Review of “Who I Am Yesterday”, by Victoria Adams

I can tell you straightaway–for anyone who is a caregiver, knows a caregiver, or who will soon become a caregiver for someone with dementia, this book is an absolute must.  And not only with dementia; you can plug in almost every mental and physical handicap known, and there will be some wisdom that can be drawn from it.

Having been down this road, with and without help, Ms. Adams has written this book to help others in her same situation.  But it is no medical essay–she does not go into the whys and wherefores in jargon that only the health-centric educated can understand.  Her style is such that it seems she is sitting across the table from you, offering tea and sympathy, and not just a little much-needed advice.

Written with obvious love for her spouse, she takes the reader from the beginnings of the symptoms to her present “dance” with her husband.  And that is what she calls it throughout the book.  In her own words, she explains her choice of description this way: “There is always a balance, one you must seek each day and that changes as surely as the speed and depth of the disease changes.”  It may involve how the chores get done, how much time a person can stay away from the one being cared for–a myriad of possibilities.

This book is well thought out, working from the simple to the complex areas of dementia care.  She wraps her advice seamlessly around anecdotes and events that she and her spouse have gone through.  Not making any bones about it, she freely confesses when she found herself “solving the wrong problem”.  But even that became a learning process.

Some gems I found from reading Ms. Adam’s story, and ones which I will carry with me as I see the need for this kind of caregiving more and more:

“If you need help to find balance, find it.  You will do no one any good, least of all yourself, if you try to ‘brave it through’ and lose yourself in the process.”

Grab those ever-dwindling moments of lucidity and cherish them.  Don’t take them for granted.

Communicating:  “As far as they are concerned, everything they say is perfectly understandable; you are the one with the problem.”

“At least for now” – (The relationship ) is a dance that must take into consideration the changing landscape of your lives.

“Look for support resources that fit in YOUR box, rather than surrendering everything to fit in theirs.”

“He really was living in a house of mirrors and only the mirror he had lighted at any one moment had any existence in his mind: in that moment.”

There is so much to be learned from Ms. Adams’ experiences–and a lot of sound advice–especially in the areas of prescriptions, foster care, and legal planning.

This is a book that should be placed in the libraries of assisted-living facilities everywhere.  I know that copies will be distributed to the ones in my town.

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