In the early 1990s, Patti Davis felt “broken and useless,” she says. Her novels were earning tepid reviews, and acting jobs had dried up. “Everything I touched went bad,” she recalls. Divorced and keen to escape an abusive relationship, she sold her Los Angeles home at the bottom of the market and fled to New York, where she knew almost no one. She says she thought seriously about suicide.
Then, in 1994, Ms. Davis learned that her father, former president Ronald Reagan, was about to announce in a public letter that he had Alzheimer’s disease. “Something opened up in me,” she writes in “Floating in the Deep End,” her new handbook for Alzheimer’s caregivers, published next week. Helping her father offered a way out of her “dark, little world” by pushing her to grow up. “If he could face the uncertainty of his remaining days with that kind of courage, I could look ahead with courage as well,” she writes.