Dementia Awareness Week: A glorious opportunity?

Categories: Care.

The annual Alzheimer’s Society event, which runs from 18-24 May 2014, is encouraging anyone who has concerns about dementia to get in touch for information and support.

Throughout the week, ehospice will be focusing on the care of people with dementia, including the latest from Help the Hospices dementia steering group.

But we begin with the story of Dr Jennifer Bute, a former GP who was forced to retire with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The doctor has created a website entitled Glorious Opportunity and says: “… it has become my passion to try and help people understand about it [dementia], because I do believe it is a great opportunity.”

In an incredibly moving, yet positive film, Jennifer gives a very honest account of how it feels to live with dementia:

“For many people being diagnosed with dementia is a very bleak prospect, but for me it is a privilege. I now understand it from the inside as well as the outside … I do not fear the future.” 

You can view the short film below, or on Jennifer’s website.

‘Bills may as well be in Chinese!’

Jennifer highlights some key areas that the disease has made difficult for her, including recognising people, navigating roads, large crowds and reading complex books.

She discusses her sensory hallucinations, which have included hearing babies crying and smelling fire. Fortunately some have subsided since medication has been prescribed to treat the symptoms of her dementia.

Jennifer reflects on tasks and hobbies that dementia has made near-impossible: “Understanding is slow and very different to how it used to be. Cooking recipes can be beyond me, jigsaws can be far too complex. Bills may as well be in Chinese and if I say “pardon” it probably means I haven’t a clue what on earth you’re talking about!,” she laughs.

“I tend to ignore the phone because I can’t cope with it,” she adds, “and if the family want to contact me by phone, we prearrange it.”

Jennifer’s Christian faith is at the core of her story and has enabled her to see dementia as a gift: “It’s a privilege to learn so much more from the inside and a glorious opportunity to explain, educate and inspire.”

By telling her story online, Jennifer offers a rare insight into what life is like to live with dementia. As well as the short film, Jennifer’s website, Glorious Opportunity, also offers teaching modules, presentations and leaflets to download.

Dementia Awareness Week resources

Alzheimer’s Society have collated a wealth of resources that can be accessed on their website, including a short film that can be viewed below. Throughout Dementia Awareness Week you can get involved on social media using the hashtag #DAW2014

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