My hands trembled as I reached out my arms. For three long years I’d been working toward this meeting and yearning for this moment. Now, it was finally here. She was more beautiful than I had imagined, with a pleasing weight, just right for holding, just right for spending long hours with. From a glance, her personality seemed strong and purposeful and yet her warm, colorful exterior told me she would be easy to read. As she gradually opened up to me, I felt her power, her accessibility, her willingness to share ideas and wisdom. She felt great; she looked great; and she was brimming with exciting new ideas. Three long years and finally, she was in my arms. I hugged her tightly. At last I was holding my new book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together
What makes this book unique? It’s the amazing people who contributed to it. During the writing process, I interviewed dozens of innovators across the globe, gathering ideas that engage the creative spirit so you can continue to experience meaningful moments throughout the dementia journey. These luminaries inspired me every step of the way and I am eager to share their ideas with you.
This book is brimming with easy projects using music, art, movies, cooking, gardening, and more. Here are some of the benefits you can look forward to when you do these activities together: Increased energy and socialization, an improved sense of purpose, reduced anxiety, and chances to express yourselves in new and meaningful ways.
Here’s even more good news about the ideas in this book. They’re adaptable for all ages and abilities, and you don’t need to have any special talents. Simply incorporate them into your daily routine and you’ll enrich your time together.
Marc Wortmann, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Disease International, called the book “A ‘must read’ for every care partner because it really helps you to look at things differently!”
If you’re in the Kansas City area, please join us for the book launch on Sunday afternoon, October 9th, at 1:30 for a reception in the Truman Forum at the Plaza Library. The free presentation will begin at 2:00 This lively program, filled with ideas, stories, and songs, features myself and my partner Ron Zoglin, musical luminaries Rod Fleeman and Cynthia Schroer, and guest speaker Michelle Niedens from the Heart of America Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association.
For those of you in the Washington DC area, please join us at the free Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Caregiver’s Conference on Thursday September 29. We’ll be presenting there, along with other experts in the field. Click here to register.
We recently heard from several readers, saying, “This book is going to help so many people. I’m recommending it to my friends and colleagues.”
That’s what this is all about: enriching people’s lives through meaningful engagement.
It’s a challenge, bringing a new book into the world and we welcome your ideas and help in spreading the word about the book and the event.
Here is some advanced praise:
“A thoughtful and positive guide to the very thing I find myself constantly advocating to doctors, caregivers, and family members—social stimulation and creative arts will limit the need for psychiatric medication and improve the quality of life for those with dementia more than anything else.” Doug Wornell, MD, Life Solutions Group for Geriatric and Neurological Psychiatry
“Buy this book, read it, highlight what inspires you. As you make notes and bend pages to personalize this guide, you are creating a family treasure.” Carol Bradley Burdock, Founder of Minding Our Elders
“Deborah Shouse provides a great public service by shining light on the numerous creative activities that can meaningfully engage the minds and spirits of persons living with dementia. From personalized music to storytelling, Shouse makes it easy for caregivers to understand the various options they have to help their loved ones navigate through their everyday lives.” Dan Cohen, MSW Founding Executive Director, MUSIC & MEMORYsm
How can creating a personal playlist, listening to favorite tunes, singing simple melodies, and pretending to conduct a symphony improve your life? Come to this free workshop and find out.
Music Matters in the Land of Dementia (and Everywhere!) An Interactive Program for Family Friends, Professional Care Partners, Activity Professionals, Musicians, and More
In this lively one-hour session, coming up on July 20, we will share ideas for using music to deepen connections with people who are living with dementia. Some of these ideas, gleaned from top innovators and researchers, are from my upcoming book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together. According to numerous studies, music improves the lives of those living with dementia by reducing the need for psychotropic drugs, increasing socialization, and relieving depression. The event is going to be joyful and fun and we’d love to experience it with you.
Here’s the workshop information:
Deepen your connections, increase communications, and ratchet up your fun quotient by adding music into your caregiving journey. Authors and dementia advocates Ron Zoglin and Deborah Shouse team up with guitarist Rod Fleeman and singer Cynthia Schroer for this hands-on session. They’ll share easy music-oriented ideas that can soothe anxieties and unlock creativity in people who are living with dementia, as well as splash notes of joy and renewal into the care partners’ lives.
We are partnering with Shalom University to present this free session on July 20th from 10:00 to 11:00 at Village Shalom, at corner of 123rd and Nall, 5500 W 123rd Street, OP 66209. To sign up for this musical experience, just call Bree at (913) 266-8469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Victor Hugo said it so beautifully: Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
During my mom’s dementia journey, music often inspired and connected us. Here is one of those melodic moments, excerpted from my book, Love in the land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. The story is set in my mom’s memory care community.
Rochelle, the activity director, sticks in another tape and soon Stardust is playing.
“Let’s dance,” she says, motioning everyone to stand.
Mom looks up and I offer her my hand.
“Want to dance?” I ask her.
“Want to dance?” I repeat, making a swirling motion.
“What else,” she says, standing up.
My parents have danced to this song many times, my mother coaxing my father onto the dance floor. I hold hands with Mom and move back and forth to the music. She laughs and does the same. I twirl her, and she walks around in a jaunty little circle. For a moment, her energy and charm have returned. I feel like I have found my long-lost mother. If my father were here, he would not be surprised. He is certain she will return to him and takes every word, every gesture of affection, every smile as a sign of hope.
“Hope is everything,” Dad told me just last week. “I find something hopeful and I milk it for all it’s worth. If it doesn’t work out, then I search for something else. Otherwise, I am in despair.”
I twirl my mom again. It is actually our first real dance together…
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.
COMING SOON: CONNECTING IN THE LAND OF DEMENTIA: CREATIVE ACTIVITIES TO EXPLORE TOGETHER