My name is Wendy Mitchell and I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia on the 31st July 2014. Who would have thought, on that day of diagnosis, over 3 years ago, that I would now be publishing a book, Somebody I Used to Know? But, on the other hand, why not?
When people hear the word dementia, they often think of the end stages. Well, it has to have a beginning and a middle and Continue reading →
Imagine yourself being given a diagnosis of Young Onset Dementia. Your life falls apart, you feel worthless, and of no use to anyone any more. Services are nonexistent, so you feel abandoned
That’s what happened to me in July 2014, when I was diagnosed with young onset dementia at the age of 58, and still working full-time in the NHS. I retired at the age of 59, due to ill health, thinking there was no alternative. Then I sat waiting for services to kick in, but, of course, nothing happened. There were no services.
I could have given up and gone into a deep state of depression, but I knew there must be more. We all had talents before a diagnosis of dementia; we don’t suddenly lose all those talents overnight when we get a diagnosis.
Opportunities started to come my way, first with research. That was once I’d gotten over the barrier of health care professionals thinking it was their right to deny me the option. Taking part in research gives me hope and I need hope. I could be helping create a better future for my daughters, so taking part in research was a no-brainer for me. Many people, when they hear the word ‘research’ have an image of men in white coats handing out dodgy drugs. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Social and technological research is equally important while we await that elusive cure. I’ve taken part in drugs trials, but also social research to find the best ways to live with dementia and care for those no longer able to care for themselves. I’ve tested apps, I’ve commented on web sites. Yes, me a person with dementia. After all, how do the so-called ‘experts’ know they’re getting it right if they don’t ask the real experts – those of us living with dementia now?
My blog, whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com is for me, simply “my memory.” I couldn’t tell you what I did yesterday unless I read my blog. That other people all over the world choose to read it is humbling, plus it’s enabled me to raise awareness. All I’m doing in my own little way is to show others what can be achieved and not to give up. I also hope it will help others look at dementia differently.
Oh, and I’ve just finished writing my book, Somebody I Used to Know, which is due out in the UK in the New Year and America in May, along with a little “firewalking” in October for my local Hospice.
So, as you can see, I’m a great believer in concentrating on what I still CAN do and not dwelling on the issues that dementia throws at me.
About the Author
I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia on the 31st July 2014 at the age of 58 years young. I might not have much of a short-term memory, but that’s one date I’ll never forget.
I have two daughters and live happily in Yorkshire.
On January 12th, 2013 I left Skidaway Island State Park near Savannah Georgia. I traveled westward to Monterey, California. 2,594 miles were on foot pushing a jogging stroller. 458 miles were in a car. The reason I did this was to raise awareness concerning Alzheimer’s disease and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.
My dad passed away on June 30th of 2000. I was holding his hand. He died with Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to that, prostate cancer had taken a huge toll on both his physical and his mental health. He was a Continue reading →
When I first started caring for my mother, I had no apprehension over how difficult the caregiving job would be. I am a strong, capable woman and my mother was gracious, sweet and appreciative. She tended to know the limitations age delivered to her. I tended to know everything. I had Continue reading →
Our friend, Michael Ellenbogen, who lives with early onset Alzheimer’s wrote the following piece which was added to the U.S. Congressional Record on September 21, 2016.
I am so thankful to be still here. Many of my friends who were living with dementia have died and others are no longer capable of speaking. I am one of the lucky ones. My Alzheimer’s is progressing very slowly. While that is good news it is also bad news. I will be forced to endure the worst Continue reading →
The couple, a man and woman, stood just outside the door of the Scandinavian Home, arguing. The autumn leaves from the towering elms on the grounds of the nursing home swirled around their feet as the cold wind snatched their voices away.
“I told you, Tom, I don’t want to go back today. I am afraid of some of those people. You know how much I hate scenes and last Saturday Bridget yelled at us and told us that Continue reading →
Everyone knows someone touched by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
We write, because today these diseases cannot be prevented, slowed or cured. We seek answers because their manifestation is often irrational, frightening and perplexing. And, as human beings, we continually reach from darkness to find light, whether you’re someone living with dementia or you’re caring for a loved one with the disease. Continue reading →
Last night I lit a Yahrzeit candle for my father, who’s been gone for two years. And I decided, at the last second, that rather than sing a traditional prayer, I’d just sing a few lines from one of his favorite Broadway tunes. It made me smile in a moment that was otherwise sad.
Like many, my father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s was a long and gradual one, but that did not make it easier for him, and it didn’t make it easier for all of the people who loved him. We had to say goodbye over and over as parts of who he had been vanished like color from a beloved garment, never to be restored. Continue reading →
Love in the senior years: A true inspiration to me. My parents are married over sixty years as of this writing. Sixty years of ups and downs, good health and bad, happiness and sadness. But one thing remains: a steadfast love. It is this love that inspired me to write; theirs, and another couple: my husband’s elderly aunt and uncle. Continue reading →
My mother, Vera, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in October of 2006. That was the day my world changed – forever. I will never forget (or is that statement actually true?) the day I received the phone call. “Mrs. Howell, I am calling to tell you your mother has dementia.” The doctor lacked bedside manner, and he assured me he could call in medications that would make Momma better. Continue reading →