Communion Of Dreams


“Her Final Year”
March 23, 2010, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, Writing stuff

I discussed yesterday some of the emotional toll of working on the care-giving book. And last October I mentioned the working title, and explained it briefly. I’ve been thinking more about that.

The idea for the book – the metaphor, if you will – is that you can consider Alzheimer’s progression and impact on a life as something of a whole. Just as the seasons progress, just as the days and weeks and months follow one after another in a fairly seamless manner through the course of a year, so does the disease advance. January starts with hope for a new year, in December you’re looking back at how things actually unfolded. You can predict, in general terms, what the weather will be like from month to month – but you can still have a glorious sunny day the week of Christmas, just as you can have a grim and cold weekend in September.

Likewise, someone suffering from dementia can have good days and bad days, even as the general trend of the disease moves relentlessly on to a known conclusion. Furthermore, in no two people will the disease progress in exactly the same way.

Therefore, in order to make our book the most useful to other people, we’ve arranged the “months” according to the general progression of the disease, and then we’ve placed individual entries – drawn from email correspondence, blog posts and Live Journal entries – into the “month” where it most seems to fit. There is a general tendency for those entries to follow an actual chronological progression, but it happens that sometimes they don’t match up that way. In addition, things are time-compressed: the actual experiences we’re relating happened over roughly four years, but in order to make the most sense of them they’ve been fit into this one-year framework.

I don’t know if this metaphor of a “year” will make sense to everyone. But it has given us a tool for understanding what we went through, and to organize that experience in a way which makes it somewhat more universal, even as intensely personal as it actually was. We’ll see.

Jim Downey

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[…] Press sometime in the next couple of months. Hopefully some progress on finding a publisher for Her Final Year. Getting going on My Father’s […]

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[…] Co-authoring a care-giving memoir. Still early in the evaluation period on this, so can’t say whether it is a success or not. […]

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[…] As the care-giving became more demanding, I found myself even more involved on one forum in particular – it gave me a kind of community, a form of support. Eventually I began sharing my blogging about being a care provider for someone with Alzheimer’s there, and that led to meeting GreyHawk and eventually to writing Her Final Year. […]

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[…] pending for four months has been a submission of Her Final Year to a publisher. They were supposed to get back to us a month ago, according to what they told us in […]

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[…] to write here. It is harder to write in general – for my regular articles, working on the book, even on […]

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