Dementia and the pandemic: Keeping my brain working in lockdown

Jim Ibell, a Dementia Friends Champion in north Wales, is 77 and has Alzheimer’s. He shares how he’s kept busy during lockdown.

Read this story in Welsh

I live in a small village in Deeside Flintshire. It’s been quite hard in the pandemic, not being able to get out meeting people – that’s a big part of me keeping my brain working, not only for me but for everyone living with dementia.

Fingers crossed, by keeping to the rules it could soon be over. 

Jim Ibell

Family contact 

I think one of the worst parts of lockdown is not having contact with my family, especially my great-granddaughter. She is five years old and we’d play and go for walks, she really keeps me on my toes. I still see her when we all FaceTime and all the family keep in contact on the phone. It’s not the same, but it will have to do for now. 

During the pandemic, Alzheimer’s Society has been keeping in touch with me on the phone to ask if everything is OK and ask if they can help in any way, but up to now we have managed OK with the help of family. 

Alzheimer’s Society were the only ones, including the medical profession, that helped me through my dementia at the start. Their help lifted me from a very deep hole that I was in. I thought there was no way out, and giving me all the support that they gave me brought me back to the person I am today.

Zoom, zoom, zoom 

Since March 2020, I have kept active by doing lots of Zoom meetings – I’ve sat on different panels and done question and answer sessions, and also made over 400 more Dementia Friends, plus working with the 3 Nations Dementia Working Group and DEEP (the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project)… so yes, I have kept myself quite busy! Most of these are weekly, sometimes twice weekly. 

I always believe that every Dementia Friend I make will help get the word out of what it’s like to live with dementia.

By doing this, it helps newly diagnosed people – and other people that they talk to – understand a little about dementia. I always say knowing a little bit about dementia is better than knowing nothing at all. 

I first joined the 3 Nations Dementia Working Group in January 2020. I went on holiday for the whole of February and came back in March, just in time to welcome lockdown! I do so many Zoom meetings with them I just can’t remember them all, but I wouldn’t be without them – they certainly keep my brain active. 

Vaccine reassurance 

When I got the notification to have my COVID vaccination, I was quite apprehensive. But when I went the staff were very helpful and put my mind at rest straightaway. I would recommend it to everyone, and I’m looking forward to my second one to get it over with. 

When we were told about the vaccine I was really pleased. I thought the sooner everyone has it, the sooner this pandemic will be over. We don’t want this to still be around next year. 

We need your help

We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without urgent financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.

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Dementia together magazine: Apr/May 21

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now
Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now

1 comment

This is so inspiring, thank you Jim for sharing your experience living with dementia especially during this pandemic. It all about believing in yourself and other available supports for living a fullfilled life. Once again thanks for sharing.