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Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief

Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief

4.8 7
by Pauline Boss

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Research-based advice for people who care for someone with dementia

Nearly half of U.S. citizens over the age of 85 are suffering from some kind of dementia and require care. Loving Someone Who Has Dementia is a new kind of caregiving book. It's not about the usual techniques, but about how to manage on-going stress and grief. The book is


Research-based advice for people who care for someone with dementia

Nearly half of U.S. citizens over the age of 85 are suffering from some kind of dementia and require care. Loving Someone Who Has Dementia is a new kind of caregiving book. It's not about the usual techniques, but about how to manage on-going stress and grief. The book is for caregivers, family members, friends, neighbors as well as educators and professionals—anyone touched by the epidemic of dementia. Dr. Boss helps caregivers find hope in "ambiguous loss"—having a loved one both here and not here, physically present but psychologically absent.

  • Outlines seven guidelines to stay resilient while caring for someone who has dementia
  • Discusses the meaning of relationships with individuals who are cognitively impaired and no longer as they used to be
  • Offers approaches to understand and cope with the emotional strain of care-giving

Boss's book builds on research and clinical experience, yet the material is presented as a conversation. She shows you a way to embrace rather than resist the ambiguity in your relationship with someone who has dementia.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With numerous new books on all aspects of growing older, publishers are targeting the baby boomer population—including the increasing percentage of elderly people who suffer from dementia or, more accurately, the increasing number of people who become caretakers for those with dementia. Among these titles, this slight text by clinical psychologist Boss (family social science, emeritus, Univ. of Minnesota; Ambiguous Loss: Learning To Live with Unresolved Grief) emphasizes that the patient is both present and gone and that grieving in such a situation is difficult because it is prolonged and unmarked by cultural rituals. These are certainly interesting ideas, but the result is the same old advice: take care of yourself, seek emotional support, get help. VERDICT A good addition for caregivers who need a quick lift, but Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins's The 36-Hour Day and Susan M. McCurry's When a Family Member Has Dementia are better starting points.—Mary Ann Hughes, Shelton, WA

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Meet the Author

Pauline Boss, PhD, is emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota and was visiting professor at Harvard Medical School, 1995–1996, and Hunter School of Social Work, 2004–2005. She is best known for her groundbreaking research as the pioneer theorist and clinical practitioner of stress reduction for people whose loved ones are ambiguously lost.

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Loving Someone Who Has Dementia 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
KarenSG More than 1 year ago
I found Pauline Boss's book helpful from the caregiver's point of view. Her book was easy to read, being broken up into digestible portions, with a wrap up of each chapter with ideas for reflection. Pauline helped me gain some insight into the pain and sadness I am feeling for an upside-down relationship, where a daughter becomes the mother. The ambiguous loss that she talks about is lived over and over in this kind of a relationship. Reading the chapter "The Good Enough Relationship" helped me come to grips that the "perfect relationship" we once had is gone forever, and to stop wishing it back and accept what we still have and value that. I'd reccomend this both to others and will be passing the book on to my caregiver sisters. I will want to re-read portions later, as we continue on the journey that my Mother's dementia is taking us.
TedBowman More than 1 year ago
Loving Someone Who Has Dementia is a gift to caregivers! Few persons live with such a confusing, demanding, and sorrow-filled experience as caring for someone with dementia. Pauline Boss has devoted her professional career to doing research, developing clinical methods, and enlarging and enriching what is known about dementia, families, and losses. This is her gift, written in easily readable form, for caregivers. I can assert this wearing two hats: my professional work is devoted to workshops and writing related to disruptive changes in the lives of families and the resulting grief and loss. Personally, my mom lived for over a decade of steady decline as a result of dementia. It's one thing to do something professionally; it's still another thing to live with it personally. I could have and would have benefited from Pauline Boss's wonderful volume. Loving Someone Who Has Dementia is written with a conversational tone. It's almost as if Boss is talking with the reader. Stories about caregivers are followed by insights and commentary about what is going on, alternative responses, reassurance, and good information. The book is especially strong in its discussion of the ambiguity of dementia, the conflicting thoughts and feelings of caregivers, and its emphasis that the care of the caregiver is directly related to the quality of life of the care receiver. I strongly recommend this volume.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pauline Boss has written a brilliant guidebook for understanding and accepting the heartbreak of living with a patient with dementia. She describes a new approach for the caregiver that involves both love and detachment. There is great wisdom here, beautiful insights. And It is written so wonderfully well. What a pleasure to read this thoughtful and helpful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pauline Boss's book is a must-read for anyone who is caring (hands-on or long-distance) for someone with dementia or has a relative or friend who is providing care. It explains and illustrates how your relationship with a loved one who has dementia is altered and offers much-needed guidance on how to cope with the stress and grief of the changed relationship. After my mother had a stroke, I struggled greatly with her changed personality and was so sad and confused. However, Dr. Boss helped me understand that it is the ambiguity of the situation-Mom is "here, but not here"-that is so distressing, and it is a relief to know my sadness is normal. (She calls this situation an "ambiguous loss.") Also, if you're a "can-do" person and think anything can be fixed if you work hard enough, the chapters, "Delicious Ambiguity" and "The Good-Enough Relationship," are invaluable. I'm learning to let go of trying to find a solution to Mom's dementia (because a fix is not available), but instead to be with Mom as she "is" now, and that is such a liberating feeling. Finally, and also very important, is that the author's warm and conversational writing style makes the reader feel like you are "talking" with a trusted friend who truly understands what it's like to love someone who has dementia-and that is priceless. Friends and relatives are not always available when you need support, so I recommend that you have this book on your shelf for those times when you need some TLC. Dr. Boss's book has been extremely helpful as I try to live with and understand my changing relationship with my mom since her stroke.
Dianepapalia More than 1 year ago
Pauline Boss has produced a unique book to help caregivers and family members deal with the painful skewed relationship that dementia causes. She writes in a clear and conversational style, demonstrating great compassion and understanding. She will help you find meaning in a confusing relationship as the person you love fades away into dementia. Brimming with practical advice, it is a must-read for anyone who cares about someone who has dementia and is struggling with the stress of such a relationship.
MNRichard More than 1 year ago
My brother with Alzheimer's is half a continent away. I gave the book to my sister-in-law as an expression of support. She is effusive with gratitude for its practical and timely wisdom. Most recently, the book helped her understand that her husband was sad and not depressed -- "given the events of the weekend, this came as a great relief" to her. I first read it thinking it would help me support my sister-in-law. Then came the tingle down my back when I recognized that I was reading it for myself despite the geographic distance separating me from a brother I love. Everyone should get to know the wisdom, compassion, practical help and support Professor Boss offers. I am recommending this book to everyone and giving it to as many as I can.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The outline given here is NOT for LOVING SOMEONE WHO HAS DEMENTIA! Please, B and N, fix this.