The Scuttlebutt About the Alzheimer’s Blog Post, New Update

I seem to have inadvertently caused some kind of a ballyhoo among my friends with this post. My intentions were never to point out the flaws of my mother-in-law. Many worried that she might read the post and get mad.

My intention was to draw awareness to the fact that many (certainly not all!) spouses become the primary care-givers when it is determined  that one of them has Alzheimer’s. For several years now it was suspected in our family that something wasn’t quite right with “Dad.” But, we were met with resistance every single time we suggested getting an evaluation. We were told by the care-giver herself, “What difference does it make? They can’t do anything about it anyway.” Now this has been frustrating to hear, and  frighteningly, not an uncommon assumption.

But let me correct this erroneous conclusion: there are many things that can be done “about it.” For one, the person suffering with this disease needs mild exercise every day. They need association and stimulating activities, perhaps playing a game, crossword puzzles or reading. These are all pastimes Joseph enjoys doing. Of course nowadays he needs to be told that he enjoys being around others and that he enjoys getting dressed everyday and going outside, but that is besides the point. These are very beneficial things for someone with Alzheimer’s to do and easy enough for the care-giver to provide. Sadly, some care-givers don’t know what they are supposed to do. They are hindered by their fears and overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion with the new responsibilities.

I’m actually quite proud to say that Joseph’s primary care-giver is really stepping up to her responsibilities. She has made a turn around in her opinions and is willing and ready to do all that she can. And where she can’t do it all, she has been very accommodating in allowing others into the home to help, including her children. We really don’t want to pick on her. We want to help and support her, and offer her comfort in this dire time. We want to feel useful too, and the good news is she is letting us. In addition to the adult day club Joseph attends three times a week, Paul and I pick him up one day a week and keep him all day with us. This has been fun, at least for us! He is easy going, unlike some victims of Alzheimer’s, who react with violence. Home care providers come in weekly, as well as a nurse to check his medications. So, things are going much better in the Kempler family.

Little adjustments have also been made. Joseph now uses his walker everywhere he goes, including scooting around the house. Now, we don’t worry too much about his falling over and hurting himself, or someone else. A handrail has been installed on the garage steps and Joseph is quite happy with it.

Improvements have been made, and we are learning what further tweaks we need to make as we go. I personally feel really positive about Joseph’s care. We have a program in place and we take each day as it comes.

So for all of you who were so concerned about my post, please re-read it. I promise it reads differently the second time around. I’m really not a meany.


Persistence is the Key to a Successful Writing Career

I’m not going to wax religious, but the other day I read a passage in the Bible that made me think of the principal of persistence.  Here is the passage:

Luke 11:9: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.”

Of course this is in relation to our prayers, but I thought, hey, why can’t I apply this same principal to writing? Basically the scripture in reference is about persistence. Persistence pays off. So, to you would-be best-selling author’s out there (myself included), let’s keep reading, let’s keep writing, let’s keep blogging and building our platform’s, let’s keep knocking on agent’s “doors” with our query letters. Let’s keep the faith that something good will come out of our passion for writing.

Alzheimer’s Affects the Whole Family

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

Many of you don’t know that my father-in-law, Joseph Kempler, has recently been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. This came as no real surprise to the family. We had been noticing a steady physical decline and memory loss for years. But, an unexpected hospital stay awakened us to the realities of Joseph’s situation.

It turns out the symptoms that prompted Joseph’s hospital stay might be associated with some new medication he is taking, but the results of that visit were a breakthrough for my husband and I, who had been begging Joseph’s wife and primary care-giver to get assistance with in-home help the last few years.

When handed this kind of information the first thought is, how can I help my loved one? What steps do I need to take? Can I do this?  This has just become an overwhelming situation, and perhaps the first instinct is to isolate oneself and run for cover. There are so many things to set in place: in-home help, nursing, monitoring physical activity, monitoring food intake, and medication intake.

An important step is always to put the care for the Alzheimer’s victim in first place.

Second, we need to ask ourselves if the person can be left on their own, or do they need supervision? Are they still capable of doing things for themselves? This is harder to determine than you might think. A form of denial is given an opportunity to develop within the spouse or child of the Alzheimer’s victim, or whoever is appointed as the primary care-giver. After all, perhaps the person isn’t that bad yet, they don’t wander out of the house, or endanger themselves when left alone.

Although Joseph barely moved around and was content to sit in his chair drinking tea and doing crossword puzzles, there were so many other important facets of care-giving that needed to be considered. The ordinary things Joseph used to do for himself, such as bathing, dressing, communicating, can no longer be accomplished without help. These may seem like simple common sense things to  you and me, but if the care-giver is new to the depth, breadth, and width of care-giving, they may need more clear direction and perhaps a health-care professional to show them exactly how it should be carried out.

Initially, the primary care-giver will think they have it covered. They don’t need outside help, and that they are doing the best they can. Sometimes though “the best they can” just isn’t quite enough. For instance, in our family, Joseph is stubborn… no, he is downright mulish. Getting him up in the morning, washed, dressed and fed is practically a feat of Olympic proportions. Sometimes it is just easier to leave him be. But, as hard as this is, leaving him be is about the worst way to handle it. Care-giving is exhausting work, it is almost like living for two people. Gone is the independence and dignity each person had formerly been accustomed to.

Third, the caregiver needs to allow others to help. This is where we, as the children, enter the scene. Often Joseph will listen to his son  before he will follow the directions of his wife and care-giver. Don’t ask me why, but Paul has a tone in his voice that indicates he will not back down and Joe obediently does what he is supposed to do.

We are learning how to handle Joseph’s health crisis together. We will definitely make mistakes along the way. No two people with Alzheimer’s react the same, that is why it is so complicated and heart-breaking.

I’m pleased to say Joseph Kempler, age eighty-five, is now home and stable. We have a plan of action and hopefully a new outlook on this horrible condition that strikes so many families. In-home care has been planned for and is in the process of being instituted. With support, communication and a ready hand we can pull together as a family and help each other through Joseph’s worsening condition.

How to be a Successful Writer

I had an interesting conversation today with a fellow author about writing and so forth. He said, “If you are a true writer, then writing is like being addicted to crack. You can’t wait to sit down and write what happens next. Each time I publish a short story or write a new book, I get a thrill of excitement. But, success is getting paid.”

Is that true? Does success mean getting paid for your writing? I’m not sure. I’m a published author. I have a contract with a small press and yes, I did receive an advance. But, my advance is in the low three figures (yes, you read it correctly) and I’m told most authors don’t even get that nowadays, so I should be counting my blessings. And I do! I’m so grateful. I even became a published author well within the five-year average of when most first-time writers get a publishing contract. I’m not complaining. I’ve also written a handful of short articles, and I got paid. Not anything to brag about though. If I thought I was successful just because I got paid, then my bar is set low.Writer Wordart

I need to raise that bar significantly if I’m going to get where I’ve aimed my sights.  Of course I want what every writer dreams of, that six-figure advance plus movie options, right? In order to see my dreams fulfilled I need to keep writing, because one book alone won’t take me there.

To me, success is in the process of writing. My friend, mentioned above, has written six books to date. I find that highly successful. I’m dealing with the emotions of starting another work-in-progress, so for me, writing a second book is a success. And I’d like to get paid for that one too.

Success is building a career book by book, connecting with readers, becoming well-liked and well-known. Not too much to ask for.

What is your secret to success as a writer?

See How to Make a Living as a Writer

The Swastika: An Ancient Symbol of Luck

On a trip to Indonesia some ten years ago, Paul and I took a short hike to see an ancient temple. The path up the steep and winding

Swastika It symbolizes Harmony, Lord Ganesh ha...

hillside was pleasant. Wild monkeys scurried ahead of us, and some more skittish than others, darted into the lush overgrowth on either side of the path, anxious to avoid us and our camera.

The temple,  crumbling into ruin, was empty and long-since past the time of use. I noticed something very unusual on the walls. It was something that looked like a swastika. What is a swastika doing here? I wondered. Did the Nazi’s occupy this part of Asia? We asked our guide what all the swastikas were about. He told us the swastika was used as a religious symbol. Who knew?

The word swastika comes from Sanskrit svastika. Su means “good” asi means “to be” and ka is a suffix. It literally means To Be Good. Many cultures used the swastika as a symbol of good luck.

Today it is predominately associated with being the symbol of the Nazi party and reflects their ideology of antisemitism, hatred and murder.

English: MS Paint Swastika

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