A local Dementia NI member has put pen to paper to offer support to others living with the symptoms of the condition.
In her message, Anne Scott (49) from Newtownabbey, highlights the importance of receiving an early diagnosis and the benefits of becoming involved in empowerment groups for those who find themselves in such a position..
Dementia is a term for a collection of symptoms that rob people of their memory and brain power. Drawing on her own experiences in her open letter, Anne said: “People often say there is no point in finding out that you have dementia, there is currently no cure so why bother upsetting yourself or family members by receiving the diagnosis?
“I think when people make these decisions on other peoples’ behalf they forget there is a person like me behind that diagnosis. Yes, it is a terminal illness, however, there are benefits to knowing.
“People need to realise that there are medications to slow down the process and to ease the symptoms.”
Anne continued: “When I was first diagnosed with Dementia and MS, I researched a lot.
“Unfortunately, I kept coming up against brick walls, everything seemed to be geared towards people over the age of 65, and nothing seemed to be suitable for my interests or age group.
“My circumstances were so different to someone of the ‘stereotypical’ retirement age that you would presume only get dementia. People who develop dementia at my age (49), may like myself have young children, a mortgage, hold down a full-time job and have a whole range of different circumstances.
“After a while searching I resolved myself to the fact that there was very little help or support out there for anyone like me. It was a very depressing time, I felt ostracised from society and lost as to what would happen to me.”
Speaking of the support she receives from Dementia NI, Anne added: “Then when two years later my daughter won the MS Young Carer of the Year award, I was put in contact with Dementia NI who offered me help and support.
“The relief that there were people willing to help and understand me was so overwhelming that I broke down to tears.
“They were sad and happy tears; my emotions were all over the place.
“I just couldn’t believe after two years trying to cope on my own that someone did want to help. I wasn’t alone anymore and that was such a fantastic feeling.”
She stated: “Dementia NI is an organisation that was set up by people who are living with dementia.
“People who knew exactly what I was going through and knew what it felt like to have dementia - because they have it too.
“We regularly hold group meetings which enables us to meet and share our stories with others in a similar situation and support each other.
“This understanding is why Dementia NI is so important to me.
“Being around other people who also believe that life doesn’t end after a diagnosis of dementia is very uplifting.
“Dementia NI have members of all ages, but with one thing in common, we all have live with a type of dementia.”
Urging anyone with dementia to contact the group for support, Anne said: “I know it is not easy taking that first step, but I would like to reassure anyone who might like to come along to a group that you will be warmly welcomed.
“Having dementia to me is not about my life ending. My life is no longer about having no hope or being depressed, it is now about enjoying every moment that I can, making memories, and fulfilling dreams.
“I feel blessed that I was given the time and the knowledge of what my future will be, it has given me the wisdom to stop wasting my life.”
She added: “It is so important to seek medical help as soon as you can, I would urge anyone to seek an early diagnosis.
“Please do not live in denial with what is going on, you will only make matters more difficult for yourself and your loved ones in the long run.”
For more information, check out the Dementia NI Facebook page.