There’s a story to be told when suddenly you’ve assumed one of the most important roles of your life — a family caregiver, but with little experience to draw from.

Wisconsin-based author Susan A. Marshall found herself in just that position. She shares what happens to families during such challenging times in her book, Mom’s Gone Missing, a story about what it’s like to be a personal caregiver to both mom and dad.

Susan’s book starts with a call in 2016, on the first Monday of the year from her sibling in Colorado when Susan was in Wisconsin and her mother was in Arizona. Her sibling said, “Mom’s gone missing.”

What happened over nearly two years of caring for parents with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia brought rapid learning, new strength and perspective. Marshall’s book is not a how-to book, but rather a deeply moving account of one family’s experience with a father’s decade-long Alzheimer’s journey and a mother’s lightning-fast dementia decline, and what the author would like others to know if they, too, find a loved one ‘missing’ due to degenerative diseases with no cure. Among the areas covered in the book are:

• How to set boundaries of all kinds.

• How caregiving takes over day-to-day routines.

• How to pace yourself during an ongoing challenge.

• How “natural” coping strategies can diminish energy and commitment (self-medication with food, alcohol, exercise).

Anyone may find themselves in the role of an unexpected caregiver in the future. In her presentation, Marshall shares essential real-world tips.

For example, everyone should have their personal documents and wishes spelled out and on file in appropriate places where they can be easily accessed before a crisis unfolds.

Marshall will be interviewed by Rex Owens on his KSUN radio show My World and Welcome to It later this summer.

Jennifer Bauer, BA Executive Director of Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, praised Marshall’s work.

“In her book, Mom’s Gone Missing, Susan never shied away from the difficult times it created between her siblings and herself,” Bauer said.” Nor did she steer away from discussing the challenging parts of her relationship with her mother and how that impacted what she felt while the primary caregiver.”

Martin J. Schreiber, former Wisconsin Governor, and author of My Two Elaines — a story about his experiences caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s — also praised the book.

“Anyone who is about to journey as a caregiver or anyone who wants to understand what caregiving is truly like must read about the experiences of a caregiving daughter, Susan A. Marshall,” Schreiber said. “She openly and candidly shares with us her excruciating journey as a caregiver for both her mom and dad.”

Join the discussion via Zoom by registering at the Sun Prairie Library:

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