The Last Ocean: A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting - Nicci Gerrard

Staff Pick

Although the population of people over age 60 is the fastest growing group in the world, Gerrard observes that being old is still “something of a disgrace,” with the elderly often invisible to the rest of society. This dehumanization is even truer for those who suffer from dementia, and Gerrard’s compelling and beautifully written book is a plea to make society more accountable “to the suffering of others”—who, in fact, are not as “other” as we assume. Starting with her father’s diagnosis and decline, she engages in extended discussions with several patents, their relatives, and caregivers to find out what dementia feels like from the inside. Covering issues ranging from denial, shame, the challenges of home care, the option of suicide, and the crushing decision to send a loved one to a nursing home, these chapters illuminate the complexities of dealing with an incurable disease. But by letting the patients themselves speak, Gerrard also shows that it’s often society, not necessarily the disease, that makes these people helpless and miserable. Many are able to enjoy nature, art, and much else even in the later stages of the condition, and though they lose memories and language, they keep their core self and the need to communicate. Given “kindness and hope” rather than isolation, they can continue to enjoy life; when we just write them off, “we are all diminished.”


The Last Ocean: A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting By Nicci Gerrard Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525521969
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Press - August 13th, 2019