Often, as we get older, we begin to forget things and may begin to question, is it just age, or is it something else? Research conducted by the Alzheimers Society suggests that this misconception around memory loss is the biggest barrier to people seeking a diagnosis.
Knowledge is power, and although a diagnosis can be daunting for those experiencing difficulties, and also those around them, there are a whole host of support avenues available.
This week 16-22 May is Dementia Awareness Week and aims to raise awareness and encourage people to ‘act on dementia’.
Here at Community Lives Matter, as part of our support for people with dementia in our local community, family members and carers, we currently run a monthly Dementia Cafe, and a weekly dementia bowls group.
These activities provide a much needed safe space for people to come together, to chat amongst people who understand, with a cuppa and a smile, and maybe even a biscuit! It is some enjoyable time outside the house, and is as rewarding for the carers, partners and families, who are able to relax and feel welcomed and understood in their unique circumstances.
We are aware that everyone’s experiences with dementia are different and, regardless of how that looks for you, be assured that you are not alone and that there is a community here, ready to support you. We welcome people to come along, or to contact us to find out more.
One of our current members of the bowls group, Doreen, has kindly agreed to give her account of her husband Mike’s diagnosis of vascular dementia.
”I think I noticed Mike’s dementia before he did – his reactions to things I said had changed, and he started forgetting things he had said. At first, he oscillated between recognising it and then denying it. The GP initially didn’t think anything of it either – but I think many doctors don’t have enough information on dementia to detect cases early enough. But finally, when we got a firm diagnosis of vascular dementia, in some ways Mike was relieved; here was something tangible that explained what he had been experiencing and he was able to put it all together in his mind. It finally all made sense.
For me, being a very practical person, I guess I just got on with it – but I know other people have all sorts of different reactions, particularly if facing early onset dementia. The initial help we got, particularly from Alzheimers Society and AgeUK, was vital. We would never have discovered the different sources of support without their help, nor been capable of filling in all the forms – though 6 years on we are still coming across things we didn’t know were available to us!
Alongside the practical help, the most important thing for me has been being together with people who are also living with someone with dementia. Just to be understood and accepted, to be able to laugh together at the same things, and to remind each other to look after ourselves too, all this is invaluable. That’s maybe why Thursday has become one of the best days in the week for us – Mike gets some exercise playing a few ends of indoor bowls, and I have a fantastic catch-up with others in the same boat as me!”
So if you’re concerned about yourself or someone else, don’t be afraid of a diagnosis – support is available, and if it turns out that you or someone you care for does have dementia, the sooner you get access to resources, the better. Please do get involved with what we do too, you will always be more than welcome.