by Stef O'Keefe
I am in the process of writing a memoir from the perspective of the new "sandwich generation." Gone are the days when parents like mine, 50-somethings with children out of college and in the workforce help their 80-something parents with weekly grocery shopping and pop in on weekends to help them clean at their assisted living apartment. Now, the rate of Alzheimer's is increasing to a point where every 65 seconds, someone new is diagnosed. From 2000 to 2017, deaths from Alzheimer's increased 145%.
My mom was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer's disease on her 59th birthday, and when I was 34 years old, I left my full time job to work part time from home so that I could be her caregiver. My dad, who was too young to retire, cared for my mother mornings and evenings around his work schedule, and I came to her house at least five days a week for more than 40 hours a week. I cared for her in my pregnancy, and when I had my first child, I cared for both my mother and my baby simultaneously.
The new sandwich generation changes their baby's diaper and then their mother's diaper. While this story is full of heartbreak and tragedy, it is also full of humor and hope. Ultimately, I wish for my story will help others like me. For a long time, I felt very sad and alone on this journey. I want other sons and daughters, nieces and nephews who are caring for their loved ones with dementia to know that the world is not so small. No one is alone, and we can be there for each other with advice, guidance, insights, and a few laughs to lighten the load.
There is currently no release date for my memoir, but please contact me if you have any questions or wish to preorder a copy.
You Make It Better
Written by Stef O'Keefe
Illustrated by Tanya Matiikiv
You Make It Better is a new children's book that will be released in the summer of 2020.
I have been raising my son in a caregiving home, alongside a mother who declines every day from Alzheimer's disease. I realized that there are no books out there for very young children who are dealing with this. All the picture books that exist about with dementia and Alzheimer's are higher concept books for children that are of school age.
This book is targeted toward children age 5 and younger to remind them they have the tools and the power to "make it better" simply by being their wonderful, funny, loving selves.
This book is a guide and reminder for every little kid who loves - and is loved by - someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. There are hard days, and sometimes adults have big feelings too. No one can fix it or make the bad go away completely, but each kid already has the tools inside to make a difference. Little moments are what memories are made of, and the simplest act of kindness has the power to make a moment better. Even when all seems lost, the one thing that endures is love. And little kids are better at loving than anyone.
This book will be available on Amazon in the summer of 2020. If you would like to preorder your copy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm really proud of how it's shaping up, I am thrilled with my incredibly talented illustrator, Tanya, and I am so excited to release it soon!