In my release, Mistress of Merrivale, the heroine’s mother has dementia. Since my story takes place in the 18th century she hasn’t been diagnosed, but as the writer I know she has Alzheimer’s. It’s a silent disease in which the family suffers just as much as the person who is experiencing the illness. I know because my father has dementia. It’s sad watching someone you love losing connection with reality.
Dementia happens when there are changes in the structure of the brain. These physical changes might affect memory, the way a person behaves, their personality, their emotions and the way they think. There is no cure, and the symptoms gradually become worse.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia in our society. It was named after German Alois Alzheimer, a psychiatrist who first described the condition in 1906.
There is no single factor that has been identified as the cause of Alzheimer’s and it’s thought that the disease is a combination of factors such as age, genetics and environment.
1. 35.6 million people have dementia worldwide (2010)
2. In America there are more than 5 million people with Alzheimer’s.
3. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in America.
4. 1.1% of the population in New Zealand has dementia and 60% of these are female.
5. Most of the caregivers are largely unpaid. In fact according to stats in 2012 15.4 million family and friends provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to sufferers.
In Mistress of Merrivale, Jocelyn is determined to find a protector who will accept her mother with her strange behavior and quirks. Jocelyn’s sisters want to send their mother to Bedlam, but she refuses to send her mother to a hospital. Instead, she hires a woman to tend to her mother and does her best to keep her parent happy and safe.
Of course everything is not as it seems, and there is murder afoot at Merrivale…
To read an excerpt check out the book page for Mistress of Merrivale