In search of my father

In Search of My Father – Dementia is no match for a daughter’s determination

What happens when life throws together a busy, enthusiastic, doctor-daughter and her bereaved, disenchanted, dependent father? What happens when science meets stubbornness and a parent needs parenting?

Following her mother’s death, Dr Helena Popovic puts her medical training and beliefs to the test when she becomes the carer for her elderly father, who has encroaching dementia.

A passionate medical practitioner and international speaker, Helena finds herself living out everything she preached.

This moving story is part personal diary, part scientific treatise and part practical guide, woven together with humorous anecdotes. Above all, it’s an inspiring account of a daughter in search of her father: the man beyond the grief, despair, depression and dementia.

This timeless book deals with a complex issue many of us will need to face: how best to care for elderly parents or loved ones who can no longer care for themselves. What do those in our care most need from us?

Are there steps we can take to defy dementia and build a better brain? Are we able to sharpen our intellect, tap into brain potential we never knew we had, and prevent the cognitive decline most of us believe is inevitable with ageing?

The answer is an unequivocal YES!

Facts inform but stories transform. The facts in this book will change your thinking – the story in this book will change your life.

‘Who would have thought that dementia could be such an adventure—that adventure, in fact, prevents dementia!’ Dr Sarah Woodbury FRANZCOG

Video testimonial

What Readers are Saying about In Search of My Father

  • Dear Helena, I recently borrowed your book In Search of My Father from the library and am so grateful that it was recommended to me! I’m just over half way through, and have been totally captivated so far. I will definitely buy a copy to share with my sisters. This book resonates with me, as my Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the beginning of last year. He is single and was living alone, and so the entire responsibility of what needed to be done fell to my sisters and I. We’ve had to grieve the loss of our Dad as we knew him, and adjust to our new roles as his caretakers. It’s been extremely tough, and has had a huge impact on all of us. Reading your book is somehow comforting to me. The brain boosting tips you offer throughout the book are giving me some hope. Thank you so very much for writing this book! I hope I will get the chance to hear you speak some day. Sincerely from one of your New Zealand fans,

  • Wow Helena, you came into my life at the right time. I have been using In Search of My Father like a grenade among dormant minds. Your book resonates with my ideas and explains exactly what I want for my mother. Thank you for your beautifully expressed clarity.

  • Just wanted to let you know that Helena’s book has been inspirational to my wife and her family in Edinburgh. Her father has dementia, and is deteriorating quite quickly. The family now have a motivating guide that they can use to try and get him progressing again. Please pass on our thanks!

    Stephen Wallace
  • What a wonderful book! I have loved reading it and it is so deep and engaging.

    Kerry Howells PhD Senior Lecturer, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania
  • Dear Helena, I heard you speak in Queensland on Fitzroy Island last Sunday morning. You were so inspiring that I immediately bought your book. I have finished reading it and just can’t get you off my mind. Thank you for all you do in helping the people in Australia with your ‘love of life’ and tips on how to overcome pain, suffering and depression. I shall never forget what you said.

    Libby Kosmala
  • Hi Helena, I have just finished reading your very inspiring book.  It was wonderful and I have just passed it on to a dear friend of mine whose mother is just showing signs of dementia. I was astounded by your diligence and your patience – unconditional love does just bring out our best characteristics. Just a brilliant story that no doubt will provide so much hope to so many. Thank you again and best wishes!

    Leslie Williams
  • Hi Helena, A while ago you presented a webinar for the APA and in it referred to your then newly-released book, In Search of my Father. Well, I loved your presentation, thought the book would be a good read, and purchased it. A few days ago I opened your book and I couldn’t put it down! I finished it a few minutes ago. I absolutely loved it and thought you needed to know how fantastic it was. At first I thought it was going to be more of a science-in-action books (which I love too), but then as it got to the second half, I realised it was much more. I work in aged care, and about a third of my clients have dementia of varying severities. It was heart-warming to have a book that showed both sides to the story, and I really appreciated it both professionally and personally (my Dad has been having many a ‘senior’s moment’ too). As he is a father of three daughters (two of them health professionals) and a wife, he has no-end of ‘useful advice’, but now I will try and just listen to him and see what he wants out of life. So thanks again. This is definitely a book I will share around to colleagues, family and friends.

    Alexandra Ellis Your Home Physio
  • Just a note to say thank you so much for coming to New Zealand and being part of the 2013 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.  What a pleasure to have you here and particularly to showcase you alongside Kate in what was a very special hour session warmly received by all who attended. It was a tremendously successful event for the Festival this year, with more than 13,000 attendees and 34,000+seats filled, not least because of the exceptional line-up of writer talent and it was a real joy to be able to include you in that. I hope you found it rewarding. All the very best to you and your Dad for the future and I look forward to our paths crossing again at some point.

    Anne O’Brien Festival Director, 2014 Auckland Writers Festival
  • I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your book. Not only because of your detailed descriptions of your struggles with your father and his condition – about which we are learning more and more – but also because of your interesting anecdotes about travel, life in Serbia and how you juggle your time on a daily basis. I intended to place the book in the Alzheimers Australia NSW library but have been informed that a copy is already there and that it is one of the most popular books that our friends, people living with dementia, are borrowing already. On that basis I am sure that they will have use now for a second copy. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to learn of your story.

    Ian Horton Director, Alzheimers Australia NSW
  • I just wanted to touch base with you, to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your book! In fact am eating blueberries as I am writing this ???? Since I saw you a few days ago on the Project on Channel 10, I am assuming that you have returned from your trip to Serbia – I really hope they fixed the bathroom door. ????

    Katja Gunness Care Coordinator
  • Both my grandparents had dementia so your book really spoke to me. After reading it, I gave it to my Mum – who also loved it. She looked after her parents with diligence and love when they both had dementia and I know to this day she feels proud of how she cared for them (while also dealing with two young children and a job). I know she meant to write to you herself to thank you, but I think time’s got in the way (as it does). She adored the quotes at the beginning so much that every time we have a family-and-friends gathering at my parents’ house, she whips out your book and reads out the quotes (which are so relevant to everybody). It’s terrific stuff.

    Cecily-Anna Bennett Features Editor, Pacific Magazines
  • You recently spoke at the NSW CPA Congress and very kindly signed a copy of your book for me. I subsequently read the book and wanted to thank you very much indeed for writing it. It was a beautiful account of your relationship with your father. Thank you also for all the brain boosting tips and the sayings at the beginning of each chapter, many of which were very profound. In the last few years, I have made adjustments to improve my general health and fitness and very much appreciate how important they are they to my mental health. At her request, I have given your book to my mother to read and will be most interested in her thoughts. In closing, may I again thank you for the book. For me, it was a beautiful story and time extremely well spent.

    Marc Dubin
  • I recently finished reading your book and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your personal account intertwined with all the tips. It’s a great way to read a book about health without being made to feel guilty or that you are being lectured to. I have left your book with my parents as my mother will enjoy the opportunity that your book will give her to validate everything she’s already expert at, even without a medical degree. I also hope that my father will either consciously or subconsciously implement some of the tips into his life. By the way, I really enjoyed the little sayings and phrases at the beginning of each chapter. My favourite is the Chinese proverb that “Man who says it can’t be done should not interrupt man doing it.” I love that. I’ve already repeated it numerous times.

    Esther Althaus FCHFP, Financial Adviser
  • Thank you again for your presentation at our AGM in October – it certainly got a lot of us thinking about taking better care of ourselves to ultimately more enjoy the latter years. Your book is excellently structured with factual information and an inspiring personal story. We wish you every success in 2013 – you well deserve it!!

    David Moncur Homebush-Strathfield Meals On Wheels
  • You presented earlier in the year to the Geelong Young Professionals Networking breakfast and I found your presentation dynamic, engaging and informative. I spoke to you after and ordered your book, which I received about six weeks ago. I wanted to take the time to say thank you so much for writing one of the best books I’ve ever read. Your honest approach, humour and reality, combined with relevant tips and research touched a chord with me. Your book provided reassurance that my constant pestering of my grandfather (often to the point of argument) to go for a short walk around his retirement village and come out on trips including ANZAC day ceremonies was the right thing to do. I am now my mother’s carer and your book has helped me enormously. I loved the fact that you wrote about the hardship you also faced, the mean comments, the battles, arguments and frustrations you experienced with your Dad. The honesty was refreshing and really helped me understand that this isn’t something I go through alone. The advice confirms what I try and do, and my mother also read and enjoyed it. I believe she has now passed it onto one of her friends. There were so many pages in your book that had both Mum and I in hysterical laughter. Thank you enormously,

    Sarla Holmes Marketing Manager, Property Management
  • Hi Helena, I purchased a copy of your book from you last week when you delivered your inspiring presentation at the CPA Congress in Perth. So good is your book that I wish to buy 20 copies to use as Christmas gifts!

    Brian Middleton Margaret River, WA
  • I gave my mother your book and she loved it so much she wants to buy copies of it for her friends. My own father is in many ways very like yours and I have found the book extremely helpful. Don’t be surprised if you get a wave of orders as I have mentioned it to lots of people. The book is excellent in terms of the pacing and the size of the text as well!! Many thanks.

    Kathleen Daniel
  • Your book is brilliant, well written and a joy to read. Your stories and the way you related them with your father and a message for life was genius. KUDOS!!!

    Tracy Repchuk Internet Marketing, Social Media and Business Strategist
  • My wife, Tania, has just finished reading your book and says it is one of the best books she has ever read – high praise indeed knowing how many books Tania reads!

    Guy Wilson Gold Coast
  • I have just finished reading your book, very insightful…thoroughly enjoyed it. You motivated me to rejoin the gym which I did just on Saturday. The book is being passed around the office. Thanks so much.

    Leanne Wilkinson Arts Planning & Policy Officer, Maroondah City Council
  • As soon as your book arrived in the mail my wife took charge of it and she has been devouring it ever since. Lots of laughter, lot’s of “Aha’s” and lots of her sharing bits and pieces, but still defending the reading rights like a hungry lioness. I look forward to finally getting my paws on it!

    Mike E Kennedy Business Coach
  • I finished your book on the plane back to the USA and enjoyed it very, very much. I know from experience how right you are about keeping your Dad engaged. He is fortunate to have you there to share this time with.

    Ginger Meserve
  • Your book is fantastic! I’m only up to page 101, but already feel energised, inspired and encouraged. I don’t want the book to end, so I’m glad I’ve still got 2/3’s to go! I’ll definitely be looking forward to a sequel. As I’ve been reading the book, my thoughts are flooded with all the people who I know would also get a lot out of reading it, so I’ve decided that it will definitely be on my list of Christmas presents to friends and colleagues. Thank you!

    Jasmin Tohadze Senior Policy Officer
  • I was an avid reader prior to having the kids and have had neither the time nor brain capacity to ingest more than half a dozen books in the last 4 years but I felt I had to read yours. I had both belly laughed and shed tears three times each by the end of page 19 (I remember because I looked at the page number and thought ‘wow, imagine the journey by the end’). You write beautifully and with such passion and meaning. Your story, well stories, determination and research are inspiring. My passion for reading has been reignited. I’m glad you had that list of books at the end. Imagine the world if we all read (and hopefully acted upon) inspiring material from time to time. Thank you for sharing your journey with your father. It truly is a beautiful book.

    Jacqui Melman Bondi
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