Nicholas Conley - Pale Highway

Nicholas Conley

In the image above, you can see a younger version of me. A bit less scruffy, wearing my scrubs. In physical years, this picture was taken just a few years ago, but in my mind a lifetime has passed since those days. Back when this picture was taken, I was still working fulltime at the job that would one day inspire Pale Highway.

The people who I took care of back then have remained with me, forever becoming a part of my inspiration to be who I am, do everything I do, and help people whenever I’m able to.

On that note, I’m posting today to announce that I have a new feature up on the official blog of, an amazing online community that seeks to educate, advocate and support those with dementia. In my article, I answer a question that many have asked me in the last few months: why I wrote a novel about Alzheimer’s.

Pale Highway - Nicholas Conley - Alzheimer's

Pale Highway – Nicholas Conley – Alzheimer’s

To truly care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, one must first understand them as a human being, and give them the freedom to be who they are without fear of judgment. Through experience, I learned to be there for the residents of the nursing home, to talk to them about their life stories even when the stories got mixed up, to hold the hands of people who were dying, and take care of them until the end. Working in a nursing home, Alzheimer’s is something I became familiar with. Understanding the quirks, the common trends, the progression… to a caregiver, all of this becomes second nature. When someone reaches those later stages, having a good caregiver is more important than I can possibly express.

Thanks to all of you for giving it a read, and a big thank you to everyone who has already finished reading Pale Highway, and taken the time to tell me your thoughts and feelings about the book. I can’t even express how fantastic it is to hear this feedback, and it absolutely makes my day every time sometime talks to me about their impressions of the story.

For those of you who are still awaiting the release of the paperback, don’t worry!  It’ll be here next week.


In other news, the Pale Highway blog tour has been proceeding fantastically! I’ve been interviewed by Lisa Haselton, as well as Live Laugh & Love Books. I’ve also been honored by a wonderful review from Ste J of Book to the Future, who says the following:

With a growing elderly population, this book serves as not only a character study on one man’s fight against his own mind and body but also to highlight the continuing need to help the older generation and try to understand before it is our turn.

And finally, to round it all off, I also have a guest post up on BigAl’s Books & Pals, where I discuss a certain moment in my nursing home experience that made a deep impact on me:

Working second shift in a nursing home, the last half hour is when exhaustion finally sets in. After eight hours—or often in my case, sixteen hours—of working with all of the residents, racing from call bell to call bell, and getting everybody comfortably settled in bed, this is the point where the workers can finally sit down for a moment and finish documenting about the events of the day. It’s also the moment where the body’s aches and strains finally make themselves apparent. The lights are off, most of the residents are asleep, and everyone is getting ready for the overnight crew to come in with bags under their eyes, and tall cups of gas station coffee gripped in shaky hands.

10 thoughts on “ “Why I Wrote a Novel about Alzheimer’s”

    • Thanks Thomas, I really can’t wait to hear your thoughts and interpretation on the book!

      And yes, I do hope that my real life experiences bring a sense of reality to the whole story; as with your own work, I’m writing about issues that are hugely important to me, and I hope I can help spread broader awareness about them.

      • You have certainly helped bring awareness of Alzheimer’s to me, through this fantastic article, and those in the past. Your publication in Vox springs to mind.:) Thank you!

        And I have no doubt whatsoever that your experiences went a long way in the writing of the book. I think it’s impossible not to have some impact, and the writing will be all the stronger for it. I can’t wait to read it!

        • Dustin, I’m truly happy that my writings have opened up this world of Alzheimers, dementia and nursing homes for you. In addition, I’m glad that we stumbled upon each other here on WordPress, as at this point I’m always excited to read your thoughts whenever I post!

          • I cannot thank you enough, truly. It is so important to bring awareness to these things. Not just dementia, but mental illness (which is something I struggle with every day,) and a myriad of other topics.

            I am very thankful that we met through WordPress and have become friends since then. Everything happens for a reason. That really means a lot to me, man. Your posts always brighten my day!

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