Thursday, January 30, 2020

From the Other Side of the Table

So last night, I participated in a special signing and fundraising event at the Thunder Bay Chapters location.

For every copy of my book that I signed, I gave an amount to the Thunder Bay chapter of the Alzheimer Society.

For the purchases everyone made between 6 and 8 PM, the local store gave 15% to the local Alzheimer Society (at no extra cost to the consumer).

It was fun! I signed some books! And I bought some things! And other people did, too! And we all raised some money for people in Thunder Bay who need support.

Here's what it looked like from my side of the table.

People came with stories, and I was extremely glad to have the Alzheimer Society present with lots of information about programs, communication, and even just lots of basics.

I'm still processing other elements of the event. So more later. But yep, it felt pretty authory to be there and sign my name!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Combating Overwhelm and Loneliness: More Resources

January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month. This year I've been sharing resources, as I did last year.

I have also shared my own excitement about the upcoming book signing-fundraiser event  (happening next week!) for my book, Reverberations: A Daughter's Meditations on Alzheimer's.

Today I'm pleased to be able to pass on link to a site we all need, even if we don't yet know it. That place is

As their website says,

Whether you are a caregiver, family member or living with dementia,
you’ll find the help you need from decades of caregiving within
– memoirs, caregiver guides, novels, children’s books, and blogs –
plus the encouraging real-life experiences behind these works.

I would add this: If you currently don't fall into one of those categories--caregiver, family member, or person with dementia--you will. Sooner or later, dementia will touch all of our extended families. And we all have a lot to learn. 

One reason I began taking the notes that formed the basis for the essays in my collection was that I couldn't find the information I needed anywhere. Even at the Alzheimer's Association (as it's known in the US), I couldn't get a sense of what lay ahead for my mother and my family.

This website fulfills that need. 

A dementia diagnosis can be bewildering and embarrassing--it's hard for some of us to admit we need help of any kind, let alone for a brain illness, let alone for an illness involving cognitive decline.

It's hard to admit that your partner or parent, whom you respect and admire so much, is slipping.

It's hard to know what of the symptoms you see is the disease at work, what is the person's response to the disease, what can be managed, and how.

It's hard to talk to other people--people you don't know--about something so personal, something that may feel frightening and overwhelming.

This website will help you navigate the complex feelings that arise when dementia enters your life. It's low-risk--there's a lot of good information right on the site. They also recommend other resources--blogs and books and other online information.

A side note: if you're "reading women" this year, this site is a goldmine of memoirs. And if you're "reading Canadian," Cathie Borrie's book, The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me is a great place to start. 

In the coming months, my book will be included among those resources--a high honour. For all of us, this site is an excellent place to start learning. I highly recommend checking it out.
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Exciting Book Fundraising Event!

It's exciting to announce this fun event coming up in just a couple of weeks!

It's a book signing! It's a fundraiser! It's an OPPORTUNITY to BUY BOOKS!

I would never counsel someone who's trying to manage spending to buy books just "for a good cause." But if you're going to buy books or lifestyle items anyway, why not choose a time that benefits others as well as yourself?

On January 29, from 6 to  8 PM, I'll be at the Thunder Bay Chapters, signing copies of my book, REVERBERATIONS: A DAUGHTER'S MEDITATIONS ON ALZHEIMER'S. For each copy of the book I sign that evening, I'll donate $5 to the Alzheimer Society (minimum $100). You can bring books you bought before--that's cool. You can buy a book that night and I'll sign it--also cool.


You can raise money for the Alzheimer Society just by spending money that night between 6 and 8 PM. Just mention it to the cashier and they'll donate 15% of your purchased items--at no extra cost to you.

Although the big gift-giving occasions won't roll around for another 11 months or so, Valentine's Day is coming, Family Day holidays might be smoother with new books (or lifestyle items), and if you go somewhere for March Break or Easter Holidays, you might need hostess gifts (or a great new book for your flight).

I'm making a list myself--my husband and I are in a book club, and although we get some books from the library, we often buy them. And without an independent bookseller in town, we patronize Chapters.* My extended family is a boookish lot and appreciates a good lifestyle item. And then there are the titles languishing on post-its and "someday" lists. What better evening to scope out some of those ideas?

As I've said, January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. We all need to know more--about resources for people who have dementia, about signs and symptoms, about ways to support people with dementia and their care partners in their day-to-day lives, and about ways to help eliminate stigma against people with dementia. People from the Alzheimer Society will be there to answer questions and provide information.

So please come--it's a great chance to get your book signed, look over a bunch of books and other fun items, and support a wonderful cause. And say hi!

* I have also spent money this past year through Briny Books and highly recommend their curated list, as well as Gladstone Press, which I also highly recommend.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Two to Start With

January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month.

Alzheimer's is important.

It's of course important to me, not only because I have personal experience with it (and wrote a book).

It's important to all of us, because it's a disease the Baby Boomers can't escape and science hasn't yet figured out.

It might be tempting to think, "Oh, medical research will take care of it," blah blah, "breakthroughs," "potential vaccines," "genetic testing."

But don't think those things and turn away. While medical researchers accumulate knowledge, people continue to get dementia.

And many of the rest of us pretend people with dementia don't exist or "should be locked away," or we think "isn't is sad they aren't themselves," and their spouse/child/grandchild is a saint, and hoo boy aren't we glad it's not us.

Surprise! It is us--of if not us, it will be, or it will be someone we love. Even if dementia doesn't come close to us, people with dementia are still people.

And most of the rest of us are woefully underprepared and uneducated.

Last January, I shared some information about statistics and resources to learn more.

Also, here are two books to start with:

* In Pursuit of Memory: the Fight Against Alzheimer's, by Joseph Jebelli. Excellent, thorough, and eminently readable explanations of the research to date, written by a young physician from the UK. He does a wonderful job of finding the human element in each research stream. We care about the people with dementia he talked with, and those who are doggedly pursuing new information about how dementia works.
* All Things Consoled: A Daughter's Memoir, by Elizabeth Hay. A Giller-nominated writer sharing honest stories about her parents' decline--I mean, what's not to love, it's Elizabeth Hay. On this page, you can see her mother's artwork. Yes, she gives just one perspective on what happened to her family--just one family. And families are different, and dementia is different in each person because that person is unique. Yet there are also similarities, and she's a gentle-yet-brutal companion as she shares her family's stories.

Speaking of sharing, more resources will be here later this month. But these two will help you start.

And you should start. Because it's important.