DIARY OF AN ALZHEIMER’S CAREGIVER

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When his wife, Deanna, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Hershberger began journaling about his role as her caretaker, detailing the overwhelming, heartbreaking struggle it became. Beginning in 2010, the author noticed that Dee, a formerly energetic, attentive woman in her early 70s, was forgetting specific words and misplacing items throughout their home. A doctor attributed the incidences to a thyroid imbalance and prescribed medication. A year later, Dee’s weight loss, increasing impatience, memory lapses, and distinctly diminished capacity to perform household tasks caused further alarm, though the couple continued to enjoy their usual physical and social activities. Dee’s short-term memory continued to decline. Early on, her problems were viewed as minor mental malfunctions, but as the years progressed, the couple’s lives became further complicated with a tentative diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Even seemingly simple daily tasks like showering, pouring water, or adhering to a medication regimen became a frustrating struggle in her “out of sight is out of mind” condition. As Dee’s long-term memory became gradually impaired, the author sought out more personalized treatments and, as a man of faith, continued to pray for his wife’s health. In the second half of the book, Hershberger depicts Dee’s steady decline into deep dementia through his own increasingly arduous caregiving perspective, and the narrative becomes harrowing at times. “The last two years became an excruciating ordeal for Dee and an emotional roller coaster for me,” he writes. Because the author solely focuses on his wife’s decline, snippets of their life together with their children appear in a short family pictorial at the end of the book. While intensely sorrowful, the couple’s journey is often poignant, grounded in true love and unshakeable devotion. It’s also an insightful, knowledgeable guidebook with essential advice for concerned readers facing similar circumstances.

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