June Online ebooks Club Wrap-up – Keeper

KeeperThis month we read Keeper by Andrea Gillies, a memoir about caring for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s not an easy book to read. It is quite depressing and does not end on a happy note.. It is, however an important book as it raises awareness of the reality of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The memoir largely revolves around the experiences of the author and her family as they attempt to care for her parents-in-law. Andrea’s mother-in-law Nancy, has Alzheimer’s Disease and her father-in-law Morris, is physically disabled and struggling to cope with his wife’s illness. The extended family move to a large Victorian house on the Scottish Coast and open a B&B hoping to create a healthier environment for Nancy and Morris.

Andrea primarily describes her relationship with Nancy and she does not hold back. She describes in detail Nancy’s increasing agitation, violence and loss of bladder control. Andrea also describes her own depression, anger and at times aggression as a carer. I appreciated her honesty and found it easier to relate to Andrea and her situation. I also found myself caught up in her depression which is a reflection on the author’s good writing.

One part of the book I would have wanted to hear more about was the children’s reaction to their Grandmother’s deterioration. The book was mainly about Nancy and Andrea but it would have been good to explore other people. I was also curious to hear more about Nancy’s prior life and the type of person she was, although this could have made the book even more depressing as it would highlight Nancy’s sad deterioration even more.

I’ve read a number of criticisms of the book questioning the ethics of revealing so much information about a person that cannot consent. I’m in two minds about this. Ethically it doesn’t seem right unless Nancy had given permission before the disease had started to take hold of her. However, a number of people have said that this book helped them deal with their own experiences of Alzheimer’s and I personally found that it increased my knowledge and understanding of the disease.

Does its importance override the ethical questions?

I’m honestly not sure.

Over to you. What were your thoughts on the books? Has it helped to increase your understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease?