Book Donations for Caregivers Pour In

Book donations for caregivers…more arrive every day!

Not much makes me happier than seeing brand new beautiful books. But when the books are sent by generous authors, most of whom have experienced the challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, my heart overflows.

About a month ago, I put out a call to AlzAuthors.com, a site of over 160 authors who write books and blogs about Alzheimer’s and dementia. I asked our authors for books that could be given away in a raffle to caregivers at the Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Education Conference in Charlotte in August. Since that time, my mailbox has been overflowing with books.

The AlzAuthors administrators

I am one of five administrators of AlzAuthors‘ site. It’s been a pleasure to work with the founders Jean Lee, Marianne Sciucco and Vicki Tapia and our art director, Kathryn Harrison. Each of them are authors in their own right and have powerful stories of caregiving. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting (online) many of our authors. I am always amazed by their kindness and heartfelt passion to help others on the caregiving journey. I feel a real bond with these authors, and our community has become deeply important to me.

During the conference, Jean Lee and I will be sharing our own caregiving stories along with the history of the AlzAuthors website. We’ll also be manning the AlzAuthors‘ Book Table along with Mary Ann Drummond, Frank Morelli and Barbara Ivey, three more of our wonderful AlzAuthors. Mary Ann, a dementia educator, will also be speaking at the conference.

Over 20 books, from memoirs and fictional accounts to caregiver guides and children’s books, have already been donated to the conference. And I happen to know that more books are coming! 🙂 If you’d like to learn more about AlzAuthors and the conference, click here. If you know of a caregiver in need, please share this information.

“Together We Can,” the Dementia Education Conference held by the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter, will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte The event is geared for healthcare professionals, caregivers, people living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia and members of the general public. Attendees will learn more about research, caregiving practices and tools to assist in the journey with Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit ALZ.org/NorthCarolina or call 800-272-3900.

If you know of a caregiver in need, please share this information. Thank you, AlzAuthors, for your huge hearts! To see a wide selection of caregiving books, visit the AlzAuthors’ Bookstore.

p.s. Jean Lee and I will also be giving away copies of our books!

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My Mother’s Lake: Where Alzheimer’s Fades and Memory Lives

June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. It’s also the month of my mother’s birthday. She would have been 99 today. In honor of this special month, I’m sharing this piece I wrote about Mom and the place she loved most in the world. It was recently published in eCareDiary.

For the last 14 years of her life, my mother lived with Alzheimer’s. She forgot where she’d left her checkbook, if she’d eaten, how to find her way to the store and, eventually, even the names of people she loved. Yet, she always remembered the place where she had grown up.

As a young girl, my mother spent her summers swimming, hiking and sailing around the spring-fed waters of Lake George, New York. When she grew up, married and had children, our family traveled hundreds of miles to vacation there.

On bright, sunny days, we gathered with cousins at the small sandy beach, sailed on the old Sunfish or went hiking through the virgin forest to reach Joshua’s Rock, a family landmark of grey granite that juts into the bay. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that these beloved memories remained with my mother throughout her life, even as her illness progressed.

The cottage we visited at Lake George was built in the 1880s by Mom’s great grandfather, Edward Eggleston, a writer who was famous in his day for penning old-fashioned classics such as Roxy and The Hoosier Schoolboy. On rainy days, we curled up on the couch to read old family letters or a musty book from my great great grandfather’s extensive library. At Lake George, we were connected to our history.

As my mother began to lose words and phrases, images from her summers at the lake remained. When Mom was in her mid 70s and living in North Carolina, I began noticing changes in her. She talked about the lake all the time, but often it was out of context. She spoke of her siblings, who we always visited at Lake George, as if they were in the next room. As her disease progressed, she asked me if her father, who had died decades earlier, was going hiking without her. Even in her last years, she would scan the parking lot of her rest home and point out the masts of sailboats to me.

I inherited a love of books, and writing became a way for me to capture pieces of my mother and her history before her mind lost the ability to hold them. My mother’s love of Lake George and what it represented to her – a deep connection to family – is one of the threads woven into my life.

As my mother was slipping away, I wanted to have a child of my own but had a series of miscarriages. Some summers it was hard to return to the lake because I was surrounded by reminders of what I’d lost and how my branch of the family tree was achingly empty.

I was blessed with a daughter at the age of forty. My mother had been the same age when she gave birth to me. This disease of forgetting made me look at my own life differently. I was in the middle of an age continuum. I couldn’t help but be aware that everything I experienced with my own mother might come to pass for my daughter. There was a telescoping of time that brought an intensity to my emotions when I visited the lake. Writing provided an outlet for my grief, and it was a way to preserve moments of beauty and family connection.

I will always remember my mother’s last trip to Lake George. She had been wheelchair bound and had gone through periods where she could barely communicate. But when she arrived on the family property, it was as if she had stepped back in time.

My mother stood up from her wheelchair and began to walk up and down the familiar hills of her childhood. We took her boating on the lake. Our extended family came for visits and ate meals around the picnic table with us. Mom’s expressionless face transformed into a complexion of radiant joy. This change would not last, of course. But, it was a gift our family will always treasure.

These days, when I return to Lake George and look out at the blue water ringed by mountains, I think of my mother and am grateful for the time we spent there together. It makes me want to create the same kind of lasting memories for my daughter.

Ann Campanella is the author of Motherhood: Lost and Found, an award-winning memoir about losing her mother to Alzheimer’s at the same time she was trying to become a parent. A long-time journalist and poet, her writing has appeared in publications across the globe. She is a member of the AlzAuthors’ management team. Ann lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family and animals. For more information, visit Ann’s website at www.anncampanella.com.


5 Things NOT to Do When Your Mother Shows Signs of Alzheimer’s

When I was 33 years old, my mother who was 73 began showing signs of Alzheimer’s. I was completely unprepared for the changes in her. She repeated herself, started hiding things in strange places, lost track of time and became emotional and distrustful. If your mom exhibits these signs of Alzheimer’s, here are a few tips to help you and your loved one. Read the rest of this entry »


Motherhood: Lost and Found made it to the Best Alzheimer’s Books of All Time

BookAuthority Best Alzheimer's Books of All Time
I’m happy to announce that my book, Motherhood: Lost and Found, a memoir, was named #10 on BookAuthority’s Best Alzheimer’s Books of All Time:
https://bookauthority.org/books/best-alzheimers-books?t=14s212&s=award&book=061591537X

BookAuthority collects and ranks the best books in the world, and it’s a huge honor to get this kind of recognition.

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Mid May Remembrances — a Poem

 

There’s something about this time of year, when the sky is heavy with moisture, that makes me think of my mom. On days like this, the memory of her Alzheimer’s presses on me. So today’s blog post is a poem.

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When a Friend’s Mom has Alzheimer’s: 7 Tips for Reaching Out

Alzheimer’s can be a confusing disease for those who have never been around it. What do you do if your friend’s mother is diagnosed with dementia? Many people pull back out of fear or uncertainty. But friends need support. Here are seven ways to be there when a friend’s mom has Alzheimer’s.

1.Words matter

Send a card. Whether it’s Mother’s Day, your friend’s birthday or your friend’s mom’s birthday, you can show you care through words. Your friend’s mother may have forgotten how to use words.

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Mother’s Day: Mothers and Daughters and Complicated Emotions

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am sharing a piece I wrote about my mom. Happy Mother’s Day to all!

 

Around Father’s Day last year, I went digging through some old photos, and I posted a picture of my father from my wedding. I didn’t give it a thought, until I found this similar photo of my mother from the same time and realized I had never posted it in honor of Mother’s Day. It got me thinking. Why?

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