Me, Mom, and Dementia
by Quinn Morris
Lettra Press

"Every time she picked up her Bible, Mom always started at the beginning of Genesis. It seemed that she could go no further."

Author Morris writes about her mother ("my Mom") in plain language, using gentle, monochrome illustrations. Her mother began to show signs of dementia at the age of ninety-six. Before then, she was a good cook, an avid reader, and an adventurous shopper, churchgoer, and visitor. The signs of her developing dementia included walking out of the kitchen, leaving food on the stove, imagining she was cooking again, and becoming worried about her non-existent concoctions. She began wearing outfits inappropriate to the weather and once packed up her clothes and declared she was leaving, though there was nowhere for her to go and no means of transportation. She went from using a cane to needing a wheelchair most of the time. She showed signs of suspicion. For example, if the newspaper had an article about a break-in, she would inspect the door locks. And she reached a point where, once quite fastidious, she could no longer bathe herself.

It seems clear that in composing these brief vignettes about her mom, Morris is hoping to reach out to others who have a family member who has or is on the verge of developing dementia. It is a painful process to observe and try to help with, so knowing these significant indicators can be helpful. Morris helpfully lists common signs of dementia at the beginning of the book, but her descriptions of her mom's slow decline can offer further signals to be alert for as the problems begin to arise in real life and a real person. Her mother went from being a smart, organized senior to someone needing almost constant care, and this is what some families will have to face. Morris' simple, straightforward storytelling approach and gentle illustrations communicate empathically where a medical text might be cold and less comprehensible.

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