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Her Final Year is a different kind of memoir. It’s not just a “looking back” at the experience of being a care-provider for a loved one with dementia. Rather, it is an unfolding of what happens during the care-giving experience, as it happens.
Every Alzheimer's patient, every family with someone who suffers from age-related dementia, will have an individual path to walk. But certain things will likely happen along the way. We decided to combine the experiences of two different families who went through this. And to better understand the progression of care-giving over time, we shortened four or five actual years into the more generic metaphor of a single year. Each month of this metaphorical year represents a stage of the disease and the experience of caring for someone with it.
Off to the left there are all the different months listed – click on any of those, and you can see the introductory material from that chapter, which explains about that stage of care-giving. In addition, the month of “May” (one of the shorter chapters) has the entire contents of that chapter from the book, so you can see just how the entries – drawn from email, blog posts and journal entries written at the time – create a sort of dialog.
We’ve approached writing this book this way in the hope that it will serve as something of an ‘instant support group’ for anyone who is in the role of being a care-provider. You can read what we were going through at the time, how we tried to cope with the problems and stresses we encountered, how we experienced failures and successes. It is intended to be something of a conversation with the reader.
Much of the material in the book is intensely personal, even embarrassing. We have decided to share it ‘warts and all’ because that is the reality of being a long-term care-provider for someone with dementia. You will make mistakes. You will sometimes feel crushed by the isolation and stress. You will get into arguments with family and friends, and even say or do things that you later regret. You will occasionally resent, or even hate, the person for whom you are caring. We did. It’s completely normal, but seeing how others experience these things can be very helpful.
Lastly, you’ll note that there are four different voices through the bulk of the book, but only two in the final section, which is titled “His First Year.” That’s because Jim and John were the primary care-providers for their respective mothers-in-law. It would have been impossible for either of them to have done the care-giving on their own. But there is also a dearth of material about what it is to be a man in the role of care-provider, and we thought that adding this perspective would be helpful to the many men who will, or have, found themselves in this role.
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HFY Publications, L.L.C.
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