A ground-breaking new book on sensory changes associated with dementia

Talking Sense: Living with sensory changes and dementia, written by Agnes Houston MBE with Dr Julie Christie, and published by HammondCare, is being launched on May 9 2019 at the inaugural International Conference on Palliative Dementia Care (ICPDC) at Europa Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Talking Sense is the culmination of more than a decade of research by Agnes Houston after she was diagnosed with younger onset dementia in 2006. She found that not only was there little support for continued independence, but what support there was had virtually no awareness of the common experience of sensory change.

“It was as if I had been given a diagnosis, was assessed cognitively, medication monitored and left to my own devices,” Ms Houston said. “Instead, I chose to go on a quest for knowledge to understand what was happening to me. Surely, I was not the only one having these sensory changes?”

Ms Houston is known internationally as an advocate for people living with dementia and in 2016, she completed a Churchill Fellowship to continue her learning about the often overlooked issue of sensory challenges.

“My findings confirmed the need for this handbook, which I hope will be a starting place for others to discover information on sensory challenges,” Ms Houston said.

“My hope is that sensory issues will be part of the curriculum of all relevant professionals such as GPs, nurses, allied health professionals and those studying health and social sciences. I hope that care homes and home care partners will recognise when people with dementia have a support need related to sensory issues.”

Director of the Dementia Centre, Professor Colm Cunningham, said the lived experience of people living with dementia is increasingly informing the understanding of dementia and this is especially true in regard to sensory changes.

Talking sense is the result of Agnes’ personal journey of discovery and her courageous fight to ensure the voices of people with dementia —who experience sensory changes—are heard.”

To support Ms Houston in sharing her findings as broadly as possible, Talking Sense will be available as a free download from The Dementia Centre website, with printed copies available for free at select conferences and events (including the launch) in the United Kingdom and Australia.

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