Our Lingering Farewell

Our Lingering Farewell is penned by Dr. Allan Carswell in honour of his wife, Helen Carswell; her charming spirit, extraordinary achievements and contributions, and most of all her courageous journey with Alzheimer’s disease since the late 1990s. Dr Carswell imparts the many poignant experiences he and Helen have shared, their deep love for each other and their family, their positive approach to each day and challenge, and the lessons learned he hopes will help others on a similar path. He also speaks openly about the heavy waves of sadness that weave their way through the quiet moments of today.

Helen is in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The contrast of the vivacious and creative person that Allan has shared life with for so many years with the steady reduction of her capabilities and no expectation of any improvement; it is heavy. Helen has little awareness of her surroundings and essentially no response to any external stimuli except for her active assistance when Allan is feeding her. Still, he values that they remain living at home together and he is able to support and enjoy Helen’s company, knowing firsthand that she is in good overall health with no signs of pain or distress. Their precious and lingering farewell continues.


I first meet Helen and Allan Carswell in January 2006. It was a time of hope in Alzheimer’s research and Allan and Helen were eager to become pioneers along with clinical researchers such as myself.

Allan and Helen had been living with Helen’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease for at least eight years before they found me and, as was generally the case with this disease they still had many unanswered questions. We embarked on a relationship of learning from each other what was possible and how we might bend the future. As a neurologist, passionate to improve outcomes for those with Alzheimer’s disease and acutely aware of the partnership that this journey would require, I saw with Helen and Allan, as with all my patients, the precious opportunity to contribute to something greater than ourselves . . . and what accomplished partners they were, Allan with his professorial curiosity and Helen with nursing and business prowess and her ever-reassuring smile.

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Publisher’s Note

Our Lingering Farewell is a story deeply rooted in selfless devotion and the best of humanity. I am often humbled by the work we do at I C Publishing and that could not be truer partnering with a wise, experienced, and thoughtful individual such as Dr. Allan Carswell.

Bringing Helen Carswell’s twenty-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease to the pages of this poignant narrative has been an honour. Allan had three noble goals to achieve: acknowledge Helen’s beautiful, vibrant spirit and generosity throughout her entire lifetime, encourage others on this challenging path, and continue to raise awareness and actively support the Toronto Memory Program and Alzheimer’s Societies of Toronto and York Region.

The Carswell story and legacy which endures through the Carswell Family Foundation has moved me greatly. Like other diseases for which we’ve yet to find a cure, Alzheimer’s shows no exception or mercy to anyone. Even in the most difficult of days and circumstances the Carswell’s remained as positive as possible and committed to each other and their family, living life to the fullest and helping others—an example we should all aspire to follow.

Dr. Allan Carswell wrote Our Lingering Farewell with such honesty, grace, and compassion.

Working with him has been a tremendous delight.

In gratitude,

Sheri Andrunyk

Publisher, Senior Writer, Author, Mentor
Insightful Communications (I C) Publishing