When Helen McCain begins experiencing terrible migraines, neither she nor her family realize that this is the first step in a long, harrowing journey that will span almost a decade-and end in her death at the hands of Alzheimer's disease. At the time, Helen, her college professor husband, and their nurse daughter acknowledge the headaches are bad-but have no idea that they signal the presence of an insidious disease. It isn't until she begins forgetting simple things she has always known-how to cook meals, how to get home from the store-that her daughter suspects Helen needs a thorough neurological examination. As her dementia progresses, her husband's ability to care for Helen at home diminishes. After a series of specialists determine that Helen needs around-the-clock, skilled care, the family makes the painful decision to move her to a nursing home. Tackling a difficult topic with compassion and insight, the McCain family shares the painful story of Helen's illness in the hope of helping other families navigate the frustrations of the medical and government systems-and bear the burden of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.
Charles R. McCain, PhD, is a retired professor of writing and English who completed his doctorate at Texas A&M University. He worked for two daily newspapers and taught photography at two universities. McCain is a sixth generation Texan. He resides in north Texas, where he has lived most of his life. Celeste Barefield, RN, BSN, is pursuing her master's degree in nursing at Chamberlain College of Nursing, where she is specializing in hospice nursing. Newly married, Barefield has three grown children, two grandchildren, and three dachshunds. She hopes this book will guide others as they care for a family member with Alzheimer's disease and reassure them that they are not alone in their struggles and sadness.