Bestselling authors Wendyl Nissen and Charity Norman have both ‘been through the fire’ of supporting a parent with dementia, which led to them writing two astonishing books. In this session, they will explore what works when it comes to dementia treatment and care and what desperately needs to change to ensure our loved ones can die with dignity.
Wendy Nissen’s mother Elsie died with Alzheimer’s in 2019 and Charity Norman’s mother Beryl died with the same disease in 2016. When a parent gets dementia, how do their immediate whānau attempt to understand and process the experience afterwards?
In Charity Norman’s case, she wrote Remember Me, a compelling novel about a 40-something woman called Emily returning to Aotearoa to care for her father who has dementia. The story is also a ‘whodunnit’, as Emily gradually finds out the truth about the disappearance of their neighbour’s daughter 25 years earlier. When The Spinoff books editor Catherine Woulfe described the novel as 'extraordinarily moving in its exploration of the notion of a good death', she concluded that one can't write a book like this without a real story behind it. This is your opportunity to hear it.
Wendyl Nissen also attempted to come to terms with her mother’s final years by writing about it; in her case, a funny and moving memoir called My Mother and Other Secrets.
In doing so, she unexpectedly exposed numerous family secrets. Determined to uncover the buried truth, Nissen’s journalistic training led her to some wild and intriguing stories of loss, grief, and love. My Mother and Other Secrets is a story about mothers and daughters, ageing and the way deep family traumas echo across generations, spliced with practical advice.
We’ll consider how best to support a loved with dementia, discuss how to look after yourself in the process, examine theories about the contributing factors – genetics, nutrition, insomnia, physical inactivity, emotional repression – and look at what the latest science says about prevention.
Facilitated by Kerry Sunderland.
Buy the pukapuka here:
Wendyl Nissen: My Mother and Other Secrets | Charity Norman: Remember Me
With thanks to Allen & Unwin.