Cindy Weinstein Untangles Finding the Right Words in Dementia Care
Cindy Weinstein is an English professor at the California Institute of Technology and the author of the award-winning Finding the Right Words: A Story of Literature, Grief, and the Brain, based on her experience with her father’s early onset Alzheimer’s in the 1980’s. During her father’s illness she was a graduate student at the University of California at Berkley, separated from her family in Florida by more than 3,000 miles.
Her family’s dementia journey had a long-lasting impact on her, and decades later she decided to write a book about it with the assistance of neurologist Bruce Miller, MD. It’s the tale of a daughter’s grief, of how she was studying and mastering language while her father struggled with word-finding. This irony intrigued her to the point she went on to study neurology herself with an interdisciplinary group of scientists, artists, social scientists, and physicians at The Global Brain Health Institute based at the University of California at San Francisco and Trinity College, Dublin. During this time, she worked with Dr. Miller on Finding the Right Words, which won third place in Memoir Magazine’s 2022 Memoir Prize for Books.
Cindy was born and raised in Verona, New Jersey. She received her B.A. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University, after which she went to UC Berkeley for her Ph.D. in English. She is currently the Eli and Edythe Broad Professor of English and has been at the California Institute of Technology since 1989, during which time she has published three monographs on American literature, edited several volumes, and taught classes on Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Women’s Fiction, and Black literature. She has had several administrative roles at Caltech, including Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer.
In this episode, we discuss the shock of her father’s death and her lifelong grief, her desire to study the language that surrounds a dementia diagnosis and her mission to help others by writing a book about it, and how working with Dr. Miller helped her better understand the changes dementia brought to her father’s brain.
After the Podcast
Read Cindy’s AlzAuthors post: Cindy Weinstein’s Memoir of Father’s Early-Onset Alzheimer’s
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