Measure of the Heart: A Father's Alzheimer's, A Daughter's Return
Mary Ellen Geist
Springboard Press, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Leslie McKee
ary Ellen Geist was an award-winning reporter and anchor. So, what could make her give it all up? In 1994, it was suspected that her father, Woody, had Alzheimer's disease. In 2004, Mary Ellen decided to return home to help her mom care for him. She wanted to have the chance to say goodbye.
ell-known author and neurologist Oliver Sacks states in the foreword that senility, now recognized as Alzheimer's disease, was relatively unknown prior to the 20th century. Recent studies show that more than five million people in the United States alone have Alzheimer's disease, a progressive, irreversible brain disorder with no known cause or cure.
his book chronicles Woody's battle with dementia and Mary Ellen's struggle to maintain their relationship. The journey is painful, yet humorous at times. As Mary Ellen states, '
Moments. They're all we have. Maybe they're all any of us ever have.
hile it is alarming to read about the mental decline of a person with Alzheimer's disease, there are inspiring moments. Despite the progression of Alzheimer's, Woody continued to sing. Music has always been an important part of his life and the healing qualities of music are apparent.
ary Ellen's book,
Measure of the Heart
, is particularly insightful for caregivers. Included are a number of tips (on various topics) and resources (books, organizations and websites).
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