Question will show people you care
- Credit: PA
Norrms McNamara, founder of the Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign:
Quite often when someone mentions the word dementia, a few things can happen.
Either the person you’re talking too makes excuses and makes a hasty retreat - yes, it still and does happen - or they do the head tilt to one side and say aww - happens more than you think.
But the one thing that very rarely or never happens is they ask: “Oh yes, dementia, what typpe is it?"
Why, oh why, do most people still think that dementia just means Alzheimer’s-type dementia?
There are many many types of dementia and the most common are Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body’s - which I have - Vascular, Frontal lobal or Picks disease, which the author Terry Pratchet had.
They say that Alzheimer’s is the most common but the jury is out, in my humble opinion, as I have met so many people with allegedly Alzheimer’s when quite clearly they have Lewy body’s type and their symptoms are very similar to mine.
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In fact, I myself was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s until they realised it was Lewy body’s.
The difference can be huge and if you don’t get the right medication for the right type of dementia it can also have serious consequences too.
We used to live in an age of when doctors said “oh, it’s your age what do you expect?“ or it's 'senile dementia', which we know now doesn’t exist.
And believe me, when I say that’s not too long ago but I would like to believe we have moved on from that and there is more awareness now than ever.
We have come such a long way in the last ten years but we still have a long way to go.
Sadly, even now, when the word dementia is mentioned the word Alzheimer’s comes to mind and it shouldn’t as there are many types.
In this day and age, people - including some doctors - should know better.
Some, not all, GPs are just saying its Alzheimer’s as it’s the easiest option and as much as it goes against my thinking, most of the time it’s not their fault as they don’t have that much training in dementia, the biggest killer in the UK?
Doesn’t make any sense but perfectly true.
I once spoke at the international Rotary conference in Plymouth with an audience of more than 1,000 and some of my presentation was about the differences of each dementia.
As I stepped down from the stage a gentleman and his wife came up, shook my hand and said thank you for explaining what Lewy body’s dementia was as they had never heard about it.
He then said I may well contact you in the future, then he told me he was a GP!
I was dumfounded, rooted to the spot and was lost for words for the first time in a very long time, surely not I thought, then saw his badge, and it was true. No, you really couldn’t make it up but these things still happen.
So, the next time you meet anybody who says they have just found out a loved one or a friend has dementia, show that you care and ask them 'what type?'
You have no idea how much that will mean to people as it shows you care and shows you are interested.
I have always said that dementia is one of the loneliest diseases In the world and when people show just a little interest it can mean so much to so many.
Sadly, eventually everybody will know someone with dementia.