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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Way Through Alzheimer's for Family and Professional Carers Alike, 16 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Contented Dementia: A Revolutionary New Way of Treating Dementia : 24-hour Wraparound Care for Lifelong Well-being (Paperback)
`Contented Dementia'. Never have two words been more important in our lives: just as my sister and I were getting desperate last summer (2009) about the relentless debilitating march of our mother's Alzheimer's, we heard of `Contented Dementia' by Oliver James. This book is the distillation of twenty years' work of a remarkable woman, Penny Garner, and all her experience of close, personal hands-on caring: first for her mother who fell victim to Alzheimer's, then for countless other Alzheimer's sufferers whom she has helped achieve contentment despite their deteriorating condition. Penny's no mind-altering-drugs method is deeply person-centered, and involves not questioning the person; letting them be the `expert' on their situation; and not contradicting them. The whole system is known as the SPECAL (Specialized Early Care for Alzheimer's) Method - pronounced `speckle' - , and is influenced by the monitoring tool Dementia Care Mapping developed by Tom Kitwood, professor of Psychogerontology at Bradford University in the 1990s. It's logical, workable and practical: an A-Z of "wraparound care" that both family carers and professionals can easily use.

Our mother Eileen was `disappearing' away from us with her Alzheimer's, and this amazingly helpful book has brought our mother `back' to us. We've rediscovered the real Eileen that her illness had started obscuring. With SPECAL care, our mum can be happy, contented, and very good company again - not the lonely frightened isolated paranoid old lady she had started to become.

This book showed us that our mother simply could no longer store new information efficiently. This was our key to unlock our mother from her growing isolation, from her frustrations, from her fears and her resultant panics and paranoia. She can happily talk about the past, but not what has just happened moments before. We have had to learn a new skill - `Making a Present of the Past'®, as SPECAL puts it.

This advice instantly changed how we related to our mother and she to us. Suddenly the arguments and rows stopped, and the despair faded as we zoned into her version of the world, a world with no stored memories of recent facts.

We have learned how to enter into our mother's new world, to enjoy with her her own images and experiences, not to contradict her, but to join her in her own space, and to follow her smiling and contented - and we have learned to love repetition!

It is no exaggeration to say all our lives have been totally changed by `Contented Dementia' - and also by the wonderful email and phone help-lines, along with the day's training we also chose to do in Burford, UK, in September.

If I get Alzheimers, this is how I want to be cared for: the SPECAL way.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly: a life-saver for dementia sufferers and carers alike. A huge thanks to Oliver James for setting down all Penny's fantastic wisdom and experience. With dementia becoming such a massive social issue, the sooner more people are aware of the SPECAL way of caring the better.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Nov 2011, 03:00:36 GMT
Hi, I'm lying awake here (2.53 am) crying reading your review. How you explain your situation is exactly the same as i'm facing with my dad, he just seems so lost and feel myself getting irritated with him then immediately guilty at feeling so impatient with him. I've been recommended this book by our GP. Hopefully it can bring some contentment to our family and most importantly Dad. Don't know why I'm emailing just seemed like the right thing to do. Hope all is well with your family. Cat x

Posted on 24 Feb 2016, 16:23:45 GMT
Salopia says:
I never thought I'd agree with your comment: 'we have learned to love repetition'. But in the end, I was just the same. I loved getting my mother back into one of the soothing cycles of memory which made her happy - and because it put her in such a good frame of mind, it made me happy too. We can learn a lot from that!
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