Keeper: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Riddle of Alzheimer's

Andrea Gillies, Author
Andrea Gillies, Broadway, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-307-71911-9
Reviewed on: 06/28/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Paperback - 327 pages - 978-0-307-71912-6
Open Ebook - 201 pages - 978-0-307-71913-3
Paperback - 283 pages - 978-1-906021-65-8
Open Ebook - 174 pages - 978-1-907595-89-9
Hardcover - 357 pages - 978-1-906021-99-3
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In her forthright, smartly researched, and warmly recounted chronicle of her troubled two years taking care of her mother-in-law in the throes of dementia, British journalist Gillies reveals the "dehumanizing" toll of the disease on the whole family. Gillies, her husband, and three children moved to a rambling Victorian house in the wilds of a Scottish peninsula and took in Chris's parents, Edinburgh residents who had been showing signs of needing increasing care: irascible Morris had "bad legs," while his strong-willed wife, Nancy, at 79, was spiraling deeper into Alzheimer's. As Nancy's memory deteriorated the entire family unit began to collapse under the strain of constant caretaking. Gillies writes with a novelist's eye for detail, and her unflinching rendering of Nancy's excruciating loss of self is skillfully and tenderly drawn. As well, Gillies has delved vigorously into the research, offering the received wisdom on Alzheimer's, which dictates that acceptance and distraction are the most helpful methods to deal with sufferers ("Make Alzheimer's fun, they exhort"). Moreover, her memoir is an invaluable resource on the stages of Alzheimer's, history, drugs, brain function, care-giving options, even literary works. (Aug.)
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