Frena Gray-Davidson's New Alzheimer's Book

Can family caregivers, in spite of all of the losses, sadness and strain involved in caregiving, actually find joy in their time as a caregiver?

Can the seemingly nonsensical, demented behaviors of the Alzheimer’s patient actually have profound meaning?

Can caregiver’s souls, spirits and psyches benefit greatly through this caregiving experience, in spite of data that shows that family caregivers caring for those with Alzheimer’s experience depression twice as much as those caring for loved ones with other diseases?

Yes, yes, and yes, says, Frena Gray-Davidson in her new book: Alzheimer’s 911: Help, Hope and Healing for the Caregiver, published May 2009 by Robert D. Reed Publishers.

So what does Ms. Gray-Davidson, a professional Alzheimer’s caregiver and caregiver support expert know that the rest of society doesn’t seem to?

Plenty.

Frena Grey-Davidson’s Alzheimer’s Book Provides New Information on Alzheimer’s Disease

Frena Grey-Davidson's Alzheimer's Book Provides New Information on Alzheimer's Disease

Ms. Gray-Davidson has a unique and interesting personal past. This has helped her to look through the seemingly nonsensical behaviors of people with Alzheimer’s and see straight into their hearts. This begins, she writes, with totally accepting them for who and what they are at this moment, as opposed to comparing them to how they were in the past.

This may sound like a tall order for a spouse or person whose parent has Alzheimer’s. But Frena Gray-Davidson’s book contains moving stories of her interactions with actual Alzheimer’s patients, which makes this kind of acceptance seem very possible for the reader to aim for.

Her stories provide the reader with a better understanding of what is going on inside the minds, and hearts, and other memory pathways of those who seem to have lost their minds completely.

Frena Gray-Davidson’s Alzheimer’s Book is Compelling

The book is compelling and, unlike many other caregiving books, it is one that family caregivers will find themselves eagerly reading from cover to cover, check here more.

Ms. Gray-Davidson explains that the life-task of the caregiver is to take charge of her own life and health, in addition to the health of the patient. But Ms. Gray-Davidson is not just talking about hanging on by a thread. She believes caregivers are being called to “nurture the things that bring you vitality, joy and transcendence.” The opportunity to do this inner work, she says, will bring great healing to caregiver and patient.

Some People May be Offended by Part of this Alzheimer’s Book

People who wish to continue to feel victimized and stay stuck in the grief and loss and difficulty of their situation may resent Ms. Gray-Davidson’s statement that the caregiver can choose to make his or her caregiving life joyful. But responsibility equals power, and those who are seeking a lifeline and who are not afraid to look within themselves to find it, may have their lives changed by this book.

Many may already have experienced the rewards of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient in this way, but have never had these feelings validated by a society which fears caregiving and Alzheimer’s more than death itself. Such people will be relieved to find that their feelings have finally been voiced.

Frena Gray-Davidson Discusses How to Handle Difficult Behaviors in Alzheimer’s Patients

Frena Gray-Davidson Discusses How to Handle Difficult Behaviors in Alzheimer's Patients

Ms. Gray-Davidson explains how to handle difficult issues and behaviors with grace, from anger outbursts, to the patient’s refusal to accept help from other people, to driving, to inappropriate social behavior, incontinence, sundowning and more.

Readers should be prepared to be surprised at some of the advice she gives because some of it seems to go against the grain of what readers tend to believe about showering regularly, trying to keep the Alzheimer’s brain active, and not wearing pajamas in public. Her advice is based on the sound idea that Alzheimer’s patients have not lost their dignity and they should not be treated like children. Aside from issues of safety, the caregiver should take the lead from the patient and respect his or her wishes.

One Criticism of Alzheimer’s 911

Most of Ms. Gray-Davidson’s stories focus on patients who have become more docile with Alzheimer’s, though many patients do become angry and hostile. She does spend some time talking about dealing with anger, but readers, especially those whose family members’ Alzheimer’s is characterized by frequent angry outbursts, may find themselves wanting more information from this person whose advice throughout the book reflects so much insight.

This author has something totally unique, important and hopeful to say about Alzheimer’s. She has turned the prevailing view of the Alzheimer’s patient as a tragic figure who has lost both self and dignity, on its head. If caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s is seen as an opportunity for personal growth and change, both caregiver and patient will benefit.

Bill Sutton
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