Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Stages of Grace

Author Connie Ruben wrote this nonfictional story out of a wish to share to others who have relatives with Alzheimer’s disease, and what she endured as her mother-in-law Grace’s caretaker and companion. She indicates that her story is not a handbook for those dealing with Alzheimer’s but rather a demonstration that those who wrestle with the journey the disease incites are not alone. Before the main text, Ruben thanks Grace’s caregivers and coauthor Kate O’Neill, who started as a ghostwriter, not to mention her husband. The introduction opens with Ruben seeking Grace in the halls of a clinic, having arrived late for her mother-in-law’s appointment, and brings to light how Alzheimer’s patients tend to not recognize even their own loved ones.

Each of the main chapters describes a different characteristic of those who deal with loved ones having Alzheimer’s, beginning with grace, which Ruben defines before the initial chapter’s primary text. She further indicates how hindsight promises to explain the revelation of life, how insight comes with both experience and practice, how adaptability helps one survive, how negotiation involves balance, how weakness can feel ominous, how the path to acceptance can involve suffering, and how those with Alzheimer’s tend to be difficult to entertain. She concludes by acknowledging that she needs to take her time when dealing with Grace, which one can say about most dealing with relatives having Alzheimer’s, and the result is an insightful story that gives good insight into what people with the condition endure, not to mention their relations.
Connie Ruben is an entrepreneur with well developed management skills. She has run several large companies, and prides herself on empowering others to work to their full potential. Connie also has an intimate knowledge of the challenges and joys of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, as her mother-in-law Grace was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. While Connie still struggles to balance her work life and home life, her understanding of this disease has made it easier for her to negotiate the demands of being a caregiver, as well as a wife, mother, and employer. She has written this book in order to share the insights she has gained as Grace’s primary caregiver and friend. Most importantly, Connie wants this book to assure others that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be enjoyable, life-affirming, and emotionally significant.

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