YouTube video by Marilyn Christian: Sail on by Brent Hoag https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyRAhRZ4ud0. Brent Hoag wrote a poem for his wife, Sally, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The words were put to music by Songfinch and sung by Effee.
On page 92 of, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss: A Helpful Guide for Caregivers, which Brent Hoag helped me with, I explain about ambiguous loss, a term coined in the 1970s by Dr. Pauline Boss. It is the unfortunate situation whereby a loved one is still alive, but “lost” at the same time. They are physically present but psychologically absent. This happens when someone is affected by a disease such as Alzheimer’s or one of the many other neurocognitive disorders. Damage to and dying parts of the brain ultimately affects one’s personality. Some caregivers find writing can help them cope with their grief. Brent Hoag wrote a poem in 2021 called “Sail On” which is dedicated to his wife Sally (see below). He then had it made into a song, then naturally a video on YouTube followed (see above).
The book, “Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss: A Helpful Guide for Caregivers” that I helped author Angela G. Gentile in part to write, has been well-received with a lot of positive feedback. My original poem “Sail On,” which I dedicated to my wife Sally who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, appears on page 93 which follows Chapter 9 that I wrote addressing humour and coping in relation to Alzheimer’s/Dementia.
For your ease of reference purposes, I am also including the original poem that I wrote that went viral across Canada, the USA, and beyond. I am so grateful to have heard back from countless people who thank me and let me know how much the poem (and now song) resonate with them. It is also great to learn that it has been disseminated/shared within the Alzheimer Society British Columbia and amongst personnel primarily at the renowned UBC Brain Health Centre. The song “Sail On” was also played at a national conference on-line discussion at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
DEDICATED TO SALLY
So far from the shore
I feel like I am no more
So far from land
I am now a lost husband
I am losing you
You are going away
Like a lost horizon on a cloudy day
From the deck I will release a dove
As a sign for you the one I love
Even though you are still here
I find that you are no longer near
Because you went adrift at sea
I will never again really be me
I love you Sally wherever you are
My heart is broken because you have forever gone afar
Even though I have found the shore
The “we” and “us” are never more
Sail on my love
Sail on my love
I pray that you find my dove
That I sent to you my love
Until you are finally free
From the bonds of this cruel sea
I will see you one day beyond the horizon
And my heavy tears will be no more
As we join together once again
So far from the shore
Love, Brent 💙
A special thank you goes out to Brent for sharing his beautiful poem. My heart goes out to him.
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Note: Brent says, “Feel free to share and further disseminate this.”
If you would like to get a message to myself, Angela G. Gentile, or Brent Hoag, please use this form or leave a reply in the comments section below.
Who can you trust to provide you with services and products that tried, tested, and true? Who do you call when you need professional services, products, or advice? If you are not sure, I have the answer for you!
I am proud to announce I am now a member of the Quality Senior Servicesnetwork of trusted professionals in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Who are we?
Our brochure and website lists an impressive variety of professionals, including:
Disability Tax Credit Advisor
Licensed Insolvency Trustee (Accountant)
Clinical Social Worker (me!)
Speech and Swallowing Therapy (SLP)
Private Home Care
Home Medical Supplies
Professional Movers, Transition Specialists, and Estate Sales
Many of our members provide mobile or home visits. Accessibility is key. We know.
Our membership is always evolving and we are open to having new members who provide services to older adults and their families. All service providers are vetted and trusted, whether they are health sector, quality of life, or general professionals. We all come with a wealth of experience.
You will see us out at the “Pros Know Expos” and we are always willing to chat with you about your needs.
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker for Quality Senior Services
Complete the form below for more information on QSS or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here in Canada, January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month. To commemorate this event, I am thrilled to announce the release of my newest book, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss: A Helpful Guide for Caregivers (2022). This book has been in the making for a few years now and I am pleased with its completion. It is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and ebook (Kindle) format.
Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss is a fully revised and expanded version of my book, Caring for a Husband with Dementia. Caring for a Husband with Dementia, written in 2015, has been my number one seller and this new book is sure to enlighten everyone. It is written in gender-neutral language and will be relevant for all care partners and those who provide assistance and help to those struggling with cognitive decline and neurocognitive disorders.
My idea for this book came to me not long after I published, Caring for a Husband with Dementia. I had people asking me, “Where is the book for us husbands?” and “Where is my book? I am a child of a parent with dementia.” This got me thinking. So I started by having men who were caregivers look over the book. I had one man who was unable to complete his mission. So I had to continue to search for the right person(s) to help me.
Dubbed the “first aid kit” and “quintessential survival guide” for caregivers.
Eventually, I developed a friendship (through an online caregiver support group) with a man named Brent Hoag, whose wife Sally had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years prior. He was very keen on helping me and agreed to review the book from a male caregiver’s perspective. He is a prolific writer in support groups and online, so I knew he would be a great choice. His contributions to this book project were so valuable that I included his name on the front cover!
Brent’s contributions to Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss include a chapter on humour and his words of wisdom, experience, and advice are sprinkled throughout the book. You can sense the love for his wife in his words and the challenges he endured and how he handled them with loving care.
In this expanded volume I include special chapters on delirium, drinking, driving, and doggy dementia. In the seven years since I wrote my first book on dementia, caregivers have come to me with some very challenging situations that are unfortunately more common than we realize. The dementia-affected brain can pose so many difficult situations for caregivers, so this book is sure to shed some light on how to cope and manage.
Getting a Diagnosis
Asking for Help
Practical and Emotional Support
Caregiver Burnout and Self Care
Humour as a Coping Strategy
Long-Term Care Placement
Loss, Grief, and Bereavement
Communication (includes Therapeutic Reasoning®)
Coping with Difficult Behaviour (the biggest chapter with tons of tips!)
Abuse and Neglect
Legal and Financial Preparedness
Delirium and the Older Adult
Problem Drinking and Dementia
These 210 pages are full of support, tips, and advice that everyone can learn from whether you are a informal care provider or a formal caregiver. Problems with one’s memory and recalling recent events is often one of the first signs of dementia. I have included the term “memory loss” in the title in case a failing memory is the main problem one is having.
If you would like to purchase a copy, I always have some available on hand, or you can purchase the book online from Amazon. Contact me using the form below for any other inquiries, or click on these links to go to Amazon (USA – change country if needed):
Angela G. Gentile is a clinical social worker who has worked with thousands of clients and their families. She has a specialization in aging and has been working with older adults for more than 25 years. Angela is married, has two adult children, and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
I helped coach a caregiver and his friend through what was a very stressful and horrible day. It ended well, but the experience leaves me angry and I thought I should share it, in the hopes that it will help someone else.
This is a true story of a father and son. Names and other identifying information has been changed to protect identity and confidentiality. I will call the father Mr. Smith, the son Donald, and the friend Krista.
Mr. Smith, 62 years old, was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago. He and his family learned about this diagnosis while he was a patient at the hospital. His son had told the hospital staff that he and his partner at the time couldn’t look after his dad at home any longer and there was no other family members who could look after him. The hospital told the son that if he didn’t take his dad home, he would be sent to a homeless shelter. This didn’t sit right with Donald, so he took his father home.
Fast forward five years later. Donald calls me to say his father has been needing increased care and supervision. He needs to be fed, showered, dressed, and on three occasions he has left the home without notice and was unable to safely return due to his declining cognition. He was unsafe to be left alone for long periods of time. More recently, Mr. Smith left the home and the police were called. Mr. Smith was found on a bus. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going. This was the last straw for Donald. He knew it was time to have his father placed into long-term care.
I advised Donald that he could call Home Care and get the ball rolling for either home care services (which they tried in the past but had failed) or an assessment for long term care, such as personal care home admission. Donald said that it was getting too difficult for him to manage and that he needed this dealt with, urgently. I then advised that he should take his dad to the hospital and tell the medical professionals that his dad is not safe and he can no longer safely and adequately care for his father at home. Donald is the only care provider and told me that any other family members who are aware of the situation agree with the hospitalization and potential admission to personal care home.
Donald and his friend Krista took Mr. Smith to the emergency department that had a shorter waiting time than the other hospitals. They arrived at 9:00 am with an anticipated three-hour wait. I had coached Donald on what to say when he and his dad arrived at triage. That seemed to go well.
What didn’t go well was the three-hour wait turned out to be much longer. Mr. Smith was starting to get agitated. He didn’t understand why he was there. Donald didn’t know what to do so he asked me if I thought he should leave his dad there. I advised against it, however, Donald was getting very stressed and I suggested he talk to the nurse to let them know how he was feeling and to find out how long the wait was going to be.
Donald asked the nurse what would happen if they left. There were four people waiting ahead of Mr. Smith. The nurse at the time said, “Just let us know if you leave.”
Donald and Krista decided to wait another hour. When the hour was up, Donald called me again. He said, “We want to leave dad here, but are worried about what will happen if he decides to leave the hospital.” I said that now that he is in the hospital, he should be safe. The nurse had told you to let them know you are leaving, so if you must, just advise them and then go.
When he told the nurse (a different nurse as there had been a change), they told Donald that he can’t just leave his dad there. Donald said, “Well, you have two security guards at the door, so why can’t you just watch him so that he doesn’t leave. We don’t want him to get hurt.” They then told Donald that if he left his dad there, it would be considered “elder abuse.” Krista immediately responded with, “Don’t go using that term. You don’t know what we have been through. We are here because we want Mr. Smith to be safe. We don’t want a burnt out son and a possible mental breakdown on our hands.” Donald then said, “I have no legal authority over my dad. I have no Power of Attorney, I don’t run his life for him. He is not well, he has dementia, and he needs more care than what I can provide for him. I can’t take him home.”
I told Donald that he in no way would be guilty of elder abuse and that that was an absolutely inappropriate and unprofessional accusation by the person who said that. I told him the hospital have a very vested interest (and responsibility) in keeping his dad safe. I said, “Could you imagine the front page news tomorrow if, heaven forbid, your dad was injured or worse yet, killed, after he left the hospital under their watch?” It would not be your fault, it would be theirs. You have done all you can do and you are done. You are to be commended for the care and concern of your dad until now. It will take a team of trained staff to look after him. You can’t do it anymore.”
Soon after this, they miraculously found Mr. Smith a bed. Donald walked with his dad and the nurse to the emergency room bed. The nurse asked why Donald was following, and he said he wanted to make sure his dad was settled before he left. The nurse told Donald that there were going to be a lot of people seeing his dad, such as social workers, and other professionals and that this may take a while. Donald was satisfied, told them to call with any questions, and with that, went home.
The fact that Donald was accused of “elder abuse” is absolutely unacceptable. This absurd, unfounded accusation towards a burnt-out, stressed, grief-stricken son is horrific. I feel so badly for Donald. He had to basically “surrender” his dad to the healthcare system. One that has failed Mr. Smith and his son miserably. I sometimes wonder if the emergency departments do this on purpose in situations involving dementia – delaying the exam so long that the family decides to take their agitated, confused, frail loved one home rather than wait. Things have to change.
Donald went above and beyond over the last few years to care for his father at home, on his own. Home Care was tried, but it didn’t work for a variety of reasons. The healthcare system fails our family member caregivers time and time again. I see it and hear about it quite often.
For example, I know a dear older woman who is the wife of a man with dementia. She is also stressed and wanting to get her husband on the list for personal care home (PCH). She went through all the proper channels and she was told that he doesn’t qualify for PCH as he is “still able to do so much for himself.” She is burnt out, grieving, and at a loss for what to do next.
Our healthcare system here in Winnipeg, Manitoba needs to change. It needs to recognize the stress put upon the caregiver of a person with dementia. Our healthcare system needs to stop blaming caregivers, and telling them that they are guilty of elder abuse, when in fact they are doing the most difficult thing any loving family member can do (surrender their loved one to the long-term care program) to keep their loved one safe and cared for, while at the same time saving their own sanity. A caregiver already feels shame and guilt. Why add more pressure?
If you need any coaching, advocacy, or counselling regarding the difficulties associated with dementia care, please contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.
Cannabis (also known as marijuana) has suffered a fair share of stigma throughout the history of humankind. Even though plenty of its medicinal benefits have been known and tested for a long time, most of the world’s countries still keep cannabis illegal. Fortunately, Canada is not one of them any longer.
The Silent Generation and Baby Boomers clearly remember cannabis as illicit and all the stigma that went with it. One would think this mindset is perhaps the most difficult to change when it comes to fully embracing cannabis products, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Why Are Seniors So Attracted to CBD-Based Products?
The answer is rather simple: older age comes at a price — your body is not the same as it used to be when you were younger, and cannabis helps a lot. Your skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems have aged, and there are several age-related diseases seniors are prone to.
Some of these diseases can, however, be mitigated and battled using cannabis and its major constituents, cannabinoids (CBD). Such substances are diverse, and thus can help with plenty of symptoms and negative side effects.
The main reason a lot of older people lean toward cannabis and its products is that it is not like other heavy prescription drugs. It has hardly any worrying negative effects on your body, and it can benefit you greatly. These products do not harm your gastrointestinal tract and your nervous system, as opposed to prescription drugs for various pains, inflammations, and diseases. Still, cannabis is also offered as a prescription drug and should be treated as such; this means that its abuse can result in cannabis use disorder that leads to severe side effects.
The National Cannabis Survey conducted by the government of Canada revealed that there has been a rise in cannabis use in seniors. Statistically, just over 40,000 people aged 65 and older used cannabis in 2012. As of 2019, the number rose to more than 400,000 people from this age group who consumed cannabis.
Age-Related Diseases and Cannabis
Diseases such as arthritis, glaucoma, dementia, osteoporosis, and adult-onset diabetes are some of the most common ones that come with old age. Cannabis is, however, known to help with all of them and many others.
Osteoporosis and bone-weakening diseases are some of the most common ones for older adults. They cause severe pain, limited activity and mobility, and overall weakness of your bones. Cannabis use is especially helpful when it comes to such diseases, as it speeds up the healing process of your skeletal system through osteoblast stimulation. These cells act as rebuilders and repairers of your bones, making them up to 50% stronger once the CBD treatment is finished.
Dementia is difficult to deal with, both for the one suffering from it and the person’s loved ones. Other than forgetting crucial things about your life, such as close family members and places, many people with dementia experience severe agitation, aggression, depression, and similar. The neuron cells saturated by excessive amounts of amyloid protein get inflamed, causing this vile disease. Luckily, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is there to reduce the amount of this protein, while inducing calmness.
Diabetes is a problem for a growing percentage of the world’s population, especially in adults and the elderly. Diabetes statistics show people who use cannabis have around 16% lower fasting levels of insulin compared to those who do not use it, and type two diabetes is rather uncommon in cannabis consumers.
Pain is linked to many diseases and is the most common symptom. Cannabis is known for its ability to reduce different types of pain. Factually, 62.2% of cannabis users choose this plant and products based on it so they can relieve chronic pain.
Arthritis, a disease that attacks joints, tends to trouble 1in 2 older people. The feeling of stiffness and pain, followed by fatigue and swelling are some of the most noticeable symptoms. A 2018 study from the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reports a strong bond between arthritis and depression, and seniors have been using cannabis to fight this disease. Not only that, but in 2018 they were up to 20 times more likely to admit they used marijuana in comparison to statistics from 1984.
As we enter an era where many symptoms, illnesses, and diseases are becoming a part of a blurry past due to technological advancement, older people can finally start experiencing a painless and easy day-to-day life. Cannabis is already making a massive change, as people opt for CBD-based products more and more every year, and we cannot wait to see this plant’s full spectrum of benefits in the future.
About the author: Bojana Petkovich is always on the lookout for new adventures and creative drives. Bojana is currently mesmerized by the fast-paced cannabis industry and providing the internet community with valuable information via LoudCloudHealth. The information on LoudCloudHealth is backed up by scientific studies. The articles on diseases and conditions treated by cannabis or CBD have sources to scientific research in their links. The statistics pages have their sources listed at the end of each article.
I suited up; packed up my signing pen, rack cards, business cards and candy dish and headed over to Coles with a positive mindset. I was looking forward to the event, hoping to connect with lots of people. Since I only sold one book at my first event (and the author sharing a table with me that day sold two books) I hoped to sell one or two books at my second event.
What I find most memorable from the event are the people who stoped by to chat. I appreciate when people open up and tell me their stories. My sister-in-law even stopped by on her lunch break to see me and I got her to take a picture (see above).
A middle-aged man stopped by to say he wants to buy the book for his wife. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not. But he went on to explain that he feels his chances of developing dementia are high because both of his parents had Alzheimer’s. He said his wife doesn’t want to talk about it. I encouraged him to take a rack card and wished him all the best.
People seemed to enjoy the candies I was offering. Many children stopped by to take a caramel or a Lifesaver. It was interesting to hear the parents direct them to, “Say thank you.” Some asked for permission to take, others just dove right in.
A younger couple told me about the man’s head injury from years ago and that he has been told he’ll most likely develop dementia when he gets older. He wanted his girlfriend to get the book so that when and if that time comes she’ll be well prepared. They were a sweet couple and she appears to be committed to the relationship and whatever may come down the road.
A few people took my rack card. It’s a bigger version of a bookmark with information about me and my products including my mobile app for caregivers. One young woman said she couldn’t afford to buy the book ($19.95 CDN) but asked me to sign the rack card for her. I told her I am working on getting the book into the library but that it takes time.
I chuckled to myself when a man in his late 70’s flirted with me. He told me how good I looked as he gave me a little wink and whistle. About a half-hour later he came back my way and he said I had nice legs. Both times I smiled and said, “Thank you.”
At the end of my two-hour event, a woman came to me with a smile, and told me I looked lonely. She went on to tell me about her experience of looking after her husband who had dementia. He eventually became quite aggressive and had to be moved to a nursing home. He died about a year ago. Now her neighbour is going through the same thing. She bought a book and asked me to sign it in memory of her late husband. She planned on sharing it with her neighbour or anyone else who may benefit from it.
I ended up reaching my goal for sales. Selling two books in two hours doesn’t seem like a lot, but I was told that some authors don’t sell any books. It has been the bookstore’s experience sometimes the customers come back during the week to purchase the book. Some of them don’t buy when the author is there, but choose to come back at a different time. I have also read that sometimes a person needs to hear about, read about, or see a book seven times before they buy it. So, any exposure is good exposure.
Overall, I really enjoyed my book signing event and I would say it went well. I especially enjoyed talking to people about their experiences. I learned that men want their partners to read this book. I also learned that men in their late 70’s like to flirt with middle-aged authors. 😉
Have a great day!
Angela G. Gentile
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker who specializes in aging. She has helped hundreds of people who are struggling with the challenges aging can bring. Angela is passionate about challenging ageist myths and stereotypes and exploring what it means to age well. She considers herself a realistic optimist but she still can’t tell her left from her right. Find out more at http://www.angelaggentile.com.
On Thursday, April 16, 2015, a book launch celebration for Caring for a Husband with Dementia was held at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg. There were approximately 55-60 people attending the event, and there was wine and other refreshments. The event was sponsored by Comforts of Home – Care. Click on the arrow above to watch the 26-minute video or go to this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyjUQcmnc14
Pictured above is my husband Agapito (who doesn’t have dementia) and I. He made brownies and they were very yummy.
I started out mixing with the crowd and I was pleased to see so many friendly and familiar faces. I handed out the books that I had gifted to some of the guests. I then moved on to do my presentation. It lasted about 25 minutes.
One of the wife caregivers (Merrilee) also presented and she did a great job. She presented with warmth, humour and honest emotion.
After the presentation, I signed books. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out what to say. I goofed up a couple of times, but I guess that’s to be expected. Not sure if it was the excitement or the wine, LOL. 🙂
I had a designated photographer and videographer, and I got some great shots and video. It went from 7:30 – 9:00pm. I received a dozen beautiful white roses and a gift of David’s Tea from some special friends.
All in all, it was a fantastic event, and I found the whole evening surreal. Thank you to all who made the event a memorable one.
Angela G. Gentile
Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W. is a clinical social worker who specializes in aging. She has helped hundreds of people who are struggling with the challenges aging can bring. Angela is passionate about challenging ageist myths and stereotypes and exploring what it means to age well. She considers herself a realistic optimist but she still can’t tell her left from her right. Find out more at http://www.angelaggentile.com.