A brutal exploration of what Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s dementia can wreak upon a person and the people trying to care for them:

“[Nancy, Andrea Gillies’ mother-in-law] had one foot through the looking glass and she couldn’t make those two worlds – dementia reality, and normal life – gel at all,” [Andrea] Gillies says. “It was really quite science fiction in a way. Complete strangers coming into the house and saying ‘How are you today? Shall we go and have a walk?’ Obviously your reaction is going to be ‘What are you talking about? I’ve no idea who you are.’ She would awake in the morning not knowing who the man in the next bed was and she was afraid. Strangers would come into her bedroom and hand her clothes she had never seen before.”

The raw horror of Alzheimer’s is laid out by Gillies in this sharp examination of the comprehensive disintegration of her mother-in-law’s brain and sense of self. “If I had to pick one catch-all descriptor for Nancy’s life in the last few years it would be misery. Profound misery, unceasing and insoluble. She knows that something is wrong, very wrong, but what is it?” she writes. “Every day for her is spent in an ongoing quest to put things right.”

I just hope Terry Pratchett can make his case before the end.

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