'Essential reading about love, life and care' Kate Mosse
'Nobody has written on dementia as well as Nicci Gerrard in this new book' Andrew Marr
'Dementia is all around us, in our families and in our genes; perhaps in our own futures. If it's not you or me, it's someone we love.'
After her own father's death from dementia, the writer and campaigner Nicci Gerrard set out to explore the illness that now touches millions of us, yet which we still struggle to speak about. What does dementia mean, for those who live with it, and those who care for them?
This truthful, humane book is an attempt to understand. It is filled with stories, both moving and optimistic: from those living with dementia to those planning the end of life, from the scientists unlocking the mysteries of the brain to the therapists using art and music to enrich the lives of sufferers, from the campaigners battling for greater compassion in care to the families trying to make sense of this 'incomprehensible de-creation of the self'. It explores memory, language, identity, ageing and the notion of what it truly means to care. And it asks, how do we begin to value those who become old, invisible, forgotten? What do we owe them, and each other as humans? What, in the end, really matters?
Nobody has written on dementia as well as Nicci Gerrard in this new book. Kind, knowing and infinitely useful
As well as being a novelist, Nicci Gerrard is a journalist, a campaigner and a humanist celebrant. In 2016 she won the Orwell Prize for Journalism, for 'Exposing Britain's Social Evils', for a piece exploring the 'language' of dementia.
Following her father's terrible final year and his death in November 2014, she and her friend Julia Jones founded John's Campaign, which insists that the carers of people with dementia have the same right as parents of sick children to accompany them when in hospital. The campaign, which seeks to make care for those who are vulnerable and powerless more compassionate, began in a kitchen but is now a national movement, recognised by NHS policy makers, by charities, by nurses and doctors and carers. Four hundred hospitals have already signed up to the campaign.