Q&A: Gina Airey, who lives with vascular dementia

Gina Airey, a 62-year-old in Lancashire with vascular dementia, answers our questions.

What’s changed most since your diagnosis? 

In many ways it has opened up new doors. I knew I would have to focus on my own wellbeing – keeping mentally and physically active and keeping positive.

I spend time every morning on crosswords and puzzles. I enjoy gardening and love to learn new skills, while continuing with my endless creative hobbies.

I sew and knit clothes, try new recipes and bake my own bread. Occasionally I paint with acrylics and oils, and I wish I was a better photographer.

Gina Airey

What would you take to your desert island? 

I am not really attached to objects. I am resourceful and would probably embrace the environment and enjoy exploring, but maybe paper and pen to write about the experience.

Teaching wasn’t my first choice of career, I always wanted to be a writer.

I would take the book I’m halfway through – Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart. 

How has Alzheimer’s Society helped you? 

A real positive impact! Initially they helped me through Companion Calls, which are still ongoing – my friend rings me regularly and we chat about a range of subjects. 

Recently I have got involved with Society visits to the local prison to give talks to staff and inmates on my own experiences. This has been truly empowering! 

The sense of being purposeless in society can be difficult to manage when you have worked in a social profession.

I was a primary headteacher when I had a stroke, which resulted in my later diagnosis of vascular dementia. It has been so rewarding to again feel I can help in some way. 

What song or tune sums up your life so far? 

We Are the Champions by Queen. I have faced a few challenges in my life, but I do think you should keep positive and you will always be victorious… and if I had to choose a tune for my life now it would be Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen! 

What single thing would improve your quality of life? 

I would love to see and spend more time with my family. My children are grown up with their own work and family commitments, but they are very supportive (or as much I will let them).

They know I am fiercely independent and, to quote them, I’m only following the saying ‘Use it or lose it!’ 

If you could go back in time, where would you go? 

Lots of happy memories during my teaching years and when my children were young, but the first image that came in my head when I read this question was me as a child on the beach with my dad on holiday – perfect! 

What is your most treasured possession? 

Currently it’s my car.

It means I can get out and about to see family, keep independent and continue to help through the Society visits. 

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.

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Dementia together magazine

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.
Subscribe now

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