I Know You By Heart

Navigating the Dementia Journey

Non-Fiction - Inspirational
124 Pages
Reviewed on 01/04/2021
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Author Biography

After graduating from Luther College with a degree in Sociology and Religion, Angie Swetland's first job was as an Activity Director in a small-town nursing home. Over 40 years later, she retired from her position as Corporate Director of Customer Relations at Presbyterian Homes and Services (PHS). During her time at PHS, she developed curricula for Dementia Care services and worked with teams at each site to assure that care protocols were in place. In addition, she assisted in the development of a Dementia Care Specialist certification program offered jointly by the Alzheimer's Association of Minnesota and North Dakota, and served on its faculty.

Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of Our Lady of Peace Hospice and Home and facilitates a Dementia Caregiver Support Group at Easter Lutheran Church.

Angie enjoys public speaking and has spoken at the annual Meetings of LeadingAge of Minnesota, LeadingAge (national), and at the Alzheimer's Association National Dementia Care Conference. In addition, she was on the faculty of the Housing with Services Management Certificate program offered through LeadingAge of Minnesota. She has spoken to area churches about Dementia Care.

She and her husband reside in Minnesota.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

I Know You by Heart: Navigating the Dementia Journey by Angie Swetland is both an informative and inspirational book that explores Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia from an angle I have not read in any related books. Using stories, practical examples, and real-life situations, the author takes readers on a journey toward understanding dementia, exploring its deeper meaning and causes, its toll on a person, the common symptoms, and facts that caregivers need to know so they can easily connect and help people under their care. At the heart of the book is the message of hope that patients with dementia do not lose their minds; their minds simply slip away. Readers will understand that their loved ones have not changed and that deep inside, they are still there. The book proposes a new way of looking at people with dementia and shows an effective strategy for connecting and helping them live their life to the full.

Angie Swetland’s book is a wonderful gift for caregivers and anyone living with patients with Alzheimer’s. The writing is filled with insight and I loved how the author uses the art of storytelling to crystallize the message of this book. The book is well-formatted, allowing readers to easily navigate to sections they like, and the bullet points are just spot-on, making it easy to read. There is a lot to discover and to learn from this book, and I loved how the author conveys the message that people tend to remember things that have emotional content, for instance, and information that relates to things that have always mattered to them and the author’s unmistakable take on muscle memories, even in deep dementia. While I Know You by Heart is deftly written and contains need-to-know information on dementia, it defines a new path to relating with people suffering from the condition and offers hope by showing readers that there is a deeper, more powerful way of connecting with anyone with Alzheimer’s. The author’s voice is compelling, reassuring, and sympathetic. You need this book if you want to understand dementia.

Lois Henderson

I Know You by Heart: Navigating the Dementia Journey by Angie Swetland tells the story of multiple dementia sufferers, partly in anecdotal form which focuses on the individual and partly in terms of what might, in other words, be regarded as “cold, hard facts” about the disease and its many and varied ramifications, but which here, under the loving and concerned guidance of a carer supreme, is told with warmth and empathy. The stories have been gathered from a forty-year career in elder care, much of which has been dedicated to assisting those with dementia. In this relatively short text, Swetland takes us through the various stages of this progressive and irreversible mental illness, which is debilitating on so many different levels, physical, mental, and emotional. Through it all, the essential essence of the person is, nevertheless, shown as remaining very much alive.

The formatting of I Know You by Heart by Angie Swetland is a particularly pleasing element of the book, making it so easy and welcoming to read that it is a pleasure to read at a single sitting if that is what you desire to do. The work is divided into sixteen clearly demarcated chapters, including “Recommended Reading” and “Helpful Websites.” The personal accounts of aspects of the life of dementia sufferers, told in the third person, are all given in italics, and quotes from the text are presented in boxes reflecting certain of the key points covered. In short, I Know You by Heart is highly accessible, so that carers for the elderly, at whom this work is largely directed, should easily be able to find the time and energy to read this incredibly insightful account. It is bound to give them heightened insight into the physical and mental workings of those for whom they care.

Vernita Naylor

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 50 million people have dementia, with nearly 60% living in low and middle-income countries, and the cases are rising astronomically every year. You may personally know of someone that is living with or has died from complications of dementia or Alzheimer's. If you are experiencing symptoms or you're a caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed, lost, or alone. Reading I Know You By Heart: Navigating the Dementia Journey by Angie Swetland will help you to better understand the nuances of this disease and the best approach to use in working through it. Angie has used her 40 years in the eldercare industry and that of a caregiver in creating this book to help ease the pathway for others along their journey. These personal stories provide a close-up account of the blessings and challenges that occur with either the patient, caregiver, family, or friends. This book is a must-have companion for learning about dementia from the different types and stages, warning signs, resources, and support, with recommended books and websites to see things through the eyes of the patient.

"To love someone is to learn their song. And sing it to them when they have forgotten -- Arne Garborg" is an excellent way to start this book. The person feels the challenges occurring with them and it's your job, whether or not you're the caregiver, to let them know that it's okay and go with them on this new adventure without judgment but with love. I was a caregiver for years as my father transitioned from one phase to another and without the proper tools, one can become confused and unsure. During this journey, I later realized that each phase was actually by God's design along with His grace. We were able to see that life is precious, each moment is special, and to embrace the times that we had together. I wish I'd had this book during that time; it would have helped tremendously. If you're a caregiver you may think that they don't understand but within their depths they do and you'll be blessed for it. Highly recommended.