Are the Keys in the Freezer? is an artful blend of practical advice and the compelling story of a family's search for the right care for their mother with dementia.
This well-researched book is a must-read for families in the US looking for resources and ideas about care facilities, hospices, finances and costs of care, advance directives and other topics related to managing the affairs of the elderly with dementia. A story of conflict and of light-hearted moments, Are the Keys in the Freezer? is the rich personal testimony of a family's struggle to navigate the confusing world of dementia care choices for their mother. The book is an insider's guide to unravelling medical, legal, and regulatory issues that affect the quality of care for loved ones who cannot make care decisions for themselves. The book's easy, conversational tone turns complex issues into everyday language, making it an easy read for newcomers to the world of caring for people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
About the Author
Pat Woodell, Brenda Niblock, and Jeri Warner are first-time writers in the field of dementia care. The compelling story of their mother's decline into dementia is blended with research, practical insights, and tips for families looking for direction in how to care for aging spouses and parents. Pat has written numerous technical publications for the Alaska Department of Commerce where she worked for many years. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, Philippines. Brenda is a graduate of the University of Oregon and received her master's degree from Portland State University. She is a retired health educator, and advocated for prevention of tobacco use for over two decades. Jeri was a physical therapist for thirty-five years, with a focus on orthopedics. She received her degree in physical therapy from the University of Washington in Seattle.
In 2011, the mother of sisters Woodell (ret. project manager and instructor, Alaska Dept. of Commerce and Economic Development, Anchorage), Brenda Niblock (ret. health educator; volunteer public speaker and educator for Donate Life Northwest), and Jeri Warner (ret. physical therapist, Kaiser Permanente) died as a result of advanced dementia. The personal, medical, and legal experiences gained and lessons learned by the sisters over the preceding six years of care form the backbone of this work that will be priceless to families facing a similar road. The authors remark that in writing the book they interviewed psychology, law, and medical professionals; visited facilities with different care philosophies; sought various stakeholders' views about changes in the industry; and compiled lists of national resources for other families. Chapters such as "Coming to Terms with Dementia," "Care Facilities: Making the Right Move," "Advocacy in Medical Care," and "Hospice and Palliative Care" go into great detail on, for example, figuring out the costs of living in a care facility vs. at home, negotiating care-facility agreements and costs, health-care proxies and advanced directives, and how carers can stay in touch with others for support. The combination of the detailed information with the insights gained from caring for a loved one with the condition makes this essential for affected families. VERDICT As the authors note, 20 million people are caring for 5.4 million patients with dementia. This excellent work will, unfortunately, find a wide audience.—Henrietta Verma, Library Journal
This highly readable guide for dementia caregivers blends a medical memoir with useful advice.After the emotionally draining experience lived through by this book's three authors, they're undoubtedly thinking the same thing: "If I knew then what I know now." The sisters share the story of their mother's five-year mental decline as she went through the various stages of dementia. The sisters had intended to craft a personal memoir; however, they write, "In the course of our research, that goal changed as we gained insight into the hopes and concerns of the people we met in memory care facilities." This led them to recast the book into a manual for caregivers that recounts their own experience and guides readers to a greater understanding of dementia as well as the care options. With considerable skill, the authors interweave their story with the issues they faced, drawing upon their own situation to illustrate what they didn't know at the time. "We learned about dementia by trial and error," they write, "and we stumbled many times, because we didn't know where to turn. Now we realize the importance of understanding the course of the disease and its outcome—this knowledge would have given us the tools to plan ahead and provide the best possible care for our mother." It is these tools the authors generously share in a tightly organized, well-written work. They offer a comprehensive discussion of dementia, its types (including Alzheimer's) and stages; detail the kinds of available care facilities and facility agreements; address paying for dementia care; talk about patient advocacy; cover hospice and palliative care; and include a chapter on advance care directives. Every chapter ends with "Lessons Learned"—not so much a summary as insightful observations. In closing, the authors peek into the future in a fascinating section that demonstrates how social and technological changes might revolutionize dementia care. They also provide an excellent compilation of resources.Frank and poignant, with the optimum balance of personal storytelling and actionable guidance.