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21-Sep-2018

 

My Mum and Dementia

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day and around the world people are raising awareness of the condition and sharing their experiences. In this week’s blog Diane Lowry tells us the story of her mum Margaret and shares some advice on what can make a real difference to people living with dementia.

My mum’s always been my best friend. We live together are always out and about at everything from music gigs and art classes to the rugby. Which might not sound unusual, except that Mum is one of the 20,400 people in Northern Ireland living with dementia.

Over the past decade, Mum has lost not just her memories and her ability to care for herself, but also her ability to speak. What she hasn’t lost is her spirit, her love of music and her enjoyment of a visit to a café or day out.

Living with dementia isn’t easy for Mum or for me. When Mum was diagnosed, it seemed the bottom fell out of our world. I felt helpless, but I called Alzheimer’s Society National Helpline, and with their support we’ve found that life doesn’t end when dementia begins. These days we get out just as much as before, but we look for events and places that are Dementia Friendly and where we know people are trained to be that bit more understanding of our needs.

Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer. Every three minutes, someone in the UK develops dementia, but of the top 10 causes of death it’s the only one we can’t prevent, cure, or even slow down. We need to find a cure for dementia, but until we do, those of us affected need the services and support to enable us to live well after diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Society understands we need the whole community to unite and take action if real change is going to happen for people with dementia. They asked people affected by dementia what actions would make the most difference, and not surprisingly, it’s the small actions that add up to make a big impact.

Here’s what people with dementia said:

  • Talk to me. Don’t be worried about talking to me. I’m still me.
  • Listen to me. Take time to listen and involve me in the conversation.
  • Include me. Keep on inviting me out. Friends still mean the world to me.
  • Ask if I need help. Little things help me stay independent.
  • Be patient. I can still do things, it might just take me longer than it used to.
  • Ask me about my dementia. When you take the time to understand my dementia, I know there’s someone on my side.
  • Help my carer too. Support my partner and others who care for me. My dementia affects them too.

I’d urge everyone in Northern Ireland to take a couple of hours to do a Dementia Friends workshop and understand more about dementia. And for anyone diagnosed, I’d also say, it feels lonely, but you’re not alone. If you are affected by dementia, lift the phone to the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.

Alzheimer’s Society offers free Dementia Friends workshops to individuals, organisations and businesses. Email DementiaFriendlyNI@alzheimers.org.uk or call 028 9038 7782

 
 
 

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Norah 21-Sep-2018 at 16:14 hrs

Well done Diane and Margaret! Alzheimers Society in Northern Ireland was a great help to me too when my husband Paul was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. Sadly he died in January this year, but he coped well as we had very good support from our social workers and the Alzheimers Society.