Seniors advocate, author Schoenfeld to give presentation

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Author, speaker and advocate for seniors Charles Schoenfeld will give a presentation at WITC-New Richmond at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 2.

"I never had any aspirations about becoming a writer, and certainly not a speaker. I did dabble with writing around the house, usually something with humor, an annual Christmas letter for example," Schoenfeld said. "My family was always saying, 'You should write a book.' Personally I had no idea what I might write about until my life took a profound turn.

"When my elderly mother was admitted to a dementia ward I retired from 27 years with UPS, and at age 56, signed up for CNA training, a position which eventually led to my memoir."

The event is a collaboration between New Richmond Community Education, WITC, the Friday Memorial Library and Our House Assisted Living.

Since the release of his memoir, Schoenfeld has done local book talks at book stores, churches and coffee shops around his home in Wausau. Eventually word got out about his talks and Schoenfeld was being asked to speak in towns around his home.

"My talk began to evolve, less about me or my book, more about Alzheimer's and related dementias, the people I tried to help, how it affected my life. I developed a website and joined LinkedIn," Schoenfeld said. "With nothing else to promote me but word of mouth I've given presentations as far away as the state of Washington."

Schoenfeld's book is required text at Northcentral Technical College (Wis.) and Western Oregon University for students considering careers working with the elderly and is recommended reading on Teepa Snow's "Positive Approach" website.

The reason Schoenfeld finally got around to writing a book was to erase the stigmas surrounding Alzheimer's disease.

"I wanted to share stories, some funny, some heart breaking, of the people I met and cared for. The events in the book are true so it was just a matter of getting it on paper in a way that made sense," Schoenfeld said. "The book is written from the perspective of a common man with a 'boots on the ground' view of what goes on behind closed doors. It is hard to find anyone whose life hasn't been touched in some way by Alzheimer's. It is projected to be our nation's number one killer within two decades."

Schoenfeld says that his presentation will not be a Power Point and he won't be wearing a suit and tie, but he will relate facts and statistics about Alzheimer's, read three short segments from his book, get the audience involved and tell stories about his time working in a nursing home dementia ward.

"For most people there is an emotional reaction to my talk, a deep breath that it's ok to talk about something that's scary, to inject humor while still being respectful. A human connection that is very rewarding," Schoenfeld said. "What I most want people to know is I am an ordinary man with a story that most find compelling and heartfelt. I hope I see an audience filled with lawyers, bankers, bakers, and homemakers, because I have a story that belongs to all of us."

For more information on Schoenfeld, visit his website at charlesschoenfeld.com.