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Author Shares Journey of Love and Despair as Caregiver for a Mother Ravaged Dementia

In Books, Education, Entertainment, Health, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on May 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Elaine Pereira yearbookGREENE COUNTY, OH –  Author Elaine Pereira shared the seemingly never-ending journey of caring for her mother stricken with dementia in her newly-released book I Will Never Forget: A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey through Dementia (ISBN 978-1-4759-0690-5). The award-winning author will be visiting Xenia for two public events, June 6 and 7.

I Will Never Forget is a powerful true story of the author’s talented mother, Betty, and her poignant and humorous journey through dementia. As their mother-daughter relationship evolves, Elaine copes with her mom’s uncharacteristic verbal assaults and watches as her brilliant mind is slowly destroyed by dementia’s insatiable appetite for brain cells.

Elaine Pereira earned a BS in Occupational Therapy and an MA in Family and Consumer Resources from Wayne State University and worked as a school occupational therapist for more than 35 years before retiring in June 2010. In this moving account, Pereira shares warm and humorous incidents as well as tragic and overwhelming encounters from the death of her father, sister-in-law, brother and her mother’s journey through a new world after her familiar world fades from her memory.

“This is a true story which validates the incredible events that happened in my mother’s life,” says Pereira. “From writing nine checks to the same payee, on five consecutive days, and later on the Great Houdini Escape when she nearly froze to death, Mom’s journey through bewildering dementia is real.

Cover I Will Never Forget 1-15-13I Will Never Forget is educational and therapeutic but is a journal full of insights that will provide helpful assistance and tips to other caregivers of dementia patients. “I want newly-commissioned caregivers to learn from my unwitting mistakes, to realize that reasoning and logic are rarely helpful dialogue techniques with a dementia patient,” explains the author.

“That approach is confrontational and often creates agitation and a fear response in someone. Redirection, re-phrasing, waiting and patience are the most helpful response strategies to diffuse potentially hostile situations.”

During the year long writing process, Pereira was able to put the troubling incidents in her mother’s final years in perspective. “The little problems faded away and the core of her wonderful life surfaced for me. That is how I want to remember her, as she was in my eyes as a child.”

Pereira’s book was named a finalist in the Best New Non-Fiction category of the 2012 USA Book Award and was an honorable mention finalist in non-fiction in the 2012 Hollywood Book Festival and was bestowed a ‘Rising Star’ and ‘Editor’s Choice award by iUniverse. The book most recently won the aging category in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards.

At 7PM, Thursday June 6, Pereira will speak to the members of the Western Ohio Writers Association at  Blue Jacket Books, 30 S. Detroit St. in Xenia, Ohio, with an emphasis on how and why she wrote the memoir about her experience. The event is $5 per person, open to the public, and RSVP is requested by emailing the organization’s director, Gery L. Deer, wowainprint@gmail.com

The next evening, Friday June 7, beginning at 7PM, the author will be at Blue Jacket Books, 30 S. Detroit St. in Xenia, Ohio, to speak about the experiences so many people now have in caring for a parent or other loved one suffering the ravages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There is no charge for this event and seating is first come first served. For information call 937-376-3522. The author will be selling and signing books at both events.

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Disasters help us appreciate the easy things

In Children and Family, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on May 22, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

What’s your life like? Are you regularly faced with life-changing decisions? Is your life in danger with uncommon regularity? Fortunately, not many of us have to face such situations in our daily routines.

First response officers (police, fire, EMS), U.S. Secret Service agents and military personnel in war zones are probably some of the few groups of Americans who routinely face life-threatening events. For the rest of us, a visit to Walmart can put us into fight of flight mode.

A favorite author of mine once noted that when faced with a completely hopeless, potentially life-ending situation, one should consider how good life has been up to that point. On the other hand, if life hadn’t been so good, one should think about how lucky it is that it won’t be troubling you for much longer. The point is that usually, life’s situations are rarely as hopeless as we think.

Nearly two decades ago, on a beautiful summer day, on a quiet country road in the middle of nowhere, I was faced with just that kind of situation, but it all happened in the blink of an eye. While driving one of our farm trucks to pick up hay, a massive cement mixing truck struck my vehicle, head on, left front fender to left front fender, with unbelievable speed and force.

The power of the collision destroyed my truck and literally cut the front wheels and axle out from under me, burying the frame, nose first, into the asphalt below. A heartbeat later, I was sitting motionless in a shower of debris, dust and glass as the big Louisville Ford crashed to a halt in the hot sun.

Without sounding overly dramatic, had the other vehicle been six inches further to my right when it struck my truck, I’d have been killed instantly. There is much more to the story, but what stands out here is how different your life’s perspective is when you come that close to death. In fact, I actually remember bursting out in laughter.

My father had been in front of me, helplessly watching all of this unfold in his rear view mirrors. As we stood in the street surveying the wreckage, I busted out laughing and said, “My brother’s going to kill me.” After all, it was his truck and he hadn’t had it too long. Oh well, I thought, that’s life.

When faced with life-threatening events like the massive tornado in Oklahoma on May 20th, our perspectives change in an instant and what seemed important one second becomes the last thing on your mind a moment later. Maybe the lesson to take away from these events is about how much we value our day-to-day lives, or rather, how much we devalue them.

Every day without suffering, disease, pain or trauma is a gift. We should appreciate anytime we can just sit back, take a deep breath and think how calm and good life is at that moment. Most of us don’t do that, though.

In our country, we seem to be a little too preoccupied with what we don’t have to appreciate what we do. I remember times at family events when I literally stopped, sat there and looked around, and, like on a camera or video tape, tried to capture the image of family and friends laughing, smiling and being happy to be together, just in that instant. I have stored countless gigabytes of space in my head full of nothing but that – appreciation for the moment.

Admittedly, I don’t do it as much as I should and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who does that. But when life’s hard, or you can’t seem to find the good in a moment, it’s nice to be able to close your eyes and go back to those times to give yourself a sense of peace and calm. It makes you appreciate every moment just a little more.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer from Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.gerydeer.com

Who am I, and what am I doing here?

In Entertainment, Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on May 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

We’ve all had moments when we’ve turned to someone, a father, a brother, a God and asked, “What was I meant for? Am I doing what I was supposed to do?” It’s a normal exercise for us to question our situation, regardless of its status.

But we have to be careful to realize, regardless of how much we’d like the world to be a mystical place, our own choices landed us where we are and nothing was “meant to be,” that wasn’t directed by personal decisions.

I think it’s pretty normal to think we were meant for something more than we are, at least most of us probably feel that way. What many people tend to miss is how much value their lives have to others and how much would be different in the world without their contributions.

Over the last few years, I’ve written a great deal about my late mother, Lois. She passed away in November of 2011 after long battle with Alzheimer’s disease which among other things robbed her of a lifetime of memories.

Mom wasn’t an overly complicated person but she was very smart and caring, always putting others ahead of her – particularly her children and grandchildren. She only ever worked as a school volunteer, on the farm with Dad and for a time as a waitress in a little hometown restaurant where I grew up.

She might not have had the life people grow up dreaming about, but I’d like to think she felt like she had made a difference in the world. I know she did for me and my family. She didn’t have money or status or important connections, but she had wisdom and a level of understanding of her world and those in it that I truly wish I could emulate.

To some people a basic, down-home lifestyle could seem like Purgatory; a futile, pointless existence. Even though she didn’t have a list of college degrees after her name, nor did she work some high-powered job (unless you count managing my dad), her mere influence upon those around her probably had far greater reach than she ever knew.

In my mind, Mom had the life she was “meant” to live, evidenced by the efforts of those who helped care for her and offer support to our family as her illness advanced. We all have a place in the world and it might not seem like it matters at the time, but we are often more influential than we realize.

Since the kind of work life I have chosen does not lend itself to earning fistfuls of cash, far from it, I have always hoped that my labors have at least helped to enhance someone’s life, even in the slightest. Whether I am making people laugh on stage during The Brothers & Co. variety shows, or passing along my worldly observations in my writing, I always try to give people something that will help make their life better, even if it’s only for a moment. To me, that’s rewarding in itself.

Even when people don’t agree with something I’ve written, the point to take away is that they read it, and it made them think. I don’t want everyone to agree with me, nor am I trying to persuade them to alter their life paths based on my opinion of something. My job is to enhance someone’s life just by giving them something new to think about and that is the accomplishment.

So, a sense of accomplishment isn’t always derived from academic or financial achievement, and in my limited view of the world, it almost never comes from material success. Sometimes just being who you are and contributing to the world around you makes the longest-lasting difference.

Were you “meant” to be who you are, though? That’s a question best left to you. Only you can evaluate your level personal satisfaction from the world you’ve created for yourself. You are who you are, right or wrong. So like I heard once in a song, “This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball.” And enjoy being you. It doesn’t matter how you got there.

 
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at www.gerydeer.com.

Excuse me; is that your nose in my business?

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on May 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

On "Bewitched," nosey neighbor, Gladys Kravits (Alice Pearce) always got more than she bargained for with her cup of sugar!

On “Bewitched,” nosey neighbor, Gladys Kravits (Alice Pearce) always got more than she bargained for with her cup of sugar!

Fifteen years ago, I was shopping for my first house when I realized I had no idea exactly what it was I wanted. I grew up on a farm with a house smack in the middle of a valley of trees, pasture and corn fields so I was lacking some of the social necessities of being a ‘neighbor.’

I had no idea what it meant to have to “keep up with the Joneses,” and I never saw my mother so desperate for sweetener that she needed to bang on someone else’s door and demand they fill her measuring cup with sugar. I just didn’t get it. And, after a good fifteen years, I still don’t.

Growing up in such isolation taught me self-reliance and a good feeling for minding my own business. Even as an adult, as public as I might seem between my published work, music and television appearances, I tend to be a bit of an introvert. It’s not that I’m unfriendly, quite the opposite, but I just feel like I should keep my nose in my own cupboard and leave others to do the same.

For some, however, that’s not the case. When I first considered a suburban home, I visited several developments and each put me in mind of TV shows of years past. On TV, the houses looked all the same and there was always that one, nosey neighbor who just couldn’t keep off your grass.

Inevitably, I think of Gladys Kravits, the screeching butinsky from “Bewitched,” who spent her day tormenting her happily ignorant husband Abner all about the goings on at the Stevens home across the street. Granted, there were weird things happening on Morning Glory Circle (that’s the street where Samantha and Darren lived on the show), but rarely did those events directly impact the neighbors.

I tend to be an observer of human behavior, which helps me, I hope, to be a good writer. I’ve noticed over the years that the preoccupation of people with the activities of their neighbors can be close to a debilitating obsession.

Constant worry about the concerns of others is, to my mind, ridiculous and kind of neurotic. What if you did nothing all day but ponder such things like … When did John cut his grass – for the tenth time? How did Bob buy that above ground pool when he doesn’t make that kind of money? Do those people have anything else to do but remodel their house every month?

It can get out of control. I’m hoping that level of unwarranted curiosity isn’t the norm but the exception. I would hate to think that my comings and goings were costing a good night’s sleep to anyone but me. That’s not to say that even rural suburbs don’t offer some level of low-brow entertainment of a kind that would even sour Jerry Springer’s sensibilities.

Fortunately, where I finally chose to buy a home turned out to be the perfect fit for me. But I know people who live in suburbs where you can’t make a move without someone commenting on it or having an opinion to gossip about. I’m sure it happens everywhere, but I think people should spend their time worrying about their own lives and stay out of the affairs of others.

If the concerns of those around you occupy your thoughts more than your own actions, it might be time to take a look in a mirror instead of out the front window. Being nosey isn’t the same as being neighborly.

Thoughtful compassion for a neighbor with a sick parent or welcoming a new baby is not the same as feeling the compulsion to always see what’s going on next door. It’s important for people to know the difference and respect those boundaries.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent business writer and contributor to the WDTN-TV2 show, “Living Dayton.” More at http://www.gerydeer.com

Metro FC Youth Soccer Tryouts, Delco Park, May 28-June 1

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, Sports News, Uncategorized on May 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm

metrofclogoDAYTON – According to the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau: Participation in Selected Sports Activities report, soccer is the third most played team sport in the U.S., falling just short of baseball and basketball. More than 13 million Americans play soccer each year, with most starting out in youth soccer clubs.

One of the Dayton area’s largest and fastest growing youth soccer organizations, Metro Football Club (FC), has announced that it will hold open tryouts to fill some 40 teams with approximately 800 players ranging in ages 8 through 23. Tryouts for the Metro FC 2013 season are scheduled from Tuesday, May 28 through Saturday, June 1st, at DelcoPark. 1700 Delco Park Dr., Kettering, OH, 45420. Players can register at the park on the day of their tryout, but organizers recommend early registration at the club’s website, http://www.metrofutbolclub.com.

Metro FC director of coaching and player development, Kevin Arcuri, has been involved with youth soccer in the Dayton area for over ten years. He has served as an Assistant Director of Coaching for Centerville United Soccer Association (CUSA) as well a women’s assistant coach at WrightStateUniversity from 1997 until 2005. Prior to working for CUSA, Arcuri coached in the Team Dayton organization.

“What sets us above and beyond everyone else is our top-notch training,” says Arcuri. “Our teams are trained by a professional trainer at least once a week and all of our coaches are appropriately licensed, dedicated and excited about working with the kids.”

“Our staff really goes above and beyond to help players improve and grow in their long-term development,” he says. “We try to teach good morals and good sportsmanship, avoiding the fighting among parents and players that’s so common in today’s youth sports.”

Tryouts are open to players from all over the greater Dayton region. According to Arcuri, the club has a diverse community of participants who come from all over the MiamiValley area, as far north as Sydney and east as Chillicothe.

Metro FC teams have a history of turning out some great athletes. One their best known alumnus is Drew Basil, starting kicker at OhioStateUniversity, who played for the Metro FC from U-9 to U-19.

Arcuri also notes that Metro FC is not just for those on the career track but offers something for every participant’s level of interest. “We have teams that compete at the top level, but we also have others that compete in other areas to meet the needs of kids who might be in multiple sports,” he says. “Some just want to play and enjoy the sport but have no interest in traveling for tournaments or being part of a high-level of competition and we can offer them a place as well.”

Fees to participate vary depending on the level of play. At the high school level, for example, play can cost anywhere between $600 and $1200 per year. Individual and corporate sponsorships of the club are available to those in the community who would like to help support the club’s efforts.

Metro FC is affiliated with the Miami Valley Youth Soccer Association, Buckeye Premier League, and the Midwest Regional League. For more information and to register, go online to http://www.metrofutbolclub.com or call Kevin Arcuri at 937-371-0869.

Free show by The Brothers & Co. May 18 at Beavercreek cafe

In Entertainment, Food, Local News, Theatre, Uncategorized on May 1, 2013 at 9:07 am
Gery Deer, Jim Karns, Ed Jones and Gary Deer Jr - The Brothers & Co. Entertainers!   (Photo by Debra Bays)

Gery Deer, Jim Karns, Ed Jones and Gary Deer Jr – The Brothers & Co. Entertainers! (Photo by Debra Bays)

BEAVERCREEK, OH – Music and variety group, The Brothers & Co., will present a free and unusually casual performance beginning at 7PM on Saturday May 18 at 4 Starters Coffee Café in Beavercreek. The two-hour show features classic country and oldies in four-part vocals, as well as comedy variety routines and much more.

The Brothers & Co. began in 1995 and, over the years, became a complete stage show with full instrumentation, variety acts and, what they call, “Commagic™” (Comedy Magic) routines. Best known for updated versions of The Statler Brothers classics, their repertoire also includes covers of country and oldies including Merle Haggard, John Denver and the late George Jones as well as many original pieces.

Usually, their show features piano, guitars, percussion and saxophone instrumentation. But for this performance, “The Boys in Black,” will be doing a more laid back show, without their traditional western costumes and only acoustic accompaniment by member Ed Jones. Vocalist, pianist Gery Deer will add harmonica to some sets as well.

“If you’ve ever seen The Statler Brothers, they’re almost as good as we are,” jokes Gary Deer, Jr., percussionist of the group. “Mostly, we want to entertain people and give them a show like most haven’t seen since the 60’s.” The show may seem retro, but the guys insist it is not just for the older generation.

“We put a modern spin on an old kind of entertainment that’s nostalgic and originally presented all at the same time,” offers bass singer, magician and the most recent addition to the quartet, Jim Karns. “If you’ve never seen a live variety show, this will be just a taste of what our big show has to offer and something the whole family will really enjoy.”

Located at 2495 Commons Blvd., tucked quietly behind LaRosa’s Pizzaria, 4Starters Coffee Café is a hidden gem of Greene County. The family-owned shop offers gourmet coffees, soups, sandwiches, specialty dishes and a selection of fine wines. Musical performances and wine tasting events are featured weekly.

The show is free and open to the public. For more information go online to http://www.thebrothersandcompany.com.