Ron Kauffman, author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease
Ron Kauffman is a 40-year veteran of business. He attended Long Island University, C.W. Post College, and St. John’s University Graduate School of Business. For 4-years, he hosted and produced Senior LifeStyles Intelligent Live Talk Radio, a program that addressed health, wealth and lifestyle issues facing boomers and seniors. He is a syndicated columnist for a newspaper in North Carolina, and author of the recently released book, Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease, published by Senior LifeStyles Press, and a contributor of articles about caregiving and aging issues to several print and online magazines.
Ron is the president of Resources for Successful Aging, a company that provides individual and family consulting assistance in planning for and dealing with the broad range of challenges of aging including: situational assessment, Medicare & Medicaid planning, elder law, advance directives, financial longevity, long term care planning and care management needs.
Ron’s accomplishments include: 2004, earned his designation as a Certified Senior Advisor; 2005 was selected to attend the White House Conference on Aging; 2006, the 8-State Southeastern Associations of Area Agencies on Aging presented him with their Positive Images Of Aging Award for his contributions to the aging population; 2007 Ron was selected as a Fellow by the National Press Foundation for his work in broadcast journalism, and attended the Washington, DC conference on “Retirement in the 21st Century.”
He and his wife, Lisa, who is in private practice as a Geriatric Care Manager, live in Jupiter, Florida.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
Caring For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease provides a wealth of information for caregivers and professionals alike. Too often families postpone learning about this disease and lose valuable time preserving quality of life and dignity. My experience as a caregiver allows the reader to understand the complexities and pitfalls of Alzheimer’s, and answers many questions most people will eventually have. It is a must read for anyone wanting to be a better caregiver.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I have been writing most of my adult life. I began writing business articles when I was working in the corporate world, and ultimately wrote a book about sales force automation that was published in 1989.
When I got into the live talk radio world, my focus was exclusively on issues facing boomer and seniors, and I decided to find a way to provide much of the information my expert guests were expressing during the more than 500 live shows we did during the 4-years of the live program called Boomer & Senior LifeStyles.
My break came when I met the owner/publisher of a small newspaper in western North Carolina. I “pitched” him on my idea for a column called “Senior LifeStyles” and have been writing that column for his paper for more than 2 years.
With the publication of my book, I contacted a number of magazines that focus on the family and caregiving. Two of those publications accepted a proposal from me, and I am now writing a monthly column for Gilbert Guide that has a very large online subscription base, and will also begin writing for the quarterly publication, “Families of Loved Ones” (FOLO) next quarter.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I begin every day of the week at 6:15 AM leaving the house by about 6:45 AM and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays meet up with my friends for a 40-70 mile bicycle ride usually along the ocean from Jupiter through Jupiter Island to a small town called Hobe Sound. On Mondays & Fridays I start off at 7 AM in the gym working with weights and take Wednesdays off to rest my weary body.
After breakfast, I park myself in front of the computer and check all of the feeds that I get from a myriad of sources dealing with health, wellness, caregiving and aging issues – sometimes hundreds of articles plus political input that may impact our healthcare system. I review my deadline calendar, and if I have less than 1-month before deadline, I research and write my article and have it ready for edit and review weeks before deadline.
I also write and produce a weekly audio Podcast that can be heard from my website, and have a library of 40-Podcasts available on iTunes. The topics all have to do with health, wealth and lifestyle issues facing boomers & seniors.
I spend at least 4 to 8 hours a day doing research, writing or audio production from my home-based office.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
I love my home-based office. It was supposed to be a large bedroom, but with no kids at home, my wife suggested I convert it to my office. I has plenty of daylight streaming in from the east, and allows me to look up and see the palm trees and gorgeous blue skies of southern Florida.
My large curved chrome and glass-top desk surrounds me on 3-sides and for 30-plus hours a week is my little world. And I do my best to keep my world orderly and clear. On my desk I have a computer monitor, both an inkjet and color laser printer, a small adding machine, my telephone, my desk organizers for mail, pens and markers, a blotter with a paper clip holder, a stapler and scotch tape dispenser – that’s it. There are two small audio speakers that deliver music from Pandora all day as I work, plus my desk-based microphone that I use for Podcast recording – but those are behind the monitor to conserve space. The actual computer is stored beneath the desk. There are 2-small bookcases next to me, and 3-file cabinets that fit nicely under the desk. Everything I need, from my wastebasket to a commercial shredder are within a few feet of my desk and I simply push my wheeled office chair to any item I need to reach.
There is a matching chrome and glass étagère in one corner with photos of my grandchildren and some personal items on its shelves, and against the wall across from my desk is a parson’s table with more photos of my kids and grandchildren as well as some of my favorite small western bronzes.
The wall behind the parson’s table is decorated with some of the awards I’ve received for my work in broadcasting, journalism, and community service.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
My favorite books are just that – well written stories, both fiction and nonfiction that I read for escape and enjoyment. I would love to be able to say that I’ve been influenced by some of my favorite writers, but that would be untrue. Having said that, some of my favorite books include: anything by David Balducci or Vince Flynn in the nonfiction world, and David McCullough’s work in John Adams and Paul C. Nagel author of John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life, both wonderfully well written biographies.
My inspiration for my book came from my years of caring for my mother, and from reading many books related to caregiving and Alzheimer’s disease by some wonderful authors. I realized as I read their work that those books were heavy, in-depth reading with a great deal of information.
However, for a family member just learning that s/he is about to become an Alzheimer’s caregiver for mom or dad, there was nothing on the market that could be called a basic primer. New caregivers need to read about the disease and road that both the patient and caregiver could look forward to traveling, albeit reluctantly. Since I could find no book that did that, I wrote it.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
a. I am a cancer-survivor and at age 60 competed in the Florida State Senior Games and qualified to compete.
b. I am an avid bicyclist. I ride 4-days/week totaling about 8000 miles/year.
c. I have 5 grandchildren, which in itself isn’t interesting or crazy, but the fact that 4 of them, all girls, live with my son and his wife in Johannesburg, South Africa is unusual. No we don’t see the kids on weekends!
7. Favorite quote
Actually, I have two favorite quotes:
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, ‘Holy shit…what a ride!’” Anonymous
“Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.”
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
BEST: I love being creative and doing something that only a relatively few people really do or do it well. The best part is knowing that what I write, while it may entertain, can make a difference in lives, particularly my articles on health, aging and caregiving.
WORST: Writing is a difficult way to make a full time living or a meaningful income, and there are days when for whatever reason, the muse that usually visits me to provide inspiration and ideas, for no apparent reason takes the day off. This can be particularly troubling if I’m facing a deadline that day.
9. Advice for other writers
While it’s a difficult and challenging vocation or avocation, if it’s what you love, stick with it. Aim high, set lofty goals, but be realistic about your expectations. There are hundreds of thousands of books written and published each year, and with the Internet and self-publishing, it’s very difficult to be found and recognized in a sea of both real and aspiring writers. Consider writing for magazines that offer payment for articles and stories, and look for those that publish themes that are in line with topics you’re passionate about, and want to write about throughout the year.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
Persevere! I found that most of my acquaintance and even my friends were not taking on the role of cheerleaders for my writing efforts. While they thought what I was doing was “interesting,” none volunteered to read rough drafts. As I wrote the book (more on that in a moment) I realized that my friends who, like me, are in their 60’s and older are focused on their own issues ranging from financial challenges to health problems. Therefore, my book became much more of a personal issue, relevant primarily to me. And by the way, that was not only okay but was a good test of commitment to writing the book.
Previously I mentioned my muse, and I’m almost embarrassed to say that on the day I began writing the book, based on a list of chapter headings I had developed a few days earlier, my muse was kind enough to not only visit, but spend the entire day, almost 8-hours guiding my mind and my fingers as I put words to computer. At the end of that day, I realized that I had completed almost 10,000 words on “paper,” and the first draft of the book was actually completed.
Within the next few weeks I completed the tasks of getting my ISBN number, ordered a Bar Code that had to be printed on the back cover, solicited a number of personal contacts, both professionals and physicians to read my book and requested their comments for the back cover. I did my due diligence regarding finding a layout artist to design the book cover and complete the actual PDF-ready layout of the book. I then I found a printing company that was willing to work with me at a very competitive price. The entire process from concept through writing, to editing, printing and final release took about 2-months from the day I decided to write that book.
The moral of my story is that if writing your book is important to you – just do it. Disregard the critics, nay Sayers, and even the lack of moral support from your family or friends. Hope that your muse or inspiration visits often, and if you can’t find or don’t want to work with a publisher – and there are good reasons both pro and con for doing either – don’t be dismayed.
My book will never be a NY Times bestseller, and I wasn’t hoping to achieve that as a goal. I am hopeful that people who are or will become caregivers – and that covers a large number of baby boomers and seniors – may discover my book and find it helpful as they begin their personal journeys over many of the roads that I have traveled, one of which lead me to write my book. I wish you good luck with your book.
Where can people buy your book?
My book, “Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease” is available at www.SeniorLifestyles.net, on eBay and directly from our Florida office. References and links to my book can also be found in the publications, both print and electronic where my monthly articles appear including: www.GilbertGuide.com, www.EasyLivingFrontRange.com, and beginning in May 2009 http://www.familiesoflovedones.com.