Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers Can See Beyond Alzheimer's

Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers Can See Beyond Alzheimer's

by Patti Davis
Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers Can See Beyond Alzheimer's

Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers Can See Beyond Alzheimer's

by Patti Davis


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With the heartfelt prose of a loving daughter, Patti Davis provides a life raft for the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.

For the decade of my father’s illness, I felt as if I was floating in the deep end, tossed by waves, carried by currents, but not drowning,” writes Patti Davis in this searingly honest and deeply moving account of the challenges involved in taking care of someone stricken with Alzheimer’s.

When her father, the fortieth president of the United States, announced his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in an address to the American public in 1994, the world had not yet begun speaking about this cruel, mysterious disease. Yet overnight, Ronald Reagan and his immediate family became the face of Alzheimer’s, and Davis, once content to keep her family at arm’s length, quickly moved across the country to be present during “the journey that would take [him] into the sunset of [his] life.”

Empowered by all she learned from caring for her father—about the nature of the illness, but also about the loss of a parent—Davis founded a support group for the family members and friends of Alzheimer’s patients. Along with a medically trained cofacilitator, she met with hundreds of exhausted and devastated attendees to talk through their pain and confusion. While Davis was aware that her own circumstances were uniquely fortunate, she knew there were universal truths about dementia, and even surprising gifts to be found in a long goodbye.

With Floating in the Deep End, Davis draws on a welter of experiences to provide a singular account of battling Alzheimer’s. Eloquently woven with personal anecdotes and helpful advice tailored specifically for the overlooked caregiver, this essential guide covers every potential stage of the disease from the initial diagnosis through the ultimate passing and beyond. Including such tips as how to keep a loved one hygienic, and careful responses for when they drift to a time gone by, Davis always stresses the emotional milestones that come with slow-burning grief.

Along the way, Davis shares how her own fractured family came together. With unflinching candor, she recalls when her mother, Nancy, who for decades could not show her children compassion or vulnerability, suddenly broke down in her arms. Davis also offers tender moments in which her father, a fabled movie star whom she always longed to know better, revealed his true self—always kind, even when he couldn’t recognize his own daughter.

An inherently wise work that promises to become a classic, Floating in the Deep End ultimately provides hope to struggling families while elegantly illuminating the fragile human condition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324092339
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 11/08/2022
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 219,295
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Patti Davis is the daughter of Nancy and Ronald Reagan and the author of many books, both fiction and nonfiction, including Floating in the Deep End and The Long Goodbye. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times.

Table of Contents

Foreword Mary Catherine Mayo, MD xi

Introduction xv

The World Just Changed

Chapter 1 The Diagnosis You Feared 3

Chapter 2 Taking Away the Car Keys, Opening the Door to an Outside Caregiver 23

Chapter 3 Grief Arrives Early 37

The Early Stages

Chapter 4 Where Is the Person I Knew? 47

Chapter 5 Time Warp 63

Messy Emotions and Learning to Lie

Chapter 6 Caregiver Stress 79

Chapter 7 Creative Lying 93

Chapter 8 Anger 99

Chapter 9 Guilt and the Balm of Laughter 108

Chapter 10 Losing a Life Partner 121

When Things Get Out of Control

Chapter 11 Calling Adult Protective Services 135

Chapter 12 They Were So Much Better Yesterday 142

Chapter 13 The Battle Over Bathing (and Other Health Dilemmas) 164

Chapter 14 The Hardest Decision 174

Rebuilding Your World

Chapter 15 The World They Have Created 193

Chapter 16 Other People's Opinions 202

Chapter 17 The Empty Seat at the Table 207

The End Stages

Chapter 18 Your Old Friend Grief 215

Chapter 19 After the End 236

Afterword 245

Acknowledgments 249

Notes 251

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