Official Review: The Dementia Dance by Rosemary Barkes

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ButterscotchCherrie
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Official Review: The Dementia Dance by Rosemary Barkes

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 29 Jun 2018, 07:13

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Dementia Dance" by Rosemary Barkes.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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As populations age, many of us may be confronted with dementia in a loved one. We might even do well to plan ahead for our own care. The Dementia Dance: Maneuvering Through Dementia While Maintaining Your Sanity by Rosemary Barkes is a moving non-fictional account of her mother’s progression from short-term memory loss to the inability to walk or eat solids. Packed with advice, the book is not only a memoir but also a guide.

The first clue came when Rosemary’s father passed away. Rosemary and her siblings were horrified when their mother Lois casually asked, “Who died?” They realized that they had paid insufficient attention to their father’s vaguely voiced concerns. Both parents preferred to disregard grim realities. When Rosemary picked up their medical records, she learned that her mother had been diagnosed with dementia two years previously. Since she also had balance issues, it was unsafe for her to live alone in a house with cellar steps. While reasoning would be lost on her, at that stage, Lois was able to insist that she wanted to stay at home. How could her family convince her to go into an assisted living facility?

One thing I liked about this book is that Rosemary tells it like it is. She is upfront about how they had to deceive her mother into moving. She discusses the costs of the care — it’s not cheap. However, she includes practical advice on how some expenses can be avoided. I was impressed by how level-headed she was as she grappled with the changes. As reflected in the title, she compares caring for a dementia sufferer to a dance with a partner who always leads. She writes: “… the pain and the heartache can be minimized if the caregiver works with dementia instead of against it on a day-to-day, sometimes moment-to-moment basis.”

There is certainly pain in the effects of dementia, which made for alarming reading at times. Equipped with a walker and a call button, with no short-term memory, Lois could not think to use these aids and suffered falls. The story is not depressing, however; happier moments grace its pages. For example, Lois modelled in a style show at the age of 85. On one level, the book is a collection of anecdotes. I appreciated the way Rosemary included details about her mother’s past and her talents and former activities.

Well-written and concise, this is a quick read with short chapters. A slight weakness was that information was sometimes repeated. Not all family members had such a positive, accepting response to Lois' decline. A more detailed discussion of this might have been helpful to some. Also, the dance analogy seemed to be dropped part-way through. The poet in me would have liked to see it developed further.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is a caregiver for someone with dementia. The insights could be transferable to caregivers for anyone with a mental health or other condition. I loved the emphasis on the importance of being an advocate. As Rosemary puts it: “There is a fine line between being an advocate and being a nuisance, folks. It’s okay to be both.” This inspired me to give of my best in my own advocacy role.

As this is the experience of someone from the USA, some information may not be relevant for other countries and cultures. That said, no doubt there are common patterns in dementia, so the advice on dealing it with it could apply anywhere. If you don’t like to read non-fiction, this is not the book for you.

The book seems professionally edited; I spotted only minimal errors. It flowed well and I found it hard to put down even though I knew the ending – no question of spoilers. There's a small surprise, however, in the touching conclusion Rosemary draws at the very end, rounding things off nicely. As it has major strengths and only minor weaknesses, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The advice on meeting people where they are and on "dancing" with them could apply to life in general.

******
The Dementia Dance
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Post by stacie k » 02 Jul 2018, 23:00

I’m glad the story is not depressing. A book of this nature certainly could be. It’s great that the author offers practical advice. I could benefit from reading this as friends and family continue to age. Thank you.
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Post by anwidmer » 02 Jul 2018, 23:58

My mother ran an adult day care facility. Growing up I spent the summers and school breaks there. She held support groups and I would help while she did with the clients. I learned a great deal early on in life about the aging process and the toll it can take on caretakers as well. Great review, while I'm not one for nonfiction I may give this one a go. Thank you!

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Post by Githumaina19 » 03 Jul 2018, 00:16

The book in itself is a great first hand account on how to live with a person afflicted with dementia however it's somehow biased to its audience thus limiting itself

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 03 Jul 2018, 00:19

stacie k wrote:
02 Jul 2018, 23:00
I’m glad the story is not depressing. A book of this nature certainly could be. It’s great that the author offers practical advice. I could benefit from reading this as friends and family continue to age. Thank you.
Yes, even though some of the things described are hard, it was reassuring to know that they could be taken care of. Thanks for your response.

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 03 Jul 2018, 00:23

anwidmer wrote:
02 Jul 2018, 23:58
My mother ran an adult day care facility. Growing up I spent the summers and school breaks there. She held support groups and I would help while she did with the clients. I learned a great deal early on in life about the aging process and the toll it can take on caretakers as well. Great review, while I'm not one for nonfiction I may give this one a go. Thank you!
There's a lot to learn, isn't there? The book was somehow compelling. Thanks for your response.

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 03 Jul 2018, 00:24

Githumaina19 wrote:
03 Jul 2018, 00:16
The book in itself is a great first hand account on how to live with a person afflicted with dementia however it's somehow biased to its audience thus limiting itself
That's true, though many families will be affected by dementia at some point. Thanks for your comment.

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Post by davefo1 » 03 Jul 2018, 01:04

In this anybody can be affected with demantia and could be taken care of. Great book!

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Post by julessawyer » 03 Jul 2018, 07:18

The author did a great job if it is a supposed to be a sad story but was told in not depressing manner. I like to read this one and see for myself how she did it. Thanks for your review. Your review can convince others to read a book like this. :)

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Post by Bianka Walter » 03 Jul 2018, 08:07

This is such a sad topic. I'm so glad the author thought to put some of the happier moments of her mom's life in to lighten the load a little.
Thanks for the awesome review :)
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Post by kandscreeley » 03 Jul 2018, 08:19

It sounds like this book has a lot from which to learn. I love that Lois modeled in a fashion show at 85! Still, this hits too close to home for me right now. I think I'm going to avoid it, but I'll stick it in my memory banks for a future point in time.
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 03 Jul 2018, 10:46

davefo1 wrote:
03 Jul 2018, 01:04
In this anybody can be affected with demantia and could be taken care of. Great book!
It's hopefully a good resource. Thanks for your comment and welcome to the forum!

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 03 Jul 2018, 10:48

julessawyer wrote:
03 Jul 2018, 07:18
The author did a great job if it is a supposed to be a sad story but was told in not depressing manner. I like to read this one and see for myself how she did it. Thanks for your review. Your review can convince others to read a book like this. :)
Thanks for your response! It's all in the dance analogy really - you can't control the person or their illness but you can meet them where they are and get into harmony with them as they lead.

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 03 Jul 2018, 10:50

Bianka Walter wrote:
03 Jul 2018, 08:07
This is such a sad topic. I'm so glad the author thought to put some of the happier moments of her mom's life in to lighten the load a little.
Thanks for the awesome review :)
Yes - some aspects are sad but there are some wonderful carers out there. It's important to accept things the way they are. Thanks for your response.

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 03 Jul 2018, 10:51

kandscreeley wrote:
03 Jul 2018, 08:19
It sounds like this book has a lot from which to learn. I love that Lois modeled in a fashion show at 85! Still, this hits too close to home for me right now. I think I'm going to avoid it, but I'll stick it in my memory banks for a future point in time.
Hi, sorry it's too hard for you to read this right now, but all the best, and maybe one day. Thanks for commenting.

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