Four Books to Read This Fall

 
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Neither Married Nor Single

by Dr. David Kirkpatrick 

In 2007, mental health professional Dr. David Kirkpatrick was sidelined when his wife was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Kirkpatrick found himself having to figure out how to maintain the intimacy and partnership of a marriage while also managing his wife’s symptoms and acting as her caregiver. He noticed that there weren’t a lot of relationship-centred resources for partners of people with dementia at the time, spurring him to compile the research that makes up the meat of this honest and informative book. Part personal memoir and part guide for others living with a spouse with dementia, Neither Married Nor Single shares Kirkpatrick’s own experiences to explore issues surrounding sexuality, intimacy and grief within the context of what he calls an “Alzheimer’s marriage.” 


Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia

by Gerda Saunders 

Just before she turned 61, Gerda Saunders, now 67, was diagnosed with young-onset microvascular dementia. An academic and lifelong lover of words, Saunders set out to write about both her life and her experience with “dementing” (one of Saunders’ musings is about discovering that “dement” can be used as a verb) before her disease took away her ability to recall her own history. The result is a book that touches on Saunders’ upbringing in South Africa, as well as her philosophies surrounding the progression of her dementia. Memory’s Last Breath provides remarkable insight both to those in the early stages of dementia and to those seeking to understand the journey of individuals who are watching their memories slip away. 

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Dementia Beyond Disease: Enhancing Well-Being

by G. Allen Power, MD 

The follow-up to G. Allen Power’s milestone Dementia Beyond Drugs, Dementia Beyond Disease lays out Power’s holistic approach to dementia care. Power explains the importance of looking at the person rather than the disease when caring for a person with dementia, and focusing on individuals’ strengths and maintaining their sense of personhood, even as cognitive function declines. Highly readable, the book is filled with true stories that illustrate how fulfilling life can continue to be for people living with dementia when their overall well-being is truly nurtured. 


No Sad Songs

by Frank Morelli

Seeing a parent or spouse affected by dementia is difficult for grown adults to deal with, so imagine how confusing it can be for a still-developing teenager to understand. This young-adult novel tells the story of an 18-year-old who unexpectedly finds himself caring for his grandfather who has Alzheimer’s disease. Gabe, the book’s protagonist, struggles to navigate his way through his last year of high school while also trying to preserve his grandpa’s dignity and well-being. Morelli creates a story about the pressures of growing up that also may help teenage readers understand what their family members — both those with the disease and their caregivers — may be going through with dementia. [

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