Jan's story : love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer's
"...Eventually, Petersen made a decision that is often privately made but rarely discussed. He felt his only chance of survival was to find new love..."
Barry Petersen, long-time CBS news correspondent, has an impressive list of endorsements for his book, including testimonies from Katie Couric, Brian Williams, and Rosalynn Carter.
This is a love story with a controversial and important ending.
Petersen and his wife met and quickly fell passionately in love. Their marriage was enduring and happy as they shared his life as a traveling correspondent. Then came the diagnosis that would explain Jan’s changing behaviour. Beautiful, vivacious, smart Jan was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Jan and Barry faced the challenge bravely, holding hands literally and figuratively as they fought this intruder. Eventually, it became obvious he couldn’t keep Jan safe and still work. With the blessing of Jan’s family, Petersen found an excellent assisted living centre for Jan in. The decision to move her was agonizing.
Jan continued to deteriorate and no longer knew “her Barry.” She knew a man called Barry, but he was a younger man whom she had loved. This man visiting her was a stranger. Depression gripped Petersen so severely that family and friends were concerned about his mental health.
Eventually, Petersen made a decision that is often privately made but rarely discussed. He felt his only chance of survival was to find new love. He met a widow who had loved her spouse as much as he loved Jan. They became a couple, with the blessings of most of Jan’s family and friends.
This and other resources are available for loan to members of AANSW - if you would like to reserve any of these please email the Library on NSW.Library@alzheimers.org.au
other books that may be of interest include :
Bouncing Back provides a simple six-step Resilience Plan to build emotional strength that includes exercise, nutrition, rest, breathing well, creating peace and calm, learning to solve problems and determining new directions. It offers hope and solutions to people experiencing tough times and seeking greater fulfilment. 'We can all overcome adversity by reducing excessive despair,' says Brian Babington, 'and find our own answers by listening compassionately to our inner self. And in the process, the insights we gain from adversity can change us for the better, make us more resilient and lead us to a clearer sense of our life's purpose.'
Quotes form the book include
• “Bad news should be followed with soup. Then a nap.”
• “No matter your spiritual beliefs, if you hold any, the answer is the same: sometimes, why is not knowable. If you open the refrigerator door and a tub of Kozy Shack tapioca pudding tumbles out and splats open onto the floor, you clean it. You don’t stand there and question why it happened, how it was possible. Why doesn’t matter now.”
• “All of us are richer and more fascinating and more complex than we can ever know.”
• “The most valuable moments and experiences that life has to offer are found only along its most treacherous paths.”
• “No matter how huge your loss, as long as you remain engaged with your life, the best days of your life may still be ahead of you. Don't misunderstand me: the pain of your loss will remain with you for the rest of your life. But great joy will be there right beside it. Deep sorrow and deep joy can exist within you, side by side. At every moment, and it's not confusing. And it's not a conflict.”
• “Fairness is not among the laws of the universe. This means, if someone runs over your foot in a car and they don't stop , that's just too bad and it totally sucks and you better bust your ass to get yourself to the hospital right now so they can save the foot.”
Several concepts in caregiving are examined: denial, anger, guilt, shame, depression, stress, acceptance. These concepts are analysed and practical guides are provided on how to deal with them successfully.
Coping with Alzheimer's is a compassionate as well as rational look at the life and tasks of caregivers, whether they be a lay person or a professional. Many examples of coping are presented in the form of dialogues with various caregivers. The authors urge potential caregivers to accept that the patient is no longer the same person that they were, and therefore need to practice emotional distancing.
Caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's can be stressful and depressing, unless one has the proper tools for coping with such a task. This book provides such tools, and is a must read for anyone taking care of an Alzheimer's patient