Book Review: The Dementia Handbook

A Strength-Based Approach to Dementia Care

On the list of the best books for caregivers of the with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia according to, The Dementia Handbook is an essential resource for those that want to care for their loved ones at home. Author Judy Cornish is an Idaho attorney and an expert in the field of caregiving. She also is the founder of the Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network (DAWN), which created the DAWN method to teach families and caregivers how to provide kind, person-centered care.

Among the features of the book that we like most, is a focus on strengths. The opening chapters use titles like “Bad, But Not All Bad” and “Not All is Lost” to motivate the reader (caregiver) to create a positive mindset that will benefit both he/she as the caregiver and the loved one with dementia. Cornish begins the book by stating “In the past six years, I’ve spent more time with people who have dementia than with people who don’t. I’m writing the book to explain what they taught me.” From this very first sentence, it is evident that Cornish’s belief in person-centered care is genuinely practiced and that the pages which follow contain useful information to help caregivers keep their loved ones needs at the forefront.

Designing Person-Centered Care

After a good, succinct overview of what abilities and and features of your loved one are or will eventually be lost over the course of the dementia journey, the meat of the book begins with Chapter 3, where Cornish outlines the process for designing person-direct care for your loved one. Cornish helps the reader to frame this work, by sharing her experience that people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia experience distress in four key areas: social interaction, autonomy, sense of worth, and view of the future. in the pages that follow, Corning provides direction for caregivers in how they can minimize challenges related to these areas of distress and ultimately provide comfort and increased wellbeing for their loved ones.

Dementia Care in Practice

Other areas the book covers that are beneficial to caregivers are centered around the challenges caregivers encounter on a daily basis, depending on the stage of dementia of their loved one. Dementia and the Calendar is covered with a brief look at how time gets distorted for those with dementia. Eating and drinking, social conversations, going on an outing, and finding missing items are some of the other specialized areas of dementia care in daily life that are covered. While the book does have a glossary and a comprehensive table of contents, one of the negative aspects of the book is its lack of an index so that you can search for these specialize areas of dementia care, which are buried in the book like “little treasures” that must be found through reading it cover to cover.

Overall, The Dementia Handbook is a must have for the dementia caregiver’s bookshelf. Be sure to check out the bonus features at the end–an outline of what is covered in the book, a bibliography of other recommended resources, and a graphical depiction of the DAWN Method.

The Dementia Handbook is available in paperback and Kindle electronic edition at Amazon .

Judy Cornish received her graduate degree from Lewis & Clark Law School in Oregon, where she focused her studies on disability law, elder law, family law and mediation.

An attorney now in Idaho, Cornish is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the American Society on Aging. With previous experience working in mental health and vocational rehabilitation, Cornish brings a diverse background to her work with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

In 2010, Cornish founded the Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network(R) (DAWN) and developed a method of care that decreases stress in caregivers and helps provide sufferers with a sense of well-being.

Cornish is passionate about enabling families to care for their loved ones at home. She currently works with families in Idaho and Eastern Washington, where she oversees care and provides training and consulting services with a handpicked staff certified in the DAWN Method.

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