Gladys, 82, is one of the stars of our film for Dementia Action Week - Kids interview people living with dementia. Here she tells us about feeling lonely and how it needn’t be awkward to chat to someone living with dementia.
Gladys was diagnosed with dementia shortly after her husband died. ‘I was doing funny things. I was supposed to have put the milk in the washing machine, but I don’t remember. I had no one to talk to at home. That was the hardest part. And then I saw the doctor, and discovered I had dementia.’
How did you feel once you were diagnosed?
When I was having a brain scan, I said to the young lady, don’t worry you won’t find a brain in there, there isn’t one anymore. But when I saw the Doctor, she told me I got Dementia and it hit me like a tonne of bricks, and I thought no not me. But it was worse because I was in a grieving process. I had lost my husband.
I was very lonely. It was such a shock when I was diagnosed. And I thought that’s it I’m finished - but I’m not finished am I?
What do you think helps with the loneliness?
I enjoy the opportunity to chat to others. It makes me feel less lonely.
I need somebody to really talk to me, to interact with me. To want to be there.
What’s the easiest way for someone to start a conversation with you?
Ask ‘how are you?’ It’s good to break the ice. A simple ‘hello’, ask about the weather, anything that you feel comfortable with. It’s always good to talk to people, it feels like I’m not invisible and I’m not being ignored.
What would you say to someone who felt awkward speaking to you about dementia?
I don’t think people should feel awkward about it. I think it breaks the ice if you’re able to talk about it.
People need to understand and accept that we are the same people, just with a diagnosis of dementia, they should treat us just like anyone else.
How does talking help you process your feelings about living with dementia?
Oh I think it’s great to talk. I was walking up the road to the [Alzheimer's Society Dementia Hub] the other day, and I was talking to someone up the road, and I heard about her illness and I said well I’ve got dementia. By talking about it, I’m accepting it.
Now I have a wonderful group of friends at the hub, and chat to everyone, I was made to feel so welcome.
Get the conversation started by sharing our film
Two out of every three people living with dementia report feeling isolated and lonely like Gladys. Alzheimer’s Society is determined to change this.
This Dementia Action Week, help us raise awareness and get the conversation started by sharing our film on social media and using the hashtag #AskUsAnything.