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A loving approach to dementia care

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Title: A Loving Approach to Dementia Care

Author: Laura Wayman

Publisher: The John Hopkins University Press, 2011

Reviewer: Nigel Jopson, operational support manager, Care UK, Palmers Green, London


What was it like?

At first sight, this seems to be a self-help book on how to be a better carer when helping somebody with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other memory loss. However, I quickly realised that there is so much more than that to this work. Within the first few pages I had found three different things I wanted to share with my team members, which can help them appreciate more deeply what they were dealing with. I have printed one phrase out and stuck it on my office wall to remind me about my job and role. It reads

  • People will forget what you said.
  • People will forget what you did.
  • People will never forget how you made them feel

Parts of it are intensely personal, especially when talking about carers over extending and exhausting themselves without realising. There is one of the best descriptions of dementia I have read, which breaks it down and explains it as well as differentiating it simply from delirium.

The short accounts of particular incidents and occurrences are touching and demonstrate a variety of problems and happenings as a result of dementia and are believable. The lessons learned show coping strategies and discuss various ways of approaching the problems to help resolve them. It does at times clarify what you may already be instinctively doing and put a more solid framework around it.


What were the highlights?

I found this book to be so much better than I expected after having briefly looked at it. The approach is inclusive and I felt involved with what was happening in each chapter. It is a book I wanted to share with everybody. It made me laugh out loud, it made me cry (really!) but most of all it made me think.

Strengths and weaknesses?

It is an American book and so has some things that may not be familiar to us. As an example ‘It’s bath night’ describes life in a log cabin with no water or electricity, but the lessons learned and perceptions can be transposed to our own experiences. Some of the references used may be difficult to track down but still valid. However, as a resource I feel it is invaluable and I will be keeping it near to hand. It is not only a useful tool for use with dementia but it is also life-affirming (and I never expected to use that term without a certain cynicism).

Who should read it?

It is a good book to help carers of people living with dementia as it gives answers and coping strategies. It will help them to realise they are not alone or unique and that there are others who have faced the same problems and dealt with them, and tells them how they could do it. It is a good resource also for professionals in the field as it will give some insights into how people can be helped in their lives. I will personally find it useful as a tool to help with teaching and explaining things to staff, as well as reassuring relatives that there are ways of handling all of the problems and different things that happen.

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