Grove City Record

'Maneuvering Through Dementia'

Resident's book meant as caregiver resource

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Rosemary Barkes never intended to write a book.

"This was not on my bucket list," the Grove City resident said. "This just kind of fell in my lap."

Last year, Barkes, 75, of Grove City, published her book, The Dementia Dance: Maneuvering Through Dementia While Maintaining Your Sanity, through Trusted Books, a division of Deep River Books. Her short story Comic Relief also was published this spring in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias.

The book grew as Barkes took notes while serving as caretaker for her mother, Lois Osborn, who died in 2008 after suffering from dementia during her last years

Barkes said the book, comprised of 48 chapters, contains all the lessons and experiences she took away during that time.

"I really thought about what people -- caregivers, which is what I was -- need to know," she said. "People are crying for information. There's a lot of need out there. ... I'm not saying it's easy, but it can be managed."

Barkes' mother suffered from short-term memory loss, and there were times she wouldn't take her medication or eat and times when she forgot to flush the toilet after using it. The book covers events such as when Barkes first suspected something was wrong with her mother. It was at her father's funeral, when her mother asked who had died.

The book also addresses moving a loved one to a nursing facility, the changes that come with simply handling meals and more.

Taking care of someone with dementia means being an advocate for them, Barkes said. It requires patience, constant communication and the ability to "stay in the moment."

"Trying to change them is not going to work," Barkes said. "Go where they are. They're a different person now. You have to be a different person."

While there were numerous trying times and ordeals, Barkes said there were happy moments and laughs along the way.

"There are things you can do with your loved ones and you need to focus on the things you can do, instead of what you can't do," she said. "You can have fun. You can still have a great time."

Since writing the book, Barkes said it has taken her all over the central Ohio area and out of state for signings and speaking appearances at churches, conferences and assisted living facilities. In June, she was in Atlanta for the International Christian Retail Show.

Barkes, who holds bachelor's degrees in speech and hearing and radio and television broadcast, said she enjoys talking with people and making connections. She said she's found that people of all ages from all walks of life have been affected by dementia, and they're looking for guidance.

"People need to ask for help," Barkes said. "People don't take care of themselves and they don't reach out. ... People need to know this. Caregivers need to know there's hope to survive this"

The Dementia Dance is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It is also available through Barkes' personal website, barkesbooks .com, or by contacting her at jrbarkes@juno.com.

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