Gabrielle loves ballet. When her grandmother presents her with tickets to Cinderella, she can hardly wait. But outside the theater after the magical performance, Gabrielle is frightened and confused by Grandmother’s strange behavior. Gabrielle’s mother explains that Grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease sometimes makes Grandmother forgetful, anxious, and agitated, but Gabrielle soon discovers that through music, she and Grandmother can share memories and make new ones. One night, Grandmother wakes the house in fear of an intruder, and cannot be calmed. But Gabrielle, remembers a way to break through Grandmother’s fear and help her relax again.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Linda A. Gerdner whose book Musical Memories charmed me from beginning to end. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and Linda A. Gerdner will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Linda A. Gerdner!
Linda A. Gerdner PhD, RN, FAAN pioneered the development of individualized music for persons with dementia (such as Alzheimer’s disease). She began this work in the early 1990s and has won national and international awards for her contributions. Her work has been the impetus for further testing by researchers and clinicians across the globe.
She developed an evidence-based protocol for the use of music in this population, now in its 6th edition. “Musical Memories” incorporates basic principles of this protocol to empower Gabrielle in maintaining a relationship with her grandmother. See website listed below for free resources to enhance the educational value of “Musical Memores.”
Now, how wonderful does Linda A. Gerdner sound?! Linda A. Gerdner is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy Linda A. Gerdner’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Would you please tell us readers a bit about your background that led you to write a children’s book on this topic.
As a nurse researcher, I pioneered the use of individualized music as an intervention for the reduction of challenging behaviors associated with anxiety and agitation in persons with dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) during the early 1990s. The guideline was originally published in 1996 and is currently in its 7thedition. This intervention has been used in various countries throughout the world.
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
While there is growing recognition for the importance of treating persons with Alzheimer’s disease in context of the family, too often the needs of grandchildren are overlooked. Musical Memories takes a unique approach to helping children understand Alzheimer’s disease.
The story emphasizes the importance of supporting preserved abilities in the person with dementia. For example, although those with Alzheimer’s disease may have impaired short-term memory, their long-term memory often remains intact well into the advanced stages of the disease. Importantly, the perception and processing of favorite music from an earlier time in life remains intact even after the ability to process the spoken word. This knowledge is translated and modeled into an age-appropriate story that is engaging and empowering to the child.
The story incorporates parallel scenes between Gabrielle and Grandma to facilitate a child’s understanding of Grandma’s experiences and feelings. Music serves as a catalyst for unveiling Grandma’s personhood, promoting communication, and eliciting positive memories. This story extends beyond impairment of short-term memory to include secondary symptoms and behaviors such as anxiety and agitation. The story helps to explain causes for these behaviors and includes the use of favorite music to reduce anxiety, and alleviating agitation. This is the first children’s book to explore the underlying cause of challenging behavior.
Music, based on personal preference, provides a humanistic, individualized approach to care. The story takes place primarily within a home setting that strives to promote Grandma’s independence while addressing safety issues and behavioral challenges associated with dementia.
Picture books with stories that describe children’s reactions to dementia and the associated challenging behaviors, may be used to model ways for children to interact with persons who has the disease.
Facilitating a child’s understanding of behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with dementia helps to promote an ongoing intergenerational relationships, such as that between Gabrielle and Grandma.
Musical Memories is intended to serve as a valuable resource to families, educators, and health care professionals. Inclusion of this book in public, university, school, and patient libraries located in hospitals and health clinics will promote family accessibility.
There are a number of other issues that must be taken into consideration when assessing a child’s response to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. These include; the child’s age, number of other children in the family, degree of closeness between the child and person with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the cultural background of the child. Importantly the child should be encouraged to remain involved with the person with dementia at a level that is appropriate to their ability and understanding
Author notes, that directly relate to and build on the contents presented in the story, strengthen its educational value. A website [https://gerdnerlinda.wixsite.com/musicalmemories] was developed that provides leaning resources for family members, kids, health care professionals, and teachers.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
Read, read, read. Experience as much as life as possible. Remain curious about the world around you. Learn as much about writing as possible. Practice writing. Attend book readings at libraries or watch book readings on television. Practice writing about your life experiences. Join a writing group to learn from each other.
When selecting a topic to write, choose one that you feel passionate about. Are books available on this topic? If not, maybe it is a book waiting to written by you. If one or more books on this topic has been written, is there an important aspect that you want to learn about.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
I want to read books that I learn from, that make me think, and enrich my life at some level.
What is your writing process like?
I begin writing my initial ideas and thoughts about the story. Gradually the personality of the characters and the story line begin to evolve. Sometimes I will come up with an idea that seems to “pop” into my head that may change the story line completely. I continue to go with the flow and see where it takes me.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The amount and kind of research that I do in advance and throughout the writing process, depends on the type of book that I am writing. The two children’s book that I have published are realistic fiction, meaning the story portrays the “real world” in all of its dimensions. For this reason, accuracy is very important. I have written other books, based on research of my own and others. Crediting the works of others is an important aspect in this type of writing.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
I usually become very passionate about writing and prefer writing in the morning hours when my mind is fresh, following a good night’s sleep. I also like a nice cup of cappuccino or latte to sip during the process of writing. Evening hours are devoted to the exploration of ideas that I might want to include in the story and reviewing the literature on specific ideas that might enrich the story.
A laptop computer facilitates the continuous process that I go through in revising the story. Toward the end I will read the written text out loud to see if the words flow properly and make sure I don’t have any areas that sound awkward or unclear.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy reading, especially biographies about persons I admire and respect. What was their childhood like? Who were the most influential people in their life. I enjoy reading about the path they took in achieving success. What struggles did they have along the way and how did they overcome these obstacles?
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
I am working on another children and family picture book now. I enjoy traveling and learning about persons of other cultures or ethnic groups. This story will focus on a family living in another country.
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Linda A. Gerdner! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,