The Last of His Mind's second edition, with a new Introduction
“A beautiful book, this memoir reveals the painful chaos of Alzheimer’s, as well as the strength, faith and unexpected joys that come with caring for a loved one in his last days.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This book tells a hard story, the relentless decline of a father’s memory and self-awareness. John Thorndike writes a beautiful sentence, a beautiful page, and describes his father’s last year with piercing clarity, but also great warmth. He opens a world we will all have to face.” —Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and Three Simple Lines
Swallow Press has brought out a second edition of The Last of His Mind. This is the memoir I wrote about my father’s Alzheimer’s, first published in 2009. The book remains completely relevant today, in part because so little has changed about the disease. There is still no cure, and scant prevention. The number of Americans who live with Alzheimer's now tops six million, and that number will only grow as the population gets older. Unhappily, in the last 18 years there has been only one new drug approved by the FDA for dementia---aducanumab---and many scientists doubt its effectiveness.
As I write in the new Introduction:
My father died at ninety-two. If I live as long as he did, I have fourteen years ahead of me. Along the way, of course, I might get hit by a bus–which is how my parents referred to an untimely death. Cancer or stroke could take me, or Alzheimer’s might creep in sooner than it did with my father.
His dementia didn’t overwhelm him until a year before he died. Alzheimer’s is ultimately harder on younger people, those in their sixties, seventies or eighties, because they’re apt to live with it longer. The mind goes, but the body bears up, sometimes for a decade or more....