Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 58 and her memoir ‘Somebody I used to know’ helps readers understand a little better what it is like to be living with dementia. Sure, it freaks me out – suddenly not recognizing where I am nor remembering why I’m in a certain place would be really scary – but it offers hope too, in that there are different stages so you have some time to implement certain coping strategies.
For instance, Wendy uses technology to help her out – reminders to eat her meals and take her medication, for remembering birthdays, GPS tracking so her daughters know where she is, etc. And Post-it notes deserve special mention too as they have been so useful to her as reminders of where she is and what she needs to take with her (especially when she travels for conferences and such).
I’m really impressed by how she insists on having her daughters be her daughters (only), and not her carers. All too often, Asian parents expect their children, like insurance policies, to pay them back in times of sickness or in their old age. I’ve even heard of people who do not get married because they need to take care of aged or ill parents. I’m of the opinion that should I have children, I won’t want them to wipe my bum or wheel me around when I’ve lost my mobility. They have their own lives to lead as well.
Wendy sees the ‘silver lining’ too. For example, she can watch a show multiple times and be entertained the same as she doesn’t remember the plot or how it ends.
One big takeaway from reading this book is that people living with dementia may not remember people, places or events very well but they’ll remember how they felt during the interaction. So make them feel welcome, supported, appreciated and loved. And you can count on them to remember those feelings. 🙂
Also, Wendy has a blog over at whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com. Go check it out! 🙂