Dementia and Me

This is a much more personal post, that’s been difficult to write. It’s been in my drafts for a while. But it’s a topic I’m very passionate about and that’s close to my heart. Raising awareness for the fight against Dementia is increasingly important. So this is my story …

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It seems like a lifetime ago that my Grandad was diagnosed with Dementia. Sometimes I worry I will forget what he was like before, how he used to be. Even the way he talks now – when he is able to get words out, sounds nothing like before. Dementia is and has been such a cruel disease. There’s no way to describe it other than watching someone you love, be taken away piece by piece. There’s nothing to stop it, all you can do is be there and not let it defeat you too. I could write fact after fact about how Dementia is hugely underfunded or how the number of people affected will rise over the next decade. But those facts can never touch on how heart breaking it is to see a friend or family member slowly fade away both mentally and physically.

Every so often I like to stop and remind myself of my Grandad before Dementia. As well as how lucky I was to have him. One of the first things I think to is his “stash” of Cadburys chocolate in the cupboard next to his chair – I always wondered where my sweet tooth came from. He would always break me off a square or two, then when he went to potter in the garden my nan would sneak me some too. It was always something I would look forward to. Looking at the big bars of Cadburys now always makes me smile, even if it sounds stupid. Sometimes the little things can be the most important.

My Mum has always thanked my Grandad for teaching her his love of poetry and literature. I like to think I got that from him, although I wish I had learnt it straight from him too. His favourite poem was Daffodils and it’s the only poem I know off by heart. Unfortunately he doesn’t recognise it when he hears it anymore. It’s been so hard seeing how this illness has affected my family, especially my Mum. For those of you that know her, you may see her heartbreaking Facebook statuses, I wish I could say it would be okay. One day there will be a cure, and someone will be able to say it will be okay and truly mean it.

When someone has Dementia, it’s hard to talk about them as the person they are now. It’s almost talking about them like they aren’t here anymore. Like they’ve already left us. My Grandad is now in Stage 6 of Dementia and no longer knows who I am. Stage 7 is the “final” stage. I like to think he still sees someone who loves him, even if he’s not sure what that means or who I am. For a long time I become known as ‘that girl’ to him and it meant the world that he remembered and recognised me in some sort of capacity. That girl will always love you Grandad and I’m right here with you. I thank God that you’re not in pain and still manage a smile.

It’s important to keep everything in perspective. We’re fortunate that my Grandad’s home is hugely supportive and the care is really wonderful. Spend time with those you love and treasure every moment – keep fighting even through the difficult times. 

I wonder lonely as a cloud,

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
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