Dementia is something which has touched my life and is one of the things I worry about in the future. Two thirds of people living with dementia are women and although it is most common in older people, it is not a natural part of growing old but is caused by diseases of the brain.
My witty, intelligent, active, lovely Grandma was taken away by dementia years before she passed away. She was always scatty but her forgetfulness gradually developed into something more than just a personality trait.
I hate that I can’t remember when she started to show symptoms. Dementia crept up on all of us.
I hate that I find it hard to remember who she was before dementia took her away.
I hated her confusion when she realised something wasn’t right and she tried to hide the fact she couldn’t remember.
I hate that I was unable to share my pregnancies, births and wedding with her.
I hate that I was scared for her to hold a newborn Spud but then I hate that she too was unsure and refused to hold him. She was a Mum of six and Granny to many more yet she didn’t want to hold my baby.
I hate that she wasn’t my Granny for so long before she died and I wasn’t sad at her funeral.
I grieved for her long before she passed away. She had already gone. So different from Granny who applied face cream at the rate of knots.
Who rode her bike everywhere.
Who cooked a mean roast chicken.
Who once got stuck in a children’s fairground ride with her bottom sticking out of the little car’s window.
Who was always laughing and had smiley eyes.
Who mistook candle wax for jam (and ate it) when we had ‘posh’ breakfast after staying over.
Who could say ‘llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’.
Who was very fondly remembered by all who met her as ‘Nance’.
Who loved gardening and with whom we spent so many happy summer holidays.
The thing I find hardest is trying to remember the past before dementia. Memories get clouded with time.
Although it was incredibly sad to see Granny deteriorate, there were flashes of humour. We took Pooh Bear to meet her when he was born and she was asleep for most of the visit but when she saw Spud playing she piped up and said he was ‘fabulous’. This made us smile. He is fabulous.
She always loved to sing old songs and although her repertoire dwindled, this didn’t change when dementia took hold.
I will always remember my Grandad telling us that neighbours who used to chat to Granny were now avoiding her. She was always so sociable and was happy to chat to anyone and everyone. She didn’t discriminate or judge.
I wish I’d taken more opportunities to hug her.
I wish I’d been more prepared and understood more about dementia when she was first diagnosed.
I’m glad I was contacted by the Alzheimer’s Society to highlight this week. I have had tears in my eyes as I type and I’m thankful for the opportunity to remember her and to write about something I haven’t really wanted to share before.
By talking about dementia and sharing stories we can help raise awareness so that it isn’t such a scary thing. Better understanding could help families cope with the symptoms of dementia and better support each other. Wider acceptance and understanding will help those with dementia seek support and lessen the stigma in society.
Please share this post and your own stories to raise awareness of dementia and the work the Alzheimer’s Society and others do to support those with dementia and their families. There is a wealth of information on the Alzheimer’s Society Website regarding research, support in your local area and what to expect when someone you know and love has dementia and much more. You can follow on Facebook and tweet #talkdementia on Twitter.