Dr Jennifer Bute

Yesterday, Dr Jennifer Bute and I were interviewed for a Podcast that’s broadcast from America. (I’ll post the broadcast date when I have it.)

This is a Podcast with a difference. It’s based on how stories influence the way people understand various issues in life – in this case, dementia. For instance, do we communicate well with people with dementia, by telling them a story? (It depends on the person and the stage of their dementia.) But we communicate with their care givers and families with stories very well – particularly true stories.

In our book, DEMENTIA FROM THE INSIDE: A DOCTOR’S PERSONAL JOURNEY OF HOPE, Jennifer tells stories of people coping with dementia. She also writes about the things that help, and the things that don’t!

The more responses we receive to this book the more I realise how unique it is. Truly, absolutely unique. I haven’t come across another one like it. A doctor writing about coping with her own dementia and how to help others?

When dementia burst onto our consciousness people wanted to know how it felt – what was it like living with this mysterious, dreaded disease? How does it affect your thinking and your feeling? Today many books have been written (ghost written) by people with dementia about the effect it has on them and their lives. One, by a New York journalist, describes everything he does to stop its progress, including exercising at the gym with the treadmill set at its highest and running as though his life depended on it.

Yet Jennifer’s is the only book that is not just about her, but about others with dementia. It includes the things that help, not just theoretically, but in observed practice. Evidence based, you might say.

Part of the book is Jennifer’s story (fascinating), but the rest is a distilled training course on what dementia actually is and the interventions that work. She describes how to help people with deep dementia speak again, with techniques she calls ‘converging and paralleling.’ She writes about showing warmth and interest with facial expression and body language and the power of conveying how much you want to understand and respond appropriately. Her work has been spread widely (usually unaccredited) in different formats by the Alzheimer’s Society and others.

Our editor tells us that the book is selling well, but I think it should be selling millions of copies, not thousands. It’s the equivalent of a rookie climber listening to a Sherpa who has climbed the mountain hundreds of times and knows it like the back of his hand.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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