My first book is officially published and live for purchase on Amazon! It's a bit of a terrifying endeavor to publicly release something so near and dear to my heart for so many years. I have been blown away at the initial outpouring of love and support from friends and family who have purchased the book and are already sharing its message.
My goal is to help other little kids like my son who love someone with Alzheimer's, dementia, or other special challenges.
When we first visited the Alzheimer's Association to get help and seek resources, my mom was 3 years into her diagnosis, and my son was 3 months old. My dad and I both found support groups around that time to help us as caregivers, and it was the beginning of some wonderful friendships for me that have helped me endure these years.
Among the resources we were offered on one of our visits were children's books. Picture books to help kids dealing with a
grandparent with Alzheimer's disease. As my child grew, being raised in the same home as my mom, growing and learning alongside his grandmother's severe decline, I realized that the books available didn't work for us.
The other books I could find dealing with
Alzheimer's or dementia were high concept
picture books for kids that were older and school-aged. The books had a lot of words, and many dealt with a kid who already had an established relationship with a grandparent, and how to help that kid deal with the change in the grandparent.
I wanted it to be diverse enough that every little kid could see themselves.
Well, my child was always in the daily crux of caregiving, and my kid was learning how to walk and talk, while his grandmother stopped walking and talking. My little one couldn't focus on those verbose stories, and they didn't relate to him because his grandma wasn't losing memories of him; she never was able to form memories with him.
What my child was living through each day was seeing an adult he loved, his "Gigi", crying for hours on end, getting angry and yelling over seemingly minuscule things, silently sitting listening to music, and sitting in a wheelchair mumbling incoherent words. I wanted to write a book aimed at the youngest of kids, with simple language, and normalized images of older people being sad, mad, lonely, or lost. I wanted it to be diverse enough that every little kid could see themselves, and also diverse enough that it wasn't all grandparents - some kids have parents with Alzheimer's disease. Some kids have loved ones with mental health challenges that make it more difficult to relate to them like one would another adult.
My book, You Make It Better, is a guide and reminder to every little kid who loves - and is loved by - someone with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or other special needs. 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 is written from the perspective of the adult, to the child. Every page reminds the child that they have the capacity to make life better. The pictures show simple acts that a kid can do, things my child did for my mom: offer a tissue when someone is crying, use silliness to spark laughter in a tough situation, sit quietly or offer a hand... hugs and kisses can mean everything to some who is sad or lonely.
We've already read the book a lot ourselves, and my kiddo sees himself in all the pictures. The other day, my son said to me, "Mom, I make it better." And it's true.
He has the power inside, just by being himself, to make each day better. Your kid does too.
I am so grateful for the simple lessons he has taught me with his tenderness and compassion. I have learned so much from both my mom and my son on this Alzheimer's journey. Together they discovered joy in the simplest moments. Together they demonstrated love when words were not possible. I truly hope this little book, inspired by them, helps others discover those moments too.
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