Above: The Hon Helen Morton MLC, Minister for Mental Health and Disability Services with Sheryl Munday (author, right) at the launch of Shining Brightly

A Perth aged care worker has channelled her observations of the impact of dementia on families into a children’s picture book.

Shining Brightly, which was launched by WA Mental Health Minister, Helen Morton, at a function to mark Dementia Awareness Week in late September, relates the devastating progression of Alzheimer’s disease in an elderly woman through the eyes of her young grandaughter.

New author, Sheryl Munday, formerly a community care coordinator, is now a village manager for Southern Cross Care in WA. She says she was driven to produce the book – which has both written and illustrated – after witnessing daily the confusion experienced by relatives of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. 

“I was inspired to write Shining Brightly to help residents’ family members understand what was happening to their loved ones,” said Munday.  “I felt that they needed simple answers to questions like ‘why they have become forgetful?’ and ‘why they are moving into care?’.

“It is also important to sensitively inform children about what they can expect as the dementia progresses in a grandparent or family member.  I found that a children’s book was the perfect mechanism for this,” she said.

Above: The book’s cover.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Glenn Rees, has written a foreword to the book.

Mr Rees says, “The greatest enemy of people living with dementia is that their closest family and friends have limited or no understanding of dementia and the possibilities of communicating or relating to them in a way they would with any other person they love.

“This tender and moving book captures the difference love, patience and understanding can make, most importantly from the perspective of children.  […] They have much to teach grown ups.”

Chief executive officer of Southern Cross Care WA, Stuart Flynn, said the book could be a useful resource available to anyone dealing with a relative who has dementia.

“As an aged care provider offering support and accommodation to almost 3,000 Western Australians, including specialist dementia care, we thought this book was a unique resource that could be utilised to support the organisation’s own clients and families, as well as others facing similar circumstances in the wider community,” said Mr Flynn.

“Given the projected prevalence of dementia, it is inevitable that more and more children will face the realities of having to understand and deal with what dementia means for someone they love.” 

“This book recognises that reality, and will be of tremendous value to not only children, but also their parents, teachers and many others,” he said.

Publication of the book has been organised by Southern Cross Care WA and copies are available for purchase for $19.95 (inc.GST) plus $4.95 postage and handling from the Southern Cross Care WA website or by calling 1300 669 189. 

For bulk orders or distribution enquiries, please contact Tara Mitchell on 08 9282 9948 or email: ShiningBrightly@scrosswa.org.au

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