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New book shares caregivers’ stories

A Not So Lonely Journey is a new resource for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, thanks to the Aline Zerrenner Dementia-Friendly Fund within the Community Foundation.

Aline and Walt Zerrenner

After Aline Zerrenner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009, her husband Walt began caring for her on a nearly full-time basis. But finding resources for help, or even insight, for how to manage the job was tough. He read medical and legal white papers and books, but they weren’t personable and relatable.

He and Cynthia Thompson, from Family Caregivers Rock, put the word out to care groups, care facilities and on social media, and compiled 25 stories of caregivers’ journeys into a 240-page book titled “A Not So Lonely Journey.”

The Aline Zerrenner Dementia-Friendly Fund within the Community Foundation supported the nonprofit with a grant to publish the first-hand stories shedding light on the often-difficult job, providing insight and inspiration.

While every story may not be relatable to every caregiver, most people can find the value in a deeper understanding of the difficult work.

Walt Zerrenner

“The book is intended to support family caregivers as well as help family, friends, coworkers and employers understand the journey of a family caregiver,” Zerrenner says. “The book also sends the message that there is support for all caregivers and it does not have to be a lonely journey.”

The storytelling project started in 2018 with their first book, “A Lonely Journey.” More caregivers requested another book. Thompson decided that with the effectiveness of support groups, the second book should be called “A Not So Lonely Journey.”

“During the pandemic, several family caregivers shared that reading the first book again brought them comfort and helped them get through their tough days,” she says. “Family caregivers who have shared their journeys in the first and second book have expressed a sense of relief in that having put their words on paper has allowed them to somewhat let go of the past.”

Thompson and volunteers proofed the pages and coordinated artwork and publishing. “Compiling these books has been an honor and I am proud to have been a part of offering comfort and support to family caregivers,” she says.

“A Not So Lonely Journey” can be ordered online with a $10 donation or on the Family Care Givers Rock Facebook page here. It is also accessible at some local libraries.

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