Patti Davis Pens Heartfelt Memoir/Caregiver Guide, Floating In The Deep End

About Patti Davis FLoating in the Deep End


By Patti Davis

On a blue-sky November day in 1994 I walked into Central Park, which was near my apartment in New York. My mother had just called to tell me that my father was going to release a letter disclosing to the world that he had Alzheimer’s. I had only learned of the diagnosis days earlier. Days before that I had walked in the park weighed down by despair and hopelessness; everything in my life was going wrong, I was completely alone, tired down to my soul, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on living. Then I learned that my father had Alzheimer’s, a disease that everyone was aware of but no one was talking about. That could have been the thing that pushed me over the edge, but instead it pulled me back from the edge. It gave me something bigger than myself to focus on. I wanted to show up for this journey, whatever it was going to be. I wanted to be there for my father.

That was the beginning of my experience with Alzheimer’s. Suddenly the Reagans were the poster family for a disease no one wanted to discuss. I had a fleeting thought that perhaps this would bring my fractured family together, but life doesn’t work like that. When challenges and difficulties come, people cling to what is familiar. If your family is splintered, with each person on their own trajectory, that reality will remain and maybe even intensify. What can change, though, is how you perceive things.

I made some decisions early on that would end up grounding me for what turned out to be a ten-year journey. I told myself that my father’s soul couldn’t have Alzheimer’s. I believed that if I kept holding to that, I could hopefully find apertures through the disease and get glimpses of a soul that can’t be sick. At the end of my father’s life, he opened his eyes seconds before he died, and he was present, aware. His soul showed up and I felt my faith had been validated. I also decided to keep asking, What can I learn here? I didn’t want to make judgements that would cloud my vision, I wanted to stay open.

Being a writer, I began the book The Long Goodbye at the early stages of my father’s Alzheimer’s. It was a journal of what I was going through in real time. Floating in the Deep End is in many ways a sequel to that book. Alzheimer’s keeps teaching you long after your loved one has died.

Here is a basic truth about Alzheimer’s, or any kind of dementia: You will not be the same person at the end of the journey as you were at the beginning. How you will be different, however, is a matter of choice. You’ll either be softer, more open, more compassionate, or you will be harder, more embittered, more closed off. One of my goals in writing Floating in the Deep End was to encourage people to choose Door #1.

This book is part handbook, based on the support group program I started in 2011, called Beyond Alzheimer’s. I offer practical methods for dealing with a loved one who has dementia, and also insights into what we all go through in this experience. It is part memoir, so you will know how I came to these suggestions and insights.

My hope is that Floating in the Deep End will let people feel less alone on what often seems like a treacherous journey.

Bio: Patti Davis
Patti Davis is the author of many books, including The Long Goodbye. From 2011 – 2017, Davis founded and co-facilitated a support group for family members and friends of Alzheimer’s patients called “Beyond Alzheimer’s.” Here, with kindness, candor, and compassion, she shares the lessons that helped her and others not just endure this disease – but allow grief to become a valuable teacher. Her support group, Beyond Alzheimer’s, is now licensed at Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania and Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas. She lives in Santa Monica, California and is available for virtual interviews and events.

Connect with Patti:
Twitter: @patti_davis
Facebook: Books By Patti Davis

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One Response

  1. Hello,

    I’m delighted to meet you via AlzAuthors, I was touched by your father’s story and thrilled when I learned that you have written a second book.

    Your story especially connected to me because I lost my husband, Mike, to Alzheimer’s in 2011. During the journey, I documented my experiences and used those memories to write a guide, Mike & Me, for those also taking a similar path.

    It is a pleasure speaking to community and support groups. If your support group would like a short presentation, don’t hesitate to contact me.

    For further information:
    Website –
    Phone Number – (206) – 842 – 2966

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