Join us during June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Speak out.

//Join us during June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Speak out.

Join us during June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Speak out.

Let’s not keep secrets any longer.

I’m please to welcome Vicki Tapia as our guest this month, author of Somebody Stole My Iron.  By reading about one what daughter’s journey was like with Alzheimer’s disease, you may find help with the challenges you face.

Reticence

by Vicki Tapia

An unexplained inner drive compelled me to document a multi-year sojourn that I took with my parents. It was the last journey we took together…a journey down the rabbit hole of dementia. Within months of each other, Dad received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s-related dementia and shortly thereafter, Mom, with Alzheimer’s disease. During the first year, I began a diary to record our odyssey. J3-D Book Cover copyournaling every evening helped me unwind and release some of the turbulent emotions involved with the day-to-day challenges we faced. This journal became my confidante to whom I could “say” anything without fear of reprisal and it asked for nothing in return. It simply listened.

As time passed, an idea quietly germinated in my subconscious, leading to a growing awareness that my experience might be helpful to others walking the same road. With that realization, my diary morphed into a manuscript and I began to consider pursuing publication. With a bit of wariness, I shared the manuscript with a few close friends, who offered positive feedback and encouragement. Then something unexpected happened. I developed a severe case of reticence. How could I expose our family to the public’s scrutiny, unveiling all the foibles and missteps? How could I expose the frightful truth about Mom’s precipitous decline? Even worse, if I moved forward with publication, I risked alienating my only sibling and perhaps his family, in my honesty about his lack of involvement and emotional support. When my best friend from childhood intimated that I would be “dishonoring” my parents if I were audacious enough to seek publication, her comment completely knocked the wind out of my sails. That did it. I chastised myself for even considering unmasking our family in such a callous way. The story was simply too private and I certainly did not want to dishonor my parents’ memory in any way, shape or form.

The manuscript languished on my computer hard drive for nearly 3 years. A tiny inner voice, however, refused to leave me alone. Now and then, it spoke to me, in various iterations: This narrative might be able to offer hope to others! Or: You know you learned a lot of lessons along the way that might help others from making the same mistakes. Why won’t you share them? Or: This story has so many ideas for coping, plus you could add information from experts to make it even more useful. Or: What if you lightened another’s load, letting them know that they’re not alone on a difficult road?

Eventually, I could no longer deny that voice, so I listened. I moved forward with editing, found a publisher and shared my story. Nine long years after I began my diary to cope, my diary of hope, Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia was born.

Let’s not keep secrets any longer. Join us during June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Speak out.

By | 2016-10-31T15:03:23+00:00 June 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP has been working for over 20 years to change the face of dementia care in hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care. Prior to establishing her own practice, Jennifer served for many years as the Executive Director of IDEAS Institute, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of older adults through the conduct of applied research. She is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer offers interactive and educational presentations and coaching that help clients bridge the gap between current research findings and the care needs of people with dementia. Jennifer Brush is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections in Dementia Care™; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT) and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval. She is the author of Meal Time Matters and Meal Time Matters at Home, training programs that build nursing assistants' and home caregivers' skills related to dining, swallowing disorders, and safe feeding assistance. Jennifer has authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, served as guest editor of the journals Seminars in Speech and Language and Perspectives in Gerontology, volunteered as Chair of Professional Development in Gerontology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group, and was an editorial reviewer for SpeechPathology.com. Jennifer is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Jennifer is honored to be appointed by the Executive Director of AMI to serve as an inaugural member of the Advisory Group for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. This group is responsible for writing the AMI standards for Montessori dementia programs. Jennifer presented her research in the area of dementia at the first international conference for Montessori environments for dementia in Sydney, Australia in 2014, and spoke at the annual AMI meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2015. She will return to Sydney in November, 2015 to speak about creating supportive environments for the aging.
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