Share in Emily's hilarious and heartbreaking journey through her father's dementia. While this is a memoir, it also features 40 of Emily's paintings about dementia.
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About the book: In 2009, Emily Page’s father was diagnosed at the age of 65 with frontotemporal dementia, a form of dementia that strikes earlier and progresses more quickly than Alzheimer’s, and for which there is no treatment to slow the progression of the disease. Being so young, Page hadn’t had much experience with dementia, but she began documenting, in writing and art, her family’s heartbreaking and hilarious experiences.
As a professional artist, she had often turned to art as a self-prescribed therapy to help deal with life’s trials. This battle was no different. She utilized the elephant as a symbol for dementia, and incorporated sheet music into the paintings because her dad had been a jazz musician. Eventually, Page created 40 paintings that are included in the book. She also began blogging about the range of issues that arose daily as the disease progressed, documenting everything from her own fear of getting dementia, to her dad’s transition to diapers (and the various places he opted to drop his drawers and just “go”), to combatting his compulsions like the need to “clean” the cars with steel wool, to an exploration of how he might have gotten the disease, to finding the right dementia care facility, to the best ways to make him giggle. Page approached the disease from the fresh viewpoint of a younger caregiver. As her blog following grew, so did the suggestions from readers that she turn the blog into a book. After hearing too many horror stories about traditional publishing contracts, she decided to self-publish. She ran a fundraising campaign for her book, Fractured Memories, and presold over 500 copies in less than a month.
“My dad was my best friend. He embraced the ridiculous, looked for the good in people, and mentored and helped people whenever he could. Following his diagnosis, when people asked how he was doing, he’d answer, ‘Not bad for a demented guy.’ He looked for the light hiding amidst the pain. He chose to be very open about what he was going through in the hopes that it would help other people cope with their own diagnosis or a loved one’s diagnosis. Writing this book seemed a fitting way to honor that legacy.”
Page doesn’t shy away from the ugly, raw emotion of life with dementia, but she also looks for the laughter where it can be found. Rest assured, you will love her father as much as she does when the book is done, and perhaps gain some insight about how to cope with your own loved one’s dementia or how to support a caregiver.