Ronald Ferguson, who has vascular dementia and lives in Luton, told us how video calls have been helping and inspiring him.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you?
‘It hit me for a while, kind of, in a very scary way, because I was just isolated. And I also recognised that everybody was isolated and there was no kind of solution to my situation, I was just alone, and my mind started to think overtime.
‘So my mind was constantly thinking about myself, my world that I was in, and if I’d ever come out of it, basically, or when I do come out of it how am I to – it was a problem, it still is a problem for me.
‘I know the importance of people being able to connect with people beyond social isolation. You need that real interaction with people, otherwise, no matter what the good intentions are, you can actually fall through the gaps of need.’
You started taking part in video calls over Zoom with other people involved in Dementia Voice – what has that been like?
‘In those Zoom chats it has such a powerful and joyful effect on – it’s always had such a great effect on me.
‘You can actually forget that you’re isolated while you’re in those Zoom chats. You’re catapulted into another universe, into a new world, a different world of just calm, joy, laughter.
‘You laugh a lot, you get to laugh a lot, or you appreciate other people laughing and you appreciate other people’s experiences.
‘You get to realise you’re not the only person going through an ordeal, because you hear everybody else’s story, and while you’re hearing everybody else’s story they’ve got time for you to share your load.’
A Zoom chat inspired you to set up Talk Dementia, where anyone can submit four lines about dementia, which you share at @arts_dementia on Twitter – can you tell us about that?
‘I’m very much into creativity and the arts and trying to develop enterprise, and Alzheimer’s Society enabled me to set up an enterprise, which I call Talk Dementia.
‘Now it’s remarkable the people who have been engaging with something that I’ve done from my bedroom, just as a result of social media but, more importantly, just as a result of the Society putting the pieces in place for me.
‘People tend to deal with me, because I tend to rumble my words a lot or misplace my words and put them in the wrong sentences or whatever, people don’t understand that the way I think is different to the way I talk. But Alzheimer’s Society actually, they run with my thinking.
‘Talk Dementia is remarkable, because I’ve got all manner of people doing it, very much so, people from my immediate grassroots community involving themselves in the conversation that they wouldn’t involve themselves with. It feels amazing, it’s fun, it’s recreation for me.’
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