Norrms McNamara: Ten-second delay...

Joseph Bulmer

Norrms McNamara, founder of the Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign:

As you know, the last few weeks have been tough but hopefully, things are starting to get better now.

What I have found the last few days is it seems as if I have a built in ten-second delay. I know that sounds daft but I will try to explain.

I feel as if everything going on around me is quicker than me and I am playing catch up.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to understand things straight away.

A perfect example was yesterday when my eldest daughter came to visit.

As they were having a conversation, I tried my hardest to keep up.

When I was asked to comment on what they had been talking about I answered something they had said minutes ago.

It’s as if it’s taking just that little bit longer to sink in and is quite worrying.

It’s even worse when I am around people or crowds. Not that long ago I would have stood among thousands cheering my favourite football team on, now, I panic when I go into town.

I rarely go into the shops with my wife anymore. I go with her but not inside and usually stand outside.

This in itself brings its own problems, as sure enough somebody else will be stood there and tries to start a conversation!!

I refuse to become a recluse and stop going out; it’s just not going to happen, well not as long as I can help it anyway!

This horrid disease touches every possible part of your life and the worst part for me is when it affects my family life, it’s heart-breaking.

I am sure the conversations between my angel wife Elaine are getting shorter and less frequent.

And yet on my good days, I can still sit and type on this keyboard quite well.

I just wonder sometimes how many others who have dementia who are a little further along than me have just lost the confidence to hold a conversation because of this, and yet inside would love a good chat, but because of the trouble with keeping up and this disease chipping away at your confidence could be what stops some.

I would just like to say to people who have trouble dealing or understanding this disease that a little more patience and support goes such a long way.

I believe that if it wasn’t for the patience and support of such a loving family I would be a lot worse now than I am now.

Yes it's hard sometimes, especially when those in late stages of dementia lose their thread of conversation and what seems to you like gobbledegook seems perfectly normal to them and what they are saying makes perfect sense, but sadly only to them.

But sometimes, if you listen, I mean really listen, you can pick out words that may make such a difference.

You make be able to pick out words like 'hungry' or 'thirsty', or even 'In pain' earache, toothache etc. And if you pick up on this you can help so much.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to have toothache and not be able to tell anybody.

That would really be a living hell on earth and would, in fact, sometimes might explain the erratic behaviour of some with dementia.

So you see, sometimes, just a little more attention could mean so much to the life of someone living with dementia, sometimes the easiest answers are the best.

I hope this helps.