Nine Weeks of Must-Read Books for Professional Care Providers
With the cold weather, it’s more tempting to curl up and read, so I’m posting the books and videos I most recommend to caring professionals and to which I refer in my trainings. It’s not an exhaustive list and does not necessarily contain the latest titles, but they’re what I know works to support us while we prepare ourselves to support others. I hope you find these helpful.
We do not compare griefs. The worst pain a person has experienced is the worst pain they have experienced. To compare with others is to set persons up to minimize their own pain as somehow being less severe or hard or meaningful than another’s.
While this is true, it is also true that each grief has unique traits that can bring its own set of challenges. The death of a child is one. A sudden, unexpected, tragic death is another. And dementia? Most understand the dread that arises when that word come up in a person’s medical journey.
The long, sad goodbye, as many call it, dementia slowly robs a person of their memories and abilities and loved ones watch their loved one slip away bit by bit. They are very much still there, it simply becomes harder to find them and connect. Loved ones can feel abandoned, overwhelmed, struggle with care decisions, and feel guilty about wanting to see the suffering end.
Being one of the least understood disease processes we face today, and with relatively little that we can do to slow or halt the progression at this point, though research advances are promising, dementia is also one of the most feared prognoses patients and families face. The more understanding we have about the disease to take away the scary mysteries and get us more into reality, the better.
The more support we all know about how to best support patients and families facing dementia, the better off we all will be. I am especially passionate about training professional carers about how to show up well and better understand the dynamics involved so they can get past their fears, move past their discomfort, and find ways to connect with the person who IS still there, for everyone’s sake.
These are my top recommendations about this topic. I hope you find them helpful and even hopeful.
Untangling Alzheimer’s: The Guide for Families and Professionals, Tam Cummings
With a simplicity that makes it easy for lay persons to comprehend and a depth that will inform even care professionals, Tam Cummings provides a fantastic book that is a must-read for anyone working with or caring for persons with dementia. You’ll learn about the biology, the trajectory, and practical tips for caring. Keep this one on your shelf and recommend it to others.
The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with “Alzheimer’s Type Dementia”, Naomi Feil
The fear and lack of understanding around dementia is something we must move past. Naomi Feil helps us with that. She has a take on the developmental process involved with our later years that sees persons working to resolve earlier stages of their life or recover from traumas they’ve experienced. Once we understand those past stories of persons with dementia, current behaviors and needs may make more sense, allowing us as caregivers to show up far better for them! She helps us learn how to be and connect with persons with dementia in a way that is more comfortable for us and more helpful for them. A great read!
The 36-Hour Day, Nancy Lace & Peter Rabins
For 3 decades, this has been the classic guide for those who love and care for a person with dementia. The most recent understanding about causes and possible means of prevention and treatment, how to handle caregiving situations, and how to care well for oneself are in this text that are a must-read for both lay persons and professionals. Don’t let this one NOT be on your shelf.
Alzheimer’s Dementia Hands-On Care DVD: “The Art of Caregiving” with Care Expert Teepa Snow (DVD/Video)
An expert on dementia and ways to work with persons in its various stages, Teepa Snow demonstrates techniques and language, including what to and not to do. She models respect and common sense that helps us easily grasp ways of approaching a variety of topics. Anything available that includes Teepa’s work on Amazon or YouTube, watch it and share it. She provides simply some of the best information and instruction available!
Alive Inside (DVD)
This documentary follows a social worker whose non-profit uses music to support memory and connection with those often overlooked in our healthcare system. This incredible movie will move and inspire you as you witness the power of music to transform, and you’ll want everyone you know to watch it, as well!
Available on Netflix or on Amazon
As always, I hope something here has been helpful or inspiring. Be watching for next week’s post on books related to Care for Persons with Dementia. Until then, please share your own most-recommended reads with me, so I can share them with others.
Rev. Carla Cheatham, MA, MDiv, PhD, TRT has served hospices as a chaplain and bereavement coordinator. She’s the Section Leader for the Spiritual Caregivers Section of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and an adjunct professor at the Seminary of the Southwest. Through her Carla Cheatham Consulting Group, Carla provides training and consulting for professional caregivers nationwide. She is the author of Hospice Whispers: Stories of Life and its companion volume, Sharing Our Stories: A Hospice Whispers Grief Support Workbook. Her next book, On Showing Up with Suffering: Others’ and Our Own, is set to publish in 2017.