Bedside Witness: Stories of Hope, Healing, and Humanity

Kay Adams Bedside WItness

Kay Adams, Denver, Colorado USA

For decades I’ve proclaimed that “I know I have a book in me somewhere; I just don’t know what I’m supposed to write about!”  But after serving as a medical social worker for over twenty years with people facing life-limiting illnesses, I finally figured it out. However, it took a global pandemic for me to find the time and space to record the stories that have been living in my head and heart all these years– just waiting for a chance to get out. Thanks to COVID, they finally did!

Bedside Witness: Stories of Hope, Healing, and Humanity is a collection of the most powerful and poignant stories from the last two decades of my career that have saddened, inspired, and motivated me to think about the choices I make in my life, and the regrets I hope to avoid when my time comes to an end. My hope is that by sharing these vignettes gleaned from my lived experience in hospice, geriatrics, palliative care, and in my dementia coaching business, they will give voice to the army of extraordinary teachers who’ve helped to shape and guide me on every level while also endowing me with invaluable wisdom I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. Fuelled by their examples, I’ve come to understand what it means to have hope amidst the darkest of times, to heal even if you can’t be cured, and to drink deeply from the well of humanity when we are most in need of quenching our thirst for connection.

Although Bedside Witness includes vignettes pertaining to many different kinds of illnesses, the majority of the stories focus on the heart-wrenching disease of dementia which I personally believe to be one of the most complex and misunderstood health conditions of our time. My goal in writing this book is to shine a light into the lives of those impacted by this formidable illness, so that others who have never walked in their shoes can gain knowledge and empathy for the extraordinary challenges they regularly face, and become compelled to find concrete ways of assisting people living with dementia and their care partners in the process.

Through the art of storytelling, Bedside Witness allows the reader to be transported into the heart and soul of every tale told in a visceral, moving, and memorable fashion. It is my sincere wish that by providing such intimate glimpses into the lives and living rooms of people who have been deeply touched by the long arm of dementia, that others who have not had to contend with such obstacles in their paths can begin to look upon this disease with fresh eyes, with a fresh perspective, and with a fresh desire to reach out to the people in their families and communities who need and deserve our help, compassion, and understanding now more than ever.

Because, as poet Mark Nepo so wisely reminds us, “Walk long enough, and we all trade places.”


Author’s Bio:

Kay Adams is passionate about empowering people living with dementia and their care partners. Kay has over 30 years of experience counselling and coaching individuals and families around a broad array of complex emotional and health-related challenges. She’s worked extensively in the field of geriatrics, hospice, palliative care and mental health, and has served in a variety of capacities supporting people living with dementia and their care partners since 2001.

As a result of this intimate work, Kay founded Compassion Works, LLC to address the huge gaps that exist related to educating family and professional care partners about the disease of dementia, because Kay wholeheartedly believes that caregivers are the unsung heroes of our time.

Kay holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a certified dementia consultant and trainer. Kay is the author of, “Bedside Witness: Stories of Hope, Healing and Humanity” which received a gold medal from The Next Generation Indie Book Awards in 2023 for inspirational non-fiction. When not working, Kay enjoys reading, writing, belly laughing, spoiling her pets, and travelling whenever she gets the chance. Bedside Witness is her first book.


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  1. I read this book many months ago and can still recall some of the scenes Kay described. It has stayed with me. What is unique about this book is Kay’s perspective as the professional. That can be forgotten sometimes, as our focus is on our family and friends and the loved one in our care. But of course it can also take a toll on the professionals like the Social Worker or caregiver or medical team. Yet in Kay’s collection of stories we see how it can be so gratifying and powerful to be in that role of “bedside witness”. To witness relationships, and how they grow and change, or to witness the strength and humor and insight of those with a terminal illness. Kay has witnessed so much and we are fortunate to be able to read her well-written collection. Surprisingly, it’s not too heavy or dark. It’s a book about humanity, and I appreciate Kay’s observations.

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