Books keep pouring in, and I try to write about the best of them, since many of us gain comfort, as well as knowledge, from books. Many that I read are purely informational. Then there are some that are mixes of stories intertwined with tips and resources for handing the situations most of us as caregivers or people facing dementia are faced with.
Deep down, however, I'm partial to stories told by real people who are going through similar situations that I've been through. Especially in this age of the Internet, where most of us can go to sites like ouralzheimers.com, or other disease specific sites, and find information about stages of a disease or new drugs on the horizon, I feel quite comfortable with my chances of getting good, factual information, or a least guidance on finding what I need. What I can't get enough of, however, is personal stories.
I was contacted by an the people at The Healing Project, located at www.thehealingproject.org, who asked me to read two of their books they thought I'd be interested in. I agree and they sent them to me. These books are part of the "Voices of" series, which includes, so far, books on alcoholism, autism, breast cancer and lung cancer, as well as caregiving and Alzheimer's. When Voices of Caregiving and Voices of Alzheimer's arrived, I casually put them in my ever growing pile to wait for their turn. However, they kept beckoning to me.
Finally, I cracked one open ahead of its turn, just for a peek. As an English major who cut her teeth on books, each physical book is a unique experience for me. I like to feel the heft of a book, flip through it, have a relationship with it, even before I begin to read it.
What a sucker I was for these books. I read each story, intending to put the book down after just one story, and get back to it later. But, like when I munch potato chips, I kept wanting just one more. Each story is about three pages in length, and I believe that is part of the power. The writers don't tell the whole story of their experience. They concentrate on one significant element, and relate it well.
In the "Voices of Alzheimer's" book, a woman tells of the process of readying her husband of 60 years for his trip to the nursing home, where he will live. She can no longer care for him alone, and her children are worried about her health and safety. The poignancy and power of those few pages is stunning.
Of course there are so many more. A daughter tells of her frustration with her dad's repeating himself constantly, as she takes him for a doctor check for his prostate cancer. She's frustrated that he keeps forgetting that he has prostate cancer. She frustrated about the options for his care, and that he can't really help her decide. Her breaking heart bleeds right through her words.
In the "Voices of Caregiving" book, a youngish woman tells of how she stops her husband, once a Green Beret, from committing suicide. The economy of words in this story, as in the others, showcases great writing and editing. Some of the writers are professional wordsmiths, while others are nurses, social workers, artists, housewives. It matters not what they do in their work-a-day world, other than that they are caregivers for loved ones who need them.
Each brief story is powerfully told with an impressive economy of words. Both books are well worth reading. To top it off, the profit from each book purchased from the "Voices of" series goes to The Healing Project, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a community of support for those challenged with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
The books are available online, from their Web site and at most bookstores.
Published On: December 22, 2008