This Dementia Awareness Week, 15 – 21 May, Alzheimer’s Society is calling on people to confront dementia head on. Alzheimer’s Society’s aim is to tackle the myths and misunderstandings about dementia, to show people that life doesn’t end when dementia begins. They are there to support anyone affected by dementia.
So how can you get involved with this year’s awareness week? Whether it’s attending a Dementia Friends session to help change perceptions of dementia or afternoon tea at your local dementia café, there are plenty of ways to show your support. To find your nearest event or for more information visit alzheimers.org.uk/DAW.
Here, Lorraine Brown tells her dementia story. She details how she struggled to come to terms with diagnosis, but is now accepting the changes in her life with the help and support of her family.
Lorraine Brown, 63, was working as a mental health support time recovery worker when she was diagnosed with dementia in August 2014. She lives in Kent. She has three daughters and is divorced.
“I was in denial about my symptoms for a long time, which I think was one of the reasons it took so long to diagnose. I felt tired, less alert and was forgetting things. I started getting lost while out on work visits and not performing as I used to at work, but I put it all down to age and stress.
I’ve always been a structured person; I had a good routine so when things started going wrong I found things to help me to compensate. So I bought a sat nav and started writing everything down. I honestly thought that once I dealt with the stresses then the symptoms would all go away.
After my initial diagnosis I even sought a second opinion, hoping that it would say it was all a mistake. But when the second opinion confirmed dementia, I had to accept it. I was devastated beyond belief, the more so when I had to leave my job, which I loved. Around the same time, I got divorced and had to move house, so it was a difficult year.
I have a great relationship with my eldest daughters, in particular, who are 43 and 40. My youngest daughter, Lois, 22, is coming to terms with my diagnosis. They all live nearby and visit me and I have friends all around me, which is lovely and makes life easier as they are so supportive.
I take medication called Donepizil which is supposed to hold the stages although it’s hard for me to say whether it does. I’m very practical and organised so we are in the process of organising power of attorney.
I wanted something into which I could channel my energy and passion for helping other people which is how I got involved with my local Alzheimer’s Society. I’m a regular speaker at conferences and events and I’ve also got involved with helping to make Medway Hospital – my old place of work – a more dementia-friendly environment.
At the moment, life is very good. I’m very active and I love walking with my walking group. Working with the Alzheimer’s Society has given me a new role in life and given me back my purpose.
Since being diagnosed I live for the here and now and and am much more in the moment. I appreciate small things that I never did before: the blossom on a tree, a smile from a stranger; things that we often overlook with our busy lives.”
If you or someone you know is affected by dementia, call the National
Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or visit alzheimers.org.uk/DAW