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 quite a few books on caring and dementia. I scooped up a handful of books for carers and brought them home to review.
I’m updating this section with other books I have read over the last year or so that I’d recommend to anyone interested in the field. Some sound gloomy, but really they are not (OK, maybe a little bit).
- ‘Somebody I Used to Know‘ by Wendy Mitchell. Essential and inspirational reading for anyone who has or knows someone 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 the career of a palliative care specialist.
- ‘Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End‘ by Atul Gawande. Empowers those of us lucky to live a long life, to have more say on how we make our exit.
The first ‘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 would need to check websites for current local and national policies, but that would apply to all these books.
The prose in ‘The Selfish Pig’s Guide to Caring‘ is warm and informal. I would struggle with calling Marj a ‘piglet’, even if I can relate to the term ‘selfish pig’. Perhaps I need to loosen up a bit. What Hugh Marriott (himself a carer) does very well in this book is address topics that may be uncomfortable to voice ‘carer to non carer’. I appreciated his view on the feelings that can surface that might make you feel or appear selfish (God forbid!). I was moved to tears by the compassion and empathy in his chapter for young carers.
There were smaller booklets available too, for example the two shown here. Both give advice on caring for people with dementia. 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.
The fifth book ‘Dear Dementia‘ by Ian Donaghy was a last minute, intuitive selection. While all the ‘cartoons’ didn’t engage with me, I did find some pages very affecting. I have inserted part of one here.
Next time you take some ‘me’ time (and make sure you do), try a book and a coffee at the library.