Imagine you wake up one morning and you have no idea where you are. You’re in this strange, unfamiliar place you don’t think you’ve ever seen before. Imagine someone you don’t recognise coming over to tell you it’s time for breakfast. This person seems nice, but you’ve never seen them before, you’re sure of it. But they tell you you’re in this home to keep you safe. This place isn’t my home, you think to yourself. If fact, you’re adamant. But you find yourself at breakfast anyway. Imagine you’re back in your room – at least, they said it’s your room – and your daughter walks in. Finally, you think! A familiar face!
Imagine you have something important you need to say. It’s right there and you start to say it, then nothing. It’s gone. You can’t remember. You try really hard to think what it is you had you say but it won’t come back. And you get so frustrated because it was just there at the forefront of your mind. But you still can’t remember. You don’t realise it, but this happens a lot.
Imagine you ask about when your daughter will get here. You could have sworn she said she was coming to see you today; it’s been so long since you’ve seen her. But then they tell you she’s already visited. They say: “she was here this morning, remember?” But actually, you can’t remember.
These things only scratch the surface of what it is like for many people with dementia. Individually, these things are scary, or frustrating, or confusing but together, alongside everything else that comes with it, living with dementia is horrific. There are varying degrees of the illness, but regardless of what stage a person is at with it, dementia is an incredibly horrid illness to deal with.
Having seen for myself the effects of dementia on someone very close to me, I can tell you it is brutal. It is devastating to see someone you care about in a constant state of confusion, with very little idea of where they are or what is going on. Seeing someone you know lose so much of who they are as a person to such an awful condition is heartbreaking to see; it really steals a significant part of their identity. But what is worse is actually living with it – it must be terrifying when you don’t know what is happening to you, and around you.
Dementia is one of the most horrific things that can happen to a person. It really is an illness no-one should ever have to experience.