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Her Final Year: A Care-Giving Memoir [Kindle Edition]

James Downey , John Bourke
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.95
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Book Description

Two families, half a continent apart, faced with a loved one struggling against the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Two men, who each wind up being the primary care-provider for a beloved mother-in-law. These were roles they never expected to fill. Nothing they had done previously had prepared them for this.

We often hear that life is a journey, and it's the journey that matters – the path and the experiences – more than anything else. The family confronted with a loved one struggling against dementia often faces new, unexpected twists and turns in their journey.

This book offers some perspective on that journey, as we were going through it. It’s part memoir, part journal, and all based on the things we were writing at the time. In seeing what we experienced, and the decisions we each made, over the arc of care-giving and then recovery, perhaps you will be better able to understand your own path, choose your own road.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1255 KB
  • Print Length: 422 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0615512054
  • Publisher: HFY Publishing, LLC (July 14, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CWN9TU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,753 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for anyone dealing with dementia July 23, 2011
Format:Paperback
Her Final Year is a powerfully written book that is a must read for anyone dealing with a relative who has dementia. Alzheimer's and other types of dementia gradually rob a person of his/her independence and personality. While many of the available on-line sources deal with the clinical progression of dementia including loss of mobility, incontinence, loss of speech, there is very little information about the cognitive changes that accompany this disease. Dementia patients suffer hallucinations, talk to dead relatives, and perceive the world in very different ways. This book addresses these issues.

The authors also deal with the toll--both emotional and physical--that caregiving takes on the caregivers. It takes a long time to die from dementia, and the process is marked by a series of declines and plateaus. I am entering the final stage of this process with my own mom who is 92, and I found this book to be very useful and moving. I read it in a single sitting. Highly recommended.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Caregiving Account That I Have Read August 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've been the sole caregiver for my wife who has been in that awful journey through Alzheimer's for at least the last twelve years. The word "caregiver" means a great deal to me. I do it 24 hours a day all of the time, except for a few hours off each week. So often when I read books about the experiences of Alzheimer's "caregivers" I end up angry the way the word is used by those that use the word but don't often really do the difficult hands on work that caregiving is. Usually they do it by phone and hire the actual caregivers.

"Her Final Year" is not that way. I kept shaking my head in agreement as I read the book, knowing that the two authors and their wives had walked in my shoes and understood my feelings and frustrations. I especially liked the last section on recovery and renewal after their mothers in law had passed away, as I will shortly be in that phase myself.

This is an open and honest book about the realities of caring for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia. Expecially for those just embarking on this experience, the book is a great reality check for what probably lies ahead.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
As Pam Crabtree has noted in her review, this book should be a great addition to those dealing directly with someone with dementia.

I think this book can also be of value to those who are not directly dealing with a family member with dementia. I read some of the e-mails in real time (I'm a friend of one of the families). I do not have any family currently dealing with dementia, but in the years since this book began to be assembled I now have several friends with family members afflicted with some form of dementia, as well as family and friends that need help and attention on a daily basis. Reading through the book I was surprised to find how many of the experiences there touched directly on some of my developing tangential contacts with care giving. Dealing with hospice, getting patients to the doctor, dealing with bureaucracy and the like are not unique to dementia, even if those stresses and others can be so much worse in the long term care that dementia generally requires. The book has also opened a window on to some of the stresses and experiences of those friends I have, that, due to their dealing directly with a person suffering dementia, do not have as much current social contact outside their family as earlier.

Although not "literature" the book is well written/presented and read with an intensity that became physically palpable for me.

I highly recommend this for anyone with aging friends and relatives as well as those dealing more directly with the immediate issues of care giving. Even if you are blessed enough never to have to go through what the authors did I think you will find reading the book worthwhile for the insights into what so many others are going through.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
When I heard about this book, I felt that I could have written it, except that I'm not a writer.

I had the privilege of being able to help my mother care for my grandfather, who had Alzheimer's. I work as a consultant and flew to Seattle to help when he starting falling, but couldn't remember that he would fall. It became impossible for my mother.

The writers give a poignant and vivid description of the hills and valleys on the path of these patients and their caregivers.

Three months after my grandfather died, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I became her caregiver for the next year.

I especially like the last part of the book which tells about recovering from the experience. That's where I am now.

Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and I hope you found it helpful in making a purchase decision.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of HER FINAL YEAR, A Care Giving Memoir August 13, 2011
Format:Paperback
Book Review:
Her Final Year: A Care-Giving Memoir and His First Year, A Journey of Recovery

Authors James Downey and John Bourke along with their wives, Martha John and Kathi Bourke have compiled a unique and very passionate account of their experiences as caregivers to Alzheimer's patients. (Martha and Kathi's mothers respectively) The majority of the writing is from the men's perspective resulting in a distinctive point of view. Society typically assumes that the wives/ daughters take on this role, but for these two families, the husbands became major care providers and share their experiences through a collection of journal entries and email communications over the course of several years.

Whether the condition be Alzheimer's or some other chronic or terminal illness, many characteristics are universal, which makes this collaborative memoir very useful and relatable for anyone going through a similar experience with a loved one. Their accounts are emotional, very honest, and at times humorous, (Yes, you do need to find some bright spots every day with your "patients"!) Their advice for dealing with bureaucracy and practical coping strategies is solid and useful.

Much of the book is divided into twelve months to equate to twelve stages of care and life with a family member suffering from Alzheimer's /Dementia. The final section, His First Year, addresses the aftermath and how these gentlemen and their families redefined their lives after their patients passed and the role of caregiver came to an end. Readers will not find a more real, heartfelt and honest account out there aside from your own personal experience. For folks who have already walked this path, (and could possibly walk it again), this is a must-read book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Anyone Who Has To Slowly Lose A Parent
This book is a comfort. This book is a public service. You feel like you're alone and your mother or your father or your grandmother is there, but slowly going and there is... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Colette Buchanan
5.0 out of 5 stars good job
Good book. I took care of my father who had Alzheimer's as well until the last 4 months of his life. I certainly can relate to your experience.
Published 4 months ago by LC
5.0 out of 5 stars very informative
I enjoyed this book very much. The reason I downloaded this book was because I have recently experienced the loss of both parents. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Cynthia S. Garcia
4.0 out of 5 stars helpful account
I found this to be a helpful account of what to expect as parents age. The two men in the account were truly devoted attendants and I was impressed by them.
Published 8 months ago by Shikoku 88
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
I work in an Alzheimer's assisted living facility. I couldn't put this down. It showed me a side of the care takers part and has given me more on-site into caring for people with... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kathy
5.0 out of 5 stars HER FINAL YEAR A CARE GIVING MEMOIR
MY DAD PASSED AWAY 2 YEARS AGO BUT NOT FROM ALZHEIMER'S. I STILL FEEL AS IF I SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE. THIS BOOK BROUGHT BACK MY SENSE OF LOSS AS IF IT WERE YESTERDAY. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Denise A Ricketson
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, heart-breaking, compassionate
Raw, honest, painful, and utterly engrossing account of what it means to care for a loved one with dementia at the end of their life. Read more
Published 15 months ago by S. Howell
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent!
now, with parents getting older, mother with alzheimers, father with rheumatoid arthritis and stupid doctors, this book was perfect! Read more
Published 17 months ago by panda princess
5.0 out of 5 stars looking for help
My husband has been showing dementia for a couple years and this book shows me that I'm not alone with these certain problems.
Published 20 months ago by walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, heartwarming
This memoir helped me think about the not to distant future in dealing with my aging parents. The perspective of the writers was heartfelt.
Published 20 months ago by Michelle
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