Book Review – Surviving Alzheimer’s

Before I post the book review, I do want to take a moment to wish every mother a Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy your special day!!

survivingalzheimer'scoverSurviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine
Dayna Steele with Heather Rossiello
File Size: 11854 KB
Print Length: 228 pages
Publication Date: February 22, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

The majority of this book is comprised of Facebook updates that Dayna posted chronicling the effects of the disease on her mother from the first time she was diagnosed until the end. Also included are some of the responses from family and friends offering virtual support. Some of the responses were from people going through a similar journey, forming a virtual bond of understanding and compassion. What developed was one large Alzheimer’s support group over the period of 2 years from the time Dana’s mother Fran was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until the October day she died.

The Facebook posts range from humor, sometimes very dark, to sad and gut-wrenching, but all of them are so honest and so real and so familiar to anybody who has had a family member go through this disease.

As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think of my good friend Jan who cared for her mother who had Alzheimer’s. This was before Facebook and any kind of virtual support group, so through phone conversations and visits, Jan and I were our own support group as we watched her beloved mother decline. I had lived with this family for a while so Jan’s mother was as close to me as my own mother, and it was very gut wrenching to see her go through the dementia.

Like Dana, Jan and I used humor to deal with the confusion, the frustration, the endless repeats of questions and comments. We were lucky that Jan’s mother never turned violent. And when she had to go to a nursing home, she was content because she decided that she was going to a religious retreat and that was okay with her because she loved to go on go on retreats.

It was very hard for Jan and I when her mother no longer recognized us, but there was always a recognition through music. “In the Garden” was one of her favorite hymns, and every time I played guitar she’d ask me to play that hymn. When I visited her in the care facility and played that song, she’d look at me, and I would know she knew.
It is in sharing these kinds of stories that caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients support each other because there is that little kernel of truth in our story that connects to other peoples’ stories.

In addition to the support group aspect of Surviving Alzheimer’s, there is a section with resources that cover topics such as choosing a long-term care facility, dealing with insurance, and what to expect from a doctor. All of these sections are written by experts in the various fields; a doctor, a lawyer, an insurance agent, and others.

This is a book I highly recommend for anyone dealing with a family member who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is written with such heart that it will bring smiles and tears and nods of recognition. It is also an important book for those who are not yet dealing with this insidious disease; because we never know when a loved one will enter into that dark scary place. The resources in the book give everyone a way to prepare for that possibility, as well as the important medical and legal documents that we should all have in place to help our families handle everything after we are gone.

These are all things that are often very hard for families to talk about so too often nothing is written down and nothing is decided until a moment of great emotional strain. It is so much better to have everything in place well before it is needed. Dayna’s mother made many of her own arrangements early on, and Dayna wrote that it was easier for her and her family to handle things since so many decisions had been made much earlier. So she recommends that we do the hard stuff now before it is too late. She also recommends having a nice big glass of wine when we are finished.


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