AlzAuthors Shines Light on Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 6.2 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2021. To help share Alzheimer’s and dementia stories and light the way for others, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit AlzAuthors was founded. The organization’s goal is to make a difference in the lives of those on their own journey with the disease.

Together, all AlzAuthors strive to eliminate the stigma surrounding the disease that affects an estimated 47 million people worldwide. To do this, AlzAuthors shares the written stories to serve as caregiver handbooks, guides through the disease process or a catalyst for muchneeded conversations. The organization also features a new author each week and receives requests for inclusion from over 300 writers globally.

Whether someone is a caregiver, family member or living with dementia themselves, they can find help and guidance from decades of caregiving within AlzAuthors’ memoirs, caregiver guides, novels, children’s books and blogs. There are numerous encouraging, real-life experiences behind these works. Furthermore, AlzAuthors invites others who have personal stories relating to Alzheimer’s or dementia to join in sharing their stories. The organization believes authors are bonded in a number of ways, including that:

  • We know the pain of being forgotten.
  • We have all witnessed decline.
  • We have provided countless hours of caregiving.
  • We know many others have experienced the same.
  • Now, more than ever, we believe in the power of sharing our stories.

In addition to the website, AlzAuthors now offers the AlzAuthors Bookstore. This is a vast, go-to collection of top books for individuals, assisted living facilities, doctor’s offices and other businesses offering eldercare services. As an Amazon affiliate, a small percentage of proceeds earned from bookstore sales contributes to the cost of maintaining the AlzAuthors website.

Hosted by the Whole Care Network, AlzAuthors shares the “Untangling Alzheimer’s and Dementia: An AlzAuthors Podcast as well. This podcast is another way the organization supports dementia journeys. Each episode features an AlzAuthors’ author who shares their personal story to help listeners learn about and cope with an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis.

“We’ve curated hundreds of powerful and profound stories, spanning all disease types and stages through a variety of genres. You can read these stories on our blog, but if time is short and listening is your pleasure, follow the podcast to hear the author tell their story in more detail,” said podcast producer, editor, host and AlzAuthors cofounder, Marianne Sciucco.

History of AlzAuthors

In June 2015, Sciucco and fellow authors Jean Lee and Vicki Tapia became friends through social media after reading each other’s books. Recognizing the power of collaboration, the three women wrote blog posts about Alzheimer’s, dementia and caregiving for different caregiver websites. While they began promoting their books together, they found that three voices could increase impact.

Shortly after, Shannon Wiersbitzky joined the women, and AlzAuthors organized the first “National Caregiver Appreciation Month” awareness campaign (now an annual event). In June 2016, the team decided to create a website to gather resources in a singular place where caregivers and those living with memory impairment could find solid support. 

They sought a place where authors could find the proper audience as well. Thus, they invited authors to write short posts about the story behind their stories and these writings became Within the first year, over 60 individuals became “AlzAuthors.”

Today, Kathryn Harrison and Ann Campanella, together with Sciucco, Lee and Tapia, manage this not-for-profit organization. They are assisted by Susan Landeis and Gincy Heins. Past team members, Wiersbitzky and Irene Olson, have left management but continue to be strong supporters and resources for AlzAuthors.

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3 Reasons to Hire a Caregiver to Assist with Home Care

Caregivers can help care for aging adults and seniors in a number of ways, from assistance with eating, sleeping or mobility to more comprehensive health and wellness needs. While family members often choose to become the caregiver of their loved one, hiring a thoroughly trained caregiver can make a vast difference in the quality of home care they receive. This is because professional caregivers are provided with continuous training on new and emerging technology, safety procedures and care specialties to ensure optimal safety and support. For those with aging loved ones, here are three additional reasons to consider hiring a home care caregiver.

1. Family Dynamics Change

Although many family members may be on the same page about the level of care an elderly loved one requires, others may not be. Furthermore, their feelings on their specific care needs and requirements may change. Family relationships often experience strain at one point or another, and pent up issues may resurface when caregiver questions arise and arguments ensue.

Affirming this notion, the Family Caregiver Alliance states, “Providing care for an aging or ill parent can bring out the best and the worst in sibling relationships. Ideally, the experience of caregiving is a time for siblings to come together and provide mutual support to one another. However, as a stressful transition, the pressure can also lead to strained connections and painful conflict.”

For these reasons, families find hiring a caregiver who is not a direct family member helpful. Without predetermined ideas or opinions, a caregiver can help families make unbiased decisions on what is truly best for the loved one in need of home care. Knowing that a loved one’s best interest is the priority can provide family members with security and peace of mind. This also assists in ensuring that the loved one’s state and current needs are frequently assessed by a home care professional with experience regarding the signs and symptoms associated with aging.

2. Family Caregiving Burnout

As family caregivers are not typically provided with the same training as a professional caregiver, they do not always know what to expect when caring for a loved one long term. Not all designated family caregivers have any medical experience at all, so knowing the ins and outs of providing home care may present an added challenge. Between learning how to best provide home care and actually engaging in care-related duties, these family members can become rapidly overwhelmed and burnt out.

Alternatively, a trained professional has the skills to provide quality care as needed. When a caregiver is employed to care for an individual, their job is to support the client in need of care. For many family members turned caregivers, they need to find a way to balance their existing jobs and responsibilities with the added duties that come with becoming a caregiver.

Caregivers are prepared with the knowledge and skills to cope with the many responsibilities and management associated with home care. Hiring a professional caregiver is a way to make sure that all home care needs are being met, without a family member becoming spread too thin subsequently neglecting elements of their existing lives.

3. Home Care is a Learned Skill

Just because an aging adult is a member of someone’s family does not mean a family member is best suited to become their caregiver. Home care services require a level of skill that is learned and must be acquired through proper education and instruction. Caregivers must have a basic knowledge of health care terms, medical conditions, prescription administration and emergency response procedures. Under certain circumstances, tough decisions need to be made, for which having experienced this home care learning curve is incredibly important.

One instance in which extensive home care knowledge is imperative arises when addressing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The onset of memory loss requires a caregiver who is well aware of the challenges that are commonly associated with these conditions. Learning how to care for someone experiencing memory loss can keep a trained caregiver from being surprised by certain situations they may encounter. Professional caregivers have the ability to provide clients the support that is currently required while keeping family members up to date and planning for their future home care needs.

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