Finding a way: Making Dementia Friends while being a carer

Jeanne Pring, a Dementia Friends Champion in north London, tells us about supporting her mother-in-law and running information sessions through lockdown.

My mother-in-law Connie, who I call Mum, is 83 and has mixed dementia – vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. She was officially diagnosed early 2018, but had been living with the symptoms for several years prior. I have been caring for her since 2015.

I started off knowing very little of this condition and discovered that the people around me were not any wiser.

I was very lost until I discovered Alzheimer’s Society. Whether I need information, support, training or a place to vent, the Society is there for me.

Jeanne and Connie

I’m now a Dementia Friends Champion, an active member of the Islington Dementia Friendly Communities steering group and I volunteer in many other ways.

I want to help create a more supportive community for Mum and others living with dementia as well as their carers.

Change and responsibility

Prior to the pandemic, I would regularly take Mum out for cognitive stimulation, light exercise and social interaction. COVID-19 put a stop to this, which has not been of benefit to Mum. Her dementia has certainly progressed significantly, and she is physically more fragile.

Looking after Mum was even more challenging at first, when there were so many unknowns – having to think of ways to keep her stimulated at home, sourcing essential supplies and of course keeping her safe.

Thankfully, we have been able to participate in a number of virtual activities, which have been useful. Of course, these do not compare with the level of interaction and stimulation provided by an outing.

Our routine has settled down and things are now much better. However, supporting Mum also means being shielded with her, which has an impact on my physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. I miss being able to go out and get some respite, or to meet up with friends.

The responsibility of keeping the household safe and running smoothly is stressful, especially having to play different roles – the happy face for Mum and the concerned face for when she is not looking.

Change for others

I became a Dementia Friends Champion in October 2019. I was only able to arrange four in-person sessions, but since last May I have delivered about 40 online sessions and made nearly 400 Dementia Friends.

I have limited available time, especially while caring full time, but online sessions are easy to organise and allow me to reach a wider demographic.

I hope to help people who otherwise may be lost as I was, especially with the pandemic where family members may find themselves having to care for their loved ones with little or no physical outside assistance.

Become a Dementia Friend

Learn more about what it is like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action. It’s really easy to do.

Become a Dementia Friend

Dementia together magazine: Feb/Mar 21

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

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What help is available from Alzheimers NI
Can I speak to someone for advice

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Hello James,

Please know that you can call our support line for specific advice, information, and support from one of our trained dementia advisers. More details about the support line (including opening hours) are available here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

Alternatively, you can find out more about Alzheimer's Society in Northern Ireland and get resources and factsheets on our specific NI page: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/northern-ireland

You can also find support services near you using our dementia directory: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/find-support-near-you#!/search

We hope this helps.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

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this is sad!

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Dear Jeanne, thank you for sharing your journey. I found it encouraging and uplifting, that there is support out there. Keep up the good work.

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I think it's disgusting to think they've worked all there life and when all they want and need family and friends and help from the government as they helped pay there wages and holidays they want to take away rights and privileges which everyone needs so where's the equality no matter age race and being personal treatment what ever there needs it makes me feel ill to think there running the country.

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