Jean Lee, of Litchfield Township, is shown at a book-signing event for “Alzheimer’s Daughter.”
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When local author Jean Lee published “Alzheimer’s Daughter” in January 2015, she thought it was going to “draw dust and grow mold” in Amazon’s basement.
That’s not been the case.
Lee said her 261-page book became a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon, as well as a top 100 book in the Alzheimer’s category. It’s a memoir about her parents, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
“It’s done so much better than I ever expected,” she said. “It just keeps chugging along.”
Lee, of Litchfield Township, has been invited to the “Together We Can” Dementia Education Conference sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association’s Western Carolina Chapter on Aug. 29 at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.
The event is geared toward health care professionals, caregivers and people living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia.
“I’m so honored,” she said of her invitation to the seminar. “It’s an incredible experience. Having this growing accumulation of books is a powerful resource. The Alzheimer’s Association is coming to see it as such.”
The front cover of Jean Lee’s self-published book, “Alzheimer’s Daughter.”
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After publishing her book, she joined forces with Vicki Tapia of Montana and Marianne Sciucco of New York to found AlzAuthors.com in 2015. AlzAuthors.com, a nonprofit website that provides resources for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, along with their caregivers.
Authors Kathryn Harrison, of Canada, and Ann Campanella, of North Carolina, joined the AlzAuthors.com administrative team in 2017.
Lee said she hopes to end the “silence and stigma” about the disease. The Greater East Ohio Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 3,500 people with Alzheimer’s in Medina County.
Lee said AlzAuthors.com includes personal stories.
“It’s not based on science or stages of the disease or preventative (measures),” she said. “These are real stories of real people who have traveled that journey.”
She said she was moved by one book, “Mike and Me,” about a woman who took care of her husband who had Alzheimer’s. “They had a code when things got out of control,” Lee said. “She would clink her wedding ring on his. That would calm him down.”
Retired after 22 years teaching third grade at Black River Elementary School, Lee said she read everything on the subject that she could get her hands on once her parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s on the same day.
Lee didn’t use her parents’ real names in the book. She referred to them as Ed and Ibby Church. Both were Medina County residents.
“My parents were private people,” Lee said. “When they were diagnosed, they didn’t want anyone to know. I had much guilt in publishing their story. I thought I’d be struck by lightning.”
After they were diagnosed, she said there was a steady decline in their health. Her mom died in 2010 and her dad died a year later.
“I’d stop every day after work,” Lee said. “I knew they were unsafe. I watched that for two or three years before my sister and I convinced them a move had to happen. We moved them against their will (to a nearby facility).”
Now her focus is on AlzAuthors.com.
“We’re writing to convince others that there is power and purpose in a person’s life even after they are diagnosed,” Lee said. “We have authors worldwide who have contributed, from as far away as the United Kingdom and South Africa. It breaks down political barriers.”
Lee’s memoir was self-published on the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and Kindle in 2015. It sells in paperback on Amazon for $12.95.