Chandler man authors books on dementia’s impact - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler man authors books on dementia’s impact

November 26th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler man authors books on dementia’s impact
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SanTan Sun News Staff

Dementia has touched Chandler resident Larry Calkins so deeply that he recently published two books about the disease’s impact on him and his family.

“Memories and Forgetfulness” focuses on how the disease first claimed Calkins’ grandmother and then his father, Travis Calkins, and how their affliction affected him and his family.

He tells his story with “Letters to Sarah” and “Failing Memory,” the first about his grandmother’s affliction.

“Both books describe the difficult tasks of caring for a person who is forgetful and provide anecdotes or short stories about caregiving, love, loss and grief as loved ones navigate with the person with this debilitating disease,” he said.

He said he drafted the stories as “riveting accounts of the interactions, told with humor, introspection and the serious business of finding the right mix of caregiving” and says the books are “a must read for those who find themselves as family members or those caring for patients with dementia.”

“I initially wrote both books for myself as I processed my own grief,” Calkins said, “but I also wanted my family to remember the remarkable people who raised me and I wanted to explain the struggles they had coping with this formidable disease.

“So, I wrote for family members so they could understand how I remembered the senior members of our family. Yet, other folks in other families also struggle with the care of loved ones inflicted with dementia. My hope is that they also read the books and find a degree of peace or solace from my experiences and that they are not alone in their feelings of grief.”

“Letters to Sarah” is his father’s mother and the letters his dad wrote to his dad’s sister helping her manage the disease.

“Later in the book, my father discusses his forgetfulness and how he is dealing with the onset of his disease,” Calkins said. “The letters end when the disease steals his ability to write further.”

In “Failing Memory,” Calkins explores the relationship he had with his father from the moment he told him about his disease to his passing in 2009.

“In the end he is placed on hospice and I write about the agonizing decisions my family and I made,” Calkins said.

A Chandler resident since 2017, Calkins said he worked an environmental field in Oregon.

“I have been told the books are touching and emotional and that the reader sometimes needed to keep tissues handy,” he said. “I believe the books provide a glimpse into the day to day impacts of dementia on family members, caregivers and the person receiving care.”

Calkins said his father was 73 when diagnosed with dementia and he was 46.

“I was not a full-time caregiver for my father, but during the mid stages of his dementia, I gave my mother a periodic reprieve for a few weeks at a time,” he said.

The books are not Calkins’ first foray into writing.

He also has published “To Endure,” which he said was “inspired by my grandparents’ struggle through the Great Depression.

The books are available on amazon.com or through Calkins. Write him at memoriesandforgetfulness@gmail.com