My advice to anyone who has had a diagnosis of dementia is to know that your life isn’t over.
George was diagnosed with mixed dementia in 2014 at the age of 62 and has spent much of the last eight years meeting people who live with the condition and campaigning for better support and services.
Start of a new chapter
My diagnosis of dementia did not mean the end – and that’s a message I’m passionate about getting out there.
Over the years, I’ve put my energies into advocating for people who have dementia, making sure they get the support they need and deserve – it’s something I feel very strongly about.
I’ve also started new hobbies and learnt new things about myself. I’ve taken up painting – my school art teacher was wrong about my creative abilities! And I now have new networks of friends that I meet up with regularly. For me, dementia has been the start of a new chapter, and it’s not a bad chapter.
Impact on my life
Having said all this, of course there has been an impact on my life. I have difficulties with my orientation and balance, my hearing is affected, and I’m not good in unfamiliar environments or situations. And naturally, there has also been an impact on the people in my life.
Simple jobs have become challenging – and that means a lot falls on my wife Jane’s shoulders. We used to share the domestic tasks, but now I find it increasingly difficult to help out. She still works, so she’s carrying a lot.
My dementia has affected relationships too. Friends have fallen away over the years, and it can be difficult with the grandchildren sometimes. When they visit, it can be very chaotic and noisy, and I know I tend to withdraw in that situation.
George and his dog
My advice to anyone who has had a diagnosis of dementia is to know that your life isn’t over. Do what makes you happy, whether that’s painting, walking, staying socially engaged – whatever it is that you enjoy.
Why am I supporting this campaign? Because it’s so important to spread the word about the dementia support that is out there. If more people are aware of the support they can receive, for example from dementia specialist Admiral Nurses in the community or on the free Dementia UK Helpline, more people will be able to access these life-changing services.