Anna and the Beast: The true story of a young mum diagnosed with dementia, aged 37

March 4, 2021

Admiral Nurse Amy Kerti reviews ‘Anna and the Beast: The true story of a young mum diagnosed with dementia, aged 37′ by Christine Reddall.

A mother’s honest and heart-breaking account of her family’s experience of their daughter, Anna’s, early-onset behavioural variant Fronto-Temporal Dementia (bvFTD). Anna’s story starts from her happy childhood, moving on to her successful career and the start of her own young happy family. Anna’s mother then charts the pain, frustration and confusion of tackling an invisible condition; one which changes Anna’s behaviour and personality, and leads to helplessness and desperation trying to find the correct diagnosis.

These experiences will resonate strongly with families caring for a loved one with early-onset dementia in particular, bvFTD.

Anna and the Beast book review

A narrative is given to the confusing emotions that family carers experience. Anna’s family’s story grants permission to others to accept the conflicting emotions that early-onset dementia brings into the family.

This book is a must-read for family carers supporting a loved one with early-onset dementia. The author explains how continuing healthcare funding works; she describes the painful emotions around difficult decisions and the impact on every member of the family. Healthcare professionals and people interested in, or coming into contact with, people and families affected by dementia will learn more from this human experience than that portrayed by academic literature.

As a healthcare professional specialising in working with people and families with early-onset dementia, I was taken on a familiar journey. My journey was enriched by greater insight and intense sadness that has given me greater empathy into challenges faced by families before diagnosis, through to bereavement and beyond.

I feel privileged to have access to such a personal and important book, I have gained an understanding of each family member’s experience of the impact of this condition. I feel that the journey shared by Anna’s mother has advanced my empathy and will enhance my clinical practice in my work, and would recommend it to other professionals and carers with young families living with dementia.

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