Losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s disease is akin to a slow and painful torture. Watching this person deteriorate into a shell of their former selves is infinitely one of the most difficult experiences anyone could have.
Actress and writer Patti Davis knows about this all too well. Davis, the daughter of the late President Ronald Reagan, watched as her father wasted away to become someone who was physically recognizable, but emotionally different. Her new book, Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers can See Beyond Alzheimer’s, was published in September. In addition to her writing and acting, Davis also runs a support group for family members of those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Combining everything she has been through, Davis walks the reader through all of the stages of this disease and the effects it can have on both the person who has been diagnosed and those they care about.
This is a topic that is unfortunately, hitting a little too close to home for me. The thing that popped out was that she kept stressing how important mental health is for everyone involved. Not just for the person whose life is forever altered, but for the caregivers whose entire world has just been turned upside down. She encourages the reader to be compassionate and forgiving, not just of themselves, but any anger/resentment they may have against the person whose mind is being slowly destroyed.
Balancing the clinical aspects and the complicated emotions involved, Davis’s approach is gentle and understanding. She encourages the reader to take things day by day and not let everything that is happening overwhelm them. In doing so, it takes some of the weight off of everyone involved and allow them to take a deep breath before moving forward.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.