A Review of Living in the Land of Dementia by Deborah Shouse

As my wife’s caregiver, I always enjoy reading the experiences of others. While I recognize many of their experiences, there are always unique ones as well. Beyond that, I am fascinated with the ways in which the authors tell their stories. With that introduction, I’d like to say I was especially happy to read Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. The title itself caught my attention. I immediately connected with the words “Love” and “Hope.” I realize that for many caregivers these words are but a dream. In my own case, however, they capture much of the life my wife and I have lived since her diagnosis over seven years ago. It pleases me to find other people for whom they have also been a reality.

As I started reading, I quickly learned two things. First, this is a book that doesn’t disappoint. It is filled with love and hope and inspiration. Second, Deborah Shouse is a gifted writer. There are many caregivers who have rich stories to tell, but few of us are as skilled as Shouse when it comes to telling them.

Everything about her book conveys her talent. I was particularly taken with two things. One is the organization of her story into chapters that are vignettes of a particular aspect of her mother’s journey with dementia from before the diagnosis through her mother’s transition from this life.

The other thing is her beautiful descriptions in each vignette. The way she describes her mother, herself, and the situations including the physical setting and other people brings the story to life in much the same way that a movie or television production might do. What those media do with visuals, Shouse does effectively with words. I often felt that I could visualize exactly what was going on.

For someone like me who can be a bit longwinded, it is impressive how effectively the author tells her story in as short a space as she does. I take that as another mark of a professional. Her vignettes were well chosen to tell a complete story without having to describe everything that happened over the time period she covered.

I am happy to recommend this very tender and touching portrait of her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s. You will find it packed with lots of gems as you move from one vignette to another.

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