‘Laughing, Learning and Loving with Dementia,’ a Caregiver’s Journey
November is internationally recognized as both National Family Caregivers Month and Alzheimer’s disease Awareness Month. Caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s are in the spotlight and doubly appreciated, especially as the year-end holidays approach.
“Laughing, Learning and Loving with Dementia,” written by San Diego author Brigette Simms, chronicles this caregiver’s journey through her mother’s battling Alzheimer’s disease with commitment, courage, and yes…humor. In this passionate book (available on Amazon), Simms recounts through her journal entries the challenges of being a caregiver while also attending to work and family. Life lessons abound in this must-read for anyone tending to ailing loved ones.
I sat down with Brigitte, whose mother Genoveva passed away earlier this year, to talk about her mom and experience as an author.
What inspired you to write this book?
“I wrote a blog for years about the importance of humor while caring for a loved one with dementia, and offered advice on how to compassionately handle situations. My followers felt that my approach was so positive and uplifting, they encouraged me to write a book and reach out to more people. After my mother passed away I realized that we had such an amazing journey together and we had learned so many things that needed to be shared with others. I didn’t want her nine and a half years of struggling with dementia to go in vain. I knew that she would want to help as many people as possible. This was a remarkable experience that not only touched our lives, but could also touch so many other lives as well.”
How did you feel recalling all these stories and memories as you wrote the book?
“It was incredible recalling all of these stories. At times I actually couldn’t believe that I wrote them and felt so much joy as I reminisced. I cried and laughed for days and often took time off because my mind was overwhelmed by the beautiful relationship that we shared and all of the loving memories. It was amazing how strong and resilient she was through the entire journey.”
What do you think your mom would say if she was able to read the book today?
“My mom would say that she was very proud of me being an author. Mom always said that you could do anything in life if you put your mind to it. She always expressed how impressed she was with my ability to put my feelings into words. More importantly she would be pleased at the fact that we are helping others. That would be her main concern. On the humorous side, she would probably say the book isn’t about her because she never had dementia. During her middle stage of dementia I asked her if she knew what it was and she said “yes” that she hopes she never gets it.”
One piece of advice for people starting the same journey you went through as your mother’s care partner?
“Taking care of someone with dementia is a team effort. Don’t make it a journey by yourself. Reach out to family members, friends and professional organizations that can help such as the Alzheimer’s Association. Love and resources can make such a considerable difference during this difficult journey. Find the best way possible to cut down on your stress level. It can be a long and difficult road. Also, pray every day. You definitely want God on your team. Dementia will never go away so find a way to make the best of it and cherish a bit of happiness every day.”
Share some of the feedback you’ve gotten from readers.
“Readers are amazed at how beneficial this book is for family members and caregivers. They have said it is very inspiring to read during challenging times. They admire the humor and positive approach toward dementia along with the helpful advice. For the most part, they have said that this book has helped to turn an image of a dementia journey into a beautiful and uplifting experience.”
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