Janet M. Stone has eclectic training in holistic health and expressive therapies. For six years she was the primary caregiver of both her parents and their home in Haverhill, MA. First it was her mother, a tiny Irish woman whose body was slowly giving out on her. Then her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
After her mother declined for several years and died of heart failure in 1989 at 89. Stone continued to care for her father at his home for two years. He then went to live in an Alzheimer's unit at the Glynn Memorial in Haverhill. Soon she was volunteering to conduct a reminiscence program with 14 patients, many of who became friends. "I'd go to the unit and their heads would be tipped to the side and they would be staring off into space," Stone said. "But when I left 40 minutes later, those who could would be laughing as a group." She was affective by speaking of how something smelled and how something felt, using all the senses, she explained. "I'd talk about my grandmother's cellar, about baked beans and hot dogs, and radio programs, how my mother made her own root beer and stored it under the cellar stairs. And I would help them bring back their own memories."
Stone continued to run the program, which she describes in the last chapter of the book, while her father was at the Glynn and then for another 1 1/2 years after he died of a heart attack in 1992, at age 91. In 1994, Stone, who had not written for publication before, decided she wanted to share her experiences. "I felt I had a story that I really needed to tell, and it was about our unique attitude toward dying." Stone said. "My parents never saw themselves as victims. They saw dying as part of life's process. I learned those positive attitudes from them. The message is be positive. Stone said. For us it really worked.
Today, Stone 70 is living in Hampton, N.H., with her husband, Gordon. The two have been married 49 years and they have three children and five grandsons. She continues her with her work as a motivational speaker, and conducts workshops, appears as guest speaker before Alzheimer Association groups, and libraries, addresses nursing and assisted living homes telling her story with untold conviction. Her book, published by Vantage, is still found on-line at janetmstone.com. and amazon.com. Janet is available for guest appearances and book signings.
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"For six years I became the primary caretaker of my parents and their home. I cannot recall
another time in my life which filled me with such exhaustion and, ironically, such pure energy
- Author Janet M. Stone