Megan and Emmalia are BFFs and discover they share a secret. Both of their grandmothers have Alzheimer’s disease. During their girls-sleepover at Megan’s, they talk about what it’s like for them and the concerns they share about their grandmothers. They both experience anger, frustration and impatience, yet have great love and respect for their grandmothers.
Grandmama experiences numerous changes in her daily routines and behaviors. This story weaves specific examples of dementia behaviors throughout the story line as seen through the eyes of the girls and Megan’s family.
Megan and Emmalia’s stories will help children of various ages, and adults, have a deeper understanding of what can happen to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s an educational tool that allows for family discussions – a chance to talk about feelings and concerns. This is a story of how all family members can come together, with compassion and love, to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.
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Maybe the hardest thing for a pastor to do is tend to the aching heart of a child. This simple yet poignant book gives words and images to help with that work. Putnam weaves behaviors, emotions, and challenges into her story that every child will recognize as familiar. And she provides questions at the end of the story that will make for rich conversations and reflections. “Sometimes Grandma Doesn't Know Me!” will be a gift to pastors, parents, and children alike. Her extensive wisdom and experience in this field is obvious on every page.
The Rev. Canon Tim Rich, Rector St. Luke's Episcopal Church, East Greenwich, RI
Doreen Coulson Putnam is a Certified Dementia Practitioner in private practice, with national and international certification. During her 25+ years of experience in the dementia field, she has been the Director of Education for a chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Director of an adult day, memory-care program, and Senior Director of 10 assisted living, memory care communities in New England.
Ms. Putnam has been a caregiver as well. Her mother had vascular dementia as a result of three strokes and she was the primary caregiver for her father and her father-in-law. Her husband was diagnosed with MCI – Mild Cognitive Impairment and died of a TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury, both brain impairments.
DCPutnam Consulting, her Alzheimer’s/dementia consulting firm, originated [DP1] in 2014. Since its inception, she has educated the general public, as well as thousands of patients, family caregivers, and professional caregivers in the health care industry. She has been honored to present at local, state, and national conferences.
Ms. Putnam is committed to assisting and educating caregivers through facilitating support groups, offering certification training for health care providers, and consulting with individual families. Her goal is to provide pertinent dementia education and support services for dementia caregivers and those they care for each and every day.
Putnam, a mother, grandmother, family caregiver and experienced Alzheimer’s professional, reaches out to children, a group often left out of the Alzheimer’s discussion. Her years of experience provide caring insight into the reality of living with a person with Alzheimer’s disease in her sensitive and frank story.
The chatty dialogue seats the reader side-by-side with Megan and Emmalia as they share their mutual concern and as they learn from their loving parents about positive ways of coping with awkward, even scary, situations.
Putnam leaves the reader with three important “take-aways." She validates as normal the girls’ emotions in a non-judgmental way. It is OK to be hurt or frustrated or angry. In addition, she portrays Grandmama as still the same warm, loving person she has always been – but now with Alzheimer’s disease that hides her memory. Lastly, a most critical lesson – everyone needs a “pinky-finger” friend! In her postlogue, Putnam wisely includes a list of questions that will encourage meaningful, comfortable and appropriate family conversations about Alzheimer’s disease. Putnam has written a valuable book for children and all who read it with or to them. Congratulations for acknowledging the need, tackling the job and writing this honest and caring story. A MUST READ!!
Cynthia D. Stevenson, (retd.) Co-founder and Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association of Central NY Director, Caregiver Services, Office for Aging, Onondaga Co., Syracuse, NY
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