Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just a Word: Friends Encounter Alzheimer's by Rose Lamatt

Leaving two grown kids and an inattentive husband, author Rose walked out of  her marriage and her agoraphobia to a life with a new roommate, golfer Carol Beinbrink. Life is good for the two friends, until a WORD comes into their life. That word is Alzheimer's. Carol is diagnosed with Just a Word--Alzheimer's. 

I found out about this Florida author on The Alzheimer's Reading Room when Bob DeMarco highly reviewed her book . The true story reads like a well-crafted novel as Rose and Carol wrestle with the inevitable stages of Alzheimer's, the stages of grief and the death of Carol.   

I have now the privilege of being a Facebook friend of Rose and she messaged me that the book would be depressing for me. Yes and no. Yes, it was depressing because this is a path that I need to go down with my husband. But NO, not depressing, because it is so well-written and I am cheering for the progress of Rose in stepping out of panic attacks she had in her earlier life. I cheer the bold caregiver and Alzheimer's advocate she becomes by the end of the book. Not depressing because I realize that I can go through this process also. Rose did. With God's help, blogging friends, church family and the Alzheimer's support group I can go through this stress and challenge.

Here are some quotes from the book and my comments following the quote:
  • We don't talk of it and keep an "up" feeling between us. p. 45 My husband and I are like that and to some degree we just continue to live each day as happy as we can.  (However, we have been able to be honest about this disease in the past months since attending Alzheimer's Association events together.)
  • I see her embarrassment when she stops mid sentence in conversation, not able to find the right word. (p. 57) Here is some dialogue I had with DH recently, not as serious as Rose and Carol:
I forgot a document at home and DH says,
"Lady, you take the cake and I'm the one with the . . . What is it?"
Me:  "Short-term memory." We go back home to get the document.
DH: "I will give you one more chance. . . . [To our dog] What are
we going to do with mama's memory?"
  • Next to a chair I place my hands on her shoulders and set her down, then sing, "Oh, we ain't got a barrel of money." (p. 105) I have mentioned before on this blog that this song, "Side by Side", is also our song--it's so upbeat and really anyone with a chronic illness needs a loved one to be by their side.
  • I like how Rose quotes the saying, "It's much better to give than to receive." (p. 140)  More than a saying it is from Acts 20:35. 
Rose cared for her friend for fourteen years. In the process she really finds herself and she writes,
Being with someone who is dying of Alzheimer's, especially because the disease takes so long, watching the decline is a gift. We watch the person 'undo' their life at a slow rate. We may hate watching it, but in the end, I was happy to go through Carol's Alzheimer's Journey to death. It brought me closer to God than I'd ever been before. (pp. 176, 177) 
Rose, thank you for the realistic
and inspirational story that you weave.

Thanks that you continue to help Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers now as you volunteer and work in an assisted living facilities. Just A Word  is not depressing--it is hopeful as it ends.


  1. This is such a good post and description of Rose's book. You've shown good comparisons in your own journey.

    14 years.....goodness, this was a long time that she was a caretaker. How wonderful for her that the journey through Alzheimer's and death brought her closer to God.....Amen....

  2. Thanks for that. I didn't understand who Carol was in relation to Rose, before. I wasn't sure if they were girlfriends, friends or related. Panic attacks are terrible, and often hereditary. I had them in my 20s and now both my son and daughter have suffered a few of them, but at least I am able to tell them it will be OK and will eventually go away.