Dealing with Alzheimer’s in ’25 Months’
When former President Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, some people cruelly nodded their heads and remarked about how that explained a lot. Most of us, though, were aghast. How sad, we said. Did he know what was happening to him? That poor man.Alzheimer’s must be terrible for sufferers who lose a little part of their past every day, but it’s a special kind of Purgatory for their partners, and in “25 Months” by Linda McK Stewart (c.2004, Other Press), you’ll read one woman’s memoir of caretaking, loving, and bewilderment.Jack Stewart was a healthy man, a tennis player with a sure serve. He had a quick, curious mind and he was a collector of unusual history. Nothing made Jack happier than to spend time with old friends, and his children and grandchildren. He loved summers on the beach and biking around his neighborhood.When he met Linda, she was a U.S. representative of a French publishing firm. Linda had 3 kids, Jack had 2, but their lives melded together and they were happy.Jack retired but never really retired, which is what happens to so many active older people. He had offers for this project and that one, and he loved a challenge. But one morning, Jack woke up from a nap, confused and discombobulated, and was taken to the hospital. Tests soon revealed that Jack had Alzheimer’s.How could this be? Didn’t Alzheimer’s sneak up on someone, Linda asked. She was told that, in some people, Alzheimer’s appears in a single, sudden occurrence. Jack Stewart was one of those people.For the next 25 months, Linda Stewart fought on her husband’s behalf. She asked questions, searched for medical answers, and accepted help from friends, family, and an angel named Clarence Bell. As she watched her husband lose a little of himself every day, she remembered their lives together and she struggled to communicate with Jack as he swiftly deteriorated into a husk of the man he once was.If remembrances and experiences make us who we are, what happens when they’re wiped out? Linda McK Stewart asks that question, but she has no answers and neither does medical science. There is no known definitive cause for Alzheimer’s Disease, and there is no cure yet.”25 Months” is a true story, and Linda McK Stewart vividly tells of the numb, desperate, disbelieving horror of watching someone you love disappear. While I think this book is something very unique, in that it portrays Alzheimer’s from a different perspective, I think that if you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, this isn’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know. Struggling readers might be off-put by the Stewart’s obvious affluence; it’s not cheap to care for an Alzheimer’s patient, but the Stewarts apparently were well-off enough to ease the financial burden considerably.”25 Months” is a heartbreaking, eye-opening book, highly recommended for medical professionals and baby boomers with ageing parents. It will definitely make you stop and think about the future. VT– Terri Schlichenmeyer
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