Posts Tagged With: book

Support @Boys2Books, Metro #Detroit Afterschool Literacy Initiative #michlit #mwn #MotownLit

boystobooks

The program focuses on improving the lives of young males through literacy, leadership, and life skills. The program has been receiving local and national attention via BET, PBS, and other media sources.  Boys2Books1

For more info. about Boys 2 Books visit: http://www.eddieconnor.com/boys2books or call 313.469.1947

 

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Support @Boys2Books, Metro #Detroit Afterschool Literacy Initiative #michlit #mwn #MotownLit

boystobooks

The program focuses on improving the lives of young males through literacy, leadership, and life skills. The program has been receiving local and national attention via BET, PBS, and other media sources.  Boys2Books1

For more info. about Boys 2 Books visit: http://www.eddieconnor.com/boys2books or call 313.469.1947

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Unusual Writing Tips

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Support @Boys2Books, Metro #Detroit Afterschool Literacy Initiative #michlit #mwn #MotownLit

 

boystobooks

The program focuses on improving the lives of young males through literacy, leadership, and life skills. The program has been receiving local and national attention via BET, PBS, and other media sources.  Boys2Books1

For more info. about Boys 2 Books visit: http://www.eddieconnor.com/boys2books or call 313.469.1947

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@Boys2Books featured in National Spotlight!

Boys2Books1I’m honored to be a contributor to the Motown Writers Network and share about my program, Boys 2 Books.

The program focuses on improving the lives of young males through literacy, leadership, and life skills. The program has been receiving local and national attention via BET, PBS, and other media sources. Read the feature on Boys 2 Books in C&G News, focusing on the work being done to inspire our youth! —-> http://bit.ly/HbbQlQ and check out our feature “It Takes a Village to Raise Detroit” on BET —> http://bit.ly/1czdF6W

For more info. about Boys 2 Books visit: http://www.eddieconnor.com/boys2books or call 313.469.1947

 

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Awesome #Promo Tool for #Authors: #Smashwords Does Interviews! Ck mine out!

I’ve always been impressed with @MarkCoker’s success with Smashwords and I’ve wished him all the best.

His platform to make publishing to ebooks easy has been clearly groundbreaking and now he’s taking authors to a whole new level in helping them promote themselves and ultimately SELL MORE BOOKS!

SMASHWORD INTERVIEWS

The Author pages at Smashwords is nothing more than outstanding. Giving authors not only a way to sell their books as ebooks, but also helping them link their books to the paperback as well.

Plus you get to add your social media connections along with your website and blog. As an additional plus, there’s a link for Wattpad as well!

CHECK OUT MY SMASHWORDS AUTHOR’S PAGE

Now comes interviews; Giving authors a chance to tell their story behind the story and promote themselves; brand themselves; sell themselves.

CHECK OUT MY INTERVIEW ON SMASHWORDS NOW

If you haven’t done your author interview yet on Smashwords, now is the time!

Log into your Smashwords account now and complete your author profile interview now!

Click here (http://smashwords.com)

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Your invited to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 @pavershomes

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This is the invitation to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 in Detroit.

Pamela Osborne, President,Pavers Publishing, LLC
Pamela Osborne, President
Pavers Publishing, LLC
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Your invited to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 @pavershomes

Image

This is the invitation to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 in Detroit.

Pamela Osborne, President,Pavers Publishing, LLC
Pamela Osborne, President
Pavers Publishing, LLC
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Motown Writers Network Interview

phetteogburn:

MWN Interview by Phette Ogburn w/Kai Mann. Be sure to check out Kai’s new book Abandoned Property.

Originally posted on Kai Mann Official Website:

View original

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Your invited to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 @pavershomes

Image

This is the invitation to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 in Detroit.

Pamela Osborne, President,Pavers Publishing, LLC
Pamela Osborne, President
Pavers Publishing, LLC
Categories: MWN Events Only, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Event: Bill Loomis: Author of “Detroit’s Delectable Past 6/19 6pm #Detroit Historical Museum via @freep

Bill Loomis: Author of “Detroit’s Delectable Past — Two Centuries of Frog Legs, Pigeon Pie and Drugstore Whiskey” will be featured as part of the Detroit Historical Society’s Scholar Series, 6 p.m. Wed. Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward, Detroit. 313-833-1805. www.detroithistorical.org. $10; free for Detroit Historical Society members.

Upcoming book and author events http://www.freep.com/article/20130617/ENT/306170019 via @freep

 

 

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Your invited to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 @pavershomes

Image

This is the invitation to Pavers Publishing, LLC’s Launch Party Invitation of July 16, 2013 in Detroit.

Pamela Osborne, President,Pavers Publishing, LLC
Pamela Osborne, President
Pavers Publishing, LLC
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Michigan Literary Network Blogtalk Radio~March 20, 2013

Erica Coleman Today at 5:30pm on the Michigan Literary Network blogtalk radio you’re in for a treat as Sylvia Hubbard talks about the book Dying to Be Loved by Erica Coleman.  Dying To Be Loved is a book written to encourage, inspire, entertain but also deliver those looking for love in all the wrong places. For more information about Erica check her out at http://www.ericacoleman.com/

Dying to be loved

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Congrats to Soulful Readers of #Detroit Bookclub Contest Winners! frm @KimberlaLRoby #mwn #michlit #amreading

Congratulations to my 2013 Book Club and Readers National Contest Winners!!!

Winner of the Kimberla Lawson Roby National Book Club Contest for
THE PERFECT MARRIAGE

Soulful Readers of Detroit, MI – submitted by Nina Katrina Fowler

***Each member of Soulful Readers Book Club will receive a signed copy of the hardcover for
A HOUSE DIVIDED when it is published in May 2013.

Winners of the Kimberla Lawson Roby National Readers Contest for
THE PERFECT MARRIAGE

(5) $100 VISA GIFT CARDS:

1.  Deborah Andrews – Houston, TX
2.  Bernice Braswell – Montgomery, AL
3.  Juanita A. Roye – Livonia, MI
4.  Melanie Hill – Nashville, TN
5.  Kimberly Johnson – St. Petersburg, FL

(10) $25 MOBIL GAS CARDS

1.  Brenda F. Holmes – University Park, IL
2.  Angela Cooper – Houston, TX
3.  Genevia Williams – Montgomery, AL
4.  Paula A. Curtis – Houston, TX
5.  Tanishia Pearson-Jones – Delhi, LA
6.  Mitzi Dunn – Pickerington, OH
7.  Christy M. McNorton – Inglewood, CA
8.  Rhonda R. Pope – Upper Marlboro, MD
9.  Trina L. Jones – Milwaukee, WI
10.  LaChelle Weaver – Durham, NC

(25) ADVANCED READING COPIES (Galleys) of A HOUSE DIVIDED

1.  Johnnie P. Stewart – Memphis, TN
2.  Bobbi A. Jones – Florissant, MO
3.  Carmela Hicks Gordon – Huntsville, AL
4.  Stacy Campbell – Indianapolis, IN
5.  Michele Hobson – Milwaukee, WI
6.  Shelley L. Byrd – Houston, TX
7.  Cassandra L. Marcellus – Centerville, VA
8.  Shamae Crosswhite – Douglasville, GA
9.  Cedricca  Elmore – Mobile, AL
10.  Litora R. Brown – Whitsett, NC
11.  Keva McNeil-David – Farmers Branch, TX
12.  Shirley Williams – Columbus, MS
13.  Kim Melikian – Little Rock, AR
14.  Jacqueline Laws – Detroit, MI
15.  Cheryl Jones – Suitland, MD
16.  Tomeaka Edeogho – Chandler, AZ
17.  Binette Shannon – Syracuse, NY
18.  Christy Neasley – San Francisco, CA
19.  Melody McCullum – Hattiesburg, MS
20.  Catherine Vance – Kansas City, MO
21.  Naomi R. Sparks – Christiansburg, VA
22.  Helen Bagley – Snellville, GA
23.  Tanya M. Evans – Winston-Salem, NC
24.  Evelyn  Clowers – Macon, GA
25.  Tecia Garrett Marshall – Memphis, TN

Email:  kim@kimroby.com
Website:  www.kimroby.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/kimberlalawsonroby
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/KimberlaLRoby

For media interview requests or press material relating to my books, please contact Linda Duggins, Director, Multicultural Publicity at Linda.Duggins@hbgusa.com.

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First Chapter Friday with Author Angil Tarach-Ritchey

Behind the Old Face: Aging in America and the Coming Elder Boom

Please support this very important senior advocacy project The Elder Boom Foundation

Angil TarachBooks by Angil Tarach-Ritchey

Behind the Old Face: Aging in America and the Coming Elder BoomSee a book preview http://www.dreamsculpt.com/behindtheoldface/

Quick Guide to Understanding Medicare, Medicaid and other payer sources 2011 http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Medicare-Medicaid-sources-ebook/dp/B005UO7OTG

You Tube- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3XcOsmEx5s

Educational information and resources can be found on my blog “Aging in America”

 By Angil Tarach- Ritchey RN, GCM  

www.dreamsculpt.com/behindtheoldface/

_____________________________________________________________

Angil Tarach-Ritchey RN, GCM is an author, speaker, consultant and national expert in senior care.  With over 30 years experience in senior care and advocacy Angil is very passionate about eldercare and is well respected in her field.

Angil has written for several websites including NurseTogether, the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, Wellsphere, the National Senior Living Provider’s Network, Ann Arbor News, and her own blog, Aging in America.  Her passion and expertise have led to being published in the Chicago Sun Times, Maturity Matters, Medpedia, Vitamins Health, Medworm, Alzheimer’s New Zealand and several other publications.  She has been featured on Nurse Talk, WE Magazine for Women; Women on a Mission, Life Goes Strong, About.com/Assisted Living, The Caregiver Partnership, You and Me Health Magazine, His Is Mine, and Abec’s Small Business Review and quoted in several publications, such as Reuters, CNBC, Consumer Affairs, PTO Today, Women Entrepreneur and more.

Chapter 1

The Nursing Home Love Letters

My story in the nursing home

What would you title a defining moment in your life, the moment that

changed everything? My earliest defining moment came in a box of love

letters. No, not letters to me. It all happened with a box of love letters I

found in a nursing home.

My love for the elderly began when I started working as an aide in a nursing

home in 1977, when I was seventeen years old. My girlfriend’s mother,

Mrs. Berry, was a registered nurse and the nursing home administrator.

She was a tall, fairly thin woman with blonde hair. Although Mrs. Berry

was “cool” most of the time, it was apparent when she was angry or had

enough with teenagers in her home. She would make it clear she’d had

enough just by the look on her face. I liked Mrs. Berry and respected her,

but I also feared her. I never knew if she really liked me or not. Her daughter,

my friend Marcy, worked for her mom at the nursing home as a nurse’s

aide. She would tell us stories about the residents at her job, and most of

the stories were amusing. I needed a job, so I thought I could do what

Marcy was doing. I approached Mrs. Berry several times asking for a job.

I think she was passively ignoring me, but I was persistent . . . when Mrs.

Berry was in a good mood, that is. After a month or two of asking her

repeatedly to hire me and give me a chance, she finally agreed with the

comment, “I’ll give you a chance, but I don’t think you can do it.” What

Mrs. Berry didn’t know was that I am highly motivated by disbelief. I have

accomplished more in my lifetime because people told me I couldn’t do

something than because people told me I could.

It was a warm, humid day in June 1977, and I was about to begin my first

job as a nurse’s aide. When I arrived at the nursing home at 7:00 a.m.,

never having cared for an elderly person before, I assumed there would

be some sort of formal training. My training was to follow another aide

around, and basically do what she did. I wanted to follow Marcy, because

we were friends and her mom ran the place, but Mrs. Berry wouldn’t allow

that. I know she expected we would be goofing off or doing some kind

of foolishness if we worked together, so she had me follow a nurse’s aide I

had never met. I have to say, I was a little intimidated by the ninety or so

residents, some walking through the halls with canes and walkers, some

being wheeled down the hall in wheelchairs, and others yelling or talking

to themselves. But I had to prove to Mrs. Berry I could do it, so I just took

it minute by minute. There was no way I would confirm her notion that I

couldn’t do the work.

My first day seemed to be a test of my physical and emotional endurance.

I worked sixteen hours that day, and within a few hours on the job I

was involved in a medical emergency. We were passing lunch trays when

the whole room turned chaotic in response to a resident choking on her

lunch. The whole situation seemed to be happening in slow motion,

even though it only lasted a few short minutes. I realized the resident was

choking, because her table mates were yelling and I saw her gripping her

throat. Since it was my first day and I was not ready for a situation like

this, I looked around the room to make sure an employee knew what was

going on and would react. I had never expected to see something like this,

especially on my first day of work. As my eyes quickly scanned the room,

I saw my supervisor frozen in position, fear evident on her face. The experienced

nurse’s aides were either screaming for someone to do something

or trying to ignore the urgency of the situation.

Residents began yelling and getting out of their seats, waiting and watching

for someone to help her. It seemed everyone was waiting for someone

else to react, and no one was moving towards her. As seconds passed, her

face started turning blue. I just knew if no one helped her, she would die.

I had never received training for the Heimlich maneuver, or any other formal

training, but when she began turning blue and no one acted or seemed

to know what to do, I knew I had to do something. I could not watch this

woman die in front of me without doing something! I remembered seeing

the Heimlich maneuver done on TV and figured I had to try it. I ran to

the table and grabbed her now lifeless, thin body and pulled her against my

chest. I clenched my fists around her tiny waist and forcefully pulled her upper

abdomen toward me. I pulled once, twice, and finally the third time she

coughed out the food that was lodged in her throat. Her body then regained

life, and her blue skin began changing back to a light pink pigment. She was

going to be okay. I was flooded with emotions: disbelief, shock, fear, relief,

gratitude, anger, and pride. Of course, I was relieved and grateful, but I was

angry that my supervisor had no idea what to do and didn’t even attempt to

help this lady. I wondered how she could be the person in charge. I wondered

what would have happened to this lady if I hadn’t at least tried the Heimlich

maneuver or if it hadn’t worked. The truth is, I was not sure I could do anything

to help. I was in shock and petrified that I was going to see someone die

right in front of my eyes. This was a lot more than I had bargained for when

I asked Mrs. Berry to give me a chance. After the adrenalin dissipated, I felt

very proud for having saved the resident’s life and that I had lost the intimidation

I felt just minutes earlier. I also lost respect for a supervisor I barely

knew. This was my initiation into senior care and advocacy.

The facility was supposed to support independent to semi-independent

living, which today we refer to as assisted living. There were three floors:

the first floor residents were independent; the second floor residents were

mostly semi-independent with a few dependent residents; and the third

floor housed all the residents who shouldn’t have been living there. I believe

it was set up that way so when visitors or potential new residents’

families came, they would see the very best in independent living. There

were no tours beyond the first floor to my recollection. I continued working

as a nurse’s aide on the afternoon shift. I was responsible for all of the

residents on the third floor.

My residents were either totally physically dependent, or had Alzheimer’s

or some other form of dementia. Back then we described a person with

dementia as being senile. My responsibilities were to keep my incontinent

residents clean, to get everyone to the dining room for their dinner

and medications, to pass dinner trays, and to feed those who could not

feed themselves. I was also responsible for entertaining the residents after

dinner, which meant sitting them in the day room to watch TV while

I cleaned up dinner trays and tables, changed residents, gave baths, and

started getting residents ready for bed.

The day shift was responsible for half of the residents’ baths and grooming

each week, and I was responsible for the other half. I was the only aide on

the third floor afternoon shift. I don’t recall how many residents I had to

care for; I just remember it was a lot of work. I had responsibilities and experiences

on this job I never would have imagined: shaving a man with a nonelectric

razor; being with a person with dementia; cleaning an incontinent

person; tying people to their beds to keep them safe from falling; feeding an

adult; and, convincing someone to take a bath when they refused.

There was no training to teach me how to do these tasks or to deal with

dementia patients. Nurse’s aides were just hired and put to work, until

1987 when Congress passed the Omnibus Reconciliation Act, commonly

referred to as OBRA. Safety concerns and the lack of quality care

in our nation’s nursing homes inspired OBRA, which required training

nursing home staff. Talk about old school; I was doing this work for ten

years before the U.S. required training.

One night, a few months into my job, I started my shift looking through

the bath book to see who was scheduled for a bath. I also looked through

the documentation from the day shift. There were residents on the dayshift

schedule who hadn’t had a bath in a month or more. I was outraged

and saddened. I gave thirty-two baths in one night. I worked a couple of

hours of overtime to get it all done, but all the residents on the third floor

were now clean and cared for. Was this the first night of a lifetime of senior

advocacy? Looking back over thirty years, I think it was. I couldn’t understand

how anyone could let this happen. The residents were people, and

they needed help. What if these lazy nurse’s aides were deprived a bath for

a month? What would they want?

I had no idea at the time how significant the bath night and another experience

I had would become in how I have spent my life caring and advocating

for seniors. The experiences clearly had their own purposes. One

began my life as a senior advocate; the other was the major contributing

factor to the empathetic care I have provided all of my life. Thirty years

later, there are many patients I still remember, think about, and hold dear

to my heart. I remember a retired teacher who had dementia and filed

things in her bra. She said they were her files, as if she were still teaching.

I remember a couple who walked the halls holding hands; the husband

wore the layers of men’s and women’s clothing his wife dressed him in. I

remember a tall thin lady with dementia, who was either glowingly joyful

while singing in her high-pitched, out-of-tune voice or so angry she hit

and scratched anyone who came near her. I can still picture these residents

clearly, and I hold fond memories of them in my heart.

One evening, our assignment was to clean our residents’ closets and

drawers. One of my residents was a lady named Ann, who couldn’t

speak or do anything for herself. She quietly lay in bed day after day.

Ann never had a visitor, so I knew nothing about her. While I was working

in Ann’s room, I found a box in her closet. In it were no less than

thirty letters and cards. I sat on the floor and started to read them, one

after another, as tears fell from my eyes. They were love letters from

a husband to his wife. Never had I known, or even heard about, such

profound and amazing love. This woman, lying there alone seemingly

unloved, had actually shared a fairy-tale love, rare and amazing, with

an adoring spouse. I can still vividly recall sitting on the floor with her

box in my lap, tears dripping from my face, reading the letters while frequently

pausing to look at Ann lying in that bed, almost lifeless, wishing

I had known her sooner.

I wished I knew about her life when I started caring for her. For many

months, I had looked at her as just some old woman lying in the bed who

needed help. Truthfully, until that day I didn’t give her much thought other

than the duties of keeping her clean, dry, and physically comfortable. Not

that I didn’t occasionally think how sad it was she never had a visitor or

any indication that someone cared about her, but that was the extent of

my thoughts and involvement with her. Before I left my shift that night, I

acknowledged Ann. She was no longer just some old woman. I went to her,

and while gently stroking her cheek and forehead I said, “Your husband

sure did love you.” I said goodnight and went home. That was all I could

say, given the emotional state I was in after reading all those letters. I’m

not sure if I was more sad about Ann’s loss and being alone in that nursing

home or guilty for not seeing her as a real person with a real life.

It was through her letters that I got to know Ann, who couldn’t tell me anything

about herself. As far as I knew, her deceased husband was all she had,

and now I felt more responsibility to take care of her for him. That was when

the meaning of care changed for me. Previous to this night, I felt that I provided

pretty good care given the number of residents I had and the duties

that needed to be done. I kept Ann clean and dry, but I didn’t know how to

communicate with someone who couldn’t acknowledge me or speak back.

Although I gave good physical care, there was no emotion involved, no human

connection; I was very quiet when I provided care for Ann.

I now had something to talk to Ann about. Caring for Ann changed into

something much more meaningful. I felt a special bond with her. Those

love letters gave me much deeper empathy for my residents. I started looking

at all of the residents, wondering what lives they previously had before

they ended up in that nursing home. That revelation inspired me to find

out as much as I could about them. I read their charts, asked questions,

listened to their conversations more intently, and observed their actions.

From time to time, I would read Ann’s husband’s letters to her. I don’t know

whether Ann could understand or even hear anything I said, but I felt that

her spirit heard and understood. I also felt as if her husband was looking

down from heaven, grateful for someone who was telling Ann about his

love in a comforting and caring way and taking care of her physically.

Ann’s inability to speak was due to aphasia, a speech and language disorder

that impairs a person’s ability to communicate It is most commonly the result

of a stroke but can occur from any severe head injury and affects over

one million people in the U.S. Aphasia can be expressive, meaning the person

can fully comprehend language but cannot verbally express thoughts,

feelings, or preferences. Aphasia can also be receptive, meaning patients

can’t understand verbal or written language. People often assume that a person

with expressive aphasia cannot understand or comprehend, but that is

far from the truth. Not knowing whether Ann had receptive aphasia, I truly

don’t know if she understood me when I talked to her and read her love

letters to her. But, I think there is something in our souls that allows us to

connect even when the typical means of communication are not possible.

My three-decade passion has been based on empathy. Can you imagine

being in Ann’s shoes? Can you understand what it must be like to have

lived a fairy-tale life with a best friend, experience a love like no other,

only to lose that person and decline to the point where you are alone and

unable to care for yourself? I don’t know if it was true or not, but I heard

Ann’s decline was a result of losing her husband. We often hear about

couples who have been married for many years dying close in time, so her

decline following the loss of her husband wouldn’t surprise me.

Ann’s is just one story in a countless numbers of stories. There are thousands

of elders living in nursing homes, alone and unable to care for

themselves. What kind of care do they get when their healthcare workers

know nothing about them and don’t even think about what their lives

were like before they ended up helpless and in a nursing home? Just like I

did. I’ve worked in long-term care for decades and never saw any training

programs that focused on communicating with persons with aphasia, or

even explained what it is. I also have never seen any training programs

that elicited empathy—other than The Virtual Dementia Tour®, which

provides a great learning experience. I know from my own experience that

patients like Ann are not spoken to or treated with the compassion that is

essential to providing good care. Instead, they’re regarded as work to be

done rather than a person to whom care is given. It is up to us as a society

to understand that there is a person and a life Behind the Old Face.

In over three decades of spending time caring and advocating for seniors,

many experiences brought me to write this book, but a single experience

at a funeral home inspired the idea and title; I share that experience with

you later in this chapter. Throughout this book, I will share my experiences

and the stories of a few of the seniors I have spent time with, but

my experiences and their stories provide only a small glimpse of what is

Behind the Old Face. This book is intended to tug at your heart strings, to

make anyone interacting with or caring for an elderly person think differently,

and to subsequently improve the way we treat seniors and the care

we provide. Care should never be just a physical-care task. Anyone can

provide physical care, but great care providers offer an emotional component

to their care that makes it great. There are unpaid caregivers, such as

family, friends, and volunteers, as well as a wide range of paid caregivers,

including nurse’s aides, therapists, nurses, social workers, and physicians.

No paid care giving job is more important than another. No care recipient

is more important than another. Whatever your care giving role, you need

to provide care with respect, compassion, empathy, and kindness. All care

recipients should always—without exception—be treated with dignity,

respect, and from an empathetic point of view.

Every single one of us has heard, “Treat people as you want to be treated,”

but how many of us really do? How many nurse’s aides, nurses, physicians,

and family caregivers provide the treatment they would want to receive?

Do you treat every single person you come in contact with, have a

relationship with, work with, or care for as you would want to be treated?

As you read this book and the stories of the people in it, you will and

should experience a myriad of emotions. I will tell you some of the most

amazing stories I have ever heard, from the lives of seniors I have been

privileged to know and spend time with. These aren’t famous people with

amazing newsworthy stories; these are everyday stories. These are the life

stories of your parents, grandparents, neighbors, aunts and uncles, the old

man driving too slow, the grey-haired old woman that you have to wait

on in the store, the patient you have to feed or change, the Alzheimer’s

patient who is difficult, and the dementia patient who asks the same questions

over and over. These people are us. They are us, with many more

years of life behind them. You will hear about their challenges, their

dreams achieved or not achieved, their contributions and accomplishments,

their service to our country or to a cause, their devastations and

joys, their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and their points of view about

what it’s like to be a senior today.

Even after my decades of spending time with seniors, I still hear things

that are surprising to me, and things I have never thought of. While interviewing

one lady for the book, she told me a secret. At her request, I

will not use her name or feature her story in the book, but she told me

something that gave me another perspective into things that seniors think

about. She was a lovely ninety-one-year old woman I’ll call Susan. Susan

grew up in England, and even years after being in America, she still

had a lovely English accent. I cared for her while her husband was in the

hospital. She was happily married for over seventy years, and she adored

her husband. During interviews, I ask specific questions to initiate further

conversation and to better understand what it’s like to be old. One question

I ask is, “Who is your hero?” When I asked Susan this question, she

said it was her husband, but as we continued to talk about her life from

childhood on, she asked, “Can I tell you a secret?”

Susan started talking about her first love when she was nineteen. Her blue

eyes sparkled as she told me about their weekends spent dancing at a local

hangout. He was a
very handsome man, a man of honor and values, who

could dance “as gracefully as Fred Astaire,” she said in a giddy, schoolgirl-

crush way. They were together a few months when he went into the

military. While he was away, she met her husband. You may think the rest

is history, but it wasn’t. Her entire life, she had thought about her first

love and how things may have been different if she had waited for him.

Imagine spending seventy-two years thinking about a lost love and the

what-if ’s.

Susan described times they would run into each other after he returned

from the military and she was already another man’s wife. They had an unspoken

bond they both recognized and possibly even longed for. She described

the small bits of conversation they had and said he would always

ask, “Are you okay, Susan? Really? He never married, and Susan wondered

if it was because he wanted to marry her. She thought his “Really?”

carried an undertone of a deeper question. Susan thought he wanted to

know if she was truly happy with another man as her husband. He was

too much of a gentleman to get between Susan and her husband, so she

felt there were words that were never spoken. They eventually lost track of

each other because of her move to the U.S.

Her secret revealed that she never let the memories or the what-if ’s go.

She kept them quietly stored away in her heart for over seventy years. It

was a heartwarming story. I felt a bit sad hearing it. I was sitting with a

wonderful woman of ninety-one who had never gotten over her first love.

I was honored that I was the first one she had ever told this to. I was also

surprised by what I had been told. Susan went on to tell me how wonderful

her husband had always been to her and how she never regretted marrying

him. She kept her thoughts secret her whole life so as not to hurt her

husband, who was her hero.

We talked about her life over the course of a couple days. She shared her

experiences as an elderly woman in the hospital. Susan described an experience

during one of her hospital admissions. A couple of nurses mimicked

her accent. This had happened years before we met, yet had stayed

in her thoughts and feelings. Susan described feeling disrespected, belittled, and treated as if she had no feelings. The mimicking nurses made her

feel like they thought she was stupid because she had an accent. I would

guess there was no mal intent on the part of the nurses, but they didn’t

think about Susan’s dignity or feelings either.

As you progress through this book and read about the lives of the people

described in it, you will read about situations that will warm your heart

and others that are disturbing. Both are intended to cause you to think,

put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and move you to a more compassionate

perspective when it comes to our elders. It is my hope that the

stories will be heartwarming enough to cause you to be kinder and more

thoughtful, and disturbing enough to inspire you to become an advocate

for better treatment of one of our most vulnerable populations.

Funerals reveal who we have been

In my work and life, I have been to countless funerals, home viewings, and

memorial ceremonies. Funerals can be as unique as the individual who

died, but in the last ten to fifteen years, I have noticed increasing numbers

of…..

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