People with Dementia Speak Out

edited by Lucy Whitman (2016)

Freelance writer and editor Lucy Whitman interviewed 23 people with dementia to try to understand their experiences; their stories. Each of these stories is presented as a separate chapter in this book. According to Whitman, who provides an introductory chapter to this anthology, she had varying levels of involvement in the writing of each chapter: for some, she constructed coherent stories from fragmented verbal narratives, and for others she provided minimal editing of independently-written, completed chapters. What results is a lovely collection of stories. Many of these people reflect on the past, thereby providing fascinating historical context to their current lives with dementia. Others preferred to focus on the present day, their current experience, and on their hopes for the future.

The unique voice of each person is maintained, through Whitman's clever inclusion of accent and colloquial expression. Photographs of each person with dementia accompany most chapters (although some authors have chosen to remain anonymous), giving the reader a sense that this book holds the stories of people like them; people with a unique history, and life story. 

Afterword by Professor Graham Stokes: 'What clinicians can learn from people with dementia'.

Appendices include: FAQs about dementia, glossary, suggestions for further reading, a list of helpful organisations, a reflection on editing challenges (for the author in writing this book), a reflection on narrative based medicine, and a discussion of 'LGBT people with dementia'.

Whitman wrote a similar book, exploring the experiences of care partners, called 'Telling tales about dementia'. 


Speaking Our Minds [revised edition]

by Lisa Snyder (2009)

Lisa Snyder, a clinical social worker, interviewed seven individuals with Alzheimer's disease. This book comprises excerpts from these interviews and interpretations of them by the author. 

This book was first published in 1999. I can imagine that around that time, before many of the books listed above were in existence, this would have been ground-breaking; paradigm-shifting even. I read the revised version, published in 2009. Unlike 'People with dementia speak out' (described above), I felt that the voice of the author rings a little louder than those of the people with dementia, which I think is a little bit unfortunate. Having said this, this is a remarkable book, and it offers insightful interpretations of the interviews of people with dementia. Snyder also offers new ways of thinking about how to best support people with dementia.

Foreword by Steven Sabat, Ph.D.

Snyder has also published in this area in peer-reviewed journals. 

 Please feel free to contact me with recommendations! I am always looking for new books to add to the collection!

Reviews to come...