“Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost” is a new book by author Lisa Skinner that deals with the subject of Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that fatally affects 1 in 3 seniors every year. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s estimated that more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s in 2021.
Despite its prevalence, the disease is misunderstood. Being able to identify key symptoms, behaviors, and solutions is crucial for the overall health and wellbeing of the afflicted. Lisa Skinner is a behavioral expert in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. She understands the challenges of navigating the heartbreaking challenges of having a loved one diagnosed with such a condition. She wrote “Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost” to help family members though this difficult process.
The book contains true stories that Lisa gathered during her years in the eldercare industry. The book offers insight into the difficult questions families face, including:
- How do I respond to a loved one’s false belief?
- Am I abandoning my parent if I place them in the care of professionals?
- How do we make the best of our time left together?
Skinner’s original thinking and counter-intuitive solutions provide family members, spouses, children, caregivers, and others with the tools they need to effectively manage the symptoms of brain disease. The book aims to empower readers to work through the difficulties of the disease and return to what matters — enjoying their remaining time with their loved ones.
Lisa recently discussed the book and her career via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your passion for the elder care industry and how did you break into the field?
Lisa Skinner (LS): My first experience with Alzheimer’s disease was with my grandmother who developed it when I was a teen. I was very close to her and it was very troubling for me to watch her progress through the disease and that I could not do anything to help her. Later, I discovered the fascination of human behavior and completed my college degree in that arena. My family relocated to Upstate New York from California and I applied for a position as a community counselor for an assisted living/memory care facility and got the job. This was the beginning of what has become a 25 year career for me.
MM: What is it about Alzheimer’s and similar conditions that most interests you?
LK: Between my professional career and personal experience having had eight family members suffer from dementia, I have a very introspective understanding of what all parties involved are going through. With all the extensive education and training I’ve received, I want to help others have an easier time overcoming the daunting challenges that accompany the disease.
MM: How did you decide to write your book and how did you find a publisher?
LK: I decided to write the book because so many of my clients told me over the years that I needed to because the resources available to people were so limited and the knowledge I possessed would be so helpful to others’ going through it.
MM: Was it tough to narrow down the stories to include?
LK: Not really. All of the stories in my book are true stories. I chose them based on the behaviors that are illustrated in each story with the goal to provide a good variety of examples and a true representation of what it is realistically like to live with dementia.
MM: Of all the stories, do any stand out to you in particular?
LK: I think my favorite story is “Stranger in the Mirror”. It is a true story of a phenomenon that does occur with dementia, and the person in this particular story is my uncle. I remember my aunt telling me the story and I could just picture my uncle carrying on these conversations with his own reflection in the mirror. It was very personal, and to me, it was not only funny listening to her tell it, but so cute, too. That story will always have a special place in my heart for my uncle.
MM: How do you think strides can be made to combat these conditions?
LK: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, we need to commit more money to research in order to find a cure. If we, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to double between now (2021) and 2025. From the current number of 6.2 million people in the US who are living with it to over 13 million.
MM: What is the best advice you can offer for individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions?
LK: Don’t be in denial about the disease. It will only work against you. Find out all you can about it, join a support group, understand what is happening to the brain of your loved one and what to expect as the disease progresses. Be prepared! You can still enjoy a wonderful relationship with your loved one if you equip yourself with the right tools and knowledge.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
LK: I have been asked to be a guest speaker on several radio, tv, and podcast shows in the near future as well as a new book coming out. I have also had interest from several movie producers in converting my book to a movie adaptation.
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To learn more, visit Lisa’s official website.