In Shel Silverstein's poem, said the little boy: "Sometimes I drop my spoon." Said the old man: "I do that too."
The little boy whispered: "I wet my pants."
"I do that too," laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy: "I often cry." The old man nodded: "So do I."
"But worst of all," said the boy, "it seems grown-ups don't pay attention to me."
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand. "I know what you mean," said the little old man.
These few words just show how much we are not that different, and yet when it comes to dementia, we sometimes seem poles apart.
It’s absolutely horrendous to think we compare a child with an elderly person but when it comes to dementia, sadly it happens all too often.
Have we made progress in last 10 years? Oh, yes, huge progress when it comes to awareness on TV, in newspapers and on the radio but have the fundamentals changed?
And, more importantly, how do people view those with dementia? I’m not too sure on that one.
The complexities and effects of dementia are too many to mention but the way I explain it is, if you forget your phone, wallet, keys or why you walked into a room, that’s forgetfulness.
We all do that and at all ages too. Some have better memories than others, that’s a fact.
When my grandchildren come home from school and I ask them what they had for lunch, it’s usually: “Don’t know” or “Forgot” - so please don’t think a few mistakes is leading to dementia.
Dementia symptoms mean you are losing your life skills, and by this I mean have you ever sat down to dinner with a knife and fork and wondered what they are for? Have you ever found yourself in the middle of the street in your pyjamas and wondered how you got there? Have you ever bent down to tie your shoe laces and realised you have completely forgotten how to do this?
These are signs of dementia. It’s not about forgetting where you are going or where your shoes are thankfully, and I hope that has put some peoples mind at rest.
The three examples above are just a trio of many things that start to happen to you when you are showing signs of dementia brought on by the confusion of everyday life.
The opening words above just shows how, sadly, somethings don’t change even when you get older.
As a person living with dementia, I have to admit one of my biggest fears is becoming Incontinent, and knowing I am, because my type of dementia is Lewy body’s and not Alzheimer’s.
I have times of the day, like when I am writing this, when I am perfectly lucid.
And yet even at my darkest times when thinking about this, I have hope, so much hope, that one day they will find a cure, if not for dementia, but for incontinence, to make the lives of those with dementia so much easier.
As for dropping my spoon - well, thankfully, my family is so understanding.
Then, of course, we come to people not listening to us with dementia.
Well, my never-ending grateful thank yous will always go to those at the Torbay Weekly who allow me to write this column so people can read the words from somebody actually living with this awful disease.
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