My Creative Journey in the Land of Dementia
My mother’s journey through dementia changed my life. As I grappled with my initial confusion and grief, I wrote to make sense of my feelings. I wanted to stay connected to my mom throughout the experience and I wanted to find the gifts and blessings in this journey. Writing helped me understand and capture our family’s changing relationships, our challenges, and our moments of deep, wondrous connection. I became my mother’s spokeswoman and the chronicler of her last days.
I had written business books and been published in a myriad of periodicals, including The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Natural Awakenings, Reader’s Digest, The Chicago Tribune and Unity Magazine. I have contributed essays to more than four-dozen Chicken Soup books and for years I wrote a Love Story column for The Kansas City Star.
One day, I realized that I had a new love: writing and talking about the depth, spirituality, creativity, and challenges in the care partner’s dementia journey. Initially I self-published Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. Using the book as a catalyst, my life partner Ron Zoglin and I raised more than $80,000 for dementia programs. Central Recovery Press subsequently published an updated version of this book.
Ron and I have orchestrated workshops and performed my dramatized stories in the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Puerto Rico, England, Ireland, Chile, Costa Rica, Italy, Turkey, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We have worked with family care partners, healthcare professionals, activity directors, long-term care centers, spiritual groups, and hospice volunteers. By sharing our message of finding creativity and hope in this journey, we have had the joy of connecting with care partners around the world. And in writing this book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together, we have had the privilege of working with international innovators in the field of creativity and dementia.
Here are some of the many feelings that bind us all together:
“The person living with Alzheimer’s is the pupil in God’s eye,” a priest in Florence, Italy, told us after one of our performances.
“Your story is my story,” a man in Istanbul, Turkey, said.
“When I left home this morning, I was so tired of caring for my husband,” a woman from Brooklyn, New York said. “But after hearing your stories, I can once again feel my deep love for him.”
To learn more about my work, visit DementiaJourney.org or contact me at
Some of the organizations we’ve enjoyed working with:
North American Cultural Center, San Jose, Costa Rica
Research Psychiatric Center
U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services
Landon Center on Aging at the University of Kansas Medical School
Village Presbyterian Church
United Methodist Church of the Resurrection
Hallmark Caregiver’s Group
The United States Department of Agriculture
Idaho State University
Women Vision International
The American Heart Association
The Commerce Trust Company
I’ve been following this blog since you started it, and I think it is wonderful. Therefore, I am nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award.
My post nominating you will go live on my blog on February 26 at http://mthupp.wordpress.com.
I hope you will pass along additional nominations of great blogs, but even if you decide not to, I wanted you to know how much I appreciate what you write.
Deborah I am trying to email you. Richard Alan Nichols here. Trouble signing into writers group.
my email firstname.lastname@example.org
You are simply amazing, Deborah! I am in awe of all your accomplishments!