is a synthesis of eighty years of living, loving, learning. The column first appeared daily in the Toronto Sun and then The Toronto Star where topics included relationships, family, women’s issues, and politics. Those very personal subjects will also be part of the Blog version. But, now, like the families of millions of other Alzheimer patients I have learned that Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that is paid for with the currency of the heart, and I share with readers what I learned during my seven years as a caregiver for my husband and in my struggle to come to terms with being a widow.
When the column appeared in print, readers responded generously with letters, agreeing, disagreeing, expanding, correcting, sharing. I hope they will continue to do that in this forum. I look forward to renewing old acquaintances and meeting new friends.
Joan Sutton Straus was born in Canada and became one of its best known journalists. Her byline has appeared in The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, The Houston Post, and The Boston Herald, and her commentaries have been aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as well as CFRB radio. A member of the board of overseers of The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), she is a co -founder of ADDF/Canada. She has served on many non-profit boards, including The Citizens Committee for New York City, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, The Banff Center and The Shaw Festival. In 1990, the Government of Ontario named her Agent General to the United States, heading up offices in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas. She has served as a director of Ontario Place, The Personal Insurance Company, 812 Park Avenue Corporation, and 7 Gracie Square Corporation.
Ms. Straus has received numerous awards for public service, including the Canada Commemorative Medal, the Theodore Roosevelt Award for Public Service and she is an honorary Freeman of the City of London. She is the author of The Alzheimer’s Diary, One Woman’s Experience from Caregiver to Widow, (iUniverse), which is available at your favorite bookstore. 100% of the author’s royalties benefit the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation/Canada.
PRAISE FOR THE ALZHEIMER’S DIARY BY JOAN SUTTON
Five stars on Amazon.com!
“I just finished reading The Alzheimer’s Diary. It has to be one of the most beautifully written books I have every read…. really astounding. And so many of the observations she made were things that probably most of us take for granted, until they’re gone. So, an amazingly worthwhile read.”
Dr. David Hung,President and CEO.Medivation,San Francisco, California
“Joan has written an important book about a disease that will likely touch everyone eventually and can bankrupt the world’s healthcare systems unless a cure is discovered.”
Diane Francis, National Post.
“With practical advice for caregivers, important information about the state of Alzheimer’s research and a moving record of her life after losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s, Sutton’s powerful memoir is at once distinctive, instructive and deeply reliable.”
Alzheimer’s Matters blog, The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, New York, N
“I stayed up last night and read your entire book of essays. It is beautifully written, full of information, so clear, so personal and moving. I could not sleep after I read it, I was so disturbed and stirred by the deep love that comes through your story, and by your loss.”
.The book “The Alzheimer’s Diary” is amazing and its contents mirror my own experience! I also found it interesting that both the author Joan Sutton and I are actively involved in Alzheimer’s and Dementia research in seeking a prevention and/or cure of this horrendous disease and I sincerely hope that these efforts will find success in the foreseeable future!
“ It was about 10:00 before I read the fist chapter of “The Alzheimer’s Diary”. I had to force myself to turn out the light at page fifty. “
P.R. New York
“I feel like Joan Sutton has moved into my mind and reads my thoughts, questions, frustrations and understands my daily struggles and failures. She has put into words so beautifully expressed the meaning of this ” long good-bye”. She is brutally honest about AD and the cost on the patient and the caregivers, but her compassion and grace are evident throughout. “
“I am just closing the covers of the exquisitely written reflection on your journey with Alzheimer’s. You have given both the Alzheimer’s world and the ADDF an extraordinary gift. You are true to the cause. You acknowledge the dark side without dwelling on it. Guided by love, you capture the true meaning of care giving.I thank you for giving voice to the psychological and emotional aspects of the Alzheimer’s journey. No other writer captures it for me the way you do.”
“This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It is obviously sad when discussing this dreadful disease – a disease which at this point has no hope for remission or recovery. But it is also a reminder of what one’s marriage vows mean – “through sickness and in health” and it follows the journey of two people deeply in love and robbed of those final years together. And yet the author never feels sorry for herself and chooses her path of caring and devotes herself to the love of her life. Just as “Tuesdays with Morrie” did not have to be read because of Lou Gehrig’s disease, The Alzheimer’s Diary does not have to be read simply because one is associated with this disease. It is a reminder of how precious life is; how fragile life is and how we must treasure every moment with those we love. I have bought several books to give as gifts to friends. It is a little treasure – to be treasured. My admiration for the author knows no bounds.”
“I got “The Alzheimer’s Diary” yesterday, and spend the day with it. So much I did not know, thank you for sharing so freely. “Endless Love” sums it all up. “Lucky, lucky you”. I feel enriched to-day.” R.B. British Columbia
“No words truly can express the admiration I hold for you. Your book is amazing. You are the most courageous and honest person I know. You’ve really bared it all – so eloquently – and so generously.”
J.A. Stony brook, N.Y.
“I think your book is spot on and marvelous. I sat down and devoured it in one fast, page-turning read. You’ve written a very important, timely book, one I am going to order and send selectively to too many women I know who are having thissad predicament and need help. Thank you for sharing all with me and thousands of others. “
S.M. New York, NY
What a fabulous book! a great contribution to helping those who are dealing with this disease, as well as an inspirational story of love.”
Carmine Minardi, New York
Books by Joan Sutton
Lovers and Others, 1974, Clarke Irwin & Co. Ltd.
Once More With Love, 1976, Clarke Irwin & Co. Ltd.
Clothing and Culture, 1975, McÇlelland & Stewart
Love Lines, 1979, Toronto Sun Publishing
All Men Are Not Alike, 1979, McLelland & Stewart
A Legacy of Caring, the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, (foreword by Laurence Rockefeller) 1996
Dear Mrs. Sutton,
Your article in the Toronto Star mimicked how I have been feeling for close to three years. I could never have written about living with Alzheimer’s so well. My husband has lost all his vocabulary, except for approx. ten words. I don’t think he knows me most of the time. I sit alone in the evenings and read while he watches television. It is very sad. And I am quite angry much of the time. Thank you for your well written article and book.
Truly you are authentic. I have devoured your books for years and years, never knowing you would be there for me this far down the line.
We are on the same emotional growth path…….I thank you.
Thank you for writing. It is alway gratifying when a reader recognizes something of herself in my writing…I wish this was a happier path for both of us. Best, Joan
I was cleaning my desk and found your article of August 19th ,2004,Toronto Sun .You fondly remembered my father Nat Laurie in that article.i have kept it and again thank you for your wonderful thoughts
Thank you Frank. I am considering writing an article about my experience with the garment/fashion industry. Do you have any of your father’s papers, or archival material of any kind? thanks. Joan
Joan…sent you guest invitation for the 2015 Theater Hall of Fame Nov 16 with Dame Helen Mirren….but it was returned. No longer on 5th ave? Move back to Toronto?
Terry Hodge Taylor
Thanks for finally writing about >Sutton’s Place |
Living, loving, learning, caregiving <Liked it!
Joan…if in NYC April 29…have two guest tickets to the Theater Hall of Fame Luncheon at the Palm. Let me know. Terry Hodge Taylor
Terry. I am in my in April but I may have to have eye surgery. Will know March 29 and will respond to this nice invitation after that. Terry would you use me private email rather than this please as this is a public forum. Thanks Jss
Sent from my iPad
Joan….thinking of you regarding the Charlie Rose debacle. I don’t have you email so….thought I would send to this site. Terry Hodge Taylor
I just found your articles. Tomorrow I will be a widow of three months. Not from Alzheimer’s but from the insidious COPD. My love of 43 years was fearful he would suffocate from it, since that is the final stage of COPD. But he became ill, had a terrible infection, lost weight, and with all of that, lost the will to live. He couldn’t walk anymore not even sit up. He requested hospice. His children do not understand nor did they understand our decisions. I was fortunate that Bill had the wherewithall to talk to hospice and sign (aka scribble) his name on the consent form. After 36 hours, he took his last breath. I have been devastated. He was 80. I will be 67 this week. People assume that since he was 80, he lived a “long-enough life.” Really? But I should get on with life because I’m young yet. I have been telling people that I don’t mourn that he died but I am devastated that I will never have another wonderful day without him. He did not suffocate. The family is shocked! I’m not mourning his death??? I was bereft. Then I found you, Joan Sutton. I’m not going to say you saved me. Hell yes, Joan, you saved my whole self. I am printing out the pages you wrote several years ago and putting them in a booklet for when the world doesn’t understand me. Right now I’ll read them often. One day I hope to go through the day forgetting the need to read them daily. Thank you for giving me back my sanity.
My dear Pat, There are few things in life more private or personal than grief. You are just at the start of a difficult road. For me, I was numb for the first year….and I am in my third year now and the absence is hitting me harder than ever. Others cannot understand because your relationship with your husband was yours alone. People say terrible things because they don’t know what to say. Forgive them if you can, but do not let them shake your faith in yourself. You are in my heart. mss
I need to read this book… My husband died 2 weeks ago… He was 20 years older than I am… I am heartbroken and devastated… He had Alzheimer’s for so many years that I lost track of time… He went through so many horrible stages…but there were still moments when he remembered me, if not my name… I so regret getting involved with hospice…and not just continuing to care for him on my own… I believe they pushed him over the cliff…and that he might still be here otherwise… I am filled with grief and guilt over this… I don’t think others understand my pain…
I haven’t read your book yet but did read the latest blog and would love to read more.
This is Belinda Gadsden writing and I would love to get in contact with you again but do not have your email address.
Belinda, what is your address please? Do hope that you and your beautiful daughters are all well…..Love Joan
My husband of 44 years died two months ago from Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 71. I have been searching for something that captures and resonates with what I have been experiencing over the last several years and now the last several weeks. Not many people understand the feeling of losing your partner twice, first to Alzheimers and then to death. I am very glad I found The Alzheimer’s Diary. Thank you Joan.
In 1974 at the age of 22, I saved a bit in a magazine which you wrote entitled If You Would Make Love To Me, excerpt from Lovers and Others. Here I am, now 64, on a cool Northwest Arkansas morning going through my original Betty Crocker cookbook…and I have found it again! Such truth in your words, ‘you must first get inside my head, for sex happens between the ears’. I have fairly recently began my second marriage after 25 years with a narcissist, who never cared to get into my head. This one gets it, and this is why! He looks deep into my eyes, into my mind and soul. Oh, if only all men could know this beautiful art of making love, the way women need it! Wouldn’t this world be a better place? Now I must at last read your entire book.
I see from your bio that you have been through years of trials, and am sorry for the loss of your husband. Looks like your work on Earth is to help other people, in many ways you’ll never even realize, Joan. Alzheimers runs rampant in my sweet husband’s family, and I may be needing ALL of your books! Thank you, thank you for your giving spirit. I believe God has a special place awaiting you!