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Hardcover Measure of the Heart: A Father's Alzheimer's, a Daughter's Return Book

ISBN: 0446580929

ISBN13: 9780446580922

Measure of the Heart: A Father's Alzheimer's, a Daughter's Return

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Mary Ellen Geist decided to leave her job as a CBS Radio anchor to return home to Michigan when her father's Alzheimer's got to be too much for her mother to shoulder alone. She chose to live her life... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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An Emotional Journey with Alzheimer's

Mary Ellen Geist left a stellar career as a radio broadcaster to move home and help her mother take care of her father, Woody, a sufferer of Alzheimer's. She did not know, could not know what she was in for. Like so many daughters who move home to cope with this devastating disease, Geist experienced moments of sweetness, hours of frustration, days of pain as she watched her father slip further and further away. Her dreams of rescuing her mother from the pain of a spouse with Alzheimer's faded away to a more realistic view of the disease and the problems that inevitably accompany it. Their world, once expansive, contracted as friends slipped away. This is how it is living with Alzheimer's. Geist has created a fine volume. Her writing shines and is even lyrical at times. Her pain is clear; the gifts this disease brought her also clear. Hers is a book to make the tears flow, and mine did as I recalled my own father's descent into darkness. If there ever were a reason to make every possible effort to avoid Alzheimer's or any other the other dementias associated with aging, Geist provides it. Read it. Weep and laugh with her. Godspeed Woody. Godspeed Mary Ellen. Well done.

The Realities of Alzheimer's

As lifespans lengthen, it's an unfortunate reality that more and more of us are likely to encounter the tragedy of Alzheimer's Disease. In "Measure of the Heart," ambitious, successful California and New York radio news anchor and reporter Mary Ellen Geist tells of leaving her career to help her mother care for her father as he declines in the clutches of this terrible affliction. Both an exlanation of Alzheimers and a personal caregiver's memoir, this book explores the tragic effects of the disease on the vctim and his family. As the disease progresses, the author learns to let herself be guided by her heart rather than by the pressures of her demanding career. This very personal story helps to explain the devotion of Woody Geist's wife, daughters, and other family members to this nice, kind, cheerful former CEO who loves to play tennis and to sing, activities he is able to continue long after the disease strikes. The family's selfless devotion and refusal to put Woody into a care facility seem puzzling as the disease progresses, and yet their extraordinary love is admirable. In addition to telling the victim's and caregivers' stories, this book explores and lists various resources: helpful organizations, publications, and web sites devoted to Alzheimer's and those dealing with it. The book makes fascination reading for anyone who has ever wondered about the disease or marveled at the dedication of those dealing with its victims. For anyone faced with an Alzheimer's diagnosis in the famiy, it should be required reading.


After reading Mary Ellen's book, I started thinking about a photo I took a few years ago that shows a Buddhist monk sweeping away a Tibetan sand mandala that had taken a week to painstakingly create. The act of destroying that beautiful and sacred work of art is a lesson about the impermanence of life, which is best lived in the moment. For me, that image sums up MEG's book. "Measure of the Heart" tells the story of how Mary Ellen Geist left her high-profile media career in New York to return to her childhood home in Michigan to help care for her father Woody, an Alzheimer's patient. Mary Ellen recounts that while she used to introduce herself to strangers with her name followed by radio station call letters; these days it's "the measure of the heart that matters most." Alzheimer's has touched my life, if only obliquely; my 76-year-old mother has at least three friends whose families have someone diagnosed with the disease. And, then, there's MEG's story about her father's experience. Sad to say, these stories won't be the last. I highly recommend this book; it's full of great information, insight, humor, wisdom, comfort and compassion. (Total disclosure: MEG is a friend and former colleague).

From the heart

Mary Ellen leaves her successful radio broadcast journalism career to earn the real Pulitzer Prize of life with this frank account of helping her mother deal with her father's Alzheimer's disease. Becoming a caretaker is challenging more than one can imagine, especially when it requires living 24/7 with the patient one loves. Mary Ellen and her sisters discover that their mother can no longer handle her husband's health care on her own, leaving the only single daughter to return home to Michigan. With vivid detail and description, Mary Ellen provides almost a daily journal of her and her family's desire to give Woody Geist, a life with dignity. Her emotional and sometimes humorous account offers the reader what it's really like to care for a loved with one, offering many practical questions and tips to consider when taking on the responsibility. The book is well-written and takes reveals what it's like to be one of the 10 million people caring for a person with dementia. "Measure of the Heart" is a must read for anyone considering or caring for a loved one. Mary Ellen, who has covered many difficult stories in her award-wining journalism career, discovers the most challenging one is right in her own family.
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