Dementia and the Christmas tree 

Torbay Weekly

I am often asked “What, in layman’s terms, is dementia?” and I often answer it this way, especially at this time of year.

If you can imagine, a Christmas tree that’s absolutely dripping with lights that shine as bright as you have ever seen, have you ever wondered of the beauty of it and how it shines those lights of hope all around the world?

Then, if you imagine that every one of those wonderful lights are your life’s memories which can be seen - remembered - at any time.

Then all of a sudden, one by one, those lights go out.

Slowly but surely they start to diminish until they are gone forever, never to return, all memories of loved ones, family and life’s experiences just disappear until the final one folds into darkness and we all know, unless they find a cure what this means.

This is how I explain, in layman’s terms what dementia is... but - and as you know by now, there is always a 'but' with me! - if sometimes, you give that Christmas tree a bit of a nudge, some lights can come back on.

And I do not in any way condone shaking anyone with dementia! But, if you include and engage with people who have this awful disease, sometimes, just sometimes, these wonderful lights come back on, if only for a second, a few minutes or permanently - it doesn’t matter, the point is they have come back on and that memory has returned, for no matter how long.

I hope this helps and will help people in the future to try and explain what dementia is, especially around this time of year.

Christmas can be such a lonely time for all, but imagine being surrounded by family on Christmas Day and hearing talk about something you cannot remember, it can be so very frustrating.

So please spare a thought for those with dementia this Christmas and instead of asking 'do you remember?', why don’t you ask: “What do you remember about your childhood Christmases?"

And just listen to all the wonderful stories they will tell you!

It really is not what you say, but how you say it.

When Night Becomes Day

When your night becomes day, and day becomes night,

When you are fighting dementia, with all of your might,

Always remember, hope is still there,

And all those around you, love you and care

When all seems lost, lonely and bleak,

When you’re no longer strong, and feel so weak,

Always remember, the life you have lived,

And how much yet, you have to give,

Dementia will tease you, make you feel small ,

Pushing you to corners, it wants you to crawl,

Take a deep breath, you can fight back,

With hope in your heart, no courage you`ll lack,

When up comes the sun, in its very own way,

And shines on another, beautiful day,

You have survived, to fight on once more,

When dementia again, steps through that door.

Merry Christmas to all in Torbay. Please stay safe and have a peaceful one.