Moving forward

When you first get a diagnosis containing that dreaded word 'dementia' you feel as though everything you know and love about your life is about to end.  All I knew was that everyone with dementia goes into a steady decline, enters a nursing home and dies, all within a short space of time.  This I have discovered, in our case at least, does not have to be the outcome.  Last December and in the months leading up to that awful day Ash was declining steadily.  He didn't make conversation, couldn't think for himself and was unable to make a decision so you can see why I, and many of those around us, thought that the diagnosis was the beginning of the end.  The three months that followed were equally awful as we both tried to come to terms with what was happening to us and almost the worst thing of all was the day I completed the form to send to the DVLA and asked Ash to sign it.  I really thought he might lose his license as his driving was becoming unpredictable and, as we live in a small village which is 5 miles from the nearest shops, he would have been completely dependent on me.  Then three things happened.  Firstly I talked to someone who was in a similar situation with his wife (although much further down the line) and he gave me some simple strategies to use which changed our lives for the better almost instantly; secondly Jake and I went on a course run by the wonderful Contented Dementia Trust (who, you may have noticed, I've mentioned on the odd occasion) and they showed the importance of considering dementia in a positive light; thirdly the Contented Dementia team came to my village and talked to our friends about the way dementia affects those who have it.  This last meant that those around us understood what Ash was going through and felt able to support us.

So, on 19th December 2017 we thought our world had come to an end.  Cut to this week and see the difference.  On Tuesday I mentioned to  Ash that I thought one of the skim boards we were about to put into storage would look good on the wall of the summer house.  On Wednesday I came home from mum's to find he'd put it up and it looked fantastic;  On Thursday I came home from  work to find that, without being asked, he'd finished clearing a flower bed of weeds and plants we no longer wanted;   On Thursday evening we went to the village  pub for a meal just the two of us; this morning I went out for coffee with a friend and came home to find him digging the garden.  As for the driving, now Ash has regained confidence in himself, his skills have returned.  So much so that last week I was able to tell you about us travelling an hour and a half to meet friends for lunch. With the right strategies in place, when a diagnosis of dementia comes in, it is possible to get your life back on track and we are living proof of that.  Once again your attitude can make a difference.