Aging and Alzheimer’s Presentations

Deborah Shouse and Ron Zoglin are writers and performers with a special interest in Alzheimer’s. Their stories are intergenerational and deal with the complex issues of loss and change, flexibility and acceptance, and of celebrating the moments.

Their performance is an expressive, tandem reading of personal stories that help people understand, connect with, and appreciate the process of Alzheimer’s and the Alzheimer’s patient. Caregivers, family members, friends, nursing home staff, health care professionals, spiritual leaders, lay ministers and congregants have all benefited from listening to their programs.

Deborah’s writings on Alzheimer’s have appeared in:
     Women’s Day
     The Washington Post
     The Kansas City Star
     Spirituality & Health
     More Magazine

Ron and Deborah have performed for Alzheimer’s Associations and caregivers groups in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Italy, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Costa Rica.

Comments on and Response to Ron and Deborah’s performances:

     “Alzheimer´s Chile Corporation thanks you for your touching performance. The volunteers and caregivers who attended it were so impressed with your beautiful performance that they did not want to leave, and lingered, sharing their own family experiences.”
             —Nubia Alvarado Marin and Ricardo Schwartz Racz, President of Alzheimer´s Chile and her husband

     “Your program changed the way I look at this dementia disease. You have energized my job. You used the perfect way to transmit strength, positive thinking and realism in dealing with people who have Alzheimer´s."
             —Alejandro Montiel Hartig Hogar, Santa Teresa de Tango, a nursing home dedicated to helping those with dementia

We were honored to be part of the recent Kansas City Regional Home Care Association Hospice Volunteer Symposium. We were so inspired by these volunteers, who offer so much compassion and comfort to those in transition and to their families.

     “As a hospice volunteer for three facilities, I have learned a great deal about the Alzheimer´s medically. When I attended the presentation given by Deborah Shouse & Ron Zoglin, I was transported into the realm of the personal effects of the disease. The presenters were amazing in their ability to convey their message. Not once did my mind wander away. I witnessed compassion, sorrow, grief, joy & hope. I would gladly listen to them again."
             —Sharon Fields, R.D.H., B.S, hospice volunteer

We were thrilled to be part of Foxwood Springs´ Alzheimer´s fundraising event this summer. We performed our stories and our friend Annemarie Timmons added her beautiful heartfelt music. Their elegant event raised $4000 for Alzheimerís.

     “Your story-telling touched everyone. It was emotional, sweet, funny, sad and appropriate as we honored caregivers. The comments I received include:
"This is the best event that Foxwood has had in my 21 years of living here."
"Everyone should make a point to see this performance."
"I could relate to every story, and even though I cried, I was happy knowing that someone else understood how I felt."

             —Pam Husk, Marketing Event Planner, Foxwood Springs, Brookdale Senior Living, Raymore, Missouri.

We offered our HERO Project as part of the Kansas Occupational Therapy Associationís annual conference. We were so delighted to present to such giving and creative people. They will be sharing the HERO Project with a variety of clients, with residents in long term care facilities, with family members and more.

     “I loved the way you can learn to take a stack of magazines and in 10 minutes create a page for a HERO Project story!"
             —Lindsey Olsen-Halsa

In the Columbia, Missouri area Ron and Deb worked with the David Oliver, PhD and Sally Tureman, to create a day-long dramatic workshop for caregivers. Thanks to a generous matching grant from Phil Orscheln, Orscheln Farm & Home Supply, and the generosity of their audience, the Mid-Missouri Chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association received $4000.00 from book donations.

Ron, Sally Tureman, David Oliver, Deborah, and Joetta Coen, Program Director, Alzheimer’s Association MidMissouri Chapter

     “The format was tremendous. This innovative presentation is a great model for approaching the care of people with dementia.”
             —Caregiver at Columbia conference

At the Wisconsin statewide Alzheimer’s conference, Ron and Deborah had the honor of being keynote speakers, sharing their stories with almost 800 people. The energy and compassion in a room of caregivers is always inspiring. Their interactions throughout this two-day conference were extraordinarily deep and meaningful.


     “You graphically portrayed what the person with Alzheimer’s and the caregiver are going through”
             —Stan Lillich
             Chaplain and Family Caregiver, Green Bay, Wisconsin

     “You captured it! What you said is exactly what the experience is like. Your message has to be heard!”
             —Carol Fenrich, Family Caregiver, Oshkosh, Wisconsin

     “Your stories were so real, so emotional for me.”
             —Dale Bruhn
             Family Caregiver and Alzheimer’s volunteer and advocate,
             Madison, Wisconsin

Deborah, Ron and Paul Rusk, Executive Director of the
South Central Wisconsin Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association

AlzCostaRica1,emaiThe team at the North American Cultural Center
San Jose, Costa Rica





     “I have nearly 40 years of walking in this countryside of dementia and I enjoyed enormously your performance. The intonation, the focus, and above all the tenderness and seriousness of the way in which you touched on the theme, was wonderful.
             —Dr. Carlos Luis Alpizar Quesada,
             Geriatria - Gerontologia  y Medicina Interna, Hospital Cima,
             San Jose, Costa Rica

     “Your optimistic, loving and respectful humor in addressing dementia/Alzheimer’s gave me a new perspective on accepting and handling this condition, which runs in the family.”
             —Silvia Larrad
             Director of Development & External Affairs
             North American Cultural Center
             San Jose, Costa Rica

     “Outstanding! Very uplifting, heartwarming and encouraging! Something you don’t expect in an Alzheimer’s presentation..”
             —Barbara Heckathorn, Kansas City

     “Deborah Shouse and Ron Zoglin extend a glimpse of humanity within the very challenging world of Alzheimer’s disease and long term care. Their stories have a message that cannot be conveyed or received in any better way. The stories are beautiful and wrought with genuine compassion.”
             —Michelle Niedens, Education Director
             Alzheimer’s Association, Heart of America Chapter

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     “The performances of Love in the Land of Dementia by Ron Zoglin and Deborah Shouse exceeded our expectations. It was a touching and honest portrayal of the impact Alzheimer’s has on families. Deborah did a beautiful job putting it into a heartwarming and positive perspective. They have a gift for storytelling and we’re honored that they shared it with us.”
             —Kirk Perry, Developmental Directory
             —Dulce Nobre, Executive Director
             Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska

     “People were mesmerized by Deborah and Ron’s stories – they grabbed the audience and drew them into the world of the disease. Deborah and Ron capture the essence of what makes us human despite our abilities or disabilities. They don't hedge around the bad parts, but they weave deeper to still be able to honor those they describe.”
             —Karla Woodward, BSN in nursing,
             MS in Social Gerontology
     “Your stories are amazing. I repeat: amazing!”
             —Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons
             Director, Development & Communications
             Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

     “Your performance touched us all. I have never seen CEO’s and CFO’s sit so still on the edge of their chairs before, then reach for their handkerchiefs by the end of the performance.
     Your ability to capture the essence of what it is like to go through the process of such a debilitating and often terrifying disease has led to an even stronger appreciation and recharged the compassion for which we feel for our patients and their families.
     Often times, we get so caught up in the daily operations that we lose sight of the reason we are all here. Your performance helped us get back to the root of why it is we do what we do.”
             —Bruce Johnson, Director of Therapeutic Services,
             Research Pyschiatric Center

     “Most people have no idea what Alzheimer’s entails. Thank you for this type of presentation. We need more awareness of this disease.”
             —Mike Eggers, Nursing Home Administrator

Deborah and Ron with Manlio Matera, co-founder of the Alzheimer’s Society of Florence, and the priest of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Florence, Italy.

Deborah and Ron with Miguel Chinea, Director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Puerto Rico and Maritza Lamoso Navarro, President, and also with Tony and Raquel, their wonderful translators.

     “The presentation that Ron and Deborah did in Puerto Rico was fantastic. They know how to put themselves in the place of people who take care of Alzheimer’s patients, and are able to dramatize their feelings, challenges and capabilities. It’s a different and original way of learning about the disease, and at the same time bring a positive message and hope for caregivers.”
—Maritza Lamoso Navarro, President,
             Alzheimer’s Association of Puerto Rico

Deborah and Ron with some of the staff of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services. They helped organize Ron and Deborah’s performance and attended along with the caregivers.

     “Educational, entertaining and enlightening”
             —Arlene Evans O’Reilly, Program Director,
             U.S. Virgin Islands family cargivers support program

Deborah and Ron and staff of Alzheimer’s Society, Barnet Branch, London, England.

     “Listening to Deborah and Ron performing is truly uplifting. The stories encourage us not to give up on persons with dementia and to keep along side of them throughout the journey. The performance has a message of hope for family caregivers. All those working with dementia need to hear and understand this message, if we are to give the best possible support to people with dementia and their families.”
             —Jo Cahill, Branch Manager, Alzheimer’s Society,
             Barnet Branch, London, England

Ron and Deborah with Dr. Suzanne Cahill and staff of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

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Deborah and Ron with Reni Rizzo, Core Services Coordinator, and members of the staff of the Alzheimer’s Association, South Florida Chapter.

     “Love in the Land of Dementia is a powerful  performance, touching each one in the audience in such a  warm and special way that it brought tears of joy and sadness, as well as laughter at the irony of this dreadful yet incredible disease. Thank you for helping us make some sense of something  not quite yet understood by science in all its quest to solve one more of nature’s amazing mysteries.”
Reni Rizzo, Core Services  Coordinator
             Alzheimer’s  Association, South  Florida Chapter

     “I was deeply moved by your beautiful presentation. After your performance, I walked into my mother’s room and watched her as she slept. I think I looked at her a little differently as a result of what I learned from you. It was a much needed boost. The choice to be a caregiver to a parent or spouse with this disease is the triumph of love over all the pain and  difficulties, and that knowledge leaves one with a deep sense of peace and joy at having given it. You are both the living example of that triumph and I am grateful that I had a chance to hear your story.”
             —Charlene  MacDonell, Caregiver, Miami Shores, Florida

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Ron and Deborah performing at Hallmark

     “Hats off to Ron and Deborah! Their performance touches the spirit so powerfully I couldn’t hold back the laughter or the tears.
     Deborah’s book is beautifully written, clearly from the point of view of unconditional love for her mother. Her inspiring message comes through clearly as Ron and Deb perform excerpts from the book: Love someone as she is, not as you expect her to be. Rejoice in the moment.”
             —Amy Winterscheidt, Work Life Manager
             Hallmark Cards Inc.

     “This is an amazing couple  who do storytelling performances about Alzheimer's. Deborah is a very  accomplished author and she writes the stories that they both perform. The  stories are touching, poignant, and often humorous. Caregivers really benefit  from attending. The performance validates their experiences and helps them  connect with others who are going through something similar.”
Valerie  Steele, Corporate Diversity Manager
             Hallmark Cards,  Inc.

     “To have the chance to sit back and absorb your stories was so moving and fulfilling. I continue to close my eyes and hear your compassionate, loving words. I went back to work on our memory care unit and was so uplifted. I know I’ll do a better job after hearing you.”
             —Sally Stuart, former LAC Chairman
             for the National Association of Activity Professionals.

     “Your presentation was spectacular. The redeeming theme in experiencing Alzheimer’s disease is that while we may lose a physical body, the love remains and certainly the spirit lives on.”
             —Ian McColl, Alzheimer’s Advocate, Dunedin, NZ

     “The combination of humor and hopefulness, combined with the sadness of the subject, made the poignancy of the performance more pronounced. This really helped to bring home the message that there is hope for tomorrow and help for today. I thought you were excellent.”
             —Richard S. Niedermayer, President
             Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia


“Ron’s and Deborah’s presentation was professional, lyrical and empowered us to see our own work in a profoundly uplifting light. In their narratives about family members with confusion and dementia, many of our staff members were moved to tears by the journeys chronicled. In hearing them, we directly encountered the triumph of the human spirit, an enduring testimony, a background against which no illness dare speak the final word.”
             —Dale Beaulieu, Director of Communications
             Brookside Retirement Community

     We had the pleasure of performing for the Leavenworth Council on Aging. AnneMarie and her magic accordion joined us and we enjoyed meeting a lovely group of heartfelt volunteers and caregivers.


     “I was amazed at the silence in the room during the presentation. Deborah and Ron had everyone's attention. Many were moved to tears hearing stories they could relate to as caregivers. This presentation touched everyone in the room.”
             —Patty Willmeth, Social Service Representative and Educational Coordinator, Leavenworth Council on Aging

    We co-presented an interactive workshop on caregiving and creativity. We worked with Carmen Mendieta, Director, Brookdale National Group Respite. Annemarie added her music and energy. We are grateful to Petra Allen and the Leawood Stage Company for sponsoring this event.

    Creativity and Dementia: Keeping an Open Window to the Self Presented by Ron Zoglin, Deborah Shouse and Carmen Mendieta of the Brookdale Foundation
The Leawood City Hall, Leawood, Kansas

     “The comfort, love and even joy that you bring into the world under the saddest of circumstances is remarkable! Your generosity, knowledge and talents go beyond bounds! Thank you, thank you for your time and gifts!!”
             —Petra Allen, Co-artistic Director for the Leawood Stage Co.


Deborah Shouse and Ron Zoglin
(816) 361-7878