Myrna Marofsky interview: Author will be keynote speaker at upcoming caregivers conference

“Keeping the Spirit Alive,” the conference for caregivers supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, will be held 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30, at Beth El Synagogue. The keynote speaker at this year’s conference is Myrna Marofsky.

Myrna shares a deeply personal story about her experience following her husband’s dementia diagnosis in a new book, “To the Last Dance, A Partner’s Story of Living and Loving Through Dementia.” She highlights a strategy for redefining caregiving to CARE-LIVING. While recognizing that the medical side of a diagnosis is essential, Myrna focuses on the loving relationship of a spouse and the social-emotional impact on a family, often ignored in dementia conversations. She speaks about the book below:

Why did you decide to write the book about your experience?

I never really decided to write a book. It just happened. My husband Larry died a few months before we were locked down due to COVID. To process my grief and loneliness, I revisited stories I had journaled or held in my head for five years. Then I started to write and couldn’t stop. As I wrote, I realized that I had a story I wanted to share with others.

What was your primary goal with the project?

My book is my gift to those in a similar situation—those experiencing loss after loss, but don’t want to lose everything. I hope to change the conversations we have around dementia with family, friends, and the professionals we turn to. By telling my story, I hope others will tell theirs, not for pity, but to understand that there is much more to the disease than the symptoms. I hope to inspire others to live lovingly through dementia.

Has it been received as you hoped it would be?

To my delight, my book is receiving comments that exceed my expectations. I love when someone shares their “aha” moments. One woman sent me a photo of all the dog-eared pages she created while reading. Another bought eight copies for her family members, hoping it would help them understand what she was going through with her newly-diagnosed husband. I’m a teacher at heart, and anytime someone has a takeaway, I’m delighted. However, my most rewarding comments are those that thank me for writing and sharing. 

What is the most misunderstood aspect of being a caregiver of a person with dementia?

We have heard it said over and over, “Take care of yourself first,” or “Put your mask on before helping others,” or “Eat well, exercise, and get rest.” Nice thoughts, but what do they think we are trying to do? I didn’t need these generic reminders. Instead, I made choices that worked for us. I wanted someone to learn about how we lived our life before dementia so they could assist in ways that kept us going. Take the focus off of giving and put it on living.

What can attendees expect when you give the keynote address at the conference?

My goal is to inspire others to create their strategy for living through dementia. We live “with” dementia, but can we get “through” it with meaning? I hope my words will be empowering and enlightening.

Anything else you would like to add?

I always like to add three disclaimers to my remarks. 1. This is my unique story. Everyone’s situation is different. However, I hope to inspire others to write their own dementia story. 2. I have no answers, but might generate more questions. 3. If anything I said sounded easy, it wasn’t. Thank you in advance for the opportunity to be with you.

Click here for more information and to register for the Conference

To purchase a copy of her book, visit myrnamarofsky.com and use promo code “JFCS” to receive 15% off if you buy it before the Conference.