Monday, November 10, 2014

Books, Livres, Libros, Buch!

I’m always on the lookout for the latest book about caregiving, Lewy Body dementia, any other dementia, or end of life in an effort to find something good I can recommend to my caregivers. Following are three of the latest I’ve read.

Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Dementia, Judith A. Levy: I was contacted by this author and asked to read her book so I ordered it and read it. Levy cared for her mother with Alzheimer’s so she knows what she’s talking about, and she inserts little stories about her experiences. She has really focused on interacting with the care receiver, however, which I really liked.

The activities range in nature from things to do with your hands to more active possibilities, to things you do on behalf of your care receiver like reading to them, and could be tailored to your own particular situation. What’s more, she has provided space in the book for notes on the success of each activity, how and when it was best to do them, and ways you might have tweaked the activity to work for you, but wouldn’t necessarily remember the next time.

Coming from someone who wanted to interact with her care receiver but didn’t always know how, I recommend this highly! I remember spending time with Dad and not knowing what else to do with him! Exhausted from walking, tired of spending time in museums and malls and parks – there were just times when I didn’t know how to keep him entertained. I would have used many of these suggestions.

Levy has managed to come up with a huge variety of activities to do with your care receiver so you can continue to interact with them, spend valuable time with them, and make them feel engaged and loved. I think this book is just great! ****

Sundown Dementia, Vascular Dementia, and Lewy Body Dementia, Lyndsay Leatherdale: When I first saw this one on Amazon I was excited. Sundowning - a syndrome that happens in the late afternoon, where people with dementia become agitated, confused, angry, or may start to act out, lash out or behave strangely – can be so exhausting for everyone involved that any explanation or help in how to deal with it is welcome. In addition, any new information about Lewy Body dementia is a good thing.

This book was written by 20-year-old Lindsay, using her own experiences with her grandmother, in an effort to help other caregivers. While I applaud Lyndsay’s efforts, the book seemed a little simplistic and didn’t really seem to have much new information. Her advice on ways to deal with sundowning were good, but have also been given in other books and on forums. It was pretty straightforward, however, and a quick read, so might be a good choice for a new caregiver who didn’t have much time. **

Slow Dancing with a Stranger, Meryl Comer: This is really just a memoir – no how-to’s and advice here, really, but it is a good one. It is heart-breaking at times, to read what Comer and her husband went through as he was slowly stricken with Early On-set dementia. What compounded the problem was the fact that this happened twenty years ago, when dementia was still known as senility, and few people knew that it could strike someone younger.

Comer was forced to give up her own work to become her husband’s full time caregiver. He was a doctor of some reknown and no little intelligence and to have to witness his degeneration was terrible for her. However, the sacrifices she made on his behalf were considerable – and heroic. I think this would be a good read for potential caregivers, because she details the mistakes that they made and the things that she would have done differently, i.e, better financial planning, better communication between them about finances, better understanding of medical, care, and end-of-life wishes.

It is a little weird to be grateful for the advances in understanding and awareness of all types of dementia that have occurred just in the last ten years; especially when we acknowledge that many of them came on the backs of caregivers and dementia sufferers. But we really should be thankful for the fact that it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be – and there are measures being taken. It’s also not a very long book, and is entertainingly written. ***

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