Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pamela Atwood ~ Special Guest

~Introducing special guest blogger today Pamela Atwood~
~Gerontologist Certified Dementia Practitioner~

Have you heard of the Daily Happiness Checklist by Dr. Timothy Sharp and the Happiness Institute? I use it every day– some days I veer off course, but usually it helps. The first affirmation is “I’ve reminded myself of my life purpose.” I’m one of the lucky folks with a well defined life purpose. I work every day to make a difference in the lives of people living with cognitive and neurological disorders. I’m blessed to be supported by family, friends and colleagues who encourage my learning and my vision: listening to people and creating systems that can meet their needs. How cool is that? I’m a gerontologist by training, and when people ask me what that is, my response is “I geek out about aging.” Why? My great-grandmother died at age 99, and she said, “Pamela, don’t ever grow old – it’s JUST-NO-FUN.”  I knew my life purpose was to make that untrue.

               One of my favorite things to do is to teach. I am a professional speaker and love going to other cities and teach using techniques that are uncommon in healthcare education (usually with a red nose and real-life stories). I speak about unusual topics (bullying in senior communities; intimacy and sexuality and aging; laughter therapy; using Improv to communicate with people with dementia). I love learning from my colleagues about their experiences too.

               My other joy is learning from my clients. As a Dementia Care Consultant, I get to spend time with families. My job is to cut their learning curve (which I do, substantially) and make them confident caregivers – but I get something out of it too. I also direct a “Forgetfulness-Friendly” choir, self-named Noteworthy Voices. I learn from my elders all the time. From Enid, I learned how to care for African Violets. From Ivan, I learned about the Hartford Whalers after-hours (he had a bar) and how to create a life after being a Jewish POW in Nazi Germany. From Jack, I’ve learned that having a fun personality gets you out of a lot of trouble, even if it annoys your kids. From Madelyn I’ve learned memories are tethered to music. From Molly, I’ve learned to take care of yourself as a Caregiver, because if you don’t, you may be paralyzed by a stroke and have to learn to function gracefully and with dignity – but it can be done. I’ve been given more than I could ever give. And I do it in the memory and honor of my family members who have lived with dementia and Parkinson’s – Lottie, Nell, Elaine, Pat, Dorothy.

               And yet, I cannot wait to be out of work. When our systems change, and stigma is a memory, and diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are cured, I’ll rest. Until then, I will continue to volunteer with the American Parkinson Disease Association ( and the Alzheimer’s Association ( and continue to educate Caregivers and everyone who is “aging” ( ( And I’ll work to make it FUN!

Pamela Atwood, MA, CDP, CLL
Instagram: pamela.atwood
Twitter: @PamAtwoodALZ


"The Path"

When Jan submitted this tangle for the blog, this is what she told me, "The Path is not always clear, and often filled with serendipity." What a positive way to look at the crossroads in our life! 


My new book launched in April on Amazon ~  "The Artistry of Caregiving, Letters to Inspire Your Caregiver Journey"  Written from my heart to yours, to help you navigate the emotional journey of caring for another. The book has a unique format. Six chapters and 33 Letters, designed to read on the go, in no particular order. I wrote this book out my experience as my Mom's primary Caregiver for several years. My journey was difficult, stressful, lonely and I felt very isolated and withdrawn. I wrote this to bring comfort to Caregivers of all ages. I wanted to let you know you are not alone, you are understood and I hope this book makes you feel connected, appreciated and affirms all that you do. Caregiving is not an easy job. It can be quite demanding and stressful. I created this book to be a companion for you and I hope you love it!

The paperback edition will be out in July, stay tuned. 

~Where Words Soothe and Ideas & Art Delight~

Best Wishes, 
Carole Brecht

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