Tami Anastasia Comes Full Circle with the Dementia Journey

By Tami Anastasia, MA

The seeds of my caregiver guide Essential Strategies for the Dementia Caregiver were planted over 40 years ago, when my Italian grandmother – one of the nicest people you’d ever meet – was labeled as “senile” and placed in a board and care home. At the time, common wisdom attributed her “senility” to exposure to metals that leached out of the pots she used while conjuring up her signature sauces.

My dad shielded my siblings and I from Grammy as she declined, but I heard the whispered stories. I saw my dad’s devastation after Grammy slapped him as he was feeding her grapes, saying, “Stop giving me those sticks to eat!” Although she lived to the age of 100, I didn’t see Grammy during the last 25 years of her life. Instead, her other grandkids and I carried her casket after she died. I never got to say goodbye. 

It wasn’t until I started training to become a dementia counselor that I put the pieces together. Grammy wasn’t “senile.” Her symptoms mirrored Alzheimer’s symptoms. I wish I knew then what I know now so that I could have supported my dad. 

While it’s too late for Grammy and my dad, it’s not too late for other families who are navigating dementia. As a dementia consultant and educator, caregiver support group facilitator, and health and wellness counselor, I’ve had the privilege and honor to meet and work with hundreds of compassionate and loving caregivers who are doing everything in their power to provide the best care for their loved ones. 

Essential Strategies for the Dementia Caregiver didn’t start out as a book. It was supposed to be a series of pamphlets based on my notes about caregiver needs. I saw that, while there were many resources available to caregivers, not many seemed to get to the root of caregiver anger, frustration, and guilt. Over time, I realized that the need was bigger and that I wanted to address the caregiver’s journey from beginning to end. 

That said, I believe that one of the book’s most important themes is overcoming caregiver guilt. Their struggle with guilt, self-doubt, and regret is both common and unjustified. I want caregivers to know they are amazing people. I want them to have the knowledge and skills to help their loved ones, but not at the expense of their own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And I want to provide an informative emotional and behavioral handbook that supports caregivers and helps them find meaningful ways to cope with this devastating disease.

My hope is that Essential Strategies for the Dementia Caregiver builds the reader’s confidence as a caregiver. A caregiver can have the best intentions, but if their decision doesn’t turn out favorably, they beat themselves up. The truth is, an unfavorable outcome doesn’t make someone a bad caregiver. Mistakes are okay. In fact, they’re learning opportunities. I hope that my book gives caregivers the tools to counteract negative self-talk and enables them to believe in themselves, weather this journey, and – at the end – still feel whole. 

I also want to destigmatize dementia and caregiving. The truth is, people don’t know how to deal with those with dementia. They don’t want to hear what’s going on during the journey. They’re uncomfortable with death. Essential Strategies for the Dementia Caregiver normalizes dementia behaviors and, hopefully, moves people from being fearful to being supportive by teaching them how to respond to people with dementia. 

Writing Essential Strategies for the Dementia Caregiver was a full circle moment for me. It allowed me to provide a roadmap for a meaningful journey and a toolkit for connecting with loved ones with dementia that wasn’t available to my dad and grandmother. 

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About the Author

Tami Anastasia is a dementia consultant, educator, and speaker. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling, a Certificate in Gerontology, and a Certificate in End of Life. She is an Evergreen Certified Dementia Care Specialist and a Certified Senior Advisor. For more than 30 years, Tami has provided counseling services, dementia guidance, emotional support, and care strategies to family and professional dementia caregivers. In addition to her private practice, Tami facilitates dementia caregiver support groups and has partnered with agencies throughout California to conduct educational workshops, trainings, and webinars. She is a sought-after speaker, frequently presenting before audiences at professional meetings, senior retirement centers, memory care and assisted living communities, health and wellness conferences, colleges and universities, and public health organizations. 

Connect with Tami Anastasia, MA






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