Tara Reed – Expert Interview
Tara Reed’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her personal experiences forever changed her and inspired her to create her own business to help others in a similar position. Tara’s business, Pivot to Happy, is a wonderful toolbox of resources specifically for family caregivers who have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s to help them navigate this journey.
Tara and I have a connection in that we are both originally from Pennsylvania and both went to Penn State University. Tara now calls Portland Oregon her home. Tara is also a professional artist that creates art you may see on items found in stores such garden flags, coffee mugs, etc.
Early Warning Signs
Tara shared that prior to her dad’s official diagnosis with Alzheimer’s in 2012, there were several years of wondering what was going on with dad. Was he just grumpy or was it something more?!
Click the play icon below to hear Tara explain some of the early warning signs she witnessed:
When you start noticing odd behavior or hearing things that seem ‘off’, Tara’s first tip is to take notes in a journal because dementia and Alzheimer’s is difficult to diagnose and your notes will help catch the disease early to help stall its progression or help identify that your loved one’s issues are not dementia or Alzheimer’s but maybe something else.
Often as the person watching the disease you can feel helpless at times but Tara has a great guide called ‘20 Things To Do Now’ that prompts you to take action.
The Tribute Trip
Tara’s father, a college professor for most of his life, passed away this past summer and one of his wishes for his family after his death was for them to take a trip together. As a family they had traveled a lot, and he had always particularly loved London with its rich history of astronomy. Recently, Tara and her family took this trip along with some of her dad’s ashes and a commemorative garden flag.
Tara encourages other families to do some kind of healing trip or excursion to celebrate the life of their loved one in a special way. Click play icon below to hear how much this tribute trip meant to her:
Other family members added their own special touch to the Tribute Trip by writing out specific memories they had of Tara’s dad that were read while the group was in London.
Again, a tribute trip or outing doesn’t have to be a cross continent excursion. You could celebrate a life at any place your loved one particularly enjoyed such as a special restaurant or park or maybe an afternoon of fishing or going to a football game.
Tara’s Pivot to Happy Wisdom
Tara has a great outlook about Alzheimer’s that is embedded into all her Pivot to Happy resources and content. She explains that walking the Alzheimer’s or dementia journey with a loved one requires a specific mindset. Listen as Tara shares more about her intentional mindset choice:
Your mindset is a choice and something that requires practice. I admire how Tara does this and coaches others how to make this pivot in their attitude during their journey with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Tara’s Poem: “If Alzheimer’s Could Speak”
Without any poem writing experience and while her dad was alive, Tara wrote the poem “If Alzheimer’s Could Speak”. She was thinking about what her dad would say to her and her family to help them cope with his disease. Tara recites her poem for us. Warning, this will tug at your heartstrings.
Tara wrote a follow up poem the day before they left for the London Tribute Trip called “After Alzheimer’s” to share what she believes her dad would want them to take away from this emotional journey. She shared this with her family members before they all left for London.
More Expertise from Tara
If you are grieving the slow loss of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, I know my full interview with Tara will provide you with practical tips to help guide you through this journey. Like all my expert interviews, the complete interview is a benefit for my members in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community.
Tara helps focus on the emotional journey of Alzheimer’s and she has a wealth of resources on her site that are available. Some of the other topics Tara and I discuss include:
- More of the fun things they did and saw on their week long tribute trip in London
- Our shared family rooted Penn State pride
- Unexpected twists and turns such as Tara’s dad wearing some of her clothes in his later years
- The small little treasures she holds on to as symbols to remember her dad
- Her thoughts on the cognitive Alzheimer’s tests and how you can help advocate for your loved one
- Encouragement to have the difficult conversations now about a loved one’s end of life wishes and the documents you need
- The importance of an elder law attorney
- Be wary of false hope claims online & better understand the impact of family genetic traits and lifestyle
- The emotional pain of Alzheimer’s and dementia and how to cope
- Tara’s ‘Alzheimer’s Pounds’ and other self-care lessons she has learned and working on
- Coping skills for the initial holidays after losing a loved ones
You can learn more about Tara and take advantage of her vast resources by visiting her site pivottohappy.com. She has some great free resources including Memory Cards and “20 Things To Do Now”. Some of her coaching services include resources such as Getting Your Legal Ducks in a Row.
If you aren’t a member of our private community for caregivers yet, what are you waiting for!? My mission is to help family caregivers be happy and healthy by connecting with them and coaching them in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. But, you don’t just get me – there is a whole community of family caregivers just like you. You can receive more information here.