Press Release

Press Release

Judith Allen Shone Announces Publication of Her New Book During Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

in Virtual Interview with Alzheimer Society Hamilton Halton
and Halton Hills Public Library

Oakville, Ontario— January 21, 2021 

To promote Alzheimer’s Awareness Month this January, the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton Halton, together with the Halton Hills Public Library in Georgetown, Ontario, conducted a virtual interview with Oakville resident, caregiver and author, Judith Allen Shone, to bring the many aspects of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s and the role of caregiving, into the limelight.

This resulting YouTube video, A Conversation for Caregivers: with Judy Shone,  created for the public to get a sense of the life of a spouse-caregiver and her loved one with several diagnosis.

Shone, author of two books about her world of caregiving, “Is There Any Ice Cream?” (2019) and “Did You Hide the Cookies?” (2020), shared personal experiences in response to questions asked by moderator, Danielle Arbour, Public Education Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton and Halton.

Did You Hide the Cookies?” is the second book about Shone’s journey caring for one with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, (also known as mixed dementia) as well as anxiety and COPD. Robby Henes, a caregiver for her mother, explains on the cover of the book, “…Judith shows us what a deep well of compassion looks like and what is demanded of that compassion and love when you are a caregiver. She walks you through her personal minefield of helping someone with a disease that cannot be pinned down…”

Over 500,000 Canadians are living with some form of dementia. The intention of this video is to enable those living in the caregiving realm to get a glimpse into what it might be like from one who has lived nearly nine years caring for her loved one. The video also reassures caregivers that, during their journey, the services from their local Alzheimer Society can be a lifeline. Free education, counselling, programs, fitness and support groups are offered online, over the phone and safely in person if needed. Producers of this video, the Halton Hills Public Library, have taken a leadership position in reminding us how much on the forefront of education our libraries can be, especially when encouraging caregivers.

The two books make up the Accepting the Gift of Caregiving series. Find both books at the Halton Hills Public Library, or libraries in Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, or ask the library in your area to order it. Both books can be ordered from local bookstores as well as online at Amazon or similar booksellers.

Information about the books can be found online at www.caregiver-books.com, and www.CaregiverAlzheimerStory.com. Shone also hosts a caregiving blog, Accepting the Gift of Caregiving, where she shares ongoing experiences, caregiver tips, educational resources, and related activities. In addition, former, as well as current, caregiver-guest authors share their stories. Visit her blog at: www.AcceptingTheGiftOfCaregiving.com

Social media connections:
Twitter: @CaregiverStory
Facebook: JudithAllenShone-author
LinkedIn: Judith Allen Shone
Instagram: caregiverstory
Goodreads: Judith Allen Shone

###

 Contacts:
Alzheimer Society
Call your local Alzheimer Society for support
At Home online
– – – – – – –
Halton Hills Public Library
Georgetown, Ontario
Phone: 905-873-2681
Website: www.hhpl.on.ca
– – – — – –

Press Release (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Each January, in Canada, during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the Alzheimer Society of Canada makes information available to encourage the rest of us to learn more about dementia diseases and the impact they have on families.

Read brochure What is Alzheimer’s disease?

The Alzheimer Society of Canada specifically talks about the January Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and elaborates on topics so we can learn more.

Their suggestions are outlined:
1- Connect with a local Alzheimer Society
2- Learn more about stigma against dementia
3- Read stories of those who have lived with dementia and their caregivers
4- Share your story
5- Support Alzheimer Society initiatives to raise awareness


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

This is another opportunity for me as a caregiver of one with Alzheimer’s to help disseminate available resources, plus information the Society and the various regional websites, provide online.

Your participation may begin by sharing this information with someone you know. You might be the one to encourage a loved one, or a caregiver, or families and friends who want to learn so they can be supportive.

There are different Alzheimer Society websites and each one has information that might be ‘the one piece of information’ about situations and behaviours that spurs caregivers or unsuspecting loved ones to get help. We all can do a little, but the help to a floundering caregiver is huge.

The Alzheimer Society of Hamilton Halton has partnered with the Halton Hills Public Library to promote the aspect of caregiving during this Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

I am honored that in their video, “A Conversation for Caregivers: with Judy Shone,” Danielle Arbour, Public Education Coordinator at the Halton office, will be talking with me, as we give a glimpse into the world of caregiving in hopes of shining a light that can help dissipate misunderstandings. My hope is that I have been able, in some way, to help do that. (Press release)

Visit YouTube video.:
A Conversation for Caregivers: with Judy Shone

Educating ourselves about the signs, hearing stories others tell, understanding how we can become support for those who deal with this on a daily basis will be of immense help to those who are living with this serious disease of Alzheimer’s.

Learning what we can includes learning from what is available to us online. In particular the Alzheimer Society of Hamilton Halton (Ontario) has developed an At Home program to make it easier to learn and participate and focus on the main areas that concern so many:

1-Education
2-Activities
3-Fitness
4-Support

Another source of continuing information is the Newsletter that societies put out. Ask to be put on their mailing list or sign up with the branches you would like to hear from and get their most updated event schedules, news items and information.

NOTE: To sign up for the ALZHEIMER SOCIETY OF HAMILTON HALTON Newsletter, see the right side bar here, just below the social media icons.

Remember, here on our site:
EDUCATION AND RESOURCES a variety of linked helpful resources
RSS FEEDS Reading Options of linked current articles and research related to Alzheimers.

To be sure, there are other resources to help with education related to the various aspects of dementia. Our libraries are excellent sources of knowledge, as are other caregivers, doctors, and other health organizations like Acclaim Health in Oakville, Ontario. Reach out to learn.


LINKS TO PROVINCIAL SOCIETIES

To read the information on their websites, bookmark these links, or return here to find them.
Also on each home page there is an opportunity to link to other Society websites, by province.

From the page Alzheimer Society Connections, here on our Accepting the Gift of Caregiving blogsite, the following links are to the home page of each region. In some cases, Society branches within the provinces will have their own locally-focused websites. Look for those within the provincial websites.

Alzheimer Society Canada
Alzheimer Society Alberta & NW Territories 

Alzheimer Society British Columbia
Alzheimer Society Manitoba
Alzheimer Society New Brunswick
Alzheimer Society Newfoundland and Labrador
Alzheimer Society Nova Scotia
Alzheimer Society Prince Edward Island
Alzheimer Society Ontario
Alzheimer Society Quebec
Alzheimer Society Saskatchewan


This month is an opportunity to learn about the programs, the initiatives, the events, related to Alzheimer’s taking place in your area. But we really do not have to wait for January to begin to learn. Reach out to learn.


Alzheimer’s Awareness Month (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Caregiver Holidays

Caregiver Holidays

JOY TO THE WORLD

The sounds of strolling carolers, or neighbours singing, the church organ playing, music on radio and TV, videos on social media, CDs playing while making holiday cookies; meeting friends for a drink of cheer and laughter, or walking in the snow—all enhance the excitement of the holiday season for many families each year.

The words of songs and holiday stories stir up visions of happy times together with families and friends. Sadly, this year of COVID has intensified the lack of these experiences for many, but particularly for caregivers, who find their challenges have already diminished their moments of joy.

IT CAN BE DIFFICULT at the best of times for caregivers, especially for those caring for loved ones with memory loss, to feel hopeful and happy during the winter holidays. And even more so if they have been giving care to the same person for a number of years.

There is no doubt that caregiving is exhausting. Life’s little happy moments show up less and less, and caregivers can become numb to the glitter, glamour and excitement of the holidays. Sometimes it seems easier to just let the holidays pass, unnoticed. Sometimes a state of depression seems safer than trying to lift a heavy heart and gloomy spirit to join in merry festivities.

But articles and studies indicate it is not really healthy to withdraw from the social and iconic traditions of holiday festivities and gatherings. And perhaps, not really necessary. There are ways to maintain a healthy mental outlook to enjoy special times. It is worthwhile remembering that caregiving can be a long road and sustaining good mental health must be on top of the caregiver’s self-care list.

Good mental health for caregivers is important enough that it must be consciously addressed. Consider how you might help yourself step away from the suction of depression, the heavy heart and gloomy spirit, by spending a few moments, or hours in honour of your own care!

Whether a caregiver or someone who cares enough to support caregivers,
CONSIDER how these suggestions might be helpful:

ADD SOMETHING TO YOUR ‘GRATEFUL LIST’ or your Appreciation Journal, daily. In his book “Upward Spiral,” neuroscientist Alex Korb, M.D. explains that practicing gratitude is one of many pathways to an upward spiral to happiness.

It may seem counter intuitive but when we are ‘down,’ if we start counting our blessings we feel better. And when we feel better, we can care better. And when we care better, our burdens of caregiving seem less. Somehow, it works, beginning with being grateful.

CALL AND CHECK ON SOMEONE. It will make your life fuller to have someone new to check on. One time or more. But at the holidays especially. I am grateful to those who check on us time and time again. I know how good it makes me feel to hear their voice in a time when I cannot go out. And in turn, I can call one person and hopefully make their day brighter.

COLLECT UPLIFTING QUOTES. Hard as it may seem to believe, other people have walked in our shoes. Learn from them. Look for their encouragement in their words. Find and save quotations that make you feel good, ones you can read over and over and each time feel better than just moments before. Save them where you can find them, whether in a notebook or in a computer file.

 LISTEN TO FAVOURITE MUSIC. Music makes us feel better. “When you listen to a song you really like, dopamine [a neurotransmitter] is released into your brain. The effect of this is simple – you feel good! Brain scans have shown that this dopamine rush is at its peak when you reach the part of the song you love most or in the 15 seconds leading up to it.”

The dopamine spreads the good feelings and make you feel better.  Make a playlist of music to play or keep those special CDs close by. Get  up and dance if it makes you feel good. It is your mental health that is being soothed…’work it!’

BRING OUT THE FAMLY ALBUMS OR PHOTOS.  Holidays mean family to many, so it makes sense to explore more about your family during times you are together, zoom or by email, phone or even by going through your genealogy information. Good feelings arise when you reflect on former holidays spent together, good feelings surface when you see photos of those you especially are or were close to. Be the instigator of your own good feelings by finding photographs and put them where you can see them.

INCLUDE COOKING FOR HOLIDAY UPLIFT.  Sensory memories seem to last a long time. Associating certain foods with happy moments awakens those happy memories. Make cookies, or gingerbread, fruit breads, or even let wassail simmer on the stove. Cook a small turkey and dressing to fill the home with holiday memories. Take time to recreate whatever soothes your sense of smell to bring those ‘feeling good’ memories to life.

SHARE WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS. In the pandemic we have missed meeting our social needs. If there are ways to share with friends and neighbours and family, drop a basket of wrapped treats, a book or a meaningful item on their front porch or inside their door. Better yet, make arrangements for a hand-off time and a quick masked smile and wave.

Perhaps, you can stand in the yard and they can stand on the porch and sing carols together. Sounds of music can go through the mask materials. Christmas cards are becoming less of a tradition because of the time it takes to write them out. So instead, write one Christmas letter and send it out. People who enjoy hearing from you will love getting it. They are ones you care about.

ZOOM / TEAMS / FACETIME often, with family members rotating in ‘the chair’ so loved ones get to be part of the festivities and close to loved ones. For those who need help, a phone appointment for a few moments might be a luxury but take it. People on both ends of a call benefit from connecting. Remember to ‘take a picture’ of the event, print screen, and send them a photo of the event afterwards.

REMEMBER TO BE THANKFUL for these opportunities. Let them warm your heart. Doing for others has a way of lifting us from our own depressed moments so we, too, can enjoy our special times during the holidays.


I wish you all a year ahead filled with love, awareness, kindness, gratefulness, and appreciation for the blessings we have had. May the hard times be dwarfed by the memorable moments you can return to over and over in your mind. I wish you good health, friendships, and easy times.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, wherever you are, whatever you may celebrate.  May 2021 bring you all that makes you happy, all that is meaningful and all that is beautiful. May you know how to walk away from unhealthy situations to keep your world a kinder, wholesome place.

Amen. – Judy Shone

Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing!


In paperback, hardcover and ebook

Holiday happiness for a floundering caregiver!!

Available online: from Amazon and other booksellers
Order locally through:
A Different Drummer Books in Burlington, Ontario
Barnes & Noble in US
Chapters/Indigo in Canada
Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado,
The Bookworm in Omaha, Nebraska,
or other local booksellers.


Caregiver Holidays (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone

Searching for What’s Lost

Searching for What’s Lost

Here we are, nearly nine years since I said I’d be My Love’s caregiver— when his downhill slide began, when his coughing was given a name… COPD. More significantly, it is nearly eight years since his doctor confirmed that his forgetful behaviours indicated an Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia diagnosis. Now, I am watching as My Love enters stage seven. I am learning new strategies as his Alzheimer’s disease unfolds. It is not surprising so much of his life is ‘lost.’

At this point in My Love’s life, he has truly lost many memories—he recalls today’s drive across town for a few minutes or maybe an hour? Yesterdays’ game of cards or memories of art classes last year fade quickly. And even his recollections of skiing and boating from younger years, those called long-term memories from the peaks of his life, are falling away, vanishing.

The words he held in his brain continue to evaporate. Losing his words is not new, just more intense. Our conversations are nonexistent. He seems to hear what I say, although, he does not always seem able to connect a meaning to the sounds. If it is important, I cannot wait for games—I ‘just do’ whatever needs doing.

When he walks to the back room for a sweater, it is normal for him to come ask me what he was getting, or even to return without the sweater and not realize he had gone to get one.  When he begins to go to the bathroom, he first asks permission if he can go and then confirms with me where he is supposed to go…’first door on the left down the hall.’  I must watch to be sure he makes the correct turn to eliminate any possible alternatives and to avoid any accidents.

When he asks for a glass of milk, which he indicates with his hands and fingers showing me the height of a round glass when he cannot ‘find’ the word milk, he might forget why I left the room and wonder why I brought him a glass of milk on my return.

My Love is somewhat of a neatnik!  He removes the Kleenex from the box and folds each one into a square and tucks each one back into the box. I have found pencils, spoons, his inhaler, and even the TV remote mixed in with the little stacks of folded tissue. He has all his art supplies in several transparent containers so he can see what he has. He has stopped using them but still likes looking at them. If I need to locate the watch he took off last hour, or he wants his fingernail clippers, I might have to sort through the art supplies, Kleenex boxes, book shelves, baskets of CDs, or among the potted plants and sometimes even in his coat pockets, to find where he has neatly stowed his ‘personal belongings.’

His billfold is his most prized possession. He still puts it in his back pocket, pats his behind to check it is there each time he stands up. At night, he carefully puts it on the dresser like he has done for all the years I have known him. At this point, it carries paper copies of his Canadian senior card, his provincial senior ID and a couple of his former ‘important’ business cards from days gone by. We have found a misplaced billfold in a different pocket, under the bed, in a drawer, on his desk hidden under papers, on the shelf in the bathroom, in his pants in the laundry. Even though it no longer carries anything of value, I believe that to My Love, it still carries the idea of his former life. If I say we are going to the grocery, he immediately pulls out his wallet and anxiously reports he has no cash. Each time I explain they will not take cash anymore, so he should not worry about it. He seems to accept that. He can no longer connect the thought process of why he needs cash.

In this stage of Alzheimer’s his schedule has been shifting. He wakes later in the day, wants his meals at unscheduled times, and has no interest in going to bed at his former ‘regular’ time. I cannot go to bed while he is awake. This changing schedule is pushing my exhaustion level higher. I try to waken him, but he rolls over and goes back to sleep. There are times it is nice for the peace, but mostly it is tiring to adjust to a new schedule that is only temporary. When he does finally walk down the hall, dressed in his jeans and pj shirt with bare feet, he asks where his shoes and socks are. He has no idea he has walked right by them on his way out of the bedroom. He does not understand the words I use to explain where he put them the night before, so, routinely, we must walk to the bedroom together to find what was lost.  

There will not be a solution to this craziness, it is the disease. Where he puts his shoes has not changed in years. We have lived in our home nearly twenty years and the bathroom has always been the same place. But he now cannot remember. I am the one who must find the lost inhaler when his allergies turn his eyes red. He no longer recalls what it looks like, what it is for and how to use it. He is not sure what his nail clippers are for and he forgets how to use them, so he hid them away and now I am the one who must guess where he ‘hid’ them.

It is like his medications. He has begun to resist taking them. He hides them in his food, under his napkin, and has dropped the pills in his water to melt. I see them. But he thinks he has tricked me. I do not think memory loss has prompted this behaviour, but perhaps chewing pills and getting a bad taste in his mouth has made them undesirable. In any case, I am trying to give him his pills before a meal so I can monitor closely and do not have to go looking for them later!

Do I sound catty? The pandemic is impacting both of us, but especially me, because we, or I, go NO-WHERE! It is winter now; he cannot wait in the car while I shop. I would take him with me to but I spend too much time explaining the distancing rule rather that getting in and out in a hurry. He has no idea what the virus is all about. Like many, he hates his mask. I envision the scene where, if he went with me, he would be asked where his mask is, and he would not know what the person was saying and would not be able to answer.

So, knowing My Love is happy sitting at home for twenty minutes with a TV show on, I can make short, quick trips, or else pick up packages in parking lots, or order online and accept deliveries. And although his surrounding life may be disappearing, at least when he is at home, I do know where to find him…he is not yet among the lost. 


Searching for What’s Lost (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone