This is a picture of H when he was very little with my grandmother, his great-grandmother. When I was small we used to live in a house that backed onto my grandparents garden. We had a little gate through and we used to be up and down all the time. When I was nine my grandmother, by then a widow, moved in with us in the house where my parents live now. She was very active and a key part of the household. She and my mother used to manage the cooking and cleaning between them. Well into the 1990s my grandmother was doing a boiled whites wash on a Monday,using the dolly and an old-fashioned boiler. There was a lot of work to do as there were five of us children. As you can imagine, she was a key part of our life.
My grandmother lived to be 102 and she was able to meet H when he was small. I’m not sure how much she really understood by then though. She gradually found it more difficult to know who was who and what was going on around her. Sometimes though I felt that she did get it and this picture was taken on one of those occasions. My grandmother had a long and active life, but dementia can strike much earlier than you think. So it’s something that we should all be aware of, so we can look for signs and get sufferers the right treatment as soon as possible. It’s also great if you can find ways to help those that you know that have dementia. It doesn’t need to be anything big either: it can be simply having a little patience with them if they take a little longer to do things. For family members, you might want to put together a memory box or something similar, so you can talk about pictures and mementos together. My grandmother always enjoyed seeing children and bringing H to see her always seemed to perk her up.
Last year Public Health England and Alzheimer’s Society launched the Dementia Friends campaign, to help everyone in society join together to help people with dementia live well. Becoming a Dementia Friend means gaining an understanding of the challenges faced by people with dementia and learning a few useful tips to help make life better for those living with the condition. To become a friend,you just need to watch a short online film or you can attend an information session, which explains what dementia is, how it affects individuals and what people can do to help those living with the disease. It would be great if schools could become involved with this campaign too. It would be great to address the topic of dementia within the school environment because it affects so many people. Parents and pupils can encourage their schools to become involved and seek more information at the Dementia Friends site.
I’m working with BritMums and Public Health England alongside the #BritMumsDementiaFriends campaign. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit the Dementia Friends site http://bit.ly/1wglQD4 for more information and resources about coping with dementia among family and friends.