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Books to break down the stigmas of dementia

Dementia is a condition which can leave many people in the dark. Questions can centre around how to enter into the world of someone diagnosed with the condition to understand and empathise with what they’re going through. However equally important is to share experiences of caring for someone with dementia to highlight that no one is going through this experience alone.

‘The Little Girl in the Radiator’ by Martin Slevin

This book is based on the author’s experiences of caring for his mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Through descriptions of events they shared, the author gives an excellent and often humorous insight into the challenges family members face, sharing actions he took to overcome the symptoms and behaviours his mother experienced. Areas such as the attitudes of the general public and the difficulty of making decisions around long term care are also depicted in a sensitive manner and the author shares his own emotions and thoughts with dignity.

The straightforward language and honesty of the author makes it an enjoyable read for carers and health professionals alike.

‘Afloat’ by Nigel Baines

Afloat is a graphic memoir about dementia told from the perspective of a son who cared for his mother.

Nigel Baines describes the highs and lows of dementia from diagnosis to post-bereavement, reflecting on childhood memories and interwoven with moments of both humour and sorrow. The book provides a lens into the raw reality of caring for a parent with dementia brought together through illustration and underpinned by the metaphor of keeping your head above water.

This is a recommended read for families facing dementia, healthcare professionals and in fact anyone who is looking for an insight into the role of being a carer.

‘Telling tales about Dementia- Experiences of caring’ edited by Lucy Whitman

This book is a sharing of stories as told by 30 family carers, each of whom have had a different lived experience of caring for a person with dementia.

The book describes each carer’s honest, engaging and insightful account of their experiences and their personal journeys, which are peppered with a host of emotions ranging from anger to humour. Other family carers and professionals will find it hard to put the book down – an inspiring and touching read.

‘And Still the Music Plays’ by Graham Stokes

Each chapter tells a true real life story of a person’s experiences of living with dementia.

Stokes retells these moving stories in an empathetic way. He investigates each person’s historical life experiences to find reasoning for their individual behaviours.

There truly are some ‘eye opening’ and ‘a-ha’ moments within each story. Occasionally, by reading about other peoples experiences, we can hold a mirror to our own and questions why we; or our loved ones, are reacting in a way that challenges us.

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