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Book review: The Little Girl in the Radiator: Mum, Alzheimer’s & Me by Martin Slevin

This book is a heart-breaking account of the author’s personal experience of coping with his mother’s deterioration with the cruel disease that is Alzheimer’s.  It is not meant as a medical text, nor should it be taken as one, however both medics and laymen alike stand to learn an awful lot from reading this book.

Don’t be put off by the subject matter; the book is incredibly well written and is very entertaining and even amusing in parts.  Mr Slevin manages to recount some of the more distressing aspects to his mother’s condition with a hint of humour, and throughout you feel that he is sharing his experiences in order to help others to cope.

Some of the more harrowing episodes relate to the lady’s treatment in a care home, which opens our eyes to the distressing and harsh attitude that some of these supposedly caring places may have.  Fortunately, in the end, Mr Slevin finds a wonderful home for his mother, where she is suitably cared for and lives out her last days in relative happiness, unaware of her condition, and talking always, to the little girl in the radiator.

Having read this, I for one, shall look at my patients with dementia in a new light, as well as treating their carers with even more respect, admiration and sympathy than I have done until now.


Dr Natalie Smith is a GP Fellow (ST4) at The Manor Surgery in Headington, Oxford


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