By Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W.
When I titled my book “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide” (2015) I did not expect to have people mistakenly assume that I am a wife caring for a husband with dementia. The warmth and sympathy I receive from people who don’t know me personally has been incredible. I gently explain that I am not a wife caregiver and that the book is inspired by the experience I had in counselling eight amazing caregiving women.
When I was deciding on a topic for my master’s degree final project I decided to focus on older women. I explored what issues are affecting them, and the subject of caregiving came up quite often. I did some research on the subject and discovered that there was very little written about women who care for husbands with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. My career as a geriatric clinician and social worker exposes me to many different mental health issues and dementia is unfortunately a common one. I quickly became an expert in assessing and screening for dementia, and recognizing the symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout.
The short-term, individual counselling program I designed, implemented and evaluated with eight caregiving wives was very rewarding and successful. It inspired me to want to help others like the women I had learned so much from. What started out as a small booklet turned into a 16-chapter book. “Caring for a Husband with Dementia” was written specifically to help women who care for husbands who have been diagnosed with a dementing illness such as vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. I dedicated this book to caregiving wives, everywhere.
Writing this book came surprisingly easy to me. I called it a “Divine Intervention.” I received help from colleagues and other experts in the field who generously donated their time reviewing, editing and offering feedback. It is a unique, informative and therapeutic self-help type of book. The book offers opportunity to make it personal for the reader. There is space for self-reflection on important questions. Don’t know what to “Google” to find your local resources? I’ll help with that, too. There is a listing of helpful and important resources, plus more.
All of the reviews and feedback I have received thus far has been very positive. Some of the more helpful feedback has been that this book is written not only for wives, but for allcaregivers. I have been told this book is like a bible and it is keptat the bedside and is read every night. It’s a reference guide, a companion, and a source of education and support. It’s like a year’s worth of therapy all in one book.
I know this book has helped spouses and other caregivers. They have told me, “Everything I was thinking, feeling and wondering about was written in this book.” I am honoured to beable to help those who are struggling with the issues of diagnosis, getting help, difficult behaviours, grief and loss, legal issues and more. I have been at book signing events where even men say they want their wives to buy this book as they want them to be prepared – “…just in case.”
My hope is that this book reaches those who are in need of education, support and tips on how to survive the difficult task of caring for a loved one with dementia. It is also a great gift forsomeone in need.
About the Author
Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W. is a clinician, older adult specialist and author who has more than 25 years of experience working with older adults and their families in a variety of capacities. She is currently employed as a Geriatric Mental Health Clinician and enjoys writing, traveling, photography and exploring what it means to age well. She is a realistic optimist who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two children. For more information, please go to: www.AngelaGGentile.com.