So I’ve been a nurse for over 50 years, in hospital and community settings. My desire to work with caregivers arose when I was the sole caregiver for both my parents. It was grueling trying to balance work and my home life. It made me wonder how “lay” people manage this when I’m blessed with training and professional skills… and still twitching. In the mid-1980’s, the only nursing intervention we knew was to “support the family and encourage ventilation.” Translation: offer help we knew nothing about and encourage people to express their feelings. In other words: zilch.

Which is why I focused on caregiving issues and how to establish useful nursing protocols to serve caregivers when I matriculated for my B.S. in Nursing at Alfred University. But I was no expert in dealing one on one with a person suffering from dementia.

Enter Debra Kostiw

Like me, Debra traveled the “adult child of parent (s) who need help” journey. Our similar desire to help caregivers led to our friendship. While I approach caregiving in a more general way, and share expertise when I find it (like in this blog), Debra is a Certified Alzheimer’s Instructor, so her advice about dealing with people suffering dementia is spot on. Her YouTube channel, Answers About Alzheimer’s,, and now her recent book, Forget Me Not, are goldmines of information to help caregivers of people with dementia.

What Friends Get You Into

When Debra asked me to play the part of a demented mother in a few of her videos, I thought that’s a bucket list experience that should be a hoot. And it was! From the scene click board, to several takes, and reading from our teleprompters, I felt like an actress. (Actually, my friends who have seen the videos chuckle and smile a lot. I have no idea what that means, but I have my suspicions.)

The first video we did was about dealing with a person’s hallucinations. I learned my first reaction to show them how they did not see or hear what they thought they did… was the opposite of what I should do. In Chapter 3 of her book, “Validate and Captivate versus Correct and Persuade,” she explains the whys of the do’s and don’ts, and correct responses.

Here’s the link to the videos we did.

How to Manage Alzheimer’s Hallucinations: Offer Reassurance: Answers About Alzheimer’s

Talking with Senior Parents: Forgetting Medications

How to Talk to Someone with Dementia on the Phone: Repetitive Phone Calls: Answers About Alzheimer’s

Reading Forget Me Not and watching her videos on her Your Tube channel, Answers About Alzheimer’s, makes me realize that both should be mandatory for health care professionals and staff in facilities, and not only caregivers.

Thanks for your work, Debra.