The Little Girl in the Radiator (Mum, Alzheimer’s & Me) – Martin Selvin published by Monday Books

Front cover

Front cover

Back cover

Back cover

Very accessible and readable. This book follows the experience of a son and primary carer from the point at which his mum is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
There is plenty of light in this account and I was banned from reading this in bed when I couldn’t stop myself from snorting with laughter over the mother and son visit to dog obedience classes. The experience of loss is very vividly illustrated and the most distressing part of the book concerns his mum’s experiences in the first care home.
It is of course one person’s perspective and one family’s experience but it has a huge amount to say about memory loss, cognitive difficulties and the response of medical and social services. I felt it had some really helpful ways of thinking about this type of progressive memory loss, in particular the consultant who likens the loss of memory to rolling up a carpet, where we stand at one end of a long carpet (in the present) and the other end of the carpet represents the early life of the person with memory loss. As the carpet is rolled away from the present the person’s recall and connection with the present is lost, inaccessible within the rolled up carpet. The more the carpet is rolled up the further in time the person has to go back to find a point in their life that they remember (and this becomes their frame of reference).
This book feels like it would further the understanding of health and social care professionals who are working alongside families and individuals especially when we struggle to come to terms with how the reality of a person with cognitive impairment can be so different to our own. I am guessing that if you are a carer some of what is described will resonate with you own experience.
Not surprisingly this book has won the “BMA Board of Science ‘Chair’s Choice’ Book of the Year Award”.
It is available as an e-book and appears on the “Books on Prescription” list of personal stories of living with dementia published by the Reading Agency in September 2014.

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