George Hodgman is the author of Bettyville, a memoir.
From a Q & A at his website:
In the book, you very lovingly and humorously paint a picture of your mother, Betty, who seems funny, stubborn, caring, feisty, and sensitive all at once. But alongside physical decline, Betty also copes with dementia. How is she doing now?--Marshal Zeringue
The book takes place during the summer of 2012 when I was alone and without help, taking in and dealing with her changed and, it seemed to me at the time, rapidly declining mental and health situation. I felt pressure to admit her into some sort of care facility before she got worse and our options became much more limited. I really did not want to see her in some sort of facility for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients where she got little stimulation and was forced to continue activities (bridge, piano) that I believed kept her more mentally fit. We couldn’t find a facility to admit her and I have been staying with her for about three years now. In many ways, she has improved. Dementia patients are hounded by depression and anxiety and we were able to medicate her for these issues, along with the drugs she was already taking for her dementia issues. This helped considerably. Also, before I came, she was sort of existing on canned soup and sweets. We were able to really improve her diet. This helped, along with her taking up reading. Nicholas Sparks and Anita Shreve have helped my mother. Everything that distracts them from their condition, any activity or even an animal (our dog helps her) that keeps them out of their own heads helps them. There is also the improvement that comes from having people—me, our helpful caregiver who now comes Monday through Friday—around. Dementia is not considered curable. She goes through bad periods, then improves. It’s changing all the time. But...[read on]