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10/22/97 Her children’s book addresses families coping with Alzheimer’s

ABILENE, Texas (BP)–Very few people today ever write and publish a book during their lifetime. Even fewer individuals actually develop, write, publish and actively promote a book they have written as a 20-year- old college student. But this is exactly what Hardin-Simmons University junior Kristi Cargill has accomplished.
Cargill wrote the book, “Nana’s New Home,” to help children who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease understand and cope with the often- confusing symptoms that accompany the illness.
The recent release of the book in several Abilene bookstores has been met with interest and praise.
Cargill has been featured by the Abilene Reporter-News and on the Abilene news show KTXS Reports. At a book signing Sept. 30 at Windcrest Alzheimer’s Care Center, Cargill signed an estimated 80 to 100 copies of Nana’s New Home for family, friends and interested community members.
For Cargill, a biology major from Abilene and member of Broadview Baptist Church, writing about the debilitating disease came naturally as a result of 12 years of volunteer work in elderly care facilities.
Cargill’s mother, Pearl Merritt, former director of nursing at Windcrest and present senior vice president of medical services for Sears Methodist Retirement Services which oversees Windcrest, began taking her daughter to the center for weekly volunteering visits when Cargill was age 8.
In the 12 years since her first visit, Cargill has continued to be an active and regular volunteer.
At age 16, she developed the Junior Volunteer Program at Windcrest and still averages at least one visit each week at the facility.
Cargill said most of the events in Nana’s New Home are based on events that either occurred at Windcrest or that she heard about while volunteering.
The book, written for children aged pre-K to 9, explains Alzheimer’s, focuses on a child who learns to accept the realities of her grandmother’s condition while also learning to play a supportive role.
The book is forwarded by D. Keith Perry, CEO/president of Sears Methodist Retirement Systems, Inc., and chairman of Texas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
Presently, Cargill and editor Gwen Choate Smith are mailing out pamphlets about the book to Alzheimer’s care facilities nationwide. Their hopes are that various care facilities will want to include Nana’s New Home in their informational libraries for patients’ families.
The informational pamphlet may be requested by writing to KrisPer Publications, P.O. Box 1140, Abilene, TX 79604-1140.
Cargill has remained humble and appreciative of all the attention she has received from her first book.
“I never thought this would be happening,” Cargill said. “I can see in the decisions I’ve made, how God’s opened doors and prepared me for this project.”
Cargill, who works for HSU’s biology lab, is a writer for the school paper and also a volunteer for Hospice of Abilene, said she has been lucky to have several strong women-mentors in her life, recounting the influence her mother and others have had on her life has come together for the good of those faced with the suffering of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

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  • Rachel Whelan