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 by a different set of priorities: to be guided by her heart, not by outside accomplishment and recognition.
The New York Times wrote a front page story on Mary Ellen on Thanksgiving 2005. It was one of the most e-mailed stories for the month. Through her own story and through interviews with doctors and other women who've followed the "Daughter Track"--leaving a job to care for an aging parent--Geist offers emotional insights on how to encourage interaction with the loved one you're caring for; how to determine daily tasks that are achievable and rewarding; how the personality of the patient affects the caregiving and the progression of the diseases; as well as invaluable advice about how caregivers can take care of themselves while accomplishing the Herculean task of constantly caring for others.
Geist's years in journalism allow her to report on Boomers' caretaking dilemmas with professional objectivity, and her warm voice brings compassion and insight to one of the most difficult stituations a son or daughter may face during his or her life.
For everyone who loves someone with Alzheimers, Geist observes, there are markers and moments that tell you the disease is on the way. Her account of two years spent helping a person with Alzheimers stay in this world is both travel guide and love storyneither in the conventional sense. As Geist makes her way, trying new things, failing, scratching plans, making mistakes, and starting all over again, she uses her professional skills as a journalist and TV anchor to incorporate conversations with other caregivers, consultation with experts and wide reading in the literature. Sensitive that Alzheimers disease affects patients and spouses in many different ways, Geist offers helpful suggestions (using his words instead of trying to teach him mine) and practical advice (Doing activities alone is imperative to the survival of a caregiver). True, there was a downside to having to come home to help care for my father, but Geists love of her parents and their love for one another is as palpable as the sadness wrought by the disease. To all readers, she offers a deeply affecting account of personal growth: I define myself and my life in a whole new way. These days, it is the measure of the heart that matters most to me. (Aug.)Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.