Posted 1 November, 2006
I was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia in 2003 at the age of 58 and it came completely out of the blue. I was young, independent and enjoying life on a remote croft where I was involved in gardening, walking and most importantly driving – something I was worried would be taken away from me.
I had chosen to live in a relatively remote rural part of Scotland because I enjoyed the peace and quiet. However, the idea of being completely cut of from my friends and family because I couldn’t drive as a result of my illness really concerned me.
This concern prompted me to contact Alzheimer Scotland. By doing so I found someone with whom I could discuss my fears and my options for the future. I joined the Inverness Dementia Group and through that was introduced to a campaigning group run by and for people with dementia called the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG).
Since joining these groups I have not looked back. I have been supported to attend dementia conferences, taken part in training to speak out about dementia in the media, and been involved in the filming of two DVDs – one about the awareness raising work of the SDWG and the other informing people about the Adults with Incapacity Act.
Unfortunately my fears about not being able to drive have been realised. But with the help of my Alzheimer Scotland support worker, I continue to live an active and independent life. In addition to maintaining my garden I have joined a dancing class, I attend The Green Gym (this involves doing outdoor environmental projects) and I am a member of a Nordic walking class which keeps me physically and socially active.
Whilst receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be terrifying, it is better to know what’s wrong with you and be able to seek help than it is to remain in the dark.
It increases your confidence and helps you believe in yourself because you know that whatever you say will be listened to. After receiving a diagnosis of dementia the most important need is to rebuild confidence. That is only possible with a lot of help and support.
Nancy McAdam, November 2006