When we think of heroism, we tend to think of acts of physical bravery, but this is a book about a different kind of heroism. Regarded as one of the finest journalists of her generation, Mamie Baird Magnusson's whole life was a celebration of words - words that she fought to retain in the teeth of a disease which is fast becoming the scourge of the 21st century. Married to Magnus Magnusson, they had five children of whom Sally is the eldest. As well as chronicling the sadness, the loneliness and the unexpected laughs and joys of accompanying her beloved mother on the long dementia road, Sally seeks understanding from a range of experts and asks penetrating questions about how we treat older people. An extraordinary memoir and manifesto in one searingly beautiful narrative. This book began as an attempt to hold on to my witty, storytelling mother with the one thing I had to hand - words. Then, as the enormity of the social crisis we were part of began to dawn, I wrote with the thought that other forgotten lives - dehumanised and rendered invisible by a society that has no idea how to deal with longevity - might be nudged into the light along with hers.
Dementia is one of the greatest social, medical, economic, scientific, philosophical and moral challenges of our times. I am a reporter. It became the biggest story of my life. Sally Magnusson
Sally Magnusson cared for her mother Marie during her struggle with dementia for 8 years, until her death in 2012. This moving, honest and often blackly funny account of losing a loved one day by day to an insidious disease is both deeply personal and a call to arms as society considers the most humane and effective treatment of the sick and elderly.
Sally Magnusson is the oldest of five children of the late broadcaster and writer Magnus Magnusson and Mamie Baird, who also worked as a journalist. She studied English language and literature at the University of Edinburgh before starting her career in journalism at the The Scotsman in Edinburgh and then the Sunday Standard in Glasgow. She speaks fluent Icelandic. A regular presenter on BBC Scotland, Sally is married, has five children and lives in Scotland. She can be found on Twitter at @sallymag1.