Desideria care e. V. Literature and films

My name is Riccarda, I am a psychology student and I write reviews for Desideria Care. This voluntary work is not only a lot of fun, but also a personal concern for me. I grew up in Bad Tolz. Went to school. After graduating in 2017, I was drawn to the world, working as an au pair in France, Italy and the U.S. A year later, I began studying tourism management in Heilbronn, Germany. It was at this time that I first encountered dementia. My grandfather's dementia diagnosis was a big shock to my family. Now two years have passed, I have changed the study to psychology and my grandmother cares for my ill grandfather until today independently. You can see how she is reaching her limits every day.

Since I can't be there for her physically because of the physical distance, my volunteer work with Desidera Care gives me the opportunity to better support my grandma psychologically. Since I've been studying the topic of dementia, I've noticed how many of my friends have already experienced it themselves. Therefore, I am happy to be able to contribute a small part to the clarification of the disease with my review and perhaps inspire one or the other to read it.

Desideria care e. v. literature and films

My latest recommendation

How my grandmother lost her ME

Sarah Straub, 256 pages, Kosel publishing house

In the guidebook "How my grandmother lost her ego," the psychologist with a doctorate and singer Dr. Sarah Straub about the dementia of her grandmother. The story of her illness serves as a guide to her book. In this book, the author explains topics such as the various classifications of dementia, different treatment options, admission to a nursing home, and the challenges of everyday life – from a professional and at the same time very approachable perspective.

Already on the first pages I was incredibly enthusiastic about the book. Sarah Straub manages, through her writing style, to present complicated content in a very comprehensible way. The book contains both her own story with her grandmother and the story of her father. So that also their own emotions as well as many scientific information underpinned by many examples from practice. The table of contents makes it possible to jump to personal important chapters. I can highly recommend this book to family caregivers as well as others who are interested. As a family member I was able to learn a lot about the disease. Felt very understood in the process.

I can only agree with Konstantin Wecker's foreword, who writes: "This great book will help to open people's hearts to a disease that can bring so much suffering."

For the moment, however, we have to live with the fact that we can only accompany the patients on their way – as compassionately and appreciatively as possible without losing ourselves in the process.

The forgetful giant

David Wagner, 272 pages, Rowohlt publishing house

In his book "Der vergessliche Riese" (The Forgetful Giant), David Wagner tells the story of a father suffering from dementia and his children. The father lives at home at the beginning with 24-hour care until he is so forgetful that he is cared for in a home. The nine chapters describe the conversations between father and son, which show that the disease continues to progress. The book describes in great detail how the signs of the disease worsen and what effects the forgetfulness has on the relatives. His children always try to bring back memories through stories from his life.

During the course of the novel, I quickly established a relationship with the very sympathetic and humorous father. The pictorial description of the surroundings also facilitates the reading flow. Throughout the book, the appreciation, patience and love between father and son is palpable. I especially liked that the forgetfulness is addressed, but not the dementia itself. The father is not reduced to his disease, but remains in his own way lovable and peculiar.

All of a sudden I feel the need to take him by the hand, just like I used to take Martha by the hand – until one day she didn't want to anymore.

It is the disease that is exhausting, it is really exhausting, but not my husband.

Only today counts – family life with dementia

2019, documentary, 28 minutes

The documentary ,,Nur das Heute zahlt – Familienleben mit Demenz" is part of the series "37 Grad" by ZDF. The film accompanies three dementia patients and their families over a period of six months. On the one hand, the story is told of Christa, who developed Alzheimer's disease when she was just 60 years old. Her husband takes care of her with all his energy. They take trips together and try to enjoy the moment. On the other hand Andrea and Jo are accompanied. Jo was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the age of 50. Andrea cares very lovingly for her husband. But she also feels more and more how much the care demands from her. Lastly, Peter. His wife Jenny shown. In order to pay for Jenny's nursing home, Peter still has to work as a self-employed civil engineer at age 70. Nevertheless, he tries to visit his wife – as often as he can – at the home.

I liked the documentary very much, because I could gain deep insights into different family stories. In all three caring partners, the love for their spouse or spouse was palpable at all times. The disease becomes part of everyone's everyday life. I think the 28 minutes are really worth watching, because they reflect a realistic and reflected picture of the disease and its care. It is shown how strenuous and demanding the care can be. The documentary is still available until 3. December 2022 available free of charge in the ZDF-Mediathek.

The forgotten home

Deana Zinbmeister, 448 pages, Goldmann Publishing

The autobiographical novel ,,Die vergessene Heimat" tells the family story of the author Deana Zinbmeister. Her parents fled with part of their family from the former GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1961. When her father becomes ill with dementia, he disappears more and more into his own world. He makes escape plans. Feels persecuted by the Stasi. His children learn more and more dramatic details of the escape through his illness. The author describes on the one hand the crossing of the border from the point of view of her mother. On the other hand the illness of her father from her own perspective.

The book really inspired me. Deana Zinbmeister manages to set up the escape with plenty of excitement. I could quickly get into the fears. empathize with their mother's worries. She was also very transparent about the helplessness and challenges as a family member. Many of the situations she describes with her father I have experienced myself. This alternation of stories makes the book very exciting and varied.

In the end, I can recommend the book for both family members and those not affected by the disease. I really liked the fact that the book describes the disease as well as historical aspects.

They say dementia is dying in installments, and the relatives die along with them. At times it really feels like this. But we survived – even as a family!

Who exactly am I??

The Father

2020, Drama, 98 minutes

"The Father shows the film adaptation of the play Le Père. During the movie you are taken into the world of Anne – played by Oscar winner Olivia Colman -. Your father Anthony – portrayed by the actor Anthony Hopkins. The film adaptation shows the evolution of Anthony's father's dementia from being cared for at home to being admitted to a nursing home. The story is told from the perspective of the person with dementia, which often leads to inconclusiveness. The entire film takes place alone in an apartment. In the course of the story, Anthony is confronted with the problem that his daughter Anne wants to move to Paris because of a new love and therefore has to leave him alone in London. The film adaptation is significantly directed by Olivia Colman. Especially carried by Anthony Hopkins. The acting performance of the two actors is really brilliant. You manage to create a very honest picture of the disease dementia both from the point of view of a patient and a family caregiver. In fact, after watching the film, I have many statements. Emotions of my grandfather understood correctly for the first time. You get an impression of how bad it must be not to be able to trust people anymore. The fabulous music underscores the drama and heaviness of the scenes.

For me, the plot does not really tell a story but rather wants to give an insight into the disease. I found throughout the narrative that the point is not to figure out what is reality and what is not but rather to develop an understanding of the protagonist, Anthony. Therefore, I would recommend the film to those who want to develop a new perspective from the perspective of someone with the disease.

Desideria care e. v. literature and films

Mama's Alzheimer and us

Peggy Elfmann, 205 pages, Mabuse Publishers

In the book ,,Mamas Alzheimer and us" author Peggy Elfmann tells her story after her mother's Alzheimer's diagnosis. The author writes from a first-person perspective about the emotions she had to struggle with during the course of the disease. Her experiences are followed by practical tips and expert explanations that conclude each chapter.

I liked the book very much. Peggy Elfmann gives a very honest account of how she felt after her mother's diagnosis. At the same time it also admits to many mistakes and weaknesses. Especially the mix of advice, professional tips and the letters to her mom that introduce each chapter make the book very readable. I think that through the honest thoughts and experiences many relatives feel understood. The latest is "Mama's Alzheimer's and Us" Definitely recommendable for me because of the closeness in combination with the professional knowledge.

Desideria care e. v. literature and films

Live twice, love once

The drama "Live twice, love once" is an in-house production of the streaming provider Netflix. The film tells the story of the brilliant mathematics professor Emilio, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. The professor sinks more and more into his world – until one day he gets the idea to look for his childhood sweetheart Margaretha. Together with his pubescent granddaughter Blanca he sets out on a search. However, they do not get far, because the disease is already more advanced than expected. But Emilio holds on to want to see the love of his life again before he forgets her, perhaps forever.

The tragicomedy has both highs and lows. In some places the story is a bit unrealistic and a bit too cheesy. In addition, I sometimes missed the necessary seriousness that the topic of dementia should bring with it.

Nevertheless, some parts touched me very much: for example when Emilio takes his daughter Julia in his arms for the first time in the old people's home or her despair when she notices how her father is slipping away from her. I especially liked the grandpa-granddaughter relationship between Emilio and Blanca. For the first time, the disease offers them a chance to come closer together and build a bridge between the different generations.

Overall, the film gives a good insight into the disease dementia and also offers moments of laughter, family drama and a beautiful setting. I think that especially younger people will like the film very much and it will give them an approach to the disease.

And tomorrow we meet yesterday

Dr. med. Carsten Lekutat, 180 pages, Becker Joest Volk publishing house

In the book "And tomorrow we meet yesterday" tells Dr. Carsten Lekutat tells the story of Fisch, a jazz musician who develops early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of 54. Because of his diagnosis, his doctor recommends psychotherapy to help him better accept his fate. Through the treatment he meets the young medical student Anna and her professor Norbert Luck. On the occasion of Fisch's wish to see his great love Sophie once again, Anna accompanies him to Rome. After a few incidents, the student and her professor realize that Fisch is already living much more in his own reality than they had amed.

From the very first pages, the book enthralled me. The alternating perspectives make it easy to empathize with both the patient, Fisch, and the student, Anna. The course of the disease of dementia is described with humor but also with the necessary drama. I especially liked the scientific classification at the end of the book. The author was aware that he would meet with a lot of incomprehension with a positive book on the subject of dementia. Although the disease is glossed over in some places, the book offers a new and valuable perspective: the idea of "take care of the caregivers" is a valuable one should play a greater role in the treatment of dementia in Germany as well.

She treated the soul of others with the power of her own soul. She had no scalpel at her disposal, only words.

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