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The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving Paperback – May 21, 2015
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About the Author
When Rundy Purdy was twenty-four years old he began caring for his grandfather who was dying from Alzheimer’s. Grandfather and grandson took a three year journey together to Alzheimer’s end. Rundy’s book The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving is the story of that journey. After the death of his grandfather, Rundy cared for his grandmother who was ailing with heart disease for an additional five years. Those eight years of intensive, personal, caregiving gave Rundy a passion for sharing his experience and encouraging other who face the reality of caregiving.
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Top Customer Reviews
Rundy relates the story about how in his early 20s he moves into his grandparents' home to take care of his grandfather. His grandmother is not well enough to care for her husband herself, and given her personality and her own considerable health problems, it made sense for the grandfather to have a male caregiver. This in itself is highly unusual, as very few young men are prepared to sacrifice part of their youth to take care of an elderly relative.
The author's profound insights into how an Alzheimer's patient actually feels are invaluable. Even those of us with personal knowledge of the disease sometimes want to think that the patient doesn't really know what's going on. But Rundy shows that they do and that they experience a great deal of frustration through many losses of dignity, but especially the loss of purpose and the ability to live independently.
And that, of course, emphasizes the importance of good care – not just good care, but loving care. The author's insights into his own struggles to cope with the progressive decline that he witnesses, and how he responds through the months and years of care are most impressive in someone so young. He was able to cope with the messy stuff – the problems of toileting that we all dread are dealt with in detail. In this case, the loss of dignity was a difficult issue between the grandfather and his wife, and she would not have coped well with the bathroom problems.
Throughout the book, Rundy Purdy emphasizes again and again the need for patience, and also to listen and watch carefully to discover how to fill the patient's needs. He also addresses the importance of meeting his own needs while still being the primary care-giver. The issues discussed were repetitive, and I felt that, in the end, this made terrific sense: through the level of detail that he provides, the author accurately portrays the very real challenges a family caregiver faces. Ultimately, though, this a story of love and deep caring. Although it is a memoir and not a how-to book, the author shares many ideas that other family care-givers may find helpful and inspiring.
One particular paragraph struck me as so very important for any caregiver to remember:
"For all of the troubles Grandpa daily endured it was striking how I could still largely interact with him like a normal person. He was often a very confused old man, but he was still self-aware, and largely cognizant that he was sick and failing. The better half of his mind was trying to deal with it. The better half of his mind reached out to me and together we tried to deal with it."
So just what has Mr. Purdy done in his memoir? He has shown the reader just how he and his grandfather dealt with this devastating disease. "The sea of Alzheimer's is wide, but it can be crossed." And so, my dad and I are crossing with hope!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am in the health care field and have had two family members succumb...Read more