Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: When Your Parent Becomes Your Child By Ken Abraham

Title:  When Your Parent Becomes Your Child: A Journey of Faith Through My Mother's Dementia
Author:  Ken Abraham
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Format:  Softcover or Kindle

ISBN:  978-0-8499-4727-8

My husband's mother has Alzheimer's Disease.  Her mother also suffered with this disease, so we weren't that surprised when she told us that her doctor agreed she was probably in the early stages of the disease.  That was 7 or 8 years ago, and all of her children had been noticing the signs and discussing it for a year or two already.

What we didn't realize was how much her husband was helping her cope with the disease, and covering for her confusion, until he was hospitalized with complications from his diabetes.  Through his 3 month hospitalization, we began to realize how impaired Mom really was, and figured out a few of the things that Dad was doing to help her.  In the four years since he died, we've continued to watch her decline mentally, until she finally was deemed unsafe to live alone this past Spring.  Unfortunately, at that point, she was also rejected by the assisted living homes in our area.  We'd missed the window of moving her into an assisted living facility, because she'd been adamantly opposed to the suggestion earlier, and she had to move into a nursing home instead. 

My husband and I have read many different books on Alzheimer's Disease in the past four years, though primarily in the 2 years since we moved her back to our area.  We had the benefit of knowing what we were dealing with, because of her family history and the early diagnosis, but it didn't make the disease easier to cope with. It didn't make the difficult decisions easier:  when to remove the car keys, when she wasn't safe to live alone, and how to take care of her when she believed she was doing just fine.  Yet, it was still a blessing to know and understand.  Many families don't understand the changes their loved one is undergoing until they are already at the point of moderate impairment and facing a crisis of some sort.

Ken Abraham and his siblings didn't realize their mother was dealing with dementia at first; they didn't realize that strokes were affecting her ability to think clearly and to function on her own.  As her behavior grew increasingly odd, they just chalked it up to their quirky mom and the aging process.  They tried to reason with her, not realizing she was beyond the point of reasoning in some areas.  Their journey was a difficult and painful one, and Ken Abraham shares their story with us in When Your Parent Becomes Your Child.  The subtitle is "A Journey of Faith Through My Mother's Dementia", and it's a very fitting description of the book.  Ken's book is the very personal saga of his own faith and his changing relationship with his mother as her dementia progressed.

From the publisher's description:
When Your Parent Becomes Your Child tells the story of one family who reluctantly began to recognize and then deal with the common issues found in caring for their elderly loved one:
  • memory loss
  • physical decline
  • personal hygiene
  • dangers of driving and living alone
  • aberrant behavior
  • uncharacteristic attitudes
As he chronicles his own mom's degenerative condition, New York Times bestselling writer Ken Abraham not only educates but offers inspiration to help readers cope with and manage their family circumstances.

When Your Parent Becomes Your Child isn't your typical book about dementia.  Ken Abraham's book is unique, because it is written in a memoir or journal-style, rather than a medical or how-to format.  Though you will learn about dementia as you're reading the book, and it does include some helpful appendices at the end, it is primarily a book that encourages those of us facing dementia in our families.  It helps to know we aren't alone, and to read the story of another Christian who has already walked the painful path we're on, with dignity and grace. 

It's hard to say you enjoyed a book on such a difficult topic, but I can definitely say that I was touched by this book.  I found myself completely drawn into the Abraham's story and compelled to keep reading. I read it as quickly as I often read fiction books.  Much like our own situation, their mother was a widow, and they tried their best to help her function while still allowing her to live on her own ... with mixed results.  Eventually, they too faced the moment when they realized she could no longer live on her own, and she was moved into a nursing home.  Though our family is dealing specifically with Alzheimer's Disease, this book addresses the broader topic of dementia.  It will be a helpful resource and source of encouragement to many families who are dealing with dementia from varying causes.

If any member of your family is suffering from dementia, I highly recommend this book.  If you're a Christian doctor or pastor, I recommend reading this book to better help the families you serve.  It's not a fun read, but it is poignant and meaningful.

This book was provided to me free, for review purposes, from BookSneeze.  I was not required to post a positive review, and no other compensation was given for this review.  The views contained in this review are my own.

April E.

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