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October 01, 2007


Reg Adkins

Dr. Petty,
My mother suffers from Alzheimer's and a form of geriatric onset dementia. My eldest brother and my sister decided to join together several years ago to care for her rather than move her to assisted living or enlist medical assistance. The result has devastated my family. The ill will has become unspeakable. I don't believe anyone is benefiting from this arrangement. I would appreciate it if you would write about the ramifications of such a choice for any who are considering this option of care for their own parent.
Thank You,
Reg Adkins of

Jerry Waxler

I found your blog through a roundabout journey on Amazon. I love your book reviews and exploration of consciousness. One of the best mental exercises, in my opinion, is memoir writing. By organizing all those memories, you are dusting off old parts of yourself. Like taking a machine apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together. Thanks for all of your writing. I hope to read a lot more.

Jerry Waxler

Margaret Couper

It is interesting but I would like to say that my mother who is 82 and is now suffering from mid-stage alzheimers, received a masters degree in adult education when in her seventies. People are fond of telling me "my grandperent.....or parent....likes to do the crossword every day this protects her from alzheimers" It is an interesting idea but I am really not convinced.

Richard Petty

Dear Reg,

You are highlighting an incredibly common issue.

Like most people of our generation, as relatives got older we would just take them in. My own grandmother lived with us in a tiny house for more than thirty years, and the strain was enormous.

These arrangements were usually the consequence of duty, culture tradition, and sometimes a tacit assumption that nobody else could look after the relative as well as we could. hat is to say nothing of the financial considerations.

You may have seen my recent comments about some of the resources available to caregivers. Most are very helpful, but I see them as tactical rather than strategic solutions.

The strategic question, of "How will the whole family be best served, not only the sufferer?" is the most important and often needs outside help, so that someone impartial can help in arriving at the correct decision.

Having an outside person can also help us to understand out own motivations. How many of us have taken in a relative because of a sense of duty or guilt, and then become overwhelmed by the situation? So the motivations of the would-be carers, as well as the long term physical, psychological and financial consequences all have to be laid out very clearly form the outset.

It can be very difficult to back out and to make alternative arrangements later on.

I do wish you and your family well.

Kind regards,


Richard Petty

Dear Jerry,

Thank you so much for you kind comments. I am sorry for the delay in responding. You will have noticed that I have been away from my blog and from Amazon over the last few weeks as we launch my latest book.

It just so happens that I strongly agree with you!

I am about to put a recommended reading list at Amazon, and I have just reviewed a wonderful book on the topic by Sheppard Kominars called Write for Life.

With kind regards,


Richard Petty

Dear Margaret,

Thank you so much for your comment.

You have pinpointed an important issue.

The advice about mental exercise, nutrition and so on is derived from population rather than individual studies. I always try to be at pains to point out that there are genetic, environmental, psychological and emotional contributors to an individual's chance of developing cognitive impairment. There are well-known examples of genetic forms of these diseases that can hit people in their forties and fifties, and no amount of mental arithmetic, B12 or folate is likely to have much of an impact on the trajectory of the illness, though even then we can never be certain.

The mental activity is one factor amongst many.

I do hope that your mother does not deteriorate, and I wish both of you well.

Kind regards,


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