A Curious Kind of Widow: Loving a Man with Advanced Alzheimer’s. Ann Davidson (2006). Fithian Press, McKinleyville, CA, www.danielpublishing.com. $16.95. The author of Alzheimer’s, A Love Story relates the further decline and loss of her husband to Alzheimer’s in this intimate memoir. In it she details a life-affirming journey of separation as she also seeks a vision of herself in a future without her beloved Julian. The book is instructive on many levels, and demonstrates positive outcomes from devastating loss. Her doubts, fears and struggles, from how to keep her husband at home as long as possible—and how long is too long—to whether or not to medicate, and the anguished decision to place him in residential care, will resonate with Alzheimer’s caregivers. Her ability to keep connections alive, to savor those connections, and to continuously recognize the central core of the man inside, despite distressing Alzheimer’s behaviors, is inspiring.
Mom’s Cancer, Brian Fies (2005). Abrams Image, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, NY. $12.95. This is the story of a mother’s bout with lung and brain cancers as related by her adult son, in an unusual hardback comic book format. From diagnosis to final outcome, this very original book is funny, wry and frank in its portrayal of the Fries family, the oncology world they encounter, cigarette smoking, and the effects of brain and lung cancers and cancer treatments. Cancer patients, their families, and physicians would benefit from reading this very engaging and informative book and its hopeful message.
Meeting the Challenge of Chronic Illness. Robert L. Kane, Reinhard Priester & Annette M. Trotten. (2005). Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, www.press.jhu.edu, $55.00. This carefully researched book is based on the authors’ (an M.D., Ph.D., and J.D.) years of experience in dealing with chronic care issues. The book examines current flaws in chronic illness care and explores ways to improve it. Among their recommendations for reforming the US health care system are expanded policy support for utilizing information technology for clinical decision-making and involving families in chronic illness management. They also include clinicians’ perspectives, an essay on the news media’s role in educating the public about health issues, and lessons from the UK National Health Service. This book is useful for policy makers, health care providers, and educators to address one of the greatest challenges facing the health care system.
Our Parents, Ourselves: How American Health Care Imperils Middle Age and Beyond. Judith Steinberg Turiel, Ed.D. (2005). University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, www.ucpress.edu. $21.95. This book looks at the health care system from the perspectives of a professional in the medical field and of a daughter caring for her parents. Topics include how to maintain the balance of caring for your parents while preserving their independence, concerns related to memory loss and dementia, discussion on prescription drugs and gaps in the health care system that serves older adults. The author combines research and facts with personal stories, showing how policies and procedures affect real people. This is a very comprehensive look at the way the health care system works and doesn’t work for older adults and the family members that care for them. It also offers a great description of the issues for family members, providers and policy makers.
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