By Federica Caracciolo
Francesco Caracciolo was a successful architect and, with his wife Federica, also worked as photo reporter for the United Nations, travelling extensively throughout Africa and Asia. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and Francesco's rapidly vanishing independence put an end to their travels. With thoughtfulness and honesty, Federica tells of her experience of caring for her husband during his seven-year battle with Alzheimer's. She recounts the progression of the disease in all its distressing phases, revealing the very special relationship that developed between the carer and the patient and the inevitable reversal of roles. The author describes how her initial distress and irritation gave way to compassion and tenderness, and how in the end this terrible and devastating experience turned into a love story. While never losing sight of her husband's personality, she also offers strategies for coping with the solitude surrounding the couple in a society where mental illness is still looked upon with fear and dismay. This poignant first-hand account shares with the reader the remarkable realization that it is possible to emerge from the battle with Alzheimer's undefeated and, indeed, enriched. It will offer hope and courage to those with Alzheimer's, as well as their families and friends.