Contented Dementia – a strange title for a comforting and helpful book

Ros Smith, 27th Jun 2016 no comments

Fearful of what the future held for her husband and herself, Ros Smith found this book full of common sense,  sympathetic understanding and practical help for both coping and enjoying life, despite its challenges.

Since my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in early 2013, I have read many books, each offering a degree of help and advice for the carer. But the most useful and informative by far has been Contented Dementia by Oliver James. First published in 2008 it has gone on to be a best seller and an indispensable handbook for those of us who find that our whole life has been changed, and will never again return to how it was. It came to me at precisely the right time, and, floundering as I was at the time, not knowing what to expect, and, yes, very fearful of and for the future of our lives together, it put it all into a sort of perspective. I felt as though I now had a point of reference, and a sympathetic one at that!

Helpful coping strategies

The book starts with an open letter to the person with dementia which is both comforting and sensible, but from then on the rest of the book gives wonderfully good advice on how to live, cope and enjoy your remaining time together, albeit in a more limited way than before.

The method advocated is actually quite simple and involves just three things for the carer to take on board: don’t ask leading questions, because the other person will have to search around and probably not be able to find the answer, leading to frustration and agitation on their part; never contradict, after all what does it really matter if what they say is wrong as long as they are not put in any danger because of it, and we don’t need to ‘score points’ off them anyway; and learn from them, as they are the only ones who really know how they feel, they’re the experts on their disablity.

There is much, much more in this book, of practical common sense, of sympathetic understanding and advice for when the going gets tough, and reminders of the importance of caring for oneself. I really do recommend it as a way of promoting contentment for both the sufferer and the carer.
Ros Smith

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