Keeper: One House, Three Generations, and a Journey into Alzheimer's

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Crown/Archetype, Aug 17, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
Five years ago, Andrea Gillies— writer, wife, and mother of three—seeing that her husband's parents were struggling to cope, invited them to move in.  She and her newly extended family relocated to a big Victorian house on a remote, windswept peninsula in the far north of Scotland, leaving behind their friends and all that was familiar;  hoping to find a new life, and new inspiration for work.

Her mother-in-law Nancy was in the middle stages of Alzheimer's Disease, and Keeper charts her journey into dementia, its impact on her personality and her family, and the author's researches into what dementia is.   As the grip of her disease tightens, Nancy's grasp on everything we think of as ordinary unravels before our eyes. Diary entries and accounts of conversations with Nancy track the slow unravelling.  The journey is marked by frustration, isolation, exhaustion, and unexpected black comedy. For the author, who knew little about dementia at the outset, the learning curve was steeper than she could have imagined. The most pernicious quality of Alzheimer’s, Gillies suggests, is that the loss of memory is, in effect, the loss of one’s self, and Alzheimer’s, because it robs us of our intrinsic self-knowledge, our ability to connect with others, and our capacity for self-expression, is perhaps the most terrible and most dehumanizing illness. Moreover, as Gillies reminds us, the effects of Alzheimer’s are far-reaching, impacting the lives of caregivers and their loved ones in every way imaginable.

Keeper
is a fiercely honest “glimpse into the dementia abyss”—an endlessly engrossing meditation on memory and the mind, on family, and on a society that is largely indifferent to the far-reaching ravages of this baffling disease.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Rita_h - LibraryThing

This memoir, written by a Scottish journalist, is a grim but honest account of what it is like to be a caretaker for older relatives, but especially with someone who is spiraling down into Alzheimer's ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Citizenjoyce - LibraryThing

Keeper by Andrea Gillies is a thorough look at the emotional and financial cost of caring for a person with Alzheimer's that includes a good bit of writing about the science behind the disease. I came ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
15
Section 3
29
Section 4
42
Section 5
54
Section 6
60
Section 7
73
Section 8
78
Section 19
182
Section 20
187
Section 21
200
Section 22
207
Section 23
220
Section 24
233
Section 25
241
Section 26
252

Section 9
92
Section 10
103
Section 11
112
Section 12
116
Section 13
125
Section 14
130
Section 15
142
Section 16
155
Section 17
163
Section 18
170
Section 27
259
Section 28
269
Section 29
282
Section 30
295
Section 31
304
Section 32
306
Section 33
312
Section 34
317
Section 35
321
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

ANDREA GILLIES is a writer and journalist. Keeper won the 2009 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, the United Kingdom's pre-eminent popular science writing award, and the 2010 Orwell Prize. She lives with her family in St. Andrews, Scotland, and has just completed her first novel.

Bibliographic information