International Book Release on Alzheimer’s Caregiving by Barbara Michels
“The Alzheimer’s Journey: A Practical Perspective for Caregivers”
Albuquerque, New Mexico — I am Barbara Michels, author of “The Alzheimer’s Journey…A Practical Perspective for Caregivers” This book is the culmination of over 50 yrs of experience with the world of dementia: over 25 yrs was the process of losing both Mom and Dad to Alzheimer’s disease; and, 25 yrs has been serving as a volunteer with the NM Chapter of the Alz. Association.
These experiences have given me understanding and insight into the many challenges caregivers experience. I share these insights in “The Alzheimer’s Journey… A Practical Perspective for Caregivers.” The book’s six sections explore topics basic to caregivers developing their own techniques and approaches to managing the day-to-day care of their loved ones.
The first section, “The Fundamentals,” describes how I have come to view the Alzheimer’s-type dementia disease process. Understanding and applying the foundational tool of this book, “The Tape Reel Concept,” will enable a caregiver to manage the many challenges inherent to this difficult journey. “The Tape Reel Concept” describes a general pattern of both mental and physical loss seen in an Alzheimer’s-type dementia. Imagine each person is born with a “tape reel” in his brain: initially, the reel contains the God given gifts at birth. As a person learns and matures through life, more and more is added to the “reel.” When a dementia sets in, it causes the tape reel to erase, erasing the most recent first. A loved one may not remember you fixed breakfast this morning, but easily recalls a gathering in 1950, who attended, and what was served! The most recent is lost first. Think about family. Grand- children enter the family most recently, their names and the relationship will be lost first, though if seen regularly they will remain familiar beings. Lost next will be names and recognition of their own children. Painfully, next is the loss of the name and relationship of the spouse, though he/she will likely remain a familiar being. When skills begin to deteriorate, the more sophisticated part of the skill is lost first. With table manners, the napkin stops going on the lap. Eventually, the knife is used to stab food or as an eating utensil. Your loved one uses the fork, then begins to intermingle it with the spoon. From the spoon, he uses his fingers and eventually has to be fed. In time, all parts of the being are affected (speech, dressing, bathing, toileting, walking, temper control, attention span) are affected. Understanding and accepting that these changes are occurring because of the disease process going on in the brain, challenges the caregiver to incorporate new and different approaches to better manage a loved one. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify the world of your loved one!
Traveling this journey, I have learned many “Life Lessons”. The second section deals with a few of these lessons: Trust Yourself; YOU NEVER WIN AN ARGUMENT WITH A PERSON WITH DEMENTIA—SO DON’T GO THERE!; Expectations Vs. Reality; The person with dementia person is always right (his reality is real); and, Going into their world.
“Strategies” addresses techniques useful in managing persons with dementia. Communication is key to behavior management. “How you do it, How you say it, and How you respond to it” will have a major impact on setting a tone of cooperation with your loved one. Not challenging a loved one’s memory, avoiding “catastrophic reactions,” and lying to the disease are discussed.
“Preparation Pays Off” addresses near and long-term care planning and preparation for this journey. Medications, dental care, asking for help, and placement are discussed. Planning ahead gives the caregiver a sense of control, greatly relieves stress, and helps prevent having to make difficult decisions during a crisis.
“Practical Approaches” explores strategies to help caregivers make decisions regarding sensitive and challenging topics, such as, legal and financial issues (which must be addressed early), home safety, wandering, driving, sexuality, and how to handle holidays.
“Coping with Reality” discusses the intimate and personal topics of guilt, stress, grief, and end-of-life issues. Each caregiver faces these challenges differently: there is no single “right” solution for everyone. Having some knowledge, understanding, and access to resources enhances the caregiver’s ability to deal with and move through these difficult, challenging times.
The purpose of this book is to give the caregiver tools that will make this devastating journey a bit easier. You are the heroes of the Alzheimer’s world. You make a difference in the lives of your loved ones each and every day. You walk beside, enable, protect, and carry them through this journey. I salute each of you—and my greatest hope is that your life as a caregiver will be enhanced.
If you are seeking practical, straightforward tips and strategies that will enhance each day of caregiving, The Alzheimer’s Journey: A Practical Perspective for Caregivers is a “must read.”
Press Contact: Barbara Michels