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The Last of His Mind: A Year in the Shadow of Alzheimer's

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  61 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
ForeWord Book of the Year Award winner
A Publishers Weekly “Indie Top 20”
The Washington Post: A Best Book of 2009
2010 Ohioana Book Award Finalist

Joe Thorndike was managing editor of Life at the height of its popularity immediately following World War II. He was the founder of American Heritage and Horizon magazines, the author of three books, and the editor of a dozen
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published October 23rd 2009 by Swallow Press (first published 2009)
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Dec 25, 2014 Richard rated it liked it
When I first read about this book about a man caring for his father who suffered from Alzheimer's, I was immediately interested. But when it finally came time to pick up a copy, I had second thoughts. Was this story going to be a big bummer?

Happily I was engrossed from the earliest chapters. Of course, it was not a laugh riot, but I found it to be intensely personal and honest. I have never cared for someone with Alzheimer's but I have cared for a loved one in hospice at the end of her life so
Susan Grodsky
Mar 19, 2016 Susan Grodsky rated it really liked it
A harrowing read. Thorndike spares no detail in narrating his father's last year, however sad or ugly. The book brought back grievous memories of my parents' demises, one from Alzheimer's, the other from heart failure.

I couldn't have written this book. I would not have wanted to describe the humiliations of old age: the senility, the anger, the loss of bowel and bladder control. And I would not have been so forthright about my own failures.

I couldn't have written the book. But I am glad Thornd
Dec 04, 2014 Dolores rated it it was amazing
John Thorndike's father was a former managing editor of Life magazine and a prominent author and editor, but at ninety-one he suffered from Alzheimer's, and his health and mental abilities were rapidly declining. John moved into an upstairs bedroom of his father's Cape Cod home in order to care for him. This book is a memoir of those final months....touching, tragic, and beautifully written.
Raul Ramos y Sanchez
Nov 13, 2012 Raul Ramos y Sanchez rated it it was amazing
I expected the story of a man caring for his Alzheimer's-afflicted father during his last year of life would be depressing. But John Thorndike's exquisitely written memoir serves as a guide for a journey most of us will likely travel, both as caretaker and patient. Wisdom comes with a price. In this sincere and sensitive book, John Thorndike shows us that even the most difficult circumstances can enrich us.
Feb 24, 2010 AnnaMay rated it it was ok
It was interesting to gain the perspective of a full-time caregiver (and one that isn't a spouse).

I liked how the book was organized by month. That helped me grasp the passage of time accurately.

It seems the book is almost more about 1)Thorndike's perception of his parents' marriages, 2)the effects those had on his upbringing, and 3)his dad's aloofness, moreso than Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's was kind of a theme that ran through the entire book, but the main story seemed to be more of a memoir-type
Dec 11, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, favorites
The author sets the tone of this book from the first paragraph, the first sentence. The obviously well-observed description of his sleeping father's face, the fact that his father is napping, something his father does not believe in. We know that this man, this man his son has known all his life, is changing. We also know that this son honors his father. With a capital H.

I've marked so many lyrical and grace-filled and heart-wrenching passages in this book. From the first page:
“My father sleeps
Mar 03, 2010 Nklein98 rated it really liked it
Watching my mother's decline from dementia and the impact it has had on my family, especially my Dad, made me hesitate to pick up "The Las of His Mind". This past weekend was a "good" one for my mother and so I finally felt equipped, and almost eager, to start reading and sharing John Thorndike's experience dealing with his own father's Alzheimers. Most of us going through this heartbreaking experience really don't need to know the medical reasons why or how this disease has struck a loved one, ...more
Oriyah Nitkin
An interesting and quick read, I knew from the beginning that this book wouldn't be a keeper, though I couldn't immediately put my finger on a particular reason. It was well written, contained many entertaining or interest-drawing anecdotes, etc.

As with most memoirs, I felt a bit like a voyeur peeking into a world that, frankly, was clearly none of my business. But then, that's the draw of a memoir to begin with. I think here, the difference lay not in the information being revealed, but more i
Nov 30, 2010 Catherine rated it liked it
Thorndike’s ninety-two-year-old, former magazine publisher father has Alzheimer’s. He volunteers to be his father’s caregiver through the last few months of his life.

The author explores and reflects on his childhood, the events that led to the end of his parents’ marriage, as well as his intimate thoughts and emotions he experiences during his father’s illness. Although his thoughts were expressed in a forthright manner, at times I thought he was a bit of a whiner, expressing angst over long pa
Deby Su
Jul 27, 2011 Deby Su rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am thoroughly pleased that I read this book. It was well written and was a pleasure for someone who enjoys words and language in general. John Thorndike was insightful and encouraging and never was the story sad or depressing...quite the contrary. John's story, and the opportunity of 'living' with his father during his last year, was pleasant and hopeful, and once again, encouraging in a way that made me hope I could be so relaxed and able to live in my moments instead of rushing through them ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book for my final honors research paper. I connected Joe with how his experience with Alzheimer's was similar/different to the typical experience of other Alzheimer's . Overall, I thought it was an alright book. I wasn't the biggest fan or anything, but it was fine for my research.
Nov 11, 2009 Melanie rated it liked it
This was a very interesting book and the point of view of the author was also very interesting. This subject is very close to me as my
Grandmother also suffers from Alzheimers. I enjoyed reading about this first hand account.
May 11, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
A difficult, but interesting book to read. I imagine people who have cared for or are caring for someone with Alzheimer's would be interested to compare their feeling and reactions with those in this book.
Amazing and powerful.I gained a lot of insight into the caregiver's role with a parent with this devastating disease.
Feb 07, 2012 Angela rated it liked it
Touching book chronicling John Thorndike's father's last year of life and the lessons Thorndike learns from his dad.
Jan 04, 2011 Donna rated it it was ok
mediocre at best.
Jan 03, 2010 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Beautiful memoir.
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I grew up in Connecticut, read a thousand novels as a child and always wanted to write one. After four desperate years at a New England prep school he went to Harvard, wrote some fiction, studied night and day. Then a master’s degree from Columbia, two years in the Peace Corps and a year of doctoral studies at NYU, brought to an end by the delirious sixties, marriage and parenthood. In 1970 I move ...more
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