Following the fantastic book launch event held at DSDC, Sally Magnusson now reflects on why "Where Memories Go" is required reading for people in power
This week my book, Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything is in the Sunday Times bestseller list for the fifth week since publication. This is fantastic news. It means its description of what it’s like to have dementia, to love someone with dementia, to try and do your best to care for that person against the odds, and its clarion call for change … might actually be getting out there.
I’ve been so touched and humbled by the response to this book in the few weeks since publication. It is a memoir of my mother, the writer Mamie Baird, which chronicles both my family’s attempts to look after her over the years and my search for answers to the many scientific, medical, social and deep philosophical questions that the long journey threw up. It is also a plea for change in the way people with dementia generally are regarded by society.
From every corner of the land I’ve had letters, tweets, emails and Facebook messages from people poring out their own experiences of caring for a loved one and endorsing my call for change not just in how the wider community helps us to look after people with dementia but how others understand the condition.
As I said at the book launch event organised by DSDC, the world urgently needs to be reminded that every person with dementia remains an individual, capable of living fully and well for a long time, with a personality to which they can be kept connected if we go about it the right way, an innate dignity which can be cherished, human rights that should be respected and a life that can be affirmed and enhanced in all sorts of ways.
I also mentioned in Stirling the strong sense I am getting from readers that this book should be required reading for professionals.
Dr Max Pemberton, an NHS psychiatrist, wrote in the Daily Telegraph: ‘It should be compulsory reading for every doctor and nurse, because it reminds us that behind every patient with dementia, there are friends and families who are grieving for the person that WE will never know.’
On the Where Memories Go facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WhereMemoriesGo - please take a look), a reader has commented: ‘This book should be compulsory reading for every employee in the NHS, for care home managers and staff, for all Members of Parliament, for social services managers and staff throughout the United Kingdom.’
A review for the Scots Law Times recommends that all lawyers should read it: ‘Challenges of which we have all been to some degree aware have now been articulated in a way which society can no longer ignore. This book may well prove to be a turning-point.’
I quote these comments not out of immodesty but because this is my goal – to get this book to the people whose decisions, whose actions and whose level of awareness all crucially affect both the lives of people who have dementia now and the lives that at least one in three of the rest of us will one day be leading ourselves.
So, if you like Where Memories Go, please help me by suggesting to your GP that he or she might read it, writing to your MP or your MSP or your local councillor to urge them to pick up a copy – and, in general, mentioning it to any NHS professional who happens to hove into view for any reason whatsoever.
Let’s MAKE this a turning-point.