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Mossel Bay
18th Sep 2019
Community & Living Health & Beauty

BOOK REVIEW: DEMENTIA: What You Need to Know

When my Mossel Bay cousin, for the first time in 16 years, arrived an hour late at Groot-Brakrivier for a New Year’s lunch with the excuse he could not get onto the N2 because of all the traffic; and when I realised in a telephone conversation that a retired lecturer friend in Cape Town is not using her computer anymore, or reading, I was naively non-plussed. But of course, as it became clear, dementing had kicked in.
According to British professor June Andrews, a world expert on dementia, the word ‘dementia’ is used to describe the collection of warning signs that show up when your brain stops working as well as it used to. It is defined as dementia only if these signs continue to get worse, with a permanent deterioration over time. The more you learn about dementia the better you will be able to look after yourself or someone in the family who is affected by it.
In her foreword to Dementia: What You Need to Know, British actress Judi Dench, who played the lead in Iris, the film biography of the author and philosopher Iris Murdoch, says this film possibly put the illness in the spotlight for the first time. And that prof Andrews’ book had become an instant bestseller in the UK because it is so clear and practical.
Although interest in dementia in the media has never been so great, and there is nowadays less stigma attached to this disease, it is almost impossible to get sensible advice about dementia. And families affected by dementia live in fear of losing their entire life’s savings in home care fees.
There are two possible dementia journeys: staying well as long as possible / going downhill faster than you need. Key symptoms of dementia include: remembering things; working things out; learning anything new; coping with any physical or sensory impairments that develop as a result of normal aging or the result of illness or accidents; activities such a finding your way about, driving, and lack of judgement. There are many more symptoms.
Included in this clear and very readable book, are chapters on: getting a diagnosis; adjusting to the news: for caregivers; adjusting to the news: for people with dementia; what are friends for?; how to keep dementia at bay; disturbing behaviours; staying at home; your dementia friendly home; what to look for in residential care; the dangers of a hospital admission and how to avoid them; some legal, financial and ethical issues; followed by an Afterword: dementia is a feminist issue.
Being geographically the closest family member to the cousin referred to here above, it was clearly my duty as well as privilege to help him in whatever way needed. But, without the stalwart assistance of two of his friends, Carina Wiggill and Lucas van Wyk, I would not have survived.
For specific assistance in our part of the world Google https://alzheimers.org.za/southern-cape
June Andrews: DEMENTIA: What You Need to Know
Edition. Profile Books
ISBN 978 1 78125 670 1
eISBN 978 1 84765 991 0

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