If you’d have asked me six months ago whether I wanted to retire I would have said ‘NO’ very loudly. It wasn’t the right decision for me at that time. However, ‘time’ is a wonderful thing – situations change; views change. Now is the right time to decide.
Working on the eRostering system I use is a daily reminder that I have Alzheimer’s. It’s a daily reminder of how much slower I am, how little I can concentrate etc etc. So it’s having a daily negative impact on my life and right now I just want positives. I’m certainly not saying I don’t want to work post NHS, because I do. However, I’m in the catch 22 situation whereby I still have a mortgage and live alone. If I take a less stressful post or reduce my hours I wouldn’t be able to afford my mortgage, so the only option open to me is to retire, use the lump sum to pay off my mortgage and then start a new life. Money has never been that important to me – I don’t have expensive tastes, don’t drink or smoke – I live a very simple, contented life. So the fact that I will have little to live on doesn’t worry me, as it may do others, as long as I have enough money to pay the bills.
Well it’s official – I retire on 31st March. Can’t wait. I feel like I’m in limbo at the mo. It will be good to be able to do all the things I want to do but don’t have the time for. I’ll be able to do so much more to contribute to the work of the Alzheimer’s Society, get involved with local projects, go to places when I want to go to them. The biggest misconception in wider society is the idea that those living with dementia are all elderly, that we have a carer, that we can’t get about and need lots of help to do everyday things. We will eventually, but there are months or years ahead where we can function on our own, albeit with support from our loved ones. We need to be seen, feel as though we’re making a valuable contribution to society and still have a voice as we live well for as long as we can.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll also miss working in the NHS and my work colleagues (well, most of them!) but if I choose, I can work part-time somewhere. Having choice, that’s what’s important.