Who is this book for?
It's for anyone with an interest in caring or dementia – or in dysfunctional relationships.
Why did I publish this book?
I began writing this book almost as a diary. It was called “Another Morning”, as most mornings I would record the interesting things that my mother, in the middle stages of Alzheimer's, had been saying and doing. It was useful to me as information to update my sister, who had Power of Attorney. I also found it useful to write, in order to process the emotions, memories and thoughts that were being triggered in me, whilst caring for my mum.
However, I decided to publish it, because, as Mum's dementia progressed, I began to see that my experiences could support other carers. The written account described and reflected upon the various behaviours over my mother's progressive stages of dementia and also her needs, habits and difficulties. We had also tried and found many solutions to these challenges.
As a carer, there were many other issues and decisions that had to be faced. These included the social, medical, emotional, and practical issues of being a carer as well as the beauty, the “funny-side” of Alzheimer's and the effects on family dynamics.
On reflection, it would have been very useful to me to have been able to think about and talk through some of these issues in advance, so that I could have made more informed, balanced choices and not agonised so much over the decisions for which I had become responsible.
I wanted to share this journey in solidarity with other carers - to encourage, support, forewarn and empathise, and to say - “You're not alone.” “Be proud of the amazing job you're doing.”
I also wanted to highlight the hope and rewards of love in this caring journey and the frequent humour - Like the time she mistook a stranger in the chip shop for one of us and chased him around the pillars, grinning “I'm going to gobble you up!”
I don't tell you how to be a carer. I made many mistakes. But I did the best I could with the resources I found available to me.
I wanted to say to other carers, “Look after yourself!” - You cannot expect to do it all by yourself, without seriously endangering your own quality of life and health, so delegate and share responsibility and find whatever support services are available to you.
The book points to the sort of support services which I found available to us and which made the task of caring more manageable. Some of these more practical suggestions are also condensed in the Appendix.
This is a personal, humorous, gritty and practical story, told day-to-day from my perspective. But, it is not simply about caring or dementia, it also has a moving and compelling back-story, about the damage caused by my schizophrenic father.
The book is called Lost Down Memory Lane (not just because of the play on the idiom of memory loss and dementia) but because part of my experience of switching roles and caring for my mother when she became sick, was a release of those memories and secrets, that became the start of my own deeper healing journey. The truth shall set you free!
I acknowledge and honour with deep gratitude, the support of other family, caring institutions and friends, particularly the friends who became my family.
But the book itself I dedicate to the millions of carers, whose commitment, sacrifice and practical love make such a profound and positive difference in our society – especially to your own family.
You are the heroes!
In both our past and our present, there are some things we cannot control, but we can choose how they will influence and affect us.
The Nottingham Evening Post published an article about Dawn Fanshawe and "Lost Down Memory Lane" on 31st October 2015. Read it here: -