Even before her baccalaureate graduation this year, JHUSON student Sarah Langford (Trad. 08) has been making a name for herself in the literature and not only in the scientific literature. She is the published co-author of a new children’s book due out on May 1, 2008. Grandfather’s Story Cloth is a tale for young children about love, remembrance and Alzheimer’s disease. Written in both English and Hmong, the story grew from Langford’s collaboration with mentor Linda Gerdner, a researcher with expertise in family caregiving issues for Hmong elders with dementia. The read-with-a-child volume reaches out to readers with information about Alzheimer’s disease through the medium of the traditional Hmong story cloth, a handcrafted, visual depiction of family history.
Undertaken as an assignment for a nursing prerequisite class, the project took on a life of its own with keen personal meaning for Langford. As a teen, she watched her grandmother struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, losing words, faces and memories. The story also reflects Langford’s love of children’s literature and an early work history during which she discovered both the richness and serious health care needs of the large, local refugee and immigrant populations.
This story helps keep intergenerational connections alive and by giving children a better sense of what is going on, it helps reduce the fear of what Alzheimer’s disease is all about, Langford said. And that improves outcomes for both the older adult and the children.
Langford isn’t sure whether she will write other children’s books with strong health messages, but she is sure that she will continue to work with groups like the Hmong. Following graduation she will return to her hometown in Midwest to work as part of an interdisciplinary team in a community heath care clinic with a large refugee population. She hopes Grandfather’s Story Cloth will become a part of family book time in homes across the country. The volume, published by Shens Books, will be available through Amazon.com. For more information, contact Sarah Langford at