Lost Memories front cover 2018By Michelle Spray

I truly feel honored to be included as an integral part of the AlzAuthors group. Not only have I written a book that will make my grandmother proud, I have lived the caregiving experience one hundred percent. I was Grandma’s primary caregiver for seven years and got my on-the-job training simply because I lived there. It was up to me. I learned how to cope, distract, exercise patience, and lean on hope to get through all the emotions of dementia and eventually an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I understand the stress that families are going through including worrying and grieving for the Grandma I knew even though she was still alive. The day she no longer recognized me is a moment that will forever be etched on my heart.

I didn’t want to write a sad book about Alzheimer’s because that had already been done, so I used the opportunity to write a fictional story based on Grandma’s Alzheimer’s. I included the funny things she’d say, or how sometimes, even in the midst of it all, she would have a quick reply or joke, that always took me by surprise. At the end of the day, it would be these funny moments that helped me through all times I felt like crying; waiting for the mailman who already came, having her accuse me of stealing her teeth, telling me that the golden years weren’t really golden but instead a little rusty. When I’d ask her how she was feeling, she would tap the table and say, “with my hands”. Oh, how I miss her.

An important thing to note during the book is that I (or Jillian, the granddaughter in this novella) tried to do it all myself until I almost broke. So one thing I can’t stress enough to caregivers is to get help early. Take help when offered, ask for help, set appointments for someone else to take over so you can have a break and leave the house without worrying. Even small moments of respite can do wonders. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you incapable, it can only help you be a better caregiver.

All of my reviewers agree that Grandma would be proud of the work I’ve done with this book, bringing her story and memories to life. The overall consensus is that I’ve been able to reflect hope out of difficult moments while always remaining true to Grandma’s personality, love, and feistiness. She was a true pillar in my life. I stepped up when she needed me without question just as she had done for me. For that, I am truly grateful and proud.

Lost Memories, Found Hope is dedicated to all those in the thick of their own Alzheimer’s journey. Stay hopeful, ask for help, and keep a journal which may very well be the next AlzAuthors book to help end the stigma of Alzheimer’s.

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Michelle Spray is an additional needs mom living in Connecticut. She’s proud to supply an underlying theme of hope and inspiration in all of her books.

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