A Journey Through Alzheimer’s Part 2

RJ ThesmanToday we continue our interview with RJ Thesman, author of The Unraveling of Reverend G. To recap, RJ’s father battled trauma-induced dementia for 10 years. He died in 2008. Doctors recently diagnosed her mother with Alzheimer’s. This life experience inspired her book about Reverend G.

If you have a question for RJ, post it in the comments or send an email to admin [at] GloryandStrength.com. On Friday, I’ll post RJ’s answers to readers’ questions.

Let’s dive into today’s questions and answers.

Debra: A cat that forecasts death?How did you come up with an idea like that?

RJ: Many years ago, before there was even an inkling about Reverend G, I read an article about a cat that was on staff in a nursing home in the Northeast. He visited the rooms of people who were about to die, because he had the uncanny ability to sense the toxic chemicals that the body gives off when it dies. The staff then called in the families for their last good-bye.

Since then, I have talked to many health professionals who have seen this happen, not only with cats but also with dogs. We know that animals have an extra God-given sense to relate to their owners, feel our pain, and know when to comfort us.

So it was just a natural part of the plot line that one day I was typing along and there was Gabriel, the cat at Cove Creek who knows how to forecast death.

Debra: My parents decided for themselves to move into an independent villa of an assisted living community, thus sparing me and my siblings that difficult task. Researching and choosing an assisted living facility can be hard. Where did you get the model for Cove Creek, the assisted living facility Reverend G chooses?

RJ: Cove Creek isn’t any one model, but a composite of all the places my dad and I served together. Every Sunday afternoon while I was in high school, we visited nursing homes and presented a program of music and faith. I saw people in their last stages of life, listened to funny stories, and held aging hands.

Since then, I have worked in an organization that sends chaplains into care facilities, and I have visited many places as I completed research and spoke to family members and staff. The staircase at Cove Creek comes from one of those beautiful places. Reverend G’s apartment is from another place. The dining room is from the facility where my mom now lives. And everywhere I’ve visited, I’ve found incredible staff people like Roxie – who truly love their residents.

Debra: What happens next?Rev_G_Cover

RJ: I’m completing the editing process for the 2nd book and doing research for the 3rd. I’m itching to get into the 3rd book to continue the story. I now have people stopping me in the grocery store and asking, “Do they get married?” or “What would Reverend G do about …” (whatever situation they are going through).

I usually answer by saying, “I can’t tell you,” or “I don’t know yet. Reverend G hasn’t told me.”

Debra: RJ, thank you so much for sharing the Reverend G with us this week and being so honest about your struggles as you journey through your mother’s Alzheimer’s. What top 3 tips do you have for caregivers?

RJ: Keep Laughing – find the humor so that you won’t become bitter.

Take Care of Yourself – if you don’t, you’ll wear down from the stress and you’ll be sick.

Pray – for patience, perseverance and for someone to discover a cure.

The Unraveling of Reverend G, published by CrossRiver Media Group, is filled with comfort, insight, and humor for all readers, but especially for those whose loved ones are battling dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is available in both paperback and on Kindle. Put the title in the Amazon search box on this site and you’ll help support the ministry of Glory and Strength with your purchase through our affiliate program with Amazon.

Be sure to leave your question for RJ in the comments below.

BIO: RJ Thesman has been a writer since she flipped open her Red Chief tablet and scribbled her first story. Thesman is a Biblical Counselor, a Stephen Minister and a Certified Christian Life Coach. She enjoys teaching writing workshops and helps beginning writers birth their words. She enjoys reading, gardening and cooking and lives in the heartland of Kansas with her son and an elderly cat. http://www.rjthesman.net http://www.Facebook.com/rjthesman


  1. Do you have any tips for those researching assisted living facilities?

  2. Get all the info you can by talking to staff and other families who have loved ones there. Visit on different days of the week and at different times. Think of the life story of your loved one. Would she enjoy this place if she could choose it? Are there things about this place that would make her/him feel peaceful and at home? Does it smell clean and are the furnishings in good shape? Nobody wants their loved one in a sub-par facility.

  3. You mentioned trauma induced dementia, which I assume is referring to some physical trauma that caused the dementia to begin. Is there such a thing as emotional induced dementia?

  4. Yes. Psychological and emotional stress can lead to an increased risk of dementia. Stress affects the adrenals which help to protect us from illness, so emotional stress can greatly affect our immune systems and our cognitive functions. Although no definite stats are available, my research has shown that emotional stress sets up more of an inclination for dementia. And all caregivers know that long-term stress can make them sick.