A book intended to help young children better understand dementia has been written by a physiotherapist at Barnet Hospital.
Katie Faulkner, who specialises in dementia patients, wrote Big Bear, Little Bear And Dementia as a way of “helping children understand what is happening”.
Ms Faulkner was eight years old when her great grandmother was diagnosed with dementia.
“I know that my family shielded me from a lot of it, but it can be hurtful when someone you love doesn’t recognise you any more… It’s difficult to understand it all when you are very young.”
“The book can help you understand that it is OK to feel angry or upset that someone you love has been diagnosed with dementia,” she added.
Big Bear, Little Bear And Dementia tells the story of a bear who places books full of memories on shelves, with the newest memories at the top.
Dementia makes the shelf shake, so the books containing the newest memories are the first to fall off and those memories are no longer accessible – but the story goes on to explain that they are stored safely in the bear’s heart.
Ms Faulkner said she wanted to write a story that felt inclusive and “could apply to anyone”.
“Most of the material out there is very focused on older women – however this condition can affect a wide range of people and I wanted to create a story that could apply to anyone,” she said.
Having thought of the idea for the book in lockdown, Ms Faulkner joined forces with artist and illustrator Iain Welch, who had done a painting of her dog.
“I thought the way he captures animals is so beautiful… I asked if he would collaborate with me on this book and he agreed and it just escalated from there,” she said.
“The feedback from people who’ve read the book has been amazing, this is a complete passion project for me so I am so pleased it’s been really well received.
“I would love to take it around schools to raise awareness of dementia among children.”
After self-publishing and selling around 70 copies, Ms Faulkner has now had offers from six different publisher.
“I have been posting the books out to buyers… It’s got to the point where I don’t have the capacity to do this on my own – so I think I will look at working with a publisher instead,” she said.
“Lockdown has been really difficult for people living with dementia as they have not been able to access some of the services they would have done normally and they’ve become very isolated.
“I really hope this book can help in some way by raising awareness of this condition.”