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DANCING ON QUICKSAND: A Gift of Friendship in the Age of Alzheimer's, By Marilyn Mitchell, Johnson Books; 189 pages, $16

September 09, 2002|Jane E. Allen

Overview: Marilyn Mitchell's book recounts the friendship that evolved when she responded to a request to provide three adventures a week for an 89-year-old Denver retired businessman and philanthropist who could no longer drive. A job that was supposed to last a month lasted eight years, as Mitchell, a divorced single mom who ran an odd-jobs business, learned to tailor a friendship to the special needs of an aging person struggling with dementia.

What Works: Mitchell, who had no professional care-giving experience, writes a moving narrative recounting the trust and respect that developed between her and a bright, refined, old-fashioned man. She managed to accommodate the dementia as David Touff's moments of enthusiasm and childlike wonder alternated with moments of confusion and irritability. Focusing on the positive without whitewashing the difficulties, Mitchell made every day a celebration.

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