I love a manual. Someone, somewhere has done it before, right? So I popped into Thame Library to see what was available. Turns out there are a few books on caring and dementia. I scooped up a handful of books for carers and took them home to review.
‘The Carer’s Handbook‘ by Jane Matthews an ex carer, is comprehensive and straightforward. Good advice is chunked into relevant sections. Useful if you want a book to help you navigate through the landscape of caring officialdom. You’ll need to double-check websites for current local and national policies, but that would apply to all these books.
In ‘The Selfish Pig’s Guide to Caring‘ the prose is warm and informal. I struggle with calling Marj a ‘piglet’, even if I can relate to the term ‘selfish pig’ myself. Perhaps I need to loosen up a bit. What Hugh Marriott (another carer) does well in this book is address topics that can feel uncomfortable to voice ‘carer to non-carer’. I appreciated his take on the feelings that can surface, that make you feel selfish. I was moved to tears by the compassion and empathy in his chapter for young carers.
Dementia specific caring advice came in two smaller booklets. They’re a quick read, ideal for time-starved carers and always something useful inside. I now know more about the different types of dementia and how to adjust Marj’s physical and emotional environment to make her more comfortable.
I recommend these other books I’ve read over the last year. Some sound gloomy, but really they’re not (OK, perhaps just a little).
- ‘Somebody I Used to Know‘ by Wendy Mitchell. Essential, inspirational reading for anyone with a dementia diagnosis, particularly ‘early on-set’. I was fortunate to meet Wendy when she came to Bucks.
- ‘With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial‘ by Kathryn Maddox. Sad yet reassuring experiences from a palliative care specialist.
- ‘Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End‘ by Atul Gawande. Empowering those of us lucky to live a long life to have more say on how we make our exit.
- ‘Contended Dementia‘ by Oliver James. This book is great for carers of people with a relatively new diagnosis of dementia. Oliver describes Penny Garner’s SPECALSENSE method of guiding someone you love through dementia, the key pillars being i) don’t ask questions ii) learn from them as the experts on their disability and iii) always agree with everything they say, never interrupting them. It really is an extraordinary book, with a beautiful opening letter to anyone who has had a dementia diagnosis and might happen across the book. A must-read.
- There is a ton of books for carers now, try googling ‘books for carers’.