Staring at Dementia – by Danny E. Akin
Staring at Dementia is a tender journal recollection of the author’s time spent with his mother during the last decade of her life. Danny E. Akin journals their many visits together in an attempt to capture and record the rapid and extreme changes Mother experiences as she transitions over the years from an independent living apartment to a Personal Care setting and finally to Memory Care.
The journal is filled with daily events, Mother’s pronouncements, family tales, and the author’s personal reflections on the toll dementia takes on both the patient and the caregiver. He shares with his audience the successes and failures of maintaining a close relationship with an elderly family member in decline.
Over time, Akin and his mother switch roles, with Akin becoming the parent and Mother the child. Writing about this slow change helps the author make sense of the stressful episodes and gives him a sense of purpose, even as he struggles to make sense of difficult situations and decisions.
“As I look back and remember my feelings of frustration, there are times when I regret my anger—even when I tried to see the humor. Wise advice from other writers prompted me to look for the self, the person that remained of the mother I loved. Often, I found it in her kindness and even, at times, in her words.”
The author’s goals for this book is to share the legacy of Mother, a woman who, without fame, wealth, or status, who deeply influenced the lives of her sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family, church, neighbors, friends, and retirement home staff. It is also his hope that the book will give others who must travel this road some hope, practical advice, a feeling of camaraderie with fellow caregivers, humor, and the encouragement to write down the stories of their parents before the stories are lost forever.
Danny E. Akin
Dan Akin of Athens, Ga., is retired after 37 years as a research microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including stints as a visiting scientist in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. His family includes wife Rebecca, a grown son and daughter, and two granddaughters.