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Caregiving Reality

Providing hope and encouragement to those facing the reality of caregiving

Support for Caregivers

Rundy Purdy speaking

Rundy Purdy, author of The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving is an experienced caregiver and gifted speaker. With compassion and gentleness, he touches audiences by sharing his journey of hope through hard experiences. In his presentation he leads caregivers and their families through the often emotional and difficult subject of caregiving to bring out a fresh perspective. If you are interested in having him share his experience of caregiving along with a message of encouragement, perseverance, and love, then please go to: http://caregivingreality.com/speaking/

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


There is always something new in the caregiving world. This is a good thing. We have much to learn about caregiving and supporting caregivers. Recently a website called Carehood came to my attention. It looks like the name is a play off “neighborhood” except here you can find your “Care-hood.” Get it?

Okay, so they might not win an award for cleverness. But this is their idea:

CareHood is the place where caregivers go to learn what can help the people they love – and where their friends, family and community can pitch in and support them along their path.

As friends and family go through challenging times, whether because of serious health conditions, accidents or disasters, or normal but trying transitions in life, we know that their community will want to step in and help, but may not know how.

CareHood makes the process simple by recommending specific ways to help that are based on extensive research and consultation with medical professionals. Friends and family can build CarePackages that will make a real difference in the life of their loved ones.

In theory this is a great idea. (The general idea of helping is the same behind my own website here.) In practice, time will tell how successful this is in getting off the ground. I hope it is of help to some caregivers, and I hope people keep looking for inventive new ways to help caregivers.


Last week I sent out the January Newsletter. If you weren’t signed up to receive the newsletter at that time you can still read it online here: http://eepurl.com/bNNkuj There is some interesting stuff in there so take a look. (And if you’re not signed up you can consider joining to get the next newsletter!)


From an Atlantic article:

Today, the isolated village of Hogewey lies on the outskirts of Amsterdam in the small town of Wheesp. Dubbed “Dementia Village” by CNN, Hogewey is a cutting-edge elderly-care facility—roughly the size of 10 football fields—where residents are given the chance to live seemingly normal lives. With only 152 inhabitants, it’s run like a more benevolent version of The Truman Show, if The Truman Show were about dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Like most small villages, it has its own town square, theater, garden, and post office. Unlike typical villages, however, this one has cameras monitoring residents every hour of every day, caretakers posing in street clothes, and only one door in and out of town, all part of a security system designed to keep the community safe. Friends and family are encouraged to visit. Some come every day. Last year, CNN reported that residents at Hogewey require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear more joyful than those in standard elderly-care facilities.

More: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/the-dutch-village-where-everyone-has-dementia/382195/

It is good to see people exploring new ways of helping those who face Alzheimer’s. Anything that tries to give as close to a normal life as possible is a good thing. I would like to see more efforts in this direction.


Just put up a new article aimed right at the struggles of this holiday season. A snippet below:


Photo Credit: Tobias Björkgren

A holiday can be a particular difficult time for a caregiver. All of the normal daily stress is compounded by the expectations of the celebration, company visiting, and disrupted schedules. Sometimes it can feel like everything was going great until a holiday showed up. But as caregivers we don’t need to despair. The taxing season of holidays can be navigated successfully if we keep a few important things in mind.

First, keep expectations reasonable. We all want it to be like the good old days, but if you are caregiving for an ill family member those days are gone, at least for now. You are living in a new reality. And in this new reality you can’t have a party like you used too, when the world was young and everyone was in good health. What you do, and what you participate in, must be scaled back to match your currently available time and energy. Don’t make yourself guilty about what you can’t do, and don’t let anyone else make you guilty.

Read more here: http://caregivingreality.com/articles/handling-the-holidays/


Front Cover for The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving

Special sale!

The holiday season is upon us, and here at Caregiving Reality we are trying something new. We are doing a book sale–of author signed paperback copies! The books are at a discount price, and the more copies you buy the better your discount.

Would you like to get The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving at 10%, 20%, 30% or even 40% off? Head on over to the sale page and take a look and what deal will best suit you: http://caregivingreality.com/december-2015-sale/


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Did you know I send out a monthly newsletter? It is an easy and convenient way to keep up to date on what is going on with the website, my writing, and my speaking events. Today I just sent out the November newsletter. If you are not signed up to receive the newsletter, you can still read it here: http://eepurl.com/bH1lE5

And you can sign up to receive the newsletter in your email inbox anytime!