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Jan's Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer's Paperback – June 15, 2010


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Jan's Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer's + Still Alice + The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Behler Publications (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933016442
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933016443
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Multiple Emmy-Award-winner Barry Petersen has covered wars, genocide, interviewed dozens of stars, and several Bosnian War Crimes Tribunal suspects. Barry earned one of his Emmys for reporting the Siege of Sarajevo for CBS Sunday Morning. He shared both Peabody and DuPont Awards for being a part of the CBS News Radio coverage of the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989, and an Edward R. Murrow award for, of all things, sports writing for a story on baseball coming to Beijing. One report he could have never prepared himself for, however, is when his wife, Jan, was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's at the age of 55.

Barry works for CBS News and makes his home in Denver, Colorado, where he wrote Jan's Story.

His website: http://www.barrypetersen.com/index.htm

More About the Author

Barry Petersen has been called one of the most experienced correspondents reporting for CBS News, where his official biography says he has:

"...reported on everything from wars and natural disasters to Paris fashions, Welsh choirs and the return of American Jazz to Shanghai, China. His stories have been datelined from virtually every continent in a career that spans more than three decades.

"He has interviewed the famous and the infamous, including Hollywood stars Jimmy Stewart, Bill Cosby, Pierce Brosnan and Sir Anthony Hopkins, leaders of the Bosnian war who were later tried as war criminals, and the President of the South Seas nation of Kiribati, who showed up for the interview barefooted."

But an award-winning career of covering wars and natural disasters from Asia to Africa to the Middle East, as well as living overseas in Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow and London, could not ease the personal tragedy of watching his wife, Jan, begin fading away because of Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. She was diagnosed in 2005 at age 55.

"Jan's Story" tells how Barry was forced into changes he never imagined. His life soon came down to one gut-wrenching question: Do I stop living because I have lost Jan, or do I somehow go on?

The answer became "Jan's Story" - a look into the lonely world of care giving and the physical and mental toll it takes, and in the end an affirmation of survival.

Customer Reviews

Thank you for this beautiful story of love and agony.
K. Jinkerson
It will hurt but it will help you to know others are experiencing your struggle and pain.
Sierra
For anyone dealing with a loved one that has Alzheimer's this book is a must read.
Anita Messner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By DoctorJoeE on January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This story completely blew me away. Only time will tell, but it's my early pick for the most important book of the year; maybe the decade.

That said, I'm certain there will be a profusion of outrage over it, and I can just see the reviews now: he's abandoned her -- he should be ashamed -- it's his story, not his wife's.

But it is nothing of the sort; and anyone waxing judgmental, without walking a mile in the man's shoes, is the one who should be ashamed. For the record he has not abandoned his wife (who no longer recognizes him or remembers his name), but he has found a way to move on with his own life -- to avoid allowing it to be consumed along with hers, while at the same time doing everything he can, financially and emotionally, to support her in her tragic and incredibly sad decline that he is powerless to halt.

Keep in mind that these people are still in their 50s -- Jan could linger on, continuing her relentless downhill course, for another 30 years, or more. Remember also that the incidence of Alzheimer's is increasing (no one knows why), and by 2040 there will be a 1:4 to 1:3 chance that you or someone you love will suffer from it. And there is no realistic prospect of a cure. And there is no evidence that there is anything -- anything -- you can do to prevent it.

I can't imagine how I would cope with a similar situation -- but what I really don't want to think about is how my wife and children would cope if it happened to me. If I'm afflicted, I'll be in la-la land, I won't care; but the financial and emotional and other effects on the people I love are things I cannot even bring myself to contemplate. There is no question, in my mind, that the real victims of Alzheimer's are the loved ones, much more than the patients.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Lewis H. Strauss on June 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book blew me away - tears one minute, laughter the next (really!) but mostly honest all the way through. It really is the inside look into how Alzheimer's wrecks lives, but it also has a pretty unexpected ending because the author talks about going on and finding a new love. Some people may not like that, but he talks about how that actually helps in taking care of his wife, Jan, who has the disease. If you know someone with Alzheimer's, or have a friend who is a caregiver, you need to read this book.

Be careful...once you start, it is impossible to put down.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In briefest summary, this book was written by a man who's beloved wife Jan came down with Early Onset Alzheimers when she was 55 years old. That man is Barry Peterson, who was an NBC reporter covering Asia. Because of his job he and his wife often traveled and had shuffled between various places to live. According to him they had an ideal marriage and if not for this horrible disease, he saw them staying together very much in love. Her coming down with this disease was devastating for him.

Mr. Peterson mainly talks about his own reaction to his wife coming down with Alzheimers, and about the terrible toll a disease takes on the caretaker. I was very much in sympathy with him, and I found myself often shaking my head in agreement because my father has Alzheimers and the responsibility of his care fell on me.

At the same time, when I picked up this book I did think it would be more about Jan. There are a few chapters that detail the various stages of Alzheimers and the author does describe Jan's decline, but this book is definitely more about him. Mr. Peterson clearly felt great guilt over putting Jan into an assisted living facility, and I can't help but feel that he spent too much time in this book trying to convince us, the readers, why he did that, and why it's okay that he would want to move on with his life.

I think most of us reading this book would shake our heads in agreement over the choices he made, and he didn't need to repeat his reasons why. I think he still has to convince himself and that's a shame - he seems like a very good man who did the best he could.

This is a horrible disease, and my heart goes out to anyone who loves or has to take care of someone who has it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Neil Quinn on November 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My wife of 39 years has been suffering with Alzheimer's for the last 14 years. I had her home with me until last year. She has not known me or our children for the last 5 years. She now has the mental capacity of a 3 month old child. I have been seeing another woman for the last year and we are just buying a house together and will be married soon after my wife dies. The biggest revelation in this book is that I have not left my wife, but that she has left me, not by choice, but she is truly gone. Also the realization that there are others going through the same struggle as myself and finding love again without feeling guilty.
For all spouses caring for their loved one with Alzheimer's, this is a MUST read book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By VeraP VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Barry Petersen, an award-winning CBS correspondent, was living a happy and globe-trotting life with his beloved wife, Jan, when she received the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease. Living in Tokyo at the time, Barry struggled to make sense of Jan's episodes before finally hearing the diagnosis from a San Francisco based neurologist. In Jan's Story, he describes the progression of what he calls The Disease, the learning curve of becoming Jan's caregiver, his own emotional struggles and his eventual decision to place Jan in an assisted living facility.

Jan's Story is a very honest and touching look into what it feels like to lose someone to early onset Alzheimer's disease, and into what it means to be a caregiver for that person. Barry Peterson spares no details when it comes to describing his journey and I can only assume that his recollections are accurate, or at least as accurate as he remembers them. He covers everything from initial signs, behavioral changes, Jan's coping mechanisms and diagnostic tools to care giving challenges, emotional responses and reactions by family and friends.

I believe that his intent with Jan's Story was to provide others in similar situations with a feeling that they are not alone, and he definitely succeeded in that regard. Given that many people assume that Alzheimer's is a disease that only affects the very elderly, Barry also gives a different face to the disease - that of his wife Jan. Prior to her diagnosis, Jan was vibrant and lively, with many more years ahead of her. She loved to be around people and was often the life of the party. She was by no means the typical person someone would associate with Alzheimer's, and yet she was another one of this terrible disease's victims.
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