Mom, Are You There?

Kathleen A. Negri, Mom, Are You There? Finding a Path to Peace Through Alzheimer's (Forget-Me-Not Press, Wheat Ridge, CO, 2005. 171 pages). Price: $17.00 from Amazon or order directly from author by e-mailing

Understandably, a diagnosis of Alzheimer's in a parent fills most family members with dread. This was Kathleen Negri's initial response when a doctor announced that her mother had the disease. But Negri, who is an elder law attorney in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, realized that she had a choice in her response. Instead of viewing Alzheimer's as a death sentence, she could treat it as a journey that her mother was embarking on and that would allow Negri to accompany her.

This very wise book, which will be an inspiration to anyone with a loved one diagnosed with dementia, is Negri's account of how she coped with, and learned from, that journey. At the same time that Alzheimer's began taking away her mother's intellectual abilities, it uncovered a more loving self that her mother had kept hidden for many years. Negri and her mother had maintained a fairly distant relationship, but as the mother lost her moorings to her former self, mother and daughter drew closer and each received unexpected gifts.

As an elder law attorney, Negri provides good counsel about necessary legal steps for families in such situations to take, but the heart of the book is emotional advice that will help families challenge their assumptions and change their perceptions. Negri eloquently describes the shifts that took place in her own thinking and, with the help of end-of-chapter questions to provoke self-reflection, invites others to make similar shifts as their journey progresses.