Hello, my name is Nikki Jardin, Co-Founder of Mirador Magazine. A few years ago, one of my Aunts was diagnosed with Young-Onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 63. I became her primary guardian, managing her finances and health care and helping her move into a long-term care facility near me.
My Aunt was a curious person who enjoyed reading magazines, particularly about animals and science. Prior to her illness, she was, in fact, a magazine researcher for a University science magazine. As a freelance writer myself, we share this professional bond. When I visited, I noticed the stack of magazines and puzzle books she carried around with her and we often spend time looking through them together. It became clear early on that she was becoming less able to understand the written material. She would ask me questions about what she was looking at, saying things like, “I don’t have my glasses,” or, “My eyes are tired.”
When my Aunt was diagnosed, I studied dementia-related conditions and learned that diminished visual acuity is one of the first symptoms of the disease. While spoken language and reasoning were more noticeable issues, I was struck that the self-comforting act of simply reading was slowly being taken away by this disease, not to mention one more blow to independence.
So, I began looking for written material – magazines in particular – that were designed for people living with dementia or other brain trauma. I wanted to find something my Aunt could access more readily than traditional magazines and, additionally, help her engage in the world autonomously for as long as she could. Reading material would need to be written with a larger font, fewer words, and simpler sentences. I found nothing other than kids’ magazines. She was already having a hard time finding dignity in her disease. The last thing I wanted to do was give her a child’s magazine to pass the time.
So, I began to develop what is now Mirador Magazine.
I enlisted the help of Tavé Fascé who became Mirador’s co-founder and a champion of getting this idea out into the world. Her design background was invaluable as each page was scrutinized for color scheme, text flow, and other elements that would make our magazine easy to read and absorb without looking like something for a kid.
Isolation among people with brain illness can be nearly as devastating as the diagnosis itself. As a care partner myself, I’ve found that having something focused to do with my Aunt provided us with meaningful time together. So often, families newly adapting to this illness continue to rely solely on the spoken word when, unfortunately, that mode of communication can be a strain for both parties, even in the early stages of the disease. Mirador can provide family members of all ages with a tool to connect with their loved ones. And, because it’s purposefully designed for those living with dementia, the magazine allows for the possibility that people like my Aunt can share the magazine with their loved ones instead of being shared to, letting them help lead the interaction. This can go a long way towards preserving dignity, independence, meaningful interaction and connection.
So, why the name Mirador?
“Mirador” is a Spanish word that means a vantage point, a balcony, or a lookout, which is what we would like to provide. I would like our pages to be a place where readers can take in a vast landscape and zero in on various points of interest at their leisure and at their pace.
On a more personal note, using Spanish is a tribute to my late Aunt Sharron, a fluent Spanish speaker who spent years exploring our family’s Mexican and Basque heritage and who cared for her mother, my grandmother, who also had Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, Sharron passed away shortly after hearing of her sister’s diagnosis, so this is a nod to her. (Mirador is also (available in Spanish online)
As you take a look around our website, we would love to hear from you about what you find that works, what you would like to see more of, and any additions you would like us to add.
Thank you for taking the time to visit us and we hope you enjoy the view!
Nikki Jardin, Co-Founder