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Book Review: The 36-Hour Day

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss in Later Life 4th Edition by Nancy L. Mace, M.A. and Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.

This book is a thorough guide for those adjusting to the dementia diagnosis of a loved one. It’s meant to be one of many tools in the caregiver’s toolbox, not a sole resource for information about Alzheimer’s and other dementias (specifically, it does not replace a medical professional for treating dementia). But in my opinion it is currently one of the best books I’ve read on the topic.

In all transparency, this is actually a book that I read after my mom’s passing, but I wish I would have read it when she was still around. It would have been so comforting especially in those early days to know more about what to expect and to better understand what was happening as it was happening.

As I read the initial vignette about “Mary”, an individual entering the early stages of the disease, I found the details to be similar in many ways to my mom’s introduction to the disease. And I can imagine that many people would feel this way about their own loved ones. I read through the example thinking ‘that was almost exactly what we dealt with…’ And much of the book is like this. Every chapter had a well-balanced combination of stories and educational material was effective in helping me understand the disease better.

The book covers topics such as common symptoms and practical strategies for dealing with them, typical problems that arise for the individual or their caregiver(s), health problems that can be amplified by dementia, safety considerations, behavior management, changing family roles, legal and financial issues, and other important caregiver topics. When I say that it’s a complete guide for your journey as a caregiver, I really mean it.

All in all, I found The 36-Hour Day to be reassuring and informative. There were technical parts to the book but it was very readable, even for someone without any medical background. It’s full of hands-on tools for almost any situation that can arise with an individual who has dementia, and there’s a lot of information that can be re-read time and again as needed. If you’re looking for a resource for yourself or other members of your family, this is one that I’d highly recommend.

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