Between Two Worlds: Special Moments of Alzheimer's and Dementia

Overview

Living with and caring for those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia can be an agonizing experience for loving family members and caregivers. It may seem impossible to find the silver lining of hope during these difficult times. How can caregivers and family members lighten the load of grief brought on by such cases? And how do caregivers especially deal with the intensely difficult day-to-day work with those who are afflicted?

Veteran hospital social worker Ellen P. Young, ...

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Overview

Living with and caring for those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia can be an agonizing experience for loving family members and caregivers. It may seem impossible to find the silver lining of hope during these difficult times. How can caregivers and family members lighten the load of grief brought on by such cases? And how do caregivers especially deal with the intensely difficult day-to-day work with those who are afflicted?

Veteran hospital social worker Ellen P. Young, who saw both her mother and aunt struggle with Alzheimer's, says that though hard to find, humor is often the best medicine. Similar to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, Between Two Worlds is the first book to explore, through personal accounts and vignettes, the rare moments of humor that unexpectedly pop up during the caregiving of people suffering from Alzheimer's and related dementia. Young brings the courageous experiences of care providers and relatives to life as they encounter the challenges of dealing with these seriously afflicted patients. At the same time she reveals the touching and gently humorous moments that go a long way to ease the tension and pain.

While respectful of the plight of affected families and patients, Young gathers a timeless collection of "fear busters" that "access mirth" with touching chapters such as "Please Don't Eat the Marigold," and "I've Just Found Out I'm in Baltimore."

"By staring the Alzheimer's monster down and even laughing a little in the face of it," Young says, "we bolster our courage and release the chemicals (endorphins) in ourselves to gain a sense of well-being in the face of adversity." A must for all caregivers and families, this is truly a book that, once started, cannot be put down.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591021636
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Pages: 207
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen P. Young (Lutherville, MD), who retired in 1997 from clinical social work at Union Memorial Hospital, continues to volunteer in the medical community and has written for National Catholic Reporter, among other publications.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2000

    Required Reading

    Book Review: written By Jessica T. Eustice, January 13, 2000 Between Two Worlds by Ellen Young '...love is what the Alzheimer's patient responds to. And in the final analysis, everything boils down to love. All the suffering they go through, all the suffering we, the caregivers, go through becomes one. And from that bond of suffering comes love in action,...' (p.60) In 1994, when My father, Tommy Thompson of the Red Clay Ramblers was diagnosed with dementia resembling Alzheimer's, I was suddenly thrust into the position of being his caregiver. As I had always done in the past, I turned to books to try and find answers and solace. Unfortunately, the only books I could find then, told me in so many different ways, how horrible this journey was going to be. I wish Between Two Worlds had been in publication then. I needed a book that provided hope, a book that could point me to help, and a book that promised that there were still positive experiences left in the world for my family. I am proud that my father, my brother and I played a role in assisting with this book and I am glad that it will be there for other daughters and families facing a new diagnosis; people who are just starting to wonder if their lives are over because of this disease. Ellen Young wrote her book: Between Two Worlds in order to find something redeeming in the devastating experiences with Alzheimer's and dementia that she and other caregivers go through. She did, indeed, find it. So will her readers who find affirmation in knowing that they are not alone with their experiences. Nevertheless, the book also has more than that to offer. Just as each case of dementia is unique, so is each caregivers' journey. One of the most important messages we caregivers are getting out to the health care community is that people sick with Alzheimer's are just as individual in their abilities, needs and personalities as well people. Ellen's book demonstrates this point loudly and clearly. Care for our loved ones is only humane if it takes this into account. A one-size-fits-all approach to Alzheimer's patients and their families is wrong. Ellen's book has already started to get this point across to those in the medical community who need to hear it. Often, caregivers, faced with the slow painful loss of someone that they love, would rather blame themselves than accept the helplessness we feel. Ellen's book accepts that we are individually helpless to reverse the condition, but shows us that we do not have to accept powerlessness against it. While there is nothing good about a devastating disease like Alzheimer's, If we are forced to deal with it, it can make us better, more loving, more noble people. We can learn to savor the preciousness in the good moments, and use laughter to get us through the painful ones . Ellen knows the lonliness of caregiving. Caregiving schedules and responsibilities, and often exhaustion, may make it impossible for the caregiver to go to a support group that could provide some support, relief and empathy. Ellen's book can serve as a mobile support group, accessible on the caregiver's schedule. It might also serve as an introduction to the support and relief that comes through sharing similar stories, and thereby give a caregiver the strength to go to a support group for the first time. One chapter in particular A Silver Lining Story spoke directly to me, and I felt tension leave my body as I read it. Friends of the Alzheimer's patient, trying to be helpful or protective, may not fully understand the Alzheimer's family's situation. This further isolates the caregiver who has already had to limit his/her activities in order to care for the patient. A daughter describes how one of her mother's friends declared that she would only allow her friend to go to a nursing home 'over her dead body.' The friend quickly learned, upon taking the mother into her own home for a weekend, what it was like to try and take care

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