Connect with me on:



Subscribe to my blog posts:

This form does not yet contain any fields.

      Inside the Dementia
     Epidemic: A Daughter's

      On Wall Street Journal best seller
      list (May 1, 2015)


    of's 2014 Top Alzheimer's Books for Caregivers

    Winner of the Memoir category of the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

    Winner of a Silver Medal in the Health/Medical category of the 2013 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards (and finalist in the Memoir category)

    Finalist, 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for Excellence in Publishing

    Winner of an Honorable Mention in the Life Stories category of the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Book Awards 

    Finalist, 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards

    Finalist, 2013 Santa Fe Writer's Project Literary Awards Program, Non-fiction category





    Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir shares the lessons I learned over 8 years of caregiving at home and in a range of dementia care facilities. I describe not only what I learned about navigating the system, but how I learned to see Alzheimer's disease differently—not as a "long good-bye," as it's often called, but as a "long hello." Through caregiving, my challenging relationship with my mother was transformed, and I learned to enjoy and nurture her spirit through the last stages of dementia.

    Appendixes share facts about dementia that I wish I had known years ago, such as how to get a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease; what medications are approved to lessen the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease; lesser-known risk factors for dementia; and possible antidotes. I include my favorite resources for caregivers, my source notes, and an index.

    Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir is available in paperback and hardcover, as an e-book for Apple devices, the Nook, and Kindle, and on Kobo.

    Reviews and Testimonials

    Order the Book



    The photo at the very top of this page is of my mother, Judy, in 2010, smiling up at Suzanne, a massage therapist I hired who specializes in bodywork for elders.  Suzanne massaged her hands, arms, upper back and legs, talked to her, and played music for her.  [photo by Jason Kates van Staveren]

    Right: My mother at her 75th birthday party in 2007, three years after she could no longer live alone. A few days after this picture was taken she fell, fractured her pelvis and needed more care than her assisted living facility could provide. I had to quickly research alternatives.

    In 1996, Judy and her grandson, Andrew, age 1, on the shale beach outside the cottage on the lake in Upstate New York where she lived by herself for 25 years. It's his first visit, and she's showing him the "big lake water" and how to draw on the flat rocks with pencil-shaped pieces of shale. Her worrisome behavior starts around this time, but as her daughter I don't realize what is going on until much, much later.

    Above: My mother, age 74, and I at the cottage in 2006 with her old miniature Schnauzer, Trinka. I can see the stress of those early caregiving years in my face and in my extra weight. Little did I know how much I would learn over the coming years.








    Above: Judy, age 79, and me in early 2012 at the nursing home Judy moved into in 2010. Mom lived with advanced Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia until she passed away in late 2012, but until the end she often shared her lovely smile. 


    Join the fight to stop Alzheimer's by 2020:



    For caregiver support and resources, visit the Caregiver Action Network. (Membership is free if you are a current family caregiver):


        The Purple Angel--a symbol of hope and dementia awareness


    Sample: Appendix B: Medications Approved to Relieve Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

    Two types of prescription medications have been approved by the FDA to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. They are not a cure, and while they may lessen the symptoms of the disease, they will not slow its progression.

    As enzyme blockers, the first group—the cholinesterase inhibitors—work by restoring the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. They include Aricept (donepezil HCl), approved by the FDA in 1993; Exelon (rivastigmine), approved in 1997; and Razadyne (galantamine), approved in 2001. Exelon and Razadyne are approved for mild to moderate dementia, and Aricept is approved for mild to severe dementia.

    The second type of medication is an N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist. Namenda (memantine), approved in 2003, can delay progression of some symptoms in moderate to severe cases of Alzheimer’s disease. It regulates glutamate, an important brain chemical.

    There is evidence that a combination of these two types of medications—Namenda plus a cholinesterase inhibitor—is more effective at relieving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease than treatment with only one type. A two-and-a-half-year study by the Memory Disorder Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, published in 2008, showed that test subjects with mild dementia who took a combination of these drugs experienced a slower decline in memory and function than test subjects who took one type of medication or a placebo. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004 showed similar results with patients with moderate to severe dementia; when those already taking a cholinesterase inhibitor added Namenda, they experienced more of an increase in cognitive function and ability to perform activities of daily living than those solely on a cholinesterase inhibitor. Those on combination therapy also experienced a lower rate of side effects, especially  astrointestinal issues.


    Two types of prescription medications: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, “Alzheimer’s Disease Medications Fact Sheet,” April 9, 2012,

    They include Aricept: Dementia SOS: Colorado’s Dementia News and Resource Center, “The Medications for Alzheimer’s,” Jan. 17, 2012,

    A two-and-a-half-year: Alireza Atir, MD, PhD; Lynn W. Shaughnessy, BS; Joseph J. Locasio, PhD; John H. Growdon, MD, “Long-term Course and Effectiveness of Combination Therapy in Alzheimer Disease,” Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, 22(3): 209-211, July/September 2008,

    A study published in the Journal: Pierre N. Tariot, MD; Martin R. Farlow, MD; George T. Grossberg, MD; Stephen M. Graham, PhD; Scott McDonald, PhD; Ivan Gergel, MD; for the Memantine Study Group, “Memantine Treatment in Patients with Moderate to Severe Alzheimer Disease Already Receiving Donepezil,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004; 291(3): 317-324.