• Jake Kielmeyer

Alzheimer's Community Member of the Week: Michelle Spray

Updated: Apr 15

Michelle Spray is an author and former Alzheimer's caregiver. We talked to Michelle about her Alzheimer's journey and her stories.



What's Your Connection to Alzheimer's Disease?

"My connection to Alzheimer's is from my beloved Grandma. We began her Alzheimer’s journey when I was just nineteen. At first, I moved in with Grandma because she was living alone, and she was a bit forgetful. But that was nothing new; she’d done silly, forgetful things all her life. However, things happened more frequently and started cause for concern. The first problem that should have alerted me to a bigger problem was that she was not paying her bills. When I arrived to the mailbox before her one day (a difficult feat because she loved waiting for the mailman) it was full of pink slips and late notices. Now, she’d hidden bills from Grandpa for as long as I could remember so he wouldn’t “have a fit”, but it seemed as if she’d been forgetting the bills all together. I ended up putting the bills in my name and paying them for her which seemed to relieve her, but there always seemed to be another thing for her to worry about. “You stole my teeth.” “Umm, no Grandma, I didn’t steal your teeth!” Why on earth would I want to do that?

I enjoyed living with her. We shared secrets and stories about the past. I especially loved (on good days) when she surprised me by wanting to play cards or paint my nails!

Her battle was long, and silly, and sad, and frustrating, and ALL the things that encompasses Alzheimer’s Disease. "


Can you tell us about the books you've written?

"I documented all the emotions that came from caring for my Grandma in my fictional depiction of her journey called Lost Memories Found Hope: A Granddaughter’s story of Love throughout Alzheimer’s. Jillian is the main character. Little did they know the adventure they would encounter would be called Alzheimer’s.

(Click the image above to view on Amazon)

My second Alzheimer’s book is a picture book for children called Waiting for the Mailman: An Alzheimer’s Story. Waiting for the Mailman was Grandma's favorite past-time ... even if he or she had just delivered the mail. Sometimes Grandma would look all over the house for something that she had misplaced. I lose stuff all the time, but for some reason when Grandma couldn't find something she would get really upset. I think it was because she was losing things more and more. One day Grandma even lost herself ...

(Click the image above to view on Amazon)


Both books, Waiting for the Mailman and Lost Memories Found Hope reveal all the emotions that so many families have to endure. Written with love, honesty, and many happy memories in hopes that this next generation will find a cure. Please order copies for an Alzheimer’s caregiver or dementia facility today! "



Do you have any advice for families who have had a recent diagnosis?

"The most important piece of advice I have to give recently diagnosed families is that people can lead full, productive lives even with a diagnosis for many years, several years even. It’s a very slow-moving disease, that’s why it is called “the long goodbye”. Plan for the future, accept help when offered, ask for help when needed, and most importantly, take care of yourself so you will have something left to give during this long journey.

Join support groups. You are not alone. I did not have this when I was taking care of my grandmother. I did not know about any support groups, the online community was not what it is today, so take advantage of all of the resources that are available to you. I did not ask for help when I needed it until I was at my breaking point. This does not have to be you."


Michelle can be found on social media on:


Twitter


Facebook Author Page


Facebook Alzheimer's Page


Alz Author Community


Click the link below to find some of the other book Michelle has written.


Books


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