I spend a good deal of time reading and learning about dementia from flashy magazine articles to heart-wrenching online blogs to tear-jerking memoirs to medical publications which I struggle to interpret. By far the best book I have read about dementia is The 36-Hour Day. Currently in its sixth edition, this book is written by professionals experienced in the field of dementia study. Written in a sort of chronological order according to the disease progression, the book doesn’t require the reader to start on the first page to comprehend the subject. It is so well organized that you can easily reference almost any dementia topic that you are particularly interested in, like wandering, catastrophic reactions, living alone with dementia.
Other books about dementia written in a biographical or memoir style might be more soothing to a caregiver, but I find they contain less information and are less specific than The 36-Hour Day. Medical texts are over the heads of most readers including mine, but occasionally I do find a nugget of information in one that I can research in a less technical work. Magazine articles rarely offer new information as they often simply list bullet points of the dementia basics which if you have read as much as I have about the subject, you already know. That is not to say that a magazine article isn’t a good place to start educating oneself about dementia and caregiving.
The 36-Hour Day provides a comprehensive and accessible look at aspects of dementia without the dry text of a research paper or emotion of a memoir. I would strongly recommend that anyone who deals with a dementia sufferer, not necessarily only those who act as caretakers but also friends and family members, read this book in order to understand what the person afflicted with dementia is going through and how they can best be helped.
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