I’ve been invited to be the guest speaker at Van Buren County Hospital’s Women Health Fair in Keosauqua, Iowa on October 14, 2010 from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. I’ll be speaking about my Alzheimer’s Caregiver Experiences. This year’s theme is "Fight Like A Girl". The expected attendance is around 200. This sounds like a fun experience, but I think I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I do a good job.
How did I end up with this invitation? I joined a website for Iowa authors http://wwwhttp://www.iowacenterforthebooks.org Any group looking for a speaker can read a list of books I’ve written and my biography. This is the second speaking engagement I’ve received from that website. I don’t think I can remind other authors often enough to check out their state resources for authors.
What was it in my biography that qualifies me to speak at a Hospital Health Fair? Let me tell you. My experiences include helping my mother care for my father for ten years while he battled Alzheimer’s disease and working in long term care at the Keystone Nursing Care Center in Keystone, Iowa as a Certified Nurse Aide for almost sixteen years. It’s not often you meet someone like me that is a CNA/author/speaker. That’s because I didn’t just do my job for the paycheck. I tried to make a difference in the lives of the residents by understanding how Alzheimer’s disease affected them and their families and doing something about it. In my time as CNA, I was awarded the 2004 award for Certified Nurse Aide by the Iowa Health Care Association and 2006 Professional Caregiver Award by the Alzheimer’s Association. Those awards will be mentioned along with a picture of me on the marketing director’s advertising about the Health Fair CNA/author/speaker.
While I took care of my father, I kept a journal. After his death, I turned that journal into a story about what it was like for his family to take care of him. Realizing there are many books on the market about caregivers struggling to care for someone, I made my book different by adding helpful caregiving tips at the end of chapters. Plus, I had the advantage of being able to write this book from a CNA point of view. The book is Hello Alzheimer’s Good Bye Dad.
As more residents with Alzheimer’s were admitted to the nursing home, I met many families baffled by what the disease was doing to their loved ones. I started a support group to help. I listened and explained what I knew from my experiences with my father and my job. Early on I decided I needed to write a book of examples about how to relate to someone with Alzheimer’s. That book is Open A Window.
Anyone that wants to be an author needs some speaking ability. I’ve been speaking since 1998. The Alzheimer’s Association asked me to speak at a conference for ministers. I was scared stiff, and the subject was a painful one, talking about caring for my father. When I received a packet from the Alzheimer’s Association in the mail with the survey about how the ministers liked my speech, I was overwhelmed by their great comments. Also in that packet was a form to fill out and send back if I wanted to be in the volunteer speakers bureau. There was a need in my area on the far side of the county when the Alzheimer’s Association didn’t have as many experienced employees. Now adequate staff has eliminated the need for volunteer speakers, but I still get an invitation once in a while and I go. Education about Alzheimer’s disease is very important for families. Have I spoke before an audience of 200 people? No! But how much different can that be than speaking to 20 – 50. Besides, I’m doing two sessions so I won’t have 400 eyes looking at me at the same time.
The administer at the nursing home asked me several times to be the speaker for inservices on Alzheimer’s. For one inservice, I wrote a fifteen minute skit about a woman, with Alzheimer’s, in the nursing home. Two nieces came to visit and didn’t know how to relate to her. The employee who found the most mistakes made by the nieces received dinner for two at a restaurant. That skit later became my three act play, Floating Feathers Of Yesterdays.
Van Buren County Hospital’s Marketing Director wants me to bring my books to sell and sign. There will be a variety of health related booths besides mine. My husband has consented to go along with me on this three hour drive. He can help carry in the boxes of books and watch the table while I’m not there. I’ve found he makes a good salesman for my books. He has read them all and never fails to tell people that he likes what he read.
An added plus is I get to take my Amish books, too. When I had the idea to write them, I thought if I set my series about Nurse Hal Among the Amish somewhere in Iowa that might be a way to increase sales in my area. Turns out the marketing director at the hospital says she likes the idea very much that the books are set in southern Iowa and for the Health Fair theme it’s an added bonus that the books are about a nurse. "A Promise Is A Promise and The Rainbow’s End – books in my Nurse Hal Among The Amish series.
So now I’ve a speech to write and practice. Plus I’ve been thinking about what I want on my table. Just recently, I printed out a large batch of business cards and bought a card holder to display them. I have three short story books. These were stories I entered and placed with in contests. I’m taking them to use in a give away. People can sign up for the drawing, and I’ll mail the book from home after I draw. That way no one has to worry about being there for the drawing. Since the three books are different themes, people can list a preference when they put their name in the basket. I will put a list of my books and a business card in with the winning book so that might encourage the winner to want to read more of my books. One of these books goes along with the health theme for that day – Butterfly and Angel Wings.
I’m looking forward to the opportunity and the drive. Fall is coming. The timbered hills along the way should be lovely in October. The marketing director asked if I charged a fee. My answer was I’m free. Ever since I helped my mom with my father I’ve liked educating others suffering the pain of watching a loved one go through Alzheimer’s disease. The bonus is now that I’m an author I get to talk about my books at the same time and sell them. I’ll tell you all about how the Health Fair went after October 14th.