Australian of the year 2017 – National finalist – Kate Swaffer

kateswaffer

Kate Swaffer

As we wait for the announcement of  Australian of the year* this post looks at some of the writings of deserving nominee and South Australian of the Year,  Kate Swaffer.

A humanitarian, advocate and activist for people with dementia, Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with the disease in 2008, just before her 50th birthday. Refusing to be defeated by the diagnosis, Kate has helped redefine the way the world views dementia .

An accomplished author and poet, Kate has written blogs,  books and articles advocating for life beyond a diagnosis of dementia. Kate’s writings  provide an invaluable insight into one person’s journey and thoughts about living with dementia.

*2017 Australian of the Year will be announced on the eve of Australia Day, Wednesday 25th January. Congratulations and all the best to all nominees.

Kate’s blog


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A recent 2017 post is a great revisiting of some of the topics Kate has covered over the years.

Ramblings from the past, as I think about 2017…

 

 

 

 

Book: What the Hell Happened to My Brain? : Living beyond dementia  /  By Kate Swaffer  (2016)

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With chapter headings such as Why me, why this, why now?; The dementia train and not sweating the small stuff and Reactions to dementia: yours, mine, others Kate tackles head-on stigma, inadequacies in care and support, and the media’s role in perpetuating myths about dementia, suggesting ways in which we can include and empower people with the diagnosis. She also reflects on the ways in which her writing and dementia advocacy work have taken her on a process of self-discovery and enabled her to develop a new and meaningful personal identity.

 

Editorial: Dementia and Prescribed Disengagement™  /  Kate Swaffer
Dementia: the international journal of social research and practice, Vol. 14, No. 1, January 2015, p.3-6

dementia journalFollowing a diagnosis of dementia, most health care professionals, including neurologists, geriatricians, physicians, general practitioners, and dementia service providers prescribe giving up a pre-diagnosis life and put all the planning in place for the demise of the person newly diagnosed with dementia such as wills, powers of guardianship and other end of life issues. I was told ‘to give up work, give up study, and to go home and live for the time I had left’. By 2009, I had termed this Prescribed Dis-engagementTM, and I ultimately chose to ignore it. One has to ask the question: Why is it that one day I was studying a tertiary degree, working full time, volunteering, raising a family and running a household with my husband, and the next day, told to give it all up, to give up life as I knew it, and start ‘living’ for the time I had left?..  Access full text

Article: Not just a ‘challenging behaviour’  /  Kate Swaffer
Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Vol. 4 No. 3 June/July 2015, p.21-24

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Kate highlights her concerns that widespread use of the terms ‘challenging behaviours’ and ‘Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia’ (BPSD), over-perscription of antipsychotic medications and the guidelines used to ‘manage’ BPSD are having a negative impact on care, whilst fuelling stigma and discrimination.

 

Article: Reinvesting in life is the best prescription  /  Kate Swaffer
Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Vol.3, No. 6, December 2014/January 2015, p.31-32

ajdc_dec14jan15When Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with younger onset dementia, she was advised to give up work, study and life as she knew it, put her affairs in order and investigate aged care options. Instead, she ignored this ‘Prescribed Disengagement™’ as she terms it, and reinvested in life – something she recommends to everyone who has been diagnosed with dementia.

 

Book: Diagnosed with Alzheimers or another dementia  /  Kate Swaffer & Lee-Fay Low  (2016)

diagnosed-with-alzheimers

This book is an affirmation that dementia is a word not a sentence. A diagnosis is the beginning of a new phase, one that most of us fear, but one that can be met and challenged. There is so much that we – people with dementia, family care partners, friends, or aged care and health workers – can all do to maximise a positive life for many years.” (from introduction by Prof Henry Brodarty)

 

 

To find a full list of Kate’s books, articles, poetry and presentations go to her website

https://kateswaffer.com/cv/

 

 

How do I choose?

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Alzheimer’s Australia libraries combined have a collection of over 14,000 resources related to dementia. This year there have been in excess of 8500 loans from our collections.

Undoubtedly a great resource available to the community…but where do you begin?

When visiting the local bookshop we all welcome the influence of an award sticker or a book that proudly boasts itself a staff recommended read.  Taking inspiration from this and to assist our users to navigate our collection we have developed the Alzheimer’s Australia staff recommend sticker.

Our key criteria

  • Well written/produced
  • Consistently good feedback from borrowers
  • Positive reviews from specialist clinicians
  • The library staff loved it!

So what have our users been borrowing this year? Below is a selection from the top 20 in no particular order.

As always we welcome your feedback and would love to learn what would be on the top of your list.

DVD: Alive inside: A story of music & memory  /  A film by MRossato-Bennett  (2014)

Alive Inside DVDAlive Inside is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized and awakened by the simple act of listening to the music of their youth.

 

Green vanilla tea  /  Marie Williams  (2013)

green-vanilla-tea_smlWhen Marie Williams’ husband Dominic started buying banana Paddle Pops by the boxful it was out of character for a man who was fit and health conscious. Dominic, Marie and their two sons had migrated to Australia to have a life where they shared more family time — when gradually Dominic’s behaviour became more and more unpredictable. It took nearly four years before there was a diagnosis of early onset dementia coupled with motor neurone disease. Marie began to write, as she says, as a refuge from the chaos and as a way to make sense of her changing world.

DVD:  Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me  (2014)

glen-campbellIn 2011, music legend Glen Campbell set out on an unprecedented tour across America. He thought it would last 5 weeks; instead it went for 151 spectacular sold out shows over a triumphant year and a half. What made this tour extraordinary was that Glen had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was told to hang up his guitar and prepare for the inevitable. Instead, Glen and his wife went public with his diagnosis and announced that he and his family would set out on a ‘Goodbye Tour.’ The film documents this extraordinary journey as he and his family attempt to navigate the wildly unpredictable nature of Glen’s progressing disease using love, laughter and music as their medicine of choice.

Fiction: Still Alice  /  Lisa Genova  (2009)

still alice movieAlice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. A Harvard professor, she has a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful, she dismisses it for as long as she can, but when she gets lost in her own neighbourhood she knows that something has gone terribly wrong.

 

Caring for a loved one with dementia : a mindfulness-based guide for reducing stress and making the best of your journey together  /  Marguerite Manteau-Rao  (2016)

caring-for-a-loved-oneAn approach to caring with calm, centered presence; responding  with compassion; and maintaining authentic communication, even in the absence of words. Most importantly,  discover ways to manage the grief, anger, depression, and other emotions often associated with dementia care.

 

Before I Forget: How I Survived a Diagnosis of Younger-Onset Dementia at 46  /  Christine Bryden  (2015)
before-i-forget-by-christine-bryden_sml

When she was just 46, Christine Bryden – science advisor to the prime minister and single mother of three daughters – was diagnosed with younger-onset dementia. Doctors told her to get her affairs in order as she would soon be incapable of doing so. Twenty years later she is still thriving, still working hard to rewire her brain even as it loses its function.

 

The 36-hour day : a family guide to caring for people with Alzheimer disease, other dementias, and memory loss in later life  /  Nancy L. Mace, Peter V. Rabins  (2011)

36hrdayInformation on diagnostic evaluation; resources for families who care for people with dementia; legal and financial information;  information on nursing homes and other communal living arrangements; research, medications, and the biological causes and effects of dementia.

 

What the Hell Happened to My Brain? : Living with dementia  /  By Kate Swaffer   (2016)

what-the-hell-happened-to-my-brainKate Swaffer was just 49 years old when she was diagnosed with a form of younger onset dementia. In this book, she offers an all-too-rare first-hand insight into that experience, sounding a clarion call for change in how we ensure a better quality of life for people with dementia. Kate describes vividly her experiences of living with dementia, exploring the effects of memory difficulties, loss of independence, leaving long-term employment, the impact on her teenage sons, and the enormous impact of the dementia diagnosis on her sense of self.

DVD: Filling the day with meaning  /  Teepa L Snow (2011)

Through learning about what makes an activity engaging and valuable, how to create a safe and inviting environment and more with early-onset dementia patients, this DVD helps professional caregivers to provide the best care for people with dementia.

Loving someone who has dementia : how to find hope while coping with stress and grief  /  Pauline Boss  (2011)

loving-someone-who-has-dementiaOffers approaches to understand and cope with the emotional strain of care-giving. Boss’s book builds on research and clinical experience, yet the material is presented as a conversation. She shows you a way to embrace rather than resist the ambiguity in your relationship with someone who has dementia.

 

 

First person accounts : thoughts and experience of dementia from people living with dementia

With an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 it is sobering to consider how little information is available from the perspective of those people who actually have a diagnosis of dementia. However in recent years we have seen a considerable change in this space and in this blog we bring you a small selection of some of these powerful stories.

Website: Engage, enable, empower : Living well with dementia – personal storiespersonal-stories

A collection of more than a dozen  stories from people who are living with dementia and actively making the most of life.These short video stories are engaging and varied.

 

 

 

YouTube: Courageous Conversations

This short film series developed by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, features people living with dementia talking candidly about what people should know about the condition, along with the good and bad that comes with living with dementia.

This includes loneliness as friends no longer visit, a misconception that dementia is contagious, and memory loss. They also talk about the unexpected positive things that have happened following their diagnosis including identifying their self-worth.

 

 

diagnosed-with-alzheimersDiagnosed with Alzheimers or another dementia  /  Kate Swaffer & Lee-Fay Low  (2016)

In a first we have a caregiving resource that is written from the viewpoint of a person that has been living successfully with dementia in partnership with a researcher interested in living well in later life and with dementia.

When Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with dementia before her 50th birthday she rejected the prevailing dogma of Prescribed Disengagement TM. She prescribed her own formula of engagement which includes writing – this book is just one of her contributions, studying for her PhD and advocating. And when Kate is not travelling to Geneva to talk to the United Nations or to a conference, she is a wife and a person who wants to enjoy life. In living with dementia, Kate has developed strategies on how to cope with her disAbility. We can all benefit by learning from her.

 

App: EDIE

Step into the world of 65 year old EDIE who is living with dementia. Develop a greater understanding of dementia from the perspective of a person living with it through Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s Educational Dementia Immersive Experience, EDIE.

edie

dementia-activistDementia Activist: Fighting for Our Rights  /  Helga Rohra  (2016)

‘What’s happening to me?’ Successful translator and linguist Helga Rohra was understandably good with words – that is, until she found herself getting in a muddle when she spoke. She started to forget the way home, even though she could remember her address. Her confusing symptoms increased and Helga was diagnosed with dementia at age 50 – but she hasn’t let herself be labelled with the usual stereotypes. With entertaining vim Helga shows that her life is still as abundant and self-determined as ever, dismantling the negative stereotypes that often surround a dementia diagnosis. She speaks frankly and with humour about her diagnosis and life with young onset Lewy Body Dementia. She explains the changes in her everyday life and the challenges she faces, and shares practical tips that prove it is possible to live well with dementia. Helga also talks about her activism work, which has made hers one of the key voices internationally in dementia advocacy.

people-with-dementia-speak-out People with Dementia Speak Out  /  Edited by Lucy Whitman,  (2015)


Twenty-three people from diverse backgrounds share their experiences of living with dementia. The contributors are honest about the frustrations and fears they face, but overall there is remarkably little self-pity and a great deal of optimism. The personal accounts demonstrate that with the right support at the right time, and above all with opportunities to continue to contribute to society in a meaningful way, it is possible to live well with dementia. These fascinating stories bring to life the characters behind the collective term ‘people with dementia’, and show that each person with dementia is a unique individual with their own personality, history, beliefs, cultural affinities and sense of humour, and their own way of adapting to the disabilities and opportunities which this condition confers.

What the Hewhat-the-hell-happened-to-my-brainll Happened to My Brain? : Living with dementia  /  Kate Swaffer  (2016)

Kate Swaffer was just 49 years old when she was diagnosed with a form of younger onset dementia. In this book, she offers an all-too-rare first-hand insight into that experience, sounding a clarion call for change in how we ensure a better quality of life for people with dementia. Kate describes vividly her experiences of living with dementia, exploring the effects of memory difficulties, loss of independence, leaving long-term employment, the impact on her teenage sons, and the enormous impact of the dementia diagnosis on her sense of self. Never shying away from difficult issues, she tackles head-on stigma, inadequacies in care and support, and the media’s role in perpetuating myths about dementia, suggesting ways in which we can include and empower people with the diagnosis. She also reflects on the ways in which her writing and dementia advocacy work have taken her on a process of self-discovery and enabled her to develop a new and meaningful personal identity.

Before I Fbefore-i-forget-by-christine-bryden_smlorget: How I Survived a Diagnosis of Younger-Onset Dementia at 46  /  Christine Bryden  (2015)

Some days all I want to do is give up the constant, exhausting struggle and stop trying to be normal. But I can’t. It’s not in me to walk away from a fight. I’ll keep fighting and telling my story. Before I forget.’
When she was just 46, Christine Bryden – science advisor to the prime minister and single mother of three daughters – was diagnosed with younger-onset dementia. Doctors told her to get her affairs in order as she would soon be incapable of doing so. Twenty years later she is still thriving, still working hard to rewire her brain even as it loses its function.
The unusually slow progress of her condition puts Christine in a unique position to describe the lived experience of dementia, a condition affecting tens of millions of people worldwide. In this revealing memoir, she looks back on her life in an effort to understand how her brain – once her greatest asset, now her greatest challenge – works now. She shares what it’s like to start grasping for words that used to come easily. To be exhausted from visiting a new place. To suddenly realise you don’t remember how to drive. To challenge, every day, the stereotype of the ’empty shell’.

nothing-about-us-without-us_smlNothing About Us, Without Us!: 20 Years of Dementia Advocacy  /  Christine Bryden (2016)

Along with her memoir,  Christine also recently published a collection of her hard-hitting and inspiring presentations. Provocative and insightful, the pieces included in this book address issues that demand attention, and should change the way dementia is perceived along with the lives of people with dementia and their families.

From tfrom-the-corner-officehe Corner Office to Alzheimer’s  /  Michael Ellenbogen  (2014)

“My name is Michael Ellenbogen. I am a writer, husband, and father. In 2008, at age 49, I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after struggling to get a diagnosis since my first symptoms at age 39. I was always very successful in being able to accomplish anything I set my mind on doing. This diagnosis has changed my life in many ways.

When I finally received my diagnosis, of Alzheimer’s, it was a relief to have an answer that explained the symptoms I was experiencing. I had heard of Alzheimer’s disease, but I really did not know what it was until I did more research. When I learned there was not a cure for Alzheimer’s I was shocked, and I was no longer thankful for the diagnosis that answered so many of my questions.”

Website: Dementia alliance international

A myriad of  writings, advocacy and resources for people and by people living with dementia.

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Past related posts that may be of interest

Richard Taylor – Collected works – August 2015

From the horses mouth – October 2014

World FTD Awareness Week – 25 September to 2 October 2016

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is an umbrella term used to describe a group of younger onset neurodegenerative conditions with a typical onset between the ages of 45 and 65 years. This diverse group of uncommon disorders primarily affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain — the areas generally associated with personality, behaviour and language.

FTD is life-altering for those affected as well as for their loved ones.  Yet this disease is little known and poorly understood.

This week marks the second annual World FTD Awareness Week.  In support of this, we are posting a small collection of resources on FTD that we hope will be of interest to our readers.

Alzheimer’s Australia Helpsheet Frontotemporal dementia (rev 2016)helpsheets-aa

This Help Sheet describes  frontotemporal dementia, which has different forms including behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia, progressive non-fluent aphasia and semantic dementia.

 

Alzheimer’s Australia Video: What is  Frontotemporal dementia?

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Book: What if it’s not Alzheimer’s : a caregiver’s guide to dementia
3rd ed /  edited by Lisa Radin & Gary Radin (2014)

what-if-its-not-alzheimers

This book is a comprehensive guide dealing with frontotemporal degeneration (FTD. The contributors are either specialists in their fields or have exceptional hands-on experience with FTD.
Beginning with a focus on the medical facts, the first part defines and explores FTD as an illness distinct from Alzheimer s disease.
The next section on managing care examines the daily care routine including exercise, socialization, adapting the home environment, and behavioural issues.
The final section focuses on the caregiver, in particular the need for respite and the challenge of managing emotions.
This completely revised edition follows recent worldwide collaboration in research and provides the most current medical information available, a better understanding of the different classifications of FTD, and more clarity regarding the role of genetics.

where-the-light-gets-inBook: Where the Light Gets in : Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again
by Kimberly Williams-Paisley , Foreword by Michael J Fox (2016)

Many know Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride in the popular Steve Martin remakes of the”Father of the Bride”movies, the calculating Peggy Kenter on”Nashville,” or the wife of country music artist, Brad Paisley. But behind the scenes, Kim’s mother, Linda, was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia that slowly took away her ability to talk, write and eventually recognize people in her own family. Where the Light Gets In tells the full story of Linda’s illness called primary progressive aphasia from her early-onset diagnosis at the age of 62 through the present day. Kim draws a candid picture of the ways her family reacted for better and worse, and how she, her father and two siblings educated themselves, tried to let go of shame and secrecy, made mistakes, and found unexpected humour and grace. Ultimately the bonds of family were strengthened, and Kim learned ways to love and accept the woman her mother became. With a moving foreword by actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, Where the Light Gets In is a heartwarming tribute to the often fragile yet unbreakable relationships we have with our mothers.

green-vanilla-tea_smlBook: Green Vanilla Tea
by Marie Williams (2013)

When Marie Williams’ husband Dominic started buying banana Paddle Pops by the boxful it was out of character for a man who was fit and health conscious. Dominic, Marie and their two sons had migrated to Australia to have a life where they shared more family time — when gradually Dominic’s behaviour became more and more unpredictable. It took nearly four years before there was a diagnosis of early onset dementia coupled with motor neurone disease. Marie began to write, as she says, as a refuge from the chaos and as a way to make sense of her changing world. Her book, Green Vanilla Tea, was the winner of the 2013 Finch Memoir Prize.

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. Green Vanilla Tea is a story of compassion and courage in the face of a little understood illness. Above all, it is a love story.

ftd-toolkitWebsite: The FTD Toolkit by Eastern Cognitive Disorders Clinic

This website supports those wishing to better understand FTD. Information is divided into downloadable modules and also includes specific information on FTD as a younger onset dementia.

 

looks-like-lauryDVD: Looks like Laury sounds like Laury
by Pamela Hogan & Connie Shulman (2015)

What would you do if you started to disappear?
At the age of 45, Laury Sacks, an ebullient actress and the doting mother of two small children, had a reputation as the quickest wit in the room. At the age of 46, she began forgetting words. Soon she could barely speak.

Laury lived on the Upper Westside in Manhattan with her husband, Eric, and their two young children. She had been an actress/writer for many years prior to having kids, and then devoted her time to being a mom and writing a memoir about her unconventional childhood. But a memoir requires memories, and when gregarious Laury suddenly became quiet, she began to have difficulty accessing hers.

The changes were subtle at first. She asked Pam to meet for coffee one day, but it was surprisingly difficult to engage her in conversation. To the question “What’s going on, am I boring you?” she answered prophetically, “No! I’m just in my head. ” Then she offered a reassuring hug – which wasn’t reassuring at all.
Everyone misread the cues: “We’re not as close as we used to be;” “She must be mad at me;” “Maybe she’s depressed.” As Laury’s friend Nelsie said, “I don’t think it ever occurred to us she couldn’t access language, that she was trapped in her brain and couldn’t access it.”

Filming started during a hopeful period, with no idea of what lay ahead.
Laury was always a storyteller and she wanted to tell her last story herself. This is her story.

aftda-websiteWebsite: The Australian Fronto-Temporal Dementia Association

A useful website for those looking to get more involved in supporting those with FTD and promoting awareness of FTD.

 

activities-for-the-family-caregiver-ftdBook: Activities for the Family Caregiver : Frontotemporal Dementia
by Scott Silknitter, Vanessa Emm and Robert Brennan

From the groundbreaking series written specifically for family caregivers, Activities for the Family Caregiver – Frontotemporal Dementia / Frontal Lobe Dementia / Pick’s Disease: How to Engage / How to Live offers information and insight to enhance quality of life through improved social interactions as well as activities of daily living, safety and general caregiver information. Learn new communications and activities strategies to improve time spent with your loved one. Gain new insight as you learn the “how to’s,” “why’s,” and techniques of activities – daily living and leisure. Discover how to turn daily activities and routines into opportunities to start some joy. Written by nationally recognized leaders in activities for those with cognitive disabilities, Activities for the Family Caregiver – Frontotemporal Dementia / Frontal Lobe Dementia / Pick’s Disease: How to Engage / How to Live provides much-needed information to address the unique social needs of those with frontotemporal dementia and those who care for them.

green-nailsBook: Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion
by Elaine Soloway (2014)

Early in 2009, after more than a decade of marriage, Elaine Soloway’s husband, Tommy, began to change exhibiting inappropriate behaviors at times, becoming inexplicably weepy at others. More troublesome, he began to have difficulty finding words. Ultimately, Tommy’s doctors discovered that he had frontotemporal degeneration a diagnosis that explained Tommy’s baffling symptoms and transformed Soloway from irritated wife to unflappable, devoted caregiver in one fell swoop. In Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion Soloway documents Tommy’s deteriorating health and eventual death, shedding light on the day-to-day realities of those who assume the caregiver role in a relationship with uncompromising honesty and wry humor. Charming, frank, and ultimately uplifting, Soloway’s story reveals how rich with love and appreciation a life compromised by an incurable illness can be and how even widowhood can open a door to a new, invigorated life.

teepa-snow_understanding-frontotemporal-dementiasDVD: Understanding Frontotemporal Dementias
by Teepa Snow (2014)

Frontotemporal Dementias (FTDs) are particularly challenging for families and professional caregivers. Odd, often impulsive behaviors and potential loss of language are just a few symptoms causing frustration and anxiety.

Learn with Teepa Snow
– Why proper screenings truly matter, and where to get them
– About causes and symptoms of different types of FTDs
– Which changes happen in the brain, and how they affect the person with FTD
– How to deal with challenging behaviors without sacrificing the relationship
– Which medications can help or potentially cause harm
– How to best manage the disease with current treatment options
– Why supportive communication and a positive physical approach are vital to offer the greatest quality of life, for the person with FTD and caregiver alike

jdc_septoct2016_intranetArticle: Living well with progressive non-fluent aphasia by Jane Twigg and Jenny La Fontaine, The Journal of Dementia Care, Vol. 24, No. 5, September/October 2016, p.16-18

Jane Twigg has a rare form of dementia but her battle to get a diagnosis was fraught with difficulties. Here, supported by Jenny La Fontaine, she offers some advice for professionals.

Note: if you’re interested in this article please use this form to request it.

ajdc_aprmay2015Article: Creative support for complex needs: living with bvFTD by Jenny La Fontaine, Anna Buckell and Jan Oyebode, Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Vol. 4, No. 2, April/May 2015,p.23-26

In the first of two articles on behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, Jenny LaFontaine, Anna Buckell and Jan Oyebode explain the distinguishing features of this rare type of dementia and suggest a range of ways of offering individualised support.

Note: if you’re interested in this article please use this form to request it.

ajdc_junjul2015Article: Family experiences and needs: living with bvFTD by Jenny La Fontaine, Anna Buckell, Jan Oyebode and Jayne Ford, Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Vol. 4 No. 3 June/July 2015, p.24-27

In the second of two articles on behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, the authors consider the families who live with the condition, and their support needs.

Note: if you’re interested in this article please use this form to request it.

ajdc_dec14jan15Article: Semantic dementia: a long, sad, lonely journey by Myra Lamont, Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Vol.3, No. 6, December 2014/January 2015, p.25-27

Myra Lamont shares the story of her husband Archie’s altered diagnosis – from Alzheimer’s disease to semantic dementia – and the lack of professional awareness and support they have encountered along the way.

Note: if you’re interested in this article please use this form to request it.

Website:rare-dementia-support
Frontotemporal Dementia Support by Rare Dementia Support

A UK-based site that offers information and support to
people with FTD, their family and friends and health care professionals.

 

 Earlier Dementia Resources FTD blog (2014)

You may also be interested in viewing our previous blog post on FTD (2014) which includes many more resources about FTD.

 

Dementia Awareness Month: You Are Not Alone – communicating, socialising and friendships

For a person with dementia, their family and other carers, one of the hardest changes is a sense of isolation. Today’s post is about socialising, friendships and communicating with people with dementia. It includes feedback from people with dementia on what matters to them, and there’s no better source of information!

YouTube: You Are Not Alone, Alzheimer’s Australia

hwdeffectivecommnWebpage: Effective Communication, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

Losing the ability to communicate can be one of the most frustrating and difficult problems for people with dementia, their families and carers. In these short, helpful videos you will learn some practical communication tips.

communicating-across-dementiaBook: Communicating Across Dementia: How to Talk, Listen, Provide Stimulation and Give Comfort by Stephen Miller (2015)

Information and advice for making vital communication easier and more effective.

If someone close to you has dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type) they need your help. You will know that communication has become more difficult and frustrating. This jargon-free book explains why this happens and how you can make important improvements by re-thinking your whole approach. Areas covered include:
– Creating the right conditions for good communication
– Making conversation easier
– Non-verbal communication
– Adaptations to the home
– Finding stimulating activities
– Dealing with difficult situations

Looking after a person with dementia involves many challenges. Good and effective communication can help to make these challenges more manageable and greatly reduce stress levels, both in the person with dementia and in his or her carer.

jdc_julyaug2016Article: Communication skills: emPoWereD Conversations, Sue Bellass, Phil McEvoy and Tracy Williamson, The Journal of Dementia Care, July-August 2016, p.16&18

Ordinary communication between people can be disrupted by dementia, but a new training programme offers a solution.

“Communication is a core aspect of human experience and has a profound effect on the quality of our lives. Being able to express ourselves, and to understand other people, shapes our sense of who we are and how we connect with our social world. The experience of dementia can disrupt interactions between people, potentially leading to frustration, misunderstandings and alienation (Snyder 2006). Here, we will report on a communication training programme designed to overcome some of these difficulties.” (p.16)

Note: should you be interested in this article please request it through our handy form.

Toolkit: Community Café Toolkit, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

If you like getting involved, setting up a local Community Cafe may be right for you.

The toolkit contains:

  • A manual with instructions on ‘how to’ establish and run a community café in your region; and
  • Tools in the form of checklists, templates and resources to assist you in getting started and to assist in the day-to-day running of your café.

To request your copy of the Community Café Toolkit please click this link and then follow the prompts. If you are in Victoria, Australia please use this link instead.

aja351coverArticle: Facing the times: A young onset dementia support group: FacebookTM style, Denise Craig and Edward Strivens, p.48-53, Australasian Journal on Ageing, Vol. 35, Iss. 1, March 2016

Young onset dementia accounts for up to 1 in 10 dementia diagnoses. Those diagnosed face premature transition into the realm of aged care services and adjustment to an illness of ageing prior to age 65. To help elicit communication of the perceived psychosocial needs of this group, provide a platform to gain peer support and advocate for increased awareness, the Young Onset Dementia Support Group was established on the social networking site, FacebookTM. Followers post comments, read educational or otherwise interesting news feeds, share inspirational quotes and access others living with dementia worldwide. Facebook provides a means of rapid global reach in a way that allows people with dementia to increase their communications and potentially reduce isolation. This paper was authored by the page administrators. We aim to highlight the promising utility of a social network platform just entering its stride amongst health communication initiatives.

Note: should you be interested in this article please request it through our handy form.

when-someone-you-know-has-dementiaBook Chapter: Chapter 5, What Are Friends For? from When someone you know has dementia : practical advice for families and caregivers by June Andrews, 2016

“Dementia presents a particular problem to friends if you are not part of the family. You might not know much about it yourself and the whole idea of it is terrifying. You want to help but you are afraid of being embarrassing or inappropriate and you just don’t know what would make a difference. Reading this chapter will provide guidance what often does make a difference, based on what people with dementia their family caregivers say.” (p.79)

For those living in Victoria

Socialise: Memory Lane Cafes, Alzheimer’s Australia Vicmemory-lane-cafe

The Memory Lane Café program is available for people with dementia and their family members.

The Australian and Victorian governments, under the Home and Community Care Program, have provided  funding for Café Style Support Programs that are offered throughout Victoria.

These cafés provide an opportunity for people with dementia and their family members to enjoy time together with some refreshments and entertainment, in the company of people in a similar situation to themselves.  Alzheimer’s Australia Vic counselling staff and trained volunteers also attend.

For more information, click here.

dam2016publectPublic Lecture: International action on dementia, Dr Ron Petersen, 22 September 2016

Dementia Awareness Month 2016 signature lecture in Melbourne will feature international dementia expert, Dr Ron Peterson (Mayo Clinic, USA). Dr Petersen will share his latest insights and research findings about dementia and the US and global experiences in establishing a national dementia strategy. Dr Petersen is a world leader in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He is Director of the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. and was also Ronald Reagan’s personal physician and treated the former President of America’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Petersen will discuss:

  • Latest insights and research findings about mild cognitive impairment and dementia
  • The US and global experiences in establishing a national dementia strategy

Who is this lecture for?

The general public, people with dementia, carers, service providers, health and aged care professionals, students, businesses and local government representatives are invited to attend this lecture.

Lewy body disease (Lewy body dementia)

You may already know that dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease. Lewy body disease is one of the diseases that causes dementia.

This post provides a set of resources specifically about Lewy body disease.

lewy body dis alzaust webpageWebsite: Lewy body disease, Alzheimer’s Australia website

This webpage gives a succinct, plain-English overview of Lewy body disease. It is useful as an introductory document and as a resource to share with family and friends who wish to learn more.

YouTube: Let’s Talk About Lewy Body Disease, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, 2012

This series of online videos feature Robin Groves, who was diagnosed with Lewy body disease in 2006 and his wife Lis. They discuss how Lewy body disease has affected their lives, including some of the challenges they have faced. The resource is divided into three chapters.

Chapter 1: Robin and Lis

Robin and Lis talk frankly about the condition, and about the changing behaviours Robin experiences.

Chapter 2: A typical case?

Discusses signs and symptoms of the illness.

Chapter 3: Visiting the doctor

Identifies strategies to ensure the doctor or medical professional gets the information they need to provide appropriate ongoing care.

emerging from the shadowsBook:  Emerging from the shadows by Helga Rohra (2016)

‘What’s happening to me?’ Successful translator and linguist Helga Rohra was understandably good with words – that is, until she found herself getting in a muddle when she spoke. She started to forget the way home, even though she could remember her address. Her confusing symptoms increased and Helga was diagnosed with dementia at age 50 – but she hasn’t let herself be labelled with the usual stereotypes. With entertaining vim Helga shows that her life is still as abundant and self-determined as ever, dismantling the negative stereotypes that often surround a dementia diagnosis. She speaks frankly and with humour about her diagnosis and life with young onset Lewy Body Dementia. She explains the changes in her everyday life and the challenges she faces, and shares practical tips that prove it is possible to live well with dementia. Helga also talks about her activism work, which has made hers one of the key voices internationally in dementia advocacy.

teepa snow_lewy body dementia_webDVD: Lewy body dementia : what everyone needs to know by Teepa Snow (2013)

Learn:
– about common LBD symptoms
– how to get a good and complete diagnosis
– about commonly prescribed anti-psychotic medications that can have potentially harmful or even deadly side effects if given to a person suffering from LBD. Know which medications are safer alternatives
– how to adapt your caregiving skills to the needs of a person with LBD
– how to utilize visual and verbal cues to increase understanding and cooperation
– about hands-on skills for LBD
Includes practical information on mid to late stage dementia, sleep problems, hallucinations, practical tips on daily care, activities of daily living, medication issues , and how to talk to doctors about medications – it is a very hands on approach . It also describes how Lewy bodies are more prevalent than previously thought.

a carers guide to Lewy body dementiaBook: A caregiver’s guide to lewy body dementia by Helen Buell Whitworth, James Whitworth  (2010)

Although Lewy Body Dementia is the second leading cause of degenerative dementia in the elderly, it is not well known or understood and is often confused with Alzheimer’ Disease or Parkinson’s. A Caregivers Guide to Lewy Body Dementia is the first book to present a thorough picture of what Lewy Body Dementia really is.
A Caregivers Guide to Lewy Body Dementia is written in everyday language, and is filled with personal examples that connect to the readers’ own experiences. It includes quick fact and caregiving tips for easy reference, a comprehensive resource guide, and a glossary of terms and acronyms.

This is the ideal resource for caregivers, family members, and friends of individuals seeking to understand Lewy Body Dementia.

Dignifying Dementia a caregivers struggleBook: Dignifying dementia: a caregiver’s struggle by Elizabeth Tierney (2011)

A powerful, beautifully-written account of the author’s nine-year journey to care for her husband, who has Lewy Body Dementia. Elizabeth Tierney’s book is moving, harrowing, fascinating and instructive. It is also the story of one woman’s determination to honor her husband’s humanity and how she succeeded against all odds – a triumphant love story.

Helpsheets: Lewy body disease helpsheets, Alzheimer’s Australia

Alzheimer’s Australia has produced a collection of helpsheets about Lewy body disease, covering different aspects of this disease and targeted to different audiences.

LBDA websiteWebsite: Lewy Body Dementia Association, Inc.

This American association is specifically devoted to Lewy Body Dementia and may include useful information for people with Lewy body dementia, their families and carers.

living with lewy body dementiaBook: Living with Lewy Body Dementia : one caregiver’s personal, in-depth experience by Judy Towne Jennings  (2014)

If you’re struggling to care for someone with Lewy Body Dementia, or any Parkinson related disease, and you are looking for some professional help in dealing with the many difficult or awkward situations that arise, then this book is for you. Here you will find not only hundreds of workable ideas on how to maintain and improve the quality of life but also a vast resource of information on what to expect of this unusual disease as it takes its course.

The book is informative: Certainly it provides “meat and potatoes” suggestions for any caregiver, but it is much more than that. Anyone choosing to read this book will have a better understanding of the role of a caregiver, and how we have many positive moments sandwiched among the more challenging. It is a faith-based self help book. I expected God to show up every day and thankfully He always did. (the author)

Graphic Novel: Dad’s Not All There Any More : A Comic About Dementia by Alex Demetris (2015)

dad's not all there anymor“Louie what?” John’s dad, Pete, was already diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he began to have some very strange experiences, not least of which was the little red-haired girl who followed him around the house. Eventually diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), his hallucinations and other symptoms became more frequent and intense, and Pete moved into a care home. Based on his family’s experience of his father’s LBD, Alex Demetris’ comic explores with tenderness and humour one of the most common yet often unheard of types of dementia; what it is, its symptoms, living in a care home and the impact on people living with the condition and their families.

activities for the family caregiver LBDBook: Activities for the Family Caregiver : Lewy Body Dementia: How to Engage, How to Live by Scott Silknitter,Robert Brennan, and Linda Redhead (2015)

From the groundbreaking series written specifically for family caregivers, “Activities for the Family Caregiver – Lewy Body Dementia: How to Engage / How to Live” offers information and insight to enhance quality of life through improved social interactions as well as activities of daily living tips, safety and general caregiver information. Learn new communications and activities strategies to improve time spent with your loved one. Gain new insight as you learn the “how to’s,” “why’s,” and techniques of activities – daily living and leisure.

dementia with lewy bodiesBook: Dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia  /  edited by John O’Brien, Ian McKeith, David Ames, Edmond Chiu  (2006)

Filling a noticeable gap in the market for a new text solely focused on Dementia with Lewy Bodies, this book discusses cutting-edge topics covering the condition from diagnosis to management, as well as what is known about the neurobiological changes involved.   With huge progress having been made over the last decade in terms of the disorder’s recognition as a common cause of cognitive impairment, its clinical features, its underlying neurobiology, investigative changes, and management, this is undoubtedly a much-needed work in what is an important and rapidly progressing field.  Written by leading figures in dementia research, this clearly presented, modern text is equally accessible to clinicians such as old-age psychiatrists, geriatricians and neurologists, as well as allied health professionals with a particular interest in the area.

Dementia resources for young people

Dementia is a complicated and emotional topic for everyone. Many resources are available for adults but only a few resources are specifically designed for the information needs of young adults, teenagers or children. This post features a selection of resources on dementia for young people.  All titles are available for loan through the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic library and may also be available via your local public library service.

Website: Dementia In My Family by Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

dementiainmyfamilywebsite_smallChildren and teens of all ages impacted by a diagnosis of dementia in their family can now find support and information at our newly launched website, dementiainmyfamily.org.au

Featuring videos, games and quizzes, this site is full of colourful, interactive, age-appropriate content about dementia. Kids and teens can read the shared experiences of others in similar circumstances and learn they are not alone. They will find ideas to make sense of what is happening in their families and how to take care of themselves, as well as information on how to get more help if they need it.

This excellent site offers young people of all ages tailored information on dementia.

Books for readers aged 0 – 6

Book: When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember : A Child’s Perspective on Dementia By Toby Haberkorn, Illustrated by Heather Varkarotas (2015)

when my grammy forgets I rememberWhen My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child’s Perspective on Dementia provides conversational openings and stimulates discussion between parents and children about compassion and this debilitating disease. Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia not only affect the person living with the disease, but the entire family, including the children. This story explores the difficult reality of dementia and the bittersweet changing relationship between a granddaughter and her grandmother. By including children in the family discussion, parents help them become resilient and empower them to provide comfort for the grandparent or loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Book: My Grandpa by Marta Altes (2013)

my grandpaMy grandpa is getting old but that’s how he is, and I love him. This unique look at old age through the eyes of a young bear is big-hearted, poignant, and beautifully observed. Whether they are boldly traveling the world in an armchair or quietly listening to the song of a hidden bird, the mutual adoration of grandfather and grandson is warmly evident.

Book: A day with grandpa by Fiona Rose (2014)

day with grandpaTake your child by the hand and enter grandpa’s enchanted world, where everything is possible for a day. Every page bursts forth with magical images that add extra meaning to the poetic story of a child and his grandad.

Books for readers aged 6 – 10

Book: Weeds in Nana’s Garden : A Heartfelt Story of Love That Helps Explain Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. By Kathryn Harrison (2016)

weedsA young girl and her Nana hold a special bond that blooms in the surroundings of Nana’s magical garden. Then one day, the girl finds many weeds in the garden. She soon discovers that her beloved Nana has Alzheimer’s Disease; an illness that affects an adult brain with tangles that get in the way of thoughts, kind of like how weeds get in the way of flowers. As time passes, the weeds grow thicker and her Nana declines, but the girl accepts the difficult changes with love, and learns to take-over as the magical garden’s caregiver. Extending from the experience of caring for her mother, artist Kathryn Harrison has created this poignant story with rich illustrations to candidly explore dementia diseases, while demonstrating the power of love. It is a journey that will cultivate understanding and touch your heart. After the story, a Question and Answer section about Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia is included.

YouTube: Kids4Dementia, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW (2015)

Children and grandchildren of people with dementia speak frankly about what it is like having a relative with dementia.

Book: Always my grandpa : a story for children about Alzheimer’s disease by Linda Scacco, illustrated by Nicole Wong (2006)

always my grandpaThis heartwarming tale describes what it is like to be close to a grandparent who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Daniel and his mom spend every summer with his Grandpa at a cottage by the sea. Daniel loves these summer visits: playing baseball, walking on the beach, watching the sunset, and hearing Grandpa’s stories of his fishing boat. As the summer passes, Grandpa begins to change. Daniel learns that since Grandpa has Alzheimer’s disease, he will have trouble remembering all the things that belong to him—his clothes, his words, his memories—and eventually, his own grandson.

Through gentle narration and easy-to-understand explanations, the book explains Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects children, and families.

A Note to Parents offers guidance for helping children with common emotions and reactions to Alzheimer’s disease.

YouTube: My Grandmum, My Papu, My Grandpa and Me by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW (2014)

My Grandmum, My Papu, My Grandpa and Me is an animated series produced by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW which features three children, Ezekiel, aged six, Bibi, aged nine, and Julia, aged 11, talking about their experiences of their grandparent with dementia, in their own words.

Book: Haven House : A Child’s Perspective of Alzheimer’s Disease by Rebecca Darling (2016)

haven houseGillian loves to spend time with her Nanny. They enjoy precious moments together, from long walks in the park to drawing beautiful pictures with special colored pencils. Gillian also loves to hear Nanny’s stories about their family. Gillian starts to notice changes in Nanny. She begins to lose interest in activities and becomes easily confused. As nanny’s health declines and dementia sets in, Gillian must accept her Nanny’s condition and find new ways to love and connect with her.

This story includes the person with dementia’s transition from family-based care to a specialised residential aged care setting and explains this with sensitivity and respect in an age-appropriate way.

Books for readers aged 10 – 15

Book: The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastman (2011)

memory cageAlex’s grandfather keeps forgetting things, and Alex has overheard his adoptive parents say that they’re going to put granddad in a home. His grandfather begs Alex to save him from that, and it’s a promise Alex is desperate to keep. But Alex once promised his little brother that he would save him, and in the terror of the Bosnian war, he failed. As Alex struggles to protect his grandfather, he uncovers secrets that his family and the village have kept for two generations. Unravelling them will cause grief, but will they save grandfather, and perhaps help Alex come to terms with his own private war?

Book: Sundae Girl by Cathy Cassidy

sundae girlJude’s family are crazy, quirky, bizarre …her mum brings her nothing but trouble and her dad thinks he’s Elvis! All she wants is a hassle-free life – but it’s not easy when she’s chasing a trail of broken promises. To add to the complications, Jude’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease and her grandfather is very busy caring for her.  Things go from bad to worse, but could the floppy-haired boy from school be her knight on shining rollerblades …?

Books for readers aged 15+

Book: Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar (2016)

hour of beesWhen Carol and her family move to her grandfather’s deserted ranch in order to transfer him to a care home, Carol struggles to cope with the suffocating heat and the effects of her grandfather’s dementia. Bees seem to be following her around, but the drought means this is impossible. She must be imagining things. Yet when her grandfather chooses her as the subject for his stories – tales of a magical healing tree, a lake, and the grandmother she never knew – Carol sees glimmers of something special in what her parents dismiss as Serge’s madness. As she rethinks her roots and what she thought she knew about her family, Carol comes to the realization that Serge’s past is quickly catching up with her present. A stunning coming-of-age story.

Book: Unbecoming by Jenny Downham (2015)

unbecomingThree women – three secrets – one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can’t reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie’s grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and ‘capable of anything’, despite living with Alzheimer’s disease. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her.

 

You can find more dementia stories and resources for children, tweens and teenagers here, in a previous post on this topic.

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.