Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jane Austen’s Guide to Alzheimer’s - The New York Times

This is a beautiful essay about an unexpected lesson from Jane Austen's Emma.  Carol J. Adams writes about understanding Emma as a caretaker for her anxious father.



"Early on in tending to my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, I was sustained by other Austen novels, but during the middle stages of her disease it was all “Emma,” all the time. What started as entertainment soon became an important guide.

It seemed that I was always one step behind her illness, so I stockpiled books on caregiving, including Kenneth P. Scileppi’s “Caring for the Parents Who Cared for You.” When I read his statement “In the life of a demented individual, there is one cardinal rule: All change is for the worse,” the person I thought of wasn’t my cognitively impaired 92-year-old mother; it was Emma’s father, Mr. Woodhouse. He is introduced to us as “a nervous man” who hated “change of every kind.”

The novel asserts that Emma had little to distress or vex her, yet describes many distressing and vexing events. Emma is parenting her parent and has been doing so for quite some time."



Jane Austen’s Guide to Alzheimer’s - The New York Times

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