Jemi Fraser’s Memoir, Dancing With Dementia, Helps Caregivers Recognize and Cope with Early Stages

About Jemi Fraser - Dancing With Dementia

Dancing With Dementia - Jemi FraserDancing With Dementia: Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia

By Jemi Fraser

We didn’t have a clue.

As the children of immigrants, we knew next to nothing about dementia. We hadn’t grown up surrounded by aging relatives. We weren’t able to differentiate between signs of regular aging and signs of dementia.

As we became more aware of the challenges facing Mom and Stepdad (Lizzie and Philip in the book), I started writing down snippets of odd behaviour in an attempt to help us remember and understand.

In the hopes of helping others facing the early stages of dementia, my family helped me decide to take those snippets and put them into a book. A book that details our journey through those early stages. A journey that shares some of our most difficult challenges, some of our most vulnerable moments as a family.

Music was and continues to be important to our family. It is a wonderful way to help Lizzie through this process. Music soothes and engages. It relaxes and encourages connections. Lizzie has a great memory for lyrics and singing a song with her or playing the piano helps make everything better.

Lizzie has always loved to dance and Philip was a musician so the title was a natural fit. You’ll find the book is filled with song titles that reflect our experiences at the time.

While there is absolutely nothing funny about dementia, you’ll find many of the stories within the book are humourous. We come from what Lizzie calls, “Good Scottish Stock.” Dry, wry, gallows humour is almost a specialty.

So, yes, we laugh with Lizzie. A lot.

And that humour translates into the book, interspersed with heartache and sorrow.

Throughout our journey with the first steps of the Dementia Dance, we’ve made mistakes. We’ve learned a lot as well. We hope sharing our experiences will help others.

In the latter part of the book you’ll find lists to help with using visuals to ease communication, ways to better use your words, safety ideas, ways to help redirect, ideas for busy hands, our best buys, and more. You’ll find a list of the early warning signs we missed in case they’ll help you as well. Finally there are some ideas about the decision to move to a nursing home or otherwise change your Loved One’s living situation, and tips to help take care of yourself.

Every journey with dementia is different, but there are enough similarities that we think our story will help others facing those first steps of the dance of dementia. Lizzie would love that her journey has a chance to help others. She does love to be in the spotlight!

Jemi-FraserAbout The Author

Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Jemi lives in Northern Ontario, Canada where snow is always a topic of conversation and the autumn leaves make everything better.

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