Thursday, 3 May 2012

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society



The McBaby and I bought some baby books and I won some toiletries and a mug at today's St Nic's coffee morning. Today's was in aid of the West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society, which, as you know, is a cause very close to my heart.

I thought I was actually quite restrained in my buying this morning. Mostly that was because there were a lot of items that I had donated and also I didn't feel like carrying much home. That is probably why I ate all of the cakes that I bought. Yum.

The other reason I didn't buy much was because the McBaby and I met a lovely lady in the queue who had just received a dementia diagnosis. She was very taken with the McBaby who can always be relied upon to produce a broad smile at anyone of the fairer sex.

I hadn't fully appreciated just how awful dementia is even in its early stages and so felt that rather than stuffing my face full of cake, that it was important to have a chat with this lovely lady and let her know where she might get help. The local group is extremely proactive and organises exercise classes, singing and gardening - all of which have proven therapeutic qualities for people with dementia. Dementia often hits the short term memory, (leading to people making stupid jokes about the condition), but long term memory can often be much clearer, so it's always interesting to talk to people with dementia about their lives and achievements and talking is good for their confidence too.

So how awful then to be in the early stages and know that this is coming and getting progressively worse. What makes this EVEN more annoying is that patients often don't get help early on as a; they are fearful of seeking help and b; to save money, preventative drugs aren't administered until the condition has got worse. No, I know it doesn't make sense.

I told her that I've supported the society since I was young. I didn't tell her that I've met a lot of people with dementia throughout my life and I've always been horrified at the extent to which this disease removes the person, if that makes sense.

I've met amazing people; artists, architects, a former Mayor of London, a bursar, a spy - who have led incredible lives only to end up not being able to dress or feed themselves. Heartbreakingly, some of them can't recognise their own families. It's devastating for everyone, but I've always taken some comfort from the fact that many people aren't aware of what's going on.

So, for two weeks running, I left the coffee morning almost in tears. There's much better information about dementia, how you can hopefully do things to avoid it, and a bit about the work of the society here: http://alzheimers.org.uk/

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