Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dementia matters

I read so many things about dementia each and every day, from  a massive range of sources. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but I know that I need to be fully au fait with events in case the phone goes at 7am with a researcher from Radio/Newspaper asking me if I'll say a few words about whatever has just appeared in the News.

A while ago it was the outpourings of a so-called 'celebrity' on Twitter which had me speaking on the local Radio at silly o'clock during drivetime. This was my initial reaction which I posted on Facebook:
"Saddened by the comments of somebody called Katie Hopkins who has referred to people with dementia as "bed blockers", stating that she would prefer to be "banged over the head" if she developed dementia. As someone who has tried, for the last 10 years, to help de-stigmatise this dreadful disease I refuse to share her disgraceful outpourings on here. I've already been asked for my reaction by a local radio station and will be speaking about it later. Mental illness is not a life choice by the person who suffers. They need our support, not condemnation."
Having given my initial reaction I was then able to use the opportunity to plug Join dementia research so at least some good came from it. In fact I'm getting rather adept at managing to get plugs in for both ARUK and JDR at the same time. Speaking of which, there are now 7369 people registered on JDR. How fab is that?!

Sadly though Ms Hopkins did have a point in that dementia patients are often just left in hospital because there is nowhere for them to go. If she'd chosen her words more carefully it would have made an interesting debate about how we can deal with the issue. Words are very powerful and can be used for the greater good if chosen well.

I read another very sad story in the newspaper in which a decorated Second World War veteran kept a loaded revolver by his bed to kill himself if he succombed to dementia. The 89 year old now faces jail after admitting hoarding weapons. The court heard that he had seen many friends reduced by dementia  from "towering figures to wisps of men".

Then there was an announcement that sleep cures dementia thus implying that if you don't get good quality sleep then you are in danger. That gave me an inbox full of emails from people worried that they have difficulty sleeping and does that mean they'll develop dementia? I blimming well hope not as my menopausal sleep patterns have been very irratic. Enter the lovely Lizzie Glennon, one of my favourite Scientists, to explain this in more detail. Fascinating stuff explained in a way that even I can understand and I can see why she's so excited about this discovery.

Also in the News was this article about a chemical in the blood which could indicate whether someone will have declining brain function. There's so much going on at the moment that it's hard to keep up but I'm not complaining as it's about time dementia was given centre stage!

Most recently we saw Alzheimer's Research UK launch their 'Fightback' campaign which involved their first ever advert on National TV throughout the month of June. Wow and double wow! That was such a major step forward and they asked me to write a blog post about my thoughts which you can read here.

The other day I had an email from Carol, seen here (seated) when we had our audience with the PM at the G7 Summit last year:

Unfortunately Patrick had a rather spectacular car crash recently, involving a tree, and has written-off their car. Thankfully he doesn't have any major injuries, mostly bruising, but it now means he is no longer allowed to drive which is always a hard thing to face. Although Patrick is still able to play golf and tennis and can read the newspaper he is getting rather bored now. Carol and Patrick are amazing campaigners for ARUK and are always planning fund-raising events.

A few weeks ago I said goodbye to a lovely lady I've been visiting for many years. She had vascular dementia but thankfully didn't get the dreadful psychotic episodes that my mum did. Her wonderful sons  made sure that she had round-the-clock care in her own home in our village and she had a quality of life that many would envy. RIP Jean. I also had news that a friend has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and I wanted to wrap my arms around them and say everything would be OK but we would both have known that wasn't true.

More marathons required so we can fund more research to learn how to stop this dreadful disease………….. (speaking of which, my next one's in 3 weeks).

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