But Then Something Happened: A Story of Everyday Dementia

Chris Carling (2012)    ISBN: 978-0957307902

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But Something Happened - Chris Carling‘But Then Something Happened: A Story of Everyday Dementia’ is a moving and highly topical memoir dealing with a subject never far from the news, the increase in dementia in families. It tells the story of one family hit by a double dose of dementia, as Dad, Fred, develops vascular dementia at the same time as Mum, Mary, is struck by Alzheimer’s. Fred and Mary are a quirky long-married couple with a relationship that’s unique, as all marriages are. The focus of the story is on what happens to their couple, their long love story, as both gradually lose their minds. And on what happens to their relationship with their daughter, Chris, the narrator, who falls into an ‘amateur carer’ role, groping her way uncertainly around ‘the system’, learning at first hand how dementia changes everything in ordinary and extraordinary ways.

The memoir is in two parts: in Part One Chris tells the dramatic family story, with both warmth and humour. The writing is direct and honest, exploring the medical side of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia yet keeping the focus firmly on relationships and emotions. One highly original chapter includes ‘Ten scenes of joy and sadness’, written as mini-dramas to illustrate the way dementia sufferers still have a rich emotional life, a facet frequently ignored in the focus on dementia as loss of mind.

Part Two is more reflective, a chance to stand back and ask questions such as why did we not see all this coming? It also provides an opportunity to examine what we can learn from dementia, the losses and (a very few) gains that dementia brings. A final Resources section lists organisations offering help and support.

View the Cambridge Evening News Feature

View the Mental Health Nursing Journal review (PDF 3.1MB opens in new window)

What reviewers have said:

‘Deeply insightful and always honest. An excellent and highly readable book.’

John Wattis, Mental Health Nursing Journal

‘Helpful to anyone caring for a relative with dementia and also to all clinical and care staff who come into contact with people with dementia, especially those in hospital or general practice.’

John Wattis, Mental Health Nursing Journal

‘A highly emotional read packed with useful information, tips and insights.’

Janet Baylis, Alzheimer’s Society

‘I would like to commend Chris Carling’s affirming tone which values people with dementia and what we can learn from them.’

Julia Burton-Jones, Dementia UK

About The Author

As well as being a carer, Chris Carling has had a varied career as university lecturer, scriptwriter of award-winning training films, communications consultant, trainer, feature writer and most recently personal, business and career coach. Co-author of two books on communication (‘Understanding Language’ and ‘The Limitations of Language’, both published by Macmillan), she has also produced numerous feature articles for national newspapers and magazines, ebooks on Overcoming Anxiety and Work Life Balance (published by Pansophix), and a long-running personal growth enewsletter, Present Perfect (50+ issues archived at www.chriscoach.com). She lives and works in Cambridge.