Misconceptions about dementia
Imagine a world where we celebrate ageing and don't fear the stigma associated with the combination of ageing and dementia.
Is it any wonder that dementia is the most feared diagnosis to receive in the over 55’s? The stereotypical picture of someone with dementia is that of the elderly in the final stages.
People with dementia are often perceived as having no quality of life or capacity for pleasure. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Dementia isn’t age related for a start – one misconception of which I have firsthand experience. I was diagnosed at 58 years young and many more are diagnosed earlier.
Dementia: a bummer of a diagnosis but not the end
So many envisage a diagnosis as being the end, but it has to have a beginning and a middle and lots of laughter and adventures in between. There’s no doubt about it, a diagnosis of dementia is a bummer of a diagnosis to receive, but if thought of as a new beginning - a different way of living- then it helps make that diagnosis so much more bearable.
Just as ageing and retirement is often the start of a new chapter in our lives, then so is a diagnosis of dementia.
Enjoying the passing scenery
It may not be the life we’d quite envisaged, I certainly hadn’t. I thought I’d drive all over the country in my retirement before dementia stole my ability to turn right. But now I’m content to sit on a bus, on a train or as a passenger in a car as I’m so much more able to enjoy the beautiful passing scenery. If I was the driver, I’d miss so much …….every cloud……..
I’ve had my first flight in a glider since being diagnosed and enjoyed the peaceful bird's-eye view of the world. Taken my first roller-coaster ride. Written my first Sunday Times best seller – Somebody I Used to Know - and why not?
Positive risk taking
We all had talents before a diagnosis of dementia; we don’t suddenly lose those talents overnight when we receive a diagnosis. We simply have to be supported to use those talents in different ways.
Positive risk taking for all to ensure a full, enjoyable life, which so many often seek to deny us – another common denominator with ageing and dementia…..
Surely that’s why we should embrace life while we can, however old? Don’t dwell on what the future might hold.
We have no control over the past or the future. Instead, enjoy the moment today and if today is a bad day, well, tomorrow may be better.
Have you been affected by any of these issues?
If you have been affected by any of the issues described in this blog, or simply need someone to reach out to, you can call the Alzheimer's Society helpline for information and advice on 0300 222 1122 or ask a question on their online community 'Talking Point'.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.