Rosella Leslie is the author of three published novels and six nonfiction books, including the award-winning, co-authored, Stain Upon the Sea and Bright Seas, Pioneer Spirits. She has published numerous articles in magazines and local newspapers and edited two published books. Her short story, Consistency was a winner in the 2015 Canadian Tales of the Heart Short Story Contest and Stuck on a Rock won Honorable Mention in the Prairie Fire 2016 Fiction Contest. In 2021 she received a grant from the BC Arts Council to write a book about her experiences as the primary caregiver of a person with dementia.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Rosella has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia, living for several years on a float house at the head Salmon Inlet, twenty-five miles by boat from the town of Sechelt. She was one of the founding members of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts. In 2002 she won the BCCPAC George Mathew Award for Excellence in Parent Leadership. In recent years she has been actively advocating for caregivers of persons with dementia and helped establish Memory Café—a social/exercise program for persons with dementia and their caregivers. The result is Losing Us: A Dementia Caregiver's Journey published in October 2022.
A Survival Guide to Dementia Caregiving
This talk is based on my book, Losing Us: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journey, which combines the story of my twelve-years as caregiver for my late husband, John with caregiving strategies and resources.
As with most caregivers, I learned about dementia and caregiving through trial and error and plenty of tears, guilt and frustration. I waited far too long to seek help, but when I did reach out to others, the support I received saved my life. In time, I joined with others to advocate for changes that would help caregivers to be better, healthier and happier and to feel more fulfilled as they care for their loved one. I also helped develop, and still help to run Memory Café, a local, weekly two-hour program modelled after the Alzheimer Society’s Minds in Motion program for persons with dementia and their caregivers that includes one hour of physical exercise and one hour of socializing—games, sing-alongs and conversation.
In this talk I help caregivers understand that the dark emotions they feel as they stumble through their task of caring for someone with dementia are natural and not a sign that they have become horrible people. I also show them how and where to find not just relief from those feelings, but also the help they need to handle this enormous responsibility.