Anyone caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease, other diseases of dementia, or severe memory loss disorders, know just how difficult and consuming it is to care for someone you love. Whether you're a family member, caring for a loved one, or any of a number of healthcare providers, "The 36-Hour Day" is an absolute must-read for all. Put simply, it is a true necessity for anyone involved in the care giving process of dementia-type disorders.
My 73 year old Father was diagnosed, about 8 years ago, with a "memory problem", by his family practitioner in New York. It was far more than simple memory loss, not unusual for someone his age, and the past 4 years of my life have been dedicated to his total care. As much as I love my Father, the demands of caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease has literally taken over my entire life and in every imaginable way. It is exhausting, depressing, frustrating, demanding and progressively gets worse. And, yes, there have been many special moments that I will treasure forever. I saw a side of my Dad, at times, that was much more loving and compassionate than I ever knew him to be. We played music, talked about old times, watched old movies and tried to harness ourselves into anything and everything that would build his confidence.
The bottom line, however, is that Alzheimer's is a disease that affects the entire family unit. And it's not uncommon for a caregiver to place his/her needs on the back burner, often to a point where they neglect themselves so badly that they become too ill to provide care for their loved on. Families have been torn apart, marriages have ended and friendships neglected that they dissolved. I've also seen people come together in ways that were miraculous. It is so necessary to take care of the caregivers, to offer them respite and to educate family members so they will have the tools to make it through the toughest of times. And, finally, one book does it all.
I believe that reading "The 36-Hour Day" is the first step in understanding Alzheimer's Disease, along with other dementia-type illnesses, and one of the most important and necessary steps a caregiver can take to prepare themselves for the very long road ahead. My friends who are reading this review, this is a very long journey that will require so much of your time, energy, compassion, passion and love. The best advice I can give you is to provide a pathway that will allow you to better understand what lies before you. There is no need to go this road alone. Support is necessary and so is reading literature and books that help you in order that you may help someone else. "The 36-Hour Day" is outstanding and comprehensive in every respect. If I were a wealthy person, I'd supply a copy to anyone who needed one.
Even though I am with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provide all of his care, just this morning he asked me who I was. I reassured him, as I always do, and told him that I was his child, that my name is Peter and that he need not ever worry or get frustrated over trying to remember me or anyone else. Although it kills me inside, to hear this day after day and to see him continually get worse, my job is to remain strong and not take anything personal. None of this is his fault and nowhere, other than in this book, will you ever find the sort of comprehensive guide to caring for someone like my Dad. These memory disorders are far more devastating than the public and the healthcare world can comprehend.
Alzheimer's Disease is not merely forgetting where the car keys were placed or forgetting the name of a neighbor that you might see twice a year. Alzheimer's dementia is about losing everything it is that ever made you who you are. It is about having your rights to drive, and other similar freedoms, taken away. It is about losing your total privacy and needing the assistance of a caregiver to help with cooking or paying bills. Safety becomes the main concern of those who love and care for someone with dementia. It is more than just forgetting ingredients to recipes or the names of famous baseball players. Eventually, it will become more difficult and painful for the caregivers than the suffering patient. And my deep concern is for the caregivers who are still living and have a good life ahead. If our loved ones could speak, they would thank us for everything we have done and ask that we move forward with our lives.
I hope this has helped, even just a little bit. Bless all of you for taking the time to read this. You have my contact information below and feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this book or even if you just need someone to chat with. The book will teach you the importance of reaching out to others. My hand is waiting to grasp onto yours.
My Sincere Warmth and Regards
Peter V. Cannice
of Scottsdale, Arizona