Today’s collection of resources focuses on what we refer to as ‘first person accounts’ — books, videos, DVDs and blogs created by people with dementia.
For people with dementia, these are valuable resources and the authors of these various works are keen to share their personal experiences and how they would like the world to respond to and interact with them. For others, such as carers, family, friends and health professionals these stories are a very important insight into the experience of dementia and how people with dementia would like us to ‘be’ when with them.
Fiction: Still Alice, Lisa Genova
This fictional account of dementia is meticulously researched and very accurately and honestly portrays a Harvard University professor’s experience of Alzheimer’s Disease. As well as the protagonist’s own perspective on her dementia, she also describes how she experiences interactions with her husband, children, students and co-workers as her disease progresses.
This is a wonderful book, with a well-crafted story which is both compelling and completely believable as well as factually correct.
Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with dementia at age 49. This 2 minute clip describes her feelings when she was first diagnosed with dementia.
First person account: Who will I be when I die?, Christine Boden
For many, Alzheimer’s is a mystery disease affecting old people. Christine Boden was 46 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Who Will I Be When I Die?, is the story of her emotional, physical and spiritual journey in the three years since then. Christine is living with the stages of Alzheimer’s and provides a unique insight into how it feels to be gradually losing ability to undertake tasks most of us take for granted. Her story is remarkable because of the vigor with which she is undertaking this latest battle in her life and the purpose and meaning she derives from her Christian spirituality. Christine’s approach to health and well-being makes this book a must for Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families.
DVD: Be with me today : a challenge to the Alzheimer’s outsider, Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor was diagnosed with dementia, probably of the Alzheimer’s type, when he was 58 years old. Now 66, Richard speaks to the public about living with the disease and sends out a challenge to the Alzheimer’s outsider. This is the first DVD in a series of Richard’s “TODAYs.” Join Richard as he speaks from his heart, urging all of us to recognize that “THERE IS A PERSON IN THERE.” It is a remarkable documentation of his presentation to aging services professionals, urging them to embrace the culture change philosophy of person-centered care. For anyone who knows, interacts with, works with, or provides services to people with dementia.
Dr Bute is a doctor who has been diagnosed with dementia. In this short film she talks honestly but positively about the challenges of living with dementia and what is helpful to her in managing her day-to-day life.
Meet Jack – an older man with dementia. Jack invites readers to learn about dementia from his perspective, helping them to
understand the challenges faced by someone with dementia and the changes it causes to memory, communication and behaviour. He also gives advice on how to help someone with dementia stay as mentally and physically active as possible, keep safe and continue to feel cared for and valued.
With illustrations throughout, this useful book will be an ideal introduction to dementia for anyone.
kateswaffer.com is committed to meaningful dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders about the critical issues impacting a person living with a diagnosis of dementia and their loved ones.
First person account: While I still can…: one man’s journey through early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Rick Phelps [& Gary Joseph LeBlanc]
Rare is the opportunity to experience the nightmare of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease from the perspective of a patient. In his book, While I Still Can, Rick Phelps, the founder of “Memory People”, an online Alzheimer’s and memory impairment support and awareness group, changes that. Diagnosed at the age of 57 with this fatal disease, Phelps has decided it was time the veil was lifted. Throughout this book the reader is given a firsthand account of the early signs that Phelps experienced before being diagnosed with EOAD, the loneliness he felt during the denial period of family and friends and the terror that gripped his heart upon receiving the undeniable diagnosis. Phelps then describes how he and his loved ones have learned to cope since his diagnosis, finding the will to continue to live and love everyday, while he still can.
First person account: Alzheimer’s from the inside out, Richard Taylor
Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease profoundly alters lives and creates endless uncertainty about the future. How does a person cope with such a life-changing discovery? What are the hopes and fears of someone living with this disease? How does he want to be treated? How does he feel as the disease alters his brain, his relationships, and ultimately himself? Taylor provides illuminating responses to these and many other questions in this collection of provocative essays. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 61, the former psychologist courageously shares an account of his slow transformation and deterioration and the growing division between his world and the world of others. With poignant clarity, candor, and even occasional humor, more than 80 brief essays address difficult issues faced by those with Alzheimer’s disease, including the loss of independence and personhood, unwanted personality shifts, communication difficulties, changes in relationships with loved ones and friends, the declining ability to perform familiar tasks. Individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease will take comfort in the voice of a fellow traveler experiencing similar challenges, frustrations, and triumphs. Family and professional caregivers will be enlightened by Taylor’s revealing words, gaining a better understanding of an unfathomable world and how best to care for someone living in it.
First person account: Dancing with dementia : my story of living positively with dementia, Christine Bryden
Christine Bryden was a top civil servant and single mother of three children when she was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 46. Since then she has gone on to challenge almost every stereotype of people with dementia by campaigning for self-advocacy, writing articles and speaking at national conferences. This book is a vivid account of the author’s experiences living with dementia, exploring the effects of memory problems, loss of independence, difficulties in communication and the exhaustion of coping with simple tasks. She describes how, with the support of her husband, Paul, she continues to lead an active life nevertheless, and explains how professionals and caregivers can help.
In this brief video Richard Taylor talks about the benefits of connecting with people with dementia, in terms of a social network, as a person with dementia. It is an articulate and compelling perspective from someone who is living the experience of dementia.
Non-fiction: Understanding Alzheimer’s: The complete Australian guide to the management and prevention of Alzheimer’s, Professor Ralph Martins
The book is aimed at those in the early stages of the disease, as well as the families, friends and professionals who take on the care of Alzheimer sufferers. There are chapters on diagnosis, research, prevention, treatment, legal issues, impact on loved ones and decision making to do with caring for patients. In addition to practical information and advice, each chapter contains a case study; these detailed accounts provide a personal and heartfelt perspective on the disease. An Australian book, it’s packed with information from Australian experts, and is a welcome addition to information in the field.
Alzheimer’s Australia have a series of Help Sheets for people with dementia. Our entire series is listed here:
1. About you… What is dementia?
2. About you… Early planning
3. About you… Looking after yourself
4. About you… Driving
5. About you… Living alone
6. About you… Feelings and adjusting to change
7. About you… Keeping involved
8. About you… Talking about the diagnosis
9. About you… Talking with your doctor
10. About you… Making employment decisions
11. About you… How Alzheimer’s Australia can help
You can access these Help Sheets here, please note that you will need to scroll down the page to the heading Information for people with dementia and click the heading to access the Help Sheets.