Kristen Phillips’ book ‘Dad, You’ve Got Dementia’

Dad, You’ve Got Dementia: Conversations With My Father is local author Kristen Phillips’ new book that focuses on her experiences with her father Don through his journey with dementia. The book is an intimate look at their relationship, with a focus on the enduring love and connection that remains between them throughout the difficult late-stage years. Kristen writes an endearing and relatable book that is equal parts memoir and poetry. She expresses the moving importance of caring for whānau with dementia using patience and understanding, to help maintain the deep connections that remain throughout the process of memory loss. We sat down with Kristen for an interview and talked about what inspired her to write the book, what it was like sharing intimate moments in the book and her professional work in helping to reduce social stigmas around dementia in NZ.

Dad, You’ve Got Dementia is published by The Cuba Press. You can reserve a library copy here. Kristen also writes short book reviews for the series ‘On The Same Page‘, for New Zealand Dementia Foundation. For more resources for you and your whānau visit Dementia Wellington.

At the library we have also recently introduced He Kete Pupuri Mahara: Memory Bags to our borrowing collection. You can reserve and take home a collection of items aimed at encouraging conversation and reminiscence for people with dementia or memory loss.

Below is a list of some the books on dementia that we hold in our collection, including the books Kristen mentions in her interview:

Contented dementia : 24-hour wraparound care for lifelong well-being / James, Oliver
” A groundbreaking and practical method for managing dementia that will allow both sufferer and carer to maintain the highest possible quality of life. Dementia is a little-understood and currently incurable illness, but this guide shows how much can be done to maximize the quality of life for people with the condition. The SPECAL method (Specialized Early Care for Alzheimer’s) outlined in this book works by creating links between past memories and the routine activities of daily life in the present.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

What I wish people knew about dementia / Mitchell, Wendy
“What can a diseased brain tell us about being human, living our own lives better and helping those with dementia get the best from theirs? When Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia at the age of fifty-eight, her brain was overwhelmed with images of the last stages of the disease – those familiar tropes, shortcuts and clichés that we are fed by the media, or even our own health professionals. But her diagnosis far from represented the end of her life. Instead, it was the start of a very different one. Wise, practical and life affirming, What I Wish People Knew About Dementia combines anecdotes, research and Wendy Mitchell’s own brilliant wit and wisdom to tell readers exactly what she wishes they knew about dementia”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

One Last Thing: How To Live With The End In Mind / Mitchell, Wendy
“The last book from bestselling author and advocate Wendy Mitchell. One Last Thing, Wendy embarks on a journey to explore all angles of death: how we can prepare for it, how we talk about it with our loved ones and how we can be empowered to make our own choices.” (Catalogue)



Dementia : the basics / Innes, Anthea
“This book provides the reader with an overview of the basics in relation to dementia, dealing with different areas of the dementia journey: pre-diagnosis, diagnosis, post-diagnostic support, increasing care needs and support, and end of life care. Written by people from different backgrounds and disciplines, the book endeavours to raise awareness of dementia; challenge stereotypical and negative ideas about what it means to have dementia; and champion a society where people living with dementia can be active as they wish for as long as possible.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A better brain for life : preventing dementia and other chronic diseases / Caughey, Angela
“This book draws on research to show what can be done to foster a healthy brain, ward off many common chronic diseases, and prevent, or at least slow down, the brain’s decline”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)



What are you doing here? : reflections on dementia / Wainscott, Janet
“What Are You Doing Here is about dementia. The core of the book charts the journey of the author’s mother from mild confusion to severe dementia, from being cared for at home to her final years in a rest home. More than a memoir, this unsentimental but compassionate account draws on interviews with other family caregivers and challenges some of the popular myths about dementia.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The ACB with Honora Lee / De Goldi, Kate
“Kate De Goldi’s The ACB with Honora Lee unfolds with characteristic warmth, quirky, surprising humour and a rich cast of ‘residents’. The story is a meditation on kindness and patience and acceptance; that of the very young and the very old. It’s a story that will resonate with echoes of recollection for many — from Perry’s endearing perspective on the adult world to the embracing kindness of those who care for the elderly”–Publisher information. Suggested level: primary, intermediate, junior secondary.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The dementia care-partner’s workbook : a guide for understanding, education, and hope / Shaw, Edward G
“The Dementia Care Partner’s Workbook is a support group manual and a self-study guide for care partners of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia such as vascular, frontotemporal, Parkinson’s, or Lewy body. It provides 13 lessons for support group participants or individuals who desire independent study, as well as a free downloadable leader’s manual valuable to professional or lay leaders from secular or faith-based organizations.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Adaptive interaction and dementia : how to communicate without speech / Ellis, Maggie
“Effective communication with people with dementia is imperative to good relationships with professional caregivers and family members. This book offers a person-centred approach to assessing the communication skills of people with dementia who are unable to speak, and presents evidence-based methods for effective non-verbal communication.” (Catalogue)