Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador
Someone develops dementia every three minutes. Shocking statistics, but they’re a reality. Inspector Morse’s Kevin Whately tells us how loved ones with dementia need patience and kindness.
I am by no means academically qualified in this field. However, I am qualified on what I watched my mum go through when she was diagnosed.
In this I am qualified to say: Be kind. Be patient. Dementia needs to be understood and embraced, not excluded.
My mum was a fiercely independent and very bright woman. She was a teacher of English and history and even used to take part in archaeological digs. She was the first person I had ever known to be diagnosed with dementia. At first, she would forget where she had left the car but, over time, she began to deteriorate. One Christmas in London, she attempted to walk home, forgetting she was 300 miles from her beloved Northumberland.
My siblings and I would phone every day and take it in turns to make the 700-mile round trip to visit every weekend to make sure she was alright. We were so grateful that her neighbour, Barry, also kept an eye on her. She often wandered into his house as if she owned it and he would sit her down with a glass of wine.
I lived for the little sparks that reminded me of how she was before her diagnosis, like when she used to call me, “our Kev”.
I’m determined to make sure people with dementia can continue to live the life they choose.
Repeat showings of Inspector Morse helped Mum remember
Even in the later stages of Mum’s dementia, it was the smallest things that seemed to make the world of difference to her life after her diagnosis. I used to coincide my visits with afternoon repeats of Inspector Morse. It helped her to remember and all it took was a conversation (albeit about the high crime rate in Oxford!) to see Mum was still Mum for that moment.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week is all about the small acts of kindness that help people living with dementia feel part of their communities. My mum is sadly no longer with us, but by telling her story, she is still helping create a dementia-friendly generation.
I’m determined to campaign for improved research and funding for dementia. But I’m also determined to make sure people with dementia can continue to live the life they choose. Because EVERY life matters. I invite you today to unite with Alzheimer’s Society, join the conversation and get involved with Dementia Action Week. Are you with me?
All it takes is a conversation to see we’re still us. This Dementia Action Week, it’s time to start talking. Find out more at alzheimers.org.uk/DAW #AskUsAnything