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N.S. Dolkart

How Writing Fantasy Prepared Me for Dementia Care

When I worked in eldercare, both in assisted living facilities and in a nursing home, people who found out I was a novelist would often say things like, “Lots of material around here,” or “Do you write about your work?” I would always smile wryly and say no, my writing is pretty much unrelated.

I write epic fantasy. My characters swing swords, cast spells, and alternately wield or try to evade divine intervention. With a single memorable exception, they do not have dementia or even act particularly irrationally. Most of the time, the connection between my writing and my work wasn’t nearly as obvious as people apparently imagined.

But there is a connection. Writing fantasy helped me build a particular set of problem-solving skills that I used in my work day in and day out. To explain how, I’m going to have to tell you a bit about best practices in dementia care.

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