Thank you to Dayna Steele for providing a promotional advanced reader's copy of Surviving Alzheimer's for the purpose of facilitating this coverage.
With unfiltered observations and sometimes dark humor, author Dayna Steele chronicled her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s on Facebook. This collection of Alzheimer’s updates posted on the social media network includes biting humor and raw emotion as Dayna carries you from the diagnosis to the inevitable end. Also included are sections from a neurologist, Long Term Care insurance specialist, other caregivers, documents expert, elder care attorney, and an assisted living advisor. This is a journey way too many of us are going to experience in one way or another. If you have to experience Alzheimer’s – and chances are you will – do it like Dayna with love, wit, and wine.
Dayna- "My co-author, Heather Rossiello kept a database of every single post and every comment, there were literally thousands of comments on some posts. We went through
them all after I lost Mom and tried to keep only the
posts and comments that included informative information for caregivers, made us laugh out loud, and, made us think."
"I found I could not live it and relive it at the same time–
she had some copies of my In the Classroom book she wanted signed for teachers and we met for coffee. She asked what I was working on and I told her about the book idea and my challenges with getting it done. She asked if she could take a look and see what could be done and then did it!"
After each post, you include comments that your community left in response to the conversation at hand. Did you select those comments or did you have family and friends to help you with the decision-making process?
Dayna- "We went through every comment, sometimes two or three times, to make sure we adhered to our own guidelines above. This book wasn't a memoir so much as a help tool for others in the future."
How would you describe your familiarity with Alzheimer’s disease before your mother’s diagnosis? Did you have any preconceptions about the progression of the illness before your mother's experiences?
Dayna- "I like to think I am a fairly well educated and inform
ed person. I knew what Alzheimer's was and I knew it was called "The Long Goodbye.” Then the diagnosis– and I realized I had no idea how stressful, sad, irritating, confusing, etc. this disease is. No one tells you the really rough stuff like the possible violence or cleaning up your own mother’s feces or any number of things like this. You also don’t realize how all-encompassing it becomes physically and mentally until you actually have to live it."
Social media very often has a negative reputation for its impact on society. How did the support of your Facebook community impact you through this difficult time in your life and become the foundation for writing Surviving Alzheimer's?
Dayna- "Facebook became my support group. My Facebook community gave me ideas, information, suggestions and laughter and love. And, once I wrote a particularly hard post, I would let go of the negative emotions. It was very cathartic to write and share."
"Literally when so many people started commenting. “I hope you put this in a book.” In fact, the first couple of pages in the book are those words of encouragement from so many followers."
"Just constantly encouraging me to compile it all in a book. And giving me permission to laugh and cry and get mad–
Aside from your personal experiences shared in Surviving Alzheimer's, there are a wealth of informative resources. How did you decide what materials to include in the second half of the book?
The second half of the book is all resources I wish I had at the beginning. There are sections written by people who helped me along the way: a neurologist, document expert, Long Term Care insurance rep, an assisted living advisor and more. I also included a list of questions everyone should ask their loved ones and a section where caregivers and their caregivers talk about what it is like on that side.
As an author, what are you hoping readers will get out of Surviving Alzheimer’s?
Dayna- "Someone once said to me there isn't a users’ manual on what to do or what is going to happen when you get this diagnosis. I hope this book does become the manual for what to do and how to do it for caregivers everywhere."
Congratulations are in order for a related achievement, you've been named the spokesperson for Caring.com. How do you hope to aid those dealing with Alzheimer’s in this capacity?
Find more information and purchasing details for Surviving Alzheimer's with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big Glass of Wine.