"By this time the parent-child relationship was turned completely upside down in terms of who looked after whom."

As he chronicles his mother's decline, Merzlock's rollercoaster emotions of frustration, love, and heartbreak echo those experienced by so many family caregivers. Millions of Americans have dementia, and many more family members are significantly affected by their loved ones' irreversible changes. As Merzlock learned all too quickly, being a family caregiver is an all-consuming job that encompasses a variety of roles, from financial planner and legal advisor to home health aide and patient advocate—and many, many more.

As with many aging parents, Catherine, Merzlock's mother, suffered many co-existing health problems. First diagnosed with macular degeneration and then with dementia, Catherine's ability to care for herself gradually declined. Her increasingly worsening impairments followed the typical path of Alzheimer's—from occasional memory lapses to increasing difficulty with self-care. Although Merzlock quit his job to care for his mother full time, he was eventually forced to concede that moving to a nursing home was best for her.

During subsequent years, Catherine suffered many health setbacks, including more than one fall, a skull fracture, and a possible TIA stroke. While her eventual death was not unexpected, Merzlock found that transitioning from family caregiving to self-care presented another challenge for him, one he may still be trying to cope with.

Merzlock's poignant story is not a how-to book, nor is it primarily intended to be an informational narrative on a horrendous disease that robs its victims of their self-identities. Rather, it is an emotional journey that serves as a coping mechanism for both Merzlock and his readers. The portion on hospice care could have been expanded. Merzlock makes an invaluable argument that hospice care is not, as some put it, "giving up." Rather, it is a means of restoring some measure of dignity and comfort to patients who have little left, not to mention the restoration of quality time between the patient and family member/caretakers.

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