This Guidebook Helps Caregivers Navigate the Dementia Journey

Angie Swetland, author of I Know You By Heart

By Angie Swetland 

I was privileged to enjoy a career in elder care which spanned over forty years. From the beginning, I was drawn to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. I worked for a large, multi-state, not-for-profit, faith-based organization. This organization offered a full range of services to older adults. We provided everything from Meals-on-Wheels and home health services in the community, to assisted living and nursing home care. As a segment of this continuum of care, we offered specialized memory care communities, both within nursing homes and within assisted living settings.

To be able to fully meet the needs of residents requiring memory care, our staff required specialized training. I worked with a group of professionals including social workers, nurses, recreational therapists, and administrators to create a program. This program included principles of care and practice standards as well as training on the nature of the diseases.  Because of advancements in research and with information gleaned from experts in the field, the program was revised four times over the next fifteen years. As we rolled the program out, and later as I continued to teach its lessons, I realized that there is great hunger among professional and family caregivers for information. Throughout this time, I heard over and over, “you should write a book.”

I Know You By Heart by Angie SwetlandAs my mother developed early signs of dementia, even armed with much information, I faced struggles of my own. Later, volunteering with family caregivers, I realized that most family caregivers are ill-equipped to provide the care they are called to give daily. They need information about the disease and its stages and symptoms. They need practical information about the care-delivery system and services that may be available to them. Most of all, they need to know that they are not alone. And they need to hear all of this in accessible language, in not too many words, and in a format that can be easily put aside to be pulled out later for reference. This led me to write I Know You By Heart: Navigating the Dementia Journey.

The goals of my writing are to provide concise, clear information in a way that engages the reader. To increase readability and to add a personal touch, the facts and advice are illustrated by real life stories encountered throughout my life. The primary intended audience is the family caregiver; however, I have received feedback that this volume is useful to professionals as well.

The book includes reflections on the nature of diseases of the brain, and how they are stigmatized. Only by realizing that the brain is just another organ in our body will we rid ourselves of the fear and shame that often accompany a dementia diagnosis. Like any other organ, the brain is subject to failure. In treating Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, we must manage symptoms and eliminate barriers that prevent the patient from living their best life – just as we would do for any other progressive illness. 

Purchase I Know You by Heart: Navigating the Dementia Journey, published by Cresting Wave Publishing 2019     

About the Author

Angie Swetland, author of I Know You By HeartAfter graduating from Luther College with a degree in Sociology and Religion, Angela (Angie) Swetland’s first job was as an Activity Director in a small town nursing home. Over 40 years later, she retired from her position as Corporate Director of Customer Relations at Presbyterian Homes and Services (PHS). PHS is a not-for-profit organization which serves 27,000 elders annually. PHS operates in three states and offers over 50 senior living campuses, and community services such as home care and meals on wheels. During her time at PHS, she developed curricula for Dementia Care services and worked with teams at each site to assure that care protocols were in place. In addition, she assisted in the development of a Dementia Care Specialist certification program offered jointly by the Alzheimer’s Association of MN/ND, and served on its faculty. 

Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of Our Lady of Peace Hospice and Home, and facilitates a Dementia Caregiver Support Group at Easter Lutheran Church.

Angie enjoys public speaking and has spoken at the annual Meetings of Leading Age of Minnesota, Leading Age (national), and at the Alzheimer’s Association National Dementia Care Conference. In addition, she was on the faculty of the Housing with Services Management Certificate program offered through Leading Age of Minnesota. She has spoken to area churches on the subject of Dementia Care. 

Connect with Angie Swetland


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