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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 17 April 2011
As someone who has reviewed numerous books on dementia, I have no hesitation in saying that this remarkable book is the best I have read to date for family carers. Based upon Talbot's Saga blogs, it chronicles the day by day experience over three years of someone of who had earlier cared at a distance for her mother (as well as her father) alongside a demanding job at Oxford University before taking her into her own home. Through humour and at times devastating honesty she steers a path between over-optimism and over-pessimism which will accord with the experience of many carers. Each blog entry highlights a particular challenge posed by Alzheimer's and includes a highlighted practical suggestion for those who find themselves in the same boat. The final section comprises a comprehensive list of available resources from one who has navigated the complexities of accessing necessary help. The many frustrations of dealing with `the authorities' are clearly recorded but she is full of praise for the day care and eventual residential care her mother received - indeed admits that it would have been better had the latter started earlier. She vividly expresses the fury she quite often felt, the inescapable sense of guilt and the strains that caring places upon relationships with the wider family. There is a fascinating sub-plot featuring the relationship between Mum's FatCat and Marianne's Oedipus which in a way mirrors the remarkable mother-daughter relationship. Suffice to say that I laughed and cried in equal measure and trust that the book will have a wide and appreciative readership.
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on 25 April 2012
This book should be COMPULSORY READING for every healthcare professional, especially for GPs and people carrying out home assessments. It should also be read by those who have no first hand experience of caring for someone with dementia, in the hope that they might be a little less patronising and more understanding towards those who do!

For the first time I feel as though I am not alone in experiencing what it means to have a dearly loved mother struggling with dementia and the awful feelings of guilt, worry, sleeplessness, anger and loss that this brings with it.

My lovely old mum is 94; we still have lots of laughs together, but she is rapidly declining. I am doing everything I can to keep her in her own home where she feels safe and secure and hope I will be successful in doing this right to the end, whenever that is.

Thank you Marianne for making me realise that I am caring for mum to the best of my ability and that I should stop beating myself up because I can't do everything!
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on 2 May 2011
My mother-in-law started showing signs of dementia a couple of years ago. Getting her GP to communicate with us was impossible; battling to get Social Services involved has been an uphill struggle, especially as we live abroad. Finally, in November, just three weeks after carers started visiting her daily, my mother-in-law was picked up by the police after two incidents of nocturnal wandering, and she was taken to a home. During the past two years, we have read all sorts of books on dementia, from the practical 'what shall we do with mother' type of books to the 'still alice' personal stories. Each offer a different perspective and are useful in their own way. This book - Keeping Mum - combines both. We read the very personal and moving stories of Mariane and her Mum, with lots of helpful tips along the way, plus a whole section of practical information at the end. So many times I exclaimed - "that's completely true, that happened to us..." and marked pages to read aloud to my husband. In some ways, it is like sharing your story with a very good friend whom you completely trust and can share anything with, without fear of censure or criticism. I'd say it is a must-read if you are in this situation, or even if you know someone who is - it would certainly help you to understand their feelings. It's also a very easy read - broken down into little chapters you can pick up and put down whenever. 'And still the music plays', 'the 36hr day' (both available on Amazon) and the article 'Understanding the dementia experience' by Jennifer Ghent Fuller are other sources of information I can recommend.
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on 21 September 2012
Bought this book with three others having been a carer for two years and got very frustrated with insufficient information and help from the NHS and Social Services. If the person you care for has more than a small amount of income and capital, don't expect much from the NHS and Social Services. You'll have to find a lot of time to search for, read and understand information about illnesses, symptoms, healthcare, social care, funding, private and voluntary sector services, visit and assess care homes, and do just about everything yourself. For me, this book was easy and enjoyable to read and it has lots of useful information much of which I knew but some that I didn't. It doesn't matter if the person you care for bears little resemblence to the author's mum. I would also recommend the books The Selfish Pig's Guide to Caring and Contented Dementia.
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on 25 August 2011
Mum has recently been diagnosed with Dementia. It's been hell trying to care for her, so my sister and I decided to buy some books about other peoples experiences, so we could learn from their experiences. I picked this one because it was written by a lady who cared for her mum who had dementia. I found this book depressing because our mum is not a "Jolly old Bat" as the author describes her mum, our mum is anything but! if your Dementia sufferer is like our mum, stubborn,frustratingly independant and delusional not to mention a manic depressive at the best of times; you will not find solace, information or help in this book.
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on 8 December 2011
I've read the medical books, the text books, the dry informative books about dementia, so I feel I understand, intellectually, what is happening to my Mum, but this book is the first and only book I've read that is about a person. Not only the person with dementia, but also the person doing the caring. It is REAL. And has FEELINGS, not always pleasant. And because it was written as a blog, you feel you are experiencing the issues and feelings alongside the author. I have found her uncompromising honesty and frankness to be so comforting and reassuring. And the practical tips are a huge help too. What a relief. I'm buying more copies for everyone else I know who's dealing with dementia.
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on 12 August 2013
Great book and totally recommended for people entering the journey of a relative with Dementia. This book give an honest account of frustration with the system and suggestions of how to deal with them. Its very informative, and at time shows humour with love and dedication.
This book is highly recommended.
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Here, we have an enlightened look into someone else's role in caring for someone with dementia. Actually, because of a stroke, Marianne's Dad became demented. Her Mum had Alzheimer's.

You're lucky if you get a diagnosis. Don't ever expect caring for this disease will be simple. Don't ever think your life won't become impacted by those who will never understand your fears and agonies. You will mostly be alone. You might be labelled a liar when you ask for help. That happened to me.

Don't expect people not to turn their backs on you and push you out of their lives once they know your situation. You might have an excellent GP as I do, but their efforts to help you through the terrible maze involved in TRYING to get help will be more than likely trashed by those who don't talk between departments. Expect this as a given.

We need books like these. We need websites like Carers UK. I found it best to 'Like' their Facebook page. You will see on there that life for those who care for their loved ones is an endless struggle. Not only with their demanding dependent, but the never ending fear of what happens if you fall ill, or die. These fears are terribly real for me. At least these books give me some semblance of comfort. I'm truly thankful this one was written.
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on 15 October 2011
There are certain life events whose impact one cannot fully appreciate without having experienced them at first hand. A common example is parenthood, which is said to be `life-changing', but insights into parenthood are not hard to find. Having to care for a child with a severe chronic mental illness is perhaps at the other extreme, with its long term and often devastating consequences hidden away from society.

Having to care for a close relative with Alzheimer's disease falls somewhere in-between these two extremes. Alzheimer's disease is becoming more common as the average age of the population increases but most people, including young health professionals, are unable to appreciate what it is really like to have to look after someone with the disease on a daily basis.

In this book Marianne Talbot provides as vivid an insight as one might imagine into what it is like to look after a loved one with Alzheimer's disease while trying to also have a life of one's own. The book reveals the resourcefulness that carers must bring to the situation, not only when dealing with the person being cared for but also when dealing with the health and welfare systems meant to support them, and the author shares numerous `hints and tips' that other carers will undoubtedly find useful. The origin of the book as a weekly blog has resulted in situations being captured that describe perfectly the daily resolve, and indeed the trickery, that carers must display, as well as the emotional peaks and troughs of life as a carer.

Throughout the very human anecdotes in this book the positive outlook of the author is apparent and enriching, and whilst undoubtedly there were many tears during the time the blogs were penned it is this positive attitude that endures. For anyone about to embark on a journey as a carer for someone with Alzheimer's disease I would recommend this book as essential reading; and for others, in the healthcare professions, or thoughtful people who simply like to look beneath the glossy surface of our society, here is an accessible and very useful glimpse at the reality of the world of the carer. (Dafydd Lewis).
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on 27 May 2012
I am a 17 year old who my nan suffers with severe dementia. She has lived with me and my family for over 9 years, and is sadly coming to her last stages of dementia. Reading this book gave me a better outlook on dementia and helped me through the hard times struggling with coping and finding different things to try and help to deal with the dementia and make it easier for our family. It's an inspirational book, whether a person is able to relate to it or not I would recommend it to anyone. A lovely book.
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