One of the best books I have read about dementia and Alzheimer’s is “The Long Goodbye” by Patti Davis. Davis, the Reagan’s youngest daughter is a gifted writer. In the book she chronicles her family’s journey with her father, former President Ronald Reagan. It is such a moving and beautiful read that I have had to put the book down several times to take notes, or to take deep breaths.

If you have someone in your life who is on the same journey, this book is a must read. Many of the moments Davis describes in the book will resonate with those who have a loved one with dementia. Then again, I believe it will resonate with everyone who has an elderly parent in the twilight of their lives.

Davis is such a gifted writer with a deep and introspective soul. For many years she had a tenuous relationship with her parents, that caused them tremendous pain. Fortunately, redemption did not come too late for her but regret for all the lost years is a theme that resonates throughout the book. “I began to grow up when I stopped, opened my heart, my arms, my life to my parents — when I acknowledged the cords between us that had stretched for miles without breaking.”

“The Long Goodbye” was a term coined by former First Lady Nancy Reagan at some point after the former president’s diagnosis in 1994. It is a most appropriate description for the long journey that al families go through with a loved one who has dementia. In this book we get a front row seat to how a very public family grappled with a disease which now afflicts 22% of Americans above the age of 65. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) estimates that 75% of people with dementia are not diagnosed globally, with that rate believed to rise as high as 90% in some lower- and middle-income countries.

If you suspect that your loved one has dementia, it’s always best to seek a professional opinion. Diagnosis is only the first, albeit arduous, step on the journey. Post-diagnosis support is often a daunting field to navigate, particularly when the systems meant to provide such support are confusing, limited, or outright non-existent depending on where one lives.

“The Long Goodbye” is available on Kindle and Google Books

A moving memoir about the journey of loving a parent with dementia and or Alzheimer’s

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