Relationships and dementia

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People  interact and engage with others on a daily basis whether they are family, friends, work colleagues, or even strangers.  We are social beings.

Our intimate and family relationships are complex. Living with dementia increases this complexity, so relationships need to be reframed and constantly renegotiated as the dementia progresses. (Relationships and dementia, 2017)

This blog looks at a variety of resources that illustrate the complexity of these relationships.

relationshipsandementia.JPGRelationships and dementia – Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Discussion Paper Number 19 (June 2017)
This discussion paper concludes that society needs to recognise, acknowledge and understand that people living with dementia, their carers and families face relationship difficulties and challenges, and more support is needed to enable people to work through complex feelings of grief and loss.
Download resource

Friends_matterFamily and friends matter : how to stay connected to a person living with dementia – Alzheimer’s Australia (2015)
The Family and Friends Matter booklet reinforces the importance of family, friendship and social connection for people with dementia and provides strategies and ideas to help an individual engage and maintain their relationship with a family member or friend who has developed dementia.
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loving-someone-who-has-dementiaLoving someone who has dementia : how to find hope while coping with stress and grief  /  Pauline Boss  (c2011)
This book is intended for partners, family members, friends, neighbours and caregivers of a person living with dementia.
The author discusses the meaning of relationships and offers approaches in a conversational style, suggesting ways to embrace rather than resist the ambiguity of a relationship with someone who has dementia.

 

Memoirs

bettyvilleBettyville : a memoir  /  George Hodgman  (2015)

A witty, tender memoir of a son’s journey home to care for his irascible mother–a tale of secrets, silences, and enduring love. When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself–an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook–in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will.

 

alzheimersLoveStoryAlzheimer’s: a love story  /  Ulman, Vivienne  (2009)
The author records with tender lyricism and searing honesty the progress of her mother’s Alzheimer’s, her own grief and the way in which her parents’ enduring love for each other sustains them.

 

green vanilla teaGreen vanilla tea  /  Marie Williams  (2013)
In a compelling story that spans both joy and sadness, Marie Williams writes about the bonds in her family, her sons’ love for their father, the spirit that sustains them all during the most testing of experiences and about the struggle they faced in dealing with the inexplicable.

 

ToLoveWhatIsTo love what is : a marriage transformed  /  Shulman, Alix Kates  (2008)
In this elegant memoir, Shulman describes the ongoing anxieties and risks–and surprising rewards–she experiences with her husband and discovers that what might have seemed a life sentence to some has evolved into something unexpectedly rich.

 

Fiction

goodbye vitaminGoodbye, vitamin  /  Rachel Khong.  (2017)

Ruth is thirty and her life is falling apart: she and her fiancé are moving house, but he’s moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns that her father, a history professor beloved by his students, has Alzheimer’s. Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.

the-woman-next-doorThe woman next door  /  Liz Byrski  (2016)

Over the years, the residents of Emerald Street have become more than just neighbours, they have built lasting friendships over a drink and chat on their back verandahs. This is a tale  of a group of friends and their reactions to growing older.

 

the-things-we-keepThe things we keep  /  Sally Hepworth.  (2016)
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

memory bookThe memory book  /  by Rowan Coleman  (2014)

A gorgeous husband, two beautiful children, a job she loves—Claire’s got it all. And then some. But lately, her mother hovers more than a helicopter, her husband Greg seems like a stranger, and her two children are like characters in a movie. Things are changing.

 

Film

Iris DVD coverIris  /  Bayley, John  (2001)

Based on the book Elegy for Iris by John Bayley, this movie tells the true story of English novelist Iris Murdoch’s progression of Alzheimer’s disease and the enduring relationship with  Bayley, her partner of 40 years.
View trailer

gen silent DVD

Gen silent : a documentary film about LGBT aging  /  written and directed by Stu Maddux.  (2011)
Many who won the first  civil rights victories for generations to come are now aging and may be  reluctant to ask for help.
Filmed in the Boston area over a one-year period, director Stu Maddux followed six LGBT seniors through their decision to either stay open about their sexuality or hide it to survive in the long-term health care system.
View Trailer

Still mine  (2012still mine)
Still Mine is ultimately a story about a relationship between husband and wife and their staunch determination to remain together and care for one another. At times, this means other family members are excluded and disregarded. Yet no one doubts their devotion to one another. It is a story of empowerment and acceptance in very stressful circumstances. Whilst their situation bends them, it does not break them and Still Mine is, among other things, a story of triumph.
View trailer

Remember: All titles are available for loan through the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic library and may also be available via your local public library service.