Notes, News & Musings on Elder Care


Alzheimer’s Disease

Join Alzheimer’s Tennessee for a FREE 3-part series at the Everett Senior Center in Maryville from 9:00 am – 11:00 am.  Every first Tuesday of July, August, and September they will cover a different topic that affects those with dementia and their caregivers.  The event is free but they will need a head count.  Please share with any family or professional caregivers who may be interested.  You may contact Bobby Fields atAlzheimer’s Tennessee for more information or for a hardcopy of the registration form.

The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, July 1

Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias

Dr. Kevin James (Blount Senior Care Partners)


Tuesday, August 5

Caregiver Resources and Practical Suggestions

Cheryl Blanchard, LMSW (Lifepoints Consulting)

Register Here

Tuesday, September 2

Legal Issues

Brooke Givens, CELA (Elder Law Practice of Monica Franklin, CELA)

Register Here

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Educated Aging–FREE Event

Sponsored By: East Tennessee Personal Care Services, Senior Financial Group, Sherrill Hills, Alzheimers Association, Courtyards Senior Living, Pratt’s Country Store, Mac’s Pharmacy, Office on Aging, Smoky Mountain Hospice, Monica Franklin, NHC, MedInteract

Date: Thursday,June 26th

Time: 6-8m

Location: Fountain City United Methodist Church

Bridging The Gap Key Note Speakers:

Andrew Dougherty, MBA, BSM & Jill Beason, RN, MSN

This FREE 2-Hour Event will help family members and health care professionals better understand the changes occurring in the brain of someone with dementia, as well as provide tips on how to improve your brain health and delay the onset of Dementia related illnesses.

This program was developed in conjunction with Dr. John Dougherty, a Practicing Neurologist in Knoxville who follows 3500 Alzheimer’s patients.

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Our very own Gabrielle Blake, LCSW will be the speaker for the first of the year long support group and education series entitled 12 Star Family Support hosted at The Courtyards of Knoxville and presented with Alzheimer’s Tennessee. Please join us at The Courtyards Tuesday, May 13th at 6:30pm for this FREE event.

12 Star Family Support is Knoxville’s only support venue offering an elder with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease the opportunity to have fun and socialize in a safe environment, while allowing the caregiver a much needed break and the ability to gain education and support. Each month will have a different curriculum.  Attend all 12 months and become 12 Star certified!

The Family Support Group meets at 801 E. Inskip Dr., Knoxville, TN 37912–Traditional Family Support is a forum where caregivers take time for themselves to become educated, get emotional support and meet others who are in similar situations.

The Memory Lane Café  is available for loved ones next door at 815 E. Inskip Dr.–Memory Lane Café is a place where persons with Alzheimer’s or a related disease can go to just socialize and have fun with other people going through similar things. At a Memory Café, people can relax and just be themselves, knowing that no one judges them and all who are there are going through almost the same things that they go through every day.

12 Star Partners

Personal Care: East TN Personal Care Services
Home Heath: NHC Home Care
Hospice: Smoky Mountain Hospice
Assisted Living: Courtyards Senior Living
Nursing Home: NHC
Durable Medical Equipment: Lambert’s
Pharmacy: Mac’s Pharmacy
Attorney: Monica Franklin Elder Law Practice
Advocates: Elder Advocates
Medicare/Insurance: Senior Financial Group
Funeral: Dignity Memorial
Local Aging: Office on Aging
Alzheimer’s Experts: Alzheimer’s Tennessee

For more information, contact:

Kathy Broggy: • 865-281-9295

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Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop about Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias as part of their work with the Alzheimer’s Pansy Project.  I have worked in geriatric health for almost 20 years now and have had many opportunities to speak with groups about memory loss—teens volunteering with HABIT dogs, caregivers needing support and education, those diagnosed with a dementia—but this was the first time I had spoken with such a young audience on the subject.  I did my homework, carefully thought about what to say and how to present it, decided on some basic analogies; but when I started to talk with the children, all of that planning went out the window.

The audience asked some very serious and heartbreaking questions about people they know who have dementia.  A little girl with sad eyes asked, “Why do people have to get Alzheimer’s disease?” They talked about loved ones who forget their names and asked questions about what to do to help them.  They also had plenty of non sequiturs; after all, when your friends are raising their hands, you want to also have something to say!  I hadn’t planned on giving as much detail about the chemistry behind dementias but these kids were smart, and they wanted to know more.  I realized I’d stepped a little too far into science, though, when I was asked if the tangles in their hair would go into their brains.

I left the meeting with a confirmed belief that kids are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for being.  Every time I volunteer at school or church or talk with the children in my life, I’m reminded of that fact.  Kids are insightful.  They “see” our feelings.  They take in much more information than we realize.  They learn by watching, and boy do they watch!

After the talk, I decided to see what other resources were available to help educate younger children about dementia.  I wanted to have a list of resources to hand out when I give my next talk.  I found the usual checklists and FAQ pages on websites like the Alzheimer’s Association about talking with children about dementia.  I wanted more.  I wanted something that children would be able to relate to and learn from.   As I was typing words into my search engine, I looked over at our home office bookshelf, packed with children’s books.  Aha! That’s it!  Quickly, I typed in “children’s books that deal with Alzheimer’s disease”.  I keyed the lists into the Knox County Library search engine and a week later picked up a bag full of books.

Below you will find the list of books that I reviewed.  I never found what I would call that perfect book—that perfect mix of information, emotion, and understanding.  Maybe I’ll convince Monica or Susie to write it for us!  Maybe Alzheimer’s is too complex of an issue to fit into one book that a child can read and understand.  Regardless, what I found were some books that can be shared with the young children in your life as a way to help them not feel so alone in their experience.

Another bonus that you’ll find in many of these books is that they give the reader some concrete ideas of what to do with their loved one with dementia—sing with them, talk about memories, make a scrapbook, look at photos, tell funny stories.  It reinforces something that I learned a long, long time ago.  Hope comes through action.  When we take action to in some way impact our situation, we feel a little better about it.  Kids need that just as much as grown-ups do.  Give them activities they can do when visiting loved ones in nursing homes (pick a bouquet of flowers from the garden to bring to Grandma, water her plants in the window sill, draw a picture, bring a photo to talk about).  At the same time, do not give them false hope that what they do will cure the illness.  Instead focus on how it helps their loved one in the here and now.  “Did you see Grandma smile when you gave her the bouquet? I bet she really liked those flowers!” For more ideas on making visits go more smoothly, go here.

If you know of other children’s books that you would like to recommend our readers, please include them in the comments section or post them to our Facebook page.

The Memory Box by Mary Bahr—An adolescent boy visits his grandparents for the summer and learns that his grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease.  They make a memory box where they store photographs and memorabilia about times they have had together and favorite stories.

Tip-Tap Pop by Sara Lynn—For a younger listener/reader, a young girl and her grandfather are tap dancing pals.  As his dementia progresses, she learns that in spite of the memory problems he still remembers music.  The power of music therapy is reinforced as a way for children to connect with their loved ones with dementia.

Singing with Momma Lou by Linda Jacobs Altman—This was the only book that I found with photos and a story line from African-American culture.  An adolescent girl makes weekly trips with her parents to see her grandmother with dementia in the nursing home. She finds the trips difficult until she discovers that she can coax her grandmother into a conversation by showing her scrapbooks, other memorabilia, and singing songs with her.

Remember Me?: Te acuerdas de mi? by Sue Glass—This was the only book that I found with both Spanish and English text. A young girl’s grandfather can’t remember her anymore, and she believes that she has done something wrong to make him mad at her.  This story reinforces for parents the importance of talking with children about dementia.  Without having all of the information, the girl blames herself for her grandfather’s behaviors.  After she shares her worries with her mother, her mother confesses that they were trying to protect her by shielding her from what was happening with her grandfather.

Still My Grandma by Veronique Van den Abeele—Shows what Grandma is like as dementia progresses and reinforces that even though Grandma is acting differently she is still the same person inside.

Really and Truly by Emilie Rivard—Tells about a young boy and his Grandpa interacting through stories.  Later when the grandfather’s dementia progresses, the boy learns that he can get his grandfather to smile and laugh by telling him magical, funny stories.

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox—This was probably my favorite book out of all that I read because it normalized children interacting with the elderly, something that unfortunately is not seen in many books today.  A young boy has an elderly friend with a similarly long name who is losing her memory.  After inquiring about what a memory is, he gathers some of his favorite things that have strong memories for him.  He shows them to her, and she shares stories and memories from her past with him.  The importance of reminiscing with loved ones with dementia is reinforced.

What’s Happening to Grandpa by Marie Shriver—This book had the most information about what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects a person and is probably best for an older adolescent reader.

Curve Ball, the Year I lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick—This was the only book that I found for a young teen, independent reader.   While well written and does a good job of addressing the importance of open communication when concerned about a loved one with memory issues, at one point in the book the 9th graders go to a party after a swim meet and get drunk.  Parents can take that information into consideration when choosing whether or not to read the book.

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Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. is presenting “Alzheimer’s 101” sessions in various locations.  These events are FREE and open to any caregiver who would like to attend.  You can register by clicking the various links below.  Please share and take advantage of these free presentations.

September 26th:
Smokey Mountain Home Health and Hospice
222 Heritage Blvd.
Newport, TN 37821
Register Here

October 8th:
Sevierville Senior Center
1220 West Main St.
Sevierville, TN 37862
Register Here

October 9th:
Loudon Senior Center and Office on Aging
901 Main St.
Loudon, TN 37774
Register Here

October 22nd:
Jefferson City Community Center
1247 Tennessee 92
Jefferson City, TN 37760
Register Here

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