Gerard Doran, a 62-year-old in County Armagh with young-onset Alzheimer’s, answers our questions.
What’s changed most since your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed last October, at the age of 61. My diagnosis was a bit of a shock but receiving that diagnosis has actually helped me.
It’s helped me understand what I was experiencing, the types of symptoms etc, but it also helped me to develop new strategies to help address some of those difficulties that I was experiencing.
I have a little forgetfulness and some memory problems, but I am still feeling strong and feel that I’m able to cope.
What would you take to your desert island?
My best option would be my mobile phone with my earphones, because music is a massive part of my life, particularly Golden Oldies – 60s and 70s mostly. I’m a major Frank Sinatra fan!
What song or tune sums up your life so far?
I recorded my own song that I wrote to thank a local charity that I joined called Dementia NI, which you can watch on their YouTube channel.
Becoming a Dementia NI member was an opportunity for me to meet somebody else who actually has a similar diagnosis and was already involved. And their friendship and support has helped me to feel that I’m just not alone, not on my own.
What single thing improves your quality of life?
I’m pretty lucky to have very good support from wife, family and friends, but the main priority on my personal level is the programme around my weekly routine that keeps myself occupied.
That helps me to establish a feeling of purpose and achievement, positivity, and even physical fitness.
And reminiscence is very important in that. Music and singing is a major part of that, hillwalking, meeting my friends and continuing to be involved in the local sporting club.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I’d actually go back to work. Work was a massive part of my life – as a youth worker, as a person who looked after families in crisis – and I’d love to be doing something of that nature.
Part of what I always wanted to do was support people and help people.
What is your most treasured possession?
I think it’s my house because it’s lovely and well situated, close to family and friends, feels very safe and very secure, lovely garden… so I just feel as if this is a big help to me.
Answer our questions
If you have dementia and would like to answer our questions for a future article, or you know someone who would, email us to let us know.