A book review: Untangling Dementia by Tam Cummings

Last Friday, staff from AGE of Central Texas gathered for an incredible in-house training by Tam Cummings, author of Untangling Dementia. Tam Cummings is a professional with over 20 years of experience and extensive training and advanced education in gerontology. She has worked directly with dementia patients and their families in a variety of settings, including serving as a program director for memory communities, as a social worker, and as a geriatric case manager. Cummings works to demystify the journey of dementia for patients, their families, and anyone touched by these devastating diseases.

Over the course of this full-day session she shared her intimate and abounding knowledge of dementia. Cummings led the group on an in-depth exploration of how to deal with this disease at every level, from every perspective. Since aging is our specialty at AGE of Central Texas, and 1 out of 6 older adults have dementia, it is our job to continually learn and explore best practices for working with clients with dementia. But this training made the information so accessible, and it gave our staff a fresh look at how to share this knowledge with clients and caregivers who come in seeking guidance at AGE.

Tam Cummings’s book, by the same token, gives an honest but easily digestible road map for what the journey will look like after a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. In Untangling Dementia she tell you the truth. This book is not for those who do not want to know what’s coming next in Alzheimer’s or dementia, either for yourself or your loved one. Cummings has a brilliant way, however, of painting an honest picture that is laced with compassion and rooted in the humble and shared experiences of others who have known and loved someone with dementia.

The book covers four major topics:

  • An informative tour through the progression of dementia and how it affects your loved one as it moves through the brain
  • Communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s – and some hints on how to make it a less frustrating task by understanding the person’s current experience perspective
  • Signs to look for from the “four A’s” of Alzheimer’s
  • An informed account of what happens when death is near for your loved one, and how to welcome these things when it’s time

One of the wonderful things about this book is Cummings’s gifted way of using true-to-life examples that illustrate her points and make them easier to understand. Her explanations are matter-of-fact, but they are not without compassion for the experience. Her book contains nuggets of wisdom that every family who has someone with dementia should hear. If you are someone or know someone who has received a diagnosis of dementia and would like a great read that will give you some understanding, support, and implementable takeaways in facing your new journey, Untangling Dementia is a wonderful place to start.

You can actually check out an excerpt from Untangling Dementia on Tam Cummings’s website. To see the excerpt directly, click here.

Thank you, Tam, for this great resource and for spending time to share your experience and knowledge with the community.

If you or your loved one is facing dementia or other challenges on your journey of aging, AGE of Central Texas would love to be a resource for you. Even if you don’t know where to start, you can ask questions, brainstorm, and receive guidance from our staff to help you identify what you need. Please visit our website (www.AGEofCentralTX.org) or give us a call at 512-451-4611.

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