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Death in Slow Motion: My Mother's Descent into Alzheimer's Hardcover – January 21, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (January 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066213967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066213965
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Whoever said love is stronger than death was full of malarkey," comments Cooney, setting the forthright tone early in this honest account of taking care of a parent with Alzheimer's. In 1997, Cooney (The Court of the Lion: A Novel of the T'Ang Dynasty) and her companion, Mitch, both freelance writers, moved Cooney's 75-year-old mother, novelist Mary Durant, from her home in Connecticut to live near them in Northern California when it became clear that her mother's short-term memory was failing. A great admirer and loving daughter of her elegant, witty mother, Cooney suffered from terrible grief because she could not protect her mother from encroaching dementia. Durant's metamorphosis into a dependent, childlike hypochondriac occurred some years after the death of her husband. Cooney vividly describes the everyday physical and emotional stresses on her and Mitch, once her mother moved in with them, and highlights the lack of available resources for Alzheimer's patients who are not independently wealthy. Cooney and Mitch missed writing deadlines, began to drink heavily and nearly ended their relationship. When they could no longer manage her mother at home, Cooney placed her in several unpleasant assisted living residences, until Cooney managed to find her a reasonable place. A short story by Mary Durant is appended to this well-written, harrowing memoir.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cooney has explored ancient China in novels like The Court of the Lion, but here she considers a current reality: her own novelist-mother's incapacitation by Alzheimer's.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Her honest story will amaze you as you hear your own voice echoing her thoughts and emotions.
Charlotte Soliday
I read "Death In Slow Motion" in one sitting and then read it again the next day, laughing in places, stunned in others, recogizing things from my own life.
L. Bullock
I thought Eleanor Cooney might have something to teach me about Alzheimer's, and our loved ones who suffer with it, and caregivers who are tortured by it.
Trisha Kostia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dimitri Rimsky on March 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have read Death in Slow Motion, and found it a provocative insight not only into Alzheimer's but more so into its effects on the lives of the people bound by love and duty to their loved one. Ms. Cooney has every reason to dwell on who her mother was, it is after all the central tragedy of the illness. Alzheimer's does not just kill someone, it disintegrates, it degenerates the very essence of the persona you know and love. We do not grieve for the loss of a body, we grieve over the loss of a person and with Alzheimer's we lose the person long before the body they inhabit dies. It is not only Death in Slow Motion, it is also Grief in Slow Motion. I recommend this book to anyone who may be facing a loved one's descent into Alzheimer's or to anyone who thought they were alone with the experience Ms. Cooney so unsparingly reveals. I recommend a visit to the book's website for a more personal insight into the lives involved with this loss.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Soliday on August 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read! You will laugh. You will cry. But if you have ever been a caregiver for a loved one with dementia of the Alzheimer's type, you will finally know--really know--you are not alone. Someone out there(E.Cooney), knows exactly what you are going through--all your feelings of sorrow and stress, all your frustration and guilt.
Personally, I found I really needed to read this book. I thought there were no words to describe the intensity of the experience I went through with my beloved mother, who also had A.D. But E. Cooney's words do just that.
Her honest story will amaze you as you hear your own voice echoing her thoughts and emotions. You'll ride the roller-coaster of high expectations and low disappointments, high hopes and low regrets, in the land of Alzheimer's.
I wish I had had this book when I was caring for my mother. I knew of no one who could truly understand our plight, not just when my mom lived with me, but also when I had to move her elsewhere. Though back then I might have been too exhausted to read more than a few pages each day, even that would've been such comfort and encouragement to my aching heart, because I wouldn't have felt so alone.
Over three years have passed since my mother died, and I am still processing grief over my loss and her sad decline. But in the pages of this book, I found a healing balm. Whether or not it was the author's intention, she has given me a gift for which I am truly grateful. Buy this book, and pray for a cure for this devastating disease!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Ross on February 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Lovely & fascinating piece of work. Her voice is so lucid, so deliberate, reminds me of what an old mentor advised me in my youth: "Full speed ahead, and strive for tone!"
I loved the story, sad as it is. I loved the author's willingness to totally expose herself in order to honour her subject and craft. There wasn't a page in there that seemed like Ms. Cooney was hiding back behind it, it was all so up front...... And especially I loved the wonderful hilarious touching tough loose accurate lingo......
This is a beautiful piece of writing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mike Downes on March 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I don't read as much as I should. For me to actually finish a book, it has to grab me and keep grabbing me, from start to finish. The last books I've read have been Into Thin Air, The Perfect Storm and Touching The Void. Get the idea? I chose Ms. Cooney's book almost exclusively because of the title.
Though I have read maybe only a couple of hundred books in my LIFE, I'd have to say this is, by far, the best book I have ever read. Ms. Cooney is extraordinarily articulate. If asked to describe an orange, Ms. Cooney would have 400 or so perfect adjectives and paint a more vivid picture of an orange than anyone ever has.
So, yes, the book grabbed me. And it changed me. Her perspectives, and more significantly, her compassion, altered the way I look at life and existence, and the difference between the two. I am a better man for having read this book.
Mike Downes
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By jim martin on January 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There are two things this book is not. It is neither for the faint of heart nor yet another manual describing Alzheimer symptoms and possible scenarios for dealing with them. Rather,
it is the painful and painfully honest chronicle of Ms. Cooney's
mother's descent into Alzheimer's disease. It is a story of fighting the good fight and knowing from day one that you will
lose. It is a story barren of good answers and happy endings, but
it is a true story, and a brutal one.
For those who have lived their own variation of the author's story, this book will provide a certain comfort. For those not
in the shadow of Alzheimer's, it is a grim and cautionary tale.
The great strength of this book lies not in the story itself, but
in the honesty with which it is told. It fully and unqualifiedly
deserves to be read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading Eleanor Cooney's wonderful book, I feel much better equiped to handle my own mother's recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. Eleanor said things I was thinking, but was not able to put into words. I laughed, I cried, but mostly I got a ton of wonderful, very useful information. Thank you Eleanor for opening your heart and putting your voice on paper.
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