‘What Dementia Teaches us about Love’ – author event with Nicci Gerrard

One half of the writing duo Nicci French, Nicci Gerrard visited Bolton Central library to talk about her new book. After her own father's death from dementia, the writer and campaigner Nicci Gerrard set out to explore the illness that now touches millions of us, yet which we still struggle to speak about. What does dementia mean, for those who live with it, and those who care for them?

Bolton Central Library recently hosted the author Nicci Gerrard who presented a poignant topic with the release of her new book ‘What Dementia Teaches Us about Love’.  With details of her own personal experience of living with her dad who unfortunately died from dementia.

Gerrard spoke from the heart, meaning members of the audience who cared for someone with dementia could identify with her. She spoke of her dad ‘disappearing’, and feeling a sense of guilt as she wanted to do more to help her father. She wanted to ‘rescue him’ from himself and his profound confusion.

A perspective was gained from both the person with dementia and the person who cares for them, as both are equally unable to recognise each other. Present connection can feel faded, but hopefully the memories of what the person used to be like for the carer doesn’t fade and stays with them forever. Staying in hospital should be seen as a last resort, as, Nicci Gerrard feels better care can be given by loved ones and those with dementia benefit from familiar surroundings.

I was interested in finding out why exactly Nicci Gerrard chose to describe a person receiving the diagnosis of dementia as ‘the beginning of a new chapter of a book’, instead of (rather depressingly) the final chapter. The author explained that those suffering from such a disease can have it for a very long time, and that it can take a while to develop. Before the late stages, it’s possible to live well with it, for example, the person can still take pleasure in eating well, going on a nice walk and chatting to relatives.

Overall, it was a moving event from what was discussed, and very good feedback was received from those who attended.

After the event, there was a chance for people to speak to representatives from the Alzheimer’s Society, AgeUK, The Memory Assessment Team, Singing for Dementia (The Salvation Army), The Staying Well Team, Ambition for Ageing and Bolton Dementia Support.

Kristen Challender

Library Volunteer

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