BWW Interview: Author JACCI SMITH REED

BWW Interview: Author JACCI SMITH REED

"A Stranger in the House" by Jacci Smith Reed is about the heartbreak of Alzheimers.

MCL: You've written a book about a very hard time in your life. Please tell us what the book is about?

JSR: The book is about my journey with my husband, Ron, during his years living with Alzheimer's.

MCL: What made you decide to put a very personal time of your life in book form?

How did you remember all the details?

JSR: When he was diagnosed I began keeping a daily journal, primarily to track his behavior changes and how this disease was changing day to day - month to month. After a few months I realized I needed to journal to release my own fears, frustrations, questions and stress. I kept this journal for three years the last day I wrote in it was the day he died, October 18th, 2003.

MCL: How difficult was it to go back to those very tough years?

JSR: Months after Ron died i went back and read my journal. I realized how much I had been through - how much we both had been through. I realized that this wasn't Ron's disease - this was "our" disease. Ron's children live out of town and much of what their dad's life was like they never knew. When they came to visit I would make sure he was the very best he could be, trying hard to hide the evil of this disease. I knew when I read my journal that they had a right to know what his life had been like - what my life had been like. So, I initially wrote it for them. So they could understand better what their dad's life was really like his last years. While writing it though, I also realized that during those years I had learned so many ways to ease the stress, learn to accept this disease, ways to make life as easy as I could for both Ron and I. I had known nothing about Alzheimer's; I only knew I didn't want it to be a part of my life. I had no idea what being a caregiver really was about. I had no idea the frustrations, the fears, the anxieties of living daily and literally watching someone you love with all your heart leave you. I learned that I couldn't make him be someone that he could no longer be. I learned that when i tried to make him do things he could no longer do i was only setting him up to fail. I learned that he could no longer live in my world and that i had to find a way to live in his. I felt that what i had lived through could help other caregivers. They could relate to me. I could be honest with them. I could give them permission to try and not think they had to do it all, be it all. I knew I had to share my life story to help them with their life story.

MCL: What has the feedback been on the book? You've sold more than a few ... How many?

JSR:The book has been very successful - at least much more than i ever thought. I self-published it and have sold over 1800 copies. Most I have sold myself at workshops, talks, seminars but it is also on and Barnes and I have met with severAl Small caregiving groups just sharing with caregivers as well as running a workshop at the annual Alzheimer's symposium in WNY and speaking to larger groups such as the Retired Employees Public Association and the Niagara County. Retired Teachers Union.

MCL: Please promote yourself ... What's going on with the book or future projects for 2017/2018?

JSR: I am scheduled next year to speak at the NYS Retired Teachers Conference in Syracuse in October 2018. I spoke in Rochester at their Rochester Conference on Caregiving and appeared on AM Buffalo to promote the book. Now when I speak I concentrate on being a caregiver and the importance of early diagnosis. My husband has been gone for 14 years and so much research has been done and there are so many new and improved drugs that it is so important for folks to see a doctor as soon as possible if they think they are beginning with problems. I never wrote my book for profit, so i gave all profits to the Alzheimer's Association for Research. I only charged $8 for my book, so i was only making a profit of about 50 Cents a book. The feed back on the book has actually been very positive. It is written honestly; exactly what my life was like...the good, the bad and the ugly. It begins with Ron's diagnosis and ends the day he died. It is not sugar coated. I write about my raw feelings. I write about Ron's last weeks and watching him as he prepared to make his transition. As I say in my book, it was written from the heart, learned from the mind and driven by the spirit. Thank you, Jacci Reed


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