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Caregiving Reality

Providing hope and encouragement to those facing the reality of caregiving

Upcoming Major Speaking Events

Rundy Purdy speaking

After closing out the 2016 year with presentations in San Antonio Texas at the WellMeD Caregiver Summit, and an Alzheimer’s Association conference in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, Rundy Purdy, author of The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving, is preparing for the upcoming 2017 calendar year of speaking events. Up first is a trip to South Carolina in the week of February 18-25 when Rundy will be  appearing at multiple venues. Come join us as Rundy shares his experience of caregiving along with a message of encouragement, perseverance, and love for caregivers everywhere.

With compassion and gentleness, Rundy touches audiences by sharing his journey of hope through hard experiences. A gifted speaker, he leads caregivers and their families through the often emotional and difficult subject of caregiving to bring out a fresh perspective. If you are looking to attend an event, or wish to schedule an event please go to: http://caregivingreality.com/speaking/ Whether a small intimate gathering or a large group Rundy is eager to help you!

The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving can be purchased at Amazon , Barnes and Noble, or order wherever books are sold. For more details on the book visithttp://caregivingreality.com/books/

If you would like further updates on Rundy’s writing, speaking, and further caregiving support, sign up for our newsletter. Bonus: Everyone who signs up for the newsletter will receive a pdf of the first three chapters of the book absolutely free!

Photo Credit: Stanley Sagov

Caregiving is incredibly difficult. The hardness could be described like this: Lonely, Depressing, Exhausting. There is a lot more to caregiving than just those hard things, but those three words do a pretty good job summarizing what is hard about caregiving.

There are ways to alleviate all three of those difficult aspects to caregiving. I’m here today to give you a little tip for the issue of loneliness.

Hint: You are not alone.

Though there are days in caregiving when you feel utterly alone, there are hundreds, even thousands of people going through exactly the same sort of things you are dealing with.

And you can connect with them online. There are online communities for caregivers in general, and also groups formed for specific diseases. No one place is better than all the others. There are many different group formats, sizes, and each has its own atmosphere. You might not fit in one place, but fit in great another.

If you are feeling lonely as a caregiver, take a look around at the online community that can support you.

There are many places where you can meet other caregivers in the digital world, but as an introduction I will highlight two.

  • An Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Support Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1661835794070386/ This is a private group so you must join before you can see what people have written or post yourself. Don’t let this requirement deter you. This is an active group with a lot of members. Sometimes the sheer number of people and posts can feel overwhelming, but the other side of the coin is that if you’re dealing with some issue as an Alzheimer’s caregiver somebody else in this group has probably dealt with it too. The environment is very supportive.
  • TheCaregiverSpace.org: This second website is geared toward caregivers of all types: http://thecaregiverspace.org/about/ I link to the about page because there you get a quick overview of what the site is about. I found this website notable for how many articles it has from different caregivers. This provides a much broader exposure to the difference aspects and perspectives on caregiving. The website is very slick and makes it easy to discover content. There are forums where you can chat with other caregivers but it isn’t as large (or active) as the Facebook group for Alzheimer’s caregivers.

Those two places are only a few drops in the large sea of other caregivers you can meet online. So if you’re feeling lonely in your caregiving journey, consider stepping out to meet some fellow travelers.

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The old year has slipped away and the new is still fresh as a baby. The last week of 2016 provided me with some much needed time away from the normal bustle of life, but now I am refreshed and back to work. It is easy to leap straight into all the planning for the new year, but I think it is good to spend a bit of time reflecting on what was just left behind.

When I look back on 2016 I feel a deep sense of thankfulness for what I was enabled to do in reaching and helping caregivers. In the beginning of January 2016 I couldn’t have guessed what was coming in the rest of the year. My gratitude list is very long, but here are a few highlights:

  • Keynote address at the Alzheimer’s Association Spring Conference in Oneont, NY. This started my speaking events for the year with a bang–and the request for me to speak was as unexpected as it was a great success. If there was one lesson for me from 2016 is that the greatest successes often come from the places we least expect–and where we can’t take the credit. But we can be thankful when doors open, and I am.
  • Clarion County’s Area Agency on Aging’s Senior Wellness Council in Clarion, PA. This was the event where I had the most unexpectedly large audience. I thought I was going to speak in front of a modest number of senior citizens, but when I arrived at the event I found myself in a large (and very full) parking lot before walking into a banquet hall filled with tables and people. It was the largest audience I have spoken in front of to date.
  • Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging’s Caregiver College, Hunstville, Alabama. This event was the first speaking engagement which required that I book a flight to attend. The air travel went remarkably well, and I was able to experience some southern hospitality while sharing my story as one of the presenters at the event. Long distance traveling does introduce a new element of stress into speaking engagements, but I am glad I finally opened that door. I anticipate doing more in the future.
  • WellMed Charitable Foundation Caregiver Summit, San Antonio, TX. I thought I had to travel far for my event in Alabama, but then this caregiver summit took me nearly to the Mexican border. It was a great crowd to speak with, and I had the privilege to hear some prominent speakers in the field while there, as well.
  • Alzheimer’s Association Fall Conference in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I capped off the year with a second Alzheimer’s Association conference presentation. I made a lot of good connections in Wilkes-Barre and hope to work with the Association more in the coming year.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of my events for 2016, but it is some highlights to give you a sense of how grateful I am for the opportunities that were sent my way. In is incredibly fulfilling to reach so many people. I hope 2017 is as richly full as the year past.

So what about the future? Well, I certainly shouldn’t count my chickens (or speaking events) before they are hatched, but I will work hard to do my part to make the coming year even better as far as reaching more people. But I am also all the more aware of how the opportunities of speaking are so much beyond my control. I plan to simply continue giving my best and waiting to see what comes.

That said, I am also thinking about what I can do beyond speaking events in the coming year. I have plenty of writing projects I would like to embark on, but I can’t tackle them all. Besides, it is likely that any book length project I start in this year will probably not be finished before December rolls to its close in twelve months. I have two other distinct ideas about how I would like to reach more people with my message in ways beyond speaking at events and writing books–but the ideas are still early enough in their development that I don’t want to say anything more definite at the present. Stay tuned here for more details when the appropriate time arrives.

If you have any suggestions, please drop me a note.

Between one thing and another I’ll be very busy in 2017, but I hope to see you around!

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A Trip of Firsts

Looking out the window

On the 9th of November, I flew out with my wife to the WellMD Caregiver Summit hosted in San Antonio, TX. Carol Zernial, the director of the WellMD charitable foundation, had asked me to be one of the speakers at the conference. The event had been in the works since early in the year, but now at long last we were on our way. It was a trip of firsts. A few of them, as follows:

  • This was my first time to Texas. Alas, I did not get to see very much of the state, but I hope to come back sometime.
  • On the flight down it was my first time to get a window seat in an airplane. I admit I probably would have enjoyed this sooner if I had been brave enough to try out the online seat selector before. Not all window seats on all airplanes are equally good–and there are advantages to sitting in the aisle–but it was nice to finally have a chance to properly enjoy the clouds from the upper side. Soaring over an ever changing pattern of clouds, I was struck by the wish that I had first experienced this as a child. As an adult I could say it was pretty, and interesting, but I could remember enough of my former self to recognize that as a boy of eight it would have been an experience to blow my mind.
  • The evening of our arrival we were taken out to dinner by Carol, where we joined the other speakers at the event. This was the first time I had eaten with so many prestigious people at once. I think I remembered my manners pretty well…
  • It was the first time I spoke to over three hundred people at once.
  • It was the first time I sold out all the books I brought with me to an event.

Needless to say the trip was quite a success! Traveling by plane always adds an extra level of stress beyond other speaking events, so it is always a big encouragement when the work invested has such good results.

A video was taken of my presentation; once WellMD posts it I will share it with all of you. Some photos were also taken at the event, which I will see if I can find online so I can share them as well.

Until then, you can enjoy this photo of the clouds.

Clouds to the horizion

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I had the privilege of taking part in a fantastic Caregiving Summit held in San Antonio Texas and hosted by the WellMD Foundation. I was asked to be one of the speakers, and attendees have the opportunity to purchase a copy of my book The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving. Unfortunately, I sold out all the copies I brought before everyone had a chance to purchase a copy. So I told those who hadn’t got a copy that I would provide them with the opportunity to order a signed copy online.

And you can too.

Order an author signed paperback copy here: http://caregivingreality.com/store/

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Photo Credit: Graceyphotograhy

Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months according to a National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study in 2015. We all are going to know caregivers in our immediate circle of friends and family. Many of us currently know a caregiver, and some of us are a caregiver.

Those who are caregivers need support from the rest of the community. I have written a short article about how people can support caregivers. If you would like to know more about how to do that, you should read the article. If you are a caregiver, feel free to share the article with people in your life so that they can better understand how to support you!

Read it here: http://caregivingreality.com/articles/how-to-support-a-caregiver/

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The Williamsport Home

An interesting, exciting, and sometimes stressful part of being a writer and a traveling speaker is the opportunity to see new places and meet new people. I am becoming well acquainted with my GPS, and its quirks. The GPS isn’t one of those new people I get to meet, but I am one of those people who talks back to the eternally bland voice telling me how to get where I must go. It does sometimes make bad choices, but I make more bad choices so I am getting better about being obedient to the device.

That being said, on the morning of October 17th I was becoming a little worried. I was schedule to begin speaking at The Williamsport Home in Williamsport PA at 11:25PM and Delores or Gloria (or whoever lives inside my GPS) had me driving on what seemed to be some very unused residential streets in the outskirts of Williamsport. It did not seem like the right way to reach a prominent care facility in the area. In fact, it didn’t seem like the way to reach much of anywhere. I had visions of ending up in some dead end street with no destination anywhere in sight. That particular GPS fiasco hadn’t happened yet in my travels, but there is always a first.

Happily, my dire thoughts didn’t come true. Somehow the back street sneakily connected to a somewhat more traveled road and I arrived comfortably before it was time for my talk to begin. After quick greeting with Hilary, the Alzheimer’s Association coordinator who spearheaded the event, and then a handshake with Don the director of the facility, I got my equipment and books squared away and settled in to listen to the speaker who was presenting before my talk.

The speakers were a pair addressing the legal aspects relating to finances and care. This is not my area of expertise, but I have attended enough events to be familiar with the general points surrounding federal support during this time of life. However, this was the first time I had heard a talk given which also addressed the particular legal issues of Pennsylvania. It was on this topic that I learned something new. According to the presenters, by Pennsylvania law if a person does not have a written directive stating that they do not want a feeding tube then one must be inserted when a demented person is no longer able to feed themselves–regardless of the wishes of the family. That I did not know, and it very effectively drove home their point: make your wishes known in advance and in writing.

Next it was my turn to speak.

Every audience is unique. No two people respond to my message in exactly the same way, and no crowd is exactly like any other. Many of the special moments and personal reactions are subtle–some are shared and some are not. But some differences between gatherings are more obvious–some crowds are more responsive, some ask more questions. That day at The Williamsport Home the most noticeable difference was the number of males attending. At most of my talks the audience is predominately female–reflecting the reality that the large majority of caregivers are females caring for a parent or a spouse. But when I faced this audience I saw that about half–if not more–were men. It was interesting, and quite unusual.

After my talk was finished I opened the time up for questions. This is often when some of the most poignant moments happen–when the people I have shared with now have a chance to share back. Sometimes the questions voiced are not really questions at all but more just a sharing of the hard things or scary things that someone is facing. I remember a event last year when an elderly gentleman spoke up about wanting to bring his wife home from the hospital. He was deeply moved with emotion but as he spoke it became clear that his words weren’t so much a question of how he might be able to bring his wife back home from the hospital but rather an anguished wrestling the the realization that by himself he was unable to care for her at home, and what was he going to do?

The questions which I have no good answer for are the hardest. I had another one of those questions at the end of my talk at The Williamsport Home. An older gentleman stood up and said with feeling that he had spent years caring for other people but what he was afraid of was when his time came would there be anyone there for him?

That man gave voice to the fear of so many elderly people. There is no trite answer to banish that concern. Every life situation is so complex there is no simple answer. I couldn’t promise the man that I would be there for him, and I didn’t even know if he had family. But it didn’t matter. The man wasn’t really looking for an answer from me. He just needed to give voice to the heart of what so many feel: “Who will be there for us?”

The event finished up with a luncheon. I always enjoy these sorts of events–no, not for the food in particular but because it provides a much more extended opportunity to interact with other caregivers, share more deeply, and hear their stories. So over soup and salad we shared more of our stories, and I signed a lot of books. Another unique part of this event was that the Rotary Club had provided a grant which was used to purchase a copy of my book for every one of the attendees. I thought this was fantastic way of providing a long lasting impact from the event, and was just one illustration of how Don and Hilary were both proactive about making the teaching session as good as possible. It was a great gathering, and I look forward to coming to Williamsport again in the future.

With the last book signed and the last attendee leaving I packed up and told my GPS to take me home. Delores, or Gloria, or whoever lives in my little device was in a peculiar mood. For some reason taking the highway back the way I had come was not good enough. Fifteen minutes into the journey home Miss Smarty-pants told me to get off the 70mph highway and take a 45mph back road. Okay, it might have been a few less miles–but that hardly accounts for the slow pace. Normally I’m pretty obedient but sometimes my old rebellion rises up. Two minutes into this change of route I decided, “Nope.” A quick U-turn and I was back on the superhighway, speeding home.

Sometimes you have to do things your own way.

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Rundy-Alz-Conf-reduced

The atmosphere was quiet and orderly as people began to trickle into the conference room in Oneonta NY on the morning of April 28th. The early arrivals soon swelled to a crowd, and by the start time of 10AM few seats remained empty. A murmur of chatting bubbled around the room, occasionally punctuated by a louder greeting as someone spotted a familiar face. An air of attentive expectation permeated the gathering.

In these special places I feel something peculiar: the sensation that all of us in the room are fellow warriors in a common battle. We all know the struggle of Alzheimer’s. There is an oddness in knowing that you share an intimate and painful struggle with a room full of strangers–but there is something comforting about it, too. Because in that room full of special people you know you are not alone, and they are not quite strangers. This common bond also makes it a bit easier to share vulnerable stories, which is what I was about to do.

After my caregiving journey I could have walked away and never looked back. Instead, I wrote a book and a year ago began traveling to share my story and encourage others. I don’t regret the choice, but there is a delicate balance when the story holds some tears and darkness. If I am not careful the sharing can become an endless dwelling on hard things and an inability to see beyond what is lost. But that is not what I want my sharing to be, and I always bring my story around to a better perspective. While I can honestly share in the sorrow we all know, I also bring us all back to some laughter and a deeper joy.

It is incredibly worthwhile to take others through this journey, but even after a year of speaking I still haven’t found it any easier. The story of Alzheimer’s is rough, and there is no way around that. Still, I know the words are important and so I speak them.

My speaking events last year ran into November after which I took a few months off from traveling to recuperate and prepare for the next year. This April conference was the opening of my new year of speaking events and so–even though I had prepared–I was feeling a bit rusty as I waited for the opening moments of my keynote address.

I needn’t have worried about being out of practice. When the event organizer finished her introduction I went up to speak and felt everything come back as if I had last spoken yesterday. It was my journey, it was their journey, and we would share it. Together we would walk through how to face Alzheimer’s.

I have a little metaphor for what Alzheimer’s is like. I say, “Imagine that your mind is your house, and Alzheimer’s is a thief that begins breaking into your house and stealing your stuff. At first you don’t notice that anything is missing, but as the days and months pass you begin to notice a few things are missing. They are only minor things so at first you aren’t worried. But as the months continue to pass you begin to notice more and more things in the house that is your mind are missing. And now you are worried. What is happening to all your possessions? Soon, whole rooms in your house are empty. Now you are scared. Eventually, someone tells you the name of this thief. Maybe it is your family, maybe your doctor. They tell you that this thief’s name is Alzheimer’s and it will steal everything you have until you have nothing left. And there is nothing you can do to stop that thief. That is what Alzheimer’s is like.”

I find the metaphor apt in illustrating how frustrated, scared, and helpless Alzheimer’s makes us feel. It catches the attention of an audience every time. From there we go on the journey.

When I give a presentation the best part–and at the same time the hardest part–is the reaction that comes from the audience. Attention and positive reaction lets me know I am making a connection with the audience. But then crying from the audience is also a sign that I am making a powerful connection. It is hard enough for me to keep my own composure when I am sharing the Alzheimer’s journey and it becomes nearly impossible when faced with people openly weeping because of how my story is touching their hearts.

My story that morning moved the conference audience as much as I have seen a group moved before–in all the good ways and in all the hard ways. There were several times when I had to look away from the front row because the sight of the tears there made it too hard for me to continue. It’s not a bad thing–sometimes the most important thing for us to do is share our griefs and sorrows–but it is hard. As the speaker I have to make it through the entire presentation.

Afterwards, people wanted to talk. Some just wanted to share how much they had been impacted by my story, others wanted to share their own. And still others wanted to give thanks or ask for encouragement in their own journey. It was a full day, overflowing with sharing. Most importantly, I think everyone left the conference feeling better equipped to take the Alzheimer’s journey with their loved one. That was the goal.

As an added bonus, the day was a fantastic start to the coming year of speaking events. I am looking forward to sharing with many more people. It will be a great year.

_____

Would you like to have Rundy come speak in your area? He would love to share with your group, big or small. Contact him here.

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Rundy Purdy speakingThis spring local author Rundy Purdy is coming to the Southern Tier of NY to share his caregiving story in three events. First he will be appearing as the keynote speaker for the Alzheimer’s Association Spring conference in Oneonta on April 28th, and then in May he will be providing two additional presentations at libraries in Endicott and Norwich.

The National Caregiver Alliance estimates that there are 34 million informal caregivers in the USA helping someone age 50+ in their life. This can be a difficult path to walk. Rundy, author of The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving will be sharing a message of encouragement and hope for those facing the journey of caregiving. Come hear him speak and enjoy a time of support and inspiration.

Southern Tier Events

  • April 28th, 2016. Time: 9:30AM-4:15PM. Alzheimer’s Association Spring Caregiving Conference, Oneonta, NY. Holiday Inn Oneonta | 5206 NY-23 Oneonta, NY 13820. Phone: 607-547-1650 Detail page for this event here.
  • May 14th, 2016. Time: 1-3PM. George F Johnson Library 1001 Park St, Endicott, NY 13760. Phone (607) 757-2415. This event is for all types of caregivers. Detail page for this event here.
  • May 19th, 2016. Time: 6:30-8:00PM Guernsey Memorial Library, 3 Court St, Norwich, NY 13815. Phone (607) 334-4034. This event is for all types of caregivers. Detail page for this event here.

More

Rundy spent eight years providing full time personal care to his ailing grandparents in Vestal NY. His years of caregiving made a deep impact on him, and gave him a passion to help others through the difficult, but rewarding, experience of caregiving. His goal is to inspire and encourage others to overcome obstacles and become the most effective caregiver they can be.

While on his own caregiving journey, Rundy wrote a blog chronicling his experience which formed the basis for his book. During that time his writing was profiled on The New York Times blog “The New Old Age,” where his account of caregiving and Alzheimer’s was described as “touching as ‘Tuesdays With Morrie,’ as tender as John Bayley’s memoir of his wife, Iris Murdoch, and in many ways truer and more tough-minded than either.” With compassion, hope, and a strong doze of gritty realism, The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving brings the light of hope to the voyage of caregiving

After reading the book Louise O’Keefe, PhD, CRNP said, “It is a must-read for those taking care of loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and for those in the medical and nursing profession. I will definitely recommend this book to my patients and nursing students.”

Drawing on his extensive caregiving experience, Rundy provides key insights on becoming a compassionate caregiver and understanding those in our care. In a combination of presentation and question and answer session, Rundy takes his audience through the caregiving struggle.

If you would like to hear Rundy share his experience of caregiving and discover the things he learned about perseverance and love, then come join us! All are welcome for these event of education and encouragement. Books will be available for purchase and author signing.

Media

Relevant detailed event information and publicity for media is available on the details page for each event.  For media representatives looking for a publicity photo of the author, please go to the general publicity page on this website.

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Some recent news about Alzheimer’s research.

It seems that women with Alzheimer’s keep their verbal ability longer than their male counterparts. This suggests that in general the more ability a person has (and the more they use it) the longer it will be before they lose it to Alzheimer’s.

Research on mice suggests memories are not lost. The researchers were careful to point out this has not been replicated on humans, and the particular method probably never well. Nonetheless, it is interesting. I will say I had already concluded from personal experience that memories are not wholly lost in Alzheimer’s–the connection to the memories are simply broken.

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Hello all!

I just sent out the February Caregiving newsletter. If you are not subscribed you easily can add yourself with the option on the sidebar. If you would rather just read the newsletter online, you can do that here: http://eepurl.com/bRMNgH

Thanks for stopping by.

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