I hope today's revealing interview with author Jacqueline Marcell will send everyone to the book store to buy her book - not so much because I think it's excellent (though I do) but because it covers a topic that needs more attention, a topic we're all familiar with, but often in denial about. A topic that relates to marketing to women online - big time! [ask me how, if you can't figure it out at the end].
This interview is unlike any other done on Lip-sticking previously- this time I have a renowned expert on Caregiving - the kind of caregiving that is destined to overtake all of our lives, eventually. Let's look at what Jacqueline has to say about eldercare:
Yvonne: The news keeps harping on the baby boomers turning 60 this year, but...this problem, of how to take care of elderly parents with dementia, started long before this year, didn't it? What's different now...now that we're more aware, or...are we more aware?
Jacqueline: Yes, we are becoming more aware of dementia/Alzheimer’s because one out of every ten persons by the age of 65 gets Alzheimer’s Disease (just one type of dementia), and one out of every two by the age of 85 gets it. Since these are the parents of the largest portion of our population--the 76 million Baby Boomers—they are making a lot of noise trying to figure out how to manage their elderly parents.
Until fairly recently "Untreatable Senile Dementia" was the broad term used to label a person with memory problems/confusion and families were told nothing could be done. Most often it was Alzheimer’s Disease (which makes up for 60% of all the dementias), but just a few years ago medications starting coming on the market that help slow the progression of the disease down.
In less than a decade, we now have four: Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and for later stage: Namenda. These are not cures, but if Alzheimer’s is diagnosed and treated early while the patient is still fairly independent, fulltime caregiving can be delayed. This is HUGE because during that time, medical science may come up with some better medications--maybe even a cure. Once a patient progresses into the disease, there is no going back to the relative independent stage (even with medication) because too many brain cells have been destroyed. Early diagnosis and treatment is the key and that is my mission.
Yvonne: Your book was hard for me to read, sometimes. I could imagine being in your shoes - dealing with an angry parent (in some ways much worse than an angry child) and feeling helpless. How can society help us confront this problem, instead of letting it overwhelm us?
Jacqueline: Definitely through education—of families and the healthcare professionals. That is why I wrote Elder Rage, launched my radio show and Elder Care Blog, and why I lecture around the country to families and professionals alike. It was so unbelievable what I went through that once I solved it, I was so furious with our unsympathetic medical system and about all I had been forced to learn the hard way. Had I known then what I know now, or if I had been able to read my own book when my caregiving journey began, I could have figured it out so much sooner.
Yvonne: The idea of a 'sandwich' generation took hold some time ago - women who are busy caring for their own, immediate family, especially kids, and also being required to care for elderly parents often suffering from dementia. Surely, this isn't new. After all, my parents had to take care of their parents, while still raising children. What's made it different today?
Jacqueline: Most people didn’t live long enough to develop dementia 100 years ago, and nothing could be done about it until less than a decade ago anyway! At the turn of the last century the average lifespan was 47 and now we are blessed to live an average of 77.
Because of advances in medicine, people who would have previously died from an accident or illness are now surviving and living long enough to develop dementia. And in the old days, families lived in the same vicinity--while today families are spread out across the country, making it harder for adult children to care for their parents when they need help.
And in the old days, most women didn’t work--they stayed home raising children and caring for elderly parents. Today--women work, raise kids, take care of a home, AND have to figure out how to manage elderly parents. And, back then we had a couple TV channels and Life Magazine. There wasn’t the media coverage letting us know what was really going on in the world. Now, when BREAKING NEWS happens, anywhere in the world, we are instantly informed. So our eldercare problems have been brought to light and magnified--while our world has gotten smaller.
Yvonne: I no longer have my copy of your book since I lent it to a friend (isnt' that what good books are for?) but I remember feeling your frustration and your anger. Is it okay to feel angry? How does one reconcile that anger?
Jacqueline: I don’t think I have ever been so angry in my entire life and didn’t even know I needed a support group. Once I figured out that all my emotions were normal, I learned to reach out to others who had gone before me and asked for their help to guide me.
Yvonne: In your interview with Katie Couric, you seemed so relaxed and focused. I watched it online as I was not near a TV when it aired. The visual you is very powerful. Have you considered doing a DVD of the book, to offer folks who just can't find time to read...but who would be interested in these kinds of interviews - either listened to in the car, or watched at home?
Jacqueline: Thank you, and the four questions she was supposed to ask me—were NOT the questions she asked—so I was winging it! I just had to put the 7 million viewers out of my mind and just talk to Katie! And yeah, that and so many things are on my list of things to do, just not enough time. I am the author, publisher, radio producer/host, public speaker, PR person, Blogger, shipper, accountant and receptionist!
I have been asked to turn Elder Rage into an audio cassette, DVD training video, Braille, large print, and many foreign languages--but unfortunately major projects like that went on hold when I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago—I believe from the stress of caring for my parents for so long. I am now in remission and have focused my favorite goals toward hosting a nationally syndicated radio show, "Dear Jacqueline", and writing a syndicated column of the same name. I’d like to be the household brand name like "Dr. Phil-amina" who helps people with their aging parent problems. But, my biggest goal is LOW STRESS and continuing to breathe--so, we’ll see.
Yvonne: You have an online radio show - what are you looking for in guests? How does one approach you to suggest a guest, or offer themselves as a guest?
Jacqueline: Yes, I launched "Coping with Caregiving" in July 2002 to help caregivers worldwide and have interviewed over 700 healthcare professionals now. I am always looking for dynamics guests with important healthcare/caregiving information. Anyone interested should take a look at the show and then email me their SHORT pitch and I will email you back how it all works.
Yvonne: Elder Rage is a commanding book and topic, and just one aspect of aging. What others should we all be aware of, and do you have books to read about them? I'm thinking - how does one decide when it's time to enroll a parent in assisted living, and who pays? And, what happens if the diagnosis isn't dementia...but something life-threatening? Where does one turn?
Jacqueline: Ohhh gosh, there are so many great books, but I think the best thing is to look up your subject on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, and then also read the reviews people have given the various books you are considering, as that is a powerful indicator. I am so honored to have received 209 five-star reviews on Elder Rage—who knew when I was going through all that heartache and misery it would lead me to write something that would help so many other people. Amazing, I just started writing to purge it out of me!
Actually, you know the best on that would be my TODAY SHOW interview with Katie, as it was all about that issue of when it is time to place a loved one in an Assisted Living situation. You can view the interview online here and also read about that subject in detail on my Blog.
Yvonne: Can patients with dementia or Alzheimer's be fun, enjoyable? Tell us something uplifting...something that takes this topic from dark and dismal to encouraging and hopeful, if you can.
Jacqueline: Of course, there are always funny things that happen and you HAVE to find the humor to save your own sanity when you care for loved ones with dementia.
I remember once when Mom and Dad came home from Adult Day Care (my other big mission, just the greatest solution) and Mom said proudly, "Dad got a part-time job today." I said, "Reeeally, that’s great, what are you doing Dad?" (thinking they had given him some job at the center). They both BEAMED and Dad said, "I’m taking care of Clark Gable’s horses!" And Mom goes, "Yes honey, so we have to go shopping for hay!" I thought I’d die, it was so cute, they were so proud, both in the same little demented episode at the same time. I said, "Wow, what an honor—I am so proud of you!" Thank God they both forgot about it by the next day and I didn’t have to go looking for hay!
Yvonne: For my writers, can you give some hint on how to get a good book - a book that is written to help folks and touch lives, like yours, in front of the 'right' people -- not for the author's fame, but to help promote caring and caregiving, of all kinds? Your previous experiences, before writing the book, must have been helpful to you - and to us, as they enabled the world to have this information, but...for some writers, the door is slammed shut before they even begin writing. What advice do you have for them?
Jacqueline: That is a BIG ANSWER, gosh, you know I do private consulting on writing, self-publishing, how I got 50 famous people to endorse my book, how to market, on and on. It must sound cliché, but the biggest thing I think is to write what you KNOW and are very passionate about because you are going to be living with that topic for a long time to come. So many people say to me, "I loved Elder Rage! Why don’t you write about your breast cancer in the same way, with the humor, and help others with that? Because I DO NOT WANT TO RELIVE IT, even though I talk about BC in my keynotes. You better be in love with your subject matter, otherwise it is too hard to stick with it.
Yvonne: What's in the future for Jacqueline Marcell? Another blog, besides the one at Thirdage? Another book? Or, a vacation?
Jacqueline: Luckily, my work is my passion, can’t wait to get up everyday and get back to it, so we’ll see where it takes me next. But now it is 2 am, actually my normal bedtime, so it is time to quit!
This was a tough interview. Tough because I have a parent slowly falling into dementia, but... it was also a fabulous interview because Jacqueline is an expert of the highest quality - someone who speaks from real experience. I hope you learned something, I hope you found this helpful. Most of all, I hope you recognize how important this topic is - to the millions of women in the sandwich generation. Use it wisely in your on-going marketing to women online.
[In fairness to Jacqueline, I wanted to also include a bit more info, not included in this interview - for those who are truly interested in this topic and would like to learn more about it --
Jacqueline Marcell is a former college professor and television executive, who after the experience of caring for her elderly parents became the best-selling author of “Elder Rage”, a Book-of-the-Month Club selection being considered for a feature film. Over fifty endorsements include: Hugh Downs, Regis Philbin, and the National Adult Day Services Association--who honored her with their Media Award. She also received “Advocate of the Year” from the National Association of Women Business Owners at their Remarkable Women Awards. ]