Reading often closely follows our personal progression in life. As we mature and our interests and life situations change and develop, so do our reading patterns.
My progression began with nursery rhymes and Golden Books that filled my imagination, then came Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, who fueled my ambitions, followed by the requisite period of academia preparing me for “real life.” By the time I reached adulthood, my attention turned to the New York Times Bestseller List, and the occasional beach book.
For some, reading will become a way of life as they devour books; for others, a lovely, welcome pastime; for the esoteric, an experience or quest for advanced knowledge, and for a few, a necessity when an unknown arises. If you are a caregiver, no matter where you fall on the spectrum, reading will become your source of knowledge, your advisor, your friend, and your savior in those lost moments.
Having always been a reader it was inevitable I would turn to books upon the diagnosis of my husband’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. Books are what helped me make sense of an almost untenable situation, answered questions when there seemed to be no answers, provided direction in a sea of darkness, and helped me not feel so adrift. For those of you who are not readers or are occasional readers, I can assure you books, podcasts, and blogs will serve you well.
When I was a caregiver, AlzAuthors, the global community of authors writing about dementia from personal experience, did not exist. But if it did, I can tell you with great certainty that my foray into the genre of caregiving books would begin with my urgent need to understand what I was dealing with.
That was not an easy task at that time, as there was a myriad of books out there to sort through and decipher, almost as overwhelming as the disease itself. Thank goodness today for the AlzAuthors Bookstore, whose vast collection is sorted out by categories, enabling the reader to quickly hone in on specific needs at specific times.
If I were a new caregiver today, I would head right to the Caregiver Guides Section to peruse the selections in search of information and understanding about Alzheimer’s, followed by checklists and to-do guides to help me through the initial shock and start me on the caregiver path. Under Memoirs I would look for stories to inspire, illuminate, support, and help me not feel so alone.
One of the things I would be thankful for is the now firsthand information on early-onset dementia, something that was missing years ago. The honesty of the authors combined with their various coping methods helps readers feel less judgmental about themselves and their situation.
On a self-indulgent whim, I would purchase books under the Fiction category to go on a much-needed escape. And since I wouldn’t have much time to read (what caregiver has time?), the AlzAuthors blog is a real gift.
When one is dealing with a catastrophic illness, the sense of isolation, be it physical, mental, social, or emotional, can be daunting and overwhelming. It is no wonder some caregivers suffer various degrees of depression or feel isolated as their world shrinks in so many ways. The gift of reading helps to alleviate some of that by sharing other perspectives, and imparting knowledge.
While it is not a replacement for actual friends or family, reading is a wonderful substitute that is always there and available. The vast range of knowledge from clinical, to checklists and facts, to personal, all covering the range from diagnosis till the end, is what allows caregivers to stay on the path and complete their journey intact. Preparation and knowledge are among the top skills any caregiver can possess.
I am grateful to all the authors who accompanied me on my journey, whose dog-eared pages sat faithfully on my nightstand, whose eBooks and audiobooks let me read during those times when I had so little time. To be provided with such comfort, knowledge, direction, and insight was truly an invaluable gift.
About the Author
Susan’s background reflects her versatility. A wife, mother, grandmother, she has also been a schoolteacher, a realtor, a sales professional, a corporate trainer, a counselor, and a consultant and speaker on various aspects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and human resource development. She is the author of My Life Rearranged, a contributor to AlzAuthors.com, and a caregiver advocate.
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