April 14-20 marks National Library Week, so I thought I’d take a look at five books that are receiving rave reviews. These books are written from several distinct points of view; caregiver to a spouse, to a mother, and to a dear friend, as well as from a woman who was diagnosed at age 46 and is living with Alzheimer’s.
Who Will I Be When I Die? (Christine Bryden)
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1995 at age 46, Christine brings her own unique perspective to this book, helping us understand what it feels like to be the person living with the disease. She stresses the importance of positivity, reminding readers that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients never stop needing to have a purpose, and she proves to us that the purpose can be just as meaningful as that of anyone else. Bryden also wrote Dancing with Dementia: My Story of Living Positively With Dementia. In that book, she explores not only the challenges of living with dementia, but also the self-discovery such a diagnosis can lead to, as well as the importance of spirituality and positivity.
Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir (Martha Stettinius)
Winner of an Honorable Mention at the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Book Awards, this sandwich generation caregiver sets out to share the vast knowledge she gained over seven years of caring for her mother. With a raw honesty, she recounts the transformation of this complex mother/daughter relationship – from two people at great odds with one another to lead characters in a true love story. This book provides an intimate look at the effect dementia has on a family, while also providing a wealth of useful information for those on their own journey with a loved one. Martha reminds us that as tragic as this disease is, it can also strengthen relationships, leading to a depth of love we never knew possible.
Just a Word: Friends Encounter Alzheimer’s (Rose Lamatt)
So often we read about caregivers caring for their spouse or parent, but rarely have we heard the perspective of someone providing care for a friend. This is Rose’s story; her early years as an agoraphobic teen, becoming a wife and mother who enjoyed all the perks of “the good life,” and then finding herself homeless after medical bills left her deeply in debt. Ultimately, she spends 14 years caring for a dear friend who has Alzheimer’s, an experience that led her to become an Alzheimer’s support group facilitator and even open her town’s first adult day care center. Today, she continues her efforts to improve the lives of those touched by this horrific disease.
My Mom My Hero: Alzheimer’s – A mother and daughter’s bittersweet journey (Lisa Hirsch)
Lisa uses this lovely book to tell us the story of her ever-evolving relationship with her mother, who is living with Alzheimer’s. Through the course of her experience as a caregiver, Hirsch discovers a closeness and love unlike anything she had ever felt. This bittersweet tale is one of frustration and sorrow, but also one of inspiration, discovery, joy, and most importantly, a mother/daughter bond that grows stronger with each passing day.
Jan’s Story: Love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s (Barry Petersen)
Barry Petersen, an award winning television journalist, tells the story of his, wife, Jan, a healthy, vibrant woman who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s at age 55. The book is a poignant exploration of the anguish faced by family caregivers; it’s a powerful and emotional look at how the disease effects those left behind. As the years wear on, Petersen asks himself whether he should stop living because he has lost his wife or find a way to carry on with his life. While there will certainly be differences of opinion regarding his choices, he should be commended for the honesty with which he writes.
Also check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s Virtual Library!
What books have you read lately? Leave a comment and share your recommendations!