Diagnosed with dementia, Nicci Gerrard's father, John, continued to live life on his own terms, alongside the disease. But when an isolating hospital stay precipitated a dramatic turn for the worse, Gerrard, an award-winning journalist and author, recognized that it was not just the disease, but misguided protocol and harmful practice that cause pain at the end of life. Inspired by his memory to seek a better course for all who suffer with the disease and those who love them, Gerrard became a relentless campaigner.
THE LAST OCEAN is Gerrard's attempt to investigate what dementia does to both the person who lives with the condition and to their caregivers. Dementia is now one of the leading causes of death in the West, and this necessary book will offer both comfort and a map to those walking through it. While she begins with her father's long slip into forgetting, the writing expands to elegantly investigate dementia writ large. It's a raw but literary look at caring for someone who has been robbed of their selfhood. Gerrard gives shape both to the unimaginable loss of one's own faculties, as well as to the pain of their loved ones. Her lens is unflinching, but Gerrard takes great pains to honor her subjects and to find the beauty and the humanity in their seemingly diminished states.
In so doing, she examines the philosophy of what it means to be human, to have a self. And she looks at better models of dementia care around the world, at how we can offer dignity and peace to those who suffer with the disease.
Not only will it aid those walking with dementia patients, THE LAST OCEAN will prompt all of us to think on the nature of a life well lived.