Martha Brosio Recounts The Last Ten Days: A Dementia Journey

Martha Brosio, author of The Last Ten Days

By Martha Brosio, Wisconsin, USA

My husband Richard Brosio died on January 8, 2016. After his death, I talked to friends and acquaintances about his illness, his choice to live and die with dignity, and our love story. Many of them suggested, “You should write a book!” After hearing this for over a year, I decided to see if I could accomplish it.

Writing has never been my strong suit, so I looked for a ghost writer. The publisher of Richard’s academic books found one for me after an extensive search. Shelley Burbank and I started the book in July 2018 and finished the following April. It was released in June 2019.

I had three reasons for writing The Last Ten Days.

First, I wanted people to know about Richard’s dignity and courage in facing his diagnosis of Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). PPA is a disease with the same tangles and plaques in the brain as Alzheimer’s, but PPA starts in the frontal-temporal lobes of the brain instead of the hippocampus. It’s a disease that progresses at an unknown pace until death occurs.

Determined to have a dignified death at the time and in the manner of his own choosing, Richard hastened his death two years after his diagnosis by voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED). Most people that I shared my story with had never heard of this. I wanted dementia patients and their families to know that help is available, so the book includes information, guidance, and resources for those who might want to explore VSED and other available end-of-life options.

Second, I wanted to publicize Richard’s many publications and thoughts about democratic empowerment, social justice, respect for diversity, and the possibilities for better schools and a more caring and just society. Each chapter begins with a quote from one of his publications and might encourage one to read some of his work. Throughout our life together he received many notes, emails, and calls with praise from former students saying how he had helped them with their teaching and also their daily lives.

Third, I wanted to tell our love story. Richard and I met and dated when I was a senior in high school and he was a junior. When I left Iron Mountain, Michigan for nursing school, we parted ways and didn’t reconnect until 1981 when he talked to my sister at their 25-year high school reunion. Our story is recounted in the book with many anecdotes.

My hope is that this memoir will be helpful for anybody whose loved one is given a diagnosis of an incurable disease; that people may discover and learn from Richard’s scholarship; and that readers will be moved and inspired by our second-chance love story.

Purchase The Last Ten Days on Amazon.

About the Authors

Martha Brosio grew up in Iron Mountain, Michigan. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and enjoys her family, good food, good conversation, and rooting for the University of Michigan Wolverines.

Shelley Burbank is a journalist and mystery and women’s fiction author based in Maine and San Diego, California. Learn more at

Connect with Martha




(Martha’s social media links are private accounts. She follows others but does not post.)




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