable to decide whether to beat wildly or stop altogether.

“Are they okay?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Mary, “but you need to know what happened. When I turned onto your street I saw emergency vehicles in front of your house. The EMTs were huddled around Elmer. A passing neighbor found him lying unconscious on the sidewalk and called nine-one-one. By the time I arrived, he was awake, but he’s refusing to go to the hospital. I think you should talk to him.”

“Okay,” I agreed. My hand was shaking so badly I could hardly hold the phone while I waited for him to come on the line. “Daddy, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he said. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I don’t need an ambulance.”

“Maybe you could let Mary take you to the ER, just to be sure everything is okay. Would you do that for me?”

“Okay. I don’t see any need of it, but if it will make you feel better, I’ll do it.”

After I hung up, I sat with my head in my hands, feeling like I’d just been hit by another truck. As I fought back tears, the caregiver’s guilty mantra taunted me: I should have been there.

Mary called back a couple of hours later. “Linda, I took your dad to the ER. They didn’t find any real damage, so they sent him home. I’m going to spend the night with them and check on him periodically.”

He made it through the night with no further signs of injury. A later check with his doctor showed no major damage, either, but he has not been quite the same since. None of us have.

Available on Amazon.

Blessings,

Linda

Preface of A Long and Winding Road – Read It for Free!

A Long and Winding Road is on sale through Tuesday, August 10. You can read the Preface here for free, or you can buy the entire ebook for 99 cents at https://www.amazon.com/Long-Winding-Road-Caregivers-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00LDV3W50.

PREFACE

2004

Thursday, September 9

Change

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee:
 he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

There it was—a dump truck, coming straight toward me on a road with no shoulders and no place to go. The Department of Transportation’s motorcycle safety course teaches you to look where you want to go, and the bike will follow your line of vision. That would probably have worked, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the truck. Instead, the world around me abruptly shifted into a slow motion action sequence with a one-sentence caption that crawled across my mind: You’re going to die.

Avoiding a collision should have been easy: slow a little, push a bit harder on the  right handgrip, and then swing back into my lane My adrenaline-drenched muscles were tensed for fight or flight, though, so easy wasn’t happening, and I leaned hard into the curve. With a death grip on the throttle, I revved the engine, straightening my trajectory and sending the bike straight into the path of the truck. The right footrest screeched against the asphalt and gave way under the weight of the 700-pound motorcycle. I pulled my left leg up toward my chest; rubber crunched metal as both the front and back wheels of the truck hit the bike.

I don’t know what happened next. I don’t know if a heavenly hand reached down and plucked me off the bike or if I tucked and rolled, bouncing up at the end like a gymnast after a tumbling run. The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by bike parts: a headlight; the footboard, where my left foot had rested; and various, unidentifiable bits of chrome.

The bike was a blue 2002 Harley Heritage Softtail that I called the Blue Angel. She was beautiful, loud, and had chrome in places where most bikes don’t have places. When I rode her, I was powerful and beautiful and shiny, just like her, and I rode every chance I got. Now, she was lying on the side of the road with a trail of broken bits and pieces behind her.

In a daze, I wandered over and said to no one in particular, “I guess my riding days are over.”

My husband David was leading the ride. Out of sight around the next curve and deafened by the roar of his pipes, he was unaware of what was going on. James and Peggy, our neighbors and riding buddies, were bringing up the rear. James pulled up beside me and made sure I was still breathing before speeding away to catch up with David.

I watched him until he was out of sight, and then I sat down in the weeds to take inventory. Unlike my Angel, I was bruised and shaken, but not broken. My helmet was scraped, and the visor hung from one snap. There was a slight cut on the bridge of my nose from my glasses. My left foot hurt, so I took off my boot to check the damage. I didn’t find anything major, but my instep was swollen and turning blue, so I put my boot back on before my foot outgrew it. My elbows were skinned, and the length of my right thigh stung from road rash. A dull ache on my left hip presaged a huge bruise—but I was alive.

Peggy and the truck driver had just dragged my bike out of the path of oncoming traffic when an Arkansas Highway Patrol car arrived. The next few minutes were a blur of activity. I watched it all from the cocoon of numbness that surrounds you after a traumatic event. I answered questions when they were asked and signed my name when it was required, but mostly I thought about what had just happened.

I had been following David like always. He rides a black 2000 Harley Road King Classic. As we had been winding through the trees and hills on a beautiful two-lane road, I’d felt good, enjoying both the memory of David’s compliments about what a good rider I was becoming and the elegance of his riding style. Even after a couple of decades as a civilian, he still had his military posture, and he looked almost regal in the saddle. He had pulled ahead of me a bit, so I had given the Angel a little more gas—a little too much as it turned out. I had gone into a right-hand curve a little too hot and swung out just over the yellow line.

If I could just hit the rewind button and take that curve one more time.

Once the formalities were done and the shiny, twisted remains of the Angel had been towed away on a flatbed trailer, I climbed onto the buddy seat of the Road King. I was once again riding two-up behind David, leaning against his back with my arms around his waist the way I had the first time he took me riding when we were dating. shrunken caravan rode off in search of a place to eat dinner and lick our wounds.

Sitting on the back gives you time to think and pray. I thanked God for His mercy, amazed at what I had survived. I also asked why it had happened and if my riding days were really over. The only response I received in those moments of quiet meditation was a sense that I’d know when it was time to ride again. So far, I’m still riding two-up behind David.

Back at the condo, I took some pain reliever and soaked in a tub of hot water to ease my aches and pains. The pills and hot water worked on the physical woes, but they did nothing for the shock and horror of the images in my head, images of that truck coming toward me again and again. I joined the rest of the group in the living room and snuggled up next to David, looking for the warmth and comfort of his touch.

I was beginning to relax and unwind a bit when the cell phone rang. A flutter of anxiety made me catch my breath as it rang a second time. Only a few people had that number, so when it rang, it was usually serious. My first thought was of Mom and Dad who were over two hundred miles away.

In the fall of 2003, Dad had a mysterious neurological infection that landed him in the hospital for two weeks and in a rehab facility for three more. With her world turned upside down, Mom had an emotional breakdown, so she had stayed with us temporarily. She had delusions that Dad had died or run off with another woman, and when she saw him at the hospital, she called him “Mama.” Their snug two-bedroom house was not her secure little nest without him there, but she was afraid to be anywhere else.

Trying to meet their needs without neglecting my job or my husband did a number on my world, too. My neat, orderly little life turned into a chaotic mess. My perfect daughter, superhero alter ego took over, and I flew to the rescue.

I was the only one who could get Dad to eat, and I was afraid if I didn’t show up at the hospital three times a day, he would starve to death. I also spent hours with Mom, trying to calm her fears and cure her insecurities. This was when I experienced my first close encounter with the caregiver’s secret fear that it was my sole responsibility to see to the welfare of my parents. I thought that if I did everything right, my parents would get well and things would go back to normal. If they didn’t get well, it would be my fault.

After several months, Mom and Dad had both recovered from the trauma of his illness, but things had changed. They were back in their own home, but I still dropped by every day on my lunch hour to say hello and check on them. The yard on their little corner lot had been, at one time, well-tended and frequently admired by neighbors and passersby, but now it was unkempt, brown, and weed-choked. The hedges that had once been neatly trimmed now sprouted wild branches in every direction.

Inside was worse. The smell of unwashed bodies greeted me at the door, and the sigh of Mom and Dad sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, waited for me in the living room. The books and crossword puzzles that used to occupy their attention lay forgotten on the coffee table, along with piles of unbalanced bank statements and unpaid bills. The pantry and refrigerator that had once been stocked with fresh, nutritious food were either empty or filled with pre-packaged meals and snacks or leftovers that looked like a science experiment gone bad.

“What did you have for lunch?” I asked.

Each looked to the other for a response.

“I don’t remember.”

“You did eat, didn’t you?”

“I don’t know. I think we had a sausage biscuit around ten o’clock.”

Answers to questions about medications and doctor’s visits were equally vague. I reluctantly began to research care options, arming myself with as much information as I could. Eventually, some decisions would have to be made.

Not today, though. Today was supposed to have been a good day. We were on a motorcycle adventure with our neighbors, spending several days exploring new scenery and finding the curvy Arkansas roads that are like a Disney World thrill ride for bikers. The morning was beautiful, a perfect start to a day of forgetting about the real world for a while. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t so perfect after all.

When we stopped for a mid-morning rest, David whipped out his cell phone and called his buddy Roger, also a biker. Knowing Roger was at work, David greeted him with his usual taunt, Hey, man, where ya’ at? This morning, though, Roger had news. Delta Airlines, where David had worked for sixteen years, had announced that the DFW maintenance hangar would close and relocate to Atlanta in January. David was only fifty-six, too young to retire. He could relocate, but I wasn’t sure if I could work out a transfer with my employers. Starting a new career wasn’t appealing to either of us. Plus, what would we do about Mom and Dad? Then there was the truck, and now the phone was ringing.

The phone rang a third time, and I picked it up with a trembling hand.

“Hello?”

“Linda, this is Mary.”

Mary and I were running buddies before I met David, and we were still closer than she and her twin sister. She explained that she had received a panicked call from Mom.

 Mom had asked her to go check on Dad. He had gone to my house to pick kup the mail and feed the dogs, and he’d been gone for long enough that she was worried.

My heart was in my throat, unable to decide whether to beat wildly or stop altogether.

“Are they okay?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Mary, “but you need to know what happened. When I turned onto your street I saw emergency vehicles in front of your house. The EMTs were huddled around Elmer. A passing neighbor found him lying unconscious on the sidewalk and called nine-one-one. By the time I arrived, he was awake, but he’s refusing to go to the hospital. I think you should talk to him.”

“Okay,” I agreed. My hand was shaking so badly I could hardly hold the phone while I waited for him to come on the line. “Daddy, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he said. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I don’t need an ambulance.”

“Maybe you could let Mary take you to the ER, just to be sure everything is okay. Would you do that for me?”

“Okay. I don’t see any need of it, but if it will make you feel better, I’ll do it.”

After I hung up, I sat with my head in my hands, feeling like I’d just been hit by another truck. As I fought back tears, the caregiver’s guilty mantra taunted me: I should have been there.

Mary called back a couple of hours later. “Linda, I took your dad to the ER. They didn’t find any real damage, so they sent him home. I’m going to spend the night with them and check on him periodically.”

He made it through the night with no further signs of injury. A later check with his doctor showed no major damage, either, but he has not been quite the same since. None of us have.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road


Mother’s Day – It’s Complicated | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 4, 2021:

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, and as I thought about what to write, I wanted to write a tribute to my mother. I’ve already written a lot about her – she’s the main topic of both my Alzheimer’s caregiving memoirs. But as I looked through years of blog posts and articles, I couldn’t find a tribute paying homage specifically to her as the woman who gave me life and played a huge part in molding me into who I am today. I found one I wrote about Daddy and several I’ve written about friends, but no single tribute article for her.

With that in mind, I gave a lot of thought about how to begin her article, but I ran into one mental or emotional road block after another. Maybe I’ve said everything I have to say about her, or maybe the things that haven’t been said are too personal to share – or maybe it’s just complicated. Whatever the reason, I finally gave up the idea and decided to share a chapter from my second memoir. The chapter is titled Southridge Village’s Tribute to Mom.

After Mom died, we received a lot of sweet, heartfelt expressions of sympathy. There were emails, notes on Facebook, cards, phone calls, and personal words of support. All of them meant so much and helped us deal with the grief, but none of them meant any more to me than the one we received from Southridge Village.

(more…)

Mom’s Long Goodbye – Prologue & Chapter 1

MLG Promo 2 Read the Prologue and Chapter 1 for free. If you want to read further, get the ebook for $.99 at Amazon.

PROLOGUE

You Say Goodbye, but You Don’t Go Away

Genesis 24:56 (KJV) And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.

Some people have a hard time saying goodbye. There are the false-start types. When it’s time to leave, they say, “I’d better get on home now,” but they stand in the doorway, keys in hand, and talk for another fifteen minutes. Sometimes, it takes them several more attempts before they actually make it out the door.

There are also the revolving-door types. They make it out the door quickly enough, but they pop back in several times to retrieve something they forgot or to tell you one more thing. I tend toward the second type, and I have a friend who finds it amusing. On my second or third round trip back, she smiles knowingly and says, “You say goodbye, but you don’t go away.”

There’s another type of person who takes a long time to say goodbye. It’s not a loveable personality trait that makes them linger in the doorway to tell you just one more thing or a quirky forgetfulness that makes it difficult to leave. Instead, it’s tangled knots of nerves in their brain that become encrusted with plaque and steal them away from their loved ones a piece at a time. Mom was one of those people. She had Alzheimer’s, and it took her fifteen years to say goodbye.

CHAPTER 1

Fear and the Red Photo Album

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 Mom was afraid for a long time. I found evidence of her fear in an old, red photo album, the kind with a thick cardboard cover bound with braided cord. It had a rose embossed on the front, and I sat on the floor, wondering what forgotten pictures were inside. Instead of pictures, there were articles. Page after page of neatly clipped and mounted stories about dementia and Alzheimer’s. Stories of symptoms, stories of promising theories, stories with more questions than answers, stories of Mom’s first steps into the darkness.

#

Mom was always a fearful person, especially when she was alone. Dad worked nights several times during their seventy-year marriage. She sometimes told the story of being a young bride, left alone in an isolated country house while her groom worked at the ice house every night. One evening, she was awakened from a restless sleep by a terrible noise. She later described it as sounding like someone was trying to get into the house straight through the wall of her bedroom. She had no phone and no close neighbors, so she huddled in the center of the bed, trembling with fear and wondering how long she had left to live.

The noise continued for a while, but when the walls didn’t splinter and the threat didn’t seem to increase, she screwed up her courage and crept outside to investigate. She slipped down the front steps and peeked around the corner, and there, she saw it. An old milk cow was chewing on the grass that grew up beside the pier and beam foundation that supported the house. She laughed about it after the fact, but she and I had a replay of sorts years later when I was in my early teens.

We lived in the city by then, and Dad still worked nights, this time at the post office. My older brother, Jim, was away at college, so Mom and I were on our own. I was sound asleep when I was awakened by an urgent whisper.

“Linda! Come in here. Somebody’s trying to get in the window.”

I jumped up and ran into her room. She was sitting up in bed, her back pressed against the headboard with the covers drawn up to her chin.

“There,” she said, pointing to the window beside her pillow. “Somebody was scratching on the screen.”

I sat on the side of the bed for a minute, staring at the window. The closed window shade was backlit by a full moon and gave off an eerie glow. Suddenly, a shadow passed across the window, and I scooted under the covers and into Mom’s arms. We sat that way for a few minutes, but when there was no further movement or sound, curiosity overcame fear, and I slid out of bed and tiptoed to the window. I pulled the shade away just far enough to peek out.

“I don’t see anything. I’m going to call Dad.”

Without turning on a light, I went to the phone that sat in its recessed nook in the hallway wall. All the modern houses had them. Like a blind person reading Braille, I slid my fingers over the dial, counted the holes, and dialed the number.

“Dad, I think somebody’s trying to get in. Something was scratching on the screen in your bedroom, and I saw a shadow on the shade.”

“Did you look out?”

“Yes, I peeped out and couldn’t see anyone.”

“Okay. Stay away from the window. I’m going to call the police.” “Okay.”

Within minutes, we heard a car pull up in front of the house and saw the beams of flashlights as Mesquite’s finest investigated. Then, we heard a knock on the door.

“We didn’t find anything, Ma’am, but we’ll have a patrol car drive by here frequently for the rest of the night.”

When Dad got home the next morning, he found us still huddled together under the covers. He immediately went out to investigate; he was laughing when he came back inside.

“I didn’t find any footprints or anything, but I did find some evidence. There were rat droppings on the window sill.”

We took a bit of kidding about being afraid of the dark, but Mom wasn’t just afraid of things that go bump in the night. She was afraid in the daylight, too. She was afraid of making a mistake, afraid of looking foolish in front of others, of being embarrassed, of being looked down on.

She had a beautiful voice and helped lead the singing in her tiny, country church when she was a teenager. That was before air conditioning, when church windows actually opened and congregations cooled themselves with cardboard fans provided by the local funeral home. One Sunday morning, a fly flew in an open window  and straight into Mom’s mouth as she sang. She was so embarrassed she became reluctant  to lead the singing. Not long after that, she learned that the former song leader had been diagnosed with throat cancer. Fearful that his singing might have contributed to his illness, she retired from her leadership position and rejoined the congregation.

She had other musical talents, too. She learned to play the guitar by watching her uncles when the kinfolks gathered for a songfest, and she also played the piano by ear. We had an old player piano we inherited from one relative or another. The player mechanics had been removed, Dad had refinished it, and Mom spent many happy hours playing honky-tonk tunes and old gospel favorites. When we moved from a small West Texas town into the suburbs of Dallas, though, she feared that city folks would look down on her country origins, so she did her best to cover them up. Her guitar was relegated to the back of her closet, and the piano was made available for me to practice the Old Masters favored by my piano teacher.

Mom also feared illness and physical infirmities of all kinds. She was born with yellow jaundice, as it was known in the country, and she was sickly as a child. As an adult, she endured a tonsillectomy, an appendectomy, a hysterectomy, three spinal fusions, and the removal of a deformed kidney, so she saved her best nightgowns for her next trip to the hospital. She feared falling victim to any epidemic or new disease that made the rounds of the morning talk shows. In spite of her fear, or maybe because of it, she often developed the symptoms of those diseases. What she feared most, though, was Alzheimer’s. I didn’t realize how much until I found that old photo album. Mom and Dad lived with us for six years before they went into assisted living. By that time, neither of them was capable of making the decisions necessary in downsizing. I went through their personal belongings and made piles: things to pack, things to store, things to donate, things to throw away. I found trash, and I found treasures—and I found the photo album in the bottom of one of Mom’s dresser drawers. I wonder how long she lived alone with her fear before the rest of us suspected.

Blessings,

Linda

Book Sale for Alzheimer’s Caregivers | by Guest Author, Marianne Sciucco

Marianne Sciucco is one of the founders of AlzAuthors, a site where caregivers can share information and experiences through books and more. She’s here today to tell my readers about a very special 5-day book sale that begins tomorrow. It’s a rather long post because it gives blurbs and links to all the books that are on sale. Please scroll all the way through and make note of any you want to buy – you don’t want to miss the perfect book for you. Mine might be one of them!

AlzAuthors 3rd Annual Caregiver Appreciation Month Book Sale & Giveaway is November 21-25

by Marianne Sciucco

AlzAuthors is built by caregivers for caregivers. Our mission is to provide carefully vetted books and blogs to help you find the answers and guidance you need. The majority of our authors have “walked the walk” with a parent, spouse, or other loved one, and have chosen to write their stories as balm for the soul, and to share with others the information they wished they’d had on their dementia journeys.

As November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month, we think it’s a wonderful time to recognize the long hours, sacrifice, and love caregivers bring to caring for a loved one with dementia or any long-term illness. In honor of their efforts, we are hosting a book sale and giveaway. It’s a terrific way for caregivers who are looking for knowledge, guidance, and support to build a library of carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire them every day.

Starting today through November 25th, you can take advantage of this excellent opportunity to check out some of our books for free and reduced prices. We offer a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and children’s literature. All are available in Kindle, and many are available in other digital formats, paperback, and audio.

Our books are written from a deep place of understanding, experience, knowledge, and love. May you find one – or two, or more! – to help guide you on your own dementia journey.

Click on the book covers to visit each book’s Amazon.com page. Please check all prices before purchasing. AlzAuthors is not responsible for ensuring price reductions. Please contact the individual authors with questions (contact information is provided in each author’s AlzAuthors blog post). All prices are in U.S. dollars. Note: AlzAuthors is an Amazon Associate and may receive a small commission from book sales.

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anthology cover_ebookAlzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiving Stories: 47 Authors Share Their Inspiring Personal Experiences (An AlzAuthors Anthology, Book 2) by AlzAuthors, KINDLE COUNTDOWN DEAL – starts at $0.99 then rises each day to $4.99

Within these pages you will be immersed in a world of writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia gathered together by the team at AlzAuthors. The editors of this anthology have worked tirelessly to find and vet resources – memoir, novels, nonfiction, poetry, children’s books, and blogs – to provide those living with dementia a friendly place to find the support and knowledge they need. Includes stories for those caring for parents, a spouse, or living with the disease themselves. Stories featuring books for children and teens are also included.  May one of their stories speak to you.

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anthology biz cardAlzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiving Stories: 58 Authors Share Their Inspiring Personal Experiences (An AlzAuthors Anthology Book 1) by AlzAuthors, $0.99 (reg. $4.99); paperback $9.99 (reg. 14.99)

This poignant anthology grew out of the first year’s blog posts on AlzAuthors.com. Fifty-eight authors reveal the backstory of their books about Alzheimer’s and other dementias. It is a heartfelt compilation from those who have been deeply touched – whether they live with the disease, are caregivers, or simply care. They join together to offer compassionate support and courage for anyone traveling a similar path.

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flying fossilsFlying Fossils by Lynn Gentry, fiction; FREE (reg. $4.99)

The Slocum women never discuss the family secrets they buried in the Frio River. For twenty-five years, they’ve gone their separate ways and lived separate lives. But when Sara’s fall breaks her hip and leaves her unable to care for herself, her daughter is forced to return to Texas. Charlotte’s short-term care-giving plan is dashed when she realizes her difficult mother needs long-term care. While Sara struggles to regain her independence, Charlotte grapples with the impossible task of juggling a high-pressure job, a rebellious teenage daughter, and a slightly demented mother.

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blue hydrangeasBlue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story by Marianne Sciucco, fiction; KINDLE COUNTDOWN DEAL – starts at 0.99 then rises each day to $4.99; paperback $9.99 (reg. 14.99)

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name? A care facility is everyone’s solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can’t bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

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Alzheimer's DaughterAlzheimer’s Daughter by Jean Lee, memoir; $0.99 (reg. $4.99)

What would you do if both parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? At the time of their diagnosis, Ed Church struggles to his feet, yelling, “How dare you use the A. word with me,” while Ibby wags her finger at the doctor scolding, “Shame on you.” They protect each other, Ibby by asserting, “We’re not leaving our home,” and Ed reassuring, “We’re just fine.” About his driving Ed defends, “I’m an excellent driver, I’ve never had an accident.” When their daughter, Rosie, finds dings in Ed’s car, he dismisses, “Someone must have bumped into me.” After Rosie moves them to assisted living, convinced they are on a second honeymoon, they break the news, “We’ve decided not to have more children.” In the late stages, they politely shake Rosie’s hand, inquiring, “Now, who are you?” In Alzheimer’s Daughter readers journey with Rosie Church from her first suspicions that something is awry to nearly a decade later as she is honored to hold Ed and Ibby’s hands when they draw their final breaths. Kindle reg. price 3.99/sale price 0.99.

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requiem for the status quoRequiem for the Status Quo by Irene Frances Olson, fiction; $0.99 (reg. $4.99)

Family caregivers are oftentimes ruthlessly challenged by uninvolved family members who are quick to condemn, but reticent to offer assistance. Such is the case for Colleen Strand, a widow who recently found her own footing who takes on the task of caring for her father, Patrick Quinn, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her older brother, Jonathan, criticizes Colleen at every turn and verbally abuses the father when he has the gall to exhibit symptoms of his disease. In short, Jonathan travels down the road of denial, leaving Colleen to deal with all matters regarding their father’s care. Connected tenuously to a father who barely remembers her and a brother who has become an enigma, Colleen faces the moving target that is Alzheimer’s disease, determined to clothe her father with the dignity he deserves, while capturing the far too fleeting moments of time with him. Kindle reg. price 4.99/sale price 0.99

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competing with the starCompeting with the Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager, $0.99 (reg. $3.99), Young Adult Fiction

Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect… Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams–Nick Jenkins. He’s the kind of guy every girl swoons over, and it isn’t long until Hadley discovers some are still swooning. A famous ex-girlfriend makes matters more complicated… After some time dating, Hadley and Nick form a deep bond. But insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend–who just happens to be the beautiful former teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson. Hadley confronts Nick, who confesses about his history with Simone. Though he claims to only have eyes for Hadley now, it’s hard to believe–especially when she’s blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school. Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth. Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs soap opera drama when you’re busy competing with a star? This book has a sub-theme of Lewy Body Dementia.

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finding ruthFinding Ruth: A Daughter’s Quest to Discover Her Mother’s Past by Cynthia Hamilton, memoir; FREE (reg. $3.99)

A writer turns detective to learn what her mother’s life had been like before Alzheimer’s stole her memories. A true story of forgiveness and healing. As fiercely independent Ruth struggles to stay self-reliant at the age of 86, each day brings her closer to an event that will alter her life forever. While her author daughter shifts through Ruth’s possessions prior to her move into a skilled nursing facility, she discovers a previously unseen photo from 1949 and realizes how little she knows of her mother’s life. As Alzheimer’s continues to warp Ruth’s once sharp mind, she can no longer shed any light on the past. Yearning to know who her mother was as a person in her own right, the author painstakingly reconstructs Ruth’s life from photos, letters, public records and firsthand memories. What emerges is a portrait of a bright, beautiful woman who is propelled through decades of broken promises and heartache, bouncing from one ill-fated relationship to the next, but always staying strong, always surviving. Through a timeline going back sixty years, the author gleans a much better understanding of the woman she had known only as Mom.

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i'm your daughterI’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia by Julie A. Gorges, memoir; FREE (reg. $2.99)

“I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia” is written by award-winning journalist and author, Julie A. Gorges, who was the primary caregiver for her mother suffering from Lewy Body dementia. Sharing her intimate story, Gorges provides a compassionate and supportive guidebook to help caregivers cope with the many difficult challenges they will face while caring for their own needs at the same time. With gut-wrenching honesty, Gorges shares her own roller coaster ride of emotions, mistakes she made along the way, and all the ups and downs of this life-changing experience that is fulfilling as well as difficult and painful. This book walks caregivers through the entire process to the end of the journey to help them cope and move forward after a loved one dies. Gorges wholeheartedly believes there are many things people can do to make life more dignified and enjoyable during this challenging time. “I’m Your Daughter Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia” is a must-read for those embarking on this difficult, but in the end worthwhile journey of caregiving.

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]Almost There by Laurel Garver, Young Adult fiction, $2.99 (reg. $ 3.99)

Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend. But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save. Why would God block all paths to Paris? Could real hope for healing be as close as a box tucked in the rafters?

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trading placesTrading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother by Sandra Bullock Smith, memoir; FREE (reg. $2.99

Caring for an elderly parent can be extremely challenging. The role reversal involved is emotionally and intellectually demanding, and many caregivers find themselves unprepared to undertake such a difficult task. In Trading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother, author Sandra Bullock Smith shares her personal experiences spending ten years caring for her ailing mother. This heartfelt look at the trials and tribulations of that decade offers powerful insight and encouragement for anyone entering into a similar period of life. Smith’s touching stories share the heartbreaking, and sometimes comical, moments she experienced while providing assistance to her aging parent—and how they mirrored similar events from her own childhood. In a very real sense, the two women traded places. Smith found herself uttering phrases she heard all too often as a child, such as, “Don’t give your food to the dog,” and “You’ve had enough sugar today.” Smith began jotting down the things she said, and thus this charming book was born. Filled with respect, compassion, and love, this uplifting and amusing memoir is for anyone involved in elder care or who may face the role in the future.

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winding roadA Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos by Linda Brendle, memoir; $0.99 (reg. $3.99)

A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is the story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend seven weeks touring the southeastern U.S. in a 40-foot motor home. Alzheimer’s is a family disease, and A Long and Winding Road is a love story–not a boy-meets-girl love story, but a family love story: The story of the love of a daughter for her parents and her willingness to take them into her home when they could no longer care for themselves; The story of a mother and father who loved their daughter but no longer remembered exactly where they were or why; The story of a husband who loved his wife so much that he stood beside her as they fought to survive the ravages of the brain-wasting disease that was stealing her loved ones away a piece at a time. It’s also the story of a seven-week trip for four across sixteen U.S. states in a forty-foot motor home–a trip that involved stopped up toilets, wet jeans, laughter, and headaches that were far from the easygoing retirement the Brendles had imagined for themselves. Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving.

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Mom's Long GoodbyeMom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort by Linda Brendle, memoir; $0.99 (reg. 5.99)

“Mom’s goodbye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine.” Linda Brendle’s first memoir, A Long and Winding Road, told of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. It also told of the years and the life experiences that brought these four people together. After finishing it, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Goodbye is the rest of the story. Based on blog posts written as the events happened, this memoir takes the reader through grieving a continuous loss, some of the initial changes Alzheimer’s causes, the transition from caregiving to assisted living, Dad’s death, Mom’s last year, and the grief and closure of her final goodbye. Mom’s Long Goodbye strips away the façade of being the perfect caregiver and gives the reader a look at the denial, the anger, and the fear that come as a loved one loses herself a piece at a time to an insidious disease. Through sharing her own struggles, Brendle tries to assure other caregivers that they are not alone, that perfection is not required, and that comfort is real.

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somebody stole my ironSomebody Stole My Iron: a Family Memoir of Dementia by Vicki Tapia, $0.99 (reg. $3.99)

Navigating the waters of dementia can be frightening, unleashing a myriad of emotions for everyone involved. After Vicki Tapia’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, followed closely by her father with Parkinson’s disease-related dementia, she struggled to find practical, helpful information to light her way. Somebody Stole My Iron began as a diary to help her cope, but emerged as a road map for others. It offers a glimpse into her family’s  life as they rode the waves of dementia, sometimes sailing, other times capsizing. This engaging memoir offers useful information from experts within the field of Alzheimer’s research, personal lessons the author learned along the way, and ideas and tips for managing the day-to-day ups and downs of dementia.

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the reluctant caregiverThe Reluctant Caregiver, Missives from the Caregiving Minefield by Joy Johnston, memoir; $0.99 (reg. $1.99)

Untitled design (3)Not everyone is born a natural caregiver. One moment, digital journalist Joy Johnston is a cynical workaholic with an underwater mortgage. The next moment, she faces the responsibility of caring for her eccentric mother who’s battling colon cancer, just six months after her father’s death from Alzheimer’s. As an only child, she has no choice but to slap on the latex gloves, and get to know more about her mother — and herself — than she ever imagined possible. The road from reluctance to resilience is bumpy and splattered with bodily fluids, but it also offers unforgettable lessons. Who knew you could learn how to change a colostomy bag on YouTube, or that hospice nurses like telling dirty jokes? Peppered with snarky humor, vivid observations, and poignant honesty, this essay collection will resonate with anyone drafted into a family health crisis.

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to helen with loveTo Helen With Love by Linda Jenkins, memoir; $0.99 (reg. $7.99), paperback $7.00 (reg. $15.49)

It was a role she never expected to fill, but Linda Jenkins was soon thrust into a life of unpredictable days, lonely nights, and searing grief. For eighteen years she watches her mother give more and more of herself to Alzheimer’s disease from the seat of primary caregiver. Nothing could prepare her for what this new path would entail: navigating insurance issues, the healthcare system, financial concerns, hospice, and a panel of doctors, nurses, and caregivers. To Helen with Love is written with humility, faith, and love in the face of a dark and ravaging disease. She candidly addresses her fears, her doubts, and her grief as time ushers her through one obstacle after another. A practical and helpful memoir, the book is filled with resources, advice, encouragement, and hope; she finds humor and joy where it shines brightly through the fog and captures it all in her recollections of her mother’s last years. With insight on advocacy, best practice, and the emotional spectrum common among caregivers, Linda Jenkins offers information, support, and inspiration in her mother’s memory. Her faith was challenged in ways she could never have dreamed of, but with the love of God and her mother, she rose to the challenge and learned about herself, her family, and her faith.

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motherhoodMotherhood: Lost and Found by Ann Campanella, memoir; $0.99 (reg. $7.99)

Alzheimer’s disease, infertility and love of horses intersect in this memoir, which was named “One of the Best Alzheimer’s Books of All Time” by Book Authority. At age 33, author Ann Campanella returns to her home state of North Carolina ready to build a horse farm and start a family. Ann’s foundation is shaken when she experiences multiple miscarriages at the same time her mother spirals into Alzheimer’s. Ann’s connection to horses sustains her as she cares for her elderly parents and her window of motherhood begins to close. As her mother’s memory fades, Ann receives a final miracle. The voice in Ann’s memoir has been called constant and abiding, her imagery indelible. Her graceful, exacting language rises above the grief of infertility and the struggle to care for aging parents, connecting the reader ultimately to the heartbeat and resilience of the human experience.

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dear cluelessDear Clueless: A Daughter’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s Caregiving by Sandra Savell, memoir; $1.99 (reg. $3.99)

At the time this book was written, the youngest person recorded with Alzheimer’s Disease was 28 years old. Since I learned about Alzheimer’s with my maternal grandmother suffering from and succumbing to the disease in the 1980s, the ages of Alzheimer’s patients have been steadily becoming younger and younger. In my mother’s memory care unit was an educator who died of early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 53. There is a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds and it is estimated that one in every three people in the United States will have Alzheimer’s by the age of 85. This disease lasts from 2 – 25 years. If this trend continues then every family in this country will be visited by Alzheimer’s and the affects on caregivers will also affect this nation. This book is both a personal story of a decade-long journey of caregiving as well as a call to arms for funding and research of this terminal disease.

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save the bonesSave the Bones by Shannon O’Donnell, memoir; paperback $8.50 (reg. $15.00)

Maddening. Crazy-making. Frustrating. The dance that is Alzheimer’s is never quite mastered. The music changes often and the steps are irregular. This way? That way? Nothing is ever straightforward in the telling. This mother and daughter navigate the capricious ways of Alzheimer’s and discover new things along the way, including laughter that surprises and bonds them to shared history and memory. Second edition. Includes new material, the final chapter in the story of a mother and a daughter and Alzheimer’s.

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loving zeldaLoving Zelda: A Stepdaughter’s Caregiving Journal by Sue Anne W. Kirkham, memoir: $1.99 (reg. $3.99)

Caring for aging parents, it’s both a challenge and a blessing. In this engaging inspirational memoir, author Sue Anne W. Kirkham explores with honesty and humor every emotional and practical facet of the adult child’s experience when roles are reversed. Her father, Bill, a retired psychologist, and her stepmother, Zelda, had enjoyed absorbing hobbies and eagerly traveled the globe together for most of their 32-year marriage. Now Zelda–former organizer of Fourth of July kitchen-band marches–is fading away into the confusion of dementia. They need help. Through character studies and helpful insights, you will get to know this blended family intimately, and you’ll want to be there with them through every dramatic turn of events.

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is there any ice creamIs There Any Ice Cream?: Surviving the Challenges of Caregiving for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, and COPD (Accepting the Gift of Caregiving) by Judith Allen Shone, memoir; paperback $19.99 US ($22.99), $25.00 Canada ($29.99)

In 2018, the Alzheimer Society of Canada website showed over half a million people in Canada were living with dementia. That same year, the Alzheimer Association website reported that over 5.7 million in the US were living with a form of memory loss. Unsuspecting family members had to jump into the role of caregiver without warning or training. Often, the caregiver was a spouse. Many caregivers became confused, challenged and eventually overwhelmed from the stress of caring for their loved one. Judith Allen Shone fell into that category. It never occurred to her to ask “what if” her love became ill and she, alone, had to become the one to take care of him. She never dreamed she would have to become a solo caregiver. But that is exactly what happened. It is from her experiences that Shone came to believe no caregiver should be walking their path afraid or all alone. Written for all caregivers and those who support caregivers, Shone juggles humor with insight, as she chronicles the story of an untrained and desperate caregiver who, in her memoir-story style, relates her formidable experiences accompanied by the emotional chaos of caregiving for her loved one with COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, cancer, and anxiety, with occasional mysteries arising. Includes one successful intervention….

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Alzheimer's TrippinAlzheimer’s Trippin’ with George: Diagnosis to Discovery in 10,000 Miles by Susan Straley, memoir; $1.99 (reg. $5.99)

What would you do if you learned that your spouse of 40 years had progressive dementia?
At sixty-two, Susan Straley was in a panic. She felt their fun retirement life was now over. Not only that, as an independent woman who loved her freedom, she didn’t want to be strapped with the caregiver role! And she worried about their retirement savings… what if George needed long-term-care? What she really wanted to do was run away. George tearfully begged her to wait until their 40th wedding anniversary, only a few months away. So Susan took off on a last-hurrah road trip with George and their recumbent trikes in tow. Their story is told in open and honest letters to family and friends, sprinkled with warmth, humor, angst and incontinence. Readers will find themselves traveling along with Susan and George, delighting in their experiences, cheering them on. Alzheimer’s Trippin’ powerfully captures the resistance, the joys, and the adjustments of one strong woman on the journey from diagnosis to discovery.

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weedsinnanasgardenWeeds in Nana’s Garden by Kathryn Harrison, illustrated children’s fiction; $0.99 (reg. $6.99)

A young girl and her Nana hold a special bond that blooms in the surroundings of Nana’s magical garden. Then one day, the girl finds many weeds in the garden. She soon discovers that her beloved Nana has Alzheimer’s Disease; an illness that affects an adult brain with tangles that get in the way of thoughts, kind of like how weeds get in the way of flowers. As time passes, the weeds grow thicker and her Nana declines, but the girl accepts the difficult changes with love, learning to take-over as the garden’s caregiver. Extending from the experience of caring for her mother, artist Kathryn Harrison has created this poignant children’s story with rich illustrations to candidly explore dementia diseases, while demonstrating the power of love. It is a journey that will cultivate understanding and touch your heart. After the story, a useful Question and Answer section is included. $1 from the purchase of this book will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. The Alzheimer Society is Canada’s leading health charity for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

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i smile for grandpaI Smile for Grandpa, by Jaclyn Guenette, author, and Kathryn Harrison, editor, illustrated children’s fiction; $0.99 (reg. $4.99)

Discover the heartwarming relationship between Grandpa and his Little Buddy in this touching book. When Grandpa is diagnosed with a dementia disease, Little Buddy realizes playing soccer together won’t quite be the same. But, while the activities that Grandpa can do are changing, there is still much fun to be had. In fact, spending time with each other is as special as ever! Using delightful and tender illustrations, dementia is compassionately explored through the innocent eyes of a child to create a greater understanding of the disease. Tips for speaking with your child as well as a useful Q&A are also included to enhance learning. Written by Registered Social Worker and Dementia Care Expert, Jaclyn Guenette / Edited and Illustrated by Award-winning Author & Illustrator, Kathryn Harrison. *A portion of profits from this book will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. The Alzheimer Society is Canada’s leading health charity for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. Thank you for making a difference.

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Thank you for visiting our sale!

For more carefully vetted books about Alzheimer’s and dementia, please visit our Bookstore.

Blessings,

Linda

Two Memoirs about Alzheimer’s Caregiving by Linda Brendle

A Long and Winding Road by Linda Brendle         56161812_524092914662317_2745872214099230720_n

Buy A Long and Winding Road:      Ebook     Paperback

Buy Mom’s Long Goodbye:     Ebook     Paperback

A Long and Winding Road

Alzheimer’s is a family disease, and this is a love story – not a boy meets girls love story, but a family love story. It is the story of the love between a daughter and her parents and her willingness to take them into her home when they could no longer care for themselves; the story of a mother and a father who loved their daughter but no longer remembered exactly where they were or why; the story of a husband who loved his wife so much that he stood beside her as they fought to survive the ravages of the brain-wasting disease that was stealing her loved ones away a piece at a time. It’s also the story of a seven-week trip for four across sixteen U.S. states in a forty-foot motor home – a trip that involved stopped up toilets, wet jeans, laughter, and headaches that were far from the easygoing retirement the Brendles had imagined for themselves.

Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving.

 A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is the story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a 400-square-foot box on wheels.

 

   

Mom’s Long Goodbye

Mom’s good-bye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine.

My first memoir told of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. It also told of the years and the life experiences that brought these four people together. After finishing it, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Good-Bye is the rest of the story.

Based on blog posts written as the events happened, this memoir takes the reader through grieving a continuous loss, some of the initial changes Alzheimer’s causes, the transition from caregiving to assisted living, Dad’s death, Mom’s last year, and the grief and closure of her final good-bye.

This book is for the millions who have experienced the heartache of witnessing the physical and mental deterioration of a loved family member or a dear friend. Mom’s Long Good-Bye strips away the façade of being the perfect caregiver and gives the reader a look at the denial, the anger, and the fear that come as a loved one loses herself a piece at a time to an insidious disease. By sharing her own struggles, the author assures other caregivers that they are not alone, that perfection is not required, and that comfort is real.

 

Blessings,

Linda

Alzheimer’s was… | by Linda Brendle

Alzheimer’s was the evil plaque in Dad’s brain that changed him from a hard-working, easy-going man into a cranky, ill-tempered couch potato.

Alzheimer’s was a thief. It stole Mom away a piece at a time and left me to grieve a loss that went on for years.

Alzheimer’s was a twisted comedian that made me laugh at the ridiculous things Mom did while I cried inside because of the reason behind her antics.

Alzheimer’s was the demon in my head that made me impatient with situations that were no one’s fault and angry at an opponent I couldn’t defeat.

Alzheimer’s was the monster in the closet or under the bed that changed our lives forever once the doctor spoke its name.

But Alzheimer’s was also the loser.

In spite of his difficult final years, Dad left a legacy of peace and love that lives on in the family he left behind.

While Mom’s past disappeared along with her memories, she also forgot the social anxieties and fears that had plagued her all her life and became a real party girl.

The wardrobe mishaps and other silly incidents often led to shared laughter and hugs that made life feel almost normal if only for a moment.

As the good days became fewer, I learned to cherish them when they came.

When Mom’s vocabulary was down to only a few words, one of those words was Jesus; and even to the end, she always responded to music.

Both Mom and Dad passed from this life without a struggle and with peaceful smiles on their faces as they looked into the face of the One who cares for the least of these.

I have found solace in knowing that my task of caregiving was completed not perfectly but well, and I have found comfort in sharing our story with others who are going through the same thing.

Read more about my family’s fight with Alzheimer’s in Mom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort released by Anaiah Press on March 12, 2019. Ebook now available at Amazon; print format available soon.

Blessings,

Linda

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Mom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort | by Linda Brendle

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Released by Anaiah Press this week, Mom’s Long Goodbye is available as an ebook on Amazon. It will be available in print soon.

Mom’s good-bye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine.

My first memoir told of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. It also told of the years and the life experiences that brought these four people together. After finishing it, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Good-Bye is the rest of the story.

Based on blog posts written as the events happened, this memoir takes the reader through grieving a continuous loss, some of the initial changes Alzheimer’s causes, the transition from caregiving to assisted living, Dad’s death, Mom’s last year, and the grief and closure of her final good-bye.

This book is for the millions who have experienced the heartache of witnessing the physical and mental deterioration of a loved family member or a dear friend. Mom’s Long Good-Bye strips away the façade of being the perfect caregiver and gives the reader a look at the denial, the anger, and the fear that come as a loved one loses herself a piece at a time to an insidious disease. By sharing her own struggles, the author assures other caregivers that they are not alone, that perfection is not required, and that comfort is real.

Blessings,

Linda

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Cover Reveal! Mom’s Long GoodBye by Linda Brendle

Coming March 12! Mom’s Long GoodBye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort. Thank you, Eden Plantz, for the perfect cover – and thank you Anaiah Press for giving me the chance to tell the rest of Mom’s story and mine.
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Blessings,
Linda
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