Book: Detour Down Desperation Road
Author: Ann Renigar Hiatt, Ph.D.
Basic Description: One day your loved one begins forgetting things and you realize that it is more than normal aging. You don’t know where to go or what to do. Dr. Ann’s stories place you into the emotional and physical pressures on loving people who are desperate to learn how to help.
Experience the uncertainty, angst, and triumph as they alter their lives and draw on extraordinary intuition and strength and tackle problems, invent coping skills, and honor loved ones who slide deeper into dementia. Meet Ann’s strong, determined, entrepreneurial mother, known as ‘the hardware lady,’ as she hoards, obsesses, and persists while dementia slowly claims her brain. Ann’s inner guides, emotional Ann and rational Ann, whisper contradictory advice. Her love of her mother steers her to emotional resolutions. When all else fails, she must rely on rational decisions. She finds solace with support group members and others whose trials and solutions change daily as loved ones slip deeper into a condition for which there is no cure.
Arden’s Thoughts: As I read the stories of Dr. Ann, her mother, and her friends in the support group, all I could think was, This is hard. Heartbreaking. Frustrating. How does dementia happen and how do these caregivers not go nuts?
I’ve never personally dealt with dementia so I can’t relate as closely to this book as so many of you can. I’m including this book in my book club because of each of you… I have this feeling Dr. Ann’s work will break open dialogue among your friends and families. It’ll relieve so many of you because you’ll feel like someone gets your situation. And, it’ll begin to open all of our eyes to the plight of losing our sense of self and how to help those in similar situations endure that chapter of their lives.
I was lucky enough to get interview Dr. Ann. I’m sharing the highlights of our conversation here. Please read and then share this post. It’s an important one.
Dr. Ann: I was living in Ohio, restoring a historic home, and traveling back and forth to Europe when I realized that my North Carolina mother’s conversations were not her—not the mother I knew. My dad died when I was eleven and over the years Mom became a strong, independent business woman who owned a small hardware store. I soon became a “road warrior,” traveling weekly from Ohio trying to keep her functioning until I could somehow move back to my home state. I could not stay with her because over time, she filled every nook and cranny of her house with “stuff.” Yes, she was a hoarder and determined not to change.
Arden: Hhhmmm… I’m sure so many can relate to what you experienced. How did you feel during this time?
Dr. Ann: My Detour Down Desperation Road is not a sad story about death but a book about life—the ingenuity, perseverance, and clever ways that caregivers solve conflicts and problems. It is about human emotions in times of stress and loss. My story is peppered with the adventures of my support group members. Their love for their parents and spouses guided them through seemingly insurmountable situations.
Arden: Believe me, so many people will benefit from your story and the stories from your support group members.
Dr. Ann: I hope so. I did not start writing until after Mom passed away and I did it to honor my mom and pay tribute to the indomitable people I met along my journey. I knew deep down that my story was one small example of an epidemic that is happening to countless families across the world. I felt so lost and afraid. I wanted to be a beacon for others.
Arden: You’re so brave. Thank you for being a beacon for others. Is there anything else you want the readers to know?
Dr. Ann: I still miss my Mom, the woman I always knew and loved before that horrible disease attacked her brain. Alzheimer’s is just one type of dementia, there are many. For every person who gets the disease, there is at least one person who must dive in and help them, become their advocate. With my stories, I wanted to provide insight and let them know where to begin and most of all, that they are not alone.