Bookworm: ‘Living in the Moment’ – When a loved one shows signs of dementia

Books featuring things for kids to do this summer

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist

“Living in the Moment: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Moments of Joy in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias”

  • By Elizabeth Landsverk, MD with Heather Millar
  • c. 2022, Citadel
  • $16.95, 288 pages

Dad used to pride himself on being handy. He could make anything, imagine anything, fix anything. He was handy, from tools to toys and kitchens to kids. But last week, Dad got lost on his way home from the grocery store, a trip he’s made once a week for thirty years, and it scared you both. You might imagine what’s coming; find “Living in the Moment” by Elizabeth Landsverk, MD with Heather Millar, and be prepared for it.

“Living in the Moment: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Moments of Joy in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias” by Elizabeth Landsverk, MD with Heather Millar.

So, you noticed some memory or cognitive issues and Dad’s not himself lately. How do you know if this new behavior is eccentricity or early dementia? Is this a normal sign of aging, or is it outside of normal? What kind of dementia might he suffer from, and to what degree? You’ll want to get an official diagnosis, so you know what to do in the future, and why.

The first thing to know about what Dad’s going through is that dementia doesn’t mean “It’s all over.” There’s still plenty of life ahead for you both, perhaps for many years to come.

Next, remember that your loved one isn’t “trying to be difficult.” Their wild out-of-the-ordinary behavior can’t be helped, and the disease is “so uncertain, so uneven.” There are many possible ways to deal with forgetfulness, frustration, anger, and acting out, and there are things to avoid. Says Landsverk, solutions can sometimes be pleasant, even delightful.

“Living in the Moment: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Moments of Joy in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias” author Elizabeth Landsverk, MD.

Because Alzheimer’s and dementia cannot be cured, have a plan in place for your loved one’s care but review it often. Things will change as time and the disease progresses, so be willing to look at “the bigger picture.” That includes thinking about end-of-life issues, power of attorney papers, and legal and financial protections for the long-term.

Watch for scams; there are too many people who prey on our vulnerable seniors. Encourage physical activity, a good diet, and as much autonomy as currently possible. Learn how to craft a work-around for the easier-to-deal-with issues. And remember that “it takes a village to care for an elder with dementia” and “you are not alone.”

The sand is not your friend.

It’s certainly not where you want to stick your head when a loved one shows signs of dementia, because that life’s not a beach. No, it’s manageable, and “Living in the Moment” can help.

Though it’s perhaps not as thorough or comprehensible as you may want later, author Landsverk (with author Millar) says in her introduction that she wanted this book to be easy to use. She succeeded, with a broad overview of the basics, things to know now, medicines that will and won’t work, problems to watch out for, and what to ready yourself for in the future. The case studies inside this book are strong and are scary enough to spur quick action, and they’re balanced with quiet paragraphs of comfort.

This book is great for caregivers, but it’s also an essential read for anyone who’s any way related to a dementia patient. Find “Living in the Moment” and keep it handy.

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Things for kids to do this summer

  • c. 2022, various publishers
  • $12.99 to $18.95, various page counts

Don’t look now. No, don’t! Because if you do, you’ll see that school is starting soon. Summer’s more than half over and you haven’t done even a portion of the things you wanted to do this summer. You need more bike-riding time. You need more time in the pool and more hours with your friends. You need to check out these three great books, to see what else you might be missing ...

Books about things for kids to do this summer.

Do you know what’s in your back yard? Really, down to the dirt? If you don’t, then take a peek at “Expedition Backyard” by Rosemary Mosco and Binglin Hu (RH Graphic, $12.99). It’s the story of Mole and Vole and the adventure of a lifetime.

On a series of beautiful days, the two friends travel from their side-by-side homes on a walk through the woods, in the country, through the city, and around the trees to see what’s there. Along the way, there are birds to watch, wildlife to avoid (eek!), and interesting things to study. Written in graphic novel form, this book is great for kids ages 7-to-10 and will prod them to notice what’s beneath their feet and over their heads.

It’s July, but so what? There’s still enough time to plant a small garden and grow some yummy vegetables, and “Seeds in Soil” by Susan Apps-Bodilly (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, $18.95) will show you how to do it.

Chances are, you’ve spent a pretty fair amount of time playing in the dirt, but this book tells you how to get dinner by doing it. From knowing your soil and making it perfect, to determining the kind of garden you want, this book helps kids learn how to garden – but that’s not all. There’s a short few pages here on putting food up for the winter, a chapter on growing flowers and herbs, your kids will find recipes, and there are projects to do that’ll keep them busy all winter long. Though this book is quite a bit Wisconsin-centric, its information will appeal to 8-to-13-year-olds from any geographic area.

And once you’ve harvested the vegetables, what will you do with them? Find more ideas inside “Ultimate Food Atlas” (National Geographic Kids, $12.99). Any young foodie will drool over this book, with history, quizzes, and geography inside, and there are all kinds of fast facts that kids love to know. Take your stomach on a trip through each of the continents, learn about the types of breakfast foods people eat in other lands, find some recipes to try, and read about other kids’ favorite desserts. This is one of those books that any 8-to-13-year-old will love to browse – especially if they love to eat.

If these great books don’t fill the time for your favorite kid, be sure to ask your local librarian or bookseller. There are so many new books and old favorites that can make this summer the best one ever – all you have to do is ask. In the meantime, these three books are absolutely worth a look right now.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.