My friend Brigid and I – in Stockholm and Kent

My friend Brigid and I – in Stockholm and Kent

Introduction

l’m 72 years old, married with two children and two grandchildren. I live in the garden of England, Kent, by the North Sea. I was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012. Writing about dementia helps me live with it.

Snow is falling in Stockholm.  A pure white covers this beautiful city. Trees, streets, roofs of houses and tops of cars are white. The houses, painted in colours from ochres to brilliant yellows, reflect in the white snow and make us feel less cold.

Our daughter Cláudia and her baby boy Tristan take the ‘oldies’ for a walk in the fresh air. Tristan is very happy because he is next to his mother’s heart and feels so warm and safe.

After our walk we are a little tired and go to a coffee place. There, other people are having their hot drinks and talks with their friends. Quite noisy, I think, but Tristan loves it…

so many voices and lights is what he likes. He is learning about the world everyday, everywhere. His trusting eyes look around, and he smiles. We say “hello Tristan” and he smiles, while his feet go up and down.

Like Tristan I used to love meeting new people. I would ask them what they were reading, listen to them and learn from their readings. Those were the days!

These days, with vascular dementia, I’m the opposite of Tristan. I can’t stand noise. I don’t trust people like I used to. While he is learning everyday, I constantly forget what I hear.

Today, after our walk in Stockholm, I started understanding my friend Brigid, who has Alzheimer’s. She lives in Kent by the North Sea, where every morning the sky is like a most beautiful watercolour. She likes to walk everyday to the sea and watch the waterfront, as if she were in an art gallery. She loves it! So calm…no conversation.

What she loves best though is staying at home, surrounded by the photos of her family. From grandparents to grandchildren, and especially the ones of her children when they were babies like Tristan. She feels safe there.

At last I’m starting to understand and accept her.

Carolina Young

Philly Hare
Philly Hare is Programme Manager at JRF for Dementia without Walls. Throughout 2016 she will be on secondment to Innovations in Dementia. Philly is also currently an Exchange Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Advisor to the Life Changes Trust.
philly@innovationsindementia.org.uk

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