Dementia Awareness Week #DAW2016
Writing this post is actually pretty difficult for me, I’m not going to lie.
On one hand, I want to help raise awareness for Dementia Awareness Week, the awareness-raising brain-child of The Alzheimer’s Society UK, an organisation which pledges to help lead the fight against Dementia. And I don’t want to do that in a somber way. I want to give you free art and ask you to help me raise money for them by auctioning off some beautiful books. This requires excitement and happiness and general celebration of life and the lives we are trying to help make better; not sobering facts and statistics, or in my case heavy personal experiences.
But, on the other hand, there are those heavy personal experiences which make it difficult for me to talk about Dementia without wanting to punch that disease* square in the face! (*Technically Dementia is a series of brain damaging symptoms of other diseases, including Alzheimers, or brought on by a series of strokes, or any number of other factors which you can learn more about here. But for the purpose of this narrative, let’s pretend it is a disease and that diseases have faces).
I’ve tried about three times to write something about my experiences with Dementia in this post, each time I have deleted them and started from scratch. In all honesty, it’s really difficult to write about. I lost my Nan a few years ago to the disease (technically, she was lost to other things physically, but we lost her to dementia a little while before she passed) and it was a very hard time with some not very pleasant experiences. Maybe I will talk more freely about them throughout the week.
But for now I am going to concentrate on the pleasant experiences. Her nurses. Her nurses were amazing. She was in a Catholic care home run by the Church and there were several Nuns on the staff , but one of the nurses who stood out was the most accepting and caring of people. On the night my Nan passed, despite never having known her without the disease (so only knowing the frustrated woman who would lash out and didn’t speak much sense), she stayed after her shift had ended and sat with her all night, praying with her and holding her hand.
The nurses also allowed me and my younger brother, my cousins, auntie and uncle, mum and dad, my Nan’s sister and so many others to sleep at the nursing home in the conservatory and on sofas in the hall, or in Nan’s room with her, for the whole week when we had been told she was going to pass soon. At one point there were so many of us in her little room that there was no room for us to sit. We were sat on the floor eating sandwiches from the 24 hour Tesco down the road, just talking all through the night and day. It was a little like the family parties that Nan would have loved.
And singing. Despite everything, Nan still sang, right up until she started to get very ill. She couldn’t always remember our names, or got our faces mixed up, but she probably still knew the words to every song she ever loved. We always knew that no matter how horrible it got, if we started humming something, she would most likely pick it up and begin to sing along.
Dementia is horrible. It steals a person away and leaves behind some one who is so frustrated with their own mind. They still know us. They still love us. It just takes so much time for them to find us in their disease ravaged brains that they sometimes lose their way. And that is so hard to watch.
But thanks to charities like The Alzheimer’s Society there are new treatments being researched every day. New wonderful nurses and carers and support systems being trained to help us to give them a map and find their way back to us. Even if only briefly. Because, honestly, those brief moments mean the world.
So… I’m going to stop writing now. If anything because just writing this has taken me far too long as I keep on having to go back over it and re-write things. I tried very hard to keep to the happy stuff. The celebration. The stuff that we should all remember about a person’s final days rather than the bad stuff… And even that made me cry a bit which is why I think I’m going to stop now.
If you would like to help The Alzheimer’s Society spread awareness of Dementia and #DAW2016, please consider checking out my current eBay Auction (Link here) for three copies of ‘Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain’, or visit The Alzheimer’s Society and donate to a brilliant cause. You can also tweet your message about Dementia using the hashtag #DAW2016.
Here is a little giveaway for an original page of artwork from ‘Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain’ to help you spread the word about the cause and the auction. The blog comment is only a way for me to track the entries, please check the other options available once you have commented, in the RaffleCopter widget.