I know I keep saying I’ll write about specific topics in the next blog I write and I do have a list of all these topics, but I would also like to try and stay relevant and current. So as it’s Dementia Awareness Week I would like to write about why I started my blog this week, and why raising awareness of dementia is so important to me, personally.
Nan and I have always been close so to be losing her to an illness that will end with her not remembering me, or herself is hard. I want other people to recognise the symptoms and the risks so that should this happen to one of their family, they will know where to ask for help, how to cope and activities that can help.
Awareness is so important, as people need to understand that it is OK to have dementia, and to admit it. The older generation (nan included) are concerned that if people notice they are struggling with day to day activities they will be “carted off to the nuthouse”. And will end up having no say in their lives. This makes them, and especially in dementia patients, constantly anxious. Dementia patients will often deny the opportunity for diagnosis as they do want to be labelled with what is viewed as a mental illness. Which is why I would also like awareness of mental illnesses to be raised, as they are still a sort of taboo subject.
I started to write my blog after what seemed like 100 comments from nan that I should write a book about all the “barmy” (her words not mine) things she does. I took this to be permission that I could write about it, after each post I give nan the bare bones of what I’ve written and check she is still OK with it. I’m sure she says yes because she doesn’t really understand what I’m talking about, but sometimes she’ll have great moments of clarity. She told me as long as I tell the truth she doesn’t mind what I write. And has told me that not a lot of people can do what I do. I don’t have the heart to tell her that the internet is full of people like me!
I’d also like to write some of the lovely things nan has said during these moments of clarity, and I’d recommend others in my situation to do this (a bit like the list of why you are fantastic). It’s easy enough to remember the spiteful things that come out during moments of frustration but as these moments come more frequently it’s nice to have something comforting to hold on to. Nan really does appreciate me doing this, even though most of the time she doesn’t realise. She has recently taken to telling me “You cant leave, what’ll I do?” and then giving me a massive hug. Thinking solely on the comment makes me feel a bit trapped but the hug always makes things worthwhile. She also tells me “You’re a good thing to happen to me”. And then a couple of days ago we had a lovely heart to heart, where nan stayed connected for the whole conversation. During this talk she said “I think it’s done me the world of good you living with me. I can talk to you about anything, things I’d never tell anyone else. I used to be so closed up, I’ve changed a lot”.
I hope that my blog can help to make some dent, however small, in the stigma and reluctance to accept dementia. Thank-you once again for reading, and please use this week to share and talk about dementia with your loved ones.