About

I have walked in your shoes . . . .

DonNancySmall

In January 2008, my beloved wife Nancy was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. She had just turned 65. On the day of that diagnosis, at that precise moment in our doctor’s office, our lives changed forever. Nancy pivoted from being a successful interior designer, wonderful mom, and loving wife, to a person facing an incurable disease. I pivoted from being a husband and proud step-dad to Nancy’s three children, to being a loving, proactive, and devoted caregiver.

For the next several months I felt like a nomad wandering in a desert of confusion, anxiety, and fear. I had no clue around “next steps”. Both of us lacked meaningful information about dementia. In short, Nancy and I basically just went on with our lives, and didn’t talk much, if at all, about her diagnosis. In fact, it wasn’t until I joined a dementia support group in the fall of 2008, that I began to gain clarity around my role as a caregiver.

Over time, the disease progressed to a point where in July, 2010, I had to place Nancy in the secure memory care unit of an assisted living residence in our home state of Washington. On July 4, 2012, Nancy died. It was indeed her Independence Day – freed from the bonds of a relentless and unforgiving disease.

The reach of dementia in my life provided me with a gift – the realization my true calling is to connect with and assist caregivers and families of those with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

This entails the following:

  • As a caregiver coach I provide personal, one-on-one coaching to the caregiver as they progress on their care journey.
  • As a family facilitator, I guide family members through the difficult conversations associated with the care of their loved ones facing dementia.

Education & Professional Credentials

  • BA in Philosophy: Chaminade University, Honolulu, HI (1970)
  • Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Arizona School of Law (1973)
  • Trained Family Law Mediator
  • Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Washington (2015)
  • Trained Elder Care/Adult Family Mediator

Professional Affiliations

Senior Care Coalition (SCC): A networking organization of professionals providing services to seniors.

North East Seattle Together (NEST): Based on the national “virtual village model”, NEST is a community organization which – through the support of volunteers and trusted business referrals – empowers older residents to stay in their homes and engaged in their neighborhoods for as long as possible.

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