A BOOK of simple yet emotive letters to dementia from the perspective of those affected has captured the attention of MPs, academics and celebrities within weeks of its release.
When Ian Donaghy, a care training provider formerly of Tow Law, County Durham, created Dear Dementia: The Laughter and the Tears using his iPhone and a 60p mobile app, the father-of-two had no idea of the impact it would have.
Since its publication last month, copies have been sold across the globe and it has received glowing reviews from celebrities and dementia campaigners.
Television presenter Angela Ripon, an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, described it as “a work of true love.”
Meanwhile, Dr Trevor Jarvis EDE BEM, also an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, who is living with vascular dementia, was so impressed he took along to the House of Commons and agreed to write the forward.
Mr Donaghy, a former teacher who now runs a training company for carers in York, said he wanted to tackle the ignorance surrounding dementia, a brain condition that affect an individual’s ability to think, reason and remember.
His aim was to capture the challenges of the condition, as well as the happy and tender moments shared by families affected.
“In the past few years I have worked with spies, FA cup winners, ballroom dancers and bomber pilots all now with dementia,” he explained.
“I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s. My mother in law was diagnosed at 59. Our lives are now all about supporting her with our family.
“Dementia is an uninvited guest it is sometimes like trying to do a jigsaw without the box.
“It does not discriminate and is often merciless but amongst all of the tears and echoes of ‘why me’ there is still laughter to be heard.”
Deliberately the same size as a Mr Men book, Dear Dementia features short yet powerful letters expressing the thoughts and feelings of those affected.
The 44-year-old wrote the letters based on his own experiences and conversations with dementia suffers and their friends and family, including children.
Words are used sparingly to leave room for the reader’s own feelings and emotions and to ensure it is accessible to people of all ages.
The illustrations are created from photographs of the author’s friends and family using a smart phone sketch application.
“Friends and relatives in Tow Law and York were happy to pose,” he said. “I want to show that dementia can affect us all and I have been overwhelmed by the support I have had. I hope this book will give people a better understanding of dementia.”
Dear Dementia: The Laughter and the Tears is available online at careinfo.org/products-page/books/dear-dementia-the-laughter-and-the-tears/ priced £9.99.
Hawker Publications will donate 50p from every copy sold to the Alzheimer’s Society.