(Image courtesy of Alzheimer’s Society, UK)
Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 58 years of age.
Her disease became obvious when she had a fall while jogging by the River Ouse in York, where she lives in the U.K. She was 56-years-old at the time. This event was followed by more falls, a fatigue that she couldn’t comprehend and a sensation of having a “head-half filled with cotton wool”.
Wendy began writing a blog, to help her write down her thoughts before they were lost. Her blog serves as a reminder to her of what she has done and said in the past and fundamentally now acts as her memory.
(Wendy is also a Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador and shares her day-to-day life on a video here.)
Her blog helps to convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure, and also to inform others that although people may be diagnosed with dementia, they also have a significant contribution to make, still have a sense of humour and still have feelings.
Following on from her successful blog, Wendy Mitchell is now the author of a book, Somebody I used to Know, which tells of her experience living with dementia and dealing with the British health system. Her book is basically a guide for those living with dementia. She outlines, with journalist Anna Wharton, how she fights against everything about her disease, every step of the way, and how the very recording of its progress becomes one method to try and retain her memory.
She was so shocked at the lack of awareness and understanding in the British health system of dementia, that she started to speak out. While dealing with her diagnosis, Wendy began support groups, attended conferences and seminars and reached out to those going through a similar experience.
Keeping active staves off the disease – “if I didn’t I would just sit at home and stare at the garden, my brain melting like ice cream,” she said to ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ journalist, Nick Miller.
The disease may be stealing her past and her future, but it has left her, for now, in the present.
“What dementia has in store for me is inevitable and I’ve no control over that. But I have control over today. So today takes on more of an importance. I’m just making the most of today. I am living in the moment,” said Wendy Mitchell on her web site.
“I could have gone into a deep depression when diagnosed. I could have chosen to give in to dementia. What I hope my book shows is how life can take many turnings and our attitude to challenges thrown at us can determine the way our life turns out,” Wendy Mitchell says on her blog.
“You can still live positively and independently, if you accept the changes that occur”.
Dealing with a difficult diagnosis
“What I also hope it shows to others is how relationships change in a crisis and how new friends are made but most of all, how adapting to this new world is the key to survival,” Wendy continued.
So, Wendy Mitchell “keeps active, keeps talking, keeps campaigning. “I’m raising awareness and speaking out, but I’m also doing me good. It can be totally exhausting, but it seems to be the only option open to me at the moment if I don’t want dementia to win.”
“We need research to develop tools to help us (those living with dementia) with our memories and speech and cognitive problems so that we can lead better lives, so that we can live with Alzheimer’s Disease,” Wendy Mitchell concluded.
It’s best to visit a doctor for an assessment if you are worried about your own health, or your loved one’s health.
See how Wendy Mitchell has made her home dementia friendly in a video – simple solutions that make living at home so much easier for those with dementia.
How can Oxley Home Care help?
Oxley Home Care offers tailored, early intervention and health and lifestyle coaching to people with dementia. Each person assisted is treated as an individual with their own history, memories and likes/dislikes taken into consideration, with services offered from early onset dementia through to palliative dementia care.
Oxley Home Care’s support services for people with dementia and their carers include:
- Personal care, showering, dressing, grooming, dental hygiene and denture care
- Activities to assist and minimise behaviours
- Preparing and serving of meals
- Daily living support, including domestic assistance
- Transport to social events
- Shopping and errands
- Companionship and leisure activities
In addition, Oxley Home Care’s respite support allows carers to rest and re-energise with peace of mind, on a regular basis.
To find out more about getting the right support and care for a family member with dementia, contact Oxley Home Care on 1300 993 591.