Book review: Dad’s Not All There Any More
Explore the changes that occur from dementia.
This wonderful little book tells the story of a man with dementia with lewy body dementia (DLB) using illustrations that combine humour, pathos and pathology.
Exploring both physical and mental changes, this comic shows how DLB symptoms affect people with the condition and their loved ones.
The story is told by John, whose father, Pete, had been coping with Parkinson’s disease before he began having hallucinations characteristic of DLB.
Lewy bodies can be seen only when the brain is dissected and the condition can be identified only by observing symptoms such as spontaneous Parkinsonism, hallucinations, fluctuating states of consciousness and rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder. DLB is notoriously difficult to treat.
To illustrate DLB and its effects, the author imagines that there are switchboard operatives in Pete’s brain who move connectors efficiently between his skill, memory and vision centres.
Lewy bodies, presented as ‘little blobs of protein’, cover the switchboard operatives’ heads until they can no longer see well enough to make the connections.
As a result, Pete has hallucinations. These begin when a girl with red hair disappears while Pete is looking at her directly, but gradually they become more troubling.
The medication Pete takes for dementia seems to make his Parkinson’s symptoms worse, but when he does not take it before he and John go on an outing to a pub John ‘freezes’ physically.
The comic book form is ideal for expressing the love and frustration John feels while also explaining the disease. This book is a must read for all nurses who work with older people.
Alex Demetris | Singing Dragon | £7.99 | 32pp | ISBN: 9781849057097
Reviewed by Ruth Sander, an independent consultant in care of the older person