Bedford author addresses Alzheimer's in her ninth book
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON Union Leader Correspondent
BEDFORD - A local author has released her ninth book - a story about dementia, disconnection and the art of loving someone with Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Niki Karavasilis wrote "The Mental Intruder" with the main goal of helping individuals embrace others suffering with Alzheimer's. All of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to support Alzheimer's research.
"Throughout this writing process I learned about life and just how precious it really is," said Karavasilis, 75.
The book was inspired by her good friend, referred to in the book as Soula, who died eight years ago after battling Alzheimer's and diabetes.
When they first met, Karavasilis admits that she was angry at herself for not having much patience with her new friend.
But after learning about Soula's illness, which started out as mild cognitive impairment, and after understanding her daily challenges, Karavasilis said she not only began to accept Soula's repeated questions, but began to look forward to their conversations.
"I learned that you have to embrace them and encourage them as human beings by being patient, giving them time and loving them for who they are," she said.
For years, she kept a log of her friend's journey, studied her symptoms, attended her doctor's appointment and kept track of her medications. She began to understand her friend's chaotic moments, and the moments of full clarity.
"The brain is the most beautiful machine, yet most people really don't know how it works," said Karavasilis. "We have the tendency to take care of the body, but not the mind."
People can try to avoid Alzheimer's by keeping active, staying social, avoiding sugar and exercising, Karavasilis said, though there are no guarantees.
"Nobody knows what the future is going to bring," said Karavasilis, who stresses the importance of being kind to those suffering with dementia or Alzheimer's. Near the end, Soula could no longer remember Karavasilis' name, but Karavasilis believes that her dearest friend still remembered their connection and close relationship.
"The Mental Intruder" is Karavasilis' ninth book. She began writing in 1995 after retiring as a professor of foreign languages at both the University of New Hampshire and Rivier University.
Karavasilis will be at Barnes & Noble in Manchester on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. She will also be at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 111 Island Pond Road in Manchester, for a presentation and book signing on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
All donations will benefit the Alzheimer's Foundation.