Review: Wendy Mitchell – What I Wish People Knew About Dementia

What I Wish People Knew About Dementia
Wendy Mitchell

“When Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with young-onset dementia at the age of fifty-eight, her brain was overwhelmed with images of the last stages of the disease – those familiar tropes, shortcuts and clichés that we are fed by the media, or even our own health professionals. Wise, practical and life affirming, What I Wish People Knew About Dementia combines anecdotes, research and Wendy Mitchell’s own brilliant wit and wisdom to tell readers exactly what she wishes they knew about dementia.”

I’d recommend this book to basically everyone, regardless of whether they have a family history of dementia or whether they’ve barely heard of the condition. It’s compassionate and sensible, and filled with ways to help people understand dementia rather than just judging someone by it.

I need to get my hands on Wendy’s first book. You certainly don’t need to have read that one to understand this one, but Wendy’s accessible writing and friendly (and matter-the-fact) tone makes me want to read more of her work. I hope that she continues to write while she is still able. I’m also now following her blog.

My wife and I joke that I have to get dementia first – because I’m the person that hates telling stories more than once. Also, I’d love to be able to read all my books again for the first time. However, the way that Wendy illuminates the REAL advantages and disadvantages of living with dementia lets me think differently. Most people no doubt have a stereotyped image of what a ‘person with dementia’ looks like or acts like, but the reality is that it can be very different for every person – and that progression of the disease is variable too.

I wish I had had this book 10 years ago when my grandmother developed dementia. I found myself often confused and scared because I didn’t know what to expect. Although we laughed about the fact she put a wheat heat bag into the microwave for 90 minutes instead of 90 seconds, it was actually kind of terrifying to know that the house easily could have burnt down.

This was an excellent non-fiction book that I had to read in stages to get the most out of it. It will get pride of place in my new non-fiction bookshelf, and it’ll be a book I recommend to anyone and everyone who shows a passing interest in

Bloomsbury | 1 February 2022 | AU$26.99 | paperback

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