When the phone stops ringing 

Torbay Weekly

A little known fact is when someone is diagnosed with dementia, their phone stops ringing.

Yes it’s true but before you think 'here we go, Norrms has finally lost it', let me explain.

When someone is diagnosed with dementia, one of the hardest things to do is to decide to tell others or not.

After all, dementia is a terminal disease with no cure, so what you have to decide is if you want to tell family and close friends you are dying.

It really is as hard as that but sadly that’s not all, once you have told family and close friends, who else do you tell?

And that’s when your phone stops ringing, believe it or not!

When I was diagnosed with dementia I lost 70 per cent of my internet friends and a lot of what I called my close friends as well.

I even had someone I worked with who actually crossed the road when he saw me because he must have thought he could catch it.

Daft as it sounds, I know, but all completely true, and that’s also the time the phone went silent.

Friends we had known for years stopped calling or asking us out for a meal or a drink.

Not only did we have to deal with this awful news, we felt sometimes as if we had to do it all on our own as most people didn’t understand the word dementia, how many types there are, what possibly causes it and how, with the help of others, how you can try and live with it as best you can.

If I may use the word 'lucky' in the loosest of terms, then I was as prior to my own diagnosis my incredible wife Elaine was a carer for the best part of 30 years looking after others who were very sick.

She had to stop working to be able to look after me and, believe me, she has always said it’s the hardest job she has ever had. No idea what she means by that I’m sure!

But I for one am truly forever grateful, but some are not so 'lucky'.

We also have the most supportive family and, thankfully, it's quite a large one, too, but we are always there for each other and always have been.

But can you imagine those who are told this awful news, who have no idea where to turn or what to do and also have family and friends that don’t understand as well.

How awful must that be, then to compound their loneliness their so-called friends stop ringing.

This happens more than you think. When I was diagnosed the only thing I was told by the consultant was 'use it or lose it' and then sent out the door without any advice of where to go from there or how to deal with it.

Not even as much as a leaflet was given to us to take away and read.

Thankfully, these days things have got much better, I hope. And I say I hope because I hope I don’t hear you all say 'Oh no, they haven't' which would be a tragedy after all the campaigning that’s gone on over the last few years.

So please, if you reading this and have just heard that a friend or relative has been diagnosed with dementia, give them a ring, ask how they are, or even better invite them out for a coffee and ask how they are.

I am sure they would love to hear from you.