Book group: Finding the light in dementia

From the August/September 2018 issue of Dementia together magazine, readers tell us what they thought of this book for family, friends and carers of people with dementia.

Finding the light in dementia, by Jane M Mullins

As a dementia nurse consultant with many years’ experience, Jane Mullins has a lot to share about good care. This book is her attempt to share it in a way that is helpful to anyone supporting a partner, relative or friend who has dementia. 

Caroline Branney, who manages our Dementia Knowledge Centre, warns against making the proverbial mistake about judging books. 

‘Initially slightly put off by the cover,’ says Caroline, ‘I was converted by its practicality, sensitivity and relevance.’ 

‘There are so many sensible and helpful pieces of advice and ideas, it all needs time to digest and take on board!’ says Marilyn.

Marilyn Shipp, in Kent, was wary of drawing conclusions too soon about a book that gave her so much to think about. ‘There are so many sensible and helpful pieces of advice and ideas, it all needs time to digest and take on board!’ 

Despite this, she adds, ‘The book is well researched and seems to cover all the things you need to know to be able to care for your loved one with dementia, as well as it is possible to do so. 

‘It gives insight into their feelings, and helps you to find ways to cope with the many difficult situations that continually arise. I also find the summary at the end of each chapter very useful.’ 

Range of readers 

Caroline says the book would be helpful for a range of carers. 

‘The book is written mainly for the person caring for or sharing their life with a person living with dementia, from diagnosis to considering a care home,’ she says. 

‘Throughout, the author uses “you and your partner” to address the reader, which works well, and by mentioning issues such as working, driving and children, it feels appropriate for a wider age group of carers.’ 

Janet Dandy, in Lancashire, goes further, ‘I would say it is an ideal and very comprehensive book for anyone with a friend or family member newly diagnosed, or who has not previously had any training or written information about dementia. It would also be useful for professional support workers.’ 

Useful content 

Caroline likes the way the book is structured. ‘The use of bullet points at the end of each chapter and the space for notes means a carer could jot down thoughts and consult it regularly. 

‘There are quotes from people with dementia and others, which provide relevancy and break up the chapters. I found it easy to read and absorb.’ 

‘It is very easy to read, with lots of advice about everyday practicalities,’ says Janet.

Janet agrees, ‘It is very easy to read, with lots of advice about everyday practicalities such as eating, washing, dressing and safety. Additionally. the author describes ways to keep the person stimulated and still able to enjoy life via music, art, memory books and boxes, and nature. 

‘It concludes by discussing the possibility of the person needing admission to a care home and advises how to face this and choose the best home.’ 

‘The sequence of subjects covered is appropriate,’ says Caroline. ‘For instance, Chapter 7 on eating and drinking starts with diet, signage in the kitchen and eating, and follows with the importance of dentistry and good physical health. 

‘Chapter 11, Caring for the caregiver, stresses not ignoring the emotional, physical and social upheaval that you are experiencing. The tips about not coping alone and for looking after yourself are clearly described and valuable. 

‘I also particularly liked the chapter ‘I am still me!’ about maintaining the person with dementia’s dignity and individuality.’ 

Compassion 

Janet feels the book was written with compassion for both the person with dementia and those supporting them. 

She adds, ‘It would give a sense of hope and optimism by describing how some creative thinking and changing our reactions to a different response can make a huge difference to the carer and cared-for.’ 

Marilyn expects to enjoy ‘continually referring back to the suggestions and ideas’. 

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