For Dementia Awareness Week 2018

This post is dedicated to the memory of my Mum, who died ten years ago last week, on 15th May 2008.

Sunday 13th was celebrated in many countries around the world as Mothers’ Day, although not here in the UK, as we mark the occasion on the fourth Sunday in Lent, which in effect means we do it in March. I’m rather grateful for this, as it would be too poignant a memory for me if we were celebrating around the time of Mum’s passing. It is also a poignant time of year for another reason, and so I’ve decided to update a post I originally wrote in 2013, and have since shared in similar form – so my apologies if this seems strangely familiar.

Following closely on last week’s Mental Health Awareness Week – which I wrote about in this post – is another aimed at raising awareness of a condition that affects many. From 21st to 27th May it is Dementia Awareness Week, which is run here in the UK by the Alzheimer’s Society. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Small Actions. Big Impact’ and as usual there will be activities and events across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Society’s hope is that people will be encouraged to take part and, by so doing, learn more about dementia, as the longer we all live the more of us will be affected by it – either ourselves or in a loved one. It is therefore important that we all know more about the condition, so that we can recognise the signs and will know how to cope if a loved one is diagnosed with dementia in any of its forms. As the Society says,  ‘The more we know about dementia, the more prepared we’ll be to face it.’

As you’ve probably guessed from the rather large clue in the dedication for this post, I have first hand experience of a loved one with dementia. Mum lived an independent life for many years but there came that awful time when we realised that she needed round the clock support, the kind that can only be given in a nursing home. The one we found was a good one and they looked after Mum very well, even when she was shouting that they were trying to murder her when they put her in the hoist to get her out of bed! But in her last year her decline from dementia was noticeable – she still recognised my sister and me when we visited her until the very late stages of her life, and could hold a perfectly sensible conversation for quite a while. But over time she became less able to converse, and the standard symptoms of memory loss began to show. She was taken into hospital as she wasn’t feeding well, and they told us that there was nothing they could really do for her. In effect, her dementia had affected her brain’s working so much that it wasn’t telling her body how to function – it had ‘forgotten’ how to eat and drink, so Mum had to be given this via a drip. Within a week of being discharged back to the nursing home she slipped peacefully away.

I’m telling you this partly, I suspect, because it helps me to set it down – especially this close to the anniversary – but because I know what the Alzheimer’s Society means when it talks about how the illness can affect others, not just the sufferer. It isn’t a preventable disease in the sense that medicine will stop it taking hold, but there are ways to live with it and enjoy a satisfying life. But you need to be ready, and you need to be aware. That’s why I’m supporting Dementia Awareness Week, and hope that you will too.

If you want to find out more, the Alzheimer’s Society’s dedicated page has all that you need to know about the week. Their site also has links to some very helpful literature for downloading – there is a wealth of useful information here, though you may have to search! They also tell you about the various ways you can get involved, either by organising or taking part in events or by uniting with someone against dementia and posting your picture on their wall.

As is my usual custom with my Dates To Note pieces if I’m giving you the link to the NHS website for more information. It is well worth a look if you want to find out more about this pernicious disease.

If you know someone you fear may be suffering but has not yet been diagnosed, this would be a good time to follow up on the advice I’ve linked you to. Only about 45% of sufferers are diagnosed and treated appropriately, and even though the Government has recognised the need to do more they have yet to demonstrate any real commitment to doing something about it. Maybe, once the dust has settled on our election, they will take some real, much needed action – but I’m not holding my breath.

Be aware. Get involved. Please.

15 thoughts on “For Dementia Awareness Week 2018

  1. Pingback: For Dementia Awareness Week 2018 — Take It Easy – Kristalin Davis' Musings on the Human Condition

    • Thanks Esmé. Unless you’ve been through it I don’t think you’d realise what it means for the family – that loss doesn’t get the recognition it merits.


  2. Dementia and Alzheimers cause such sadness for the family because it is like losing the person you love twice, once to a living death and then finally to death. Thanks for sharing your Mum’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly what it feels like. The final moment almost comes as a relief, and we really shouldn’t have to feel that. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment, Bernadette.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. To watch anyone with any type of dementia is heartbreaking. When it is your mother – she who bore you, raised you and nurtured you; she who gave unfailing love (even if it was tough love on occasions); she who you looked to for wisdom and advice it is tremendously hard, I am certain as it is for those whose fathers succumb. One day, I hope there will be a cure but til then making sure that everyone understands the issues is crucial – the issues effecting the sufferer and those caring for them. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was very hard. The only blessing is that she didn’t suffer in herself until those final days. Seeing someone so important become a mere shell of their former self is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The Alzheimer’s Society do a great job, and I hope that more people will be made aware by their efforts xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is indeed. I’m not holding my breath for a cure, but there have recently been some encouraging reports in the papers about new possibilities. Fingers crossed. All we can do till then is spread awareness.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s awful to see a loved one suffer. My father-in-law had the same disease. He recognised me and Sam at the end, but not his own daughters or his wife. At one point Sam had to take his father’s car keys away for good to stop him either killing himself or somebody else.

    Liked by 1 person

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