An Excellent Review of Memories are Precious by Dr. Maxine Thompson

Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story

By Fran Lewis

Reviewed by Dr. Maxine Thompson

Where does the love go when one has Alzheimer’s Disease? This is the question posed in Fran Lewis’ moving memoir, Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story. Of course, the love goes nowhere; it just changes forms. The main place it remains is in the “precious memories” and in the hearts of the loved ones.

Lewis wrote this book as a tribute to her mother’s life before and after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Ruth had once been a vibrant, loving woman who was the matriarch of the family, and a friend to many in her community.

Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story, shares the journey of the author’s mother, Rush Swedloff,  who has lived with the disease for the past six years. It also shows the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on the family and on the community. According to          Alzeimher’s Disease affects  5.3 million people and is the seventh leading cause of death.

In a panoramic sweep, Fran examines the life of  her mother, Ruth Swerdloff, through the eyes of those who love her, through her mother’s blog before the Alzheimer’s disease progressed, and at one point, through the point of view a toy bunny, which was at her mother’s side during a serious surgery.

Memories are Precious is an eclectic collection of photos, letters, and poems from Ruth’s  grandchildren, from her adult children, from her neighbors.

The book changes voices throughout the story, which gives the book a fresh  human twist. The collection of journal-sounding entries, poems, and memories from others who have been affected by the disease adds layer to this true human story.

The book opens with Ruth’s own words. We learn about her life as a child, then as a young woman, and as an older woman. She tells how she experienced the early signs of the disease, from forgetting things, to eventually getting sick. She provides insights into the disease that many people are still mystified by.

In turn, Francine relates what she saw as changes in her mother’s behavior, from forgetting to wandering to getting lost.

The story tells some of the medical challenges her mother went through before the Alzheimer’s set in. One of my favorite sections is how, in 1993, Francine flew her mother on a private jet to have surgery in California. There were a series of mishaps, but they made it. The author went through the proverbial hell and high water to make sure her mother got the best of medical care, and it worked. Subsequently, with her mother’s strong spirit and Francine’s advocacy, Ruth lived through this critical operation.

Another favorite letter in the book was one written from Ruth’s granddaughter. It showed the granddaughter’s memories of how her grandmother stuck by her side through a childhood accident.

The book provides a guide as to signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, tips for how to survive as a caregiver, and resources both online and offline that can help family members provide care.

As painful of a subject as this book covers, I read it twice. Why? Not only is this book a cry for scientists to try to find a cure for the disease, it is also a shining example of what family can be.

Too often, society writes off people when they are ill. Friends no longer visit. Sometimes even family shuns the sick person.  As a result, many people are shuttled away to nursing homes where they may or may not get adequate care.

For me,  Memories are Precious speaks to the power of love and family to overcome any problem.

This book shows what lengths a family will go to help their loved one when they are sick. After all, what is family for?


One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by fran lewis. fran lewis said: An Excellent Review of Memories are Precious by Dr. Maxine Thompson: […]

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