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The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer's


The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer's

Carrie Knowles
received from the North Carolina Arts Council a Literary Nonfiction
Writer's Project Grant for the completion of her book, THE LAST
CHILDHOOD. The final project indicates that the grant recipient was
well chosen. Along with the actual victims of Alzheimer's, she
addresses the needs of the forgotten victims --- the family members
thrust into the role of caregivers.

Stating the shocking fact that Alzheimer's is a terminal illness,
Knowles delves into the real problems that the disease and its
diagnosis present. The proven time period from onset to death may
encompass 17 years. It is within these years that the author
unfolds the story of her mother's disease. Four siblings, living
long distances from their original home, and their mother's, seek
often frustrating help.

Knowles writes with understanding and compassion. Yet she pulls no
punches when she describes the eventual tragic end-stages of
Alzheimer's. This book is not for the fainthearted, but is a small
guidebook for those who seek real knowledge of a disease that can
enter any family circle.  

She details the sometimes comical, more often frustrating incidents
she, her sister, and her two brothers encounter in the course of
their mom's treatment. When it becomes apparent that home care is
no longer a valid idea, they rally to locate an appropriate home
for her. Knowles answers questions the reader may have about what
type of care center various disease stages may warrant. At the
book's publishing, their mom remained in the medical facility of an
Alzheimer's unit at a Methodist Home.  

Simple pleasures like stopping for an ice cream cone, giving mom
more candy than she needs, and giving small gifts of clothing and a
doll can bring welcome change to her daily routine. How the disease
can emotionally ravage the family unit is a large issue. Knowles
stresses the importance of family conferences to pull the
caregivers together in their search for the best solutions to care

The author gives factual information to those seeking answers. She
addresses legal issues such as Power of Attorney, money options in
long-term care, symptoms of the Alzheimer's, when to take charge,
and when to care for you as caregiver. No simple fix can apply to
any of these needs.

Written from a very personal experience, Knowles pulls the audience
into her very real anguish with Alzheimer's and directs her advice
to all of us. No one knows who, how or when Alzheimer's may strike
a deadly blow. The best books are written from one's own past. And
THE LAST CHILDHOOD is a poignant and touching study of such a

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad ( on January 22, 2011

The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer's
by Carrie Knowles

  • Publication Date: August 29, 2000
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press
  • ISBN-10: 0609806483
  • ISBN-13: 9780609806487