Living with dementia magazine November 2014 – podcast
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_icon_box title=”Listen to the podcast” text_size=”16″ font_weight=”inherit” read_more_url=”http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=2800&pageNumber=2″ icon=”moon-headphones-2″ style=”simple_minimal” icon_size=”small” rounded_circle=”false” icon_location=”left” circled=”false” icon_color=”#005cb9″ icon_circle_color=”#005cb9″ box_blur=”false” margin=”30″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”40″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Alzheimer’s Society have just released their latest magazine about living with dementia. This month they focus on the life of lady who’s life was changed drastically by her diagnosis. She was forced to return to the UK, having lived with her daughter in Spain for 10 years, and rebuild her life.
Jacqui Peedell was just 49 years old when she was diagnosed with dementia and had to adapt to having a life-changing condition while also living abroad.
Jacqui, now 52, had been in Spain with her daughter for over 10 years when she began to experience problems that affected her life quite severely.
She says, ‘The first thing for me was heavy insomnia – I wasn’t sleeping. I kept being late for work and then when asked to do things I just wouldn’t do them because I would forget. Sometimes I was just very withdrawn and in my head I knew something wasn’t right. After a while people started noticing changes and at work everybody thought I was depressed.’
When working on a project to rebuild a town square, Jacqui grew cautious about tasks such as climbing scaffolding, especially as she felt ‘faint’ and ‘wobbly’ at times. Unfortunately, this led to co-workers believing that she was merely opting out of some of her responsibilities and being lazy.
Then, Jacqui’s relationship with her daughter Ruth, who was 13 at the time, also began to suffer, as she would forget to do everyday things such as cooking dinner.
Things came to a head one day after Jacqui blacked out at work and came around in the hospital without being able to recognise anyone around her. She was referred to a neurologist on the suggestion that her memory loss could be the result of head trauma.
Jacqui moved in with her friend Michelle, who was also living in Spain, after leaving hospital. She had numerous tests over a two-year period to try and find the cause of her problems. Jacqui believes that her diabetes and blood pressure problems added to confusion over her test results.
After initially being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Jacqui was put on medication and she felt more able to cope. When Michelle decided to move back to England and begged her to come along with her daughter, Jacqui declined.
She says, ‘I gave my job one more go once I started to feel better. They were more supportive once they realised I wasn’t a slacker. I’d made the effort to learn the language and had been very upbeat and already done a lot, so they did support me until the end of the scheme. Then they made sure I still got a little bit of help after.’
However after a while Jacqui felt the effects of being quite isolated in a small, quiet village in another country. She says, ‘Sometimes I would see the doctor once a week and people in my village just assumed I was taking drugs or something because some days I’d be wobbly. Sometimes I’d talk and sometimes I wouldn’t. There was a huge element of paranoia with it and I was having a real problem with somebody in the village, which I just wasn’t controlling very well and obviously I was putting my daughter through a hell of a lot. It’s a big ask for a young girl – she’d been living with me having it for probably four years by then so I came back to England to save all the grief I was putting everybody through.’
On returning to the UK, Jacqui initially moved in with her parents in Banbury, Oxfordshire. However being back in a busy market town with a faster pace of life presented its own challenges. She says, ‘When I first came back I really hated it, as England was very fast and I was used to living on top of a mountain. Going to shops and things was a nightmare – having to understand the money and do everything really quickly – and I wasn’t able to do it. The language was a big problem, not because I’d forgotten English but because of regional slang and abbreviations. I didn’t understand any of it, I still don’t a lot of the time. I liked going for walks. I used to go at 11pm and my parents would get upset but there was nobody on the streets so it was quite quiet. I used to still do things but not at the same time as other people because that way nobody could point the finger or get in your way or cause problems.’
Jacqui’s diagnosis was also reassessed in England, and she was told that she actually had sub-cortical vascular dementia. Jacqui now lives alone in a village in Oxfordshire and her daughter visits regularly. She felt isolated and without adequate assistance until she came across a leaflet for YoungDementia UK, a charity that focuses on supporting people with early onset dementia and their families. She describes discovering and getting in contact with them as being a ‘huge relief’, as she had been unaware of others in a similar situation. A support worker, Jenny Marks, now visits her weekly. Jacqui says, ‘There are loads of things I’d really like to do but I can’t do them on my own. Michelle lives miles away now and I don’t really have any friends. I have support with Jen so on the days I have her I do things I couldn’t do on my own.’
Jacqui has devised ways to help daily activities in and out of the house. She sets alarms to remind her to do different things and she has got into a routine of burning food-scented incense sticks to remind her to eat. She also has a blackboard in a prominent place with a schedule of everything she needs to do. She says, ‘My hardest thing is, if I don’t see it then it doesn’t exist. The board is right in front of where I sit so it’s not hard to see. I walk past it and if a thought comes I can write it down. Whether it gets done that day or in a month it doesn’t matter.’
Jacqui has a clear message for other people with dementia. She says, ‘Stand your ground when you’re out and don’t be afraid to say something like “I’m sorry, I have to do it slowly. I try and let everything go that I don’t like. If something bad comes to my head I look at a pretty bird in a garden and look at the colours. Surround yourself with nice things that you like. It doesn’t matter if your house is different to other people’s. If you know it’s easier for you, stick to your guns.’
If you’d like to find out more about vascular dementia, follow the link below.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”40″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_icon_box title=”Find out more ” text_size=”16″ font_weight=”inherit” read_more_url=”http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=161″ icon=”moon-reading” style=”simple_minimal” icon_size=”small” rounded_circle=”false” icon_location=”left” circled=”false” icon_color=”#005cb9″ icon_circle_color=”#005cb9″ box_blur=”false” margin=”30″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”40″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_icon_box title=”Young dementia UK” text_size=”16″ font_weight=”inherit” read_more_url=”http://www.youngdementiauk.org” icon=”moon-screen” style=”simple_minimal” icon_size=”small” rounded_circle=”false” icon_location=”left” circled=”false” icon_color=”#005cb9″ icon_circle_color=”#005cb9″ box_blur=”false” margin=”30″][/vc_column][/vc_row]