Posted: November 15, 2017 Filed under: Alzheimer's, Books, Health, Writing | Tags: Alzheimer's, appreciation, Books, eBooks, health, sale, writing
November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month, a time to recognize the long hours, sacrifice, and love all caregivers bring to the task of caring for a loved one with dementia or any long-term illness. In honor of their efforts, AlzAuthors is hosting an eBook sale and giveaway! This is a terrific way for caregivers who are looking for knowledge, guidance, and support to find carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire them everyday.
Consider this from the Alzheimer’s Association:
In 2016, 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a contribution to the nation valued at $230.1 billion.
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, and 34 percent are age 65 or older.
- 41 percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less.
- Approximately one quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers — meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
Starting today through November 21st, you can take advantage of this excellent opportunity to check out some of our books at reduced prices, ranging from free to $2.99. We offer a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and children’s literature. Many of our books are also available in paperback and audio, so check them out too.
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.
I’m so pleased to be a part of the AlzAuthors’ administrative team. Working with Marianne Sciucco, Jean Lee, Vicki Tapia and Kathryn Harrison, the women who make up this team, is a privilege. They are all brilliant, kind, hardworking and generous. Each one has a story of how Alzheimer’s has impacted her life.
If you haven’t read their stories, you should! This week is the perfect opportunity. All of their books will be on sale
To see the wide selection of books on sale, visit AlzAuthors.com by clicking here.
Posted: November 9, 2017 Filed under: Alzheimer's, Books, Family, Health, nature, poetry | Tags: Alzheimer's, appreciation, beauty, family, gifts, gratitude, grief, health, joy, love, nature, poems, poetry, renewal, serenity, transitions, writing
(This post was first published on the AlzAuthors
Expressing the Inexpressible through Poetry
By Ann Campanella
When I was in my early thirties, my mother began showing signs of Alzheimer’s. She was 41 when I was born, so I suppose it shouldn’t have been a shock to see her aging in this way. But it was.
I always knew she was an “older mom.” She had been a fount of wisdom for me during my adolescence and early years of marriage.
Mom always said her children kept her young. There was a span of ten years among us, and I had vivid memories of my mother hiking, playing tennis, swimming and sailing at the upstate New York lake we visited each summer.
My grandmother and great aunts lived into their nineties. I had imagined my mother would always be there for me, at least until she was well into her eighties. But it wasn’t to be.
My mother’s mind began to unspool at the same time I was trying to become a mother and struggling through a series of miscarriages. At first her memory became slippery and she began repeating stories. Her emotions seemed out of proportion to what was happening in her life. Her words no longer matched her behavior.
Mom’s descent into Alzheimer’s was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. Heartbreaking because she was aware that “something wasn’t right.” It was painful to see her struggling to present a healthy face to the world when her memory was disintegrating. Beautiful because my mother’s spirit showed through her trauma, and the disease became a stage upon which the love in our family could be illuminated and acted out.
Poetry has long been a way for me to attempt to express the inexpressible. When the jagged edges of loss threatened to undo me, writing poems provided a way to hold onto pieces of my mother. Each poem or “stage act” allowed me to bathe my mother’s life in light and meaning.
What Flies Away is a collection of poetry that tells the story of my mother’s illness, my father’s sudden death and the miraculous birth of my daughter. This collection of poems won second place in the Oscar Arnold Young Book Award for the best book of poems in North Carolina in 2007. I was also honored that two of the poems, “The Chase” and “How to Grieve,” earned the Poet Laureate Award.
Now, ten years later, my collection, The Beach Poems, has been published. I consider it a sequel to What Flies Away, as this group of poems shares the story of what “comes after.”
I’ve always loved Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, a book where the author reflects on the patterns of her own life. I was able to do this at the beach.
My mother had Alzheimer’s for fourteen years, and her disease changed me. After a decade and a half of caretaking, it took time for me to find myself again.
During a series of retreats, I spent time walking the sand and absorbing the rhythm and beauty of the coastline. Gradually, held in the arms of the wind and waves, I was able to release my grief and begin to heal. Memories of my mother and the time before she was ill slowly trickled in. To my surprise, joy washed over me and I felt my spirit come alive again.
Writing about my mother’s Alzheimer’s experience, whether through poetry or prose has been a privilege. I spent 20 years working on my memoir, Motherhood: Lost and Found, which was featured on this site on January 18th, 2017. My memoir has been recognized internationally and my poems have received many awards.
But I’m most grateful to have had the opportunity – through readings and speaking engagements – to meet and link hearts with those who are walking their own difficult path through Alzheimer’s. The Beach Poems is my gift to them.
I am here
at the edge
of the earth
on a mat of sand
wind cups the curves
of my body, waves
a constant roar
in my ears
blue belt of sky
presses against the horizon
I think of my mother –
all that was and never will be –
cry out into the void
but wind and sand and sea
my mother is here
and not here
and always will be
I hug the earth.
(from The Beach Poems, Main Street Rag Publishing Company)
About the Author
Ann Campanella is the author of the award-winning memoir, Motherhood: Lost and Found. Formerly a magazine and newspaper editor, her writing has been widely published. She blogs about her life and horses at Fields of Grace and has been a guest on many blogs and podcasts. Ann’s poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. Twice, she has received the Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society. She lives on a small horse farm in North Carolina with her family and animals.
Fields of Grace
https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Campanella/e/B001JOWQ3A (Amazon Author page)
https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/?product=the-beach-poems (Main Street Rag Online Bookstore)
Posted: October 12, 2017 Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health | Tags: advocacy, Alzheimer's, friends, grief, health, lessons, transitions
In Part I, Brian faced the devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. To read about it, click here.
It gradually dawned on Brian that he had only three of four years ahead of him of being cognitively aware. “I thought back to my counseling days when I had to show people that their perspective was keeping them trapped,” says Brian. “I had accepted the perspective that Alzheimer’s wants to give you: You might as well give up. There’s no cure. No hope. I had swallowed it hook, line and sinker.”
Brian realized he had a choice. He wondered what would make him happy and fulfilled. “The answer for me was helping people,” he says. “When I help someone, I feel good.”
This shift in perspective led Brian to create withALZmyHEART, a website that walks people through a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Brian says there were no blogs about adapting to dementia and mild cognitive impairment, so he went about changing that. He tells his story on the blog, shares a wide variety of advocacy projects he’s involved with and offers a page of helpful links.
Brian understands hardship. Soon after his diagnosis, he not only lost his job and his fiancée, but he had to give up his home and even his dogs. Because of his limited income, he had to move into a small apartment. He’s also no longer able to drive.
But none of this has stopped Brian from helping others. He attends conferences and reaches out through social media to others affected by Alzheimer’s.
“I stumbled into being an advocate,” Brian says. Because of his unique ability to articulate about a disease that is a mystery to many, he has been offered speaking engagements and interviews with national publications.
Brian has become the face of Alzheimer’s in PhRMA’s national GoBoldly Campaign, an advertisement promoting Alzheimer’s researchers and patients that runs on multiple television channels. Men’s Health Magazine and The L.A. Times ran stories on him, and he’s been interviewed by CBS Evening News and for a PBS documentary coming out in 2018.
“Because I present well, people don’t know I have Alzheimer’s when they meet me,” says Brian. But, at home, it’s a different story. Brian leaves notes for himself, sets alarms to help him remember appointments and tries to schedule tasks that demand mental alertness early in the day. He explains to reporters that he might interrupt them in the middle of a question, because he doesn’t want to forget an important thought.
To be continued…Part III: Brian’s Biggest Project — Faith2Care
To read Part I: A Devastating Diagnosis, click here. To read Part III: Brian’s Biggest Project — Faith2Care, click here.
Connect with Brian through his social media:
Websites: withALZmyHEART and Faith2Care
Posted: October 5, 2017 Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health | Tags: advocacy, Alzheimer's, dementia, early-onset, friends, grief, health, lessons, transitions
I had the privilege of meeting Brian at one of my readings. We connected immediately because of our intimate understanding of Alzheimer’s. I am pleased to be able to share his story.
Brian Kursonis was a father with a fiancée, a good job, a home and even beloved dogs when his world came crashing down around him. At the age of 55 he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
A former counselor, Brian worked for a large financial company as an analyst for retirement accounts. He crunched numbers all day long and spit out reports. Suddenly, he started “blanking out” on the job. Time would go by and he’d have no awareness of what he’d been doing. It was as if he’d gone unconscious.
He thought it might be Vertigo, so he went to a doctor, hoping for a quick fix. His fiancée accompanied him and mentioned in passing that Brian’s memory was terrible. The doctor ran some tests and eventually sent him to a neurologist. This doctor used the word, “dementia.”
“I was stunned beyond stunned,” Brian says. He didn’t think it was possible. “I considered dementia synonymous with senility, and I knew I wasn’t senile.”
With early-onset Alzheimer’s, the diagnosis comes in stages, says Brian. “The first thing they tell you is you have dementia, then mild cognitive impairment, then you learn you have Alzheimer’s or Lewy Bodies,” he says. “The doctors give you a label, but nobody explains anything.”
Initially, Brian kept his prognosis from his family. He knew it would be devastating. And it was.
It changed the dynamics within the family. Brian’s position, which had been head of the household, dropped to the role of “handicapped dad.” His opinions no longer mattered. Eventually, his fiancée left him.
Brian felt himself slipping into a depression. With his counseling background, he recognized the signs. A former runner, he stopped exercising and gained 30 pounds. “My life consisted of sitting in an easy chair and taking care of the dogs,” says Brian.
To be continued…Part II: From Depression to Action Brian explains how he rejected the perspective that Alzheimer’s wanted to give him and began to make an impact as an advocate.
Connect with Brian through his social media:
Websites: withALZmyHEART and Faith2Care
Posted: September 27, 2017 Filed under: Alzheimer's, Books, Health, Writing | Tags: Alzheimer's, appreciation, Books, health, sale, writing
I’m so excited to announced the AlzAuthors eBook Sale that starts today! You can find lots of great memoirs, fictional stories, caregiving guides, etc. at fantastic prices!
The Kindle version of Motherhood: Lost and Found will be available at its lowest price: 99 cents! starting at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. And, as a special bonus, you can get the audiobook for only $7.49 (a discount of almost 70 percent) if you purchase the eBook.
Click here to go to the sale! It lasts through Saturday, Sept. 30th, the last day of World Alzheimer’s Month.
Posted: September 26, 2017 Filed under: Alzheimer's, Books, Family, Health, nature, Writing | Tags: Alzheimer's, appreciation, family, gifts, gratitude, grief, health, joy, lessons, love, narrative, renewal, serenity, trust, writing
As part of “Transformational Tuesday,” I am blogging with Divine Phoenix Books today.
This time of year always makes me pause. I want to hang onto the beauty of Indian Summer days, yet I feel the urgency of the falling leaves pressing me forward. September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and I’m reminded of the years my mother struggled through Alzheimer’s at the same time I was yearning to become a mother.
To read the rest of the post, click here: divinephoenixbooks.com.
Posted: September 21, 2017 Filed under: Alzheimer's, Books, Family, Health, nature, Our animals, The farm, Writing | Tags: Alzheimer's, appreciation, beauty, Crimson, family, gifts, gratitude, grief, health, horses, lessons, love, narrative, renewal, transitions, writing
This time of year has always been special to me. Typically in the Carolinas, on the first day of fall the summer heat begins to ease and we get a hint of the cooler weather that is to come.
World Alzheimer’s Day and my birthday happen to fall side by side, which somehow seems appropriate.
Tomorrow is my birthday. For the past 16 years, I’ve also had the joy of celebrating with Sydney. Motherhood for me arrived three days before my 41st birthday. My daughter couldn’t have been more welcome, especially as she was delivered in the midst of my own mother’s long descent into Alzheimer’s.
Me, Sydney and my mom.
The years before Sydney was born were tough and filled with loss. I had a series of miscarriages and every day my mother seemed to lose more of herself. There were times I forgot how to hope, which is one of the reasons I feel compelled to reach out to those who are traveling their own difficult path of caring for someone they love.
But grief passes…like the seasons.
I didn’t know that after close to a decade of infertility, I would be blessed with a beautiful daughter.
I didn’t know that six years after my mother passed away, my memoir would be released.
I didn’t know that last year, on my birthday, the eBook of Motherhood: Lost and Found would be distributed internationally by Divine Phoenix and Pegasus Books.
I didn’t know that my audiobook would come out on the day of the Kentucky Derby (this past May) where years ago Secretariat, the grandfather of my beloved horse Crimson, won the first leg of his Triple Crown.
Me with Crimson.
There was so much I didn’t know.
This September, I’m honored to be working with a group of passionate and generous women who have created AlzAuthors, a blogsite with over 100 resources for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Next week, as World Alzheimer’s Month comes to a close, AlzAuthors will be holding an eBook sale from September 27th – 30th to honor those who are living with this disease.
In memory of my sweet Mom, the eBook of Motherhood: Lost and Found will be available at its lowest price on Wednesday, Sept. 27th, and deeply discounted through Sept. 30th.
As a special package, if you buy the eBook, the audiobook is available for only $7.49, instead of $21.95, a discount of almost 70 percent.
Last, but not least, my publisher is offering a drawing for a free audiobook on Twitter. To enter, follow Laura Ponticello https://twitter.com/lauraslist and Ann Campanella https://twitter.com/authorAnnC on Twitter and follow Laura’s instructions.
I like to think of Motherhood: Lost and Found as my love letter to those who are dealing with grief. Without support, it’s a lonely road.
Please feel free to share this post with anyone who is in a season of caretaking. Sending out prayers of hope to all.
My mom, Sydney and me on my birthday 15 years ago.