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Fading From Memory: what happens to a family when both parents have Alzheimer's? Paperback – January 10, 2011
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Through matter-of-fact detail and thoughtful reflection, Pritchard conveys the real experience of caregiving in the family context. He avoids the pitfalls of sentimentalizing or sugar-coating reality, and the opposite danger of over-dramatizing. Plain reality is dramatic enough. The revolution in family dynamics that this disease brings on is best confronted with open eyes, and Mike certainly does that.
There's a great deal of humor. Many mornings my husband and I sat at our breakfast table reading Mike's latest dispatches from Australia and actually laughed till we cried. Some of his observations have become part of our own family lore. I have a great temptation to quote here, but I'll resist.
The blog was a wonderful traveling companion on a very hard journey. I have just re-read it in book form and highly recommend it to everyone.
Pritchard approaches the subject with a clarity, sympathy and understanding that removes any need for the more conventionally emotional attitude which can often cloud the making of necessary decisions. In fact, on the basis of what is written in the blog/book, the author's approach reflects that of the whole family. They got some things wrong, but they also got many things right, and their continued focus on what was best for their parents is to be commended.
Because I read the blog, I also read the book in its entirety, but I believe that it would work as well if one merely dipped into it and read a day or two at a time, and not necessarily in order. The words hold both information and advice, which are not driven down the throat of the reader but are well worth seeking out.
If you have a family member suffering from dementia, or you have been recently diagnosed, I recommend that you read as much of this book as you can. It will both depress and uplift you, but most of all it could help you deal with the inevitable.
As I read, I was increasingly grateful that my parents died relatively young and didn't go through this. My mother-in-law had some partial dementia but was still more functional than Mike's parents when she died. I will be more patient with my elderly friends, and more attentive to the needs in their lives.
Highly recommended to anyone interested in the topic.
I was most touched by the passages that Mike shared regarding how he reflected upon the relationships of husband/wife, parent/child, and even sibling/sibling brought to scruntiny in the light cast by Alzheimers. My brother and I have already found ourselves examining those relationships. I hope that we face the challenges as bravely and with as much consideration as did Mike and his family.
Thanks for the guidebook!