A special month. A special book.

I’m going purple today, in honor of June, which is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. 

My passion for this issue is related in large part to my work as an RN caring for patients suffering from this, but also because of loved ones who have struggled with it, too. As you might know, the main character in my novel, Then Sings My Soul, is battling his own form of age-related dementia. It’s a story of love and loss as Jakob and his daughter, Nel, navigate their days and learn to find hope in the midst of it all. 

The number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other brain/memory loss disease processes are striking. Chances are–and especially as our population ages–if you’re not related to someone who has it, then you know someone trying to balance the often overwhelming caregiving needs of these patients.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association

Worldwide, 47 million people are living with dementia.

The annual global cost of dementia is $604 billion in U.S. dollars.

The number of people living with dementia worldwide is set to skyrocket to 76 million by 2030.

In the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is a triple threat, which means that:

  • Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top 10 that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed.

Do you or someone you know afflicted with these issues need hope?

Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website by clicking here to learn about steps you can take to join the fight against Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. 

You can also pick up a copy of the novel, Then Sings My Soul, for you and a friend. 

Because even when it seems all hope and memory are lost, there’s always a story to be told. 

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Changing the story of the elderly among us: Aging Family We Love

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*****

My Grandpa Joe and me at my wedding in 1995.
My Grandpa Joe and me at my wedding in 1995.

In February, 2012, my Grandpa Joe, a month shy of 95, suffered a fall which ultimately led to his death approximately ten days later. During his hospitalization, his short-term memory was poor, but his long-term memory was strong. Sitting with him and simply listening to his stories without trying to correct him or argue when he got little facts and names wrong over the course of those 10 days proved to be a precious healing and grace-covered time. 

As a nurse, I frequently care for elderly patients who are fading. The challenges surrounding end-of-life care and elderly loved ones is daunting for everyone involved, and I detail much of that struggle in my recent article at More to Life Magazine: Final Chapters. Many of these patients have dementia or Alzheimer’s, which compounds the exhaustion and distress of caregivers and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Association more than 10 million Americans face the task of caring for a family member with dementia. This means that chances are, this sort of situation touches you or someone you love. 

But the elderly among us are more than their diagnoses.

Indeed, many have stories left to tell.

In Final Chapters, I write: 

We can re-write these stories for ourselves and our loved ones. First, we need to raise awareness of the magnitude of the plight of our aging brothers and sisters and the loved ones close to emotional and physical collapse trying to care for them. Then, we need to listen to their stories, for it is through story—yours, mine, and theirs—that we live.”

While we often cannot change the progression of age and age-related crises, one of the most significant realizations besides capturing the stories within our loved ones is that we don’t have to go through these times alone. In fact, many organizations exist to help learn ways to cope, such as the Alzheimer’s Association  and A Place for Mom.

Community matters in end-of-life and elderly care.

We need to start sharing our stories.

We need to start sharing their stories.

Will you join in the conversation?

There’s a new space I started on Facebook for people to come, post photos of their loved ones, tell their own stories and gather for encouragement, called Aging Family We Love.

In addition, we’re making space for people like you to post pictures and stories on social media sites like twitter and Pinterest by using the hashtag #AgingFamilyWeLove.

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Do you have a story to tell about an aging loved one?

Write a post on your own blog and link to it in the comments below.

And/or, help start the conversation by clicking one of the links below to tweet:

Tweet: Do you care for an aging family or friend? Share your story. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/fbRfJ+

or

Tweet: I’m helping change the way my loved one’s story ends, and you can too. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/V6GyI+

or

Tweet: My loved one has a story beyond #Alzheimers that needs to be told. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/w55R2+

or

Tweet: My loved one’s story doesn’t end with #dementia. Share your story. #AgingFamilyWeLove http://ctt.ec/1448s+

*****

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Here’s a picture of my Grandpa Joe, my Grandma Mary Jane, and my dad from the 1940’s. Grandpa Joe was the inspiration behind my new novel, Then Sings My Soul.

What will your loved one inspire you or someone else to do?

One is the loneliest number…until…

Half the battle, you know,
is in feeling alone

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until someone comes along and believes
in something
more than we can see

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in ourselves, the mirror a
dull reflection, a shadow of all the grace
in our lives unnoticed

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the hand of God a mystery until we look back and know
finally
we weren’t ever alone, that

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He was just stitching us up with the threads
of others,
miracles,
the whole
time.

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Then Sings My Soul is a story like that, of lives discouraged and full of hurt and questions and loneliness. But the story doesn’t end there. You won’t believe what happens to Jakob and his daughter, Nel. And you won’t believe what happens to you when you read their story, too.

Then Sings My Soul. Available now wherever your favorite place is to buy books.

*****

“He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3 (NIV)