Book group: Love and Care, by Shaun Deeney

We read journalist Shaun Deeney’s book Love and Care, a memoir about caring for his mother after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease dementia.

A former journalist, Shaun Deeney knows the value of telling real-life stories.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that, after his life changed unexpectedly, he’s been sharing his experiences through a podcast and now in a book too. 

Caroline Branney, who manages our Dementia Knowledge Centre, says, ‘Love and Care is a lovely, humorous, heartfelt, no-holds-barred story. We follow Shaun as he makes some big decisions about his life following a period of uncertainty.’

Love and Care, by Shaun Deeney

Maggie Woodhouse, a reader in Suffolk, says, ‘This is a memoir written by a son who shifts his life to care for his mum in her home. It is written over a year in which both he and she go through some momentous changes.’ 

Shaun’s mother has Parkinson’s disease dementia, and Caroline says, ‘He feels that, once his father has died, he owes it to his mother to retrieve her from her care home and support her in her own home, since he is divorced and has few other commitments.’ 

John Spriggs-Taylor, in Derbyshire, says, ‘I think we should all be eternally grateful to Shaun. Like many late middle-aged men, I find myself in a similar situation.

‘A former this and a former that, I have been a full-time carer for my mum for some years. I wish I’d had Shaun’s book when I set out on this adventure.’

One of a kind 

Myrtle Stephenson, a reader in Nottinghamshire, says, ‘I found Love and Care very easy reading, not what I expected of a book relating to dementia. The author really seems one of a kind. 

‘The book is interesting as it does not relate just to his mother but his own life story, although he does convey the problems relating to dealing with the authorities and the health care system.’ 

Caroline says, ‘Shaun writes about everyday practicalities but also weaves in and out of his family history and his recollections, learning more when he talks to an uncle and discovers old letters and photographs.’ 

John says, ‘Shaun’s book is a great introduction to what your life is about to become once you sign up to being a carer. There are lots of negotiations to be done. He emphasises the need for to-do lists to try and stay one step ahead. 

‘Shaun splashed out £40 on a second-hand bike, but you might have your own ideas for what would make “me time” most important to you. He found internet dating an interesting idea but accepted the limitations life brings with a full-time caring role. Still, we can dream.’ 

Maggie says, ‘Shaun is honest about the difficulties faced, being a man caring for his mother (deemed to be “inappropriate”), the red tape of the role, being an advocate for his mother when she was hospitalised and the sheer loneliness and isolation the role brought, “a single parent to a single parent”.’ 

Lessons learnt 

‘There are lessons for all to be learnt from the book, tips about “going with the person”,’ says Maggie. ‘I liked his response to, “Who are these people?” when his mum was hallucinating – he responded, “I’m on to it, I’ll let you know!”’ 

John adds, ‘Love and Care had a profound effect on me. If you are facing the situation Shaun has highlighted, be kind and be gentle.

‘You can’t expect to get it all right at once. Just do the best you can and let the love take care of itself.’ 

Love and Care, by Shaun Deeney (Endeavour 2021), 336 pages, £16.99, ISBN: 9781913068462. Also available as an ebook or audiobook

Your turn

For the next issue, we invite you to read A Tattoo on my Brain, by Daniel Gibbs (Cambridge 2021), 254 pages, £18.99, ISBN: 9781108838931. Also available as an ebook or audiobook.

Tell us what you think about this book by a neurologist who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Email us by the end of 2 November 2021 so we can share it in our next issue.

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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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