Written by Active Minds on Tuesday the 22nd of March 2016.
At Active Minds we are committed to helping people that are living with dementia sustain a good quality of life and to also finding ways of maintaining their general health and wellbeing. There are plenty of depictions in the media about the negative connotations that come with living with dementia (and they are widely circulated), but we wanted to share some of the positive stories from people living with dementia. We have been in touch with Dementia Diaries who have kindly given us permission to share 5 of their uplifting tales of people living with Dementia. These stories highlight the kindness of people in society and the increased understanding of it. They also show that it is possible to have positive experiences when you are living with dementia and how you can lead a fulfilling life with those around you.
Pete from York has been encouraged by the impact of living in sheltered accommodation and the wealth of opportunities for social interaction that this brings. Pete and his wife moved into sheltered accommodation shortly after his dementia diagnosis, which has allowed him to lead an active life, benefitting from the range of weekly and monthly activities within the complex and the amount of other people living around them.
It’s a supportive environment that allows Pete and his wife to engage with the community in the complex. ‘It’s great. The other residents are so kind and friendly’ and engaging with others and connecting to the community has been found to reduce the feelings of isolation that some people living with dementia experience.
Listen to Pete’s story here.
Dianne lives with dementia and believes that she has a responsibility, as someone who is younger and living with the disease, to educate those around her about dementia. She thinks that if there is increased awareness around the disease then more people will feel empowered to ‘come forward with their diagnosis and get the support’. If society knows what signs to look out for and does not feel stigma when coming forward, Dianne hopes that people living with dementia will be able to receive the ‘right support that they truly deserve’.
Listen to Dianne’s story here.
Wendy lives in York and she notes the importance of receiving every day support from those around her. Sometimes this does not come in grand gestures, but little things that show that people around her care and are thinking about her. These random gestures help to make every day a little easier. Wendy remembers a particularly lovely card that she received from a friend that said ‘Dementia is crap, but without it our paths would of never have crossed. I’m glad to know you, my life is richer for that.’ Living with dementia can bring new people into your life and people that can offer you more of the support and kindness that you deserve.
Listen to Wendy’s story here.
Steve has been impressed by the support of strangers and this in part, is due to the increasing awareness of dementia in society. Steve remembers a particular time when he visited a busy city centre with his wife and waited for her outside while she went to the toilets. Steve recalls that ‘I was vulnerable in a sense’, and it was this vulnerability that was noticed by a stranger, who asked him if he was okay and stayed at his side until Steve’s wife returned. It was this specific gesture that showed Steve that ‘there are folk out there who really do care about someone they don’t even know’. This is the type of society that we should constantly be working towards, one that looks out for the vulnerable and protects them when they need it most.
Listen to Steve’s story here.
Joy uses an insightful description to capture the ups and downs of living with dementia and the state of change that you experience. Joy says: ‘I liken my Dementia to a bottle of lemonade. The bottle, when purchased, is fizz, fizz, fizz. And at some point, after being opened, it gradually begins to lose its fizz’. This description shows the daily fluctuations that happen when you live with dementia, but Joy emphasises that not every day is the same and there are things that make ‘my bottle became full of bubbles again’, such as receiving a NICE award from David Cameron for her voluntary work.
Joy also explains how it is not always the grand gestures that make you fizz, it can be the smaller, every day acts of kindness that make you feel loved and supported that matter the most.
Listen to Joy’s story here.