You’re Not Doing It Right

Ellen Patnaude, Patnaude Coaching

“You’re Not Doing It Right”

Loving My Mother Through an Unpredictable Caregiving Journey

“You’re Not Doing It Right”: Loving My Mother Through An Unpredictable Caregiving Journey is a memoir. I know my experience was my own, but I also know that it isn’t all that unique. Every caregiver I’ve ever met has stories of feeling badly about losing patience, lashing out, or feeling inadequate.

We make so many assumptions about caregiving–what it is really like, how much we can handle, how the journey will go, etc. We also make so many assumptions about caregivers–that they have endless patience; are “saints;” or that when they say they’re “just fine,” that they really are.

My assumptions about every step of the journey with my mom were wrong. My assumptions about myself and my own capacity during the journey were wrong. And my assumptions about how I was supposed to feel and behave throughout the journey nearly destroyed me.

I share my story in hopes that you will feel less alone.

Gain access down below to a companion photo album for the book if you’d like to see my family, the farm, and some of the scenes described in the book. You’ll also find a resource guide for books, podcasts, and organizations who can help.

3D picture of book cover titled "You're Not Doing It Right" with two hands holding each other and a barn wood red background

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You're Not Doing It Right

About the Book

In “You’re Not Doing It Right,” Ellen Patnaude bravely opens the door to the haunting reality of Lewy body dementia (LBD) and unravels its profound impact on families. One of the most common types of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, LBD is marked by fluctuations in cognition, hallucinations, and motor symptoms. The journey begins with subtle warnings of small changes in her mother’s behavior that worry Patnaude’s father, but go unnoticed by the author and her sibling.

Through heartfelt storytelling, Patnaude recounts her challenges in addressing the disturbing shifts in her mother’s behavior and managing their long-standing, emotionally charged relationship. The pages unfold with raw honesty, detailing the struggles that ensue when a family is faced with a progressive, life-altering diagnosis. In contrast to the ‘long goodbye’ of Alzheimer’s disease, LBD plunges Patnaude and her family into a roller coaster ride from hell. Every emotion is laid bare, from the initial denial to the desperate attempts to help and connect with a loved one slipping away.

Patnaude offers invaluable insights and lessons learned in the throes of this heartbreaking journey. With unwavering candor, she reflects on what might have made a difference for herself and her family members and shares the resources that may help other struggling families. She acknowledges the commonality of denial and the universal resistance to accepting a devastating diagnosis, especially when glimpses of normalcy persist. The relentless challenges of caring for someone with any type of dementia often lead to heightened stress, exhaustion, and severe emotional strain on caregivers. In this exploration of love, loss, and resilience, Patnaude extends a compassionate hand to those grappling with similar circumstances, offering solace and understanding within the pages of this deeply moving narrative.

You're Not Doing It Right

From the Readers of “You’re Not Doing It Right”

The vulnerability that Ellen displays throughout “You’re Not Doing It Right,” creates an incredibly authentic view into the most difficult experience someone can go through. I went through a spectrum of intense emotions while on the journey of Ellen and her family. I learned so much about dementia, what to look for, and what to expect during different stages, specifically Lewy body dementia. This book is a must-read for anyone who has gone through the loss of a parent or loved one, anyone who is struggling with intergenerational relationships, and anyone who will likely be faced with difficult decisions for aging loved ones, so basically everyone. Ellen has a gift for telling stories in a way that makes them so relatable. Several times while reading the book, I thought, That’s me too! The same thing happened to me! I am so grateful to have read this book.
Denettte S., Former Caregiver and Regional Bank President
In Ellen Patnaude’s groundbreaking book “You’re Not Doing It Right,”[NGT2] readers are offered a raw, real, vulnerable look at caregiving for an ailing parent. Unlike the typical (and often unhelpful) dementia books that preach unending patience, acceptance, and understanding, Patnaude gives an unfiltered account of the struggles she faces when her already strained relationship with her mother undergoes an impossibly difficult change. This book will resonate with caregivers who are just looking for someone to say, ‘Yes, this absolutely sucks. All your feelings are legit. And most importantly, you aren’t alone.’ She provides hope in the darkness, offering her own hard-won wisdom by sharing what she wishes she would have known when she was wrestling with her own journey. This unconventional and honest memoir is a beautifully written testament to the power of sharing your own story so that others no longer feel alone.
Bailly M., Author
I am writing this testimonial with tears in my eyes because Ellen Patnaude’s memoir touched my heart. “You’re Not Doing It Right” is raw, authentic, and powerful. My wife and I have just been through this same experience with her mom who was tormented by Lewy body dementia and recently died. I resonated with the pain, anger, helplessness, and exhaustion that Ellen bravely portrays. This is a perfect book for caregivers, physicians, health care providers, and families who are dealing with this horrific disease. I was deeply moved by how Ellen was able to take the worst moment in her life and extend so many lessons she learned through this experience. If we had read her memoir before my wife’s mom’s diagnosis, it would have helped us in so many ways.
Midge N., Former Caregiver, Coach, Speaker, Podcaster
Our mission at Cariloop is to relieve the stress and anxiety felt by all caregivers. We have a front-row seat to the struggles of many family caregivers. Ellen Patnaude’s “You’re Not Doing It Right” was a page-turner for me, even though I’ve been hearing about the struggles of caregivers for many years. Ellen gives us an intimate glimpse into her family’s journey in a way that is real, helpful, honest, and heartbreaking—all while being very readable. I couldn’t put it down. This is a memoir, not a self-help book, yet I came away feeling like I learned something valuable about my own feelings through Ellen sharing hers. I recommend this book to all caregivers, as so many struggle with self-doubt, and to anyone who can relate to juggling the balance of work, family, and life.
Wendy W., Chief Care Officer of Cariloop

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