Is the Cooker Turned Off? Caring for an Older Person with Failing Memory

Book Cover: Is the Cooker Turned OffBy Josephine and Michael Woolf.
ISBN 095441280X

If you want to recommend one book to a carer of someone with dementia, recommend this one. It is a practical survival manual, written by a carer, aiming to offer guidance and share experience of the day-to-day reality of caring for people with dementia.

It is incredibly easy to understand and takes about an hour to complete, an important selling point to its target audience. It covers every aspect of care, from understanding memory to providing memory prompts, from personal safety to personal care to the carer’s own well-being, with a compassionate eye to the dignity of the cared-for person and the sanity of the carer.

The author uses her own experience of caring for her father to illustrate her recommendations, and this personal experience anchors her advice and proves its relevance. I was particularly impressed by the chapter on carers and on how to look after yourself, which includes relaxation and meditation techniques and tips on positive thinking.

Many books on dementia are very medicalised or written from a practitioner viewpoint. This book is wonderfully simple: a guide for carers by a carer, reassuringly honest and to the point.

Rachel Wooller is senior social worker, Cambridgeshire social services department.

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