Thursday, August 29, 2013

An Unintended Journey

A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia: Albuquerque's Janet Yagoda Shagam has written - carefully, concisely, and clearly - the required guide for those who provide care for others with dementia.

Amazon tells us:
According to the 2009 census, more than five million people living in the United States have Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.
Not reported in these statistics are the fifteen million family caregivers who, in total, contribute seventeen billion hours of unpaid care each year.
This book addresses the needs and challenges faced by adult children and other family members who are scrambling to make sense of what is happening to themselves and the loved ones in their care. 

And the cover itself states that An Unintended Journey provides:
  • Everything from diagnosis to estate management
  • Tools for self-reflection and getting through your day
  • Information for veterans and their caregivers
  • Family dynamics - how to avoid pitfalls
  • Navigating the financial and legal aspects
  • Riding the emotional roller coaster
But wait; there's much more to this story.

First of all, you should know that Janet Yagoda Shagam is a very talented storyteller.

In An Unintended Journey, she takes her personal story and tells it in a fresh, engaging way that makes it universal. But not just universal - Ms Shagam makes her story universally appealing.

That's important - because there's a lot that caregivers need to learn about caring for those with dementia. And they'll never get through it all if that learning comes hard.

Here is what Abq Jew learned from An Unintended Journey:
  1. Make sure it's dementia that you are dealing with.
    On one hand: forgetting where you put your keys is not a sign of dementia. But looking at your keys and not recognizing what they're for may be.
    On the other hand: symptoms of dementia and symptoms of depression - not uncommon in those whose physical and emotional health are failing - may be easily confused.
  2. Make sure you take care of the caregiver.
    Put on your own oxygen mask first, then help others. You may think this goes without saying - but let's make sure, and say it.
  3. Make sure you choose your battles wisely.
    You may think of this as a corollary of #2. Those with dementia are not always rational, and often cannot be reasoned with. Don't drive yourself crazy trying. It's OK to give in on the little things.
  4. Make sure you have Power of Attorney.
    Without legal authority to make financial and medical decisions on behalf of your loved one, all the advice offered above - and in An Unintended Journey - may go by the wayside. The exact nature of this authority may vary by state or locality - but make sure you take care of the paperwork.
How, Abq Jew hears you ask, did Ms Shagam come to know so much and write so well? Her bio tells us:
Janet Yagoda Shagam is a freelance medical and science writer; a visiting professor at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany; an artist and printmaker; and the coauthor (with Rebecca G. Rogers, MD, and Shelley Kleinschmidt) of Regaining Bladder Control: What Every Woman Needs to Know. She serves on the New Mexico Area Agency on Aging statewide Alzheimer’s Task Force.
Abq Jew - an award-winning technical writer (ActionMedia 750 Software Installation Guide, et al) and certified medical writer himself - hereby recognizes and salutes and congratulates Janet Yagoda Shagam for having the scientific and creative chops to make An Unintended Journey a readable and valuable contribution to our literature.

But please - don't just take Abq Jew's word for it! 

First of all, there's

Janet Yagoda Shagam
Author Signing
An Unintended Journey
Barnes & Noble @ Coronado Mall
Saturday September 21 @ 2:00 pm

Then, there's

Janet Yagoda Shagam
Two-Day OASIS Course
A Caregiver's Guide
to Dementia
Tuesday October 8 @ 10:30 am
Tuesday October 15 @ 10:30 am

Almost finally, there's the review of An Unintended Journey in Publishers Weekly, which you can read here.

And finally ... did Abq Jew mention that Janet Yagoda Shagam is also an artist? But that's for another blog post ....

Remembrance - by Janet Yagoda Shagam

No comments: