The stories on these pages are from people affected by dementia.
I have found myself, at the age of 62
In a place that I never thought I’d be
I have a husband, children, and grandchildren. Let me tell you a little about me……
My mind is in a fog, my days seem empty
No longer can I work – the future seems bleak My memory is going, and anxiety now haunts me Every day it’s just normality that I seek
My name is Wendy and I am 54 years old. Prior to my diagnosis (which was 3 years ago) I was working full-time as a Payroll Officer and I was a sole parent with my 22 year old daughter living at home.
It was in my work place that I first noticed something was not right. I had been in Payroll for 18 years and couldn’t remember how to do back pay or remember the meetings that I had attended. So after becoming quite concerned about what was going on at work I went to my GP of several years.
My mum’s story is a tragic one, although there was a silver lining in the end.
Since I was 9 (I am currently 45) my mum, Maurine, had battled with mental health issues. She had bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression and until her late forties was an alcoholic.
33 years ago my Mother was diagnosed with Dementia.
The Doctor told my Father and me that Dementia meant Mum's brain cells were dying, and nothing could be done.
She would soon be institutionalised in Kenmore Mental Asylum - a very old, lock-up facility. This left us feeling helpless, hopeless and broken-hearted over what was happening.
The illness progressed as expected, with Mum "living" her last 4 years in Kenmore, not recognising me, not talking, and cared for by people who were not able to help us connect in any way.
I have tried so very, very hard to keep my husband, with Alzheimer’s, at home for as long as possible, and not place him in a Nursing Home.
My husband was diagnosed 4 years ago with Alzheimer’s as a result of my noticing speech repetition patterns developing over a period of a few months. There are some excellent services available to people suffering from this dreadful disease but I feel that there are some areas which need addressing urgently especially in the light of the burgeoning number of cases diagnosed each year.
Michael grew up in the South-West of England, living in the fishing villages of Cornwall and Devon.
He enjoyed an active outdoor life.
A natural ability in art took him to art college, which was then interrupted by his conscription to the British Air-Force, where he was chosen to be a Fitness Instructor. From there he was recruited to be trained in the newly developed Diploma in Remedial Gymnastics, to help rehabilitate severely disabled ex-servicemen.
My mother in law, Norma Jamieson, was diagnosed with Dementia, around 4 years ago.
She was referred to a specialist whom confirmed she had Alzheimer’s, and placed Norma on medication. Norma lived alone in Balwyn North, as she had done since her separation from my father in law some 25-30 years earlier.
Initially the medication seemed to help a little, and then it seemed to be preventing her disease from progressing. Norma did have other issues, something to do with her thyroid, which had mental ability complications, also heart disease.
I have held an interest in dementia since my late mother-in-law developed early onset Alzheimer’s disease in the mid-1970s.
My mother-in-law lived in England where National Health Service institutions owed too much to a former and now thankfully bygone era. My memory of bewildered patients wandering scantily clad and barefoot on cold shiny linoleum, along green and cream corridors, and rows of narrow beds in curtained communal wards where the air was thick with the smell of stale urine and disinfectant, has stayed with me.
My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago, aged 60, and there is barely any aspect of her life that has been unaffected by her diagnosis.
She had to retire earlier than she would have otherwise and has not been able to enjoy retirement to the fullest, as she so deserved. Mum’s communication has also been affected by the dementia.
She often has things she wants to tell us because she still has interests and notices the things going on around her, but the words regularly escape her, leaving her scared, sad and frustrated.