When my first book on dementia[i] was published in 2008 Dr Jennifer Bute, a GP with over 25 years’ experience that included patients with dementia, was struggling to get a diagnosis of her own. It wasn’t until 2009 that she was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia, thought to be Alzheimer’s, by leading neurologist Professor Peter Garrard.
We were driving home from a speaking engagement when she asked what I thought about a request from a secular publisher to produce a book about her, to be ghost-written by a successful TV scriptwriter. By now Jennifer was having difficulty with words and knew that writing a book would be beyond her, although she still writes blogs and continues to give excellent talks. We concluded that a secular book that left out stories about how God is working in her life wouldn’t be accurate at all. After some thought and prayer, we concluded that I would write the book with her. Then followed days of recordings in her flat in the dementia inclusive retirement village where she now lives; agreeing the structure, drafting the chapters and writing the final manuscript. The true-life stories are mini case studies. It helped that I had already written five books about dementia and continue to follow the research. Each chapter was sent to independent reviewers, as well as to Jennifer’s adult children. The completed manuscript was sent to 21 experts in dementia and related fields, who gladly wrote commendations.
Jennifer was determined to find out all she could about halting the progress of this disease. She now runs twice-weekly groups for between 20 and 40 people in the village, based on the evidence-based principles of Japanese neuroscientist Kawashima. The book describes the keys to helping prevent dementia, as well as living in coping with it in everyday life.
I was delighted that I could write the book in Jennifer’s own ‘voice’. ‘It doesn’t sound like your other books,’ a reader told me. ‘No, it’s Jennifer’s story, and so much more,’ I replied.
List of contents
The meaning of poppies
Chapter 1: Places and life lessons
Chapter 2: Challenges and miracles
Chapter 3: Difficulty getting a diagnosis
Chapter 4: Living and learning with dementia
Chapter 5: Key principles for understand people with dementia
Chapter 6: Don’t disable – enable
Chapter 7: A full life, even with exploding bananas
Chapter 8: Kintsukuroi
[i] Could it be Dementia? Losing your mind doesn’t mean losing your soul: 2008, Louise Morse, Lion Monarch.