Q&A: Sheila Calder, who lives with Alzheimer’s

Sheila in the West Midlands, aged 71 and living with Alzheimer’s, answers our questions. 

What’s changed most since your diagnosis? 

A degree of insecurity, knowing that my comments and actions may not be taken as seriously as they were because of my brain damage. My family are more protective of me, though from a geographical distance. 

I can also feel down because of tiredness, when I want to climb hills and mountains.

All our holidays have been walking holidays, including with our kids. Hillwalking is something I fell in love with when I went on a school trip – we didn’t have mountains where I grew up in London! 

Sheila Calder and her husband

What would you take to your desert island? 

My Bible and book with people and situations to pray for, and The Gift of Pain by Dr Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. 

I’d also take CDs of Sibelius’s Finlandia and Verdi’s Nabucco, especially the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. 

How has Alzheimer’s Society helped you? 

The staff have been available, they listen and help by allowing me to talk through the situation and supplying literature. They’re always very helpful and go the extra mile. 

I’ve found the My appointments booklet very helpful, and the more I go forward with Alzheimer’s, the more I will need it. 

What song or tune sums up your life so far? 

We Rest on Thee, Our Shield and Our Defender to the tune Finlandia. This was the song five missionaries sung before they flew into a jungle in Ecuador in the 1950s and were all killed.

What single thing would improve your quality of life? 

Knowing that, like other diseases, mine and others’ care costs will be met. 

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

I would go to Finland if I could magically learn the language. It’s such a beautiful country and the people are so sensible. 

What is your most treasured possession? 

My faith because it is my compass and I have peace for the future, because I believe God has it in His hands. 

I have no special physical possessions, but hope there is a cure for my children and grandchildren should they succumb to Alzheimer’s disease.

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If you have dementia and would like to answer our questions for a future article, or you know someone who would, email us at [email protected] 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