Fort Worth author Kathe Ambrose Goodwin shares her perspective on dementia

Kathe Goodwin has a fascinating story to share about coping with dementia. Her new book, “Love Remembers: Clinging to Hope and Faith in the Face of Early Alzheimer’s Disease,” shares much of her personal story in this one-of-a-kind account. Goodwin — a longtime Fort Worth resident — signs her book and visits guests at the James L. West Center for Dementia Care, 1111 Summit Avenue, Tuesday, June 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in recognition of the Alzheimer’s disease and brain awareness. Month.

It’s no coincidence that June 21, the summer solstice, is also the longest day of the year – a poignant parallel to walking as a child of parents who lived with dementia in their later years and the wife of a prominent lawyer diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures 2022, 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease; the disease is the sixth leading cause of death with no known cure. Today, more than 11 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone with dementia.

The inspiration for the book came in part from Goodwin’s longtime involvement with the James L. West Center for Dementia Care in Fort Worth. A not-for-profit organization, the West Center goes far beyond providing patient care to provide care and education to family caregivers, the community at large, and the healthcare professional community.

The West Center’s services and supports have been instrumental in helping Goodwin manage every step of the disease process. Launched in 2011 with a grant from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, the West Center’s caregiver education program has reached more than 50,000 people worldwide through its education programs, Dementia Live virtual experience, weekly support groups and personalized health care professional training.

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“Kathe’s book is like talking to a family member about every turn of the journey, from diagnosis to the final stages of illness. Based on her vivid memories, her personal journal entries, and the memories of their two children, the book is an honest and loving testimony,” said Cathy Neece Brown, Vice President of Mission Support.

The pillars on which she found her strength include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a ruthless thief, but it cannot steal love.
  • Dementia is a terrifying disease, ripping out the memory and independence of those we hold dear, but faith, hope and joy should not fall victim to it.
  • Love the patient; Hate Illness: Recognize that your loved one has no control over how illness ravages their mind and cherish your best times together.

Although each person’s experience with the disease is unique, there are some helpful facts to keep in mind. Goodwin writes from the heart to share the following important points:

  • When a person has dementia, there are at least two patients – the one with dementia, plus the caregiver(s) also living with the disease. Seek support from family and friends and accept their offers of help. Engage additional help if needed.
  • Knowledge is power. Take advantage of educational opportunities, support groups and books on dementia. Seek advice from financial, legal and medical professionals.
  • Recognize when it’s a good time to place your loved one in a memory care community, such as when their needs exceed your ability to meet them, when providing care is having a serious impact on your emotional or physical health, or when your loved one becomes a danger to themselves or others.
  • You are lucky whenever someone at your loved one’s care center takes a personal interest in your case and guides you through the process your loved one is going through.
  • The best caregivers interact positively with people with dementia, repeatedly helping them feel joy through the “four magical distractions” – music, candy, children and animals – and by creating and enjoying reminders visuals of family and favorite memories. Whenever possible, try to mentally “enter” into your loved one’s world. Remember that the patient’s brain changes in ways you may not understand.
  • Try to focus on what the patient can do, rather than what they have lost.

“As a first-time author, I was hesitant to share our family’s very personal story, but my heart and soul told me that every dementia caregiver in the world deserves the opportunity to hearing firsthand what it means to be a care partner and loving. , flawed caregiver. I’ve definitely made my share of mistakes… and then some. There’s so much I know now that I wish I had known years ago. Today my prayer is that our story may help others on this incredibly difficult journey,” Goodwin said.

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She has already received many notes of appreciation from those who care for their own loved ones as they have come to realize her timeless truths and encouragement on how to live with someone facing constant challenges. dementia.

A portion of book sales at the James L. West Center on June 21 will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. “Love Remembers” is also available on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Lola R. McClure