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Playfulness and Dementia; A Practice Guide

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Title: Playfulness and Dementia; A Practice Guide

Author: John Killick

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013

Reviewer: Professor June Andrews, director, Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling

What was it like?

As the author says, this is an assortment of personal descriptions and anecdotes intended to give a representation of one aspect of dementia care. The book is largely made up of passages written by people with dementia and people who work in the field, discussing the idea of fun, how important it is and why it has to work differently for people with dementia. This book does not engage with evidence, as such, but includes some photographs of people enjoying themselves and laughing, and illustrations, for example, on how to blow bubbles with soap liquid. The author has a light touch, allowing the extensive direct quotations from other practitioners such as Claire Craig, and authors of published books about being a carer, to describe in general terms the nature of stumbling across what will be satisfying for people with dementia and their carers in order for them to “come to terms with their dementia.”


What were the highlights? 

 A highlight is the emphasis on avoiding creating unremitting “jollity” with “bubbles, balloons and squeakers”. The world of dementia care currently has examples of this fashion emerging in some places and as this book points out, that probably is tiresome. 

Strengths & weaknesses:

The author himself, a poet who has worked extensively with people with dementia, avoids giving instruction of any kind and this might be seen as a weakness in a book, which is part of a series called “Practice Guides”.  However, the first person accounts of people with dementia are interesting to read.

Who should read it?

This book will be of interest to anyone working alongside people with dementia, although, as the author points out himself,anyone looking for theoretical support for working with playfulness or practical instruction should look elsewhere. 


  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • tinkerbell

    Agree that it is vitally important that we have a sense of humour and playfulness and can enter into the dementia patients world rather than trying to get them to enter into our frame of reference. It's not all doom and gloom but should have some elements of shared 'fun'.

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  • Anonymous

    I hope that is not to diminish and patronise them and treat them like children. granted some their behaviour is simple and may revert to earlier and childlike behaviour and hopefully they still have the faculties to enjoy playing some games, they are still entitled to respect suited to their age and the great wisdom of many of the elderly.

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  • tinkerbell

    of course not, old folk are not a 'bit of sport'.

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