Summary: Dementia is a degenerative disease that can go for years without being diagnosed. Patients often have a long life ahead with a declining ability to take care of themselves. The decline takes many forms and increases in severity with time. From the inability to control behaviors to the failure to control their body, the disease is devastating. The personal needs of the patent are essential but also the needs of the caregiver must be considered.
Dementia: The Journey Ahead: A Practical Guide for In-Home Caregivers by Susan Kiser Scarff and Ann Kiser Zultner is an informative manual in caring for those who have developed dementia. What makes this different than other books on the subject is that it is deeply personal and not a clinical reference guide. The poetry of Virginia Pasquarelli punctuates the chapters adding personal feeling to a serious topic.
Scarff begins with the life of her husband, Red. Red was a former fighter pilot, an avid sailor, and an MBA graduate who started his own consulting and partnership investing corporation. A long successful marriage takes a sudden turn when Red develops dementia. The downward spiral of his cognitive abilities is documented and used to help teach others how to care for their loved ones.
Gradual changes in behavior can lead to many difficulties and may not be noticed until more advanced stages. Those affected, many times, do not realize they are suffering from the disease and will need to be protected from themselves. Many still drive and go out on their own, and there are plenty of news stories and Silver Alerts to support that. Behavior alone in public may be mistaken for drunkenness, drug use, or aggressiveness. The book covers ways to protect the safety of a loved one from physical dangers as well as recognizing the early signs of dementia.
Scarff and Zultner provide the reader with a wealth of helpful information from practical daily advice to resources on support groups. Legal and financial considerations are explained as well as what to look for in long term care facilities. Although neither has a medical background, they do provide information on selecting a doctor and gaining proper healthcare. Appendixes provide essential and detailed information. The importance of the author’s input makes the subject of homecare personal and relatable to all readers.