Where Memories Go : Why Dementia Changes Everything, Hardback

Where Memories Go : Why Dementia Changes Everything Hardback

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER - AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK 'The tenuous but vital reconnection between a child and its mother' - The Sunday Times Facebook.com/WhereMemoriesGo Scottish broadcaster and author Sally Magnusson cared with her two sisters for their mother Mamie during many years of living with dementia.

Sad and funny, wise and honest, this deeply intimate account of insidious losses and unexpected joys is also a call to arms that challenges us all to think differently.

This book began as an attempt to hold on to my witty, storytelling mother with the one thing I had to hand.

Words. Then, as the enormity of the social crisis my family was part of began to dawn, I wrote with the thought that other forgotten lives might be nudged into the light along with hers.

Dementia is one of the greatest social, medical, economic, scientific, philosophical and moral challenges of our times.

I am a reporter. It became the biggest story of my life. - Sally Magnusson Regarded as one of the finest journalists of her generation, Mamie Baird Magnusson's whole life was a celebration of words - words that she fought to retain in the grip of a disease which is fast becoming the scourge of the 21st century.

Married to writer and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson, they had five children of whom Sally is the eldest.

As well as chronicling the anguish, the frustrations and the unexpected laughs and joys that she and her sisters experienced while accompanying their beloved mother on the long dementia road for eight years until her death in 2012, Sally Magnusson seeks understanding from a range of experts and asks penetrating questions about how we treat older people, how we can face one of the greatest social, medical, economic and moral challenges of our times, and what it means to be human.

An extraordinary and deeply personal memoir, a manifesto and a call to arms, in one searingly beautiful narrative.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9781444751789



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Sally Magnusson's WHERE MEMORIES GO: WHY DEMENTIA CHANGES EVERYTHING is, more than anything, a heartbreakingly beautiful love letter to her late mother, who succumbed, following a years-long struggle, to that cruellest of diseases.Mamie Magnusson was a journalist and columnist, locally famous and beloved in her native Scotland, where, with her more famous husband, TV personality Magnus Magnusson, she raised five children of whom Sally is the oldest. The author's memories of her parents and the ways in which she and her siblings rallied together to provide care as her mother's mind slowly slipped away form the beating heart of this touching tribute. As an investigative journalist, Magnusson also inserts alternate chapters incorporating the research she undertook about the insidious nature of Alzheimer's and other causes of dementia; and she also documents the grossly inadequate and often casually cruel way in which dementia patients are treated and 'warehoused' by the health care system. And while all of this is helpful and informative, the thing that makes this book so damn good, so heart-wrenchingly effective, is the personal stuff: the stories of her parents' childhoods and courtship, her memories of her own childhood, the description of losing her father to pancreatic cancer, and, most of all, the final years, months and days of her mother's life. There is humor here too, as Mamie was a person who loved to laugh and sing and make others laugh - a quality she kept right up to the bitter end, fighting through the fog of dementia, groping for words. And losing the 'words' was perhaps the cruelest cut of all, because Mamie loved words, made her living with words. But when the words began to go, it simply became too very sad. And what made it even worse was that Mamie seemed to know what was happening to her, as evidenced by her "heroic ability to summon words to express what [she] was going through." This is heartbreakingly clear in some of her last coherent sentences, phrases like -"I've reached a stage where everything is nothing ... I'm just daft ... I just felt the whole world was going." And I must readily admit here, that I could not remain objective about a book like this. Having lost my own aged mother in the past year, Magnusson's descriptions of her mother's rapid decline and the indignities endemic to old age made me remember my mother's last months and weeks. As I read Magnusson's account, I often found myself grimacing, on the verge of tears. I knew, of course, that a book like this could not end happily, and at the end, which I knew must come, I wept.This is a book about love. If you have lost a beloved parent, you will relate. And yes, you will probably weep. HIGHLY recommended.

Review by

bookshelves: published-2014, radio-4, nonfiction, mental-health, fradio, biography, winter-20132014, those-autumn-years, familiesRead from February 01 to 07, 2014BOTWBBC description: 'If dementia were a country it would be the world's 18th largest economy, somewhere between Turkey and Indonesia.'Scottish broadcaster Sally Magnusson reads her moving but searingly honest account of her mother Mamie Baird's long struggle with dementia. Regarded as one of the finest journalists of her generation, Mamie Baird's whole life was a celebration of words - words that she fought to retain until the very end. Married to writer and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson, the working-class Scot was known for her witty, outrageous and fun-loving stories, her love of music and of life itself. As well as chronicling the anguish, the frustrations and the unexpected laughs that Sally and her sisters experienced while caring for their mother for eight years until her death in 2012, Sally seeks understanding from scientists, doctors, philosophers and historians in the face of one of the greatest challenges of our times. This is both a call to arms, a poignant account of what makes us human, and a portrait of what it is really like to lose a loved one day by day.Abridged by: Sara Davies Produced by: Justine Willett Reader: Sally Magnusson: Sally Magnusson is a Scottish broadcaster and writer, currently working as the presenter of Reporting Scotland for BBC Scotland. Her father is the late broadcaster and writer Magnus Magnusson.1. Warning Signs: the early but frighteningly tell-tale signs of dementia emerge on a trip to Mull.2. Facing up: Despite the telltale warning signs, Sally and her family are still doing their best to ignore the truth.3. The Death of a Husband: Sally Magnusson reads the moving memoir of her mother's long struggle with dementia.4. Consolation in Forgetting: Sally sees that there is sometimes consolation in forgetting.5. A Peaceful End: In this episode, a peaceful end amongst family.Listen hereI like that the end was at home.

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