Grandma by Jessica Shepherd: A Book Review


Grandma book

Recently I discovered a children’s book, Grandma, that tells a story, from a child’s point of view, about a much-loved grandmother who develops dementia. As an educator, I’ve often thought about the need for books that help children understand the disease while illustrating how to continue to love and support a family member who experiences dramatic memory changes. Only now, years after my family lost my husband’s mother to this terrible brain disease, are children’s books that address dementia beginning to appear.

Grandma, an easy-to-read picture book written and illustrated by Jessica Shepherd, fits the bill. Young Oscar shares his thoughts about his grandmother, describing the fun they have, the fond ways they interact, and the changes that have come about since she “started forgetting a lot of things.” He describes how she lives in a new community, with caregivers, and tells about his visits.

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Second Wind: A New Book and Tour by Dr. Bill Thomas

second-wind-coverLeave it to Dr. Bill Thomas to write a new book, in this case Second Wind, and then use the book tour, not just to publicize its release by joining radio personalities and attending book signings, but instead to educate in a big way. Dr. Bill, some of his Eden Alternative and Green House Project colleagues, and other friends have undertaken a nationwide educational SecondWind Tour — with stops in 25 cities between the beginning of March and the end of May 2014. He’s using the book and the tour to promote his philosophy — and his beliefs — about aging.

Dr. Thomas’s philosophy is powerful, which is good because he is proclaiming and evangelizing to a large and very powerful demographic — the boomers — a generation that is beginning to age in earnest. A goodly number of us don’t quite know what to think about aging or how to get on with it. Of course we know we are going to age but are definitely uncertain about next steps. Participants at one of Dr. Thomas’s SecondWind Tour events — my husband and I attended the Washington, DC festivities — see and hear quite a bit about aging, gaining some insight, ideas, and tools that stimulate even more thinking. Did I mention that Dr. Bill is a great storyteller?

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Best Books on Aging — 30 Years Worth

Longevity Rev2

As an adult daughter, not to mention an individual who is moving inexorably, but not unwelcomingly, toward retirement years, I read a lot of books about philosophy, aging, transitions, and mindfulness. I have plenty of books to choose from on all sorts of aging and life topics.

Ronni Bennett over at Time Goes By has just updated the books section of her blog. She lists her favorites — published over a 30 year time span – along with short quotes, and her selections offer thoughtful, realistic, and even a few downright literary portrayals of the aging process during our senior years.

As a group, Bennet explains, her favorite books offer “collected wisdom and knowledge of their superb writers – thinkers and activists who aim a bright, shining light onto the realities of getting old.” It’s a pretty cool list, one that steers determinedly away from pop culture and promises of wrinkle-free elderhood.

What_Are_Old_Peo_49d67ac7e88b6_150x150Two of the books, What Are Old People For?, by Dr Bill Thomas, and The Longevity Revolution, by Dr. Robert N. Butler, have inspired a number of posts here on As Our Parents Age, and I’ve been privileged to hear both of these gifted physician authors speak. Dr. Butler died in 2010. To find out how much I  am influenced by Dr. Thomas’ book, please visit my Green House Homes page.            Continue reading

Here’s to the Health of Remembering — Even After Forgetting

If you find yourself forgetting things (and taking more time to remember them than you want), read Dr. Bill Thomas’ post, Tip of the Tongue, over at his Changing Aging blog. He writes about the brain and presents a broad range of research findings that address memory, forgetting, remembering, age, and ageism. As we grow older and despite forgetting, Dr. Bill emphasizes, most of the information is still in our brain as we move toward elderhood, though we are a bit less efficient at retrieving it quickly.

Best Quote from this Changing Aging Blog Post

It turns out that younger brains are good at quickly recalling bits of information (like a name or where you put your car keys) because they have a relatively straightforward filing system. Older people, by dint of long experience, “store” memories within a more diffuse network of brain systems.

brainAt least once a day I have a tip-of-the-tongue experience, and almost always, the thought that I was trying so hard to remember pops into my head sometime later in the day. My parents, age 89 and 85, have the same experience. I do not worry about it, and I encourage them not to worry too much about it, because we almost always remember the information in a relatively short time (or we know where to go to find it).

I stopped worrying about forgetting after I attended a parents’ weekend lecture some years ago at Brown University — in a large lecture hall, standing room only. The lecturer, a professor and brain researcher whose class my daughter was taking (and whose name I cannot remember just now), shared some interesting and reassuring facts using a metaphor of old-fashioned library card catalog.

Important Lecture Points With Some of My Editorial Notes          Continue reading

Jane Gross – “On Being” Program Rebroadcast

On her Facebook page A Bittersweet Season author, Jane Gross, mentioned that one of her book interviews with On Being radio host, Krista Tippett, will re-air today (Thursday, July 26, 2012). Gross wrote her book after her journey in the elder parent caregiving world, and she shares a broad range of insights, ideas, and thoughts.

I  listened to this program when it was originally broadcast, and it’s worth hearing the program again — my NPR station has it on right now.

On Facebook Gross, who started the New Old Age blog, wrote:

‎”On Being,” a popular NPR radio program hosted by Krista Tippett about the big questions at the center of human life, will re-air today their interview with me about A BITTERSWEET SEASON. It’s probably my favorite interview of all the ones I did over the past year about the book.

All of Tippett’s On Being radio programs are archived and available for listeners. Schedule issues keep me from hearing every program broadcast on my local NPR station, so I often listen to past shows when I am driving.

Tribes of Eden — by Dr. Bill Thomas — Book Launch

Read all about the book launch festivities.

Click on the image or visit Changing Aging, the site of Dr. Bill Thomas, to learn about his new book, Tribes of Eden, which comes out this week.

Dr. Thomas’ post tells about the activities that will celebrate the book’s launch, but it’s especially easy to take part in the festivities on Wednesday, April, 4, 2012 at 3:00 P.M. eastern standard time. All of the proceeds from this book will be contributed to The Eden Alternative.

Order a standard book or get a version for the Nook, Kindle, iPhone, etc. This week, before purchasing the book, fans should consider participating in a launch purchase at Amazon.

I will review Tribes of Eden here on AsOurParentsAge.